photography of pile of apples
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Apples | Fiber & Antioxidants

Fact: It’s not fall without apple-themed activities. I haven’t been able to go apple picking in a hot minute because I’m always away at school and don’t have many opportunities to do so. Let me tell you, I am going to make a valiant effort this year. Not only are apples delicious and versatile in cooking- they’re also extremely good for you! A diet high in fiber prevents spikes in low blood sugar, meaning you won’t get hungry again soon after. Eating a lot of fiber also reduces your chances of developing colon cancer, because it keeps your intestines healthy by cleaning out bacteria. It’s noteworthy to add that although many fruits contain fiber, fruit juice does not, so you can’t get in your fiber by downing tons of apple juice. Sorry about that. 


grape fruits
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Grapes | Vitamins C & K

Grapes are one of those foods I can eat mindlessly, and before I know it, half of the cluster is gone. I could have worse eating habits- after all, grapes are a fantastic source of vitamins C and K, and can even help prevent certain chronic diseases. Vitamin C can help protect you from immune system deficiencies, prenatal health problems, and even reduce the appearance of wrinkles on your skin. In a nutshell, a heavy dose of vitamin C will just help you live longer. The vitamin K in grapes can help to improve your bone health, heart, and can even aid wound healing. I’m not too familiar with any ways to cook with grapes, and I’m not a raisin person, so my favorite way to eat them is fresh off the bunch, or tossed into a fruit salad. I heard somewhere that grapes in chicken salad is actually really yummy, so I’ll have to try a vegetarian version and put that to the test!


photo of chili peppers
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Green beans | Folate & Cell Growth

Green beans are adorable- try to change my mind. They’re also a perfect vegetable side dish, cooked or not, and come with a variety of health benefits. Green vegetables in general are recommended for decreasing your chance of heart disease and obesity, and some studies have shown that green veggies can even brighten up your skin! I personally enjoy eating them raw, because canned green beans can contain a lot of sodium unless you rinse and drain them properly. In regards to other health benefits, green beans can promote cell growth, a healthy metabolism, and even fertility. This has to do with the high iron content in green beans, which is yet another nutrient essential to the vegetarian/vegan diet. 


close up photo of corn
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Corn | Eye Health & Digestion

Have you ever met a person who didn’t like sweet corn? Seriously, I want to know. There’s nothing quite like the smell of pulling apart some fresh farmstand corn and shucking off the ears, especially on a crisp fall evening. Maize is one of the most widely used staple foods in the world, and sweet corn in particular is one of the most popular types. The high fiber content of corn makes it excellent for digestion, and also contains carotenoids that benefit eye health. It’s an extremely versatile food to work with, and one of my favorite recipes with corn is Beth Moncel’s loaded enchilada pasta. I can’t find a copy of it online, but it’s featured in Budget Bytes, a cookbook I previously mentioned on my blog. I also enjoy buying bags of frozen corn, and will heat some up when I’m in need of a sweet snack.


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Carrots | Weight loss Friendly

Similarly to grapes, carrots are one of my favorite things to snack on. My dog loves them too, and when I’m home we like to munch on them in bed together. Messy, but adorable! Carrots are a great snack for your dog and can keep his teeth healthy, but be sure to cut the carrots into small pieces (or give your pet baby carrots). It’s a little known fact that carrots can help to prevent vision loss, but they can also protect you from different kinds of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The great thing about carrots is that you can use them in a variety of dishes- savory, sweet, juiced, pureed, whatever you’re feeling. I’m going to include a link to a vegan carrot cake at the bottom (WITH vegan frosting), so let me know if you try it!


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Zucchini | Anti-inflammatory Nutrients

Squash in general is in season this month, so be sure to pick some up at your local farmer’s market. I love zucchini because it’s nearly impossible to fuck up- even my college dining hall serves some pretty delicious baked zucchini. Zucchini is an extremely nutrient-dense fruit (yes, a fruit), packing fiber, potassium, and manganese. It also contains no fat and has an extremely high water content, making it a great snack if you’re trying to lose weight. To get those anti-inflammatory boosts from the vitamins C and A, you should eat the skin of the zucchini together with the flesh (that’s where large amounts of these nutrients are found). Once I eventually have my own garden, I’d like to grow zucchini myself to make sure I always have access to these health benefits. But first, I need to learn how to keep my basil sprout alive. 


