December is here, and while for some people that means retiring to the couch and torturing delivery guys with orders on inhumanly cold nights, others want to “tune into nature” and try to “eat the seasons” in an effort to be “healthy.” Which mostly means not being a total piece of garbage, and eating a vegetable every once in awhile.
If you can’t stand the thought of paying almost $7 for a 12oz cup of oh-so-trendy bone broth, the health food du jour, try eating some of these seasonably healthy foods instead.
These are the weird, ginger-like things at the farmer’s market that look nothing like the sun, choking, Jerusalem, or artichokes. Go figure. But they’re actually great for digestive health thanks to their high inulin content, which feeds all the good bacteria in your gut. You basically cook these just like you’d cook a potato.
Oysters may seem like the perfectly refreshing summer food, but December is one of their peak harvest months. Just slurp ‘em down raw from a restaurant that gets good ones (i.e. you might have to pay a little bit more), and you’ll get lots of zinc, plus probably definitely an increased libido. Right? Maybe?!
Roast them on an open fire if you’re a living Norman Rockwell painting, eat them whole and raw if your teeth are made of a titanium alloy, buy them from a street vendor if you engage in risk-taking behavior, or cook them in an oven and peel them if you’re a normal human being. Unlike most nuts, chestnuts don’t have a lot of good fats, but they DO have the highest antioxidant content of the tree nuts, which is saying something.
Yeah, squash seems like a December kind of thing. If you’re lucky enough to own a grill, try slicing up your squash -- delicata, butternut, anything except spaghetti squash, because it’s gross -- tossing it with some oil, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and freshly chopped rosemary, then getting those nice, black grill marks on each side. Or do the exact same thing in an oven. Either way, squashes are nice because they’re relatively filling, but don’t have the same starch content as potatoes, another winter staple. Plus that deep yellow-orange color is a sign that they’re good for you.
Rutabagas are basically turnips by a better name. Most people will tell you to roast them or blend them into a puree, but you should slice them up and throw them into a stir fry, because you don’t blindly do what other people say you should do. They may not look like it, but rutabagas are in the same family as broccoli and cabbage, so make sure you eat the greens, too!
Marco Polo confused the shit out of Italians when he brought this “Chinese apple” (lolz, it’s nothing like an apple, Marco Polo was an idiot) back from his famous journey, and it’s supposedly the “apple” that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, which, again, you guys, it’s not an apple. Nowadays, purveyors of pomegranate juice are known for being the subject of a lawsuit after making outrageous health claims about the stuff. But it’s still pretty healthy. And tasty! Eat lots of pomegranates straight, or add the seeds to some Greek yogurt.
Like most hearty, leafy, dark greens, collards had a bad reputation for a while because most people cooked them until they were bitter and mushy. Why couldn’t people cook?! Why cook them much at all, especially since, like kale and other leafy greens, collards are loaded with nutrients like vitamins A and C? Try your hand at grilling them whole, or you can chop them in long, thin strips (chiffonade, if you’re nasty) and serve them raw with some acid (lemon juice or apple cider vinegar are nice, sweeter options), olive oil, plus a little salt and pepper.
Cranberries are well known for their urinary tract benefits, but they’re also high in antioxidants, which help you stay energetic and beautiful and immortal. They’re quite bitter, but rather than mixing cranberries with a bunch of white sugar and calling it a day, boil them with peeled apples and dark rum for a way better holiday cranberry sauce than GRANDMA makes.
Invented by scientists who apparently live in Brooklyn, Kalettes are an unholy abomination against nature, a hybrid of Brussels sprouts and kale. But they’re actually pretty delicious, and cute, and have all the health benefits of their brassica brethren. Try roasting them at 425 degrees with some oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese until they’re just crispy.
What the fuck is a parsnip? It’s a white carrot, kind of. You could probably put these in soups. Yeah, put some in a soup. Parsnips become a lot more fun when you call them an “umbelliferous vegetable,” which is what they are, and maybe a little less fun, but more healthy, when you realize they give you a good dose of potassium.
Look, you're not going to make it through this month on veggies alone. There will come a time when you need something stronger, and whiskey will be that thing. Try it with ice, or bake it in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes if you’re an insane person who doesn’t know how to consume whiskey.
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Anthony Schneck is the health editor at Thrillist. His drink of choice is a rutabaga old fashioned. Follow him @AnthonySchneck.