Eating in the Winter Season
Have you noticed how in the winter you maybe don’t crave smoothies, salads and other cold raw food? This time of year most people tend to crave warm foods like stew, dahl, chips and other hearty comfort foods. This time of year, especially in February most of us want to go inside and stay there. However food doesn’t have to all be heavy, and unhealthy. We can use this time of going indoors to nourish us both in food and spirit.
I have begun to notice people’s tendencies in the winter after the holidays and New Year’s. As much as people want to get clean and eat better, it’s just hard to not fall into our old patterns when we are stuck inside. Produce at the grocery store doesn’t even taste that good and we are exhausted from the grey days. So what can we do? I love seasonal meal planning because I find it keeps my recipes fresh and no one gets bored of the same things. I give my body what it craves in a nourishing way. So how can you change your meals to reflect the season of winter?
It’s hard to walk into the supermarket and see so many foods that don’t look so fresh or that come from all over the world, it is a blessing we get to eat food from everywhere but it is not always so nourishing. When I was in nutrition school many years ago I learned about packaged food, frozen and fresh and what the nutritional value is.
Here are my top 3 tips about packaged food:
1. Read the ingredients there is extra salt, sugar (fake and real) and preservatives in a lot of packaged food that we shouldn’t be consuming.
2. Just because something says it’s natural or organic doesn’t mean its good for you.
3. Most package food have lots of calories but little nutrients
So what’s the solution? Plan around what is in season and stock up on healthy pantry items.
Here is what’s in season in the winter in Ontario:
Beets, carrots, cabbage, cucumber (greenhouse), garlic, leeks, lettuce (greenhouse), mushrooms, onions, parsnip, peppers, potatoes (including sweet potato), sprouts.
Ideas for what you could make:
A fresh green salad with roast beets and sprouts, carrot and parsnip soup (recipe below). Pad Thai, sweet potatoes stuffed with beans, avocado and cheese. There are so many options for this time of year!
Here are a few pantry staples and brands we love:
Canned beans (we love Eden Organics) however if you have the time use dried beans
Grains (brown rice, millet)
Caned tomatoes like fire roasted Muir Glen (Next summer tried making your own crushed tomatoes and freezing them, they last all winter)
Mediterranean organic roasted red peppers
Frozen produce is also a way to eat some of your favorite vegetables during the winter. When vegetables are frozen they are generally at their peak ripeness, because they don’t have to ripen on a truck so they have lots of nutrients still in them. They can lose some of the water-soluble vitamins during the cooking process so it best not to boil them in a large amount of water for a long time. When I use peas for example, I thaw them in the sink with cold water and than cook for just a minute or if adding to a stew the nutrients will be absorbed into the cooking water so you won’t lose them.
We always have frozen corn, frozen peas (we love to use in paella), and lots of frozen berries for smoothies since fruit isn’t great either at this time of year.
Here is an amazing winter soup our whole family loves!