Avoid getting sick this season by eating local produce


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Contrary to popular belief, all plants do not die in the winter. Some plants thrive — specifically, green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and squash — which means that you have no excuse for avoiding vegetables this winter.

Thanks to the wonderful people at the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market, I am now enlightened as to which vegetables will be in-season soon and which I should and shouldn't be eating.

Dark greens are considered in-season within the winter, which means kale-lovers may rejoice that your smoothies, salads and other strange concoctions are safe during the harsh weather. Any fans of cabbage, collard greens and lettuce can also celebrate as well, since these vegetables flourish in the winter.

Concerned about not being able to find carrots, parsnips or brussel sprouts in the winter, too?  Fret not, as root vegetables are in season as well. These underground vegetables hide away beneath the soil and protect themselves so you can enjoy them during the frosts and snow.

And let’s not forget about squash. Squash is yet another vegetable that is available when it starts getting cold. With the multitude of types of squash available during the winter — butternut, buttercup, spaghetti — this hearty vegetable is always a viable option for a quick, healthy meal.

So now that you have this information about winter vegetables, you’re going to want to know about where to get all of this produce. New Brunswick Community Farmers Market is just the place for that. Those seeking the Community Farmers Market can find it on Wednesdays at Kilmer Square, Thursdays on Cook Campus and Saturdays on Jones Avenue, which is just a short walk from Cook campus.

Not only will you get a variety of vegetables from the Farmer’s Market, but you might also get some tips on how to cook the produce that you purchase.

Lauren Errickson, Senior Program Coordinator of the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market, recommended eating kale for breakfast — simply chop the kale, sautée with onions and garlic and pair with eggs, and voila! A perfect (and healthy) morning meal.

To enjoy an in-season root vegetable like carrot, perhaps make a carrot, ginger and lime juice, like the one featured on bonappetit.com — simply put carrots and ginger through a juicer, stir in lime juice and serve over ice. Now you’re healthy and trendy.

For squash, she recommends baking it. Cut the squash in half and take out the seeds, put it on a baking sheet and throw it in the oven at 350 degrees. When the squash is soft, scoop it out and mix it with salt and butter, and enjoy a healthier version of mashed potatoes. You can even make the softened squash into a soup and sip it to stay warm. The possibilities are endless.

Now that your fear of lacking vegetables this winter has subsided, try out these warm recipes to get your daily dose of nutrients, and to get a bit more creative than just making a salad.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic

(Source: New York Times Cooking)

Ingredients

1 pint brussels sprouts (about a pound)

4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan

5 cloves garlic, peeled

 Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Trim bottom of brussels sprouts, and slice each in half top to bottom. Heat oil in cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan. Put in garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts begin to brown on bottom, and transfer to oven. Roast, shaking pan every 5 minutes, until sprouts are quite brown and tender, about 10 to 20 minutes.

Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and serve hot or warm.

Cabbage, Potato and Leek Soup

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

8 cups shredded cabbage

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 thyme branches

½ teaspoon black pepper

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve

PREPARATION

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat, add the leeks and cook until soft and golden around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cabbage and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes.

Stir in potatoes, stock, 4 cups water, salt and thyme. Bring soup to a simmer and cook, partly covered, until potatoes begin to fall apart, 45 to 50 minutes. Add more water, as needed, to reach the desired consistency. Season with black pepper and serve, topped with cheese.


Katherine Moretti

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