A few days ago, someone tweeted, “Fruit in the winter is so depressing.” Shooketh at this tweet, I immediately began listing the many fruits that show up in winter: persimmon, pear, grapefruit, and kiwi. I immediately thought of the many orchard farmers who travel to Dupont Circle Farmers Market in Washington D.C to deliver jonagolds, melrose, suncrisp–all apple varieties. The selection of apples that appear at the markets in late fall alone, are expansive enough to prove that winter fruits are very not depressing.
Wintertime in my household does include the intentional eating of a divine fruit: Persimmon. Ranging from a glossy light yellow-orange to dark red-orange color depending on the species and variety, persimmons are a true culinary treat. Sweet, if you let it ripen, with cinnamon notes, they can be consumed raw or dried to create hoshigaki in Japan, shìbǐng in China or gotgam in Korea. I like to use persimmons subtle sweetness, and mild but rich flavor to enhance baked goods.
Below is a list of my favorite’s winter fruits and why you should eat them:
Kiwi: Loaded with more vitamin C than an orange! Great for potassium and copper. Bonafide winter fruit.
Pomegranates: Packed with antioxidants which protects our skin and slows down the aging process. Cut in half and use your wooden spatula to take the seeds out and put them in my salads. Thank me later.
Grapefruits: Lowers cholesterol, rich in Vitamin C and cuts belly fat. Add it into your salads or cut in half and sprinkle salt (or sugar) on top and scoop pieces out with your spoon.
Dates: Low in fat, high in potassium and fiber. Excellent in salads or baked goods.
This season also brings us cool season crops such as lettuce, pumpkins, squashes and the starchy vegetables all rich in vitamin and fiber – designed to promote healthy digestion. Some of my favorite winter soups begin with squash in mind, like my butternut squash and sweet potato soup which I’ve included below.
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 russet or baby potatoes peeled and diced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or raw ginger, crushed)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
3 juniper berries, crushed
A handful of Sage
1. 5 teaspoon vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350, using the convection oven setting to ensure even roasting.
- Peel the potatoes, butternut squash, and sweet potato. Cut them into manageable medium pieces and place in a bowl. Rub with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a baking tray with two sprigs of thyme. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes until the flesh is soft. Take out and leave to cool completely.
- Put a large pot on medium heat. Add in the olive oil, ginger and then onions. Cook until the onions have become translucent, then add sage leaves.
- Add cinnamon, nutmeg, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Next, add veggie broth and bay leaves. Bring to a medium simmer, cover ajar and cook for 10 minute. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and add the coconut milk, making sure to incorporate well.
- Add potatoes, butternut squash and sweet potato. Let cook for 15 minutes, stirring periodically. Add crushed juniper seeds. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until squash and potato are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Pour squash mixture into a blender no more than half full. Cover and hold lid down; pulse a few times before leaving on to blend. Puree in batches until smooth or only puree half of the soup for a more full-depth soup. Pour soup back into pot and add the vinegar as a last step. Add pomegranate seeds for garnish.
Cameroonian turned Texan, Stephanie Eyocko, is the Mixed Mag food Editor. She’s passionate about locally-grown food and locally-sourced stories.