Eating a healthy, balanced diet plays an essential role in your health today and in the future. What you eat affects how you feel, your ability to maintain a healthy weight, and if/when health conditions may develop.
It can be hard to get motivated to eat more produce during the winter months, but even during winter there are simple ways to eat better. Our local grocery stores do a great job of keeping up the variety of available produce during the winter so that we can continue to eat a variety of foods. Fruits and vegetables that are typically plentiful during the winter include:
We can do so much with these fruits and vegetables including stews, salads and roasted possibilities.
Eat Fresh, Frozen or Canned
Sure, fresh foods are actually better for you than frozen or canned in terms of nutritional benefit, but the upside of eating produce no matter whether it is fresh, frozen or canned is that it still provides a nutritional WIN.
The most important thing is to eat a variety of produce every day rather than avoid a fruit or vegetable because it is not fresh. A total of five servings (2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables) are recommended each day – any kind will work: fresh, frozen, or canned.
Most frozen produce is picked, cleaned, and frozen within a few hours, which helps maintain and preserve vitamins and minerals. Studies suggest that frozen vegetables have just as many nutrients as their fresh counterparts. If you have limited availability to fresh produce, frozen is your next best option.
When eating canned products, be aware of the addition of salt or sugar/syrup. Try to buy canned vegetables without added salt and fruit canned in juice, instead of syrup. If you can, rinse canned products before using.
You probably know that you should eat a healthy, balanced diet. But let’s face it, after all of that holiday goodness, we all need a little more fiber, vitamins and nutrients. This is the time when our immune system needs us most. So, if you need some extra motivation to get out there and eat your fruits and veggies, here are the top reasons:
Support the Immune System – need we say more!? Fruits and vegetables give us essential vitamins and minerals that our body needs to stay healthy.
Aid Digestion – Overindulging in holiday foods and potentially less exercise at this time of year due to lower temperatures and potentially harsh winter weather may slow down your digestive system. Fruits and vegetables that provide fiber, staying hydrated and finding a wintertime exercise you enjoy will help get your digestive system moving again and keep it humming along!
Provide Hydration – Eating fruits and vegetables help your body stay hydrated during the colder winter months! Not only are they often packed with water, but also soluble fiber that helps your body retain and use the fluid it needs. Just make sure you are also still drinking water to help meet your body’s daily hydration needs.
Tips and Tricks
Start here to ensure you have the foods you need at the ready to enjoy:
Shop with a Plan – Plan out your meals for the week with recipes that are full of fruits and vegetables! Create a list of all the healthy foods you will need for the week and then go to the store with a plan in mind. This will help ensure you are including a range of healthy options in your diet.
Prep as Much as Possible – Spend a little time washing and cutting the foods you will need to grab throughout the week. Having the ingredients ready to grab when you are hungry and deciding what you can make fast is a simple tool to get more of the good stuff into your meals.
Mix Things Up – Choose one new fruit or vegetable at the grocery store that you’d like to try or ask a friend or colleague if they have a favorite veggie-packed recipe.
Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower
When roasted, cauliflower takes on a new flavor profile that is satisfying and pairs well with so many winter foods.
Here’s how to roast cauliflower:
Slice the head of cauliflower into one-inch slices as you would do with a round loaf of bread.
Spread two teaspoons of olive oil or other oil on a cookie sheet or roasting pan.
Place the cauliflower on the cookie sheet giving each piece a little room in between. Because the cauliflower produces some steam when it cooks, you’ll want to give it some space so that it does not get mushy.
Bake at 400-425 degrees for 8 minutes, flip and bake 10-12 minutes more.
Now that you’ve got your roasted cauliflower, add it to your meal or enhance its flavor with some favorite toppings:
A slice of tomato, mozzarella and basil
Miso, soy or other umami-flavor
Chili powder, cumin or other favorite spice or herb