Learn about some of winter’s produce superstars as well as a few delicious recipe ideas to put them to good use.
Despite frosty temperatures and gloomy days, winter still delivers plenty of delicious fruits and veggies at their peak. Read on to discover how enjoying these nutritional powerhouses this winter – and year round – can boost your health in a big way.
Avocado: This beloved fruit was once considered a luxury that graced the tables of kings and queens, but today it is enjoyed all over the world. Seven avocado varieties are grown today, but the Hass is by far the most popular. A heart healthy superfood, avocados are rich in healthy fats and nutrients including vitamins K, B6, C, E, folate, and riboflavin, and a third of an avocado has 3g fiber. An avocado is ripe and ready to eat when it yields to gentle, firm pressure.
Grapefruit: This tropical citrus fruit is known for its bittersweet, tangy taste and is hailed for its health-promoting vitamins and minerals. Delivering 51% of your recommended daily vitamin C, half of a grapefruit also contains vitamin B6, thiamin, potassium, and 1.4g fiber. Like all citrus fruits, grapefruits are high in antioxidant phytonutrients including beta-carotene and lycopene. A ripe grapefruit will be heavy for its size with smooth, thin skin and slightly red in color.
Beet: The beet is an edible root with a slightly sweet, earthy flavor and along with its leaves, beets provide an impressive array of nutrients like vitamins B1, B6, folate, manganese, calcium, and iron. Beets also promote blood vessel health and produce a blood pressure lowering effect due to their rich nitrate content, and fight inflammation due to their phytonutrient betalain. One cup of raw beets provides 3.8g fiber. Look for round, hard, and smooth beets free of cuts or bruises.
Leek: This long, white stemmed vegetable is a member of the onion family, providing a sweet, mild flavor. Leeks are a versatile food as they can be eaten raw, sauteed, sliced in salads, and added to soups. They are especially high in vitamin A, and are a good source of vitamins C, K, B6, iron, and manganese. One cup of raw leeks contains 2g fiber. When purchasing, look for leeks that are straight and firm with bright white, intact bulbs and green leaves. Smaller leeks are likely to be more tender.
Kale: Kale is treasured as a trendy superfood thanks to its long list of health-boosting properties. An excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C, kale also boasts highly digestible sources of iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. In fact, one cup of cooked kale contains the same amount of absorbable calcium as one cup of dairy milk. Kale also has at least 45 flavonoid antioxidants that promote brain health, heart health, and may lower the risk of cancer. Choose smaller-leaved, moist, crisp, and unwilted kale if eating raw, as they are more tender. Leaves should be bright green and unblemished.
Balsamic Roasted Beets
These beets can be enjoyed on their own or work well as a side dish or as a topper for salad. One half-cup serving provides 61 calories, 9.7g carbs, 2.4g of fat, 223mg potassium, and 2 g of fiber.
3 beets, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ Tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and lay parchment paper over a large baking sheet.
- Toss beets with olive oil and sea salt.
- Spread beets onto the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Stir around and then bake again for another 10 minutes, or until beets are fork tender. Remove from oven.
- Mix together balsamic vinegar and honey, if using.
- Pour vinegar mix onto the beets until beets are evenly coated.
- Return beets to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through, making sure beets do not burn.
- Remove from oven and enjoy.
Potato Leek Soup
This silky soup is simple to make yet packs a lot of punch when it comes to both flavor and nutrition. A 1.5 cup serving has 175 calories, 0.4g fat, 6.2g fiber, and 30% of your daily vitamins K and B6.
3 medium leeks, dark green stems removed
2.5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
1.5 tsp dried thyme
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1. First clean the leeks carefully. Cut them horizontally, separate the rings, and wash thoroughly making sure no grit remains. Coarsely chop them once clean.
2. In a medium pot, sautee the leeks in a bit of water or vegetable broth until soft.
3. Add broth, potatoes, thyme, and salt to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, bring heat down to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.
4. Using an immersion blender or stand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Avocado and Grapefruit Salad with Mixed Greens
It may be hard to believe but grapefruit and avocado make a great pair, especially when teamed up with fresh greens and a light, citrusy dressing. A one cup serving provides 264 calories, 20g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 20.7g carbs, and 6.9g fiber.
2 pink grapefruits peeled and segmented, reserving any juice
1 firm, ripe avocado, sliced
12 oz mixed greens
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
¼ cup chopped almonds
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the dressing by combining reserved grapefruit juice, lime juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Combine mixed greens with dressing in a large bowl and top with grapefruit, avocado, scallions, and almonds.