Whole Foods to Eat in the Winter 

When the weather turns cold and snow and sleet are in the forecast, our thoughts naturally turn to ways to keep ourselves warm and cozy. This tendency naturally spills over to wintertime meals. Many people seek out comfort foods in the winter, which means it’s a great time to incorporate more whole foods into our diet. In the colder months especially, using whole foods to create nourishing and satisfying meals is one way to give ourselves a delicious health boost.  

In general terms, whole foods are foods that are not processed or chemically altered with preservatives. This can include fresh or frozen cuts of meat, eggs, dried beans and grains. But the really fun part of building winter meals with whole foods comes when you look at all the whole fruits and vegetables that await your plate.  

Why choose whole foods? Convenience and processed foods might be fast to zap in the microwave, but they are not the best kind of nutrition for your body. Whole foods are rich in nutrients, minerals and antioxidants that are needed to keep your body healthy, according to a report in Healthline. Health benefits of whole foods include: 

  • High in fiber 
  • Helps keep your heart healthy and ward off inflammation 
  • Naturally low in sugar 
  • Helps lower triglycerides 
  • Better for the environment 

Let’s look at some tips for making the most of whole foods in the winter. 

Go local. While summertime in Michigan means farmers markets are brimming with berries, fresh greens and heaps of other fruits and vegetables, winter offerings are definitely more sparse. But they are still there. Larger cities across the state have year-round markets, or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups which allow you to buy winter shares that translate into weekly vegetable orders. In the winter, offerings are likely to include cold-weather crops, fruits that store well and vegetables that can have longer seasons in greenhouses or cold frames. Some items to look for: 

  • Apples 
  • Potatoes 
  • Variety of squashes 
  • Dried beans 
  • Kale 
  • Beets 
  • Carrots 
  • Parsnips 
  • Onions

Find your fruits. While tender fruits only grow in Michigan in the summer, winter is a great time to find deals at your grocery store’s produce section. Large retails chains have the purchasing power to tap into the southern fruit stream, meaning each week there is likely a good deal on certain fruits. Look especially for brightly-colored berries and citrus fruits. They pack a healthy punch with Vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants. They can be eaten as snacks or desserts, or incorporated into salads. Check for weekly deals on these: 

  • Raspberries 
  • Blueberries 
  • Blackberries 
  • Oranges 
  • Grapefruit 
  • Lemons 

 Brightly-colored vegetables for the win. Winter is the season of soups and lots of hearty meals. That’s where whole root vegetables and other pretty produce finds are a perfect match. They can be sliced into stir-fries to add flavor and fiber, mashed to make a colorful side dish or chunked and simmered in your favorite stews. Some to look for: 

  • Carrots 
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Parsnips 
  • Rutabagas 
  • Broccoli 
  • Red, yellow and orange peppers 

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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