Each season brings us a bounty of varying vegetables and fruits. With our year round accessibility to most foods it is easy to forget there are actual seasons when each one is prime. When in season, each food is at its peak and thus provides more nutrients and flavor—making them better for our health (and more delicious). As an added bonus, in season foods are typically cheaper, saving on the meal budget.
Differing vegetables and fruits offer us varied nutrients that align with the seasonal needs of our bodies. Citrus fruits, for example, are in season in the winter when our bodies need them most. They are high in Vitamin C which helps to fend off colds and the flu, often seen in the colder months.
Another reason, I try to buy in season fruits and vegetables is simply to help me rotate the foods being found at my table. It is common for us to choose our favorites and eat the same things over and over. Aiming to eat seasonally adds to variety and interest in dishes. And, it ensures your diet is filled with varied nutrients throughout the year.
Vegetables in Season in February
beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, carrots, radishes, fennel, onions, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, collards, cabbages, kale, red radicchio, spinach, leeks
kiwifruit, orange, tangerine, clementine, lemon, grapefruit, apple, pear, avocados (for February think citrus fruits)
How to Cook with Seasonal Vegetables in February
1. Turnips, fennel and leeks are known for their detoxifying benefits. An easy way to use these is to shave them (or make small slices) and add them to winter salads. This turns a regular salad into a nice detoxifying addition to any meal—which is welcome coming out of the heavy comfort foods of the winter season.
2. Root vegetables (beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, potatoes, carrots, radish, fennel, onions) can be easily roasted in the oven. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and arrange on an oven pan and roast at 400° for about 40 minutes or until tender.
3. Broccoli and cauliflower can also be roasted on a sheet pan in the oven. They will cook faster, check around 25 minutes. These can both be added to salads, bowls or used as side dishes. Cauliflower can be chopped down to rice or pasta size, sautéed for 3-5 minutes with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and used as a rice substitute in bowls or with any dish.
4. Beets: use the whole beet. Roast the bulb or root and use the top greens in a salad or sautéed. I like to mix the greens with kale and spinach and sauté with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper as a side with my breakfast.
5. Sweet potatoes and winter squash can be cut into cubes and added to soups or roasted and then added to breakfast casseroles or simply served as a side.
Get creative. And have fun in the kitchen. Experiment and find ways to add a variety of foods to your diet for the most health benefits year round.