As we settle into winter here in the Pacific Northwest, a common complaint I hear from my patients is the lack of appealing fresh produce this time of year. Are you letting the gray, chilly days serve as an excuse not to eat your five-a-day? If so, keep reading! There are plenty of ways to boost your produce intake until spring arrives with its fresh crop of fruits & veggies.
Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables
Tired of apples and bananas? A variety of citrus fruits are currently showing up in stores. Break out of the orange rut and try a grapefruit, clementine, tangerine, pommelo, or kumquat for a healthy dose of vitamin C and a bright, refreshing burst of flavor. Kiwifruit pack a full day’s worth of vitamin C and 3 grams of fiber in each fuzzy fruit (the skin is edible, but I still opt to peel mine).
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale are nutrition powerhouses that are currently in season—try roasting them to bring out a nutty, caramelized flavor.
Frozen produce as an alternative
Still miss your berries, stone fruit, and tender veggies? Frozen fruit & vegetables are every bit as nutritious as fresh, so take a trip down the freezer aisle and stock up on frozen berries, peaches, asparagus, and green beans. I like to stir frozen berries into nonfat plain Greek yogurt—as the berries thaw, their juices sweeten the tart yogurt. No added sugar needed!
You can toss frozen veggies into a stir-fry with chicken or shrimp and serve with brown rice or quinoa for a quick, nutritious dinner. If you don’t like the texture of frozen fruit or veggies, whip up a tropical smoothie in the blender for a fiber-filled breakfast or add frozen veggies to a soup that you puree with an immersion blender. You’ll still get all of the nutrients and flavor, and nobody will know they were frozen.
This summer, plan ahead and stock up on extra fruits & veggies at the farmers’ market (or from your garden)—stash in your freezer for a taste of sunshine when next winter’s blues get you down. There are many local classes that teach safe home preservation techniques. Sign up for one and explore home canning as a way to store your bounty. Your taste buds—and body—will thank you!
Tracy Severson is an outpatient clinical dietitian at OHSU. She earned Bachelor’s degrees in Nutritional Sciences and Sociology from the University of Arizona and completed her training to become a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. Since becoming an R.D., she has also completed a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management.
Tracy moved to Portland from Tucson in 2010, and has worked at OHSU since 2011. She works with the OHSU Surgical Weight Reduction clinic and Cardiac Rehab program, and also provides medical nutrition therapy for General Adult Outpatient Clinics at OHSU.