And A Life In Between

Winter foods that are good for you

Winter foods that are good for you

Who can believe we are just about in the middle of June?  To me it still seems as if Christmas was just yesterday!  But the winter woollies have definitely come out and the mornings and evenings have a bite in the air.  It’s the time of year where during the week you leave home in the dark and get home in the dark.  Not to mention that between the heater in the car, the air-conditioning in the office and everyone sniffing and coughing around you, you start thinking that it is probably just a matter of time before you also succumb to some winter ailments!  But fear not; the good news is that although winter is upon us, there are some really great winter foods that you can add to your weekly shopping list to give you a boost in the cold months ahead!

Below is a list of foods that will be a firm favourites on our table this winter.  There’s great seasonal veggies, some comfort food staples and foods packed with flavour to warm the taste buds on a cold winters day.  Best of all though, is that all of these foods are packed with vitamins and nutrients to help your body stay healthy this winter.

Kale

Kale

Possibly one of the healthiest winter foods around, kale can be classified as a proper super food.  One cup of kale can trump a whole week’s worth of other foods: 684% of the daily value of vitamin K, 206% of the suggested daily amount of vitamin A, and 134% of vitamin C!  Furthermore it is high in protein and fiber and low in calories.

I only discovered kale about a year ago, but now we love cooking with it.  You can serve it raw in salads, add it stews, soups or stir-fries. You can even treat it as you would do with spinach – I do love a bit of creamed kale! Some shops even sell kale chips!  Versatile, delicious and good for you!

Citrus

Citrus

It is well known that citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits are a great source of vitamin C.  Vitamin C is important for fighting off germs that cause colds and flu, and even builds your resistance to infection; in other words, it can really boost your immune system!  Oranges and grapefruit also contains a good amount of vitamin A, which helps with your bodies ability to maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin and are a good source of dietary fibre.

Perfect for bringing a bit of sunshine to a cold winters day, eat your citrus fresh.  You can also squeeze a bit of lemon juice into hot water for a healthy start to the day.  Use lemons and oranges in dressings or marinades and make sure you get your vitamin C fix!

Turnips

Turnips

Typically root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots are the staples of hearty stews in the winter, but why not try turnips this year?  One way in which we prepare it is to dice some turnips and carrots into small blocks.  Fry it with salt, pepper and some olive oil until it starts to soften and then add some peas for a touch of sweetness. It’s a wonderful side with any roast!
Turnips are a great source of minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. It is also a low-calorie vegetable – a 100 gram serving only has 28 calories. To boot, it is also loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C, with 21 milligrams per 100 grams, which is 35 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA).

Garlic

Garlic

I can’t imagine cooking without garlic – we use it so often!  Some people are scared of that morning-after garlic breath, but I must say, even though we use it a lot in food, we never have this problem.  (If you’ve never tried it, you HAVE to try roasting entire garlic bulbs in the oven until it is soft and sweet – if you push the garlic clove with your finger it will just ooze out.  Totally delicious!)

With garlic, you get an excellent supply of manganese – 23 percent of the daily value – containing essential enzymes and antioxidants that perform all kinds of amazing feats in the body, including the healthy formation of bones and connective tissues, bone metabolism, calcium absorption, and proper thyroid function, just to name a few. Garlic also contains 17 percent of the daily value in vitamin B6, and 15 percent in vitamin C, all while allocating good amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.

Numerous studies show garlic’s amazing health potential in nearly every area of the body, from removing heavy metals to the prevention of numerous ailments, such as the common cold, hardening of the arteries, and gangrene, destroying contaminants in baby formula, and even in slowing the aging process!

So, add it to your chicken, meat, salad dressings, marinades, stews, soups to keep the winter blues (and vampires!) at bay!

Polenta

Polenta

Tired of the same old starches in winter?  Give polenta a try and you might just fall in love with a new winter comfort food.  A favourite staple of Italian cooking, polenta is cornmeal that you can make in a variety of ways.  You can use it in the place of bread or pasta and can serve it as a creamy ‘porridge’ or once made and cooled down, down you can fry it, bake it or grill it.  Add butter, stock and veggies to jazz it up even more.  As it is made from corn, it is also gluten free.

This creamy corn dish is a low-fat complex carbohydrate (corn) that is high in fiber.  Corn is also a surprising source of several vitamins, including folic acid, niacin, and vitamin C, and its insoluble fiber helps fill you up and lower cholesterol.

