Eating your vegetables through the winter months is important, but sourcing them appears difficult. Frozen vegetables might be a good back up source, but they are filled with additives and preserves that dilute the essential nutrients. Instead, focus on the vegetables that are less common but just as available during the winter; squash, root vegetables, kale, pumpkin to name a few. Such veggies are in ample abundance and offer you a change-up to the normalcy of your vegetable cooking routine.
So you found all these gorgeous, colorful vegetables and have no idea what to do with them. Cooking these vegetables to yield a seasonal taste that rivals their exterior coloring is simple and easy. Most items can be roasted, steamed and some grilled without much flavoring needed, while some are best marinated and served with complimentary foods to complete the best winter meal.
So what are the fall and winter veggies available? Beets, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, turnips, rutabaga, acorn squash, pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, leeks (in the onion family), and parsnips are just a few of the vegetables you will find in the fall heading into winter. You will notice most are hearty greens and either a squash or root vegetable.
Where to buy them?
Your best bet is a local co-op or farm for starters, if that is not an option a natural foods grocer can be an excellent choice.
Most farms are closing up for the winter since crops are limited at this time of year, but that doesn’t mean a lower quality crop. You will inevitably have to stock up on some veggies, but the beauty of such seasonal veggies is that most of these will last quite a long time if stored properly.
Here lies probably the biggest challenge for most – how to use them!
Most of the root vegetables you can peel, cut into 1 inch cubes, toss with olive oil, fresh garlic, and rosemary then bake for 20-30 minutes in a 350º oven. My favorite combos are sweet potatoes baked with only salt and pepper, or mixed with beets and broccoli. Cauliflower baked with garlic and herbs and topped with fresh Parmesan cheese is an excellent choice for light calories packed with taste. Rutabaga you can cook similar to mashed potatoes except you don’t add anything but a wee bit of butter and sea salt, skip the milk. Cauliflower is one in the same – you can also add goat cheese for some flavor with chives, or add some turnips, too for more texture.
Most squashes, such as pumpkin or spaghetti squashes, are plain in taste so you’ll need to add spices or complimentary tasting foods to complete the meal. Although, I do have a recipe for pumpkin lasagna that calls for sauteed leeks along with the pumpkin; it is so tasty I stopped making the rest of the lasagna! Acorn squash is sweet already, so I like to brush or spray with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and grill for 20 minutes only flipping once. Acorn squash is a tasty afternoon treat just scooped out of the shell or into a salad. Butternut squash is best made in a soup with curry powder and white wine. Yum!
Cabbage and kale have endless possibilities and make for the most warming meals in the depth of winter. You can chop up the cabbage for cole slaw, or add a sesame-Asian type dressing with sesame seeds and a few slices of ginger for a fresh twist. One of my favorites is a traditional family recipe – sautéed cabbage with onion and caraway seeds, then add a wee bit of tomato paste and sea salt. Add some other spices and polish sausage, and you have hunter’s stew or a cabbage soup! Kale is best sautéed to soften it up as it is very hearty. Sauté the kale with some shallots in olive oil, then add some broth to help steam cook the rest. Add salmon on top for protein and fat nutrients and you can have a full meal without adding another pan to the stove (see recipe for Salmon on bed of Kale).
There are many options to eating your vegetables even in winter so that you can get through your winter workouts with enough nutrients and energy. You just need a few good vegetables, a bit of adventure, a recipe to borrow from, and good friends to help enjoy it!
Joanna K Chodorowska, BA, NC, TPTH, METS –HMP is a holistic sports nutrition coach, energy worker and athlete. She identifies what is causing your symptoms of ill health and uses real food nutrition, The Path To Heal energy work, Nutrition Response Testing and essential oils to bring the body back into balance and into vibrant health. Joanna helps fix the issues for good. Real food to fuel your active life….Nutrition for body, mind, spirit and sport! For more information, please visit www.nutrition-in-motion.net.