Eat the Seasons | January
It’s a sparkly and hopefully exciting new year! I’m looking forward to what it has to offer! It’s also the dead of winter, here in Minnesota, which doesn’t provide much get-your-butt-in-gear motivation when the sun rarely comes out from behind those thick wintry clouds. Can you tell I’m in need of some serious vitamin D? My ability to see things in a positive light is being affected in a major way! Luckily, eating healthy, even when I’m terrified to leave my house due to a serious blizzard, is still something I can positively say is doable! It may not boast the bountiful winter harvest that California may have, but the Midwest still offers some great produce that provides our bodies with the much needed nutrients to help steer us clear of the winter blues! I’ve rounded up some yummy recipes from bloggers around the net, who know a thing or two about cooking up delicious and healthy dishes to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters!
I don’t think we give carrots enough credit for their valuable source of nutrients and benefits. For one, they are a huge source of beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin A. Secondly, they are packed with antioxidant benefits, which can help slow down cell damage. Studies have also shown that carrots can help prevent various cancers such as lung, breast and colon.
They are great for the skin, hair and nails due to the Vitamin A content. I’m sure most of you are already familiar with carrots improving your vision and we can attribute that to the beta-carotene converting into Vitamin A in the liver. From there the retina transforms Vitamin A into rhodopsin, a purple pigment important for night vision. It’s easy to say, carrots are something we can all add more of in our diets. Strange fact though, too many carrots can cause your skin to turn orange. You think I’m joking! I went through a phase where I ate bags of carrots a week and after a year, my skin had an odd tone to it. I just happened to discover this, along with all of my culinary classmates during our health 101 class. Talk about embarrassing! But hey, my vision was impeccable, so that was a plus!
Left / Healthy Carrot Muffins by Feasting not Fasting
Right / Garlic Roasted Carrots by Damn Delicious
Left / Spiralized Carrot Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing by Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Right / Color Me Happy – Tri-Color Ginger Orange Carrot Cake by Hungry Rabbit
The benefits of garlic are insane! It has a powerful compound known as allicin, which is formed when garlic is crushed, chopped or chewed. Benefits include being a general antibiotic and antiseptic. Garlic is a huge immune booster, which makes it ideal for fighting the common cold – especially when used as a tea. Garlic is rich in Vitamin C and potassium. It also helps to detoxify the body of toxins and cleans the gut.
Garlic naturally reduces your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. When it comes to combating cancer, garlic reigns supreme. A regular intake of garlic helps to reduce the risk of colon, breast, stomach, pancreas and esophagus cancer. Read more on this at cancer.gov.
Left / Thai Ginger and Garlic Noodle Bowl by Vanilla and Bean
Right / Roasted Garlic Hummus by Healthy Seasonal Recipes
Garlic Soup by James Beard
It took me a long time to like kale. For years, I thought it was a bit gross, but then I started learning about all of the benefits. My first attempt was adding it to my juices – back in the day when I was an obsessive juicer! Then I moved down south where things like kale and collard greens are sauteed in a pound of bacon. Probably not the healthiest option, but let’s be honest it was goooood!
Seeing as a pound of bacon fat will only lead to some serious health problems, there are plenty of delicious ways to devour some leafy greens and get all of the added benefits.
In a single cup of raw kale there’s vitamin A, K, C, B6, B1, B2, B3, Manganese, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron and Phosphorus. Kale is incredibly high in antioxidants that help combat aging and cancer, and vitamin C that plays many important roles in the body. The list goes on and on about what Kale does for your body, so stock up on it and enjoy the benefits!
Left / Grilled Green Tomatoes with Burrata and Green Juice by Bon Appetit
Right / Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet by Primavera Kitchen
Left / Spicy Kale and Chipotle Chickpea and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad by A Saucy Kitchen
Right / Cabbage and Kale Slaw with Toasted Yeast Dressing by Food & Wine
Left / Cottage Cheese, Kale and Smoked Salmon Frittata by Supergolden Bakes
Right / Easy Kale Soup with White Beans, Potatoes + Savory Broth by Umami Girl
Just like garlic, leeks contain the compound allicin, which helps fight off free radicals in your body. Leeks are also high in Vitamin K, C and Vitamin A. The B vitamin, folate, is very helpful in protecting against heart disease, which can be found in the leaves and bulbs of the leek.
