Winter varietals of squash come in a diversity of shapes, sizes and colors and are extremely versatile. Butternut, acorn, pumpkin, spaghetti and Hubbard squash make the perfect base for soups or you can simply roast them. They provide vital vitamins including A and C, potassium, beta-carotene and manganese.
Leafy greens and cabbages
Winter is an especially important time to make sure you’re getting your greens in as they are chock-full of folate and vitamins A, C, E and K. End-of-fall harvests include nutrient-dense vegetables such as kale, Brussels sprouts, chard and cabbage. The USDA cites, “These vegetables also contain an abundance of carotenoids—antioxidants that protect cells and play roles in blocking the early stages of cancer. They also contain high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium.”
Mushrooms add an earthy taste to winter dishes, and the fungi, rich in potassium and known for their antifungal and antibacterial properties, boast many health benefits as well. According to BBC’s Good Food, “They also contain B vitamins as well as a powerful antioxidant called selenium, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues.”
High in fiber, turnips, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and other root vegetables offer a great way to pack in extra vitamins and minerals. Whether you put them through a spiralizer or roast them, the complex carbohydrates will keep you satiated for long periods of time while providing important nutrients like beta-carotene.
Fish does wonders for brain health, a key component to good moods and overall wellness. As the local fishing season wraps up by November, now is the time to make the most of your catch. The Washington State Department of Health recommends, “Eating fish is an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients keep our heart and brain healthy. . . . Our bodies don’t produce omega-3 fatty acids, so we must get them through the food we eat.” In addition, fish is a good source of minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium and potassium.
Pound for pound, one of the most nutrient-dense (and often overlooked) foods, seeds such as flax, pumpkin and chia come with a long list of health benefits. Offering fiber to fatty acids, they are one of the most complete foods available. Sourced from many fall veggies, they are a great way to sprinkle added value to any dish with hardly any noticeable flavor.
This common spice makes quite an appearance in coffee shops and bakeries during this time of year, and we are all better off for it. Besides adding a zing of flavor, cinnamon is one of the most potent anti-inflammatories around.