Eating with the season is a lost art. We’re used to having food available throughout the entire year, whether they’re in season or not. So, we forget to adjust our winter diet to include seasonal fair.
If you’re not sure how to perk up your winter diet, be sure to add these seasonal and winter-perfect foods to your weekly menu.
Why you need to perk up your winter diet
Dietary advice usually recommends enjoying foods in moderation. So, some fat, some protein and some carbs. But what we’re not commonly told is that it’s important to adjust our foods based on the season.
Why is this important? Seasonal foods provide our bodies with the nutrients they need at that specific time of year. It’s really incredible if you think about it: Mother Nature knows exactly what our bodies need as the season's shift and change.
What does your body need in the winter time?
Certain nutrients like beta-carotene are key. So, are Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins C, D and K, and foods that warm, rather than cool, the digestive fire.
Let’s explore each one in greater detail. This way, you won’t just survive during the wintertime. You’ll thrive thanks to these delicious, seasonal foods.
Orange-colored root vegetables
Root vegetables are abundant at this time of the year, but there’s a very good reason for this. Almost magically, the earth provides exactly the nutrients we need for harsh temperatures.
Orange-colored root vegetables, like sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, squash, and parsnips contain beta-carotene, which helps us stay strong, vibrant and nourished during the winter.
These foods also help to boost the digestive fire and support your immunity.
And isn’t it lovely that these warm, sunny colors are just what we need when the days grow darker and the sunshine only shows itself on rare occasions?
Omega-3 fatty acids
Studies show that taking a high-quality Omega-3 fatty acid supports a better mood, which is incredibly helpful during winter time, when many individuals suffer from season affective disorder, or SAD.
Of course, supplements are just that: supplements to a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle. However, don’t discount them. An Omega-3 fatty acid supplement can help keep your mood up and your spirits bright. Consider cod liver oil and even fermented cod liver oil.
Traditional Scot diets were replete with the fish, fish liver, fish liver oils, and shellfish – all of which provide a healthy source of fatty acids, along with fat-soluble Vitamin A and D – which we’ll get to below!
Warm soups and stews
You’ll notice that as the temperature drops, cold salads and raw veggies lose their appeal. There’s a good reason for this: your body craves warming, filling foods, rather than cooling foods – these actually have a cooling effect on the digestive system and you don’t want that during the winter.
Consider the traditional meals enjoyed by cultures who endured cold winters. Russian meals included sourdough bread and kasha, which are slowly cooked grains along with a meat broth, meats, and mushrooms. Soups were also a mainstay, made from winter vegetables like cabbage.
For hundreds of years, the people living in England would soak their grains for at least 24 hours before eating them. Oats, for example, were soaked before they were cooked and served with butter or cream.
This is probably where are typical oatmeal breakfast came from. The only (big) difference is that today, most people don’t soak their grains. But give it a try. It makes the nutrients within the grains easier to digest and absorb.
Foods with Vitamin D
During the summer, we get more exposure to the sunshine – our natural source of Vitamin D. But during the winter, the days are shorter and sunshine is a rare gift.
So, it’s crucial that you get your Vitamin D from other sources – at least until the sun becomes a bright addition to daily life.
Here are some of the best sources of dietary fats:
- Egg yolks
- Milk fortified with Vitamin D
Why is Vitamin D so important during the winter time? A Vitamin D deficiency is marked with mood troubles, including feelings of depression. But that’s not all. Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones, muscles and immune system.
Foods with Vitamin K2
We can’t talk about Vitamin D without including Vitamin K2 in the conversation. These two fat-soluble vitamins work together to support calcium metabolism, which in turn supports bone and soft tissue health, too.
Here are the best Vitamin K2 foods to enjoy this winter.
- Leafy greens, like kale and spinach
- Animal fats
- Egg yolk
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
- Collard greens
Foods with Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, crucial for your eyesight, immune system and so much more. Enjoying healthy sources of Vitamin A can help you fend off infections and stay well throughout the harsh seasons.
Check out these yummy Vitamin A choices:
- Beef liver
- Lamb liver
- Cod liver oil
- Goose liver pâté
- Cheddar cheese
Foods with Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts your immunity and helps you fight off infections that plague us during the winter months. A popular source of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, and even if they’re not growing in your cold area, they’re in season in warmer climates. If possible, enjoy citrus fruits for a nice kick of Vitamin C.
Cranberries are also a wonderful berry, bursting with Vitamin C, so don’t just enjoy these at Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy them all winter long, too.
Another smart choice is apples. They help to strengthen the lungs. And the stronger your lungs are, the better chance you have of fighting off respiratory illnesses.
But fruits aren’t the only source of winter Vitamin C. You can find this essential nutrient in veggies like rutabagas, parsnips, broccoli, kale, potatoes, and red cabbage – all foods you can easily find during the cold season.
Your winter diet can be wide and varied, full of both plant and animal-based foods, all to support your health and wellness during the harsh winter.