Healthy Eating All Year Long: Seasonal Produce and Other Tips for Fall and Winter Cooking

Eat Your Greens

While it might not be time to start hanging “greens,” this is the time of year to start eating them. Greens (collard, turnip, mustard, and beet greens along with spinach, kale and Swiss chard) are cool season plants (spring and fall). They are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin K, Folic acid, fiber, iron, calcium, and many other nutrients. Try sautéing greens with olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes or toasted sesame seeds as a side dish or add them to soups, salads and sandwiches this fall.

As fall approaches, thoughts turn to the holidays and holiday eating. Now is the time to brush off those portion size rules and healthy eating habits. If you let things slide during the warmer months, get back on track. Starting healthy eating habits now will make it easier when the real tests – all those parties and family meals – come. Use a food diary to keep track of when, what and how much you are eating. Break out the measuring cups to help refocus your portion sizes.

Now that peaches, watermelon, strawberries and other summer fruits are out of season, turn to apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, kiwi, grapefruit, and oranges to satisfy that sweet tooth. Use fall and winter fruits to liven up desserts, salads, grain dishes, breakfast and snack time.

Reduce and Replace

Find ways to lighten your traditional cold weather and holiday comfort foods.

  • Use low-fat or fat-free versions of milk, cream cheese, sour cream, and other dairy ingredients.
  • Reduce sugar by 1/3 in recipes especially those recipes containing fruit.
  • Reduce or substitute a fruit puree for 1/3 of fat in recipes.
  • Use egg substitutes or egg whites instead of whole eggs to cut fat and calories.

One large egg = 49 calories, 3 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat

Equivalent of egg substitute = 28 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated

Equivalent of egg whites = 17 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated

  • Leave out the salt. It is not needed in most recipes. Salt to taste upon serving.
  • Buy low sodium broths or make your own. To make your own, save the liquid used to boil vegetables or meat, freeze it in ice cube trays or freezer bags and use it later for soups and stews.
  • Increase the fruits and vegetables in recipes. Play with fruits and vegetables to add taste and texture to stews, soups, casseroles, and sides instead of ingredients with more fat and calories.

Winter Vegetables

A great winter produce choice is squash. There are a variety of winter squash available – acorn, spaghetti, butternut, pumpkin are just a few. Using winter squash is a low-calorie, low-fat way to add hearty texture and flavor to winter meals. Bake a spaghetti squash (375º for an hour) and top with pesto and pine nuts to create a tasty side dish or roast pumpkin seeds and toss with spices (cinnamon or cumin) to top desserts, salads or add to trail mix.