During colder weather, it's easy to pack your healthy eating away with your summer clothes. The colder, shorter days often leave us craving comfort food. And comfort food tends to be rich and heavy rather than lean and healthy.
The problem? Once spring arrives, you may welcome it with a little too much extra padding! The solution? Follow these tips for good nutrition all year long.
Eat high-quality carbohydrates
We crave carbs in the winter because our bodies are using up our stores of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps us feel good. Carbohydrates are a natural boost for serotonin, but not all carbs are created equal.1 That's why it's important to choose nutritious whole grains and other healthy carbs like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, or squash instead of sugary options like cakes and cookies.
Enjoy nature's winter harvest
Cold weather actually brings us many delicious and healthy food choices, including pomegranates, purple grapes, oranges, tangerines, and cranberries, and root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes. Be adventurous and try something new and different with these fruits and veggies. It can be as simple as adding pomegranate seeds or grapes to salads or cutting root veggies into French fry shapes and roasting them.
Get enough vitamin D
Vitamin D helps our bodies maintain healthy levels of calcium and phosphorus as well as strong bones and muscles. Also, not having enough of this nutrient can lead to joint pain.2 Vitamin D is often called "The Sunshine Vitamin" because we get most of it from the sun. But in winter, sunshine is less likely and we’re inside more often, so it’s crucial to get your D from foods like egg yolks, fortified dairy products like yogurt, and fish like salmon, tuna, or sardines. You can also talk to your doctor about taking a daily vitamin D supplement.
Prevent colds with vitamin C and probiotics
While there's no cure for the common cold, studies say that 1,000 mg of vitamin C may make those sniffles less severe and help a cold end sooner.3 Yogurt with active cultures or other sources of probiotics, a "good" bacteria living in your intestines, can shorten a cold's life span by as much as two days
This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor.
As winter comes to a close, your store's produce aisle may not seem as bright and colorful as it is in summer. But look closer and you’ll find an array of delicious options like persimmons, oranges, pears, rutabagas, and cranberries—all choices that offer solid nutrition as well as healthy doses of vitamins D and C.4 Here are a few you may want to introduce into your diet this Spring:
High in vitamin C, Asian pears are great in raw in salads, as a snack with cheese, or as dippers for fondue. They’re also delicious cooked in crisps and other desserts, muffins, and main dishes. (Tip: Asian pears usually take longer to cook than regular pears because of their crunchy texture.)
Don’t save these berries, rich in vitamin C, for just the holidays! Make them an accent fruit in pies and crisps, puddings, and jams, or use them as a featured ingredient in muffins, breads, cakes, and sauces. They're also great on salads.
Guavas can be a tasty substitute for strawberries or kiwi fruit in pies, breads, or preserves. They’re also good either cold or hot in sauces, juices, or sorbets. Guavas contain vitamins A and B6, and are a great source of vitamin C.
Kumquats look like little oval oranges, but you can eat them peel and all! Whole, chopped, sliced, or halved, they're delicious in all kinds of salads. You can also cook them pretty much any way you want. Kumquat flavors go well with fish, pork, and game meat, and in marmalade or relish.
The juiciest oranges will feel heavy for their size. Eat them as a snack, or use them in salads or desserts. You can also put oranges in sauces or preserves, and use their zest (gratings of the outer peel) to flavor fish, chicken, and other dishes. Oranges are well-known as a source of vitamin C and also provide a healthy dose of vitamin B1 and folic acid.
Great raw as a snack, pears also work well cooked in savory dishes. Pears are sweeter and softer than apples, so they may need a bit less sweetening and cooking time.
There are two major kinds of persimmons. The heart-shaped persimmon is called a "Hachiya" and needs to be ripened to a jelly-like texture before using it. The second, the tomato-shaped "Fuyu," can be eaten either when it's firm like an apple or a little softer. Chop or slice Hachiya persimmons into salads and other cold dishes. Puree the softer Fuyu to replace half of the butter or margarine on your toast. You can also use Fuyu persimmons in cookies, quick bread, muffins, or cakes. Persimmons are a great source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
Colorful pomegranate seeds are very popular as a garnish for salads, meat dishes, and desserts. Their juice is great for sorbets, sauces, smoothies, and fruit juice blends. The neatest, most effective way to remove the seeds from a pomegranate is to fill a deep bowl partway with water. Cut the pomegranate into quarters under the water and then gently nudge the seeds loose. The seeds float, so you can easily scoop them out of the bowl. Pomegranates provide vitamins B6 and C, as well as a healthy dose of potassium.
Rutabagas have an earthy, peppery flavor and can be part of a raw veggie platter. They can also be peeled and cooked—in slices, cubes, or wedges—by roasting, steaming, or microwaving until just tender. They’re a good source of magnesium and vitamin C, as well as vitamins B1, B6, and potassium.
Sweet potatoes are truly a winter "super food." They can be baked, boiled, steamed, or microwaved. Their taste tends to get sweeter with storage and cooking. If baking whole, pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork to let the steam out as it cooks. They’re a tasty way to get a dose of vitamin B2, B6, and C, and they’re an excellent source of vitamin A.
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