Monday, February 09, 2015


Winter vegetables: The chilly weather champions

Any savvy shopper on a tight food budget knows that a key way to save on produce is to purchase fruits and vegetables when they are in season.  And seasonal produce is not only more cost effective, but fresher and more flavorful.  It’s a win-win, right?
Then winter rolls around. 
Unless you are lucky enough to live in a tropical climate (in which case I would love to visit — is tomorrow convenient?), you have probably noticed that your in-season vegetable options are limited.   So what’s a bargain hunter to do?  Are we simply doomed to a steady diet of potatoes, carrots and onions until spring?
Never fear!  The winter veggies are here to rescue you from the scourges of empty-wallet syndrome and menu boredom!  These lovely little beauties do it all.  They can tempt your taste buds as well as tame your appetite (due to a healthy dose of fiber) all while trimming the “fat” from your food budget.  BAM!
Here’s just a sampling of our winter veggie super-hero line-up:
• Beets: They may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but beets certainly do not disappoint in flavor or nutrition. In all their crimson glory, these guys pack an unbeatable antioxidant punch and when roasted, offer a mild-mannered sweet and earthy taste that will have your family rushing to the table faster than a speeding bullet.
• Brussels sprouts: OK, so given your childhood horror stories, these little guys might seem more Darth Vader than Luke Skywalker, but give them a second chance with your now-grown-up taste buds.  There are many ways to reduce the bitterness of this notoriously-nutritious vegetable, from trying different cooking methods to using seasonings creatively.  Give them another try, and I promise you will find that they are truly a force to be reckoned with.
• Cabbage: Every Space Ranger needs vitamin C and folate, and it just so happens that cabbage is packed with both, as well as a whole host of disease-fighting phyto-nutrients. With a distinct flavor and aroma, cabbage is excellent in a stir fry, hearty soup or added to a crisp salad for some extra crunch that’s sure to take you to infinity and beyond.
• Parsnips: Looking for a tasty addition to a hearty winter meal?  No need to send Gotham a signal.  Parsnips are a fantastic alternative to carrots with a healthy dose of vitamin E and a welcoming flavor you’ll go batty for.
• Turnips/Rutabagas: Like Marvel and DC, these wonderful root veggies are very similar and often confused with one another.  No matter; they are both delicious and can be used much like potatoes with all the nutrient power, but fewer carbs.  Excelsior!
• Winter squashes: We can’t all be billionaire tech-geniuses, but with a ton of vitamin A and a surprising amount of iron, these delicately sweet delights just might raise your IQ a few points and they’ll definitely save you some cash.  From acorn to pumpkin to turban, winter squashes are scrumptious when roasted or pureed in soups.  Now that’s a thing of stark beauty.
Jennifer Fetterley is a registered dietitian for the Backus Health System and Thames Valley Council for Community Action. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal healthcare provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Fetterley or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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