Eating healthy can seem like a challenge in winter, with the absence of fresh fruits and vegetables and the cold weather encouraging cravings for baked goods and hearty fare. It's important to look to goods that can be stored, including legumes, nuts, seeds, and frozen foods, to keep meals supercharged with nutrition. By combining shelf-stable foods with some hearty winter vegetables available at farmers markets during the cold months, it's possible to keep a diverse selection of "superfoods" around to feel and look good all season long.
Full of fiber and touted for its gastrointestinal benefits since Roman times, cabbage is a go-to winter staple. Use it to make a quick slaw to break up hearty roasts or stews, or add it to any sautéed dish to soak up pan juices and add bulk. In Mexican cuisine, cabbage is often used as a crunchy topping instead of the shredded lettuce typical in the United States, which is harder to find fresh in winter.
There are so many varieties of winter squash that a different one could be used every week for months without running out of options. Low in calories, high in flavor and nutrients, squash is one of the healthiest foods available in the colder months. Get creative and keep it interesting by switching up varieties in traditional recipes, such as a butternut squash pie, acorn squash spiced muffins, and delicata soup.
Spicy and crisp radishes often get overlooked at the market, which is a shame. They are full of vitamins and lots of hydrating water, which makes them virtually calorie free. Shredded radishes work well in salads or to add crunch to sandwiches, and spiralized radishes work as a carb-free noodle replacement in hot brothy soups.
Nuts and seeds are rich in minerals, essential oils, and protein, all of which contribute to optimal brain function, smooth skin, and more. Almonds are especially hearty and healthy, and seeds such as chia and flax offer a variety of gastrointestinal benefits. Include these in a winter diet in homemade smoothies or as a snack.
Tea is especially comforting during cold winter months, and green tea has long been associated with weight management and provides a potent dose of antioxidants. Increase the effects of green tea by squeezing a bit of lemon into it. Starting the day with a hot cup is a natural and healthful way to get going in cold weather, and this superfood alternative can be swapped for afternoon coffee for a caffeine boost.
Berries offer antioxidants in addition to great flavor, both of which may be missing from a diet focused on seasonal ingredients. Frozen berries -- store-bought or homemade -- come in handy in the dead of winter. Use them in smoothies to deliver all the benefits of fresh berries, giving immune systems a boost.
Spices are generally shelf-stable, and dried turmeric is one of the most beneficial. Humans have used it for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The purported benefits are many, including decreased risk of cancer, a cure for flatulence, and seemingly everything in between. An inexpensive and trending food item, this potent spice should be mixed with a natural fat to get the most beneficial absorption, and adding a pinch to soups, stews, and stir-fries adds a rich yellow hue.