By Tammy Stokes, Founder Cafe West Express
When the weather turns colder, our bodies crave warm meals that are nutrient dense and help sustain our immune health. The winter season delivers us some of the best deep greens, cruciferous vegetables and bright colored superstars like beets and pomegranates.
Here’s a list of a dozen of my winter faves and some of the health benefits they deliver:
1. BEETS - deep in color and loaded with antioxidants, beets have an earthy taste. They are rich in vitamins A, B, C + potassium and folate. Your body converts beets into nitric acid which helps to relax your blood vessels, improving your blood flow and lowering your blood pressure.
2. Brussels Sprouts - these mini cabbages contain high levels of cancer fighting antioxidants. They are part of the cruciferous vegetable family and they are a nutritional powerhouse protecting your DNA from oxidative stress.
3. Carrots - loaded with beta-carotene that converts to vitamin A in your body, these yummy and sweet tasting root vegetables protect your eyes and amp up your immune health.
4. Celeriac - ugly on the outside, but this root vegetable is delicious on the inside. Celeriac is my favorite root to use in a winter vegetable soup. It tastes like a cross between celery and parsley. This vegetable is high in fiber, vitamin C and the mineral phosphorus.
5. Citrus - Oh, how I love a cup of lemon, ginger honey tea in the wintertime. Citrus is loaded with vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant helps boost your immunity. Stock up on oranges, lemons, grapefruits, clementines and limes this winter. For an extra immune boost, add a squeeze of lemon to a cup of antioxidant packed green or white tea or try my recipe below.
6. Escarole - this bitter green is great in salads. It’s high in vitamins A and K + rich in fiber and folic acid.
7. Fennel - this onion shaped bulb tastes like licorice. Fennel aids in digestion and helps suppress inflammation. It’s delicious in soups and salads, but also works great in stir fry.
8. Greens - dark leafy greens are packed with nutrients and anti-cancer properties. They should be a staple in every diet. They are rich in vitamins A, C, K and E + iron, calcium, manganese, potassium and chlorophyll.
9. Onions - they may make you cry, but they are excellent for your health. Medical studies have shown they help reduce asthmatic conditions. They also help strengthen the immune system. Onions have antibacterial and anti fungal properties most likely the reason they have been used as medicine for centuries.
10. Potatoes - potatoes get a bad rap, but undeservingly so. It is especially good to eat the smaller potatoes with colored skin. The skin contains many of the nutrients. Small purple potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene and both contain a good source of fiber.
11. Radicchio - these slightly spicy and bitter leaves are delicious in salads. Radicchio is loaded with vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K.
12. Winter Squash - acorn, butternut and kabocha are packed with healthy goodness. Their flesh contains carotenoids that help protect your eyes and strengthen your immune system. They are a good source of vitamin A and potassium.
Lemon Ginger Honey Tea
1 tsp ground ginger powder
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp fresh, squeezed lemon
Add a small amount of boiling water to an empty tea cup. Add the ground ginger and mix to combine. Pour the rest of the water to fill the cup leaving a small amount of space for the honey and lemon. Add both to the water and stir gently. Enjoy.
For a full list of seasonal winter vegetables go to this link.