Eating healthy always requires a little extra effort. But when the days grow short and the temperature plummets, it gets even easier to fall back on less-than-ideal eating habits. Takeout tempts us, sugary hot beverages flow in abundance—and then, there are those big, beautiful holiday meals. (Happy holidays and stretchy waistband season!)
But here’s the good news: there are lots of super healthy, super delicious foods that thrive in the winter months. So we rounded up a few of our favorites for your inspiration and preparation on those cold, dark days and nights.
That’s right! The flavor that everyone wants in everything in the fall is actually good for you! Not so much in your lattes and scones, mind you (sorry, it’s not that easy)—but the meat and seeds of pumpkins are loaded with potential health benefits. Fall’s favorite fruit is high in fiber, but low in calories which means it can promote weight loss. It’s also rich in the antioxidant Beta-Carotene, which is great for your immune system, eye health, skin, and even fighting cancer.
THE GREENS: KALE, CHARD, COLLARDS, ETC.
Dark, leafy greens are very hearty and thrive in the winter, long after more delicate greens have gone out of season. And it’s with good reason that greens like kale and chard are enjoying a moment in the sun right now: they’re absolutely bursting with stuff that’s great for our bodies, supporting everything from heart health to preventing osteoporosis. A few of these greens, including mustard greens, collards, and escarole, are also excellent sources of folate, which help prevent birth defects.
APPLES & PEARS
Sweet, delicious, and healthy, these awesome autumn fruits are great on their own, or cooked up as part of a dish. Apples and pears are some of the highest-fiber fruits, in addition to boasting lots of vitamins, and high calcium and antioxidant levels. Pro tip: always eat the skin too, unless your recipe calls for its removal. The skins are full of great nutrients that you don’t want to just throw away.
Everyone knows sweet potatoes are the healthier option to your everyday white potatoes, but what you may not know is that they can actually be served without a layer of melted marshmallows on top. All jokes aside, sweet potatoes are the ultimate authentic sweet treat, and usually need very little else to bring out their distinct flavor. They’re an excellent source of vitamin A, iron, and powerful antioxidants that help fight cancer and protect against the effects of aging. Think you’ll miss the marshmallows? Try topping a baked sweet potato with a nice dollop of low- or no-fat Greek yogurt, and sprinkle it with a little nutmeg.
Another vegetable that’s been very en vogue the past few years, brussels sprouts are packed with as much nutrition as they are savory flavor. They’re extremely high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and antioxidants, while being low in fat in calories. In addition to combating anemia, bone loss, and vitamin A deficiency, brussels sprouts are also known to fight cancer, specifically cancer of the colon and prostate.
See? Eating healthy in the fall and winter doesn’t have to be hard. Of course, this is far from a comprehensive resource—these are just a few of our favorites. What are some of your favorite healthy foods for fall and winter? Let us know what you would add to the list!