In this episode, we dive into seasonal eating! Eating seasonally means eating the fruits and vegetables that naturally grow in abundance during specific times or seasons of the year. We chat about why it's important to eat seasonally, how to eat seasonally in the winter, and what foods are actually in season during the winter months. This episode is full of recipes and seasonal eating tips!
Winter seasonal eating tips: Slow Food USA
Read our accompanying blog post on winter seasonal eating: https://www.plantoeat.com/blog/2022/01/learning-to-eat-seasonally-winter-edition/
Find the recipes Riley and Roni talk about in this episode:
Creamy Butternut Squash, Carrot and Ginger Soup
Sheet Pan Smoked Sausage, Apple, and Root Veggie Dinner
Tilapia with Tangerine Salsa
Roasted Beets recipe
Spicy Roasted Delicata Squash Recipe
Chorizo Sweet Potato Skillet
I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner.
Roni: Hello everyone. Welcome to the Plan to Eat podcast. Today, we are going to talk about seasonal foods. This is the first in a series of episodes that we are going to do about seasonal eating during different seasons of the year.
Riley: We're so excited about this topic, and I personally learned a ton in researching for this. So we're hoping that we can share all that.
Roni: Yeah, we're hoping that you'll learn a little something just like we did. I didn't realize that there was so much information on the internet about seasonal eating because, uh, I guess it's just something I haven't really thought about much before.
Riley: It's just not, for me personally, it's not been ingrained into me and the way that I eat, to eat seasonally and, and why it's important. I think in different parts of the, the U S you know, the [00:01:00] growing season is very long, so the things that are available are available for a long time. Um, and so it's easy to forget. You know what what's in season during this part of the year, but, it makes things taste better. You can actually save money and the nutrients, that are available to you in, in vegetables and fruits that are available in different seasons are actually really important for your body so, so excited about this topic.
Roni: Yeah, those are all of the things and more that we will go over today. So let's get started with a quick definition of what seasonal eating is. Eating seasonally means that you're eating the fruits and vegetables that naturally grow in abundance in your area during specific times or seasons of the year.
So like we said, right now, we're talking about winter. You might think that seasonal eating is really challenging in winter, but there are actually a lot of things that are available in season this timeof year.
Riley: Yeah. And we were astounded again, like Roni said, we were astounded at how much information is out there. It hasn't come up in either one of our lives in just a really prominent way. Um, but like we said, there's so much to know about it. [00:02:00] I think it's also really easy to forget about seasonal eating because our grocery stores here in the U S. Um, they provide us with fruits and vegetables year round, so I can eat a mango in the dead of winter if I wanted to.
And so it's easy to just forget because what's available to you and what's right in front of you. Um, it's kind of everything.
Roni: Well, so I studied abroad in college in Spain, and in researching this podcast, it made me think about the fact that even there, like big box grocery stores, provide a little bit more seasonal produce compared to what we have in the United States. They also source a lot of their things more locally, so that's probably what made it more seasonal, but. Also locally around there is like, they get things from the Southern France and they get these from Morocco because it's all within like a 50 mile radius of the Southern part of Spain. So like I remember in the winter getting red bell peppers that were absolutely amazing, the best red bell peppers I've ever had in my life.
And they came from Morocco and it was seasonal in that area and it was also local. So. There's [00:03:00] probably just a difference between other countries, but definitely the United States. We have plentiful access to vegetables and fruits year round, no matter what the season is.
Riley: If you have local grocery stores around you, you may find that they select more seasonal produce. I know that's true of a couple of grocery stores here where we live. So if you're, if you listened to this podcast and you're inspired, think about shopping at a local store, or just think about looking at you're looking at your grocery store and just focusing on this is in season, I'm going to focus on these fruits and veggies.
Roni: So a list of things that are in season in the Northern hemisphere. Obviously if you're in the Southern hemisphere, it's not winter for you right now. And these kind of are going to vary depending on where you are in the Northern hemisphere, but a general list is apples beets, carrots, cabbage, citrus fruits. Collared and mustard, greens, kale, Swiss, chard mushrooms, parsnips sweet potatoes, turnips and winter squash, such as butter, not acorn delicata pumpkin and spaghetti squash.
Riley: Amazing list. [00:04:00] I love a lot of those foods.
