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Keeping your veggies local and seasonal during the winter

By Katya Baxter, Nutritionist, MenuMax

Good things are easy to get used to. And not only that, once we do, we quickly start taking them for granted. I would be the first one to admit that after moving from Canada to California, the sun as well as access to fresh local produce year-round quickly changed from somewhat of a luxury to an expectation.

But the truth is, fresh local produce is hard to come by in the winter in most places – prices are sky-high and quality isn’t always there. So when you change your menu to keep up with the winter season, what kind of options for produce do you have?

Let’s look at a few.

1. Root vegetables

Root vegetables come in the fall and are generally easily available. The beautiful thing about them is that they can be stored in a dark, cool place for months! They have numerous uses and make up warm, hearty and filling dishes – exactly what we all want on a cold winter day. When you use root vegetables, such as potatoes, yams, squashes, beets, carrots, etc. you, by default, are working with local as well as seasonal products. And because most of these vegetables are full of sweetness, great texture, and pleasant aroma, let’s not to forget flavorful!

2. Hydroponically grown vegetables

These can be almost as good as the ones grown in the open. Generally, every major region has a grower, so find out whether or not you can get their produce instead of ordering from afar. It might be just as cost effective to get your produce from them.

3. Pickled vegetables and fruits

Another way to incorporate produce into your menu in the winter is to experiment with pickled vegetables and fruits, such as cabbage (sauerkraut or kimchi, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, apples, pears, carrots, etc.) Pickling is a traditional technique that has been around for centuries. It has been invented for the very reason of preserving fresh fruits and vegetables so that they may be available during cold winter months. To clarify, the pickling we are talking about here is not vinegar based, but rather involves salt, hot water and spices where necessary. What is great about this type of pickling is that it produces probiotic cultures that are proving to be essential for digestive health. Many local farmers pickle their ‘extra harvest’ and have it available for sale. Aside from the fact that pickled produce is super nourishing, it is also a creative way to add uniqueness to your dishes along with the always wanted ‘local and seasonal’ name tag.

Next time you are changing your menu to keep up with the season, consider these options. They are a great way to add not only a nourishing dimension to your dishes, but also a wonderful combination of colours, flavours, and textures.

Do you have other suggestions for using fresh, local or seasonal produce in the winter? We want to hear from you!

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