Autumn advances inexorably and puts us at the gates of winter, which will start towards the end of the month. The landscape in the orchard is transformed little by little, without renouncing the majority of fruits and vegetables typical of the autumn season.
By this time, the queens are already the oranges, which begin to get sweeter and help our defenses with their richness in vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds.
The winter vegetables are consolidated and prepare the ground for us to enter a slower and more nutritious kitchen that provides us with internal heat. In turn, the cold invites to spend more hours at home and to dedicate to the stove the time they deserve.
For traditional Chinese medicine, it is now important to continue taking care of our lungs (the organs that require more attention in the fall) as well as to start preparing for the change of season by taking care of our kidneys. The roots, the vegetables and the long cooking help us in this sense.
What fruits and vegetables are in season in the last month of the year?
In December, you can still find the most typical fruits of autumn. For some, it will be good to say goodbye as the days advance and the cold grows, like the cherimoya, the persimmon or the quince, although others will continue to offer the best version of themselves during the whole month, like pomegranate or avocado.
There are still apples, pears, kiwis, fresh dates, some grapes… but undoubtedly the star of the season are the citrus fruits. Along with the tangerines, which are already running, and lemons, which we find practically all year round, the oranges stand out, whose thick skin allows them to easily resist the lower winter temperatures.
Tropical fruits such as mango, papaya or pineapple will also come from the hottest areas of the country, which put a good icing on the festive meals of this time.
However, little by little the green and white colors will predominate in your shopping basket with the consolidation of cauliflowers, broccoli, cabbages, artichokes, turnips, parsnips, fennel, leeks and winter leafy vegetables, which arrive more and more splendorous.
Chard, borage, thistles, celery and spinach can not be missing in your kitchen at this time. In stews, in broths, boiled… these vegetables will be a great company during the cold months.
At the change of season you will not miss pumpkins or sweet potatoes either. They are concentrated vegetables that comfort, feed and provide substances that are essential for the care of mucous membranes, which are more vulnerable at this time.
And you will find all kinds of roots and other tubers, with all the energy that they will have been concentrating underground.
While it is true that the body will ask you for more hot dishes, it is not necessary to completely give up on dishes such as salads, in which you can always combine raw and cooked or warm vegetables. In fact, including raw foods on the menu, even in small quantities, helps you get better doses of minerals and vitamins.
With winter lettuces, such as escarole, endives or canons, the possibilities are endless. They marry wonderfully with vegetables such as carrots and fennel, or with fruits such as apples, pears or grapes.
And for those who find it hard to give up the tomato, whose season was long ago, there is a winter variety that is also exquisite: the raf tomato.
10 fruits and vegetables from the station: add them to your menu!
Consuming seasonal foods we make sure that they are at their best and that their cultivation has not been forced, with which probably less pesticides will have been used to obtain them and will provide us with a greater concentration of nutrients.
In this season when autumn gives way to winter, this nutritious concentration is essential for our body. This selection includes some of the fruits and vegetables that are at this time at their best.
1. Oak leaf lettuce, with anthocyanins
The wavy and violet leaves of this winter lettuce, very decorative in salads, are more sweet and fleshy than those of other varieties.
Like other varieties of lettuce, the oak leaf is not only very light but is considered remineralizing, for its varied contribution of minerals in small quantities.
It is also a good source of vitamins: mainly provitamin A, folic acid and vitamins C and K.
It is ideal for composing creative salads, with fruits and nuts. Line it with dense vinaigrettes, for example, honey or mustard, and do it at the last moment.
2. Supervitamin spinach
Few vegetables are concentrated with as many minerals and vitamins as in spinach, as delicious raw in the salad as cooked al dente, with its flavor and nutrients intact.
It is a champion in folic acid: a serving of 250 grams covers half of the daily needs. And because of its iron richness (4.1 mg/100 g), it is indicated against anaemia.
The three antioxidant vitamins abound in it: 250 grams provide all the vitamin A and C that are needed per day, and 35% of vitamin E.
It is considered remineralizing because of the variety and quantity of minerals it provides: besides iron, it is rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and fluorine.
3. Pineapple, a fruit rich in digestive enzymes
The juicy and aromatic pulp of this tropical fruit is very suitable to accompany the copious meals of winter. Being rich in bromelain, an enzyme that helps break down proteins, facilitates digestion, reduces the feeling of empacho and prevents gases.
It is considered depurative and very light, as well as an excellent source of vitamin C: a serving of 200 grams contributes two thirds of what is required per day.
