By Lauren Aloha and Kathy Cunningham

Just because the temperatures are cold in the winter, doesn’t mean that local organic produce is lacking. Winter brings new variety and color to in-season vegetables. Brighten up your winter by trying some of these delicious and easy winter vegetable recipes your family is sure to love.

The first step is shopping for ingredients. A local farmers market is one way to shop for fresh produce with the added bonus that, consumers get the opportunity to support local products. On Sunday, January 8, the Dorchester community held their first Winter’s Farmers Market in Codman Square. The market was a huge success and exceeded all expectations with a high demand that everything went so quickly. The Dorchester Winter Farmers Market will be held every Sunday from 12-3pm until late March. The market offers a wide variety of cheese, frozen grass-feed meats, and winter vegetables all from local farms.

At the Codman Square Farmers Market you can use the electronic transfer cards to purchase items with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.  Each time you go to the farmers market, it’s a different and interesting experience; this winter, a variety winter squash, sweet potatoes, kale, radishes, winter lettuces, broccoli, and a dozen root vegetables are available. Try purchasing a vegetable you have never eaten before, along with a new recipe-you might end up loving something you never thought you would!

After a visit at the farmers market, you’ve finally arrived home with a great variety of winter vegetables. Your shopping bag is stuffed, so what do you do with it all? These tips and recipes for cooking winter vegetables are sure to help!

Winter squash is one of the most popular winter produce. Winter squash should be stored in a cool, dry pantry (not refrigerator) for up to 1 month.  It is high in nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, B6, K, potassium, and folate.  Winter squash may be roasted, mashed, or baked; you can even roast the seeds with olive oil and a dash of salt for a great snack. If you are looking for a way to warm up tonight, Winter Squash and Chicken Tzimme’s orange and cinnamon flavor is sure to do the trick.

Kale’s flavor improves with the winter frost, making it a little sweeter. Kale is an excellent winter green, but should be used within three days of purchasing to maintain crispness and flavor. Its high in antioxidants, Vitamin A, C, and B6. Kale may be used in a fresh salad, served boiled to a bright green color, and even sautéed.  Pasta with Black Kale, Caramelized Onions and Parsnips is a delicious and hearty dinner that brings out the delicious flavor and texture of kale. Note: If black kale is unavailable, use regular green kale.

In the mood for something on the lighter side?  Winter Endive Salad is the perfect meal. This salad can be prepared in less than 20 minutes and makes excellent use of winter greens such as watercress and endive with pomegranate (a winter fruit) adding a little extra sweetness. Winter lettuces like romaine, arugula, and watercress are all in season are packed with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron.

Try spicing up roasted meat or poultry with a side of roasted winter vegetables. Root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, and celeriac work exceptionally well in various roasted vegetable recipes. Roasting is a great cooking technique that enhances the flavor and texture of the vegetables. The medley of colors and flavors is guaranteed to have everyone asking for seconds.  Tip: Make sure to cut all vegetables the same size for even cooking!

Mashed, baked, roasted, in soups, or even oven-fried: no matter how you serve them, potatoes are a favorite at any meal. Sweet potatoes are a great winter vegetables high in fiber and nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamin A and many more.  If you’re craving French fries tonight, try a healthier version with these Oven-fried Sweet Potatoes. They will definitely make you forget about your fast-food craving.

I hope these recipes help you to get started on your way to cooking flavorful winter vegetables. Websites such as the www.foodnetwork.com, www.eatingwell.com, and www.eatbetteramerica.com are all great resources for additional healthy and delicious recipes.

Lauren Aloha is Simmons dietetic intern and Kathy Cunningham is a registered dietitian at the Boston Public Health Commission.

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