Tumeric

Tumeric
I’ve never really thought about turmeric as a tangible vegetable – it comes in powder format in a little box, right?!  That was until I saw a program on tv last year where the benefits of tumeric was highlighted.  Especially in its fresh form.  Since then it was a bit of a hunt to find fresh tumeric but recently I have come across more and more supermarkets selling it in its organic form.
This bright yellow spice contains potent antioxidants and benefits that studies have shown can fight diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.  Basic nutritional aspects of turmeric include a 26% daily value in manganese and 16% in iron. It’s also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium!

Further health benefits of tumeric include an improved ability to digest fats, reducing gas and bloating, decreased congestion, and improved skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.  Relief from joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, reduced joint swelling, and greater range of motion when used regularly have also been listed as additional benefits of using turmeric.

Research also suggests that turmeric may be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, lowering cholesterol counts, protecting the heart, relieving indigestion, improving liver function, and even preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Cancer prevention and inhibited cancer cell growth –specifically cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, and lung, and childhood leukemia – are also on the list of possible benefits.

Phew – that is impressive!

If you’ve never used fresh tumeric, winter is definitely the time to do it. It adds lovely flavour (and colour) to any curry.  You can also add it to rice, or saute it with some cauliflower or potatoes.

Honey

Honey

Honey is the perfect all-natural sweetener! Its natural sugars help to prevent fatigue and boost your energy level, its antioxidants help bolster your immune system, and it even has antimicrobial properties to help kill bacteria and soothe winter sore throats.

Honey can also serve as a remedy for sleep difficulties; add a spoon of honey to some warm milk for a bedtime treat.  Otherwise get a bit of an energy boost and some vitamin C by adding some honey, lemon and ginger to hot water and have it in the morning.  Mmm, just the thought of it makes me feel healthy already!

Red pepper

Red Pepper

Red peppers are low in calories and just one cup of them will give you move than your daily quota of vitamin A and C.  (All peppers are good for you, but red peppers contain the highest amount of vitamin C.)  Additionally, peppers are a good source of vitamin E, which plays a key part in keeping skin and hair looking healthy (which is just what the doctor ordered in the winter, with the onslaught of heaters on our skin!).  Peppers also contain several phytochemicals and carotenoids,  particularly beta-carotene, which lavish you with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

There are many ways to add red peppers to your diet this winter.  Think lovely sweet and roasted peppers or cut in strips in veggie filled stir fries.  Another favourite, inspired by Provence, is red peppers stuffed with some ground beef and rice.  Or how about red pepper soup!  There is absolutely no reason not to make the humble pepper the star of your dish!

Ginger

Ginger

I love the smell of fresh ginger!  And adding a bit of ginger to stir-fries, soups, salad dressings and marinades gives a cold winters day a lovely zing.  Made into hot tea, ginger releases the compounds gingerol and protease, bringing a rush of comforting warmth that actually increases cardiovascular circulation – just what you need on a cold winters day.

Ginger is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.  Ginger is listed as an herbal medicine with carminative effects: a substance that promotes the release of intestinal gas. It’s also an intestinal spasmolytic, which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract. That means it can settle an upset stomach, relieve vomiting, and ease gas and diarrhea discomfort; but it’s also effective in preventing nausea in the first place.  Ginger reduces side effects associated with chemotherapy, including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating. Studies also show ginger to be protective against osteoarthritis pain and several cancers, including ovarian, colorectal, lung, and breast cancers.

Now… I wonder if it’s got the same benefits in the form of ginger biscuits?!

Red wine

Red Wine

In case you need an excuse to have a glass of red wine a day, I’ve got you covered!

Having your glass of red wine at night is not only a great way to sit back and relax after a hard day at work; it can now keep you warm guilt free!  You can sit back while its antioxidants that slow premature aging and reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers do their thing!  Red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant compound. Resveratrol also protects your heart and arteries against the effects of saturated fat in your diet, so drinking one or two glasses of red wine a day can help protect your heart and prevent cardiovascular disease,

The alcohol in red wine, when consumed in moderation, raises your levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, helps prevent the formation of blood clots and can help to protect your arteries from the damage caused by “bad” LDL cholesterol.

With super food credentials like that, adding it to your winter shopping list is a must! (Hubby, pass another glass, please!)

So there you have it, my list of good winter foods that are a must on our shopping list.  If you found this information helpful, you can head over to the Food Facts website that supplied all the nutritional information for my post and look up the facts on your favourite foods.

If you have any super foods you want to recommend, I would love to hear from you.

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