April: What’s in Season Now?
Can you believe Florida fresh fruits and veggies are supplied to 160 countries around the globe! Particularly abundant right now are the vegetables commonly referred to as cruciferous vegetables. (However, many scientists are starting to favor the term brassica vegetables over cruciferous vegetables) These nutritious veggies are ones that you will want to eat on a regular basis as they are bursting with both macronutrients and micronutrients.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services lists, cabbage, cauliflower, and radishes as being abundant in April for world production. Locally though, growers are turning out broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, Chinese cabbage and arugula, as well as radishes.
- Eat them raw! Raw vegetables can make a delicious, crunchy snack especially when served with a low-fat dip.
- Use in recipes! Make slaw, soup or salad, main dishes and even condiments!
- Substitute! Did you know steamed, mashed cauliflower can replace mashed potatoes? Or that coarsely grated cauliflower can replace rice? Folks have even substituted a cauliflower mixture as pizza crust! (okay, it might be a stretch but it does taste good)
Shopping, preparing and storing
- Cruciferous/brassica vegetables are typically inexpensive and can also be found year-round, fresh or frozen.
- Store raw, uncut and unwashed vegetables in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to five days.
There are three factors affecting nutrient loss when you cook cruciferous/brassica vegetables:
- Amount of water used.
The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible.
- Using the microwave with a small amount of water essentially steams food from the inside out keeping more vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method. http://www.health.harvard.edu/
- Steam vegetables over a small amount of boiling water until a fork can just barely pierce it. (You can save the nutrients that are lost when steaming cauliflower by using the leftover water in a soup)
- Braise, bake or broil, stir-fry or sauté
Cruciferous/brassica vegetables are very unique in that the flower, the root, the stalk and even the leaves can be eaten depending on which plant you are eating.
Try a cruciferous/brassica vegetable a new way or even try a new cruciferous/brassica vegetable a traditional way!
(Or even use a combination of cauliflower and broccoli and kohlrabi)
2 Tablespoons sliced or diced onion, red, green or white
1 head of cauliflower – including the tender stems, cut into small pieces (or even cut into small florets)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon vinegar (red wine, white wine, apple cider, or rice wine)
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup dried cranberries (or favorite dried fruit)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, vinegar and mayonnaise together. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in the onion, cauliflower and cranberries and stir until well coated. Eat it right away or savor for a few days.