cauliflower food fresh ingredients
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Cauliflower | Learning & Memory

I’ve definitely written about cauliflower in another produce guide, but for those of you who aren’t up to speed, cauliflower is a delectable and healthy snack, renowned by vegans for their invention of “buffalo cauliflower bites.” I’ve said I’m going to make those for months now, but I promise I’ll get around to it. The choline in cauliflower is what helps with improving learning and memory, and the antioxidants can even protect against cancer. There are so many unique ways to cook with cauliflower, including soup, pizza crust, and mixed in with fried rice. It’s always been a go-to vegetable for me, because the taste is mild and responds well to other flavors. I’ll link the buffalo cauliflower bites I’m interested in making below, so let me know if you end up trying them as well! It’s very easy to sub in dairy-free options with this recipe.


There were a few other fruits and veggies in season, but I’ve written about many of them before and don’t want to sound like a broken record. If you’re interested in reading my other produce guides, you can find them all under my Vegetarian Journal tab. 

Vegan Carrot Cake: https://www.loveandlemons.com/vegan-carrot-cake-macadamia-frosting/

Buffalo Cauliflower bites: https://theforkedspoon.com/easy-buffalo-cauliflower/ 

Sources: Healthline.com

Coming up next: My Numbers Have Colors: Synesthesia

There are only twelve months in a year, of course, so it’s an unfortunate reality that I’m going to eventually run out of posts for “What’s in Season?”. For the time being, however, I’m happy to report that I still have a couple months left of produce content to cover. Maybe once “What’s in Season” is finished, I can start a new food-themed monthly series. What do you guys think?

yellow bananas
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Bananas are one of the most delicious, easiest snacks I can think of to have on the go. I’m not really a big citrus person, so I appreciate bananas for having a sweet, almost creamy taste. Bananas are also super versatile, and the possibilities for cooking with them are endless- smoothies, pancakes, and of course, baked goods. I usually don’t have much of an appetite when I wake up, so at the very least, I can usually convince myself to have a banana. It’s not a bad breakfast option- in fact, bananas are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and manganese (which is fantastic for your skin, by the way). Bananas also pack a ton of energy, making them perfect for a breakfast snack to ease you into the day. Like I said, however, they do make great desserts, so I’m going to include my favorite banana bread recipe at the bottom!


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Bell peppers are also in season in July, and though they certainly aren’t sweet like a banana, they’re still delicious. Lots of people love to eat their peppers hot or stuffed, but for me, I actually only like them cold (and preferably on a salad). There’s something about squishy, warm vegetables that kind of turns me off. Nonetheless, bell peppers are extremely healthy, and they pack a ton of antioxidants. They also help support healthy night vision, similarly to carrots, and they can even help to raise your iron levels! I sometimes struggle with my own iron consumption because I’m such a picky eater, so if that sounds like you, considering throwing some red peppers onto your next salad or pizza. 


two sliced melons and grapes
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Is it just me, or is cantaloupe severely underrated? I feel like not enough people are casually reaching for cantaloupe like they do with apples and oranges. Cantaloupe has a sweet, juicy taste and a soft consistency, and it’s also packed with nutrients. Cantaloupe contains a ton of carotene, which, yes, is the same thing that makes carrots orange. The vitamin A in carotene can help aid in healthy eyes, red blood cells, and even a healthy immune system. Because cantaloupe has so much water in it, it’s a perfect summertime snack to prevent yourself from becoming dehydrated. Cantaloupe is also safe to give your dogs in moderation, and I can say from personal experience that Duke approves of this healthy snack. (Side note, I love the feminine energy of this cantaloupe picture. Ugh. New lock screen?)


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Tomatoes are another one of those super versatile foods that I love to cook with and eat. I’m actually growing a tomato plant right now, bur admittedly, he isn’t looking too good. The interesting thing about tomato is that it’s technically a fruit, but usually prepared as a vegetable would be. In regards to health benefits, tomatoes are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, and can even help to prevent some types of cancers. I’m really interested in trying shakshouka, which is a poached egg dish with tomato sauce and spices. I’ll put a link to that recipe at the bottom, so let me know if you’re going to try it as well!


pineapples
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I have a very complicated relationship with pineapple. Like I said, I’m not really a citrus person, and anything sour is a turn off. I do like pineapple on my pizza, which I realize is an unpopular opinion. Alas, pineapple is loaded with nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants, so you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying it! Pineapple can also speed your recovery after surgery or strenuous exercise, which is something I appreciate as a relatively athletic person. I also enjoy putting pineapple in a morning shake, because it wakes me up without tasting too sour or acidic. 


