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3 dead simple ways to enjoy fresh food all winter long.

Sandy Cornell January 15, 2014
A sign at a fruit stand that says: "closed for season".
Colder weather has officially moved in for the foreseeable future. Your local farmers’ market may have a ‘Closed’ sign posted out front, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to stocking up on fresh, healthy fare. Here are a few tips for eating peak produce when the temperature drops.

Eat seasonally.

Swap the strawberries, tomatoes and stone fruit from the menu for cold-weather fare such as citrus, carrots, pomegranates, beets, turnips, leeks, kale and squash, to name a few. Not only are seasonal fruits and vegetables at their peak ripeness nutrient packed, they’re also budget-friendly! Simply put, it’s supply and demand. In-season product is cheaper because there’s lots of it! So, check out the produce aisle endcaps, scan supermarket flyers and keep your eye on ‘Sale’ signs at your grocery store for fresh and inexpensive dinner picks.

Think frozen.

Flash frozen, to be exact.  Frozen produce may have been given a bad rap, but when eating off-season it’s one of your smartest options. Following a quick blanching, vegetables are often flash-frozen at the height of freshness to lock in nutrition. On the other hand, out-of-season produce at the supermarket may have been picked early and left to ripen on transport, possibly degrading nutritionally along the way. Look for 100% produce without added salt, butter or cream.

Tip: Enjoy frozen fare soon after purchase; it loses nutrition over time.

Preserve past harvests.

Plan ahead. Summer and autumn harvests are often so bountiful that you can’t decide which luscious pieces of produce to take home on your weekly grocery run, or have neighbours offering up baskets of tomatoes and peaches from their very own backyards. DIY projects like canning your own tomatoes, whipping up homemade salsas and pickling spring asparagus and cucumbers can ensure that your warm-weather favourites last well into the winter months. Or, freeze items yourself for months when your menu could use a bit more colour.

Tip: Consider freezing items such as beans, berries and peas first in a single layer, covered, on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a resealable bag or freezer-friendly storage container.

Do you eat fresh all winter long? Share your tips with us in the comments section below!