During the winter, it’s really tough to know what foods to eat in order to get all of the nutrients you should be receiving – especially if you’re living in a cold-climate state like Michigan.
As a general rule, root veggies are always good to eat in the winter as a way to fulfill your vitamin and mineral needs. Root vegetables include carrots, sweet potatoes, ginger, parsnips, rutabaga, beets, onions, garlic, celery root, horseradish and turnips. Because these veggies grow underground, they absorb a ton of nutrients from the soil. They are chock full of antioxidants, iron and Vitamins C, B, and A. They also help cleanse your system. As if those qualities weren’t reason enough to fill your plate with these goodies, root veggies also contain slow-burning carbohydrates and fibers, which help you feel full, regulate your blood sugar and digestive system.
Are the old standbys getting, well, old? Here’s a new root veggie to toss onto your plate: Sunchokes. They look like ginger, taste like an artichoke and has the consistency of a potato. It’s high in potassium and iron as well as Vitamin A, C and E. We hear sunchokes will be overtaking kale’s throne as reigning trendy food item, but only time will tell.
Winter squashes, as the name would suggest, are perfect to pile on your plate during cold-weather months. Winter squashes—which include butternut, acorn, delicate and spaghetti—are high in vitamins, potassium and folate.
This next veggie may sound odd, but don’t ignore it: dandelion greens, one of the earliest spring crops. They may conjure up images of picking them as a kid in the soccer field, but they’re extremely high in Vitamins K (over 500% of the suggested daily total), Vitamin A (112% of the daily minimum recommendation), Vitamin C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron (crucial for generating red blood cells), potassium (to help regulate heart rate and blood pressure), and manganese. And, don’t forget, dandelion greens also include folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. Use them in a smoothie, sauté them or simply add them to salad.
Unfortunately, fruits generally tend to be more of a summer food than winter. But, never fear, there are a few that crop up during the cold months, specifically pomegranates and citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit). Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, while citrus is packed with Vitamin C. Vitamin C may not be a cure for the common cold, as our grandmothers would have had us believe, but it does help boost the immune system.
With another month of winter on the calendar, we plan to see more of these veggies on our plates. Here’s to warmer days ahead!