Essential winter vegetables

citrus

After the holidays our minds begin to settle down from all the chaos yet at the same time we are so motivated to hit the ground running, especially when it comes to dieting and “starting fresh”. Yes, I believe that eliminating sweet and acidic foods we indulged is a great idea. Yes, I believe that adding more greens to your current nutrition is a wise choice. But a heavy-duty juice or raw vegetable cleanse may not be what your body needs in the middle of winter.

Winter is still a time for your body to rest and renew itself for springtime. With the change in weather, your body becomes vulnerable to colds and flus so it’s important to have a pantry equipped with natural foods that will fortify your well-being.

One thing that I love about winter is that I can load up on hearty vegetables that will keep for a days. So when there’s a storm a-brewin’ and you don’t want to leave your home, you can feel confident that you will be nourished.

List of winter vegetable staples:

The cabbage or cruciferous family -- cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and turnips are vast with healing properties. Their anti-inflammatory behavior strengthens the immune system while also helping to balance blood sugar and estrogen levels.

The chicory family – radicchio, escarole, and endives have small amounts of nearly every essential vitamin. Their bitter leaves stimulate digestion and detoxification. They make delicious and well-balanced salads when adding roasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds.

Root vegetables like parsnips, sweet potato, beets, carrots and winter squashes like spaghetti squash, acorn, butternut, & delicate squash is the dearest part of my winter. These vegetables can be made sweet or savory, pleasing everyone’s style. These vegetables can often fulfill your not-so-dearest carb-cravings like grains and breads. They are rich in vitamin A and C, both important from keeping your skin dry from the harsh winter winds and from staving off colds. 

Alliums --onions & garlic have potent healing effects on immunity due to their immense doses of antioxidants and antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial healing properties. To maximize the health benefits of garlic, you should crush the cloves and allow them to sit for about 15 minutes. This triggers an enzyme reaction that increases the potency of its compounds. To preserve the antimicrobial activity of garlic mix into cooked foods at the last minute.

Kale and collards are part of the cabbage family and the heartiest of the dark greens. Their meaty leaves provide fiber and vast amounts of antioxidants and vitamins like A, B and C.  Its deep green hue tells me that it is full of chlorophyll -- a green pigment that promotes cleansing, protect from free radical damage, encourages healing and controls hunger and cravings.

Fennel is another immune strengthening plant that aids in digestion and in the relief of upset stomach, such as gas and bloat.

Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges raises the pH of body tissue to become more alkaline. Eating alkaline foods helps your body to function at its best, increase energy, reduces the risk of cancer, and slows down the aging process.

Dried beans, legumes & grains are excellent sources of plant protein. They are low in fat and high in fiber, thus helping to stabilize blood sugar levels, making you feel fuller for longer. There are abundant varieties in these groups, choose to your liking. If you are gluten-free you have the choice of brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth. Always rinse and soak for at least 8 hours before cooking to ease  digestibility.

For the sweet tooth: medjool and deglet noor dates are naturally sweet fruits that lift your energy levels energy. Their high-fiber content decreases bad cholesterol and supports healthy digestion.

The wonderful aspect of these winter staples is their versatility. –stews, soups, dips, spreads, homemade vegetable chips, juices, and smoothies.