Among the many reasons you should eat in season, the “better for you” quotient floats to the top of the tally. Signed with freshness and sealed with savings, not only does eating seasonally encourage healthier food choices, but it can help support your local farmers and economy. Eating in season is also better for you in the long run! Providing you with opportunities to eat the freshest foods at the peak of their supply, it gives you the most of the best and right in time! The challenge? Knowing exactly what is in, when to get them and what to do with them once you have! To lend a hand, we’ve gathered a list of some of the freshest foods you should be adding to your shopping cart this week!
When are they in season: August-December
Why are they good for you? With over 5 g in every serving, pears are one of the best sources of dietary fibre among all common fruits and vegetables. Filling, crisp and refreshing, not only do pears make for a wonderful dessert, but they are loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging flavonoids! What’s more? With vitamin C levels high enough to serve as powerful antioxidants, pears contain enough bite to both help fight free-radical damage and keep your immune system strong!
Perfect point of ripeness: One of the only fruit that do not ripen on the tree, pears mature from the inside out. If you’re not sure whether they’re prime for the taking, gently apply pressure near the end of the stem. If there is a bit of a ”give”, this means your pear is ready to be eaten!
What can you make with them? Baked Pears with Pecans and Cranberries
When are they in season? January-April, July-December
Why are they good for you? A salad bar essential, when it comes to potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese and copper, there is just no beating beets! Adding just the right pop of colour to any plate of greens, they’re known to improve blood pressure and stamina. Beets are also rich in betaine and folate, which, when combined, deliver a two-pronged remedy for helping to lower blood levels of homocysteine*, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Perfect point of ripeness: Unlike pears, you should avoid beets that have softened. When beats are ripe, the ”taproot” should be slender, and any leaves attached should be small, crisp and green. Pro tip: when selecting beets, be sure to choose ones of a similar size to keep cooking time consistent!
What can you make with them? Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula and Walnuts
When are they in season? September-November
Why are they good for you? Brussels sprouts are a part of the powerful cruciferous family, and are relatives to broccoli, cabbage and collard greens. High in vitamins C and K, Brussels sprouts are rich in dietary fibre and are a perfect aid for digestion. With one cup giving you over 100% of your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance needed to prevent deficiency, as per Health Canada) of both, as well as 270 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, this vegetable is armed with disease-fighting antioxidants and mood regulating healthy fats.
Perfect point of ripeness: When picking Brussels sprouts at your local grocer, keep an eye out for bright green heads with tightly packed leaves. They should also be firm and weighty in contrast to size. Also steer clear of those that have yellowed as this is a sign of age.
What can you make with them? Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa Salad
When are they in season? January-February, August-December
Why are they good for you? A single cup of leeks contains 1,484 IU of vitamin A. That is the equivalent of 49% of the RDA for men and 64% of the RDA for women. Good for blood and bones, leeks are also high in vitamin K, a nutrient that helps retain calcium in the bones and maintain healthy blood (and not to mention a tasty additive to almost any savoury meal)!
Perfect point of ripeness: Leeks are typically good no matter their size, but when selecting, pay particular attention to their leaves, and make sure to pick leeks that are straight and bright in colour. Pro tip? The freshest leeks are at least ¼ white!
What can you make with them? Baked Eggs with Leeks and Ricotta
When are they in season? January-March, August-December
Why are they good for you? A member of the squash family, spaghetti squash is often misunderstood. To begin, its name originates from its texture when cooked. Essentially, the flesh of this veggie pulls from the shell like long strands of, you guessed it, spaghetti! A perfect low-carb alternative to traditional pasta, this vegetable is a good source of vitamins A, K, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. It also contains manganese, which assists in the production* of healthy bones, and contributes to regulating your metabolism, blood sugar, and calcium absorption.
Perfect point of ripeness: The perfect way to test this squash’s ripeness is through a very simple test! Give it a poke with your fingernail and if you don’t penetrate the squash, it’s ripe!
What can you make with them? Easy Roasted Spaghetti Squash
To learn more about what foods are available throughout the seasons, visit the Ontario Availability Guide for more information.
*Homocysteine: an amino acid and breakdown product of protein metabolism that, when found in high doses, has been tied to heart attack and stroke.
- Yeager, S. (2017, March). 7 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Beets. Retrieved from http://www.health.com/nutrition/beets-health-benefits
- Salkeld, L. (2015, September). Brussels sprouts 101: How to select, prep and cook the fall vegetable. Retrieved from https://www.today.com/food/brussels-sprouts-recipes-tips-how-select-prep-cook-fall-vegetable-t45776
- Mateljan, G. (2016, December). What's New and Beneficial About Brussels Sprouts. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=10
- Allen, J. (2017, October). Are Leeks Healthier Than Onions? Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/397121-are-leeks-healthier-than-onions/
- Gaudreault, G. (2016, August). Choose veggies at the supermarket like a pro. Retrieved from http://www.arcticgardens.ca/blog/choosing-veggies/
- Joy, T. (2017, October). What Are the Benefits of Spaghetti Squash? Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/427647-what-are-the-benefits-of-spaghetti-squash/
- Patterson, S. (2016, April). Ripening Of Spaghetti Squash – How To Ripen Squash After Picking. Retrieved from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/squash/spaghetti-squash-ripeness.htm