How to eat what's cheap and in season RIGHT NOW - Winter Edition

It's time for hibernation, maybe a touch of the winter blues, and definitely cabin fever.

I'm writing this in the juxtaposition of feeling warm from the sun streaming into my window while simultaneously being chilled by the 50 km/h wind gusts that are sending the -13 degrees Celsius outdoor air into the house. My body doesn't know what to think, and is rebelling with flaky skin.

Raise your hand if you miss being able to go for a walk outside, which is so not happening due to the inch of snow and ice covering the sidewalks, or being able to take your toddler outside without 3 layers on his top-half, a hat (toque in canadian dialect), and mittens that he clearly despises.

This is the time of year to crave comfort food, usually any type of sugary carbs. Now, some nutritionists out there might be telling you that doing a green smoothie or juice cleanse will help you get over these cravings, plus drop those extra holiday pounds and raise your energy level.

While that is true, here's the deal (FYI, this only applies to those peeps out there who experience colder winter temperatures, not those living in a tropical climate): it's damn cold, and your body is already stressed. While you may desperately need a cleanse or detox to address symptoms that you're having, now is not the time.

Doing a detox can be highly beneficial for most people, since 99% of us have cells that are drowning in toxins, but it is a form of stress on your body. Stressing an already stressed body is not the way to get the best results from all of the work that a proper cleanse or detox takes. Wait for spring, which its the #1 optimal time to detox.

What you should focus on right now is eating nutrient-dense food, and the way to do that is to eat what's in season right now. It'll also save you some cash, since out of season food shipped from other countries altogether are outrageously expensive right now.

As mentioned in the summer edition and fall edition of this series "what's cheap and in season RIGHT NOW", I use this produce availability guide for my local area of Ontario. You can find one for your local area on something called "the internet" by using "Google". Just search "what's in season in [insert your area]".

Chances are if you've got cold winter weather right now, this is what's in season in your area, too:

1. Apples: This was my son's first word (*proud mama alert!*), probably because they're in our house all.the.time. I make sure to buy organic, since apples are on the Dirty Dozen list, meaning they have the highest amount of pesticides on them. So go ahead and make some crockpot applesauce or apple crisp, and load it up with cinnamon since it's a warming spice. Feel free to mix some other frozen fruits into your crisp, like berries, since they were picked at their peak of freshness and will still have the majority of their nutrients. My fave fruit crisp recipe is below, and I could make it with my eyes closed.

2. Beets: One of the many root veggies that are in season right now, beets are one of my favourites. I'm partial to sweet anything. I outlined how I made 6 different recipes from $2.97 worth of beets in this post, so I pretty much beat them to death already.

3. Root veggies: We all know about potatoes and carrots, and there was a time when making sweet potato fries would have been utterly exotic. When I started actually looking around the produce department, I made the wonderful discovery that my #1 favourite root veggie is the rutabaga. I also love turnips and parsnips, and after being pregnant, I like celery root, too. Never say never. What's the easiest way to try these crazy root veggies so that you'll like them? Make them into fries or just plain roast them, since it brings out the natural sweetness. Cut them into same sized pieces, which could be the traditional french fry shape, or even cubes. Whatever floats your boat, but the thinner they're sliced or cut, the faster they'll roast. Toss them with some liquid coconut oil or clarified butter, some sea salt and pepper, and roast them in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven until they're tender (which could be anywhere between half an hour to an hour, depending on the size). Turn and toss them every 15 to 30 minutes so they don't burn. Delicious!

So while it may suck that we don't have a ton of produce variety right now, you'd never appreciate local, juicy strawberries at the peak of their freshness if you had them all year, right?

Besides, you can just use frozen ones in this crisp recipe to get you through another long week until spring comes. Eat it for breakfast, eat it for a snack … whatever you need to do to make it through these long winter days.

What are your best secrets for getting through the winter shortage of cheap, fresh food and beating your cravings?

FRUIT CRISP

BY ASHLEY SROKOSZ, RHN

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves 6

4 cups frozen, unsweetened mixed peaches, berries, or any other fruit you like other than citrus type fruits (apples and pears are wonderful when in season)
2 tbsp honey
2 cups gluten free oats
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
½ cup organic butter or coconut oil
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Place the fruit in an even layer in the baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of honey if the berries are tart.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until fruit begins to release it juices and steam.
4. Meanwhile, melt the butter or coconut oil in a small saucepan. When it’s almost melted, add the honey and vanilla, and stir until dissolved (don’t let it boil).
5. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, and salt.
6. Add the melted butter/oil and honey mixture into the dry ingredients, and mix well.
7. Once fruit is done baking, remove from the oven, and add the oat mixture in an even layer to the top of the fruit.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until fruit is bubbly around the edges and the topping is browned.
9. Serve warm or cold, for breakfast or a snack, and store leftovers in the fridge.

Notes: Feel free to add in up to ½ cup of slivered or ground almonds to the topping, or any other nut you may like!