Maximizing the Benefits of Winter Vegetables

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By Brianna Siciliano

The winter temperature seems to be continuously dropping and our bodies are looking for any source of warmth. After a long day of stress, we are all yearning to relax and enjoy a healthy, delicious, warm, home-cooked meal. Sometimes we look for the easy fix for our cravings; if we’re looking for a hot meal, we’ll batch up a quick, unhealthy option for a snack or for dinner. This is a bad habit that needs to be stopped! A new year has begun, and as the new year is emerging, so are you! This is going to be the best year of your life: you are going to set and achieve new goals, become a happier person, and make healthy decisions. To kick off this fabulous year, stock up on your winter vegetables. Your body will thank you in the long run!

Broccoli is a vegetable that you cannot deprive yourself from
this winter! High in nutrients and low in calories, broccoli is one of the best vegetables to enjoy this season. A cup of cooked broccoli offers all kinds of nutrients to the table, including Vitamin K (which is
essential to keep proteins in our blood functioning to prevent blood clotting), Vitamin A (helps with vision and red blood cell
production), Vitamin C (forms body tissue and bones, and helps wounds and cuts heal), potassium (needed for nerve function and heart contraction), folate (needed for maintenance and production of new cells in the body), and fiber (which can help lower cholesterol). Adding and keeping broccoli to your diet is something you will never regret.

Kale is an incredibly healthy and hardy veggie that can be enjoyed raw or cooked. The colder the kale leaves are stored, the sweeter the flavor. Packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, fiber, and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, kale is the best green antioxidant filled veggie. Lucky for us, winter is kale’s peak season. When shopping for kale, choose stalks that have firm, deep-green leaves. If you have never tried kale yet, beware! This vegetable might change your outlook on greens forever (for the better!).

Winter would not be the same without winter squash. Squash was introduced to my family two years ago when we were first introduced to the tasty flavors of butternut squash and spaghetti squash. Butternut squash––which is filled with calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, iron, and vitamins A, C, E, K––is often recommended by dietitians for people who are looking to reduce their weight and/or control their cholesterol. Spaghetti squash, on the other hand, is loaded with riboflavin, folate, thiamin, and vitamins A, B-6, C, K. When cooking and eating your squash, make sure you enjoy the nutrient-filled seeds!

Adding these delicious vegetables to your menu will spark motivation to help you begin––or continue––your journey to better health.