While many crops can’t stand the sub-freezing nightly temperatures experienced in our area, carrots are an exception.
With sugar levels elevated in the cold soil, this is the best time to purchase the most highly sought local root vegetable.
With a cup of raw carrots delivering more than 400% of your daily recommended vitamin A, they are also a good source of thiamin, niacin, vitamin C, K and B6, folate, manganese, dietary fiber and potassium.
Carrots are excellent when enjoyed raw, but with the cooler winter conditions upon us, they’re also great when cooked. This week I made a delicious carrot and tomato soup as the Fix of the Week, elsewhere on this page. This soup is loaded with nutrients and perfect for this time of year.
Fresh carrots can be found at all weekly Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Markets from several local growers. Price averages $2 per pound or bunch.
At first glance, this unique fruit doesn’t appear to have much to offer. However, once you break through that fuzzy-brown skin, its inner beauty is exposed. Kiwifruit is one of the most nutrient dense fruits available. It delivers the highest level of vitamin C of any fruit — almost twice that of an orange. And vitamin C aids with immune system recovery, iron absorption and maintaining bones, blood vessels and teeth.
Kiwi is extremely high in potassium — even higher than that of bananas. And it is a great, low-fat source of vitamin E.
To add to the list, kiwifruit is also a great source of folate, lutein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, and copper. Slice ripe kiwifruit in half, and scoop the flesh out with a spoon or cut into rings, then serve on a fruit platter. Grown and harvested by Mallard Lake Ranch, kiwifruit can be found at the Saturday Santa Barbara farmers’ market. Price averages $4 per pound.
Spinach thrives locally during the cooler time of year, and I have been making many variations of seasonal spinach salads using these very tender leaves.
One of my favorite salads using fresh spinach includes sliced Fuyu persimmon, pomegranate seeds, sliced red onion, chevre and avocado. Fresh spinach is also excellent when sautéed in olive oil, lightly seasoned with salt and peppers, and served as a side to fish preparations, as well as chicken and pork. It can also be sautéed and added to a morning omelet or scrambled or worked into a homemade quiche.
You can find fresh baby spinach at all weekly Santa Barbara certified farmers’ markets from several local farmers. Price averages $3 per bag or $7 per pound.