20 Winter Fruits and Vegetables

For the healthiest fare, shop for what's local and in season.

If you're looking for the best winter fruits and veggies, the short answer is to look for what's in season.

Seasonal fruits and veggies are fresher, less expensive, and pack more flavor and nutrients than out-of-season produce. And if you buy from your local farmer's market, your produce will likely be fresher than at the grocery store. Plus, you're supporting local economies and farmers.

While you may be familiar with some of the more common winter fruits and veggies, there's probably a good chunk you haven't tried.

Here are 20 fruits and veggies harvested during the cold months. Keep an eye out for the following produce next time you visit your grocery store or farmer's market.

Winter Fruits and Veggies

Some of the best fruits and veggies that you may be able find during the wintertime include the following:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Butternut squash
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Cherimoya
  • Collard greens
  • Cranberries
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kumquats
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranate

Beets

Beets are root vegetables with a characteristic ruby-red hue and edible leafy greens. Beets provide a whole host of nutrients like:

  • Potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure
  • Manganese, a mineral needed for collagen production that keeps your skin and joints healthy
  • B vitamins, like folate, which provide energy and may decrease the risk of depression

How to eat it: Peel, cube, and toss beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper before popping them into the oven and roasting until tender. Beets are fantastic as is or in a garden salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.

Broccoli

This crunchy green veggie is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family. In one study published in 2021 in British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that older women who ate more broccoli than others had lower amounts of calcium build-up in their arteries. Calcium deposits can lead to artery hardening, which increases the risk of heart disease-related complications and death.

Plus, broccoli contains fiber and vitamin K, both of which support bone health.

How to eat it: There are countless ways to prep broccoli, like a simple sauté, stir fry, or oven-roasted and grilled florets. Another good method is to lightly steam broccoli to an al dente consistency and drizzle it with roasted red pepper pesto.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts, which are cousins of broccoli, resemble baby cabbages. But don't let their size fool you. Brussels sprouts are antioxidant powerhouses. 

Antioxidants are molecules that combat cell damage, possibly reducing your risk of diseases like:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Alzheimer's disease

How to eat it: One of the most delicious ways to cook Brussels sprouts is to oven-roast them until their edges are golden and crisp. Just wash, trim, pat dry, halve, and toss with avocado oil and salt before arranging on a baking sheet. Cook at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20–25 minutes.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash's yellow-orange hue, butterscotch flavor, and smooth texture are a feast for the senses. Butternut squash is also quite nutritious: One cup of cubed baked butternut squash provides six grams of fiber and 126% of your daily vitamin A. Vitamin A helps preserve vision and eye health.

How to eat it:  Try oven-roasted butternut squash doused with a combo of maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, and pepper. However, butternut squash is quite difficult to cut. So, ensure your fingers are always above the knife and never under it to avoid mishaps.

Cabbage

This cruciferous veggie adds a lot of tasty crunch to meals without adding many calories. 

In fact, one cup of shredded cabbage has just 18 calories and four grams of carbohydrates, two of which are fiber. Fiber helps with regulating blood sugar and helping manage weight.

How to eat it: You can enjoy warm cabbage as a side dish cooked with apples. Or serve cabbage raw as the base for a slaw made with apple cider vinegar, ginger, and citrus.

Carrots

Carrots pack beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A supports immune function and bone health, acting as an antioxidant that fights disease-causing cell damage.

How to eat it: You can incorporate carrots into savory and sweet dishes. For example, shred or chop them to add them to salads, veggie chili, and stew. Or season whole carrots with juicy pineapple and cinnamon. Then, roast them in the oven. You can also bake a batch of carrot muffins, carrot oatmeal cookies, or carrot walnut cake.

Cauliflower

Many people associate vitamin C with citrus fruits, like oranges and lemons. But you can also find vitamin C in cauliflower's white florets. One cup of cauliflower provides over 50% of your daily value of the immune-supporting nutrient.

Cauliflower is also a good choice for those watching their weight or carbohydrate intake. One cup has just 27 calories and three grams of net carbohydrates.

How to eat it: One way to enjoy cauliflower in the colder months is to grill it in foil with a bit of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. Or mash cauliflower into a substitute for whipped potatoes.

Celeriac

Celeriac may look like it sprouted on an alien planet, but it's super easy to prep and enjoy. This bulbous root has a delicate, slightly earthy taste and starchy texture similar to a potato.

Celeriac is also rich in nutrients like:

  • Vitamin C, which has many benefits, including helping you absorb iron.
  • Vitamin K, which aids in wound healing.
  • B vitamins, like B6 and riboflavin, that help you metabolize food into energy.

How to eat it: To get started, trim off the outer bits and peel to uncover the white flesh. You can eat celeriac boiled and mashed or cut into oven-roasted "fries," You can also eat it raw, sliced thin and tossed in a mustard vinaigrette.

Cherimoya

When you crack open this heart-shaped green fruit, you'll see a creamy white inside speckled with black seeds.

Cherimoya is unlike any other fruit and has a taste that's like a blend of banana, vanilla, mango, papaya, pineapple, and coconut. Plus, one cherimoya provides 40% of women's daily vitamin C intake. Also, one cherimoya provides over 25% of the recommended fiber intake, with seven grams.

How to eat it: You can look forward to eating cherimoya all year, either in a rich pudding or frozen and scooped out with a spoon, like a plant-based custard. Just be sure to discard the black seeds before diving in.

Collard Greens

Collards are a leafy green rich in nutrients, like vitamins K, A, and C. One cup of raw collards provides 11 calories and less than one gram of net carbohydrates.

