By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
During the cold, winter months, many people find it difficult to eat the required amount of veggies and fruits. Popular produce, like berries and melons, are out of season or too expensive for the family budget. Instead, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, parsnips, oranges and sweet potatoes are in during January and February.
One local mom is tricking her family into eating their fruits and vegetables during the cold months.
Jennifer Franklin, of Princeton, said her family is often picky when it comes to winter produce. So she shreds, purees and dices veggies into other dishes.
“I use carrots, white beans, cauliflower and squash the most when sneaking veggies into food. I puree white beans to use in chicken enchiladas. I also puree carrots and cauliflower to use in pasta sauces. Cauliflower is really easy to disguise to lighten up mashed potatoes. Squash is best pureed and added to cheesy dishes like macaroni and cheese. Mushrooms? I mix into pesto for pizza or pastas,” she said.
Franklin had discovered soups are also a great way to hide vegetables.
“Parsnips can be added — pureed or in slices — to potato soup for some added sweetness. Leafy greens can be disguised easily into soups and pasta in small quantities because they cook down well. Spinach is perfectly disguised in brownies as well. If zucchini is available, I peel and shred it, and add it to ground turkey for turkey burgers,” she added.
When it comes to shopping, she chooses the produce on sale. Then, heads to the frozen vegetable section. In the winter, she buys potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, onions, winter squash and broccoli the most.
“I think I buy broccoli all year, though,” Franklin said.
Other winter staples in the grocery store include dates, collard greens, leeks, kale, turnips and of course, tangerines, oranges and clementines.
Some items on the list aren’t as familiar to the average shopper. Here are a few uncommon fruits and veggies to sneak into your winter diet:
A relative of the persimmon, a Sharon fruit is seedless. The name originates from Israel’s Sharon Valley, where they were first grown in Israel. A Sharon fruit is typically served as part of a dessert.
A red banana has a slight raspberry-banana flavor but the inside looks similar to a yellow banana. Select a banana with a deep purple color, which indicts it is ripe.
Used as a topping for yogurt, cereal or in smoothies, a cactus pear can be diced like a pineapple. Choose a pear that is firm, free of spots and has a bright magenta color.
The Quakers introduced the cardoon to North American. It looks a lot like celery and tastes similar to artichokes or celery. The most popular way to fix cardoon is to cook the leaves and stalks together. It can also be used raw in salads.
This fruit is actually the largest member of the citrus family and even tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit. Some people call a pummelo a “shaddock.” They can be stored in the refrigerator for one week.