Image result for corn on the cob but instead of the corn bone

Corn is definitely one of my favorite vegetables, right up there with potatoes. Seriously, sweet corn makes the perfect side dish for anything. Corn can actually help aid with weight loss, despite the myth that it causes you to gain weight. I was reminded of my appreciation for corn after Jenna Marbles posted a video the other week making an excellent dish- “Corn on the cob, but instead of the corn bone, it’s a hot dog.” I will leave the link to that video at the bottom of this page, so that you may also bask in the glory of Jenna’s groundbreaking recipe and make it for yourself.


*Banana bread and Jenna’s recipe can be made vegan with substitutes!*

Banana bread: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/20144/banana-banana-bread/

Shakshouka: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2015/10/shakshouka-poached-eggs-in-spicy-tomato-sauce.html

Corn on the cob, but instead of the corn bone, it’s a hot dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VosRKPBGE8

Coming up next: I’m Pissed at YouTube

Summer has arrived, and living here in New England, it’s the perfect opportunity for fruit and vegetable picking at local farms. Unsurprisingly, fruits like blueberries and strawberries are at their peak for picking in June, but there are also a few other delicious foods to get your hands on. Below, I’ve compiled a few of my favorites.

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Blueberry picking with my mom is one of my fondest summer memories as a child. It’s such a versatile food that I love to include in breakfast or desserts, and it’s also a treat that my dog can enjoy in small amounts. Not only are blueberries delicious, they’re also extremely high in antioxidants and low in calories. Like kale and avocados, blueberries are often referred to as a “superfood” for their nutritious benefits. There are the obvious ways to incorporate blueberries into meals, like blueberry pancakes and muffins, but you could also step it up and make a gorgeous vegan blueberry lime cheesecake. I’m dying to make it myself, and I’ll leave the link at the bottom of the page if you’re interested in making it, too.


red strawberries
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Strawberries are also a perfect fruit-picking option in June, and personally, they are my absolute favorite fruit. Almost every fruit-flavored item I buy is of the strawberry variety- cereal, pop tarts, granola bars, seltzer water, etc. Not only is it super sweet and delicious, but they also help with blood sugar regulation. As someone who has suffered from quite a few blood sugar spikes, I personally love eating strawberries for this health reason now. One easy way I like to get in strawberries is by topping them on my overnight oats, which is one of my favorite quick breakfasts. I’ll include a link to a basic overnight oats recipe at the bottom, and from there, it’s really easy to customize with your favorite fruits. Even though the serving size may look small, it actually keeps me full for up to four hours.


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On the topic of sweet fruits, mangoes are also in season in June! You may not be able to hand-pick them at your local farm stand, but you can still take solace in the fact that they are at their flavor peak. Surprisingly, mango contains a lot of iron, and 80 grams of mango only have 53 calories! If you’re looking for a guilt-free and easy-to-make dessert, I found this vegan mango ice cream recipe on a blog called Jessica in the Kitchen. With summer now here, it’s never the wrong time for a cold dessert, and this ice cream only contains three ingredients! I’ll leave the link at the bottom of the page so you can check it out as well.


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Rhubarb, as I’ve mentioned before, is another one of my favorite plants for cooking. Although rhubarb is usually incorporated into sweet, fruity dishes, it is actually a vegetable- similar in appearance to celery. Rhubarb was originally used for medicinal purposes, and although it can be consumed raw, I prefer to eat it cooked and paired with strawberries (big surprise!). One of the medicinal purposes of rhubarb is as a laxative or purgative, so if you do choose to consume it, make sure you don’t eat too much. (Unless you want to have the big poops). Strawberry rhubarb pie is a delightful treat, and I found a delicious recipe on allrecipes. If desired, you can easily make it vegan by subbing the eggs for applesauce, and using a vegan butter instead of regular butter.


