If you live in a region that is cold, windy and snowy during the winter months, your body craves comfort from the inside out. You start by putting on a sweater and warm scarf, then your belly and taste buds want satisfaction too. It’s just how the body works.
Typically, when we think about warm, comforting foods, recipes like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, baked ziti, grilled cheese and pie come to mind. Not exactly the healthiest, huh? Well, turns out, seasonal winter produce can provide some of the same comfort as those unhealthy options.
Fruits like apples, figs, pears and clementines are bountiful in the fall and winter months. Gourds like pumpkin and winter squash varieties, too. You’ll also notice vegetables like kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage and carrots are all around. Get creative and make a sweet potato mac and “cheese” or a baked spaghetti dish using squash for noodles. Add shredded brussels to your salads and pears to your smoothies.
We share even more healthy winter meal ideas in our seasonal meal plan. Download the 1 or 2-week plans to incorporate winter-inspired recipes into your nutrition plan on the 8fit app. Ingredients and shopping lists will be perfectly portioned to suit your dietary needs.
Delicious, nutritious winter produce
These winter fruits and vegetables can withstand harsh, cold mornings and nights without sacrificing nutrition. Learn more and then incorporate them into your favorite meals.
- Apples are high in soluble fiber which helps increase satiety and lower cholesterol. Apples also contain flavonoids and antioxidants that have been linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes and, again, lower cholesterol. Another benefit of delicious, juicy apples is the pectin — a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic, feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut.
- Figs act as a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent, making them tremendous immune system boosters. Figs are also an excellent source of magnesium which can help calm nerves and anxiety and relieve muscle aches and spasms.
- Pears are a good source of copper which is important for the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells. This impacts how well your body uses oxygen in the blood. Pears also include high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants. Finally, they include phytochemicals, giving them anti-inflammatory and cancer protective effects.
- Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C which is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body (tip: drink water throughout the day to help your body absorb vitamin C and other water-soluble vitamins). Whole oranges contain fiber which helps keep blood sugar levels under control.
- Clementines contain high levels of vitamin C and help the synthesis of collagen, a structural component vital for the maintenance of healthy skin. Clementines also contain potassium which helps maintain the electrolyte and fluid balance in your body.
- Pumpkins contain 3 grams of fiber per cup serving which can help with satiety, keeping you fuller for longer. Pumpkins are also rich in vitamin A, which aids in maintaining healthy clear skin and supporting immune function.
- Sweet potatoes are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute. These potatoes also contain vitamin B6 which helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked to diseases including heart attacks.
- Winter squash contains impressive amounts of potassium which can help reduce your risk of stroke and high blood pressure. A serving contains 25% of your daily requirement for vitamin C which will help keep you healthy during the stressful, winter holiday season.
- Kale contains high amounts of calcium which helps prevent bone loss and osteoporosis and maintain a healthy metabolism. Full of fiber and sulfur, kale helps keep your liver healthy and supports your body’s detox systems.
- Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous family. They benefit your immune system, inflammatory system, hormonal system, detoxification system and antioxidant system. The fiber content in brussels sprouts has a cholesterol lowering ability and helps support your digestive system.
- Cabbage, like brussels sprouts, is part of the cruciferous family. It is linked to cardiovascular protection and decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Cabbage contains sulfur compounds called glucosinolates, which help support our digestive tract and can help ward off infection.
- Potatoes are packed with fiber, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6, making them a very heart healthy food. Potatoes contain resistant starch which is not digested in the small intestine and rather passes to the large intestine where it can feed beneficial bacteria.
- Carrots contain carotenoids such as beta carotene which helps improve immunity, protect skin health and fight free radical damage. They also contains antioxidants which help prevent against cognitive decline.
- Pumpkin seeds (like the ones found in our popcorn recipe) are an excellent source of immunity-boosting zinc. To get the full zinc benefits, consume the unshelled form of pumpkin seeds. These seeds are also a great source of the antioxidant, vitamin E, which can naturally slow down the aging process.