Winter Fruit and Vegetables: Recipes and Tips

Give your cold-weather menus a kick with interesting winter fruits and veggies.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

It may seem like slim pickings in the produce section in the wintertime. But if you look a little closer, you'll find a cornucopia of winter fruit and vegetable choices. We all know the winter holiday season is prime time for produce like cranberries and yams. But have you considered persimmons, kiwi, oranges, pears, or rutabagas? And here's the kicker: All these winter choices have notable nutritional attributes, including scores of healthful phytochemicals.

Here are 15 fruits and vegetables that tend to be available during the winter season, including some year-round favorites. Keep in mind that no matter which fruit you're buying, choose fruit that feels heavy for its size and has no sign of molding, deterioration, or bruising.

Asian Pear (September-December for the Yali type, October-March for Korean type)
Nutrition Tip: One Asian pear contains 4 grams of fiber (a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber), and almost 10% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
Storage Tip: These fruits are picked when they are almost ripe, so handle them gently. Use quickly after purchase or refrigerate for one to two months. Prep Tip: Use them raw in salads, as a snack with cheese, or as a dipper for fondue. Use them cooked in crisps and other desserts, muffins, and entrees.
Cooking Tip: The thin-skinned Korean pears don't have to be peeled before cooking. They can be cut into round slices or wedges, chopped, or even grated. The center core can be removed with an apple corer. Asian pears usually require longer cooking times than regular pears because of their crunchy texture.

Cranberries (October-November)
Nutrition Tip: One half cup of uncooked cranberries contains 2 grams of fiber (mostly insoluble fiber), and 9% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
Storage Tip: Pick out any soft or moldy berries, then refrigerate the rest in a plastic bag for up to seven days. They can be frozen in bags if you won't be using them right away.
Prep Tip: Cranberries can be used whole. Just rinse them briefly in cold water. Use them as an accent fruit in pies and crisps, pudding, and jams, and as a featured ingredient in muffins, breads, cakes, and sauces.
Cooking Tip: Recipes with cranberries usually involve added sweetener to balance the tartness of the berries.

Green Beans (Available all year)
Nutrition Tip: One cup of raw snap green beans contains 4 grams of fiber (a combination of soluble and insoluble); 11% of the recommended daily amount of folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin B2; and 24% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
Storage Tip: Refrigerate green beans, unwashed, in a plastic bag for up to four days.
Prep Tip: Snap or cut off the ends, cut longer beans crosswise into the length desired, and rinse before cooking.
Cooking Tip: Green beans are most often cooked by microwaving, steaming, stir-frying, or boiling. The key is to cook only until tender-crisp. If stir-frying, cut the beans in 1-inch pieces so they will cook quickly along with the other ingredients.

Guava (September-March)
Nutrition Tip: One guava contains 5 grams of fiber (a combination of soluble and insoluble), and 10% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, Vitamin B6, and 220% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
Storage Tip: Ripen at room temperature, if needed. You can store guavas at room temperature for up to one week, or refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Prep Tip: Guavas have sturdy skin, so you can cut them in half and scoop out the semi-soft inside flesh with a teaspoon (discard the shell). They're ready to eat when the fruit gives slightly to gentle pressure.
Cooking Tip: Use uncooked guavas in recipes in place of strawberries and kiwi. Use them cooked in pies, breads, or preserves, or cold or hot in sauces, juices, or sorbets.

Kiwi (October-March)
Nutrition Tip: One kiwi contains 3 grams of fiber (mostly the insoluble type), and 76% of the recommended daily amount for vitamin C.
Storage Tip: They're ready to eat when they give slightly to gentle pressure. Really soft kiwi fruit is too ripe to eat. Ripen at room temperature, or refrigerate in the crisper drawer for three to five days.
Prep Tip: The skin on kiwi fruit can be eaten if desired. But if you want to peel them, cut in slices and then peel; use a paring knife to cut off the ends and then remove the skin; or cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
Cooking Tip: Kiwi is usually enjoyed raw. Pureed kiwi can be used to make all types of sorbet or margaritas. Kiwi is a beautiful addition to desserts and salads.

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