Throughout the year, fruits and vegetables go in and out of season, affecting their price, nutritional quality, and flavor. We Washingtonians are lucky enough to benefit from some of the best local winter produce available. This weekend, stock up on February’s finest produce picks:
Pink Lady Apples
The Pink Lady apple was developed 40 years ago as a natural cross between Lady Williams and Golden Delicious. Over 3 million boxes of Pink Lady’s are grown in Washington state, making it a local favorite. Furthermore, these lovable apples provide 25% of your recommended vitamin C, are full of fiber and antioxidants, and are only 75 calories per serving—1 medium apple.
Want another reason to love this sweet lady? Committed to being environmentally friendly, the Pink Lady brand uses sustainable production methods that benefit both the environment and the safety of the apples. Pink Lady packaging is 100% recyclable and is made of raw materials from sustainably managed forests. Gotta love this lady!
You may see their cousin in the planters at U Village more often than on your plate, but collard greens most definitely deserve a place at the table. Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, and in manganese and calcium, these wintery greens are sure to boost your immune system this season. Outshining cruciferous superstars such as kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, collard greens may have the greatest cholesterol-lowering property of them all. If you’re still not impressed, collard greens have excellent cancer-fighting properties (glucosinolates) that work by supporting your natural detox and anti-inflammatory systems. Julienne them (thin strips) and add them to beans, soups and stews.
Although they are not grown here in Washington, we love these winter jewels. A nutritional powerhouse for vitamins A and C, grapefruit’s tangy juice is a perfect way to add a little brightness to your winter menu. The red and pink varieties rank among the highest in terms of antioxidant content, thanks to the lycopene and other phytonutrients abundantly present. Your cholesterol levels will also appreciate the addition of red grapefruit to your diet, as its powerful lipid-lowering effects have repeatedly been proven again and again (be careful if you are on a statin or other grapefruit-sensitive drug though—grapefruit can increase the drug’s potency, leading to toxicity). Start your morning with some fresh slices, or add slices to your favorite wintery salad. Our favorite is avocado, grapefruit, blanched red onion and arugula salad. Just add a little olive oil and sea salt.
One of the upsides to Seattle’s constant drizzle is that it makes us home to prime mushroom territory that thrives through the rainy months. Whether you pick your own (be careful!), or purchase them at your local farmer’s market, you’re sure to benefit greatly from these fungi. Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins (pantothenic acid, niacin, and riboflavin) and minerals (selenium, copper, and potassium). Interestingly, mushrooms are also a good source of vitamin D—especially important in the Northwest! Include them in your dishes on a regular basis to boost your immune system and up your vitamin D levels to support your health during the rainy winter months!
Juicy sweet pears are another winter favorite in Washington. Grown locally, these fruits are good sources of fiber, vitamin B, and vitamin C. Washington pears are grown in four regions: Wenatchee, Yakima, mid-Columbia, and Medford, and produce over 80% of the nation’s pear supply! Delicious sliced in salads, served with cheese, or simply on their own, it’s no wonder the rest of the country is envious of our fertile pear territories! Enjoy a juicy pear this winter, and rest easy knowing that it is another one of Washington’s local favorites.