The weather outside is frightful but the food from the season of Halloween to Valentine’s Day is delightful! It seems there are parties and candy bowls everywhere from October to February. But treats and heavy entrees aren’t the only way to eat during the season of dropping temperatures. Instead, think about adding bright flavors to your winter meals by serving fruits and veggies in all varieties from canned (in juice) to frozen (without sauces or seasonings) to fresh. Some fresh produce is even at the peak of the season in the winter:
Citrus fruit – Clementines, grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges are picked fresh off the trees October to March. Use oranges or grapefruit instead of tomatoes in a salsa along with green peppers, sweet onion and cilantro; serve with baked tortilla crisps or to liven up fish or skinless chicken. Instead of reaching for a cocktail at a holiday party, instead drink sparkling water with lime juice.
Cranberries – Cranberries can brighten your meals beyond Thanksgiving. Buy on sale and freeze in a zip-top plastic bag to use throughout the winter. Toss fresh cranberries into simple fruit crisps or whole grain muffins. Make a sauce for lean pork or beef by mixing cranberries with zero-calorie sweetener and a couple tablespoons of 100% orange juice, then cook for about 6-7 minutes until tender. One half cup of uncooked cranberries contains 2 grams of fiber.
Broccoli & Cauliflower – Broccoli and cauliflower are great to crunch on when the munchies hit; make a simple dip of fat-free Greek yogurt and any salt-free seasoning. Roast the veggies in the oven to sweeten their flavor and turn them into a golden color. Frozen versions of these veggies are a healthy way to stretch a pot of soup. Serve as super-quick side dish when heated with a little garlic powder.
Root vegetables – Carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes are inexpensive options to add color and nutrition to meals. Try boiling familiar potatoes with more unfamiliar parsnips or turnips; when tender, mash together and add fat-free milk and just a teaspoon of non-fat plain yogurt. Root vegetables contain potassium and vitamin A; serve potatoes with the skin on for added fiber.
Holiday Help – When invited to a holiday gathering, offer to bring a salad or side dish. Then make it huge! Fill your salad with as many fruits and/or vegetables as possible. Fellow party-goers will be thankful to enjoy a healthy dish with which to fill their plates.
Article copyright © 2013 American Heart Association. This article is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.