Seasonal Produce: What to Eat in Winter
Winter has arrived and deliciously crunchy apples, zingy citrus fruits and vibrant dark leafy greens are in back in season. Whether you’re growing your own or buying fresh from the local market nothing beats the taste of just harvested produce. As well as tasting better locally grown, seasonal produce has minimal time between harvesting and eating. This is important because nutrients start breaking down after fruit and vegetables are picked off the parent plant, so freshly picked means you get better nutritional value. Speaking of value, fresh produce is generally cheaper too because it hasn’t been in storage and / or imported from overseas, meaning lower production costs. Here are some of our Australian winter favourites.
A good apple is heaven with each bite providing that satisfying crunch followed by a rush of sweet and tart that only apples have. Did anyone else have a gran that used up spare apples in winter to make warm apple pie, apple strudel, or apple crumble for desert? You can find our recipe for stuffed baked apples here.
Apples are one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits with over 7500 varieties available worldwide. Popular varieties available in Australia include the red delicious, royal gala, pink lady, fuji, jazz, and of course the granny smith. Each variety has its own unique characteristics which you can learn more about here.
- A medium sized apple provides 10 – 12% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fibre.
- Supports healthy digestion and waste elimination.
- Contains pectin which feeds your good gut bacteria and prevents chronic disease.
- Contains quercetin a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
- Supports immunity and regulates blood sugar.
- Prevents chronic disease including heart disease and cancer.
Citrus fruits are vibrantly coloured with a refreshing zesty tang in the flesh, juice and rind. Naturally acidic, citrus fruit are wonderful for boosting digestion and maintaining your body’s pH balance. Plus we wouldn’t have guacamole without lemons.
There are probably more citrus varieties that you realise (did you know there are more than 600 varieties of orange??) but the most readily available citrus during winter in Australia are naval oranges, mandarins, and lemons. Lime, grapefruit and valencia oranges come into season during warmer months.
- A single mandarin contains 100% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
- Vitamin C supports immunity, helping to prevent illness and recover more quickly if you get sick.
- One orange contains 18% of the recommended daily intake of folic acid.
- Folic acid is required for DNA production and prevents neural tube defects during pregnancy.
- Contains hesperetin an antioxidant that protects cells and has anti-ageing properties.
- Are a great source of dietary fibre.
- Dietary fibre helps maintain blood glucose, supports healthy digestion, and prevents heart disease.
Fresh pears have a beautiful crispy outer skin and are soft and buttery on the inside, hence why they are also known as ‘butter fruit’ in some countries. If you’re a sweet tooth pears are a perfect snacking option for satisfying that sugar craving and that’s just one of their many benefits.
Like apples, pears are widely cultivated with over 6000 different varieties on record. Australia produces several of these varieties, with packham, williams, and beurre bosc pears being the most widely available. Each variety has unique characteristics which you can learn about here.
- A medium sized pear contains about 20 -25% of your recommended daily intake for dietary fibre.
- Pears are a great natural laxative and support healthy digestion.
- Rich in potassium and fibre to support cardiovascular health.
- Contains copper, Vitamin C and boron which support bone health and prevent osteoporosis.
- Contains the anti-oxidants arbutin and catechin which are associated with cancer prevention.
- Contains quercetin and rutin which support blood vessel strength and flexibility.
- Contains soluble and insoluble fibre that feeds your good gut bacteria.
Guacomole and one of our breakfast favourites wouldn’t exist without avocados, and lets face it, the humble garden salad would be rather bland without them! Avocados have a creamy texture and a fairly mellow flavour which shines with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or smokey paprika. Check out one of our favourite ways to use avocado here.
We have two main varieties of Avocado in Australia, the Hass which is in season from May to February and the Shepard which is in season from February to May. Hass avocados have a rough, olive green skin which darkens to a black purple colour as the fruit ripens, while Shepard avocados have a smooth green skin that doesn’t change colour. You can learn more about the differences here.
- Contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which lower LDL cholesterol.
- Half an avocado contains up to 5 grams of dietary fibre supporting healthy digestion.
- The combination of good fats and fibre increases satiety (feeling satisfied after eating).
- Contains Vitamin E which protects cells from oxidative damage and supports glowing, healthy skin.
- Good source of Vitamin C, potassium, and Vitamin B.
- Contains lutein and zeaxanthin which protect and promote the eye health.
Asian greens refers collectively to whole plethora of delicious leafy greens including bok choy, choy sum, gai laan (Chinese broccoli), and wombok. Some of these guys are sweet and some are bitter, but they all make a great addition to Asian cuisine or as a side dish with a drizzle of sesame oil and some sesame seeds
Some of the more popular varieties are mentioned above, and these are generally available from the local grocer, supermarket, farmers market, or fruit and veg store. It is important to note that many Asian greens will have several names for the same vegetable i.e. wombok is also known as Chinese cabbage, Chinese leaves, and celery cabbage. You can check out all of the different varieties here.
- High in nutrients and low in calories giving your more bang for your ‘nutritional dollar’.
- 100g contains 5-8% of the recommended daily intake for calcium in a low oxalate, plant based form.
- 100g contains 8% of the recommended daily intake of Iron for women (perfect for non-meat eaters)
- Good source of Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B and Vitamin K.
- Like avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin which protect and promote the eye health.
Whether you love ’em or hate ’em there is no denying that cruciferous vegetables are a stand out champion of the food world when it comes to health and nutrition . No dinner plate is complete without the vibrancy of dark leafy greens, the crunch of steamed cauliflower, or the unique taste of brussels sprouts.
Members of the cruciferous vegetable family include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula, brussels sprouts, turnips, collards, watercress and radishes.
- 100g serve of broccoli contains 3% of the recommended daily intake of calcium.
- Cruciferous vegetables are a rich source of folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and dietary fibre.
- Contain glucosinolates which have shown to have cancer fighting properties.
- Contain phytonutrients that fight inflammation and promote cardiovascular health.
- Natural source of indole-3-carbinol which promotes healthy oestrogen metabolism.
While there are numerous health benefits associated with cruciferous vegetables they are not recommended for everyone. Firstly the fibre in these guys ferments in the large intestine and can cause excessive flatulence. Therefore they may not be suitable if you have IBS or similar digestive complaints.
If eaten raw, cruciferous vegetables produce goitrogens as they are digested. Goitrogens prevent iodine uptake by the thyroid gland, which is required for producing thyroid hormones. Therefore if you have a thyroid condition, especially hypothyroidism, it is recommended that you stick to two small servings or less of well cooked cruciferous vegetables per day. The reason I stress well cooked is because the cooking process destroys goitrogens.
Lastly cruciferous vegetables contain phytonutrients that stimulate liver enzymes responsible for the clearance of some medications. If eaten in large quantities they may reduce the effectiveness of your medication.