Roni: Yeah. I love a lot of these foods too. And I actually. Like that they are things that are it not only in season and winter, but kind of in season year round, like you can usually get collared and mustard greens year round. And for some of my favorite leafy greens.
Riley: So as we'll talk about in a couple of minutes, um, I was actually really impressed at the, just like the different nutrients and things that are in each one of those, items, particularly mustard in collard greens, just a lot of high quality nutrients coming out of those that I don't think I expected. I didn't expect to learn that.
Roni: So, as we said, we live in Colorado and we are super lucky to live in a place where produce is plentiful all year round. So, um, you know, we have a few different climates in Colorado that allow for different growing seasons. And certainly if you live in a warmer part of the United States, you're going to have even more access to fresh things because you have a longer growing season.
And then if you live in the Northern. You might have even less access. So, uh, we [00:05:00] kind of thought about. Some different ideas for ways that you could still potentially get fresh produce at your house. Riley was actually one who thought of this, so why don't you pop in here?
Riley: yeah so, um, I've never personally shopped from these online, companies, but. Heard about them. And I think that it could be a really good fit if you live in a place where you just don't have great access to high quality produce and that's misfits market and then imperfect foods or imperfect fruits and vegetables, I think is actually what it's called. Um, and both of those, I know that they deliver produce in their boxes.
So it could be a great option. Again, I I've never used them personally, but, the things that I've heard about them have been positive. So, hopefully that could be a really good fit to help you get more seasonal produce into your season.
Roni: And isn't the point of those different boxes to kind of send you, produce items that maybe not would have made it at like the whole foods display, because they might have like a bump or a bruise in 'em. Right?
Riley: Um, I think so. And so in my research [00:06:00] for this, I came across a quote in the light, the ladies quote was just something along the lines of, she, she really values the imperfect foods are the ones that have the bumps, the bruises, cause it feels like it's more connected to, where it was grown.
And it, It feels a little bit more real than these like airbrushed perfect apples that we see perfectly shiny. Um, and so sometimes those foods, There's nothing wrong with them at all. And so it's, it's kind of a neat way to repurpose them or, or, not repurpose them, but like highlight that these were grown and they're real and the fruits and vegetables that we don't have to look. So, so immaculately. Perfect.
Okay. So next is winter recipes using these foods. I love that during the winter we eat soups and stews and it's, everything is warm. And, I love that, you know, in summer that's not what I'm focusing on. I'm not really thinking, oh, I want to eat a stew today on June 4th, you know? It's just not the, I think our bodies were kind of designed to like want warm foods when it's cold [00:07:00] outside and it's perfect.
Um, so I pulled together a list of a few and, I'll share those with you guys and we'll link to them in the show notes, but one of my favorites is a butternut squash. Soup recipe. It is called creamy butternut squash, carrot, and ginger soup. And it's paleo and actually it's autoimmune protocol.
Is that something that you're following? Um, but it's got butternut squash and carrots as the name says and ginger and coconut milk, and it's just creamy and delicious, and I'm always excited to cook the soup. When it gets cold outside. Um, so I'll link to that one. It's a personal fave and hopefully you guys love it too.
You could use spaghetti squash anytime you use noodles. And just, if you've never cooked one before, it's really easy to cut it in half, pull out the seeds roasted in the oven. Um, I tend to find that I have to roast them in the oven for quite a long time. Probably about an hour. Usually I put some water in the bottom of a baking pan, and cook them until they're soft and very noodley.
Um, have you ever cooked one? Roni, do you have any tips?
Roni: Yeah, I would say pretty much the same thing that you're saying is I think the, having the [00:08:00] moisture in the oven does help a lot to soften up the squash. I think, I think in general, that's what I do with most like hard winter squash is, you know, that can be kind of a bear to like saw through and cut it in half, but then once you get it there, usually either having a baking pan in like the rack underneath to like steam up or putting them in like a shallow. Uh, dish of water. I find it.
Riley: I think my sister-in-law cooks them in her instant pot. I can't speak to an exact recipe, but if you have an instant pot, it's another great option. Um, and pretty hands-off from what I understand. So, another way to use the vegetables on this list would be sheet pan dinners. So chop up those root veggies, chop up, um, those squashes and cook them with some sausage and apples, roast 'em oven. it's another really great way to like, have this like beautiful vegetable medley, with a protein. And it's a one sheet dinner, which is so great, so fast. I also even found a recipe that's [00:09:00] tilapia with a Tangerine salsa, which sounded amazing. That's a great way to include citrus into your recipes and into your meal plan. Um, Let's see, I also had one roasted beets. You know, beets are just not a food that I think about cooking very often. And I know Roni that you love beets.
