Building healthy habits? Try these 6 winter vegetables
With the holidays in the rear-view mirror, many people are looking to re-focus on healthy habits like eating plenty of fresh veggies! Some fan favorites – such as bell peppers, sweet corn, cucumbers and zucchini – may not be as plentiful this time of year. This creates the perfect opportunity to explore all of the delicious winter vegetables that ARE readily available.
“As much as I love seasonal produce in warmer months, some of my favorite vegetables are at their best in cooler weather,” said Sonya Islam, a registered dietitian at our Healthy Lifestyles Center. “Healthy cooking experiments can add something new and satisfying to our lives, even while following social distancing recommendations. Including plenty of vegetables also give our immune systems a much-needed boost.”
Winter veggies and recipe ideas to help build healthy habits for kids
Here are some excellent vegetables that are in season in the winter months (that you’ll probably even find on sale!) and recipe ideas from a variety of online sources to get you started.
Parsnips are root vegetables that look very similar to carrots but are cream-colored rather than orange. They’re related to the parsley family, but don’t let that fool you. They taste more similar to their look-alike relative, the carrot, with an earthy nuttiness. They become fairly sweet when cooked.
Parsnips are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.
Turnips are also root vegetables. While they’re often associated with potatoes or beets, they’re most closely related to radishes and arugula. They can be eaten raw, especially the smaller ones, but are more often cooked. Raw turnips have a slight spiciness, while cooked turnips have a sweeter and somewhat nuttier flavor.
Turnips are loaded with fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6, B2 and minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and copper.
3. Winter squashes
The most common winter squashes are acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash, but there are many varieties to choose from. Winter squashes are low in calories and have mild-sweet flavors, making them easy to incorporate into meals and recipes.
Winter squashes tend to be rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, beta carotene, magnesium and potassium.
4. Sweet potatoes
Most people have tried sweet potatoes. They’re often baked but have gained popularity in the form of fries as well. Sweet potatoes are another root vegetable, and – as the name implies – have a sweet flavor. When combined with various spices, however, they can make a great staple for some savory dishes.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber and contain vitamin C, many B vitamins, iron and calcium.
5. Greens, such as collards and kale
Kale has become quite popular for its nutritional value and how easy it is to grow, but it tends to be tough and bitter. How you prepare it makes all the difference.
Collard greens, a member of the cabbage family, also have fantastic nutritional benefits. Traditionally a southern side dish that is cooked over a long period of time, they’re now also commonly steamed or used in salads and smoothies.
Leafy greens such as kale and collards are very high in antioxidants. They’re the perfect winter vegetables because they actually taste BETTER after a frost!
Kale is full of essential nutrients, including:
- Vitamins A, B6, C and K
Collard greens are a good source of vitamins A, C, E and K. They’re also rich in calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Carrots might just be one of the most loved veggies, especially by kids! And, like greens, they tend to taste better in cooler weather. Carrots are great because they can satisfy the urge for a crunchy healthy snack when raw, and develop a delicious sweetness when cooked. They come in a rainbow of colors too.
Orange carrots are extremely high in vitamin A. They also contain vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, calcium and iron. Probably their best-known benefit is being good for the eyes. This is because of the beta-carotene that the body converts carrots to vitamin A.
Try your own winter vegetable creations to encourage healthy eating and snacking
There are plenty of other yummy winter vegetables, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and more. You just may find a new family favorite as you experiment with different cooking methods and spices.
Find more healthy, family-friendly tips and recipes.