Get the Most Out of Winter Veggies

First part is from the South Beach Diet website:

If you're following healthy eating principles, chances are you're shopping for great-tasting fresh fruits and vegetables. During the winter, this can be a frustrating experience in many parts of the country. Tasteless tomatoes, unripe strawberries, and avocados priced like precious gems are just some of the typical complaints about produce.

Your favorite fruits and veggies are either out of season or they come with a hefty price tag. So, should you give up on them until the spring thaw? Of course not! Here are three steps to help you avoid the winter produce woes.

1. Buy seasonal produce. Readily available winter fruits include oranges, grapefruit, apples, and pears. Zero in on always-tasty winter vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery root, fennel, spinach, mushrooms, kale, chicory, leeks, Swiss chard, and collard greens.

2. Shop the frozen-foods aisle. Believe it or not, some nutrients (like vitamins A and C) are better retained in frozen produce than fresh produce, which loses some nutrients through exposure to air and light and during transportation. Plus, frozen produce is a real time-saver because it usually requires minimal preparation. In addition, by stocking your freezer with frozen produce, you'll always have fruits and vegetables on hand, even on days when you can't make it to the grocery store. This aisle is also an especially good place to find berries and other off-season fruits. (Make sure you select frozen fruits packaged without added sugars.)

3. Seek out weekly sales. Your local grocery store probably runs weekly promotions on selected produce. If you're looking to save pennies, pick up a circular and make it a point to buy produce that's on sale.

Lena’s suggestions:

When shopping for groceries, often recipes will include fresh produce that must be chopped, sliced, peeled or some other preparation method. For instance, most onion in recipes is chopped or sliced. Buy a three-pound bag of onions, and then use your food processor to chop most of them at once! Bag them in a Ziploc freezer bag and allow to freeze flat in a thin amount. When it’s time to cook, you can break off a hunk easily.

In much the same way, you can chop and freeze bell peppers. You can cut up your celery and carrots in advance into the chunks most recipes call for and have them ready in the refrigerator for tossing into the pot or skillet.

Even vegetables that can’t be cooked ahead can be sliced or peeled ahead. For instance, buying broccoli or cauliflower ahead and cutting it into those tasty florets means easy use later. There might even be a tendency to throw a few into your salad, so buy an extra head. You could have your own private salad bar waiting in the fridge in Ziploc bags.

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