5 a day seems so easy in summer, when it seems that just about everything worth eating is in season. By the time winter comes around, though, those lovely fresh strawberries are only a distant memory. A lucky buyer might still find them at the supermarkets, but if they don’t seem quite so red and juicy as they did in summer, that isn’t just a longing for the warmer months. They’re not in season, not quite at their best.
The benefits of eating in-season are immense. It can be far cheaper, and buying in-season may just mean supporting local farms. Then there are the health benefits – in season produce will be fresher and more nutritious, and years of eating what is available before the invention of refrigeration have taught the human body to eat certain things at certain times. But what to eat in winter?
Carrots, like all the vegetables on this list, are very hardy. Assuming your winters don’t dip too far below freezing, they’ll grow happily all the way from November to February and be none the worse for the cold. The carotenoids that they contain are also known to be powerful antioxidants and are commonly believed to be extremely good for the immune system, so they’ll keep the usual winter illnesses at bay.
Roast parsnips are delicious, exactly the right kind of food for cold afternoons and good as a side or as the star of the meal. They’re also proven to prevent depression, a problem which the lower hours of sun can make very common in the winter.
An abundant source of protein, iron and vitamins A, C and E, spinach is also capable of surviving terribly cold winters. Linked to higher energy, it’s perfect for staying awake and hard at work even when it’s dark at 4pm. It’s also wonderful in smoothies, so a good blender will prove useful all the way through the year.
The quintessential winter vegetable, cabbage is hardy enough to grow through the winter but also full of nutrients. It’s a good source of vitamin C, potassium and fibre. It’s also a great ingredient for all kinds of winter favourites, soups especially.
To ensure that the best vegetables make it onto the plate, be sure to check the labels when buying in-season produce this winter. Local produce not only supports local business, it’s also likely to be fresher and better for you.