Adding Seasonal Foods to Menus This Winter

Adding Seasonal Foods to Menus This Winter

As the colder climate nears, the weather brings surprising vegetables to the table

It’s called comfort food for good reason. Steaming soups, hot pot pies and roasted root vegetables make us feel all warm and fuzzy on cold gloomy days.

As the weather turns chilly in many climates, the farmer’s markets empty. Yet there are still lots of seasonal vegetables and fruits available to include in yummy recipes, even if the variety is narrower during winter. Along with a rich flavor, winter foods also pack important nutrients, and perhaps taste all the more delicious in contrast to the snow and sleet.

While eating fresh food in summer is easy with its abundance of produce, the cold weather may present a challenging time to be a “locavore”—those who stick with eating locally grown foods. We are all spoiled by produce flown in from around the world, allowing us to eat tomatoes in December and almost any fruit or vegetable year-round. Some contend that it’s more natural for our bodies to eat what’s regionally grown. There’s also a smaller environmental impact than shipping melons across continents.

Check out the list below for some “exotic” possibilities to incorporate in meals served on a bed of hearty grains, like faro and buckwheat, instead of white rice, and include a side dish of lentils or other beans. It’s fun to forage for a recipe and worthwhile to introduce your child to new veggie dishes. Who can resist sweet-potato fries baked with a dusting of cinnamon? Winter is also the time to open up preserved and canned foods, jams and sauces from summer’s abundant harvest.

These following winter fruit and vegetable suggestions may surprise you. Add to favorite meats and fish for a multicourse comfort-food meal and winter will feel much warmer:

Root vegetables


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  • Nutty-flavored turnips, parsnips and rutabaga enhance the flavor of casseroles and stews, or can be pureed, mashed and combined.
  • Beets and sweet potatoes are sweet, nutrient-rich and versatile:
    shred beets in salads or juice, and bake a sweet-potato pie.

Winter squash

  • Pumpkin, butternut and acorn squash roasts up nicely with root vegetables or can be baked or mashed. Theses low-calorie, high-vitamin vegetables pack a load of vitamins A, C, B6 and K, potassium and folate. Maybe nature knows we need health reinforcements for winter.


  • Leafy green lettuce substitutes available in winter include kale, chard, collards, mustard greens, escarole and beet greens, which are less bitter in chilly temps.
  • Endive spears with roasted beets and walnuts.
  • Cabbage and radicchio, sweeter in winter, mix well with blue cheese.
  • Shaved Brussels sprouts with almonds.
  • Fennel sliced thin with radishes and apples.
  • Shredded celery root in mustard dressing.


  • Orchards produce apples, pears, persimmons and pomegranates
    to be sliced, baked or seeded
  • Citrus may not be local but it’s juicier in winter. Seedless and easy-to-peel Satsuma or Clementine tangerines are a Christmastime treat. Lemons and grapefruits ripen and stay sweet from January into summer.
  • Dried fruits with nuts replace grapes to perfectly complement a cheese platter.

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