It’s that time of year again, where cold descends and we retreat indoors for the winter. The good news is that ‘tis the season to eat as heartily as we like, and this is especially true when it comes to seasonal vegetables. Though it seems like the snow and frost should wipe out everything during in these frigid months, the truth is that there are plenty of vegetables that grow and even thrive in this much maligned season. Celebrate the positives of winter by incorporating these winter veggies into your meal plan.
Kale and Winter Greens
Salad tends to take center stage in summer, but this doesn’t mean that you have to go into salad withdrawal during the wintertime. This season, turn to kale and other dark leafy greens like collards, which are packed with vitamins A, C, K, and E. Kale’s potassium content may reduce the risk of heart disease, and thanks to the presence of specialized compounds, it can play a key role in detoxifying your body. If you need any more convincing, kale is also a great source of antioxidants, calcium, manganese and iron.
Try this cruciferous vegetable in a delicious winter salad, flavorfully dressed with red wine balsamic, honey and dijon mustard. Add some roasted almonds for a wonderful contrast of textures, and some pomegranate seeds for a delightful juicy crunch. Serve with a Tilapia fillet, steamed simply in foil with lemon, salt and pepper.
Fennel, with its unique flavor of sweet anise, is at its peak during the winter season. A good source of energy, this bulbous veggie is extraordinarily healthy: just one cup of fennel contains almost 20% of your recommended daily vitamin C. It also contains other essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus and sodium, and it is packed with iron, zinc and vitamin K. On top of this, fennel has been known to treat indigestion, prevent anemia, and—yes—treat flatulence and constipation.
Warm up with fennel this winter with a tasty on fish stew. Comforting and cozy, Tilapia and fennel pair perfectly while simmering in a delicious tomato base. Serve with some good quality, crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
The year’s coldest season is a prime time to turn to root vegetables, such as the beloved carrot. You may remember your parents cooking this orange fan-favorite in your childhood, and telling you that they will help you to see in the dark. While this is not entirely accurate, there is some validity to the notion that carrots are good for your vision. Carrots contain vitamin A, which helps to prevent the deficiency that leads to inability to see in low light or darkness. Carrots are also antioxidant-rich, and contain benefits such as high beta-carotene and fiber levels.
Roasting is one of the best options for carrots, as the heat brings out the flavor of their natural sugars. For a well-balanced meal, pair roasted carrots with some crunchy, nut-crusted Tilapia and the greens of your choice.
Celeriac, with a flavor reminiscent of potato and celery stalk, is both a versatile vegetable and a criminally underrated one. Though it may not look like much, celeriac is delicious roasted, mashed or fried, and it is rich in vitamins C, K and B-6 as well as potassium, phosphorous, fiber and calcium.
Try roasting celeriac whole with olive oil and za’atar, a scrumptious Middle Eastern spice blend. Roasted celeriac is delicious paired with baked Tilapia and cherry tomatoes, with a squeeze of lemon or lime sprinkled on at the end to add brightness to the flavor.
When winter rears its head, it may be tempting to turn to rich, calorie-heavy food to get you through those chilly days. But many vegetables are tough, not in texture, but in spirit—tough enough to power through the bitter frost. Keep your meals light and healthy by looking out for similar root vegetables to bring you into the new year. Your waistline will thank you when it comes time to make those resolutions!
Keep warm this winter with these hearty recipes.
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Photo Credits: Anna Lohachova / Shutterstock Inc., casanisa / Shutterstock Inc., iMarzi / Shutterstock Inc., Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock Inc., Magdanatka / Shutterstock Inc.