11 Seasonal Foods To Cook With in February
Winter makes us crave comfort foods like stews and fresh-baked breads, but don't forget all the nutrient-dense fruits and veggies in peak season right now. From citrus to dark, leafy greens, February's best seasonal produce packs vitamin C, zinc, fiber, and potassium, to name a few.
As a rule of thumb, heartier vegetables, like cruciferous and root veggies, withstand the cold better and are in season during winter months, so look to Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and parsnips as the perfect side dishes or accompaniments to braised meats and one-pot meals.
Steamy soups, chilis, and stews can all be livened up with the veggies below, and make sure to throw plenty of citrus in your shopping cart for salads, dressings, and snacks.
Here's a list of February's finest:
- Brussels sprouts
“Rich in vitamin C and health-promoting sulfuric compounds found in all crucifers, broccoli is a versatile winter veggie that you can steam, roast, or even shred into a slaw,” says Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, owner of ChampagneNutrition® and author of Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep and How to Eat to Beat Disease Cookbook. Crucifers are in season throughout late fall and into the spring. Try whipping up this Extra Creamy Broccoli-Cheddar Casserole, which is a kid-friendly crowd-pleaser.
“All types of cabbage are in season during February, but red and purple cabbage are rich in unique antioxidants called anthocyanins, which may offer anti-inflammatory health benefits,” says Hultin. Cabbage is in season throughout late fall and into the spring. These Roasted Cabbage Wedges With Oranges and Caraway should be a winter staple.
Though white in color, don't underestimate cauliflower’s nutritional power. “It offers a significant amount of vitamin C and fiber and can be incorporated into many different recipes, so get creative by ricing your cauliflower for a lower carb option to rice, or roast it with winter herbs like sage, parsley, or chives,” says Hultin. Crucifers are in season throughout late fall and into the spring, and this Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice tastes better than takeout.
“Whether you choose curly or Tuscan, you'll get a variety of vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, B6, and C, and minerals like potassium and manganese, to support your natural immune system in the winter,” says Hultin. Massage kale so it gets soft before making a salad or using it as a garnish for soup or stew. Mix with a protein, like an egg, in this Blistered Tomatoes With Kale bowl.
Often underutilized, parsnips resemble carrots and taste great roasted and in soups or stews. “Nutritional benefits include lots of vitamin C, magnesium, and vitamin B6 to support your health during cold and flu season. Parsnips come into season in November and continue throughout the winter,” says Hultin. Mix with crunchy nuts in this Pecan and Raisin Parsnips side.
Brussels sprouts are high in immunity-boosting vitamin C. A one-cup serving of these tiny trees has more than a day's worth of vitamin C, plus vitamin B6 to keep energy high and stable. “They also have glucosinolate compounds, which are precursors to sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to have cancer-fighting properties,” says Jones. These Tangy Glazed Brussels Sprouts are an easy, sweet and savory side.
Winter is the peak season for citrus, and oranges are in season from January to March. “Blood orange has a gorgeous color and slightly less tart taste than traditional oranges, and it’s a good source of vitamin C and B vitamins, as well as potassium,” says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN. Use it for a pop of color on meat and cheese boards or game-day appetizer spreads. For a tasty mocktail, try this Carrot Citrus Crush.
Turnips are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and chlorophyll, which is rich in antioxidants to actively fight free radicals. “These free radicals can lead to cellular damage and toxins in the body, and when damaged cells replicate, the body becomes inflamed and disease can flourish,” says Trista Best, MPH, LD, RD. Turnips peak in January and February, so enjoy them post-workout, when you’ve lost electrolytes and must replenish stores. Try these Roasted Turnips With Sage Browned Butter as a side to braised beef or chicken.
“Beets are the best source of dietary nitrate, which may help with maintaining blood pressure, as well as athletic performance,” says Jones. Roasted, mashed beets are a great addition to pancakes, waffles, and desserts, where you won’t even taste or notice them while increasing the nutritional value exponentially." Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes are delicious and offer that extra nutrition without tasting like vegetables.
Grapefruit offers high fiber, complex carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin C for stronger immunity, skin cells, and muscles. “In the winter, bake citrus into a cake or pie, or use it to brighten up a salad. Peak citrus season is January through March,” says Hultin. This Grapefruit, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad makes an excellent side dish to pork and fish mains.
“Grapefruit, lemons, and oranges are the top fruit to provide essential antioxidants during cold February days, and lemons have protective plant compounds to prevent and reduce the oxidative stress and damage that's associated with disease,” says Best. We love using up extra lemons in this Weeknight Lemon Chicken Skillet Dinner.