Roni: I do.
Riley: So I, one of the recipes that I pulled is a roasted beets recipe, and I'm going to try it. But maybe I'll have you ever for dinner because I know you love beets.
Roni: I would love that. I do love, we, I always joke that like in my family we would. Plant rows and rows of beets because in my family growing up, we all loved beats. And so it was like fighting over beets at the dinner table between me and my brothers, which is wild.
Like that has to be totally unheard of for other families. But me and my brothers really loved beets. My mom would canned pickled beets as well. And so we would have like pickled beets throughout the winter. I just, yeah, I love beets their favorite of them.
Riley: Oh, yeah. I just, that's [00:10:00] not a food that you hear people say is their favorite food. So that's a meal that's impressive.
Roni: Me and Dwight Schrute. We're best friends.
Riley: That's amazing.
Roni: So, one of the articles that I found was from slow food USA, and it is, basically, I'm not sure if it's a company specifically, but basically they're trying to promote, seasonal eating. And so they have a bunch of different articles on, eating in your region for winter and every season, basically.
Um, some of their advice for. Having seasonal eating be a little bit easier in the winter was to make lettuce free salads. So instead of doing like romaine or spinach, or even. Iceberg lettuce, you can basically just like, sub in shredded cabbage or carrots and kale, and then you can kind of mix it together with nuts and beans and grains and kind of make like a hardier salad that, um, actually sounds really good to me cause I love a salad that has a good crunch to it.
So I actually. [00:11:00] Put strutted cabbage in my sides. Cause I really love that. and then there are other thing was like focused on things like winter squash and root vegetables and realizing that it's not just potatoes that are root vegetables, like things like beets and turnips and carrots and parsnips and all of those other things can add really great flavors and actually most, like mashed potato recipes, you can actually sub in like half of a, another root vegetable to kind of give it a good flavor.
Um, so yeah. Reading a potato cookbook right now, actually. And that's one of her tips is that you can substitute like half of your potatoes for like a parsnip or a turnip. And just kind of like give it like a, kind of just like a different flavor, you know, different vegetables have different earthy flavors or different amount of sugar in the root vegetable.
So you can kind of just. You know, either more savory, more sweet, kind of a thing to your mashed potatoes or other potatoes.
Riley: Yeah. That's a great idea. I've made mashed parsnips before. Um, and I was really impressed. They were so smooth. They were a bit thinner, but that's probably just due to the amount of liquid that I added. But they were [00:12:00] really creamy and delicious. It's great to like change up your meal plan by using these different kinds of veggies.
Roni: Yeah. And some root vegetables, um, like will intake more water, like when you boil them or cook them. So that's, I mean, something to be aware of, like if you cook parsnips and you're like, they're always a little nip, a little thinner, maybe it'd be better to roast them first and then mash them or something like that.
Riley: Yeah. An idea. I ran across a recipe author when I was, um, putting together this info. It's called healthy, seasonal recipes.com. I just want to, I just want to throw that out there for you guys. I was really impressed with the amount of recipes that she had they were all tagged with the season that they were associated with.
And it was just, it was just really helpful. It was a great place to find recipes, um, to utilize the foods that are in season.
Roni: And so then a couple extra ideas for winter seasonal foods is to use dehydrated and preserved foods. So, I mean, like I just said that my mom used to pickle beets and, um, we would eat those throughout the winter, but you can also, you know, dehydrate.
Particularly root vegetables, dehydrate really well.[00:13:00] You can make like kale chips and like all sorts of things. Um, you can dehydrate strawberries and different fruit. So like, if you have plentiful things during the summer and you don't know how to use them all, that's a really great time to start thinking about like dehydrating them and preserving them so that you can enjoy them in the winter.
