Are You in a Fruit and Vegetable Rut?

Are You in a Fruit and Vegetable Rut?

Are You in a Fruit and Vegetable Rut?

Profile picture of Jemma Besson

By Jemma Besson, RD CDE
Jemma Besson is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator who works for Shoppers Drug Mart®.

When we think about seasonal eating, what often comes to mind is all of those delicious summer fruits and vegetables. However, seasonal eating is something you can benefit from all year round! For example, in Canada, beets, cabbage and carrots are all hearty vegetables that are in season during the cold winter months.

Eating in season can not only benefit your wallet by being more affordable, but there are benefits to your health as well. By knowing what is in season, you can decrease stress associated with decision fatigue from the abundance of produce available at any given time, therefore making meal planning and grocery shopping much more enjoyable. Eating in season can even spark creativity in the kitchen! When you purchase produce that is in season in your local area, you are getting some of the best tasting foods because they are picked right at their peak freshness (as an added bonus, this also means they have more nutrients in them too!).

Is your diet lacking luster?
Green is by far the most consumed colour, which is not too surprising – how often have you looked at your grocery basket only to see you have picked up lettuce, celery, green onions, zucchini and cucumber?! What might surprise you is that only about 31% of us consume enough greens on a daily basis! Each colour of fruit and vegetables provides different phytonutrients so it is important to get a variety of all colours to help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer and more. Let’s take a closer look at each colour in the table below.

Fruit and Vegetable Colour Green Red Orange and Yellow White Purple and Blue
How many people are eating enough of this colour?* 31% 22% 21% 14% 12%
What phytonutrients is this colour rich in?* Isothiocyanate Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Isoflavones, Flavonoids, Coumestans Lycopene, Ellagic acid, Caffeoylquinic acids, Hydroxybenzoic acids Alpha-carotene, Beta-carotene, Hesperetin, Beta-Cryptoxanthin, Flavonols, Terpenoids, Phthalides Flavonols, Allicin, Quercetin, Sulfides Anthocyanins, Resveratrol, Hydroxycinnamic acids
What’s in season in Canada? (some foods may overlap seasons)

SPRING
Asparagus

SUMMER
Zucchini

FALL
Green Beans

WINTER
Brussels Sprouts

SPRING
Radishes

SUMMER
Cherries

FALL
Red Peppers

WINTER
Red Cabbage

SPRING
Sweet Potato

SUMMER
Peaches

FALL
Squash

WINTER
Carrots

SPRING
Apples

SUMMER
Cauliflower

FALL
Pears

WINTER
Parsnip

SPRING
Strawberries

SUMMER
Blueberries

FALL
Eggplant

WINTER
Beets

Tips to increase

Drink green tea more often.

Add shredded Brussels sprouts to salads.

Garnish dishes with fresh parsley.

Add spinach to smoothies.

Fun fact:
Variations in a person’s DNA can cause them to be sensitive to bitterness in green leafy vegetables.

Make a coleslaw with shredded red cabbage.

Sprinkle pomegranate seeds in a salad.

Add papaya cubes to Greek yogurt as a snack.

Fun fact:
Did you know that cooking increases the concentration of lycopene in tomatoes?

Add turmeric to soups and sauces.

Add frozen pineapple into smoothies.

Replace potato with squash or sweet potato.

Fun fact:
Similar to lycopene in tomatoes, the bioavailability of beta-carotene increases by 85% when carrots are cooked.

Add flaked coconut into oatmeal

Snack on an apple with almond butter.

Make a potato and parsnip mash.

Fun fact:
Before cooking chopped garlic, wait 10min to preserve the phytonutrients.

Add roasted beets to a salad

Add finely diced eggplant into tomato sauce

Add blueberries to your oats in the morning.

Fun fact:
Local strawberries are available all year round because they are grown in greenhouses.

* data from Precision Nutrition

Fruit and Vegetable Colour

Green

  • How many people are eating enough of this colour?*
  • 31%
  • What phytonutrients is this colour rich in?*
  • Isothiocyanate Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Isoflavones, Flavonoids, Coumestans
  • What’s in season in Canada? (some foods may overlap seasons)
  • SPRING - Asparagus
    SUMMER - Zucchini
    FALL - Green Beans
    WINTER - Brussels Sprouts
  • Tips to increase
  • Drink green tea more often.
  • Add shredded Brussels sprouts to salads.
  • Garnish dishes with fresh parsley.
  • Add spinach to smoothies.
  • Fun fact - Variations in a person’s DNA can cause them to be sensitive to bitterness in green leafy vegetables.

