Around this time of year I start to get tired of winter and ready for warm days and spending time outdoors on the bike or in the garden. Ok, let’s be honest, I’m not just ready for spring, I’m almost chomping at the bit. I can’t wait!!! But it is still several weeks away and so this is the season when I look for ways to excite my palate and my plate with a sparkle of flavor. I want something new.

My local farmer’s market is open once a month and the organic farmers still have long keeping winter vegetables; it’s a wonderful thing to go to market on a Sunday and come away with several kinds of greens, carrots, and other roots. Alas, this weekend our organic farmer was away on vacation….which he more than deserves, but I admit I was disappointed to not fill my refrigerator with “fresh” stuff.

So back to the grocery to give myself a little winter sunshine. Pictured on the platter are several items that help me “get through the winter” until the greener pastures of spring.

Here is what I have:

Grapefruit: they’re in season and are packed with sunny flavor, very uplifting and energizing.

Dandelion greens: good for detoxing your liver, a nice bitter green that is one of the first greens available in spring (why wait?). Mix with milder greens if you like, add some apple or pear to sweeten, dress with lemon juice and flax oil or EVOO.

Belgian endive and radicchio: they just make the salad more interesting and at this point in the season we need interesting. Different texture than plain lettuce, a little more bitter in taste. I love the colors.

Kiwi: in season and reasonably priced. A burst of bright flavor in your mouth and who can resist their lovely green and black pattern!

Berries: I wouldn’t think if buying non-local berries during summer but at this time of year anything goes. I have plenty of frozen berries too, but this extravagance just helps me feel good.

Fresh herbs: I miss being able to walk to the garden and just pick a sprig of this and that to add zest to foods. Just adding some fresh parsley or cilantro to your salad or sprinkle on your soup can add so much flavor and help those winter doldrums.

Unusual fruits: pictured on the plate are two prickly pear fruits which are just one example of the many options available. The goal here is to try something new to provide that “surprise” affect. Maybe not an expense you want every week but once in a while, buy something exotic that you’ve never tried or don’t get to eat very often like fresh papaya, whole pineapple, pomegranate, mango, fresh coconut, passion fruit, and others.

What foods help you smile while you wait for spring? Send me a comment.