And then something that we've already mentioned a little bit before is just in the winter. You want to focus on these like slow, cooked meals with bold flavors, because like Riley said earlier, that's kind of what our bodies are craving, during the season. And when it's cold outside, your body wants to like warm up. soup or stew, something that is just been cooking all day long. It actually like having something in your Crock-Pot on your, on your stove and having those aromas in your house all day, actually like enhances your palette for the food. I don't remember a hundred percent. I remember reading that at one point in time that like your oral factory glands do something to enhance like the flavors of the foods. If [00:14:00] you're like smelling it all day long, kind of a thing.
Riley: Well, I've never heard that, but that sounds amazing. It sounds like it sounds great.
Roni: I mean, maybe I'll try to find the article and then we can link it in the show notes because otherwise I just sound a little crazy, but.
So we also want to talk about some of the benefits of eating seasonally, because you might be listening to us right now and being like, I don't even know why I would want to do this. So one of the first things that we found is just that it's more cost-effective to eat seasonally because a lot of times those produce items are on sale, either at your grocery store or at like a local store or even through a local farmer.
Um, it is important, particularly in United States. Like we were talking about to be aware of actually what. In season in your area, because we do get so much fresh produce from particularly like Latin America and south America in the winter time, because that's when their growing season is at its best. It's, you know, if you're trying to eat seasonally, that's just something to be aware of.
And we did learn in our research that the [00:15:00] longer a fruit or vegetable is away from its like picked date, the less nutrients it has. So if you're having raspberries in the middle of winter that came from Chile, you might not actually be getting all of the like vitamins and nutrients that that fruit provides for you is if you were just eating it in the summertime, because you got it from the local farmer.
Riley: Absolutely. And it's just another plug for the, for your local farmer. It supports them and it also gives you probably a really great tasting fruit or vegetable, because of. You know, it's like, it's like, I want to eat an orange in June, but they never taste as good as they do in January. And so, you know, you're going to have really high flavor, which is just a win. I mean, like you want that you want your food to taste good.
So the next thing is the nutritional value. And I talked about this a little bit ago, um, but just to highlight a bit of what is available to you in the fruits and vegetables that we, have on our list is vitamin a vitamin C a lot of [00:16:00] B vitamins, folate manganese, calcium potassium antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin a, I probably already said that one.
But I was just impressed with the quality of nutrients in the vegetables that are available to us in the winter. These nutrients, help you keep your immune system strong and fight colds and viruses that are rampant in the winter time usually.
And they even help fight winter blues. So if you tend to be a little bit more sad or depressed in the winter, these foods, the nutrients are designed to help build you up and, help you feel a little bit more, happy. Some of these foods even need more energy to be digested like sweet potatoes, which actually raises your body temperature.
It helps keep you warmer, which I thought was just a really cool fact when I, yeah, I loved it. Um, just really impressive. And then another thing is like some of these nutrients also help your skin from being really dried out. So no more dry skin, amazing. It'll at least help. I know I'm constantly putting on chapstick and lotion in the winter.
[00:17:00] Um, we live in a super dry climate, so incorporating more of these foods can actually help your skin to. I just loved all of that info. And it was just really impressed that these foods that are available to us in season, or it's a natural thing for us to eat them. And the purposes of their nutrients are actually really beneficial to our day-to-day life.
Roni: I really love that interconnectedness as well. It just makes it feel like why do we not do more of this? Because it all makes a lot of sense when you learn about it.
Riley: It really does. And I it's, I wish that it had been more a part of my whole life. I mean, I know that in a lot of. You know, if you, you grew up with a garden, if you have a garden, now, if you often sharp shop at farmer's markets, like it probably is a part of your life.
Um, but just highlighting it and pin and like talking about it and kind of making it a bigger deal, I think is really, is really valuable.
Roni: Another benefit is something we have touched on already, but you know, eating seasonally can enable you to also eat a little more locally. And as Riley was just saying a little bit ago that is, you know, helping, [00:18:00] you know, potentially a local farmer or, you know, somebody that's in your community and kind of boosting the local economy in general because you know, then you're spending your money locally rather than spending it at some big box store.
Um, there's also. Less shipping and packaging waste if you're eating locally. So if you are focused on being a little greener, being a little kinder to the environment, reducing that as super helpful. And then if you are also focused on organic produce, uh, eating locally is probably the easiest way to ensure that your produce is actually organic because you can go and talk to the person who grew it and, you know, see what their methods are and all that kind of stuff.
