There’s something about the cool crisp air of winter that makes me want to stay inside, turn up the heat in the kitchen and start cooking. As the seasons change, I get excited with all of the new opportunities for fresh produce that can be found at local winter farmers’ markets. Yes, farmers’ markets still exist during these cold months–sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find them.
As I am writing this, I can smell the sweet aroma of a butternut squash roasting in the oven. To kill some time while my squash is baking, I thought I would put together a list of my five favorite winter vegetables to inspire you to eat seasonally—even during the winter months
Some of my favorite year-round veggies taste better when they have been kissed by Jack Frost. Take kale for example, I eat kale all year round, but when the temperature drops those deep, dark leaves take on a whole new flavor. Try inviting some of these 5 winter-inspired vegetables into your home, and you’ll be surprised by what they have to offer.
One of my favorite types of squash, butternut squash is sweet and velvety when cooked. This vegetable is easy to prepare, which makes it even more appealing. Try roasting it with a mix of root vegetables as a colorful, nutrient-packed side dish. You can also blend it into a beautifully brightly colored soup—my favorite dish. The deep, golden color of butternut squash hints that it is packed full with antioxidants and beta carotene to keep you healthy.
Pumpkins are not just for carving—fresh pumpkin is amazing to eat, too! Cut it open, scoop out the seeds, then drop it like it’s hot into the oven for some roasting. Add it to your smoothies, bake a pie or pumpkin bread, or whip up a batch of protein pumpkin pancakes. One of the many nutrients found in pumpkins is zinc, a mineral that helps to support your immune system.1
Tip: Don’t throw out the seeds. Instead season them with sea salt and cayenne and roast them at 450°F for 20 minutes.
Beets are a beautifully colored, sweet root vegetable. Try steaming beets and eat them as is, or throw them in the fridge to add to your salad. I often get asked if beets can be eaten raw. Most definitely! One of my favorite ways is to grate a raw beet into my salad.
Tip: Don’t throw out the beet greens. Sauté them and eat as a side, or juice them alongside the root into a bright red juice.
To me, these winter vegetables bring back a nostalgic feeling of being surrounded with family and sharing a holiday meal. Brussels sprouts tend to be a bit bitter, but after the first frost, they take on a sweeter flavor. Try roasting Brussels sprouts with kimchi for a spicy take on a classic dish.
Also known as sunchokes, Jerusalem artichokes look similar to ginger root, but taste like an artichoke when cooked. They are rich in fiber to help you to feel full and satisfied. Try eating them raw (sliced thin) as an addition to a winter-inspired salad.
Why not take advantage of this extra indoor time during these winter months and get something cooking in the kitchen?
What’s your favorite fall vegetable?
- Health Canada. (2009). Natural Health Products Database Monograph: Zinc Accessed 5/20/13 http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=192&lang=eng