My first Healthy Living post for The Urban Silhouette!
There’s nothing better than sitting down to a warming dinner in Winter, and I love steamed or roast veggies with just about everything! Plus I’m a big advocate of the ‘apple a day’ philosophy and will devour one of any kind all year round. But are the delicious fruits and vegetables you’re eating actually delivering all the nutrients you need? We all know a punnet of strawberries bought in August isn’t only astronomically expensive, it also lacks in the taste department – but research also proves that there’s less good stuff in them if it’s imported. Out-of-season produce is all too often transported from another country just to suit consumer demand. To make it to the shelves, fruits and vegetables are picked prematurely, and during transportation time the nutrient levels decrease, as does the freshness and overall quality of the fruit or vegetable. Plus, preservatives are often added to increase shelf life.
Winter fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, beta carotene and a range of antioxidants, which can help to boost immunity and reduce your risk of cold and flu this season. As well as containing more nutrients than imported produce, they tend to be cheaper and have a smaller environmental effect, as their carbon footprint is smaller from reduced transportation. As well as providing you with vital vitamins and minerals, there’s also been suggestions that eating with the seasons may have added health benefits, as your body seeks certain nutrients at particular times of the year. It can even help hone your palate, as eating only what’s in season means you appreciate the quality of produce when it’s actually ripe and meant to be consumed. “If you eat with the seasons rather than eating the same 15 things all year round, the variety will mean you end up with a greater range of nutrients in the body,” says Maria Griffiths, spokesperson for the Institute for Optimum Nutrition. “You get a completely changeable diet that is so much more beneficial than sticking to the same things again and again. Food allergies and intolerances are also less likely because you are not eating the same thing day after day.”
So to get you enthusiastic for feasting with the seasons, this is just a small snapshot of what’s at its prime in Winter:
Apples and pears – Lady Williams and Sundowner apples are prime during the colder months, while Packham and Beurre Bosc pears (perfect for tarts and indulgent Winter desserts) are also in season.Citrus fruits – Try adding a tangelo to your morning juice for a zesty start, a mandarin as an afternoon pick me up, or feature Navel oranges in a glorious salad with avocado, mixed greens and dijon dressing.
Root veggies – Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and beetroots are all Winter winners for oven roasting and soups, or lightly steamed for maximum nutrient retention.
Leafy greens and brassicas – We all know that green vegetables are vital to our health, providing goodies such as vitamin A and C, as well as a good dose of folate, protein and fibre. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale and spinach are lauded as nutrition superstars the world over and are all at their peak during Winter, so enjoy now!
I’m trying to shop locally and at Farmers Markets where I can, and avoid buying imports both for the good of my body and our local economy. Are you a market regular, starting your own veggie patch or adapting your recipes to suit the month? Let me know how you’re embracing eating seasonally.
NB: The advice contained in this column is general health information only. For specific health information relating to your particular circumstances, please consult a qualified medical practitioner.
Images via news.com.au and Art of Healing.