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Summer's not the only time to get great produce

If you live in the northern states, it seems like eating fresh produce comes to a screeching halt after the beautiful abundance of summer.

Between gardens, farmers’ markets, and even the grocery store, gorgeous tomatoes, berries, cucumbers and all types of garden produce are everywhere.

Then comes winter and we turn to comforting starchy foods like pasta, potatoes and hearty soups and stews.

But all is not lost when it comes to healthy eating in the winter. We don’t usually associate plentiful gardens during the cold months. But we should.

Some fruits and vegetables are seasonal during the colder months and those are the ones to take advantage of now. It’s still possible to keep your menu packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber rich fruits and vegetables.

Keep reading for five delicious ways to eat more fruits and vegetables this winter -

• Start with a base of oatmeal, or even quinoa. You can add almost any fruit and many vegetables for a warm nutrient-rich meal. Apples, pears, persimmons, cranberries and/or bananas with cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg make a delicious sweet meal. For a savory treat, add carrots, squash or pumpkin.

• Frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen immediately after picking so they retain their flavor and nutrition. Add frozen fruit to yogurt, smoothies or granola. Frozen veggies can be eaten in soups, pastas, dishes or on the side.

• Instead of traditional summertime cole slaw, make slaw using winter vegetables for a nutritious, crunchy addition to most meals. Try broccoli, cabbage, celery root, carrots, beets or kohlrabi.

• The most common, and maybe the tastiest, way to eat veggies in the winter is to combine a variety of vegetables – carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, squash, cauliflower, to name a few – and toss them in a little olive oil then roast them in the oven. Add different flavors to suit your mood such as smoked Spanish paprika, garlic, rosemary or just salt and pepper. Roasting brings out the sweet flavors of vegetables.

• Take advantage of seasonal winter produce, especially those that may not be available, or not at their peak flavor, in the summer. Pomegranates, clementines, cranberries, squash, sweet potatoes, pears and persimmons are just a few examples. And the sumo oranges right now… I can’t get enough.

So if you need that hearty comfort food to get you through the cold dark months, I get it. Just be sure to incorporate some fresh or frozen veggies into those soups, stews and pastas.

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