Eat Well for Winter

I associate holidays and other times of the year with delicious in-season produce that I am excited to see on my plate.  In the US, I look forward to the spring asparagus, summer cherries, and autumn squash varieties.  Eating seasonal produce provides us with the freshest and healthiest foods to protect our bodies during the cold and flu season.  Eating seasonal vegetables and fruits is also environmentally friendly as it reduces the miles from farm to table.  Lastly, it helps to support local providers like Rosa Grange Farm in my previous blog post.

Colorful fruits and vegetables
Colorful fruits and vegetables

Eating local produce will ensure that a variety of nutrient-dense, colorful foods ends up on our meal plate. The yellow, orange, red, white and deep green colors of fall and winter can provide the nutrition needed to avoid racking up the sick days.  We all know  people who swear by tonics or supplements that act as a cure-all remedy.  A magic potion would be amazing, but society has yet to invent one (if you find it, please let me know!).  While there are many factors at work and many approaches to get through flu season unscathed, eating well and sleeping well, together with exercise and stress reduction will always help.

While we may be familiar with what’s seasonal at home, what about seasonal produce here in Shanghai?  Look for these foods at the market or in your online store to help keep your defenses up against cold or flu during the coming months.  Add a variety, to ensure you are getting the required vitamins A, C & E, folate (folic acid) and antioxidants.

Fall

Fall Fruits: Grapes, Apples, Pomegranates, Dates, Pears, Guava.

Fall Vegetables: Potato, Okra, Taro, Chinese yam, Winter Melon, Indian bean, Snap Peas.

Fall Nuts / Spices: Chestnuts, Almonds, Ginger.

Winter

Winter Fruits: Grapefruit, Pumpkins, Passion fruit, Tangerines.

Winter Vegetables: Bok Choy, Yams, Cabbage, Carrots, Mushrooms, Leeks, Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Turnips, Radish, Soybean, Chinese Pumpkin, Butternut Squash.

Winter Nuts/Spices: garlic, chestnuts.

All Seasons

All Varieties: Avocados, Lemons, Oranges, Cabbage, Lettuce (all leafy greens), Bananas, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Papayas, Parsnips, Rutabaga, Dragon Fruit, Bitter Melon, Daikon.

Be adventurous, expand your boundaries in the fruit and veg store……and Eat Well Shanghai! 😉

Jessica W.

Go Green this Fall

One of my favorite things about Shanghai in  September is the appearance of  green tangerines. If you have been walking the streets of Shanghai , you can not have missed the tempting piles of green tangerines that are starting to pop up on the street side fruit carts and in the markets.  These sensational seasonal fruits are mostly grown down south in Jiangxi  Province, so they don’t have to travel too far to get to Shanghai.

Don’t be put off by the green color , inside you will find the same sweet tangerine taste that you experience with the orange variety but in my opinion, the Shanghai fruit has a  far sweeter tang on the tongue.When buying a bunch to take home ( you can’t buy just one or two tangerines), look for fruit that is heavy in your hand and has a deep color.

Feel free to indulge yourself and your family  with this fruit. For about 50 calories per tangerine you get a powerful nutritional boost to your day. Like any citrus fruit, the green tangerine provides 87% of your daily vitamin C requirement and meets one quarter of your vitamin A needs. Remember that both these vitamins are vital to the health of your skin and immune system as well as being considered powerful antioxidants,  helpful chemicals that reduce your risk of chronic disease.

Along with vitamins this fruit  has a decent amount of fiber (think healthy intestinal tract) and generous amounts of potassium,calcium and magnesium.  All three of these minerals are factors in good bone growth and retention.

Finally but no less important is what  is NOT in these thirst quenching snacks,. The green tangerines, like all fruits, do not have any fat or sodium, two food ingredients that you want to reduce for a healthy heart.

This is what eating seasonally is all about. So go load up on green tangerines and enjoy autumn in Shanghai !

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun !

Sensational Shanghai Summer Fruits

 When I go to the wet market at this time of year, I feel just like a kid in a candy shop! The bounty of China’s summer fruit harvest is overflowing in the markets right now. All of it sweet and exotic, natural and nutritious!

Last weekend I filled up the bike basket with all my favorites.  Finally found my mangosteen fruits, the dark purple ones with the green leafy hats, and they are as luscious as ever. Not only do these magical fruits taste citrus sweet but the white segments on the inside are a terrific source of vitamin C and fiber. The hard rind of the mangosteen has been in use in Ayruvedic Medicine ( India’s traditional medicine) for hundreds of years. Today the rind is ground and often sold as a powder or juice. The only proven use of the rind is as a treatment for dysentery but because of the rind’s high antioxidant content it is toted as a cure for just about all that ails us, from heart disease to cancer. I just love the thirst quenching taste!

The lychees are still out in force and will be for awhile. See the blog post of May 14 for all the nutritional details. Lychees make a lovely addition to a fruit salad and lychee sorbet is a light way to end a good meal.

If you are a fan of raspberries then you will enjoy yangmei.  The season is shorter for these deep red, sweet and tart treats so don’t delay in getting them home from the market. Yangmei , an ancient fruit that has been grown in Zhejiang Province for thousands of years, is also know as waxberry, Chinese bayberry and yumberry ( which must be referring to what was exclaimed after they were first eaten!). Yangmei are another fruit high in vitamin C and E, both powerful antioxidants and they have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat stomach distress and sweaty feet ( not sure how that works…).  Just wash and eat and be careful of the small pit inside.

Lastly on the shopping list this week are fresh apricots.  Not exotic but wonderfully  sweet this time of year. If you find the dried apricot a bit too sweet, try it fresh as I find that fresh apricots have a lovely, more subtle flavor than the dried version.  Fresh apricots , are lower in calories than the dried ones and can be easily put into a school lunch bag,  sliced on cereal and added to any pork recipe. Apricots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is important for good vision and a strong immune system.

The fruits I have listed here are by no means the end of the summer fruits. There are at least three kinds of melons in the market now and more fruits, including blueberries from Shandong, will be popping up in the market all summer long, so check back frequently for your favorites and be sure to try something new too.

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!

The Lovely Lychee

This time of year one of my favorite fruits is supposed to appear in the local wet markets.  The month of May should be the season of the Queen of Fruit…the mangosteen !

So off I went to my favorite market with the full intention of bringing home a bag of the yummy fruit. But imagine my disappointment when there was no Shānzhú ( mangosteen) to be found. I walked around the whole market and not one vendor had the fruit. Now I have seen the mangosteen in the market at other times of the year but they are generally not very tasty and I do try to eat seasonally, so May to September should be the peak season.

It is a mystery but I still needed fruit.  I didn’t have to look too far when the piles of bumpy lychees came into view. The earliest  record of lychees as food comes from the Song dynasty, so those of you on the Paleo diet, lychees could add some variety to your day.

Besides being an ancient fruit of China, lychees are a super source of the vitamin C and a great source of copper and potassium. All 3 of these nutrients play a role in cardiac health and supporting a strong immune system. From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective lychees nourish the blood which quenches thirst , quiets a cough, “calms the mind and relieves palpitations”* all issues that support a healthy heart.

If you have never had a fresh lychee I suggest you do this month or next.  Peel back the bumpy skin and pop the whole juicy mess in your mouth.  You will find a smooth pit in the center but that is easy enough to spit out, just ask any local!

I will let you know when I find the mangosteens!  Until then enjoy all the other fruits now in season.

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!

*Your Guide to Health with FOODS & HERBS, Using the Wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Zhang Yifang & Yao Yingzhi