Natalie Digate Muth by Natalie Digate Muth

Winter Squash

Why It Packs a Nutritional Punch

Many varieties of winter squash are readily available in grocery stores throughout the winter season, including acorn, buttercup, spaghetti and turban. Aside from being high in vitamin A and C, they are all rich in iron and riboflavin. Generally speaking, the darker the squash, the more nutrients it contains. The best varieties are solid and heavy, and have full stems. To test ripeness at the grocery store, make sure the skin can’t be scraped off with your fingernail.

Tips for Keeping Fresh

Storing squash in a cool, dark, dry, well-ventilated area will help maintain freshness for up to a month.

Ways to Enjoy

Squash can be a delicious main dish, a side dish, dessert, soup, or snack (the seeds can be baked and eaten just like pumpkin seeds). With the exception of spaghetti squash, most varieties are interchangeable in recipes due to their similar tastes (except for buttercup squash, which is much sweeter than others). For a warm, hearty yet healthy dish, give this butternut squash soup recipe a try! Baja Butternut Squash Soup

Collard Greens

Why They Pack a Nutritional Punch

If you are not from the South, you may have never tried these nutrient-packed green leafy veggies. Although they are generally available year-round, the winter crop of this oft-bitter veggie has a sweeter taste in colder, frost-bitten months.  From the same species as cabbage and broccoli and nutritionally similar to kale, collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A and folate. Aside from also being a good source of fiber and calcium, they are rich in antioxidants thought to fight bacteria and cancer. The best collards have dark green leaves with no yellowing.

Tips for Keeping Fresh

Collard greens can be stored in a plastic bag for up to five days.

Ways to Enjoy

Collard greens are commonly eaten on New Year’s Day with black-eyed peas and cornbread. Here are a couple healthy twists on these traditional recipes you can enjoy any time of the year! Collard Green & Black-Eyed Pea Soup and Cornbread


Why It Packs a Nutritional Punch

The pomegranate is an ancient, mystical fruit lauded in the olden days for its powers of fertility, abundance and good luck. Compared to other antioxidant-rich fruits and dietary substances like red wine and green tea, pomegranate has the highest concentration of antioxidants. Choose pomegranates heavy for their size without cracks or splits. To easily get the seeds out, cut one in half, and then submerge it in a deep bowl of water while you work the seeds out with your hands. the cut side up, make 4 equally spaced cuts 1 inch long and 1 inch deep. Hold the pomegranate half, cut side

Tips for Keeping Fresh

Whole pomegranates keep well at room temperature for several days away from sunlight and up to three months refrigerated in plastic bags. The fleshy-covered seeds of the pomegranate, known as arils, can be refrigerated for up to three days. Freeze in single layers on trays; then up to six months in airtight containers.  Fresh juice can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen up to six months.

Ways to Enjoy

Pomegranates are delicious alone, as part of a recipe or even as a topping for salads. For a true winter delight, try Pomegranate Poached Pears.

Brussels Sprouts

Why They Packs a Punch

Brussels sprouts have gotten a bad rap for their bitter taste, but when prepared right, they are delicious and an excellent contribution to a healthy, nutrient-rich winter eating plan. The leafy green veggies are low in calories, high in vitamin C (120% of recommended daily allowance), and a good source of fiber and folate. The best Brussels sprouts are firm and compact, and have bright green heads. Whenever possible, choose Brussels sprouts still on the stalk for optimal taste and freshness.

Tips for Keeping Fresh

Brussels sprouts are best stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Ways to Enjoy

Attempting to gather up the courage to give them another try? Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Brown Butter provide the decadent taste of browned butter and hazelnuts while offering a nutty contrast to the strong flavor of sprouts, making for one tasty side dish.

Sweet Potatoes

Why They Pack a Punch

If only sweet potatoes were the most consumed vegetable in the United States rather than their ugly step-sister, the white potato. Sweet potatoes contain twice the recommended amount of vitamin A, almost half the recommend daily amount of vitamin C, and, if you eat the skin, even more fiber than oatmeal. The best sweet potatoes are firm and small-to-medium in size with smooth skin.

Tips for Keeping Fresh

Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place and consumed within 3-5 weeks.

Ways to Enjoy

Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet (hence the name) and do not need an abundance of added sugar, marshmallows or other calorie-dense toppings to boost their taste. Instead, add a bit of spice for a truly delicious and healthy side dish. For a creative meal idea, try Moroccan-Rubbed Grilled Steak & Sweet Potatoes.

If your favorite produce is not widely available in winter, remember that you can enjoy your favorites all year long by choosing frozen and canned low-sodium veggies and light-syrup fruits. Generally, they pack the same nutritional punch as fresh produce and are picked at the peak of ripeness.

For more creative, delicious ways you can enjoy produce at mealtimes, check out ACE Fit Healthy Recipes or Choose This!, the new cookbook from fitness expert Chris Freytag.

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