Also, collards are an important veggie for heart health. For example, a study published in 2021 in the European Journal of Epidemiology looked at 50,000 people for 23 years. The researchers found that people who consumed nitrate-rich vegetables, including leafy greens, had a 12% to 26% lower risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure than others.

How to eat it: Balance the bitterness of collards with sweet ingredients, like fruit, sweet onions, sweet potatoes, and red bell peppers. Braise collards in vegetable broth with apple cider vinegar, yellow onion, maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Cranberries

These gorgeous, jewel-like berries are typically available fresh from September through January. Cranberries supply key nutrients like vitamin C and fiber.

A review published in 2020 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found cranberry consumption may help people maintain healthy blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) while improving heart health.

How to eat it: Try making homemade cranberry sauce during the holidays. Boil the berries in fresh squeezed orange juice with maple syrup and spices. You can also use cranberry sauce as a side dish, sauce, topping, or spread. Try pairing cranberry sauce with oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt, wild rice, or even ice cream.

Fennel

People may bypass fennel if they're unsure how to cook with it. But the bulb has a delicate, sweet, perfumy flavor that brightens up dishes. One cup of raw fennel slices contains 27 calories, with nearly three grams of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.

How to eat it: You can eat fennel raw or cooked. Also, try shaving and marinating in a lemony olive oil vinaigrette or sautéed over low heat, seasoned simply with sea salt and black pepper.

Garlic

People have widely used garlic for thousands of years as a seasoning and medicinal food. Garlic grows year-round in some climates. But in many areas, people plant garlic in the fall and harvest the plant in the winter.

Per a review published in 2020 in Trends in Food Science and Technology, researchers found that garlic may help prevent and treat several viral infections in humans, like the common cold and flu.

How to eat it: You can add garlic to nearly any savory dish: breakfast omelets, chickpea scrambles, homemade vinaigrettes, hummus, soups, stews, stir-fries, and more. You can also roast garlic cloves in foil and drizzle them with olive oil to make a delicious spread. You can add the spread to fresh bread or baked potatoes.

Grapefruit

Not only does grapefruit's tart taste stand out from other fruits, but it's also low in calories. Half of the citrus fruit has 45 calories while packing about 50% of your recommended daily vitamin C intake.

How to eat it: There are countless ways to enjoy grapefruits. Sprinkle it with brown sugar and broil until it's bulging and bubbly for a sweet treat. Or add segments to water and tea.

Kohlrabi

Like celeriac, kohlrabi's appearance may give you pause. But the taste and texture are similar to broccoli and cabbage, with a slightly sweeter and peppery taste.

Kohlrabi has 36 calories and less than four grams of net carbohydrates per cup. Plus, it provides generous amounts of vitamin C and potassium.

How to eat it: Peel, shred or slice the cruciferous vegetable to make salads and slaws extra crunchy. You can also cook kohlrabi: Cut it into matchsticks, roast it as fries, slice it thin, and bake it as chips.

Kumquats

These grape-size citrus fruits pack an impressive 12 grams of fiber per dozen. The recommended daily intake is 14 grams per 1,000 calories.

The same serving size also has as much vitamin C as an orange and is rich in flavonoids, plant compounds that may help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.

How to eat it: Wash and eat kumquats whole (skin and all) or slice and add to salads. Roll each kumquat between your fingers before eating to enhance its sweet flavor and balance its tartness.

Parsnips

This pale root vegetable is related to its colorful relative, carrots. But parsnips have a sweeter flavor than carrots and a hint of spice. Parsnips also supply a wide range of nutrients, like vitamin C, folate, potassium, and magnesium.

How to eat it: Enjoy parsnips boiled and mashed with extra virgin olive oil, oat milk, salt, and pepper. Or oven-roast parsnips with avocado oil, salt, and pepper, garnishing with fresh dill for a savory side dish.

Pears

A box of pears can make a wonderful holiday gift. Pears are beautiful, filling, and seem decadent even though they're incredibly good for you. 

A 2019 review of studies found pears, in addition to apples, may help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.

How to eat it: Enjoy pears raw or sliced and slather them with nut butter. Pears are also fantastic cooked: Try baking pears drizzled with melted dark chocolate and dusted with cinnamon.

Persimmons

The first time you try a persimmon—say, at a local farmer's market—you may end up going home with a bag full. Persimmons resemble tomatoes but have a firm texture and sweet flavor. One whole persimmon is 32 calories and provides vitamin C and manganese.

How to eat it: To avoid the astringent variety, look for Fuyu persimmons, which taste like a combination of plums, dates, and honey when ripe. You can bite right in, but you can also freeze persimmons like cherimoya for a creamy ice cream alternative.

Pomegranate

Pomegranates are a festive winter fruit bursting with antioxidants. A review published in 2020 review in Foods found that pomegranate's edible seeds offer anti-inflammatory benefits. In other words, the seeds may help prevent several diseases.

How to eat it: You'll have to crack open the pomegranate rind to get to the juicy seeds. You can eat the seeds as is or sprinkle them on top of oatmeal, yogurt, and even guacamole for a burst of sweetness. You can also try tossing the seeds into a salad.

A Quick Review

Your best bet for winter fruits and vegetables is what's in season, especially if it's produced nearby. There's a long list of seasonal winter fruit and veggies, from citrus to herbs, that you can experiment with. All of them offer a variety of healthy nutrients, like fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

And if you go overboard and aren't sure what to do with all of your seasonal finds, here are four ways to rescue winter vegetables.

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