This is when I really started focusing on learning even more about nutrition. Hence the addition of this ol' mom going back to school. I digress. I started learning that sometimes us Americans have gotten so far away from nature, that even in our eating patterns we have really done ourselves a disservice. What do I mean?
Aside from the fact that many of our very own children don't have a clue about where food comes from besides Price Chopper/Albertsons/Safeway, some children are even mortified by the fact that their food grew in the dirt, and maybe even had bugs on it(Vitamin B-12- another post). How did we get to this point? It is just too easy to go into the store and pick up the first box with pretty writing that says 'All Natural' if it was truly all natural would it be in a box? So many people say, I can't afford to buy vegetables right now. Why? We are programed that we are supposed to eat salad EVERY day to be healthy, truth be known that spinach doesn't grow in upstate NY in the winter. So What do I do? Of course out of season vegetables are going to be more expensive when they are out of season. Ever tried to buy a watermelon in February? Not only is it expensive but it is not tasty, nor did it retain it's nutrients for the thousands of miles it's traveled. So why buy it?
Winter has its own vegetables that grow, harvest season by nature is in October! This is when SO many of our fabulous winter vegetables are ready to be eaten. Nature is an amazing thing and we should all spend more time thinking about how much we have deviated from this and how to get back to it. It's amazing because, I went to visit a local farm a few weeks ago and stocked up so now in my basement (used to be known as a root cellar because that is where all root veggies were stored for the winter) I have spaghetti squash, delicata squash, acorn squash butternut squash and about 70 lbs of fresh local grown spuds! This is where most of my winter meals will come from! When bought in season these vegetables are cheap and are in their best nutritious state! Ever bought a pumpkin in May? Of course not, this is because you can't get them. This is the thought process we should have for MOST veggies. Sadly most of us don't.
I have to admit that I have struggled with this myself. More last winter than I will this one. It doesn't mean that I wont miss my cucumbers, it will mean I will love them that much more next summer. I can't say that I will never eat them all winter. I will spend more time focusing on what's available and in season, knowing that all my favorites are coming back next year and they will taste even better.
The reason that winter vegetables and fruits cycle is amazing. In the summer when it's hot we need more water, we do not necessarily drink all we need, so nature has provided us with high water content foods like watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes and berries. In the winter when we need warmth, although the media would disagree, we would naturally need more insulation hence heavier foods that may even put a few pounds on us. This is a natural process for humans that goes way back. We didn't used to gain weight from Christmas cookies so please don't get confused with that. This winter, try to stick to warming soups and chilli's that use produce in season or closer to it. Not only will your health notice but so will your checkbook. If you must splurge once in awhile do it, but just remember it is not your only option.
Changing our thinking is hard, however, we can do this in a slow process and be successful in it. The rewards will be there, in every way. I am looking forward to sharing more great winter recipes with all of you! We can eat our veggies in the winter. Fruits too.
PS: I am practically living off of apples right now, I can't even express how grateful I am to be living in a such a place that is so full of delicious apples!! Yummy!!