True, it is harder to get nature’s bounty of fresh veggies during the coldest and shortest days of the year. However, there are a few bright spots until our next tomatoes and peas burst forth. Here are seven winter veggies and kid-friendly preparations.
Let it snow, let it snow and by all means, let the veggies grow.
Because even in the coldest, shortest days of winter, many vegetables still do grow. And isn’t that awesome for us? After all, this is the time of year – the waning days – when we turn our thoughts to what we did well over the past 12 months. And it’s a time we reflect on what we want to do even better. For many of us, nutrition ranks high on that list.
Enter winter’s veggies – the hardiest plants that can make for the heartiest of moods and health for kids. Winter veggies not only deliver on the promise of fresh veggies at the table, they offer a wide range of nutrients essential for growing bodies and minds.
Here are seven robust veggies that grow in the cold months of December, January and February, and can be bought fresh.
Kale: This dark green super food is high in vitamins A (good for skin and eyes) C (supports immunity) and K (great for bone health). It also is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and calcium. Bonus: kale carries more iron per calorie than beef. If you find it to be a hard sell for the kids, try making crunchy kale chips. Just cut the kale leaves from the stems, drizzle with olive oil, add a bit of salt and bake.
Cabbage: A vitamin powerhouse, cabbage is a great way to patch up the absence made by summer veggies. In addition to vitamins C and K, as well as folate (encourages healthy cell and tissue growth as well as metabolism), cabbage is high in fiber and antioxidants. Try shredded cabbage in a slaw with mandarin oranges, dried cranberry and walnuts.
Brussels sprouts: These miniature versions of cabbage carry many of the same nutrients as their larger veggie cousin. They also can keep in the fridge for a few weeks – just be sure to discard any withered outer leaves. Toss the sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast to a caramelized finish. Or they can be treated just like cabbage – shredded and mixed as a salad with a combination of sweet and savory ingredients.
Winter squash: Fittingly, some of winter’s funniest-looking veggies can be among the most fun to eat. Butternut squash is a terrific source of vitamin A and acorn squash is full of vitamin C. Spaghetti squash, meanwhile, delivers heart-healthy potassium and folate. All squash is high in fiber – essential for good digestion. Squash can be skinned, cubed and baked with melted butter and honey. Or you can make an “unghetti” dish with spaghetti squash.
Sweet potatoes: These orange delights are a go-to source for fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins A and C and antioxidants. A big bonus is their versatility. They can be baked into desserts (made into pie or cake batter) or side dishes, or be whipped up as the main act. A black bean and sweet potato burger, for example, can be fashioned into kid-sized sliders.
Turnips: Yeah, we know. When it comes to preparation options, turnips tend to fall into the “limited” category. We can roast them or mash them, and either approach could be delicious if paired with taste bud-pleasing seasonings from lemon to nutmeg to Savory Bacon Vegy Vida. Turnips also can be baked into a cheesy gratin that requires just five ingredients. It’s worth a try – turnips are packing vitamins C and K, folate, potassium, fiber and calcium.
Cauliflower: Don’t let the lack of color fool you. These white wonders are high in vitamins C, B6 and K, magnesium (good for energy) folate and fiber. Cauliflower is even a good source of omega-3 fatty acid. We’re lucky that cauliflower is in the midst of a food innovation trend. It can be used as an excellent substitute for mashed potatoes or as the basis for dough. Lots of grocery stores now sell crumbled cauliflower “rice” that can be incorporated into a range of kid-friendly recipes, such as fried cauliflower rice, courtesy of SuperHealthyKids.com.
So let it snow. Inside, the veggies can be piping hot and provide the nutrients to help kids endure the cold winter months.