// By: Emily Fitzgerald, MScFN,RD & Mistralle Brouillard, RD

eat-fruits-and-veggies-learn-why

 

Spring is in full swing – the weather is improving, the days are getting longer, and our fruits and vegetables are more flavourful! We are lucky to have access to almost any fruit and vegetable all year round. However, seasonal produce has many benefits including lower food costs, better flavour, a wide variety and accessibility at certain times throughout the year, and the added perk of supporting your local farmers. Keep reading to find out what time of year is best to purchase your favourite fruits and vegetables!

Spring

Asparagus: it is a widely known fact that with the arrival of asparagus comes the arrival of spring! These green spears are an excellent source of folate, a vitamin that helps build new red blood cells and is heart healthy. Enjoy this green when it’s nice and sweet!

Rhubarb: it is one of the first fruit picks of the year, available in early spring. Rhubarb not only offers a delicious tart flavour that pairs well with sweet (hello strawberry rhubarb jam!), but it’s also a source of potassium, vitamin C and calcium.

Radishes: these little bundles of flavour are wonderful for topping off your salad, dipping in hummus or enjoying on their own!

Spinach: this leafy green is loved year-round, but is at its best during the springtime. It contains beneficial antioxidants including vitamin A and C, which help keep your skin, eyes and immune system healthy! Fun fact: cooked spinach offers more calcium and iron vs. raw spinach.

Summer

Berries: raspberries, blueberries and strawberries are at their peak in the summer months. Of course they’re tasty on their own, but have you tried sneaking them into salads? Check out our Kale Berry Salad recipe for a how-to!

Snow peas: don’t let the name fool you, these veggies are in season in the summertime. Keep your snow peas in a bowl on the kitchen counter for a healthy, convenient and crunchy snack!

Watermelon: how fitting that such a refreshing fruit is in season just when we need to cool down! As you can tell from its name, it’s a very hydrating fruit – about 90% water, but that’s not all it offers. Watermelon’s bright red colour comes from the cancer-fighting phytonutrient, lycopene. Tomatoes usually get the lycopene spotlight, but watermelon actually contains about 40% more lycopene than raw tomatoes! On top of its cancer-fighting properties, it is super low in calories and a deliciously refreshing fruit. Enjoy watermelon as a snack or try making our Fresh Watermelon Basil Salad.

Zucchini: the possibilities are endless with zucchini! Use a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles or try making our Chocolate Zucchini Bread – it’s a great way to add in veggies to your dessert!

Cherries: not only are cherries at their best price in the summer months but they’re also at their sweetest! These little sweet treats are rich in fibre and vitamin C. I don’t know about you, but I’m counting down the days until they’re in season!

Tomatoes: often found in hearty pasta sauces, try using this vegetable in a lighter recipe this summer. Simply top off a slice of tomato with some fresh mozzarella, basil and a couple drops of balsamic vinegar for a healthy snack or side dish.

Fall

Cranberries: cling onto summer by using frozen cranberries instead of ice cubes to chill your drinks.

Artichokes: most commonly found in a delicious dip, artichoke has so much potential! You can stuff, grill and roast fresh artichokes, among other possibilities. A study done by Halvorsen et al. found that artichokes ranked at the top of the list for antioxidant content 1. On top of that, they are an excellent source of fibre, helping you feel full longer.

Brussels sprouts: many people wince at the memories of their parents feeding them boiled Brussels sprouts and I don’t blame them! Maybe the memory is so sour because your Brussel sprouts were out of season or not seasoned at all! Try them roasted with a light drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of black pepper and salt.

Eggplant: though it may be known best for its wonderful contribution to baba ganoush, eggplant is a great addition to many recipes. Thanks to its texture, you can use it as a replacement to chicken in chicken parm or use it as opposed to lasagna noodles!

Winter

Beets: these root veggies have a pleasant earthy flavour on their own, but they also pair well with goat cheese and pomegranate seeds. Try making our beet and pomegranate salad for your next family gathering. Make use of the whole beet and save the leaves to add to your next stir-fry!

Leeks: less sharp than onions, shallots and scallions, these classic broth-boosters are delicious add-ins to soup, stews, casseroles, pastas and the list goes on!

Squash: we all know and love our butternut squash, but what about spaghetti, acorn and buttercup? All of these varieties are excellent sources of beta-carotene (gives squash its bright orange-yellow colour) and potassium (heart healthy nutrient!). Try making our Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili or top your spaghetti squash with our Fresh Basil Pesto.

For a full list of fruits and vegetables available throughout the year, visit Foodland Ontario.

 

Join us for our upcoming nutrition workshop, Going Green, to learn how to easily incorporate more plant-based foods in your diet!

Stay grounded,

Emily

 

References

  1. Halvorsen BL, Carlsen MH, Philips KM, et al. Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(1):95-135.
  2. https://www.ontario.ca/foodland/page/availability-guide