Cooking or roasting accentuates its flavor between sweet and sour, although its enzymes are only taken advantage of if it is eaten naturally and well matures.
The pineapple is usually imported from different tropical countries depending on the time of year to have it always available, but it is also grown in the Canary Islands and, to a lesser extent, the Andalusian coast.
4. Orange for your defenses
The season of oranges begins when your vitamin C comes better for the immune system. One of the first varieties to arrive is navel, known for its pronounced calyx. Later others will come, so that we can enjoy this fruit until well into spring.
An orange of average size provides by itself all the vitamin C that is needed per day. It also provides folic acid and vitamin B1.
If it is eaten whole, and not in juice, its fiber is used, in which its flavonoids are concentrated. These antioxidants reinforce the protection of vitamin C.
5. Very digestive endives
They are cultivated in the shelter of the light, letting the tips protrude: hence, they acquire a greenish tone and the trunk is white.
The tender leaves of this winter vegetable, of Belgian origin, are as light as lettuce and its mild bitter taste, in addition to giving it an exquisite touch, facilitates digestion.
In vitamins they are very rich: with only a couple of small buds (about 100 grams) you get 20% of the vitamin A that is needed per day and 15% of the folic acid and vitamin C.
The most common is to enjoy them in salad, but they are also delicious passed through the pan or the oven.
6. Raf tomato, all sweetness
Those who believe that tomatoes no longer taste like tomatoes have the opportunity, between December and April, to enjoy a variety that may change their minds.
Cultivated in the Almeria plains, particularly in the area of La Cañada-Níjar, the raf tomato has an exquisite sweetness that has earned it the name of “pata negra” tomato. The greater salinity of the water and the earth causes the plant to absorb more sugars.
The antioxidant power of its vitamins is added to the lycopene, a red pigment associated with a lower risk of colon cancer.
The authentic raf, flattened and ribbed, displays all its flavor at the moment of ripening, when its skin is predominantly red but still green above. It is enough to salt it and dress it with a good virgin olive oil.
7. Ginger against indigestion and catarrh
This aromatic Asian root takes its name from Sanskrit Singabera, which means “with the shape of a horn”. Its bulging and branched appearance can remember, in effect, the antlers of a deer, but once peeled it discovers a juicy very medicinal pulp.
Ginger is, above all, a great digestive, useful to relieve gas, indigestion and dizziness.
Due to its calorific effect, it also helps to fight the colds, and its anti-inflammatory compounds, the gingerols, make it a good ally against muscle and joint pain.
It is becoming easier to find it fresh and now is a good time to do it; You can grate on the salad, include it in soups, stews and pastry dough or prepare a spicy infusion very comforting in winter.
Other tasty and healthy ways to take it are confit, in infusion, pickled or in juice, obtained with a juice extractor cold press.
8. Corn salad full of nutrients
These wild leaves were liked by the Renaissance monks, who cultivated them in monasteries, and that’s where the alternate name of “canons” comes from. The certain thing is that they chose with criterion: with its flavor something sweet and baked, they constitute a frugal but very nutritious delicacy.
The corn salad not only provide potassium, iron and iodine, but are rich in vitamins, especially antioxidants: 150 grams provide all the vitamin A that is needed daily, 95% of the C and 8% of the E.
They enrich salads, smoothies and sandwiches, although they can be used in many other creative ways.
9. Cardoon to take care of the microbiota and the liver
With a bite of garlic and almonds this vegetable related to the artichoke offers a tasty and comforting dish in the winter months.
Although it provides potassium, calcium and iron, it is considered primarily depurative. Like the artichoke, it has inulin, a soluble fiber with a prebiotic effect, and cynarin, which gives it diuretic and hepatoprotective properties.
To prepare it, remove both the leaves and the hard parts and the filaments of the stem, cut the leaves and boil well until they soften.
10. Turnip, the unused kale of cabbages
This humble tuber was relegated to a second place in our kitchen after the arrival of the potato from America. Today it is basically used to flavor soups and broths, but its low caloric intake and its nutritional power invite us to reclaim its possibilities.
Like the cabbages, with which they are related, the turnips provide sulfur compounds with antioxidant action. They also contain various minerals, especially potassium. And, if they are not overcooked, they are also a good source of vitamin C and folic acid.
Gratin, in purees, with couscous, in rice or vegetable stew, for example, are very appetizing while enriching the diet.
December is also a good month to…
Throughout autumn and winter many roots are collected, both for cooking and for medicinal use. Now is a good time to pick up, for example, licorice root.