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We all remember the iconic video of the Jamaican man singing about how wonderful cucumbers are. At least, I do. Cucumbers are so versatile and can be used for a variety of different things- not just cooking! As we’ve all seen from movies and cartoons, cucumbers can be placed on the eyes as a refreshing beauty regime, and it can also be used to relieve sunburn. Cucumber is mostly made up of water, so it’s a great summer snack to help combat dehydration. I always love to add a little bit of cucumber to my water when possible, because it somehow manages to make water taste even fresher. One website in particular that I visited states that cucumber makes water a more “attractive” drink, and honestly, I agree.


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Did you know that there are over 130 different varieties of  green beans? Me neither. Like many of the other fruits and veggies I have covered, green beans are low in calories and high in nutritional value, making them a healthy snack and addition to your favorite dishes. Interestingly, green beans have also been shown to combat depression, because they block interference with feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Green beans are also a great snack for aiding in weight loss and increased energy, so if you live an active lifestyle, you may want to consider eating more of your healthy greens! I found a recipe for a five-star rated vegan green bean casserole, so if you’re interested in that recipe, I’ll leave it down below with the others!

Thanks so much for tuning into my June produce guide! I’m looking forward to doing some fruit picking this summer with my friends and family, and incorporating that fresh produce into some new dishes. Which ones are you excited to try? Let me know in the comments!


Recipes to try:

Vegan blueberry lime cheesecake: https://prettypies.com/recipe/blueberry-lime-cheesecake-vegangfpaleo/

Easy overnight oats: https://feelgoodfoodie.net/recipe/overnight-oats/

Vegan mango ice cream: https://jessicainthekitchen.com/vegan-mango-ice-cream-3-ingredients/

Strawberry rhubarb pie: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/12612/rhubarb-and-strawberry-pie/

Vegan green bean casserole: https://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-green-bean-casserole/

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The New England transition from winter to spring is always an interesting experience. It was snowing last week, then it was sunny and fifty degrees, then it rained, and now…it’s snowing again?

@globalwarming, what are you doing?

Anywho, with the changing of seasons comes a whole bunch of new fruits and veggies in season! Not only is it more environmentally friendly to eat in season, it’s also considerably cheaper. Some of my absolute favorite produce comes from the month March, and I’ve included some of my favorite recipes at the bottom as well. Let’s get into it!


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Avocado seems to have a reputation of being overrated, which I can understand to a degree. Yeah, maybe avocado is extraneously smothered on every dish you can imagine, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s so darned good. You’ve probably heard avocado referred to as a “super food”, because its health benefits are extensive and large-scale. Avocado is a healthy fat, so there’s no guilt in packing it onto your toast or sandwich. Avocados are a great source of vitamins C, K, E, and B-6, and have even been shown to improve skin health.


White Cauliflower

Another versatile plant readily fresh in March is cauliflower, or “albino broccoli”, as I call it. The great thing about cauliflower is its ability to be easily flavored and transformed into a brand-new dish. Take cauliflower buffalo wings, for example. It may sound questionable, but they smell and taste absolutely delicious, and are perfect as a vegan party dish. Cauliflower also aids in weight loss, making it a guilt-free snack for those trying to eat healthier. 92% of cauliflower is made up of water, which means the calorie count is significantly low!


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Spring greens like spinach, lettuce, and arugula are also extra fresh in the month of March. Leafy green plants don’t just have to go into salads- you can incorporate these plants into just about anything. If you’re trying to up your spinach intake but you hate the taste, try sneaking it into already flavorful dishes. Throw a handful of spinach into a breakfast smoothie, a tray of lasagna, or into a pesto sauce, and be amazed at how delicious your dishes come out (without an earthy flavor)! As a vegan, it’s crucial to meet your daily nutritional needs of iron and calcium from plant sources, and spinach is a great way to fit those in.


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On the topic of green vegetables, peas are also in season for the month of March! Green peas are one of my absolute favorite comfort foods, especially in the form of a veggie medley with some black pepper sprinkled on top. I always like to have a bag of frozen peas or mixed veggies stashed in my freezer, so I can use them on-hand as an easy side dish for dinner. Peas are also relatively high in protein, and one of the most filling vegetables you can include in your diet. Because they’re also high in fiber, they can even assist in digestion (something I struggle with quite a bit, as a soy-eater). Green Pea Soup is an elegant dish, might I say, so I’ll add that link to the bottom of the page.