Riley: A lot of our local restaurants actually changed their menu seasonally. Um, and I mean, again, we're so lucky to live in Colorado and we have a lot, it's a very, this is actually kind of a prominent feature in a lot of restaurants in our area. But it's just another thing to highlight is that your local restaurant. They are most likely changing their menu based on what's in season. Um, because [00:19:00] that gives the food, the best taste. And so you can actually support your local restaurants in addition to your local farmers and when you eat seasonally.
Riley: So one of my favorite things about eating seasonally, because I get into a meal planning, rut so bad. And so eating seasonally can add a lot of variety to my meal plan. It's just a plug. Some Plan to Eat features that help do this is tags. So tag your recipes with winter spring, summer, fall. And so when your recipe has these re has these ingredients in it, tag it, and then you can search for that tag.
When the season rolls around. And you can add those to your meal plan and spice things up, which I just get into such a bad habit of not doing. And so, it's just a really great way to do that. Another way to do this is to just create menus that are entitled fall or winter spring. And then that way, when December rolls around or January rolls around, all you have to do is pull that winter meal plan.
Onto your planner and then you're beautiful and delicious in season. Menu is already planned for you., and so it's just super helpful, [00:20:00] in adding some variety to your diet
Roni: do, and my personal Plan to Eat account have, uh, a couple seasonal menus that I've made since. Researching this podcast. So definitely I'm definitely excited to, you know, try my new winter menu in the next couple of weeks.
Riley: That's great. I, you know, I need to practice what I preach and go actually make these menus. I use tags a lot and I tag with these kinds of things. Um, but I don't do a very good job of creating and saving my mint menus and meal plans. And so I need to get better about.
Roni: Well, the last benefit is once again, something where I talked about, we'd like to double touch on all these subjects.
Riley: We're really hitting them home for you,
Roni: Basically eating seasonally makes the food tastes better. So like Riley mentioned earlier, when you eat an orange in June, it usually doesn't taste that great. Or it's a little like mealy and the texture is off.
Something's not quite right because it's not in season in our area. Um, and tomatoes in the summer are amazing, but you [00:21:00] have a tomato in January and it's not amazing. So just like thinking about those kinds of things,, eating food that's in season is just really. A little more tasty because it's meant to be eaten at this time a year.
Riley: Absolutely. And now we come to our favorite part of the podcast, which is where we talk about winter specific recipes and what we've been eating lately. So go girl, but you've been eating.
Roni: So I, um, my winter recipe that I wanted to highlight this week is, a delicata squash recipe. So, I wasn't familiar with delicata squash, but our coworker, Shelby, her husband actually is a horticulturist and he grows like a massive garden every year.
And so at the end of the summer, he was like, So many squash, will you please take some? He was like, the great thing about winter squash is that you can actually, if you keep it in like a cool dry place in your house, um, they'll stay good for a really long time. So you don't have to cook them immediately.
Like you have to do with a lot of other seasonal [00:22:00] vegetables. So just a couple of weeks ago, I finally cooked the delicata squash that he gave me from their winter garden or from their summer garden. And it was so good. It's a pretty like similar squash tastes like a butternut or, any other winter squash, but, um, just like really yummy.
And this recipe is like, you make it kind of like you roast them and you put spices on it. So it's like, oh, they're like spicy butternut squash. Um, Delicata squash. Uh, you could probably substitute butternut squash and it would be just fine. Um, but super good. And I'm, I was actually really happy to be introduced to a squash that I'd never had before.
Riley: I already oogled and oogled over my butternut squash soup recipe. Um, actually last night for dinner, I made a chorizo and sweet potato, like one skillet meal, um, delicious.
And so it's another one it's in sweet potatoes, another food that's in season right now. So, I'm going to share that one with you guys. It's got rice and black beans and I had a green chilies and tomatoes. Some canned tomatoes [00:23:00] that I had and, the chorizo it's really spicy and, had a lot of like those Mexican flavors it's really delicious and it's a great way to eat sweet potatoes and a bit of a different way. I think I tend to eat them in like the, you know, baked or roasted or some kind of fashion. Um, and so this is a really great way to eat them in a bit different recipe.
Roni: That sounds good. I'll have to use that one myself as well.
Riley: Thank you so much. You guys, for listening, we hope that you found a lot of value in learning about eating seasonally and we can't wait to bring you, the other three parts of the series over the course of this year.
Roni: Thank you guys for listening. And we will see in the next episode,
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