With the month of January we enter in the middle of winter . It is a month that asks for generosity with hot dishes, which requires us to take good care of the immune system and in which, according to traditional Chinese medicine, we should pay special attention to organs such as the kidneys and bladder.
That is why it is a good month for roots and green leaves, or for citrus, some of the foods that nature provides in this time.
What seasonal foods does the orchard offer in January?
The start of the year is undoubtedly an excellent time to find precisely roots and green leaves , especially bitter salad leaves, such as chicory, endive or escarole, and all kinds of leafy vegetables. Swiss chard, borage, cabbage, thistles, spinach, grelos … all are in season.
There’s also nothing missing that you need to make warm creams and good broths : celery, turnips, parsnips, leeks, onions, cabbage, beetroot, pumpkin … And you can still taste an autumn delight, the artichoke, from which you can continue enjoying until spring.
For salads we have, in addition to the bitter leaves, some varieties of winter lettuce . And we can add some watercress or canons, bring the freshness of the fennel or enrich it with the vitamins of the carrot.
It is also an optimal month to find good citrus fruits , some of which are at their peak and come very well for their richness in vitamin C.
The orange is still in its best season and, among the tangerines, a variety arrives, the clemenvilla, of exquisite sweetness.
There are still many of the fruits that began to ripen in autumn and which cost so much to say goodbye, such as persimmon, cherimoya or pomegranate.
Some of these foods start their season now, others started in the previous months, but all are at an optimal time. All are also ideal for healthy eating in winter .
1. Lemon, double boost to your defenses
The lemon tree, unlike other citrus fruits, blooms several times a year, which allows you to pick lemons in different months and enjoy this fruit almost uninterruptedly . Some varieties resist the cold very well and are now at their point. Another good shipment will arrive in the spring.
The lemon comes very well at this time when it is convenient to keep the defenses in shape. But also to take care of the kidneys, of which they are a powerful ally.
A glass of lemon juice, about 60 ml, provides half of the vitamin C that is needed daily and abundant flavonoids , with an antioxidant effect.
You can add to the water a slice of lemon or a splash of juice to increase your consumption of vitamin C, add the lemon to your juices to enhance the assimilation of the iron from the green leaves, or prepare with it your vinaigrettes instead of with vinegar.
If you are going to use the skin, it is especially important that you choose ecological or trusted lemons.
2. Red chicory, a leaf of very digestive salad
The red chicory, which you can also find under the name of radicchio , is an Italian relative of endives .
In winter salads not only gives a touch of color, but offers a delicious bitter counterpoint to other sweeter vegetables. And it combines wonderfully with fruits of the season, like apple or orange.
The purple color of its leaves is due to the antioxidant anthocyanins, while the bitter taste is conferred by intibin and inulin , two polysaccharides with a prebiotic effect that also lighten the work of the liver.
If you prefer to cook it, you can add it to your sautéed ones . When cooking it loses part of its bitter taste and is more acceptable to all palates.
3. Banana, flavor and energy instantly
If you miss more variety of fruits in winter, do not forget the banana.
The banana is more rich in potassium .
The banana is not only the most comfortable fruit to carry, but at any time provides a dose of quality energy . In addition to carbohydrates, the energy of the B vitamins, which convert them into energy, and magnesium, which strengthens both muscles and nerves, contribute to its energetic effect.
The milkshakes with banana are delicious. For example, with oat milk, pure cocoa and a little molasses. Or with fruits that you will also find in season in early winter, such as pineapple or mango.
In addition, you can use it in your pastry recipes to provide sweetness without resorting to sugar or to replace the egg in cakes and biscuits .
4. Brussels sprouts, great protectors
These cabbages are at the beginning of the year at their best. They have nothing to envy to the recommended broccoli, because they contain a similar amount of glucosinolates, precursors of the isothiocyanates, with anticancer and detoxifying properties .
Dr. R. Béliveau, of the Laboratory of Molecular Medicine of the University of Quebec, in Montreal (Canada), recommends daily taking 100 g of Brussels sprouts or other cruciferous in the framework of a cancer preventive diet.
Try not to cook them more than necessary , because they lose part of their healthy properties and generate an odor that is unpleasant to some people.
Cut them into halves and steam them for about 6 minutes. You can season them with mustard to enhance their effects.
5. Grelos, the tastiest vitamins in Galician winter
This winter vegetable is part of some of the recipes of traditional Galician cuisine . You can take it as a garnish or crush it with other vegetables to enjoy it in the form of cream.
Turnip greens are the leaves of the turnip plant : you can eat the first twigs in the autumn, the nabizas, or wait a little longer, until just before flowering.
Those leaves more grown, but still very tender, are the grelos, and is that ” grelar” in Galician means “bloom” . They arrive with the new year and can be enjoyed until well into March.
Besides being a delicacy, they have a great nutritional value. Its richness in beta-carotene or provitamin A, whose assimilation improves with cooking, is extraordinary: 100 g covers the total daily needs.
Other vitamins that the grelos contribute in abundance are the fólico acid and the vitamin C. Like other green leaves, also contributes good doses of iron and calcium .