Red

  • How many people are eating enough of this colour?*
  • 22%
  • What phytonutrients is this colour rich in?*
  • Lycopene, Ellagic acid, Caffeoylquinic acids, Hydroxybenzoic acids
  • What’s in season in Canada? (some foods may overlap seasons)
  • SPRING - Sweet Potato
    SUMMER - Peaches
    FALL - Squash
    WINTER - Carrots
  • Tips to increase
  • Make a coleslaw with shredded red cabbage.
  • Sprinkle pomegranate seeds in a salad.
  • Add papaya cubes to Greek yogurt as a snack.
  • Fun fact:
    Did you know that cooking increases the concentration of lycopene in tomatoes?

Orange and Yellow

  • How many people are eating enough of this colour?*
  • 21%
  • What phytonutrients is this colour rich in?*
  • Alpha-carotene, Beta-carotene, Hesperetin, Beta-Cryptoxanthin, Flavonols, Terpenoids, Phthalides
  • What’s in season in Canada? (some foods may overlap seasons)
  • SPRING - Sweet Potato
    SUMMER - Peaches
    FALL - Squash
    WINTER - Carrots
  • Tips to increase
  • Add turmeric to soups and sauces.
  • Add frozen pineapple into smoothies.
  • Replace potato with squash or sweet potato.
  • Fun fact:
    Similar to lycopene in tomatoes, the bioavailability of beta-carotene increases by 85% when carrots are cooked.

White

  • How many people are eating enough of this colour?*
  • 14%
  • What phytonutrients is this colour rich in?*
  • Flavonols, Allicin, Quercetin, Sulfides
  • What’s in season in Canada? (some foods may overlap seasons)
  • SPRING - Apples
    SUMMER - Cauliflower
    FALL - Pears
    WINTER - Parsnip
  • Tips to increase
  • Add flaked coconut into oatmeal.
  • Snack on an apple with almond butter.
  • Make a potato and parsnip mash.
  • Fun fact:
    Before cooking chopped garlic, wait 10min to preserve the phytonutrients.

Purple and Blue

  • How many people are eating enough of this colour?*
  • 12%
  • What phytonutrients is this colour rich in?*
  • Anthocyanins, Resveratrol, Hydroxycinnamic acids
  • What’s in season in Canada? (some foods may overlap seasons)
  • SPRING - Strawberries
    SUMMER - Blueberries
    FALL - Eggplant
    WINTER - Beets
  • Tips to increase
  • Add roasted beets to a salad.
  • Add finely diced eggplant into tomato sauce.
  • Add blueberries to your oats in the morning.
  • Fun fact:
    Local strawberries are available all year round because they are grown in greenhouses.

* data from Precision Nutrition

Here are my favourite meal inspirations for each of the seasons that incorporate not only what is in season, but also as a wide variety of colours!

Spring:
Baked salmon in a honey-Dijon marinade paired grilled asparagus and sweet potato wedges. After dinner, a nice fresh dessert of strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in chopped hazelnuts.

Summer:
A mouthwatering arugula salad with sliced peaches, walnuts, and goat cheese tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Serve with barbequed chicken and riced cauliflower.

Fall:
Warm quinoa salad with roasted red pepper, eggplant and squash served with baked tofu cubes and a lemon herb dressing.

Winter:
Grilled steak in a red wine sauce served with a carrot and parsnip mash and a side of roasted beets and Brussels sprouts.

The bottom line
A great start to breaking out of your fruit and vegetable rut is to aim to include at least one item from each colour group per day. Incorporate produce that is in season to decrease overwhelm with too many choices. Planning your meals around seasonal eating could be one of the most realistic and healthiest (not to mention delicious) ways to enjoy your food.

Registered Dietitian services are available through Shoppers Drug Mart at shoppersdrugmart.ca/dietitians. Schedule a free 15-minute chat to find out how a Registered Dietitian can help you achieve your personal health goals.

The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a Physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters. Please note: Dietitian services are currently only available in Ontario. Please contact your store to learn more. ®/TM 911979 Alberta Ltd. ©2020 Shoppers Drug Mart Inc.

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