The following is a guest post by Beth Waters. Beth is the mother of two children and would call herself a “supermom,” but believes every mom has super capabilities. She dedicates her life to teaching her children to live healthy and happily.  Her knowledge and proficiency in health and fitness comes from her experience writing for medical companies such as Liberty Medical. You can also check out other fitness, health, and family related posts at Carrots Over Cake, or find her on twitter at @carrotsovercake, or on Facebook
Take it away, Beth!  

If a chef were to reveal their best-kept kitchen secret, they would be sure to tell you that using seasonal produce is the key to successful cooking. Although hothouse production methods and import companies make it more common to enjoy certain fruits and vegetables all year long, choosing produce at the peak of its season is still the best way to enjoy crisp textures and delicious flavors. Here is a guide to the seasonal produce you should be looking for during the fall and winter seasons so your recipes will always reflect the rich bounty of flavors the season has to offer.

Where to Look:

An advantage using seasonal fruits and vegetables is that they are easy to find if you know  where to look. Almost every grocery store, farmer’s market or convenience store will have  seasonal produce available. The challenge comes with knowing what is in-season. Although certain produce are associated with the fall and winter, such as squash and pumpkins, you may be surprised at a few others. For example, limes, which are often a summer staple, become far juicier and tangier starting in October.

When to Buy:

Knowing when to buy seasonal produce is essential for getting the most flavor and nutrients  out of your purchase. For example, apples are available all year; however, they reach their peak crispness during the months between August and November as do pears. Grapefruit also comes into season starting in December and continues to reach peak freshness through March. Squash lovers will also want to make the switch from summer to winter varieties once the cold weather begins to arrive. Additionally, dates, figs and guava are all fall and winter favorites.

Starting Your Child on Solid Food:

Seasonal produce is great to add to your child’s diet when they begin eating solid food because this is when it is most ripe and at best selection. In order to detect any allergies, it is best to feed new eaters one pureed, solid food at a time instead of combining several food options. In order to make it easier on new parents you can use foods that you prefer already.

For instance, next time you cook pumpkin for pumpkin pie, set aside a portion to puree into  baby food. Or next time you are having sweet potatoes or carrots for dinner grab a little extra to puree for your little one. 

Purchasing seasonal produce has many advantages, starting with the fact that they’re more delicious than fruits and vegetables that have been forced to grow out of season. Seasonal produce are also more environmentally-friendly. However, it is important to find out which types of produce are in season beforehand so you can make the most out of your shopping trip. Then, enjoy whipping up a dish using your favorite recipe while knowing that you are getting the most flavor from your seasonal selection of fruits and vegetables. Here’s a quick list of fall and winter seasonal produce to look out for on your next grocery trip.

Fall/Winter Seasonal Produce List:

  • Apples
  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots 
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Clementine
  • Cranberries
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Pears
  • Pomegranates
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatillos
  • Winter Squash
  • Zucchini