There are quite a few other fruits and veggies readily fresh in March, but these are my top four favorites. Even if you’re a picky eater, like me, I’m sure you’ll find these recipes below just as delicious as I do! And, of course, feel free to comment some of your personal favorite dishes as well. Spring is just around the corner, so hang in there!

Sources: https://cookieandkate.com/2015/march-fruits-and-vegetables/ 


Recipes

Vegan Cauliflower Buffalo Wings: https://www.noracooks.com/vegan-cauliflower-buffalo-wings/

Vegan Lasagna (with lots of yummy spinach): https://www.noracooks.com/best-vegan-lasagna/

Green Pea Soup

http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/green-pea-soup/

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When you think of the word “February”, I imagine fresh fruits and vegetables are not the first images to pop into your mind. In fact they’re not the first images that pop into my mind, either; I think about dirty snow, deadlines and crying alone on Valentine’s Day. Oops.

That being said, there are quite a few fruits and veggies in season for the month of February. Some of my favorites, in fact. I’ll be linking some of my favorite recipes that correspond with the produce at the bottom of this article, so be sure to check those out!

green broccoli vegetable on brown wooden table
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Broccoli seems to have a reputation for being kind of blah, which seems unfair. Seems like most of the broccoli haters I know have never tried broccoli drizzled in olive oil and sea salt. Also, lo mein. How can you have lo mein without broccoli?! Not only is broccoli delicious (in my opinion), it also comes with a handful of health benefits. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins K and C, so if you feel yourself missing the sunshine this winter, broccoli may be your saviour. Vitamin C also builds collagen, which can help cuts and wounds heal faster. It probably won’t heal your broken heart on Valentine’s Day, though.

sliced oranges and lemons
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Citrus fruits of all kind are also readily fresh in the month of February. Before I did my research, I assumed this meant only oranges, but you can also find fresh kiwis, clementines, apples, tangerines, lemons, and grapefruits! I rarely ever just pick up an apple/orange and eat it, but I do enjoy putting slices of these fruits in my water to naturally flavor it. Lemon water in particular is super yummy, and can even help to improve the quality of your skin. Many people find themselves dealing with dry skin during the winter, so if that sounds like you, drink up on your citrus water!

Image result for kale

Kale also seems to have its own hate bandwagon, which I can kind of understand. In its natural state, I agree that kale tastes like salty, crunchy hair. That being said, it’s an excellent addition to fruit smoothies, because that disgusting flavor is overpowered by the taste of fresh fruit (and you still get all the kale health benefits!) I probably don’t need to remind you again how good kale is for you, but I’m going to anyway. Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, which means even a little can go a long way. Toss some kale into your next fruit smoothie, and feel yourself become an unstoppable superhuman.

Image result for potatoes

Potatoes are amongst my favorite vegetables of all time. They’re versatile, they’re delicious, and they have a surprisingly low calorie count. Obviously, the junk we add to potatoes makes them not so great for you, but the actual potato itself isn’t going to hurt your health. (And even if french fries are unhealthy, who gives a crap? I personally like having a food baby at all times). Potatoes are also great because you can incorporate them into any meal of the day! Breakfast potatoes in a garbage plate are absolutely crucial. Trust me.

Image result for pomegranate

I know pomegranates are kind of a bitch to eat, but I firmly believe the taste makes it all worth it in the end. Like many of the other fruits and veggies on this list, pomegranates are a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants. There is also evidence that shows eating pomegranates can lower your risk of developing arthritis and cancer later in life, so adding it to your diet certainly won’t hurt. And, if you don’t feel like cracking open a pomegranate to harvest the seeds every week, you can always just buy some pre-made pomegranate juice. Problem solved.

Sources: https://cookieandkate.com/2015/february-produce-guide/

Some recipes to try!

Broccoli: https://chooseveg.com/blog/9-vegan-broccoli-recipes-super-easy/

Citrus fruit: https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/bright-beautiful-citrus-recipes/

Kale: https://minimalistbaker.com/kale-chip-nachos-30-minutes/

Potatoes: https://holycowvegan.net/cheesy-vegan-breakfast-potato-casserole/

Pomegranate (and kale): http://www.wholesomelicious.com/kale-pomegranate-avocado-salad-zesty-tahini-dressing/

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