Long slow days, rain, cosy blankets, rich hot chocolate…
Winter is that time of year where everything slows down and we all seek comfort food. Winter has a lot going for it, but fresh produce is usually not on that list. In colder months, eating locally through the winter can be downright challenging.
But I’m here with some good news….
Every meal doesn’t have to revolve around potatoes and onions until September. With a bit of advanced planning and creativity, it’s possible to eat fresh fruits and vegetables with plenty of nutrients and flavour all winter long. There is still a lot of fresh produce in winter that is vitamin-rich and you should stock up on right now.
It’s time to head to the cabbage patch. This super-healthy, budget-friendly vegetable is a close cousin to other cold-weather favourites like cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, and broccoli. Cabbage is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Some studies claim that the spherical vegetable can even reduce cholesterol and lower risk of cancer and diabetes.
How to eat it:
Cabbage’s nutritional benefits are most pronounced when raw, so slice up a few leaves to add crunch to salads or stir-fries.
Brussels sprouts are trendy and are finally getting their time in the spotlight, aka cabbage’s mini-me, boasts some of the same health benefits as its big bro. Like other cruciferous veggies, brussels sprouts have high levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
How to eat it:
Toss halved sprouts with olive oil and roast until crispy and brown. Top with a light coating of brown butter and sage for a decadent (but still healthy) side dish
Spuds get a bad rap, but they’re a staple food in many cuisines for good reason. Sure, potatoes are starchy and high on the glycemic index, but they’re also filling, inexpensive, and boast an impressive nutritional profile including potassium, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, and even protein. Fancy purple taters may even help lower blood pressure and boost antioxidants. While sweet potatoes are considered a healthier choice (since they’re loaded with beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, and fibre), regular old white spuds are still nutritious as long as you don’t fry them or mash them with tons of butter and cream.
Sweet, earthy, and deep red beets are pretty unique in the vegetable aisle. Beets contain antioxidants called betalains, which can help fight cancer and other degenerative diseases. They’re also rich in vitamins A, B and C. They’re also a natural source of sugar (about nine grams per serving), so those looking to cut down on sweet stuff should take note.
How to eat it: Toss roasted beets and carrots with lentils and plenty of fresh herbs and spices to make a hearty, healthy vegetarian main dish.
Celeriac is probably the ugly duckling of winter produce. It looks like a misshapen, greenish-white blob covered in little roots. Appetizing, right? ….But beyond the odd exterior, celeriac boasts a tasty, subtle flavour — somewhere between parsley and celery — and a hearty texture. It’s low in calories and rich in vitamin C.
How to eat it:
Sub in celeriac for almost any root vegetable. Cube and sauté it for a tasty, healthy substitute for hash browns.
Did your mum ever tell you to eat carrots for healthy eyes? Bugs Bunny’s favourite food is loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene, a compound that converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for a strong immune system and healthy eyes, skin, and mucus membranes. All orange veggies are also loaded with vitamin C.
Sweet potatoes might win the award for “Most Versatile Tuber.” These orange-hued delights are loaded with fibre, vitamins A and C. Plus, since they’re fairly low on the glycaemic index, they’re great for filling up without getting weighed down.
Besides being one of the most fun words in the English language, radicchio (pronounced ra-DIK-kio) is a member of the chicory family along with endive and escarole. Its red and white, slightly spicy and bitter leaves are loaded with vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. Plus, this leafy veg is extremely low in calories, so add it to any dish for a low-cal dose of crunch and flavour.
So please get stuck into these whilst you can… happy wet winter everyone
- kale (kale may be the healthy hipster foodie’s leafy green of choice, but the hype is well deserved)
- brussel sprout
- sweet potato
- brussel sprouts