Much like the season in which they grow, winter produce is bold and intense in every way. Whether sweet, earthy, bitter, or tart, flavors are as strong as the crops must be to survive this harsh time of year, and colors are similarly robust with deep purple, electric orange, hot pink, and dark green scattering the typical winter table. The hearty root vegetables, refreshing citrus, and grounding leafy greens available this time of year help to fortify the body, building immunity and boost energy during the year’s darker months.
Radicchio peaks in mid-winter through early spring, making it a robust and nutritious addition to your wintertime table. Strong and bitter, this chicory vegetable provides a nice flavor contrast to the intense sweet-tart flavors of winter citrus and the nutty earthiness of root vegetables.
High in antioxidants and vitamin K, radicchio is exceptionally nutritious as well. It receives its bitter flavor from a compound called lactucopicrin, which has pain-relieving effects on the body. It is also known to increase bile production, which aids in digestion and detoxification.
King kale reigns supreme in all months, but its exceptional nutritional profile makes it especially important in the winter, when other nutritious foods tend to hibernate. The hardy crop can withstand sub-freezing temperatures, making it an excellent choice for growing and eating in the year’s coldest months.
Just one cup of this super green provides twice the recommended daily amount (RDA) of Vitamin A, six times the RDA of vitamin K, the full RDA of vitamin C, and significant amounts of other important nutrients like vitamin B6, copper, manganese, and calcium. It also is low in calories (33 per cup), high in fiber, and loaded with antioxidant flavonoids that help protect the body against various forms of environmental stress.
Kale blends easily into NutriBlasts and SouperBlasts and also tastes great roasted, steamed, or sautéed and mixed into soups, stir-frys, and other winter meals.
Bittersweet blood oranges are as tasty and nutritious as they are beautiful. Their nutritional profile combines the vitamin C of their pure orange cousins with anthocyanins—powerful antioxidant pigments that give the fruit’s flesh the deep red color its name implies.
While their season can run as long as May, the best crops are typically available from January through March. Add them to NutriBlasts, salads, dressings, or juices, or serve alongside roasted chicken or fish for a bright and juicy flavor contrast.
Tart, crunchy kumquats are available from November through March, making them a truly seasonal winter citrus. Unlike oranges, lemons, and other varieties of citrus, kumquats are completely edible, peel and all. This gives them a unique nutritional advantage. Not only does the rind increase the fiber content of the fruit, it also contains beneficial essential oils and antioxidants. The flesh is also highly nutritious, providing a super-concentrated source of vitamin C.
Enjoy kumquats on their own or in Blasts, or try them roasted with savory dishes. Their intense tartness also contrasts beautifully with holiday-time sweets like dark chocolate, pound cake, and pudding, but you didn't hear that from us!
Lauded for their antioxidant content, pomegranates have long been categorized as a winter superfood. Available from September through February, these deep red fruits with their jewel-like seeds (called arils) make a pretty and powerful addition to winter diets.
Extracting the edible arils from the fruit’s rind can be tricky, so here is a method we like best: cut the fruit in half horizontally. Loosen the arils from each half by gently pulling from the center of the half outward, as if you were going to flip it inside out. Once the arils are loosened, place a bowl nearby. Flip the half over in your hand and hit the back of it several times with a wooden spoon over a bowl. The arils should fall into your hand and into the bowl. Repeat on the other half.
This holiday favorite packs a mean nutritional punch. Widely known for their vitamin C content, cranberries also contain several beneficial antioxidants that work together to provide a wide range of health benefits. Scientific research has shown cranberries to be very helpful in supporting the health of the urinary, digestive, and cardiovascular systems of the body, all for distinct reasons. The majority of their beneficial compounds reside in the skin and seeds, so add whole fruits to your NutriBlasts and recipes to reap the strongest benefits. Peak season lasts from October through December, but frozen berries are available throughout the year.
Parsnips resemble white carrots, but their flavor and texture is entirely unique. Sweet and earthy with a hearty consistency, parsnips provide a healthy and belly-warming treat in the winter months. Parsnips actually grow sweeter in cold soil, so the best time to buy them is at peak winter – December through February. When cooked, these root veggies blend nicely into purées, SouperBlasts, and stews.
From a nutritional standpoint, parsnips are incredibly high in fiber, providing roughly 28 percent of daily fiber needs per 1 cup serving. They also contain significant amounts of potassium, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and zinc. It is important to note that parsnips are higher in sugar than other veggies, so be sure to watch your portion sizes when enjoying this winter favorite. However, their strong nutritional profile and satisfying taste earn them a place at the table, albeit within moderation.
Whole turnips contain a purplish root that anchors bright, leafy greens. Both parts of this winter vegetable are edible, and make tasty and highly nutritious additions to any winter menu. Though categorized as a root vegetable like carrots and potatoes, turnips are actually part of the cruciferous family like cabbage, kale, and broccoli, making them lower in carbohydrates and calories and higher in beneficial nutrients than their starchier counterparts.
Turnips contain indoles—a category of phytonutrients associated with reduced risk of lung and colorectal cancers. Like other cruciferous vegetables, they also contain sulfuric compounds that may have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also high in vitamins K and C, and contain potassium, vitamin B6, folate, and copper.
The greens of this peppery vegetable blend nicely into NutriBlasts and SouperBlasts. Roots can be roasted or steamed, served whole or mashed as a nutritious alternative to mashed potatoes. Turnips are available year-round (baby turnips are popular spring and summertime vegetables), but the large turnips harvested in winter have the strongest flavor and more robust nutritional profile.
Though available year-round, the earthy-sweet flavor and nutritional benefits of beets really shine in the colder months. Beet roots contain healthy nitrates, which contribute to increased blood flow in the body; the nutrient betanine, which has anti-inflammatory properties; betalin, a pigment known for its liver-detoxifying effects; and antioxidant phytonutrients, which help the body fight free radicals.
The greens of the beet are also exceptionally nutritious. Loaded with vitamin B6, iron, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and more, these special greens blend nicely into NutriBlasts and Souperblasts. They also make a tasty, slightly bitter side dish when sautéed with leeks (another winter favorite) in a bit of olive oil.
The sweet and mild leek is a scrumptious winter vegetable that crops up on produce aisles from mid-fall to early spring. Resembling a giant green onion, leeks are in the allium family alongside garlic, onions, and scallions, but their flavor is much subtler than that of their bold relatives.
Leeks are noteworthy for their heart-healthy compounds. They contain the flavonoid kaempferpol, which has been linked to the protection of blood vessel linings, as well as the B-vitamin folate, which helps to regulate enzymes in the body associated with heart disease. In addition to their cardio-protective compounds, leeks contain antioxidant polyphenols, vitamin K, and iron, among other nutrients.
To enjoy this lovely veggie, trim the roots and thinly slice from the bottom of the stalk upwards. Use in place of onions in Souperblasts, sautés, and other savory dishes.