When you want to eat fresh and healthy, you need to focus on vegetables and fruit that are seasonal and readily available at the time you’re purchasing them. Seasonal veggies are easy to find in the summer, spring and fall, but what are the winter vegetables? Not only what are they, what are the healthiest winter vegetables? There are far more options than you might think.
What once was cast aside as garnish, is now considered one of the healthiest veggies.
Kale has always been on the salad bar, but now it’s part of the salad, not just decoration. Its nutrients make it one of the most popular new superfoods. It has vitamins A, C, K and many B vitamins. It’s also high in mineral content and has a lot of antioxidants. Kale can be served cold or cooked, like other members of the cruciferous family, which includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, which are also winter vegetables.
Root vegetables are normally considered winter vegetables.
Root vegetables not only exist underground covered by a layer of soil to protect them, they also have a high amount of sugar that helps prevent the cells from freezing. Carrots, beets, fennel root, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, garlic, turnips and radishes all fit that description. If you’ve ever had a carrot pulled from the ground during cold weather, you know how sweet it is. Carrots are highly nutritious and relatively inexpensive during the winter. They are high in beta carotene, which converts in your body to vitamin A. Not only are they good for the eyes, they also help your immune system work better.
You may never have eaten a Jerusalem artichoke, but you should.
These plants were already being cultivated by America’s indigenous people when the pilgrims landed in the “New World.” They taste like a cross between potatoes and artichokes and can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, broiled or baked. They are a good source of antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E. They also are rich in minerals like potassium, copper and iron. Jerusalem artichokes contain inulin, which is a prebiotic that helps feed the beneficial microbes in the gut. Inulin also is helpful in balancing blood sugar levels.
- Put a little color on your plate with red cabbage. It contains anthocyanin, which gives it the purplish red color. It’s a powerful antioxidant. It also contains a good amount of potassium, B vitamins and manganese.
- Do you want more vitamin K or alpha-lipoic acid and fiber, which keeps your blood sugar levels stable? If so, try Brussels sprouts. It can be used baked, steamed or boiled and is excellent raw in a salad.
- Parsnips and rutabagas don’t often make it to most American’s dinner tables, but they should. Parsnips are high in fiber, vitamins C, E, B and a slew of minerals. Rutabagas contain enough vitamin C in one cup to provide 50% of the daily requirement and enough potassium for 16% necessary in a day.
- Let’s not forget beets. These delicious vegetables taste great no matter how you make them, but steamed in their skins, which is then slipped off before serving, is my favorite. Beets are high in fiber, potassium, iron, vitamin C, folate and betanin and vulgaxanthin that fight inflammation.
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