6. Clemevillas, citrus sweetness
Tangerines have something addictive, but it is not a problem because they only provide health benefits. And, although the first ones arrive at the beginning of autumn, the beginning of the year brings a new variety that you will undoubtedly enjoy.
The clemenvillas are almost like a candy, a late tangerine that you will easily recognize because it is large, heavy and has thin skin and difficult to peel. But if you have doubts, be sure you will recognize it when you taste it: it is very aromatic and surprisingly sweet .
Like lemon, at this time they are a great resource to increase your consumption of vitamin C while taking care of your kidneys.
The great advantage of tangerine is that when eating usually whole, and not in juice, all the fiber is used , concentrated in the white skin of the segments. Do not forget that the segments of tangerine give a lot of freshness to salads and that combine wonderfully with seasonal leaves like endive.
7. Bean tender, a fresh legume of the most nutritious
Only during this time and during the spring is it possible to enjoy the beans when they are still tender, which allows them to be eaten even with the pod.
By having more water and less starch than dry beans, they are more digestive and lighter . They have a little less protein and fiber, but they are a good source of phosphorus, iron and B vitamins, especially folic acid.
To maintain a good mood in winter and spring, they can also be a good complement to your menu, since they contain levodopa or L-dopa, a chemical that the body uses to produce dopamine.
Once cooked, they are delicious simply with oil and mint or savory .
8. Onion against colds
Onion is one of those foods that can be found all year round in the garden, although each variety of onion also has its best season.
In winter they are an essential vegetable. Its richness in flavonoids and sulfur compounds make it a very protective food and especially useful to prevent and improve respiratory infections , so common in this era.
Onion is also considered beneficial for circulation, cholesterol and blood sugar , as well as useful in the prevention of cancer and digestive infections.
It is convenient to take advantage of the external layers , since flavonoids such as quercetin are concentrated in them.
9. Apple full of fiber and vitamin C
The first apples arrived with the end of summer, but their season lasts until winter . One of the latest varieties and best preserved at this time is, for example, the Granny Smith, whose bright green color makes it unmistakable.
You may also find maiden green apples, harder to see, but one of those varieties that are not forgotten, crispy, perfumed, and that you will recognize by their waxy skin and flattened shape.
The fame of the apple as healthy fruit is not unfounded. A piece of 150 grams provides 30% of the vitamin C that is needed per day and a good dose of potassium. It also contains pectin, a prebiotic fiber that helps regulate intestinal transit and cholesterol.
Apart from being ideal as a table fruit and as a snack, the apple is very grateful to add to winter salads , in which it combines very well with escarole or lettuces such as oak leaf , which you will also find in this time.
When it’s cold, you can also enjoy the cooked apple a lot. Not only is it delicious in cakes, but it adds a touch of sweetness to your vegetable creams .
10. Garlic, a natural antibiotic
In garlic we have a great ally of health in winter . You can find them in the market all year round, because the harvesting campaign for ripe garlic begins with summer, but afterwards the heads are left to dry and stored without affecting their properties.
Garlic protects you in winter due to its antibiotic effect , which makes it ideal for preventing and fighting infections. Allicin, a sulfur compound that is released once cut or crushed garlic, behaves as an antimicrobial and immune system stimulant.
In turn, garlic provides inulin , a fiber that stimulates the growth and activity of the bifidobacteria that live in the intestine, as well as producing a slight acidification in the colon that reinforces the barrier effect against potentially toxic microorganisms.
The best way to take advantage of its properties is to use it raw . Pícalo in the salads, add it to the dressing of your vegetables or prepare with it your mayonnaise or veganesas.
If you use it to cook, chop it or mash it about ten minutes beforehand, to give time to release the allicin, which will resist the heat better.
11. Persimmon sharoni or persimmon, sweetness without astringency
The persimmon, originally from East Asia, is also known as “palosanto”, perhaps because it reaches the beginning of November. Its abundant sugars make it very sweet, although its tannins leave a rough aftertaste if it is not in its point. That is why some varieties are picked soon, before they fully mature, and undergo a natural maturation treatment that reduces tannins and, therefore, astringency.
These persimmons, harder, have a texture reminiscent of the apple , and are delicately sweet. Its pulp is so consistent that it can even be cut into slices and incorporated into salads.
A persimmon of about 150 g provides almost half of the beta carotene needed per day and 40% of vitamin C. Its tannins, with an antioxidant effect, help protect cardiovascular health.
12. Parsnip, a root full of vitamins
Formerly this humble root was used in Europe to sweeten jams and cakes. Today, although its most popular use is as an ingredient of the broth, it can substitute in many recipes the carrot, with which it is related, and it is delicious simply roasted , seasoned to taste.
Its sweetness intensifies if it is collected after the frosts of winter, so this month and those that follow are the best to take advantage of all its flavor.
By combining fiber, potassium and folic acid, parsnips help cardiovascular health . It is also rich in vitamins: along with folic acid, it provides vitamins B1, B5, C and E.