With all the New Years resolutions settling into a more natural pattern, you may be finding it difficult to find affordable ways of clean eating, especially in the winter months. It is always good to know what fruits and vegetables are seasonal for your area. But it also helps to know what clean eating means. According to Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD, author of Eat Clean Stay Lean defining the term “clean eating” as such: “Clean eating is about taking steps toward real, wholesome, simpler, minimally-processed foods more often (not absolute or always) and away from highly processed foods.” Eating minimally-processed foods can be difficult to do in winter months. By eating “clean,” it helps your body reduce the toxins that can be present. Thus this is a great way to detox your body and start to feel great.
How many times have we heard “eating healthy is so expensive.” Well, it doesn’t have to be. Seasonal eating is one trick that I learned years ago. Another is to keep fresh herbs planted in my kitchen, these can be planted in larger containers for warmer weather. Following the sales at the local grocery stores is important, but so is knowing your local farm stands and farmers markets. Go visit your local farm stands, talk to the people who are growing the food. This is one of the best resources out there, believe me, they know people and where to get the best prices for produce around your area.
Speaking of grocery stores, one rule that I try to stick to: shop the perimeter of the grocery store. When you work your way into the aisle of the store, the more products you find that are processed. Now, there are some exceptions like the frozen produce and rice, pastas and grains which tend to be on the inner aisles. But for the most part, if I can avoid it, I will.
In a 2016 study that looked at ultra-processed foods in the United States they found that “Decreasing the consumption of ultra-processed foods could be an effective way of reducing the excessive intake of added sugars in the USA” (Steele, et. al., 2016). I was once told that white sugar, flour and milk were considered the “white devils” to healthy living. I admit I have not always avoided the sugar or flour, but recently Handsome Head and I have steered clear of the flour and it has been years since we have had dairy milk. Our last hurdle has been the white sugar. We have worked hard to replace sugar cravings with seasonal fruit.
Seasonal produce is always more affordable than those that are not in season. If you have never tried some of them, now is a great time to experiment with recipes to see which you can start to include in your menu planning.
For the midwest, these fruits and vegetables are in season during the winter months (Click name for nutritional information):
BEETS: You can eat the vegetable and the greens.
BROCCOLI: Whether steamed, broiled or grilled broccoli is amazing and tastes great.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS: One of my favorites. I love to sauté these and then dress them with some balsamic vinegar.
CABBAGE: The cooler the weather in grows in, the sweeter it tends to taste (this effect is called “frost kissed”).
CARROTS: Available year-round.
CAULIFLOWER: This vegetable is so versatile. You can make mashed cauliflower to substitute mashed potatoes, you can turn it into a rice substitute, or make pizza crust with it. You can slice it into 1/2 inch slices and roast them.
CELERIAC/CELERY ROOT: is at its best in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring (except in cold climates, where you’ll find it during the summer and early fall).
CELERY: I love making soups and stocks using every bit of celery, the stalks, the leaves and the bottom… it just adds so much flavor.
CLEMENTINES: are small, sweet orange available from December through the winter.
FENNEL: This has a great licorice like flavor that is wonderful in salads. I really like fennel and grapefruit salad.
GRAPEFRUIT,POMMELOS: from California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona comes into season in January and stays sweet and juicy into early summer.
HERBS: Fresh herbs and hard to come by in the colder months, although there are some you can still buy as they are grown in greenhouses. You always have the option of dried herbs. I like the fresh ones better, whenever possible.
HORSERADISH: is at its best in fall and winter. Like so many other root vegetables, however, it stores well and is often available in decent shape well into spring.
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES/SUNCHOKES: are brown nubs, that look a bit like small pieces of fresh ginger. Look for firm tubers with smooth, tan skins in fall and winter.
KIWIS: grow on vines and are harvested winter through springing warmer and temperate areas.
KOHLRABI: These bad boys are chock full of Vitamin C.
KUMQUATS: Tiny citrus fruits that you can pop in your mouth, peel and all. Also, helps with digestive issues.
LEEKS: These are a milder member of the onion family. They are a wonderful addition to any meal.
LEMONS AND MEYER LEMONS: Lemons are excellent for detoxing the liver, flush the digestive system and rehydrate the body. When they are added to olive oil, they make a wonderful dressing. Lemons add the right amount of zing to any dish.
ONIONS: These beauties hold anti-carcinogenic properties, anti-platelet activity, anti-thrombotic activity, anti-asthmatic and antibiotic effects. Who couldn’t use a little of that in their lives?
ORANGES, TANGERINES, MANDARINS, SATSUMAS: These perfectly packaged bursts of nutritious juice are excellent as a snack, addition to a salad, base for a marinade, etc.
PARSNIPS: These have a great nutty flavor and look like a white carrot. The thinner the better to avoid woody fibers. Personally, I love using these mixed with rutabaga as a substitute for mashed potatoes.
PEARS: Raw or baked, pears are delicious.
PERSIMMONS: These are great for lowering blood pressure and providing Vitamin C.
RADICCHIO: Full of Vitamin K with anti-parasitic properties to boot.
RADISHES: Eaten raw, pickled, roasted or however you like, radishes are great year round.
RUTABAGAS: These have a sweet and nutty flavor. These are great potato substitutes.
SHALLOTS: These are a staple for me. They taste like garlic and an onion had a baby. I use them whenever I sauté or if I am making homemade pasta sauce.
SWEET POTATOES: If you are in the market for something delicious that delivers Vitamin A by the bundle, this little package does just that.
TURNIPS (especially the greens): These are nutrient rich with a sweet flavor.
WINTER SQUASH: Acorn, butternut, and kobacha are just some of my favorite winter squash. They are so versatile and make excellent soups in this cold weather.
Remember, small changes can add up to big health benefits. No one is expecting you to do a 180 overnight, start with adding more whole foods and work your way from there. I also recommend going through your kitchen pantry and getting rid of the items that are ultra-processed. It will make the transition that much easier if you don’t have them around to tempt you.
There are a ton of clean eating recipes out there, and I have included links to some of my favorites. I hope that you choose to make a few of them and let me know what you think.
Curried Peach & Corn Salsa (I like this with fish and seafood)
Have fun adding clean eating to your every day meals. Remember, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
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Dherbs – Herbal Supplements, Herbal Remedies, Natural Healing Remedies, Full Body Detox. (n.d.). Retrieved February 8, 2018, from https://www.dherbs.com/
Health and Fitness News, Recipes, Natural Remedies. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2018, from https://draxe.com/
Steele, E. M., Baraldi, L. G., da Costa Louzada, M. L., Moubarac, J. C., Mozaffarian, D., & Monteiro, C. A. (2016). Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. BMJ open, 6(3), e009892.
The World’s Healthiest Foods. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2018, from http://www.whfoods.com/