FIAFitnation’s head nutrition trainer tells us the best way to eat by the seasons.
We change our wardrobe when winter hits, why not our food? Most of us have no idea what’s in season as we can buy most things year-round. But the trouble with out-of-season produce is that it has often been flown halfway across the world and loses some of its nutrients along the way. Eating food that’s in season is good for your health, the planet and your hip pocket.
Here are five ways to eat in-season and ensure your meals are in sync with the cooler months.
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Look for specials
In season food is often cheaper as it’s in peak supply, which means there’s lots of it. Check out supermarket specials, get a veggie box delivered or visit your local farmers’ market.
It’s a win for the environment too as locally grown, seasonal produce takes less resources to transport and store. Out-of-season foods, such as tomatoes in winter, have been grown in artificial conditions, or grown far away, picked prematurely and transported long distances to arrive on our dinner plates. To make food available all year round, ripening agents are used such as chemicals, gases and heat processes.
Reduce nutrient losses
The greater distance an out-of-season food has travelled, the less nutrients it is likely to contain. As soon as produce is picked, nutrients (particularly water-soluble Vitamins, C and B) start to deteriorate due to heat, light and oxygen.
If you want your food full of nutrients, it’s best to eat food while it’s in season and also eat fresh produce – especially leafy greens – sooner rather than later. That spinach you’ve had in the fridge all week will only have 75% of its Vitamin C left by the time you get to it.
Warm from the inside
Winter is a time for slowing down and eating more nourishing, warming foods so it’s a good idea to switch cooling foods for warming foods. Swap morning smoothies for porridge and slow cooked apples. Swap raw salads for nourishing soups. Change up cold, icy drinks for herbal teas.
Stews, curries and casseroles make for the perfect winter warmers. Add warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin and chilli into your cooking. Heating the body up from the inside is also a great way to build immunity.
Find out what’s in season
Winter veggies include pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli, mushrooms and spinach.
In your fruit bowl, stock up on apples, pears, kiwifruit, and oranges. If you’re not sure what’s in season in your area, check out the Seasonal Food Guide or the Australian Seasonal Produce Guide.
Don’t forget frozen
Eating frozen, dried, or canned food is a great way to add variety to your winter diet.
Freezing can significantly slow nutrient losses, so frozen fruit and veggies may contain more nutrients than fresh in some cases.
Sophie Scott is FIAFitnation’s Head Nutrition Trainer. For more information visit www.fiafitnation.com.au or check out their short online courses about food and nutrition.