It’s beginning to look a lot like mince pies, everywhere you eat;
take a look in the corner store, glistening once again,
with turkey and mulled wine aglow.
Winter is a time to enjoy with family and friends. During this time of the year we get to try foods that are not as widely available as in other times of the year. Make the best of it by pampering your taste buds, but also remembering to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
It seems that as soon as winter kicks in your cravings for starchy and fatty foods takes over. Of course it’s fine to try a few things; but don’t forget that with the comfort of heating and modern lifestyle you don’t actually need the extra energy. Try balancing out the foods your body craves (or that Aunt Lou puts in front of you) with these seasonal foods that will keep you satisfied and healthy all winter long:
1) Veggie Casserole
Toss all of these together to produce a little magic: cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, onion, brussel sprouts, a pinch of salt and pepper as well as a sprinkle of your favourite herbs. With so many naughty options on the table at this time of year it’s easy to forget about how good veggies can taste while still being good for you. The colour they bring into your plate is a feast for the eyes and your taste buds, and you’ll be thanking yourself when you don’t catch the flu everyone has at work and your body is in top condition, inside and out!
2) Go Nuts!
This time of year a great variety of nuts is widely available. Use them for simple snacks or to shake up a tired but traditional holiday dish. Try mixing whole grain rice and quinoa, mix any veggies or even fruits you have on hand and top with or your favourite type of nuts such for extra texture and protein. You might be surprised with the new taste!
3) Oh Clementine…
Clementines are easy to peel and make them an easy snack to carry around to save you from any unwanted temptations. They are rich in potassium, vitamins A and C and fibre, and if that wasn’t enough they are also low in sugar and calories. You can also pop them into your salads or stews for extra flavour and colour.
4) Go Fresh With The Berries
Swap the preserves or commercial sweet sauces for actual fresh fruit to your dishes. Your plate will not only look livelier but you’ll gain more nutrients and fewer calories out of your dishes. Cranberries are in season, so try mixing them with lean cuts of meat, popping them into a yogurt snack with nuts or your lunchtime salad. Cranberries are rich in antioxidants which make them an ally against winter viruses and also give smoother skin. If you prepare them without added sugar, they’ve also been associated to help control bladder infections and glucose levels.
Although you may traditionally think of apples as the classic fall ‘back-to-school’ food, some common apples like Braeburn and Pink Lady apples are considered late-season apples and last right through the winter! Pick a few up and try this delicious winter dish: prepare your favourite type of whole grain pasta, cut up a few fresh pieces of apple, nuts and a spoonful of pesto. Mix together and as an option add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese!
With all the fatty foods available this Winter cabbage might just become your best friend. It turns out this fibre-rich vegetable can help lower your cholesterol levels or keep them under control. Also, thanks to its glucosinolate, vitamin C and manganese content it has antioxidant and cancer preventing properties. There are different types: savoy, red and green. Mix them all together to create colourful, appetizing and ultra-nutritious snacks and meals. Spice up your salad by cutting up cabbage of different colours and by adding nuts, fresh apples, grated carrot and beets.
Turkey is nutritious, delicious and definitely a favourite over the winter. It’s a lean cut that’s high in protein, and rich in complex B vitamins and selenium. Avoid turkey with preservatives such as sausages and turkey ham since the extra processing is nowhere near as healthy as the real deal.
8) Sweet potatoes
Give diversity to your diet and swap your regular potatoes for sweet potatoes. These spuds are rich in vitamin A which helps to strengthen your immune system. So instead of going for your usual chips, give sweet potato fries a try. Cut them into wedges, add salt, pepper, a bit of oil, and a sprinkle of oregano and pop into the oven for about 40 minutes.
Plan Your Healthy Holidays
Try adding all of these foods into your meals for more guilt-free plates this year. By adding seasonal foods to the menu you will bring greater colour, flavour and nutrition into your everyday meals. Of course, eating seasonally is not just about buying them but also about cooking them and sharing them.
Getting together to cook or simply trying new foods and combinations can provide you with a more authentic and enjoyable winter season. Instead of going out to the latest sale, use that time to get together with your loved ones or those whom you rarely see. Cooking together, sharing recipes and eating together with good company and conversation are priceless gifts.