According to Dr. Elson M. Haas, author of “A Cookbook for all Seasons” eating produce when it’s at the ripest and most nutritious stage will reap tremendous healthy benefits (a diet of mostly seasonal veggies, whole grains and fish reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes by 30%).
Dr. Haas also believes that eating seasonally helps your body adjust to the changing of the seasons. (for example, tomatoes and grapefruit eaten during the late spring and throughout summer will keep you properly hydrated-when the chance of dehydration is at its peak-because of the high water content.) and will keep your energy levels consistent.
Now many fruits and vegetables are available year-round, so what’s “seasonal” anymore?
Here’s a list to help you:
Fall and Winter Food-Yams, sweet potatoes, grapes, leeks, potatoes, parsnips, romaine lettuce, mandarin oranges, onions, oats, persimmons, pomegranates, acorn squash, apples, ginger, garlic, artichokes, butternut squash, dates, cranberries, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage.
Spring and Summer Food-Artichokes (made both lists), avocados, watercress, tomatoes, beans (green, garbanzo and lentil), blueberries, strawberries, sprouts, beets, cabbage (made both lists), spinach, radishes, celery, chives, parsley, lettuce (all types), collard greens, cucumbers, melon, kale, green peas and grapefruit.
Make veggies an eating priority, if at all possible. Fill up on them; make meat and other higher-calorie foods the afterthought. Actually, two-thirds of your meal should be veggies, with the remaining portion for a protein or starch. If you don’t like the taste of veggies directly, you can always chop them up and put them in a casserole, soup, stir-fry or salad.
Use more herbs for seasoning and less salt (a lot of sodium is not good for blood pressure and can lead to water retention). Keep a fresh selection of parsley, chives, cilantro, basil and other herbs always on hand; soon, you won’t even miss the salt!
A few suggestions from the National Cancer Institute:
Top breakfast cereal with ¼ cup raisins.
Drink a cup of fruit juice with lunch.
Have an apple for a snack.
Start dinner with a salad of 1cup lettuce and ½ cup chopped raw veggies.