We’re getting into some of the deadest days of the winter. But believe it or not, it’s actually peak season for some pretty powerful superfoods.
That’s right—summer isn’t the only time of year when you can enjoy cooking with FRESH fruits and vegetables. And there’s nothing like a hot bowl of veggie soup to help warm your body and soul on a cold winter day!
So, let’s look at some of the tastiest produce this season has to offer… and how they can BOOST your health.
Then, I’ll tell you how you can easily incorporate them into your meals…
Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens are packed with phytochemicals and nutrients (like folate) that can help slam the brakes on disease—and cognitive decline, in particular. In fact, filling your diet with them is one of the best things you can do to help ward off dementia and preserve your brainpower.
Kale and spinach are most people’s favorite options—but don’t forget about Swiss chard, turnip greens, radish greens, and beet greens. Whichever you choose, you’re going to get a hefty dose of vitamin K, vitamin A, iron, folate, vitamin C, and potassium.
Of course, tossing a salad may not sound appealing in the middle of winter. But you can always throw some spinach, kale, or Swiss chard into your favorite soup. (Just add it towards the end so they don’t wilt too much.) I also love to sauté these greens with any type of protein (here’s my creamed spinach recipe), or add them to hot appetizer dips for parties.
I have a tender spot in my heart for my pomegranate tree in Montserrat. Not only is it beautiful, but it also produces unbelievably tasty—and nutritious—fruit. Of course, luckily, you can find fresh pomegranate in grocery stores this time of year, too.
Pomegranates are loaded with polyphenols and have greater antioxidant value than either red wine or green tea. The juice also has plenty of vitamin C. And the seeds (called arils) are a great source of fiber.
I often enjoy the seeds over juice, as they’re quite versatile. You can toast them for a crunchy snack, throw them onto salads, or into hummus and guacamole. You can even roll a goat cheese log over them to add some color to a cheese and charcuterie platter.
Citrus is also abundant this time of the year. I personally love lemons, limes, and grapefruits—and leave the sweeter oranges and tangerines for non-low-carb people.
The main benefit of citrus is, of course, their ample vitamin C content. But they contain other flavonoids, such as hesperidin, which support heart health by improving circulation and potentially lowering your blood pressure. They also contain quercetin, which is great for allergies, amongst other things.
As with pomegranates, I don’t recommend drinking your citrus—unless you’re adding some fresh-squeezed juice to water or herbal tea. Remember, pre-packaged juice is basically pure sugar, despite its reputation for being “healthy.”
Pumpkins and gourds such as calabaza, or even spaghetti squash, are other winter superfoods.
They are loaded with beta carotene and a wide array of other antioxidants. This nutrient profile can protect your eyesight, for starters—not to mention boost your immune system with a heaping helping of vitamin A, vitamin K, zinc, and magnesium.
Make a soup, mash them up, sauté them, or use them in place of noodles—the list of ways to prepare winter squash is virtually endless. All it takes is a little creativity!
Choosing the right fats
Of course, while preparing these superfoods, it’s important to keep in mind the type of cooking oil you use. My two favorites for high heat uses are macadamia nut oil and avocado oil. Meanwhile, I only recommend olive oil for cold uses such as salad dressing, dips, or even to finish the plate.
All of these oils are packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and antioxidant-rich polyphenols—for heart health, skin health, brain health, and more. And yes, they’re essential for weight loss, too. So there’s no need to skimp.
I have to say, my mouth is watering and my stomach is grumbling now—proof positive that healthy eating doesn’t have to taste bad. It can be easy, fun… and yes, delicious. Buon appetito!
P.S. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Instagram so you never miss one of my very own cooking demonstrations—as I love sharing ways to take advantage of healthy, nutritious foods from my very own kitchen!
“Superfoods to use in holiday dishes.” MyFitnessPal, 11/18/2021. (blog.myfitnesspal.com/superfoods-to-use-in-holiday-dishes/)