Dietitian's go-to winter ingredients - with recipes
During the winter months, ingredients and inspiration can feel a bit lacking as we crave the bounty of more abundant growing seasons. Luckily, this is the perfect time of year to utilize lesser appreciated foods like frozen fruits and vegetables, canned goods and the small, yet satisfying array of fresh produce on your grocer's shelves. From root vegetables to beans, frozen berries and more, here are my and other dietitians' must-have winter ingredients – all which are inexpensive, accessible and, of course, good for you.
Chipotle Chocolate Chicken and Root Vegetable Chili
Root vegetables are a weekly staple in my house. At the beginning of each week, I either roast or mash a medley to have on hand for the week. I also add root vegetables to a variety of dishes, including soups, tacos, frittatas and this Chipotle Chocolate Chicken and Root Vegetable Chili. The natural sweetness of the root vegetables balances out the heat and earthy spices – it's so satisfying. This recipe truly embodies the cozy nature of the season.
From chickpeas to cannellini, Deanna Segrave-Daly of the "Teaspoon of Spice" blog, always has a variety of canned beans in her pantry. They are a "super convenient, protein-rich ingredient for my meatless meals. I look for no salt added, but if I buy regular, I always drain and rinse them thoroughly to remove a decent amount of the added sodium," she says. This recipe for Sicilian Kale with Tuna, Capers and Cannellini Beans is one of her favorite winter meals.
Sicilian Kale With Tuna, Capers and Cannellini Beans
Katie Sullivan Morford of "Mom's Kitchen Handbook" loves delicata squash because it has all the nutritional benefits of other winter squash – rich in vitamin A, full of antioxidants – but is a little easier on the home cook than the likes of pumpkin or butternut squash. "On the small side for winter squash, the delicata is fairly easy to cut and doesn't need to be peeled, since the skin is thin and perfectly edible. Plus, it has a sweet flavor and tender, creamy texture that makes for a great side dish, a pretty composed salad or tasty center-of-the-plate dishes, such as tacos or gratins," she says. There is a lot to love about her recipe for Delicata Squash Tacos with Pickled Onions.
"We use a TON of frozen veggies in the winter," says Lindsay Livingston of "The Lean Grean Bean" blog. "They're inexpensive, cook quickly and are frozen at the peak of freshness, so they're packed with nutrients." She loves this Lentil Macaroni and Cheese because it's comfort food kicked up a notch – full of lentils for protein and lots of veggies.
Lentil Macaroni and Cheese
"When the temperatures drop, I crave food that's hearty and comforting, which is why I love cooking with lentils over the winter months," says Kara Lydon, "The Foodie Dietitian." Lentils are the perfect hearty plant-based protein source and add bulk and staying power to any recipe. This Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Mashed Cauliflower uses lentils in the place of ground beef. It's deliciously savory and perfect to enjoy on a cold winter's night.
During the cold and dreary winter months in New England when the famers markets are few and far between, Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss of "The Meal Makeover Moms" often turn to frozen and canned fruits and veggies. Their new e-book, "The Smoothie Bowl Cookbook," has recipes that incorporate canned beans and frozen vegetables as well as a variety of frozen fruits. This Purple Power Smoothie Bowl uses a variety of frozen fruits as well as spinach, which could be fresh or frozen based on availability.
For more meal ideas, check out some comforting crockpot recipes below: