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  • Writer's pictureHeather Buda

Getting Cozy with Winter Produce

Cold weather makes me want to throw on a big bulky sweater & warm slippers, and wrap myself in an absurdly soft blanket. It also screams deep comforting food and fresh citrus pick-me-ups. Below you will find nine of my favorite winter fruits & veggies along with mouthwatering recipes to explore all of their potential.

"Each moment of the year has its own beauty" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Brussels Sprouts


This cruciferous vegetable which I called “baby cabbages” as a child has gone from my most hated food (sorry 6-year-old me) to one of my absolute favorites. Eating just a couple of these mini greens will give you more than your recommended daily intake (“RDI”) of Vitamin K and over 75% of the RDI of Vitamin C. With a bounty of free-radical fighting antioxidants, you may help reduce your risk of several diseases and certain types of cancer. And for my plant-based friends out there (and everyone else), brussels sprouts are a great plant source of omega-3 fatty acids; an unsaturated fat that our bodies cannot produce and must obtain from the foods we consume.


Some of my favorite recipes:


Dates


Often confused with its fruit brother, the prune, dates are actually their own fruit that grow on date palm trees (a prune is a dried plum); unlike prunes, dates do not contain sorbitol which is a natural laxative, however, they are packed with fiber to keep things moving. Filled with antioxidants protecting your cells from free radicals, these small fruits have numerous health benefits to offer. For example, Flavonoids may help reduce inflammation and Cartenoids have been proven to promote heart health. When dried, which is how we most often find them, dates are higher in sugar (carbs) so a little goes a long way; see you later white sugar, there’s a new sheriff in town!


Some of my favorite recipes:

Cherry Pie Energy Bites from Fit Foodie Finds

Banana-Date Smoothie from The Kitchn


Delicata Squash

Photo courtesy of Farmers' Almanac

Pick up this beautiful creamy yellow vegetable adorned with green pinstripes on your next grocery trip. Unlike the tough exterior of a butternut squash, the Delicata is more...ahem, delicate...and can be eaten with the rind - no peeling required! Inside you’ll find numerous micronutrients including vitamins A, C, and B6 involved in red blood cell development and metabolism. These cells carry oxygen from your lungs to your body’s tissues and move carbon dioxide away from your tissues and back to the lungs for expulsion. If your red blood cell count is too low, the body has to work in overdrive to get enough oxygen to the cells which can leave you fatigued and weak.


Some of my favorite recipes:


Grapefruit


Low in calories, high in nutrients and taste! This citrus fruit is high in Vitamin C which, as an antioxidant, helps protect your cells from harmful bacteria and viruses. A whole grapefruit will provide you with over half the RDI of Vitamin A, a vitamin shown to protect against inflammation. Grapefruit has been used as a weight-loss aid for decades given its fiber and high-water content. Incorporating this fruit into a balanced and healthy diet can help satiate your sweet tooth and reduce your calorie intake.


Some of my favorite recipes:

Baked Grapefruit: 3 Ways from Ginger with Spice

Grapefruit Smoothie Bowl from Hummusapien

Avocado Grapefruit & Fennel Salad by Foodie Crush

Kale


Talk about a nutrition powerhouse! It’s no wonder this cruciferous veg is called a “Superfood.” Fiber, antioxidants, calcium, vitamins C and K, iron, and that’s only to name a few of the nutrients packed in this dark leafy green. The benefits include prevention of various health problems (high blood pressure, cancer, type-2 diabetes), boosting of your digestive health, healthy bone formation/bone density, and healthy skin, hair and eyes.


With all these nutrients packed together, if you are on any sort of medication please make sure you talk to your doctor about foods to avoid or eat in moderation, as kale may be one of them due to its high potassium and Vitamin K components.


Some of my favorite recipes:

Kale Chips from Fit Mitten Kitchen

Lentil and Kale Soup from Green Valley Kitchen


Leeks


With a mild onion-like flavor, leeks are a delicate way to spruce up your meal and add a variety of nutrients. Chock full of vitamins A, C and K and minerals such as iron and manganese, these vegetables will look after your blood health as well as brain and nerve function. When picking out leeks, look for a crisp exterior and white stem. Medium size leeks tend to be more flavorful than the behemoths often found in our grocery stores.


Some of my favorite recipes:

Potato Leek Soup from Skinny Taste

Leek, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata as seen in The Washington Post


Oranges


It’s hard to think about winter without a fresh squeeze of citrus. Packed with fiber, vitamin C, potassium and several other minerals, oranges are seriously nutritious for our bodies. But wait, it doesn’t end there! They also promote clear and youthful skin and help keep our heart healthy and blood pressure in check. Be careful with how you consume oranges as fresh orange juice provides less fiber than the whole fruit and is easy to consume in larger quantities which could lead to weight gain giving its high sugar content. And remember, if purchasing juice - it should have only one ingredient - Oranges!


Some of my favorite recipes:

Chinese Orange Shrimp from Cooking Made Healthy


Persimmons

What the heck is a persimmon?? If that’s the first thing that popped into your head, you are not alone. While they may look like a yellow/orange tomato, persimmons are in fact a berry with a juicy sweet center. By including in your diet, you will reap the rewards of dietary fiber, manganese, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and iron.


Some of my favorite recipes:

Persimmon Banana Breakfast Cookies from Toaster Oven Love


Sweet Potatoes


These veggies are a Nutrition Powerhouse, packed with vitamins A & C, beta-carotene, iron, potassium and lots of dietary fiber (when eaten with skins). As our bodies digest this root veggie slowly, we are apt to feel fuller for longer - and with a low calorie count, you can feel good about the nutritional value you obtain from this carbohydrate.


Some of my favorite recipes:

Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad from Cooking Classy

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries from Cookie and Kate

Sweet Potato Fries by Cookie and Kate

Bon Appetit!

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