Eating in Season: A Day of Meals Using Winter Produce

Healthy Living

February 23, 2023

Winter may not be your favorite season for gardening, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t seasonal produce available. Whether you’re buying from the supermarket or a local farmer, you can seek out the best of February’s harvest. In fact, you can build an entire day’s meals around in-season produce.

Breakfast: Blood Orange Oatmeal

Winter is citrus season, and blood oranges are a prime example. These deeply colored fruits have a darker hue and a sweeter taste than regular oranges. Plus, they’re packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber.

A breakfast dish featuring blood oranges could be a perfect way to start your February mornings. Food52 has a recipe for Oatmeal with Blood Orange. You can prepare it with dairy milk or plant-based alternatives.

After cooking up a batch of spiced oatmeal, this recipe has you stir in a splash of blood orange juice. Every spoonful will feature the fruit’s citrus flavor. You can also top your bowl with orange slices. Add pistachios, dates and chia seeds for extra nutrition, too. Your breakfast will be packed with both nutrients and texture.

Morning Snack: Buttercup Squash Muffins

There are many varieties of winter squash, but buttercup may be one you’re not too familiar with. If so, you’re missing out. Buttercup squash features bright orange flesh and a sweet taste. You’ll find that it’s a great substitute for pumpkin in baking recipes.

In other words, if you love pumpkin bread, then you have to give the Washington Post’s Buttercup Squash Muffins a try, a recipe that includes grated apples. Apples aren’t a seasonal fruit, of course, but they are available in grocery stores year-round. That makes them an affordable and accessible addition. If you’re feeling like a purist though, leave out the apple and replace it with additional squash.

To prepare your buttercup squash, cut it in half from top to bottom and remove the seeds. Add a thin layer of water to a baking dish. Place the squash halves cut side down in the water. Roast them at 400 degrees for about an hour. Once the flesh is quite tender, remove the pan from the oven. Allow the squash to cool slightly before scooping out the insides and mashing them.

Lunch: Leek and Parsnip Soup

What’s better for lunch on a cold day than a warm bowl of hearty soup? A bowl of soup that features in-season ingredients, of course! Veggielicious’ Leek and Parsnip Soup is a great example of a comforting winter dish that’s sure to hit the spot.

Those veggies may not be ones that you use too often outside of the winter months. Leeks are members of the onion family. Parsnips are pale-colored root vegetables with a shape that resembles large carrots. To make this soup, you’ll first sauté the leeks and then simmer the parsnips in vegetable stock until tender.

Free of meat and dairy, this recipe is suitable for a wide variety of diners, including vegans. Serve it alongside your favorite bread.

Afternoon Snack: Kale Caesar Wraps

When the afternoon munchies hit, take the opportunity to fit some greens into your day. Spoon University provides a simple recipe for Kale Caesar Wraps. Just one may be enough to hold you over until dinnertime.

To make this recipe, you’ll need bottled Caesar dressing, packaged tortillas and kale. If you buy pre-cut kale, you’ll save yourself several minutes of prep time. You can jump right into massaging the greens and coating them in flavorful dressing.

To shave off even more time, buy baby kale. Unlike other kale varieties, you can get away without massaging it. The point of the massage is to make the leaves tender and easier to eat. Baby kale leaves are already thin and tender, so you can skip that step. Luckily, pre-packaged kale is often the baby variety.

Dinner: Pork Chops and Cabbage

Every busy chef needs a handful of one-pot meals to call on for easy dinner prep. In February, Nancy’s Pork Chop and Cabbage from The Spruce Eats can be your go-to recipe. With only a few supporting seasonings, the meat and veggies shine as the stars of this dish.

Winter is when cabbage comes to life. It’s available in multiple varieties, including green, red and Napa. Each one boasts its own flavor profile and nutritional benefits. This particular recipe calls for green cabbage, which is an easy variety to find in stores.

One of the benefits of cabbage is that it will last for a while in your fridge. You may want to keep a head on hand and also stash a tray of chops in the freezer. That way, you can pull this dish together whenever the mood strikes.

Drink: Spiced Lemonade

You probably think of lemonade as a summer drink, but lemon season actually falls in winter. Putting a spin on the flavor profile will turn it into the perfect drink for chilly days. If you warm it, it’ll become an even cozier treat.

Taste of Home’s Spiced Lemonade recipe includes both lemon and lime slices as well as lemon juice. Additional flavor comes from whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. You can serve this drink either iced or warmed.

If your supermarket carries them, you could try making lemonade with Meyer lemons. They’re rounder, thinner-skinned and sweeter than their standard counterparts. Meyer lemons are harder to find out-of-season than regular lemons, so now’s the time to jump on the opportunity.

Just keep in mind their sweeter flavor as you add sugar. You may need to adjust the recipe accordingly.

Dessert: Chocolate Beet Cake

You might find that winter produce is delicious, but your pickier family members may not agree. If that’s the case, keep offering a variety of fruits and vegetables and they may eventually come around. In the meantime, though, think about sneaking some nutrition into a dessert recipe.

Try beets, for example. It might not seem like it, but beets are more suitable for desserts than you realize. Beets are nutritious and on the sweeter side. 

This richly-hued winter root veggie gets its color from betalains, a type of antioxidant. Other nutrients in beets include folate, potassium and vitamins A and C.

Stress Baking will teach you to make Chocolate Beet Cake. The recipe begins with cooked and grated beets. You’ll combine them with an assortment of more traditional ingredients. The end result will be a cake that looks like any other chocolate cake. Picky eaters will never know the difference!

And with this sweet, nutritional treat, you can end the day happy and satisfied, knowing that you’ve enjoyed delicious seasonal produce from sunup to sundown.