To find out more about the great health benefits of leeks check out this great article by Juicing for Health.
Left / Chicken, Leeks and Spinach in a Creamy Wine Sauce by Nerds with Knives
Right / Cherry Tomato, Leek, and Spinach Quiche by The Food Charlatan
Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan, Lemon and Leek by Bon Appetit
Potato and Leek Soup (Sopa De Poro Y Para) by Saveur
Surprisingly enough, onions are an unsung hero when it comes to it’s superior benefits in combating and preventing a lot of common diseases, such as certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, cataracts, and coronary heart disease.
Onions have a powerful mineral called chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar. They also contain calcium, potassium, vitamin C and folate. It’s immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties come from flavonoid quercetin within onions. Usually eating most things raw are where we get our best nutrients, but did you know that both garlic and onions have a large variety of beneficial sulfur compounds when cooked? Good news for those of you who hate raw onions, right?
Another startling fact, some studies have shown that onions can possibly reduce symptoms of depression, improve on sleep, boost hair strength and enhance energy levels. I guess onions go a lot farther than being a simple flavoring agent in our mirepoix.
Left / French Onion Soup : Healthy Vegan & Gluten Free Recipe by Pure Ella
Right / French Onion Zoodle Bake by Climbing Grier Mountain
Left / Cheddar and Onion Buttermilk Biscuits by Chatelaine
Right / Caramelized Onion and Parmesan Quinoa by The Almond Eater
We often look down at the humble little potato, claiming it’s starchy properties to be bad on our diets. However these little spuds actually contain 51% of our daily requirements in vitamin C, which plays a big role in the growth and repair of tissues in our body and decreasing the duration of the common cold. Vitamins A, B and P, calcium, iron and phosphorus are other mighty benefits of this world-famous vegetable.
Cool fact, potatoes happen to have more potassium than a banana. Who knew!? I remember once being told that a lot of the bananas we find in the grocery store are usually picked far before they are ripe, since they have to travel so far. Most of the nutrients you would find in a banana have not had the opportunity to develop before they are harvested from their source. Not sure how accurate this is, but it’s worth thinking about. Most of our potatoes are grown commercially in 30 of our US states, where most of our bananas are grown in Costa Rica. That means potatoes spend less time in transit and more time ripening on the plant. FYI, the skin and just beneath it are where we find the most beneficial properties, so don’t be too quick to peel it away. Want to find out more, check out this great article on more benefits of the great potato!
Left / Grilled Potato Salad with Leeks + Jalapeno Vinaigrette by Designs of Any Kind
Right / Lemon + Thyme Roasted Cornish Hens with Baby Potatoes and Carrots by Designs of Any Kind
Left / Healthy Luscious Potato Leek Soup by Feasting at Home
Right / Simple Tuscan Oven Roasted Red Potatoes by With Salt & Wit
Sweet Potatoes are an excellent source of Beta Carotene and just like potatoes are packed full of Vitamin C, making sweet potatoes and excellent immune system booster. Additionally, they are a great source of manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins E, B6, B1 and B2. Just like potatoes, keeping the skins on while baking is the best way to get the most amount of nutrients out of the sweet potato. The skin is packed full of fiber, which is important for lowering cholesterol and regulation blood sugar.
Left / Curried Sweet Potato Soup by Brooklyn Supper
Right / Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes by Minimalist Baker
Left / Dark Chocolate Sweet Potato Chips by Minimalist Baker
Right / Moroccan-ish Sweet Potato Sunshine Salad by The First Mess
Last but definitely not least, winter squash is a serious superfood for our winter blues. A rockstar in the anti inflammatory arena, these gourds are perfect for achy joints and helping alleviate arthritis symptoms.
Squash is low in fat, but rich in fiber making it the perfect diet food and beneficial for your heart. It also boasts a decent amount of potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, folate and the king of cancer prevention, Beta-carotene. Check out this great article on more benefits of winter squash.
Left / Parmesan Butternut Squash Fries by Damn Delicious
Right / Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg by A Thought for Food
Left / Butternut Squash Brownies by Meals Our Kids Love
Right / Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpea Greek Tacos by Nosh and Nourish
To find out what’s fresh in your neck of the woods, check out Sustainable Table. I’m obsessed with their site and it has loads of info on each produce item, as well.