Open Accessibility Menu

Sign up for Live Healthy eNewsletter here.

Which Winter Vegetables Are Right for You? All of Them!

Which Winter Vegetables Are Right for You? All of Them!

Which Winter Vegetables Are Right for You? All of Them!

It’s easy to fill your meals with vegetables all summer long. Yet once temperatures drop and frost covers the ground, you might be tempted to drop the greens in favor of cozy casseroles and crock-pot stews. What even grows in cold weather? But winter vegetables are just as an important part of your diet as fresh summer corn and tomatoes. Even if grocery shopping may be a tad more challenging, it’s still easy to stock your meals with plenty of winter vegetables while you wait for the temperatures to rise.

Why You Need Vegetables Year-Round

Vegetables are a part of a healthy diet, no matter the season. A daily dose of fruit and vegetables has many health benefits, including soluble fiber, vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are generally low in calories and fats, and they may help reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adult women eat 2 to 3 cups of fruit and vegetables daily, while men should aim for 3 to 4 cups. The exact amount you need varies depending on your exercise levels, whether you’re trying to lose weight, or other health goals. A Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County primary care provider can help you come up with a nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle.

Believe in Brassicas

Many of the most popular winter vegetables are in the brassica family. Also called cruciferous vegetables, these hearty plants love cool weather and are full of antioxidants. Try shopping for:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kohlrabi

Although these vegetables are great roasted, you can also eat them shaved raw in salads, tossed with a simple vinaigrette. Cabbage is especially versatile and affordable and will keep for a long time in your crisper drawer.

Root for Roots

Root vegetables are wonderful for all your hearty winter cooking. Unlike leafy greens, most root vegetables will store for a long time, making it easy to buy in bulk. Root vegetables have lots of healthy carbohydrates for energy, along with fiber and vitamins. Look for:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Rutabagas
  • Sweet potatoes and yams
  • Turnips

Try tossing different chopped-up root vegetables in olive oil and roasting until tender for a filling side dish.

Winter Greens Are Great

You don’t have to wait for spring to eat your fill of leafy greens. While heartier than delicate lettuces, winter greens are a great source of vitamins A, C and K, along with calcium and fiber. For a simple side dish, try sauteing garlic in a little olive oil and adding a batch of roughly chopped leafy greens, such as:

  • Bok choy
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens

If the greens are tougher, simmer in low-sodium broth until tender. Stewing will also take away any bitter flavor.

C Is for Citrus

Many fruits aren’t in season during the winter. While the grocery store may still sell summer fruits such as berries or plums, they’re likely to be imported from far away. This not only often results in a lack of flavor; it also usually increases costs. However, winter is the season for all kinds of citrus fruits. Packed with vitamin C, citrus fruits boost your immune system and help with iron absorption. Go beyond just basic navel oranges and try:

  • Citrons
  • Clementines
  • Grapefruit
  • Pomelos
  • Satsumas
  • Tangerines

Find New Fruits

Fall favorites like apples and pears are likely to fill produce sections all winter, but don’t neglect more exotic options. Tropical fruits often pop up during winter months, providing a boost of flavor and nutrition. Many are sweet enough on their own to make a perfect dessert, including:

  • Dates
  • Kiwifruit
  • Papaya
  • Passion fruit
  • Persimmons
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate

Don’t forget that winter squash is also a fruit. Look for butternut, delicata or spaghetti squashes for hearty soups, vegetable potpies or purees. You can also substitute butternut squash in many baked goods recipes that call for pumpkin.

Recipes to Get You Started

Pairing winter vegetables with a lean protein such as chicken or salmon is a simple, healthy dinner. Cooking vegetables doesn’t have to be complicated, either. The USDA and University of Wyoming Extension are two great resources with plenty of healthy, affordable, easy recipes. Here are two recipes to add to your weekly meal planning.

Kale Salad

  • 1 pound kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wash kale, de-stem, and chop roughly. Toss in a bowl with oil, lemon juice and salt. Massage with your hands under tender and bright green. Top with shredded vegetables, nuts or dried fruit, or serve alone.

Sweet Potato-Apple Bake

  • 3 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled and drained (save 2 Tablespoons of boiling liquid)
  • 2 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss sweet potatoes and apples in an oven-safe casserole dish. Mix other ingredients, except boiling liquid, together in a small bowl. Drizzle the liquid over the dish, then top with the streusel. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until brown and bubbly.

Need more tips on healthy eating? Your Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County primary care provider can help. Make an appointment today.