Eating with the Seasons
Eating with the seasons for the majority of us in South Florida is easy because we are in a subtropical climate and can grow most fruits and veggies all year round. But for the rest of the population north of Interstate 4 many of the best and brightest foods are just now coming into season. When transitioning into a more plant based diet we should always consider why eating fruits and vegetables at their peak of freshness benefits our health.
There are a few reasons for this.
1. When Fruits and Vegetables are harvested at their peak they are more nutrient dense.
2. The more colorful these foods become as they ripen signifies the necessary phytochemical changes have taken place and shows the availability of the vitamins and antioxidants it contains.
3. The softer the fruits and veggies become as they ripen actually benefits our digestion and breaks down much easier providing more nutrient absorption in the GI tract.
4. The better they taste. That's due to the sugars created by the breakdown of complex carbohydrates. Wow! Nature helping us out by doing the work for us.
Don't let those two words scare you. The sugars and carbohydrates sourced from whole foods are utilized very differently than refined and processed sugars and carbs. The energy and nutrients supplied by these foods pack such a powerful nutrition profile that the body utilizes it much faster and easier than processed substitutes. Eat strawberries and coconut pudding vs. and strawberry shortcake. If weight is an issue don't add to your diet, replace instead. Replace with low sugar/high water content fruits and vegetables such as melon, apple, pear, celery, and cucumber. Replace pasta with spaghetti squash. Replace potato chips with celery and cucumber or better yet kale chips (YUM). Replace the wheat wrap on your healthy veggie sub for a kale or collard green leaf...trust me you won't miss the wrap.
Here is a list fo some amazing healthy fruits and vegetables all well within season RIGHT NOW! These food are brought to you from mother nature right on time. Many can be grown easily in a backyard garden thru June (in South Florida) or found at your local farmers market.
Artichokes- look for artichokes with tight, compact leaves and fresh-cut stem
Carrots are harvested year-round in temperate areas.
Chard grows year-round in temperate areas, is best harvested in late summer or early fall in colder areas, and fall through spring in warmer regions like Florida.
Cherries are ready to harvest at the end of spring in warmer areas.
Fava Beans. Farmers often grow them to fix nitrogen in the soil and pull them out for the "real" crop, so ask around if you're not seeing them at your market.
Garlic /Green Garlic are both available in spring and early summer. Green garlic is immature garlic and looks like a slightly overgrown scallion.
Grapefruit comes into season in January and stays sweet and juicy into early summer.
Leeks - avoid leeks with wilted tops.
Lemons- are at their juicy best from winter into early summer.
New Potatoes- small, freshly harvested potatoes with paper-thin skins.
Pea Greens & Peas (garden, snap, snow, etc.) come into season in the spring and continue in most areas well into summer.
Rhubarb- are the first fruit of spring in many areas - look for heavy stalks with shiny skin.
Spring Onions- simply regular onions that farmers pull from the field to thin the rows in spring and early summer.
In Health and Happiness,
Christal DeHay, AP