It’s February, and it’s time to check out what’s in season for this month.
Buying seasonal foods is a cost effective way to approach food shopping: grocery stores tend to stock up on these items in bulk because they are plentiful, making them less expensive.
Buying local seasonal foods is even better: not only will your produce be tastier, fresher and more nutritious, but you are helping reduce the pollution and depletion of sources associated with the transportation of food. Did you know that on average, domestically grown produce sold in conventional supermarkets has traveled some 1,500 miles from farm to table?
Here are seven of my personal favorites for February:
You’ve probably noticed that there is a great selection of pears available right now. Pears are healthy and nutritious: an excellent source of fiber and a good source of vitamin C. They’re also sodium free, fat free and cholesterol free. For a change from eating this sweet and juicy fruit raw, click here to get some delicious pear recipes.
Rhubarb crumble and rhubarb pie were two of my favorite puddings, growing up in the UK. Rhubarb is, however, a very distinctive taste: zingy and sharp, ready to cleanse, but you’ll need to add some sugar when you cook these slender pink stems. Although traditionally used as a dessert, rhubarb is versatile. It can make great preserves and chutney. You can also roast whole rhubarb with honey and serve with ice cream.
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Tangelos are delicious! There are many hybrids in the citrus family, and this one is generally thought to be the combination of a pomelo and a tangerine. It has an interesting flavor, reminiscent of a grapefruit, but sweeter. You’ll find them in stores now, a welcome sign that the days are getting longer, and winter will soon turn into spring.
Arugula, also known as rocket salad, rugula and Italian cress, is a wonderful green to throw in with other greens, to spice the salad up a bit, with its unusual, slightly bitter, flavor. You’ll find it either in small bunches, or possibly combined with other greens, to make a spring salad mix.
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There is more to do with cauliflower than just make cauliflower cheese, although I prepared that dish numerous times as a student. A few other options: try lightly steaming or roasting your cauliflower. If you enjoy Indian food, try adding cumin, turmeric, chilli or ginger to bring out the flavor, or prepare a creamy soup. You can do this by pureeing cooked cauliflower with vegetable stock and milk and stirring in crumbles of your favorite blue cheese.
If you haven’t ever tried preparing leeks, February is the month to go for it; this vegetable is at its best during the coldest months of the year. Similar to asparagus in texture, the leek is related to the onion, but has a milder flavor. Leeks can be roasted or baked, with a touch of lemon juice, as a side dish, but they also do well in omelettes, fritattas and soups.
Being served mashed turnips for school lunches did not endear me to this vegetable, so it’s taken me a while to get back to turnips. However, I’ve discovered that the right preparation makes all the difference. I definitely prefer smaller turnips, which are sweeter and tenderer than the larger ones. You can slice off the skin, cut the turnip into small chunks and add to a casserole or curry. Or you can shave the vegetable raw and add it to salads. If you prefer to roast turnips, you need to know that their flavor intensifies during cooking, so you don’t want to cook them for too long.
Need some more ideas? Here are more fruits and veggies in season in February:
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