When the winter months roll around, and all the holiday decadence finally fizzles out, you may want to hunker down, purge your pantry and clean up your eating habits. So you make your meal plan, run to the grocery store, beeline to the avocados and notice that they’re all rock solid. And that’s when you angrily mutter to yourself, “Oh yeah, it’s winter, and avocados aren’t in season.”
This is the problem with healthy eating in the colder months: You don’t have quite the breadth of fresh produce as you might in spring, summer, or even fall. Though there’s nothing wrong with either canned or frozen fruits and vegetables — in fact, frozen vegetables are a great alternative because their nutrients are sealed in right after harvest — they can become extremely tedious when they’re your only option. Sticking to a healthy eating or weight-loss plan is rarely easy, but it’s especially hard when you’re bored of all your meals.
Yes, winter, and all its dreary snow-filled, sunlight-less days, may not seem like a very fresh produce-friendly season, but that’s actually not the case. There are a handful of strapping fruits and vegetables that manage to bloom, despite the inclement weather. All are totally nutrient-packed and easy to incorporate into the low-calorie, high-protein wintertime comfort food you’re probably craving (think, soups and stews). One common attribute: Most winter produce is high in fiber, which helps slow digestion to keep you fuller, longer — a boon if you’re on a weight-loss plan. Plus, starchy veg makes a great alternative to less nutrient-dense simple carbs.
Before we get to your options, it’s important to understand that healthy eating looks different for everyone. What works for some may not work for others, and if you have a history of disordered eating, you may want to check in with your doctor before beginning a new weight loss plan or changing your eating habits at all. It’s also important to recognize that if your goal is weight loss, there’s a lot that goes into it, including getting enough sleep, managing stress levels, and staying physically active. If you’re not interested in losing weight, and simply want to eat healthier, these eight winter fruits and vegetables are still some that you’ll want to keep in mind (and by “mind” we mean “mouth”).
Though you may think of citrus as a summertime staple (margaritas, am I right?), oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and the like are all in season from November to February. Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, New Jersey, especially likes to stock up on mandarin oranges and tangerines, both of which are small and easy to peel — the perfect grab-and-go-snack. They’re all loaded with vitamin C, low in calories and can be added to sweet and savory dishes in equal measure. Try topping your next salad with a few blood orange segments, or throw some chopped kumquat on your next smoothie bowl. So many possibilities.