Nutrition Articles

Seasonal Foods

Exceptional Flavor & Nutrition that Fits in Your Budget

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In practical terms, this means that you’ll get the most nutrition—not to mention the most affordable enjoyment—by eating seasonally. Although the exact season for specific items varies from region to region (you’ll almost certainly get that big beefsteak tomato much earlier in Georgia than in Ohio), follow these basic guidelines for optimal nutrition and taste:
  • In spring, pick the new growth of the season: tender leafy vegetables such as spinach, Romaine or leaf lettuces, Swiss chard, and early peas, as well as fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, and dill.
  • For summer, try lighter produce, with fruits such as strawberries, pears, apples, and plums, and vegetables such as summer squash, broccoli, corn, and cauliflower. You can also incorporate other summer-type herbs, such as mint or cilantro.
  • During fall, choose hearty harvest foods, including sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic. When cooking, emphasize “warmer” spices and seasonings such as peppercorns, ginger, and mustard seeds.
  • In winter, also pick hearty foods. Keep in mind the principle that foods which take longer to grow are generally more sustaining than foods that grow quickly. In this category are most root vegetables, including carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic, as well as eggs, corn, and nuts.
As you choose the best foods of the season, remember that the healthiest and most enjoyable diet involves diversity. Although you may have to compromise sometimes due to convenience and time constraints, try as much as possible to make food shopping and cooking an adventure, something you can enjoy or share with family members. Try these tips to enhance the journey:
  • Focus on the fresh, minimizing the use of prepared foods as much as possible. When you must use prepared foods, make an effort to embellish them with one or more fresh ingredients.
  • Pick a new produce item to try every week, whether the neglected rutabaga or the tropical mango.
  • Cook at least one new dish each week, and look for recipes that will help you get acquainted with new ingredients. You can subscribe to a food magazine, plug in keywords on the Internet, or even swap new recipes with friends. Since food writers generally base their topics and menus on the foods of the season, take advantage of their offerings to reward yourself with wholesome, tasty meals.
  • Experiment with regional or ethnic dishes. Most regional cuisines, developed in horse-and-buggy times, used local ingredients close by. Exploring new foods will keep mealtime both interesting and healthy.
  • Don’t forget to take advantage of the useful food information your grocer provides. Whether you consult those little description cards that hang above specific fruits and veggies, or hold a friendly discussion with the produce manager on how to peel the leaves of an artichoke, you’ll find a wealth of ideas about preparing food.
Let the backdrop of the seasons be your guide to happy and healthy eating—you’ll find that Mother Nature does indeed know best!
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About The Author

Rebecca Pratt Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

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