December is a month full of delicious seasonal produce, and plenty of opportunities to use it! Take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables in your baked goods and holiday dishes. Fresh citrus also makes a lovely holiday gift. Fill an attractive bowl or basket with fresh oranges, grapefruit, mandarins or a combination of a few varieties.
December is the tail end of apple season and your last chance for apples fresh off the tree. Apples are widely available and they store well if refrigerated; keeping them chilled preserves their crispness and conserves their nutrients.
Broccoli is one of the most healthful foods you can eat. It is packed with a rich supply of important vitamins and nutrients and it contains the phytochemical sulforaphane, which helps reduce the risk of cancer. Fresh, in season broccoli should have a crisp texture and clean, refreshing flavor. It is delicious lightly steamed and sprinkled with lemon pepper.
Brussels sprouts pack plenty of nutritional value into a small package. They contain the cancer-fighting qualities of other cruciferous vegetables, along with good amounts of folate (folic acid), potassium, vitamin K, and a small amount of beta-carotene. A delicious addition to stews and pot roasts.
Chestnuts have a flavor that is rich and "meaty," and since they are a starchy food, they can be served as a vegetable. These are a popular addition to holiday dishes, including stuffing, and they are delicious roasted and eaten out of the shell. They are only available fresh for a short time.
Collards are one of the milder greens with a pleasantly bitter flavor that is somewhere between cabbage and kale. They are rich in beta-carotene and supply a good amount of folate (folic acid)--a disease-fighting B vitamin--and a substantial amount of calcium.
Only about 10 percent of the commercial crop is sold fresh, and the rest are frozen or canned. This is the time of year to enjoy fresh cranberries. Fresh cranberries freeze very well, so buy an extra bag or two early in the season for use later on when they are not as plentiful in stores.
Fennel may look like a plump bunch of celery, but its flavor certainly sets it apart. Fennel has a mild sweet flavor akin to licorice or anise. Fennel is a delicious and refreshing snack eaten raw, and roasted it makes a lovely side dish to many meat entrees. It is also a great addition to stew.
Super nutritious, with a clean flavor that is tart, yet sweet, pink grapefruits make a great snack. They are also excellent paired with many varieties of fish, and are great for added zing in salads.The three major types of grapefruit include white, pink/red and Star Ruby/Rio Red. Each variety has it's own unique flavor nuances, but they all have a clean refreshing, sweet-tart flavor. Grapefruits are traditionally halved, then eaten with a spoon, but they can also be peeled or sliced and eaten like an orange. Grapefruits are excellent paired with many varieties of fish, and are great for added zing in salads.
Leeks have a milder and sweeter flavor than onions and a crunchy texture when cooked, making them a delicious side dish served on their own. Leeks are surprisingly nutritious, supplying more vitamins and minerals than an equal-sized serving of onions or scallions.
This delicious little treat has been called the Satsuma Tangerine, the Satsuma Mandarin, and less commonly, the Satsuma Orange. Satsumas are one of the most anticipated citrus fruits of the season. A great snack for kids and adults alike, these delightful little oranges are so sweet and juicy, you may not be able to stop once you get started. Thankfully, they are very neat and easy to eat. A box of these tasty little citrus fruits is a traditional holiday gift.
Juicy and sweet and renowned for their high concentration of vitamin C, oranges make the perfect snack and add a special tang to many recipes; it is no wonder they are one of the most popular fruits in the world.
This pear has crunchy, yet tender flesh and a sweet-spiced flavor. If you have not tried a Bosc, you will be surprised and pleased. For a light spring dessert, try these pears baked or poached.
This fall fruit has a glossy orange-red skin that resembles a tomato. When ripe, the persimmon possesses a rich, sweet, spicy flavor. Persimmons are well worth trying not only for their exceptional flavor but also for their beta-carotene; they also have some vitamin C and potassium.
Not just for fall decorations, pumpkins provide some fine eating, as well as plenty of good nutrition. Pumpkins are rich in fiber, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamins C and E, and they are particularly rich in carotenoid pigments such as alpha-carotene, beta carotene, and lutein. Look for smaller varieties that are sold specifically for cooking.
While the vibrant colors of fall foliage is the ultimate symbol of the changing seasons, the arrival of unique and colorful hard squashes is a close second! Hard squashes come in a rainbow of earthy colors, and more shapes, sizes, tastes, and textures than you can count.
Sweet potatoes are one of nature's truly perfect foods! They're low in calories, high in fiber, great for people who are carbohydrate sensitive, and packed with vitamins and minerals. Plus, the rich, flavorful flesh of the sweet potato is so versatile, and delicious.