On a cold day, it can be hard not to fantasize about summer and the baskets of lectin-free veggies and summer fruits available to indulge in. Somehow in summer it can feel like any vibrant vegetables you crave can be selected from your nearest grocer’s shelves.
Though shopping for winter fruits and winter vegetables may seem a little more challenging at first, once you know what to look for and how to find them — winter produce can be as tasty and abundant as summer produce.
Why Should You Only Eat In-Season Produce?
Seasonal eating is an important aspect of healthy living, but it’s not necessarily “trendy”. That’s because if you ask your grandparents, they’ll probably tell you seasonal produce was the only way to eat fruit and veggies back in the day. Can’t you just hear your grandparents say, “In our day, we ate what was growing right outside. If it was nearby and ripe, it was on our plates.”
Today, you can enter any market and find whatever might grow in summer, in winter. But, that doesn’t mean that particular fruit or veggie is actually in-season. Instead, it means this vegetable was likely grown across the globe or in some lab and shipped to you.
How is this possible? Here’s how: Potentially dangerous GMOs. GMOs are genetically modified organisms. You may see GMO foods referred to as “genetically engineered,” or “bioengineered.”
These are just different ways of saying these foods consist of scientifically modified genetic material that doesn’t actually occur in nature1 — which is unsettling because what are fruits and vegetables if not natural?
Plus, GMO plants are manufactured by different approaches. Some GMO’s natural plant defenses, like lectins, are enhanced to defend the plants against threats to the farm they’re grown on.2 And lectins are not worth it when it comes to eating plant foods year round, right?
So here’s some information about how to shop for foods that are truly in-season during the cooler months.
Your Year-Round Farmers Market Can Be The Perfect Place For Fruits And Veggies
You can still eat a healthy diet full of great vitamins and minerals year-round.
Here’s a tip: If you’re not sure which foods are in season and which are out of season, head down to your local farmers market. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that your farmers market will disappear. In fact, there are tons of rain-or-shine winter farmers markets. And if you think your farmers market will close because you live in cold-weather cities think again. It’s easy to hop online and see if your local market stays open during the winter.
The beauty of heading to your farmers market is that you can have an actual conversation with the person who grew your food. Local farmers will likely only carry in-season fruit. If you suspect otherwise, just ask your farmer where and how your produce was grown. Plus, the more you attend your local market, the better sense you’ll develop of what produce is in season when.
Moreover, you can almost always count on the veggies your farmers market is peddling to be fresher than what you’ll find at a big box grocery store. That’s because your local farmer has probably harvested their produce in the last day or so. Markets get their food shipped to them — and depending on where that food is coming from it can be pretty old by the time it arrives.
Shopping For Produce During The Winter: What To Look For
Of course the fruits and veggies you’ll find to be in-season and abundant at your local farmers market will vary depending on what type of climate you live in. In winter, you may see bushels of kale, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage. Whereas in summer, you may discover melons, berries, and summer greens. Here are some general rules to follow when it comes to choosing winter produce.
Avoid Most Fruits
Now, it’s true that you want to give fruit the boot on a lectin-free diet. But, low-sugar fruits like lemons and limes pretty much get a free pass (and they’re full of vitamin C). And remember, orange juice or pomegranate juice (any fruit juice for that matter) is off limits.
But if it’s just the flavor of fresh fruit like grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, or tangerine you’re after, feel free to use the zest. In fact, you can go all-in on the zest of any citrus fruit. Plus, it’s always nice to elevate an arugula salad with something sweet — like a few slices of grapefruit.
Look For The Nutritious Avocado
One ingredient you’ll want to be on the lookout for year-round is the truly super superfood – the avocado.
What is so wonderful about the healthy avocado? Well, for starters, it consists of healthy fats, a little bit of protein, and even some dietary fiber. On top of that, avocados contain almost no sugar.3
The potential health benefits of avocados are great, too. For example, avocado consumption might actually support the following:
- Weight management
- Heart health4
If you have yet to prepare avocado-friendly dishes and aren’t sure what to do, try simply adding avocado slices to your omega-3 egg omelets. You can also blend avocados into your favorite smoothie recipes. You can even make delicious avocado ice cream.
If all of that seems like too much for you, simply slice an avocado in half and sprinkle the meat with some salt and pepper. A little squeeze of lemon over the top brightens the flavor a bit, too. Then simply grab your spoon and scoop out the buttery goodness.
Grow Your Own Vegetables In Your Private Winter Garden
Why not make a winter garden? There are many vegetables that love the cold weather such as kale, spinach and beets.
Also, turnips and sweet potatoes make hearty winter dishes when roasted in the oven — and what a lovely way to make your home feel warm and cozy. You might also do well with carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage. And don’t forget celery-like rhubarb, and persimmons— Try adding some French or Italian butter and nutmeg to stewed rhubarb for the perfect winter warmer dessert.
And even if you don’t have a backyard, you can grow produce in containers or consider growing a few veggies indoors.
Know Where To Go For Your Favorite Winter Produce
Finding your top winter fruit and vegetable choices really just means you’ll be finding fresh produce when it’s truly ready to be harvested. And if you’re eating locally, you’re most likely eating seasonally appropriate foods.
Another added bonus is that you’ll be doing something good for the environment because you won’t be relying on waste-producing packaging or pollution-promoting shipping.
So, just because summer’s a distant memory, you don’t need to forego your vitamin C, vitamin D, or any of the other nutrients your body relies on. In the end, you can find wonderful winter produce out there. And if you’re not sure about the lectin-content of fruits and vegetables you are considering, just check in with the Gundry Diet YES and NO list.
So stay cozy, warm, and healthy this winter, and enjoy the special produce the season has to offer.