With temps in Pennsylvania still dipping into the single digits and the arrival of garden fresh vegetables months away, it’s likely you’re missing out on some servings of fresh fruits and vegetables. Combining too many hours of indoor sedentary activities along with less than healthy food choices often adds extra pounds to many waistlines before Spring finally arrives.
One way to make sure your body is still getting enough vitamins and minerals despite the season, is to include winter vegetables. Packed with minerals and vitamins, there’s lots of inexpensive vegetables to include in your meals. Here are a few of my favorite winter vegetables and recipes.
Pumpkin & Butternut squash
Pumpkin shouldn’t just be limited to Thanksgiving! Dark orange vegetables like butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin can meet your full day’s Vitamin A needs in only 1 serving. Canned pumpkin has no added sodium and requires no cooking. Stirring ½ cup of canned pumpkin into hot breakfast cereal packs in 280% of daily vitamin A needs. Now that’s a super food! Add a little cinnamon and you’ve got an extra vegetable serving in a great tasting treat.
Chopped butternut squash is a time saving find in the produce section. Add it to the following recipe for Blazing Squash Chili for an interesting addition to your normal chili recipes.
Growing in popularity, beets can be found now in hummus, smoothies, and vegetable juice blends. Bright in color, beets are a source of iron and folate. Fresh beets can be cut into cubes and roasted or steamed. Canned beets, despite their higher sodium content compared to fresh, hold up well in consistency and can be an easy addition to a salad or as a side dish. While not a beet fan myself, I absolutely love the tops sauteed with two strips of nitrate free bacon. Click here for some tips on getting those tops clean.
Spinach tops the list as one of the highest sources of Vitamin K, an important nutrient in helping inflammation and cell damage. Frozen spinach in a box is a very affordable way to get your leafy greens. This inexpensive Spinach Enchiladas recipe is a good fit for a busy week night. Use enchilada sauce or tomato sauce depending on your tastebuds.
If you’re trying to limit carbohydrates, opt for spaghetti squash as a base for the filling or utilize sliced zucchini and layer like a lasagna.
One cup of broccoli (either raw or cooked) has about 25 calories. Unlike those tiny 100 calorie packs of snacks which don’t fill you up, an entire steamer bag (four cups) of broccoli without sauce has about 100 calories. Pair it with your frozen entrée to make a healthier meal that keeps you full. Broccoli is also a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamins A and K and also has a small amount of calcium. Steam some to top your baked potato, add to your soup, raw in a salad.
I literally ask every client I meet with whether they are a picky eater. Even for vegetable lovers, brussels sprouts inevitably land up on the most hated list of vegetables. These little power packed cabbages are filled with cancer fighting plant nutrients. If you’re never cared for them give this recipe one more try. Roasting the brussels sprouts brings out a warm, savory flavor that some vegetable haters (including my father in law) readily enjoy.
In many European cultures cabbage was often used due to it’s low cost. Cabbage shines when it comes to low calorie options. Cabbage is easy to cook in the microwave too! Just take 1/4th of a small cabbage, cut it into slices, place in microwavable glass container and add ¼ inch of water. Cover and microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes depending on your crunch preferences and the power or your microwave. This easy recipe reminiscent of a more time consuming endevour for a stuffed cabbage dish called Golumpki was a big hit with my husband.
Don't let winter drag your healthy menus down! There's lots of ways to perk up the table until spring warms us again.