Healthy winter vegetables
The trees might be losing their leaves but there’s still plenty of colourful choice when you want to eat seasonally. Buying veg that’s in season is often cheaper because it hasn’t had to be grown and flown from abroad.
These foods are also at the peak of their goodness, bursting with the nutrients your body needs to meet the health challenges of winter. Why not make a recipe switch and use these seasonal vegetables in one of our Superman suppers?
Rich in amino acids, kale is a valuable plant protein source and a fantastic addition to a vegetarian diet. Kale contains even more calcium than milk (really!) as well as magnesium, sulphur and iron. What’s more, the beta-carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthinin (all powerful antioxidants) in kale help to keep eyes healthy.
GOOD FOR… The nutrients in kale act as a body cleanser aiding liver function and the digestive system.
TRY THIS: winter kale with its crinkled leaves tends to be sweetest and most enjoyable to eat. Use it instead of regular cabbage with our Sunday roast makeover ideas.
Cauliflower is prized for its magical phytonutrient compounds. If that sounds like something out of Harry Potter, let us explain: phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants that stimulate the liver and have cancer fighting properties.
GOOD FOR… The nutrients in cauliflower have antibiotic and antiviral characteristics, perfect for the season of sniffles and sneezes. It also contains boron, which helps to build strong bones.
TRY THIS: Cauliflower is an excellent side dish to serve with rich suppers like Lamb chops and roast tomatoes. Just try to avoid over-cooking it, otherwise cauliflower can have a gassy effect on your digestion.
Leeks are a softer, more subtle member of the onion family in terms of aroma and taste, yet they retain their strong immune system-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties when cooked.
GOOD FOR… Traditionally, leeks have been used as an antiseptic for sore throats. They’re also rich in folic acid (especially important during pregnancy), vitamin K and potassium. These nutrients help the kidneys remove excess fluids and also help to restore alkalinity in the body.
TRY THIS: make a warming leek soup as a starter or a midweek supper served with fresh crusty bread. To get you started, we’ve got Three hearty winter soup recipes. Also, why not use chopped leeks in meals instead of onions, for a change?
Swiss chard and spinach
Yes, Popeye knew what he was doing! Spinach is low in fat and high in nutrition, and is particularly rich in magnesium, iron and chlorophyll – all of which help to keep your body in tip-top shape.
GOOD FOR… Chard and spinach help keep your bowels regular, good for detoxifying the digestive system.
TRY THIS: it’s best to eat spinach as close to raw as possible. Adding lemon juice or vinegar helps to retain the rich iron content, in a hearty salad. Check out our Warm spinach salad with salmon and other Winter recipes to put a spring in your step.
Despite having a fairly high sugar content compared to other vegetables, beetroot is both low in calories and fat.
GOOD FOR… Beetroot is an excellent source of iron, lycopene (a powerful antioxidant), potassium and vitamin C. It’s also a rich source of fibre and the amino acid, glutamine. It’s an exceptional body cleanser that dissolves acid crystals from the kidneys, helping to detoxify the body.
TRY THIS: beetroot is a colourful ingredient in our Three delicious detox smoothies recipes.
The humble sweet potato is one of the safest foods to eat if you have a problematic digestive system. These root veggies are also super-rich in nutrients so you’re ticking lots of body-friendly boxes in one go when you serve them up.
GOOD FOR… Sweet potatoes, especially the darker orange varieties, are high in antioxidants and particularly rich in beta-carotene, a potent lung and skin protector. They also help detox the system and offer a slow-releasing carbohydrate to pep your energy levels and boost your ‘happy-hormones’ at this time of year.
TRY THIS: swap regular potato for sweet potato as a tasty topping for your Cottage pie.
Five more adventurous winter veggies
• Jerusalem artichokes – these store carbohydrate in the form of a soluble fibre rather than sugar, making them particularly good for diabetics and the control of blood-sugar levels.
• Globe artichokes – acid in artichokes increases bile production in the liver. This, in turn, rids the body of cholesterol and fat.
• Nettles – these combat allergies and are a good source of iron. Try a nettle soup, especially when allergies such as hay fever return at the start of spring.
• Shiitake mushrooms – flavourful mushrooms like this are potent for boosting the immune system and are rich in protein, B vitamins, chromium and vitamin D.
• Winter squashes – marrow and butternut squash are rich in vitamin A. Marrow is a low-calorie alternative to other forms of squash.