Farmers Market Foods to Chase Away the Winter Blues

February 13, 2019

In the winter, while farmers put fields into cover crop and busily plan for the spring, the farmers market abounds with cool-weather crops that are hardy enough to survive frosts, long nights, and storage. As nature would have it, these winter foods offer the nutritional building blocks to fortify us against cold season bugs and start the year in good health.

Such winter warriors come in a rainbow of flavors, such as lush and nutrient-dense greens; juicy citrus fruits that sweeten in winter’s chill; and root vegetables in every shade of purple, red, orange, and yellow. Even in the quieter months, the farmers market offers a bounty of surprises. We’ve compiled a shopping list with recipes to brighten your days and keep you warm and nourished until spring.

Powerhouse Foods from the Winter Farmers Market

Cruciferous vegetables are cold-tolerant crops like broccoli, kale, cabbage, mustard, collard greens, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi. These healthful brassicas tend to dominate winter farmers market stands, giving you ample time to embrace and experiment with the many varieties. Prized for their high vitamin C content, fiber, and cancer-fight properties, they are delicious braised, fermented, or eaten raw in salads.

Root vegetables serve as a grounding force in the winter months. Roots like beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and radishes, along with tubers like the many varieties of potatoes and sweet potatoes, store energy for plants underground in the form of carbohydrates. Roasting roots brings out their sweet characteristics, while eating them raw can add spice, as in peppery radishes. Don’t forget to cook the green tops!

Chicories—radicchio, Belgian endive, and puntarelle—are bitter greens that make for crisp, crunchy additions to winter salads or braises. The bitterness comes from intybin, a substance that can have a sedative effect. In Chinese medicine, bitter foods are believed to detoxify and support digestion. To soften the bitterness, try pairing them with sweet citruses.

Citrus abounds in the winter, providing an indispensable source of natural vitamin C in a rainbow of fruit, such as Blood and Cara Cara oranges, Satusuma and Clementine mandarins, Oro Blanco and Ruby Red grapefruits, pomelos, lemons, and more. Help fend off colds by snacking on them raw or in salads or making a honey-lemon tea. Try steeping the peels as an extra step to reduce food waste.

Dried beans are a staple pantry item in the winter months, making a filling addition to soups, salads, and other dishes. High in protein and fiber, these legumes are second only to grains in supplying calories and protein to the world’s population, while providing two to four times as much protein. Visit Tierra Vegetables, Iacopi Farms, and others at the farmers market to find heirloom beans in every shape, size, and color. Pair them with brown rice from Massa Organics for a simple and complete meal.

Herbal teas can keep you warm and well, and you can make your own mix using fresh herbs like lemon verbena, rosemary, and mint, as well as tonic “weeds” like stinging nettles, chickweed, and dandelion, all available at the farmers market. Just add boiling water and steep.

Broth is of course a favorite remedy for the common cold and flavorful base for any winter soup. To make your own from scratch, you can find pasture-raised chickens from Eatwell Farm, Root Down Farm, and Mountain Ranch, as well as readymade bone broth from RoliRoti, Eatwell, and Root Down.

Fermented foods are all the rage as scientists study the human microbiome, which may influence everything from mood to immune function to digestion. You can nourish your gut microbiota through a plant-based diet (including fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds), as well as eating fermented foods, which contain healthful probiotic bacteria. At the farmers market, you’ll find sauerkraut from Wise Goat Organics, kimchi from Volcano Kimchi, miso from Aedan Fermented, yogurt from Alexandre Family Farm, and lacto-fermented sodas from Eatwell Farm.

Warming Winter Recipes

Winter Rainbow Salad | Foodwise Kids Program

Radicchio, Beet, and Mint Salad | Joyce Goldstein, cookbook author

Preserved Lemon Citronette | Joyce Goldstein, cookbook author

Root Vegetable Chips with Roasted Carrot Hummus | Joanne Weir, Kitchen Gypsy

Chopped Miso Salad | Heidi Swanson,

Classic Kraut with Caraway | Kathryn Lukas, Farmhouse Culture

Red Kraut and Winter Green Salad with Golden Goat Cheese Toast | Joshua Burbridge and Amber Petersen, True Family Foods

Warm-Me-Up Soup | Foodwise Kids Program

Shrimp Dumplings and Vegetable Miso Soup | Yu Min Lin, The Sea at Alexander’s Steakhouse

Winter Vegetable and Farro Soup | Jason Berthold, RN74

Basic Beans and Rice with Collard Greens | Foodwise Kids Program

Kohlrabi and Sweet Potato Fried Rice | Hollie Greene, JoyFoodly

Nettle Porridge with Butternut Squash and Bacon | Nichole Accettola, Kantine

Find more winter recipes in the Foodwise recipe archives.

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