On a budget? Eat seasonal ingredients. Want to eat a low carb diet filled with whole foods? Eat seasonal ingredients. Want to enrich your body with vitamins, fiber and antioxidants? Eat seasonal ingredients. Do you sense a pattern here?
Fresh fruits and veggies don’t just taste good; they’re accessible, affordable and nutritious. Mount Nittany Health explains that in season produce is more abundant, therefore cheaper. It’s also picked at the peak of ripeness, providing you with more nutrition and flavor. If you take it one step further and purchase local produce, you’ll be helping the environment (and your community) as your fruits and vegetables don’t have to be transported to your area.
Pro Tip: On the South Beach Diet meal plan, fruit is not suggested due to the higher carb content. But that doesn’t mean you have to totally say goodbye to fruit—enjoy berries in moderation on occasion, which are rich in antioxidants and have a lower carb content than many other fruits.
So, how do you know what’s in season when your grocery store carries every type of fruit and vegetable all year long? How do you know if the produce you’re buying was picked yesterday or a week ago? How should you store your seasonal bounty?
Sometimes it’s easy to spot seasonal produce. Your grocery store might have a section that says, “in season now” or “locally grown.” Or, perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a farmers market in your town where proceeds directly support area farmers. If not, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a terrific seasonal produce guide. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite low-carb standouts (plus nutritional facts and storage tips) to help you select, store and enjoy seasonal fall and winter produce.
Keep reading for our low-carb seasonal fall and winter produce guide:
Net Carbs: 2.94 grams
Cabbage is a great source of vitamins K and C, folate, manganese, B6 and fiber, says Medical News Today. Fresh cabbage should feel heavy and have tight, firm, vibrantly colored leaves. Store your cabbage in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Try cabbage in our Pork & Pepper Salad >
Net Carbs: 3.18 grams
Rich in vitamins K and C, folate, fiber and choline, fresh cauliflower should be firm with no dark spots and vibrant leaves, says Medical News Today. Refrigerate your cauliflower for up to five days.
Cauliflower is a versatile, low carb veggie. Try this Cauliflower Crust Pizza >
Net Carbs: 1.64 grams
With just 10 calories per stalk, celery sure packs a nutritional punch. According to Healthline, celery is high in vitamin C, A and K, potassium, folate and fiber. Choose celery that has sturdy, upright stalks that break easily. Healthline explains, that to get the most nutritional value from your celery, you should enjoy it within five to seven days and cut it just before using it.
Celery is the “lettuce” in this crunchy Shrimp Celery Salad >
Net Carbs: 0.5 grams
Collard greens are low in calories, yet full of vitamins and minerals, says the magazine Washingtonian. They recommend choosing leaves that are green, firm and free of yellow or brown spots. Store your collard greens in the fridge for three to five days. Washingtonian recommends keeping them in your produce drawer in a plastic bag without any air.
Collard leaves make perfect wraps. Try this lean, green breakfast machine >
Net Carbs: 0.07 grams
Kale is notorious for its nutritional profile. According to Healthline, it’s a great source of vitamins A, K, C and B6, manganese, calcium, potassium and more. When selecting your kale, Berkeley Wellness recommends looking for moist, crisp leaves. Avoid yellow or brown leaves with tiny (insect) holes. Smaller leaves are more tender and better for enjoying raw. Kale has a better flavor when used within the first two days, says Berkeley Wellness. You can also freeze your kale but be sure to blanch it first to prevent bitterness.
Onions & Shallots
Net Carbs: 8.74 grams
Onions and shallots are very similar vegetables. Healthline explains, that shallots are milder and sweeter, yet they are both a great source of vitamins and minerals. They thrive in cool, dark spaces like a pantry or cellar. However, they should not be refrigerated unless they are peeled or cut. According to Healthline, peeled onions can last in the fridge for up to two weeks. Cut onions last about seven to ten days in the fridge. Unpeeled shallots can last up to 30 days in your pantry. You can also freeze shallots in an airtight bag or container by peeling and separating the cloves.
Onions build precious flavor in recipes like Chicken Enchiladas >
Net Carbs: 1.43 grams
This purple veggie contains copper, folate and vitamin K, C, E and B6, says Healthline. Harvesttotable.com recommends choosing firm, crisp and colorful heads. Avoid wilted, damaged and brown leaves. To store your radicchio, wrap it unwashed in a paper towel and refrigerate for two to three days, in your produce drawer.
Forget iceberg. Radicchio and arugula unite in this Super Salad >
Net Carbs: 2.08 grams
Crunchy, mild and zesty, this root vegetable is high in vitamin C, says Healthline. Radishes are also rich in a variety of other vitamins and minerals. The magazine Bon Appetit recommends checking the greens of your radishes before buying as this is an indicator of freshness. Choose radishes with bright, green leaves and avoid anything brown, mushy or wilted. The actual radish should be very hard. Store your radishes in the refrigerator, unwashed and in an open plastic bag, says Bon Appetit. If you’re keeping the greens, store them separately.
Whip up a fancy side dish like a radish, feta and walnut salad to pair with Steaks >
Net Carbs: 0.43 grams
There’s a reason why Popeye ate so much spinach. According to Healthline, spinach provides, protein, fiber, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and K. When shopping, note that crisp, vibrant leaves indicate freshness. Harvesttotable.com recommends storing your spinach in a perforated plastic bag, in the fridge for about 10 days.
Spinach and matcha gives this Matcha Smoothie Bowl its emerald hue >
Net Carbs: 8.22 grams (pumpkin) or 9.9 grams (butternut or acorn)
Pumpkins, butternut and acorn squash are fall harvest staples. They are generally good sources of fiber and vitamins C and A, says Healthline. Squash should be heavy with dry, intact stems according to the Thekitchn.com. Choose vibrant and bright colored squash with dull and matte skin. Avoid blemishes to prevent premature mold. Harvesttotable.com explains that each type of squash has a different storage life. Popular varieties like acorn and spaghetti squash last for about one month, while butternut squash and pumpkins are typically good for two to three months.
We recommend extremely limiting fruit on our plan due to the amount of carbohydrates and sugar. However, if you decide to include very small quantities of fruit, choose options that are lower in carbs and higher in fiber. According to Healthline, berries tend to be relatively low in sugar. These would be the best option if you are looking to incorporate a small amount of fruit. They count towards your daily Extras (Click here for serving sizes! >). However, keep in mind that it’s still important to monitor your daily net carb intake to keep it below 50 grams.
Net Carbs: 6.7 grams
These little red berries are chockful of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, says Medical News Today. When shopping, HGTV recommends choosing brightly colored, dry and firm berries that are free of mold. To keep them fresh for longer, store in the refrigerator unwashed. You can also wash and freeze raspberries, if you have an abundance.
Net Carbs: 9.24 grams
Cranberries typically make their debut in a can. However, fresh cranberries are an underrated produce pick. They are low in calories yet high in antioxidants, Vitamin C and K, says Medical News Today. The magazine Bon Appetit suggests choosing berries that are brightly colored and avoiding those that are pale. They also recommend storing your cranberries in a sealed bag without any air.
Avoid unwanted sugar by making your own holiday cranberry sauce to pair with rotisserie chicken >
*All Net Carb values are calculated using data provided by the United States Department of Agriculture. Values are based on a one cup serving size of the raw form.