Eating Healthy in the Winter
Look around your produce department during winter. The zucchinis are small and depressing, the berries are overpriced, and there’s not a peach in sight. However, there are several nutritious seasonal options which will provide you with the exact nutrients you need during the colder months: immunity-boosting vitamins to ward off the common cold and flu and mood-boosting minerals to beat seasonal affective disorder. Winter squashes (including acorn, butternut, spaghetti, pumpkin, and kabocha), brussel sprouts, apples, pears, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and beets are some of the many vegetables that harvest in November, December, and January. Many of these fruits and vegetables can and/or should be cooked for optimal flavor and digestion. Roasted or steamed vegetables and baked fruits provide that warmth that your body desires during winter, and these healthy foods provide the same mental benefits as comfort foods while nourishing your body.
MAKE IT HEARTY—AND HEALTHY TOO!
Try Warm and Hearty Soups
Our bodies crave warm food during the fall and winter months. Instead of eating your normal cold salad, top your favorite greens with roasted vegetables and potatoes, crispy chickpeas, toasted nuts, or warm chicken or beef. The warmth of the food will better satisfy your hunger and provide the same feeling of comfort food while giving your body the nutrients it needs. Many autumn and winter vegetables, such as cauliflower, winter squash, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and parsnips, are also easier to digest when cooked, which is another reason to cook your toppings and transform your salad into a hearty winter meal.
Pack Soups and Chili Full of Vegetables
Chili does not always sound like the healthiest food, but it’s easy to adapt to fit a healthy diet while still being a comfort food. Try Paleo chilis and vegetarian chilis; they’re flavorful, warming, and satisfying on their own, or they can be enjoyed on top of rice or whole grain pasta. While some cream-based soups can be loaded with fat and calories, healthy soup recipes abound and are easy to make. The volume of soup makes it incredibly satisfying, and you can pack a lot of vegetables into a single serving of soup.
Add Warmth with Spices
We associate certain spices with fall and winter: cinnamon, nutmeg, and paprika, for instance. Many spices add depth and warmth to food and provide that comfort-food taste without adding on extra calories or fat. Think of how spicy foods heat you up from the inside out! Cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, chili powder, paprika, nutmeg, ginger, and harissa all add a lot of flavor to healthy meals that will keep you toasty even on a cold winter day. Spicy foods offer winter-specific health benefits as well: if you get sinus infections or colds in winter, spicy foods may help clear out your sinuses or relieve a stuffy nose.
Make Healthy Alternatives To Your Comfort Food Favorites
Mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, baked pastas, and pizza are foods we all love. However, for the sake of your healthy—and sometimes sensitive—stomach, don’t always indulge in the heavy versions of comfort foods. Instead of traditional mac and cheese, make a cheese sauce using chicken stock, squash puree, and a sharp and flavorful cheese for a creamy texture and cheesy flavor but less calories and fat. Lighten up mashed potatoes by using red potatoes (they’re less starchy) and just a tiny bit of butter and a splash of cream or coconut milk . With a bit of creativity, you can easily enjoy your favorite comfort foods regularly throughout the winter – no more deprivation!