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Portland’s Powerhouse Produce: The Farmers’ Market Finds that Your Body Needs This Winter

 

The ever-fertile Willamette Valley keeps Portland’s farmers’ markets running well into the winter. So whether you’re perusing produce at the famous Saturday market downtown or shopping for squash at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, keep an eye out for some of this season’s choice harvests. December’s crops aren’t just hearty comfort food, they’re packed with nutrients to support you living at your healthiest. You might be surprised what a wholesome punch these veggies pack, so read on to learn why your basket of brussel sprouts could be your best purchase of the season.

 

Portland’s Best Winter Vegetables

 

Kale - Not to be confused with Portland’s favorite Japanese comfort-food restaurant, Kalé, this dark, leafy green is a powerhouse of vitamins. Inside each curly stalk, you’ll find all your daily vitamin C, which supports vibrant, youthful skin, plus naturally cholesterol-lowering compounds. Even better, a single serving of kale has a whopping 5 grams of fiber per serving for all-day fullness, healthy weight loss, and digestive wellness.1 Try swapping iceberg lettuce for kale in your salads for an aesthetic and nutritional upgrade. If you’re not a fan of the tough leaves, bake them with a sprinkling of salt for delectable, shareable kale chips, or massage them with olive oil before adding them to a sautee.

 

Brussel sprouts - Their bitterness is their greatest strength— the same compound that turns so many children off brussel sprouts actually has cancer-preventing properties.2 They’re also a superpowered source of vitamin K, which strengthens bones and defends against osteoporosis. (However, it’s no substitute for vitamin D, which many Portlanders lack— if you haven’t had your levels measured, now’s the time). Brussel sprouts are a comforting delight when baked or sauteed, and caramelizing them with a pinch of sugar adds sweetness that may appeal to pickier eaters. If you’re not into cooking them yourself, or just want a little variety, rumor has it the noodle house Boke Bowl serves a mean brussel sprout and broccoli salad.

 

Spinach and chard - These two leafy greens are low-calorie and rich in vitamins, including calcium for healthy bones and tip-top nervous system performance, as well as iron.3 For vegetarians, iron is crucial for fatigue-resistance and hardiness— that means more bike rides and hikes! But, the kind of iron found in spinach and chard isn’t as easy to absorb as the kind found in meat. Vitamin C helps the absorption process, though, so try sauteeing spinach, chard, and kale together with garlic for a warm side dish, or add a generous squeeze of lemon juice to your greens before eating.

 

Squash - Winter is almost synonymous with squash. Just leave it stewing while you work and this relative of the pumpkin turns into a savory meal. It’s not just convenient, but good for your cardiovascular health— butternut squash contains high levels of potassium, which is a huge part of maintaining a normal blood pressure4. Beta-carotene, an antioxidant that lends squash their familiar orange hue, is also associated with a lower risk of developing asthma. If that wasn’t reason enough to start buying all the squash at the market, they’re also packed with fiber. That means lasting fullness and, for diabetics, healthier blood sugar levels. This winter, the coziest way to cook a squash is with a hint of cinnamon and maple syrup. Puree it and you’ll have a slurpable soup!

 

Carrots - You might see them in orange, white, purple, and red— no matter which you buy, carrots are a good investment for your lifelong health. You may have heard that they’re best for vision, but they’re not likely to affect eye health for most Americans. No, the carrot’s main superpower is a richness in antioxidants, which are your body’s defense against cancer-causing free radicals.5 A diet that regularly incorporates carrots has been linked to lower rates of lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer, and carrot juice extract has been demonstrated to stop the progression of leukemia cells. When you buy a bag of carrots, you can eat them raw for a crunchy snack or cook them with a glaze for a comforting dish fit for a holiday feast.

 

Whatever your taste in vegetables, your basket of farmers’ market bounty is sure to offer more than just culinary delights. When you buy local produce, you’re not just helping Willamette Valley farmers— you’re encouraging lifelong wellness for yourself and your family. If you’re a consummate veggie snubber (or just the parent of one), don’t give up on these nutritional powerhouses: from meaty brussel sprouts to stringy spaghetti squash, there’s bound to be something out there for you. Most can be doctored (perhaps pureed and added to a sauce for an undetectable vitamin boost), so even the pickiest eaters can’t complain.

 

You should shoot to have five to thirteen servings of vegetables a day, which is approximately three cups, but individual needs vary by person. Stay healthy this season, but if you need us pop in for a visit and we’ll certainly take care of you.

Citations

1.http://authoritynutrition.com/10-proven-benefits-of-kale/

2.http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284765.php

3.http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/fruits-and-vegetables-high-in-iron.php

4.http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284479.php

5.http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270191.php

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