DENVER, CO – Optimum Wellness Presented by King Soopers

It’s harder to eat “in season” as the days grow shorter and colder. Depending on where you live, you may be buried in snow by December or you may be basking in a temperate climate, perfect for “dark green leafies” and root veggies. It’s usually sweater weather no matter where you live, but there are some fruits and vegetables that are still being harvested this month. If you like to try and eat with the seasons, then this list is for you. Most grocery stores list the origins of all their produce. When in doubt, just look for your nearest person working produce and ask them. The benefits of choosing foods that originate closer to you geographically is:

- The food will not have to travel as far to make it to your plate
– They generally require less packaging
– They require less refrigeration
– They tend to be heartier fruits and veggies this time of year and less prone to spoilage
– They are full of health-enhancing antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals that will help you stay healthy all season long
   
Apples – While they typically come into season in the fall, apples are still a great choice right now. There are dozens of varieties to choose from and most of the time your local produce manager will be happy to let you sample a few.

Brussels sprouts – These look like little brains and taste like little cabbages. That is because they are part of the cabbage family, known for containing a plethora of nutrients including potentially cancer-preventing isothiocyanates, which help the body eliminate toxins. Our favorite way to enjoy Brussels sprouts? Roasting. Just slice in half, rinse, toss with olive oil and a little sea salt and roast at 375F for about 25 minutes and they will melt in your mouth.

Cranberries – Fresh, frozen, or dried, cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, powerful disease-fighting antioxidants. Add fresh or frozen cranberries to muffins, pies, or crisps. Dried cranberries are delicious sprinkled on salads or oatmeal.
   
Grapefruit – The darker the flesh, the better (and sweeter), which is why we love ruby red. Grapefruit is a great source of fiber and vitamin C, best eaten at room temperature, when they are juiciest.
   
Greens – From kale to spinach to chard and collards, ‘tis the time to enjoy greens. We like them raw or lightly sautéed in olive oil with a little bit of sea salt or even a blend of dried herbs without salt.  A rich source of fiber, iron, vitamin C, vitamin K and a host of powerful antioxidant nutrients that will help keep you healthy throughout the winter.

Lemons and Limes – Contain significant amounts of vitamin C, and phytochemicals that may have anticancer benefits. Try and find organic lemons and limes and use the peel (zest) to add a hint of freshness to soups, dressings, and baked goods.
Leeks – Leeks add awesome flavor to soups, stir fries and savory dishes like tarts and pot pies. We like to thinly slice and then rinse all the grit from the leeks and make sure they are dry before we cook them. Leeks contain antioxidants like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, vitamins C & E, fiber, calcium, potassium, iron and even a little magnesium. Eating links has been linked to a decreased risk of certain cancers.

Oranges, Tangarines, Mandarins – All are good sources of fiber, vitamin C and other antioxidants.
   
Parsnips – are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, and manganese.

Pears – Pears are a great source of fiber that are wonderful chopped up and added to salads or soups. They are also wonderful sliced up on their own.

Pomegranates – The consumption of pomegranate seeds (arils) and pomegranate juice has been associated with a decrease in risk for heart disease and certain cancers. Pomegranates contain catechins, anthocynanins, and ellagic acid, all powerful antioxidants that may have a beneficial effect on health.

Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes are like natures “good for you” candy. They are a great source of fiber, vitamins A, C, B6, B5, B3, potassium, beta-carotene and they contain tryptophan, which supports a good mood.

Winter squash – Delicata, Butternut, Acorn – these are just a few of our favorite winter squashes. All are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Use them in soups, stuff them with a pilaf, sprinkle them with a little bit of cinnamon and melted butter and bake them for a delicious dessert alternative, puree them and add your favorite spices – there are endless ways to enjoy winter squash throughout December and the winter season.
 

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