This is the perfect time of year to enjoy all the typical garden or farmers market fresh offerings. Automatically you may think of carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, but did you know Canada grows several unique, nutritious fresh vegetables and fruits? Some you may never have heard about, seen or even tried. I took the opportunity to visit some local farmers’ markets to gather a few delicious, unique, vegetables and fruits grown right here in my home province of Manitoba!

These are some unique local offerings I think you should try! Here’s what you can do with them, and why they are so good for you!



Kohlrabi: Also, known as German turnip, kohlrabi is a mild tasting vegetable with a slight almost nutty flavour. The taste and texture are like broccoli and the vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a thick skin that needs to be removed. It’s wonderful in coleslaw, salad or as a veggie to dip. When cooked, the texture is like a firm potato. Kohlrabi is an excellent source of dietary fibre that can aid in improving digestive health by improving regularity. My favourite way to enjoy kohlrabi is to grate it into a crunchy nutty flavoured coleslaw with a canola oil, vinegar, and fresh garden herb dressing. Parsley and dill pair well with kohlrabi!


Swiss Chard and Coral Lettuce

Swiss Chard:

Also known as spinach beet, Swiss chard has tender leaves when it is early in the season. These can be chopped and added to a salad or a smoothie! The larger leaves and stems can be sautéed or steamed like spinach or added to soups or stews. Swiss chard tastes like spinach but with a milder flavour. I like to chop and freeze the extra from my garden to use throughout the year. Swiss chard contains high levels of vitamin K important for blood clotting. It is also high in a yellow coloured antioxidant called lutein which is important for eye health and the prevention of macular degeneration.

Coral Lettuce:

Coral lettuce adds colour, texture and volume to salads. The leaves are tender with a slight bitterness.  I like adding it to salads because the curled leaves catch the dressing so it doesn’t end up in the bottom of your salad bowl. This lettuce is very high in folate, an important nutrient for healthy cell division and for expectant moms to ensure the healthy growth of their developing baby.  Coral lettuce is also high in lutein for eye health.


Sour Cherries, Gooseberries, and Table Grapes

Sour Cherries (tart cherries):

I prefer to call them tart cherries! As you eat them, you’ll get some sweetness, and then a little bit of tartness. When you cook them it really brings out the real cherry flavour, perfect for making cherry tarts, pies, jam or sauce to top ice cream and yogurt, or even made into juice. I like adding them to fruit salads, muffins or scones in place of cranberries, smoothies and just to enjoy! These tart cherries are high in an important disease fighting antioxidant that gives them their beautiful red colour called anthocyanins. They are also incredibly high in vitamin C a nutrient important for collagen production building healthy skin, hair and nails and help keep our immune system healthy.

Goose Berries:

Goose berries have similar nutritional benefits to sour cherries, they are high in anthocyanins and vitamin C. They make a nice tart addition to a green salad, fruit salad, smoothie, or made into jam or added to a fruit crisp. I have fond memories of eating them right off the bush when I was growing up!

Table Grapes:

Grapes of course are sweet and delicious – one of Mother nature’s candies! They are also known to contain polyphenol antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties, and are also on the AICR list of foods that fight cancer. Very high in a type of fibre called soluble fibre that helps to lower cholesterol. They make a delicious snack all on their own and can be added to fruit salads, smoothies and made into jelly and juice.


Golden Beets and Golden Zucchini

Golden Beets:

Golden beets share all of the same nutritional benefits as red beets, the only difference being that they are orange in colour! They are in high in iron helping to build healthy red blood cells, contain fibre for cholesterol reduction, and potassium that helps you to maintain normal blood pressure. They make fantastic beet borscht soup, can be pickled like regular red beets, and are delicious cooked, chilled, and added to salads.

Golden Zucchini:

Golden zucchini, is straight throughout, not to be confused with yellow squash which has a fat bottom and tapers towards the neck. Golden zucchini is like green zucchini, but a little sweeter tasting and adds an aesthetic to recipes because it retains its colour even after cooking. It is one of the lowest calorie vegetables and contains vitamin C and vitamin A which are both important for a healthy immune system. They are excellent to enjoy raw with a dip, added to salads, roasted or grilled, and I especially like to use them for baking to add moisture and reduce fat.