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Cooking Fresh in the ‘Off Season’

Fresh Winter Pears NCES CatalogAs winter settles in throughout most of the country, are you finding that you’re tired of cooking from a can? When spring arrives, it’s exciting to start buying fresh and cooking light, fresh meals with seasonal fruits and vegetables. But, why wait until spring? Instead, adjust your recipes to include fresh fruits and vegetables that are in-season throughout the winter months. Here are a couple of freshtastic foods that have more flavor this time of year than any other!

Brussels Sprouts: If you just said “Gross!” under your breath, you should be ashamed! The days of mushy canned brussels sprouts are gone forever… at least for us. Instead, we’ve found ways to bake, broil and sauté these little gems into tasty side dishes full of flavor and freshness.

Simple and Light Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Food Network

Fresh, Citrusy Brussels Sprouts with Walnut-Lemon Vinaigrette – If you close your eyes, you may think it’s summer

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions – Talk about comfort food!

Pears: Growing up, canned pears were always a favorite snack in my house. Probably because they were canned in sugary syrup. But, have you tried a freshly sliced pear that’s never seen the inside of a can? I prefer a freshly cut pear over the canned variety any day. So, for the spring and summer, remember that an apple a day will keep the doctor away. But, for the winter months, switch to pears for a naturally sweet treat. These are great fresh or cooked in to your favorite dish as a replacement for apples.

Sweet Potatoes: There is a reason that sweet potatoes are a staple at every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal… they are at their finest during the holidays. Although sweet potato casseroles are the most common way we see sweet potatoes prepared, there are so many different ways to cook and enjoy them.

Spiced Sweet Potato Chips – Forget store-bought chips. This is the only snack you’ll need all winter!

Two-Toned Mashed Potatoes – A sweet twist on an old holiday favorite!

Because of the selection of frozen foods in most grocery stores these days, we can enjoy most foods all year long. However, if you have a hankering for fresh (never frozen, never canned) foods in the winter months, remember that there are foods that are in season this time of year. You may have to think outside the box to prepare them. But, rest assured that your palate will appreciate the change in flavor! For a larger list of seasonal fruits and veggies, visit fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org. What are your favorite fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter months? Share them here on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter

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Are Your Leftovers Haunting You?

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. However, the leftovers haven’t! If you’re fridge is like mine, it is still filled, from top to bottom, with enough leftover food to “feed the multitudes”. So, the question today is what to do with those leftover foods. Here are a few ideas that I am going to try out this year to make the most of my leftover Thanksgiving feast!

  1. Mix them in to new recipes: You know how much you love all of your traditional Thanksgiving dishes. However, you may not know exactly how great they taste when certain ones are mixed together, or turned in to new dishes altogether; like this popular Turkey Casserole. (Be sure to use leftover sides and fat-free options when possible)
  2. Have a party: I know you just finished ushering chatty Aunt Cathy out the front door after your families Thanksgiving meal. But, having a few of your closest friends over to help you eat some of your leftovers is a great way to make sure that you don’t feel the need to empty the refrigerator all by yourself!
  3. Find a needy family: If you have an entire meal leftover, you may want to find a family in your area that wasn’t able to enjoy a traditional holiday meal! If you’re not exactly sure where to find a family, start with your community center or a local church. They may be able to point you in the right direction. Knowing you could provide something so basic for a family in need is so rewarding!
  4.  Throw them away: This is our most important tip! November 29th is Throw Away Your Leftovers Day. By this point, many of your favorite foods will begin growing things you NEVER want to put in your body! Keep an eye out for our blog next week! We’ll be focusing on food safety and why it is so important to throw away your leftovers as they expire.

What do you do with your leftover Thanksgiving foods? We would love to hear your tips! Feel free to share on the blog, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter