My favorite reason to choose seasonal produce is that it’s usually plentiful, tasty, and easy on your wallet. It is really easy to figure out what fruits and veggies are “in season” because they are the ones that are right in the front of the grocery store, abundant in stock, have a nice appearance, and they are often on sale.
During summer months we have a rainbow of produce choices, many of which are grown right in our own Garden State! In winter months we definitely see a loss of color as we browse the fruit and veggie aisles.
The winter seasonal crops tend to be root veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and cooking greens. You might notice some brightness among the duller options in the shape of sunny citrus fruits!
Winter is definitely time to take advantage of the delicious and abundant citrus coming our way. Citrus fruit is best in winter and the prices are nice and low, so make sure to add them to your shopping list. They can be enjoyed raw, added to salads for color and sweetness, incorporated into deserts, or used to flavor cooking.
These days there are so many citrus options to choose from. We have our old favorites, juicy oranges, giant ruby grapefruits, and super sweet Clementines. Then we have more exotic options and hybrids that are making their way into our local markets. Some of my own favorites, which I notice are becoming more available over the past few winters, are Cara Cara Navel Oranges, Blood Oranges, and Satsuma Tangerines.
Cara Cara Oranges are sweet with a slight flavor of tangerine and grapefruit. They share the size and outer appearance of a normal Navel Orange, but when you peel the inner flesh it has the most beautiful salmon pink color. Cara Cara’s contain lycopene which is known to fight disease.
Blood oranges are sour and sweet with a deep red flesh. They are surprisingly less acidic than you would think, more sweet than sour in taste, and seedless. I love to add them to salads for their interesting taste and color.
Satsumas are easy to peel and have a deep reddish flesh. They are often sold with some leaves and stems still attached which I find fun and like the appearance of when piled in a fruit bowl on my kitchen counter. The Satsuma pulp is sweet and slightly tart. Always seedless, easy to peel, and less acidic than other mandarins, makes Satsumas the perfect snack fruit for winter time and fit easily even in the smallest purse.
All of these citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C and fiber. Add some brightness to your winter with my favorites or yours and don’t forget to try out some new ones too! Enjoy!
Stacy Rothschild, MPH, RD, Owner New Leaf Nutrition, Paramus and West Caldwell, NJ www.newleafnj.com (201)870-3765