Kale has been gathering some serious momentum in the U.S. for quite some time now as the prevalence of protein-conscious vegetarians and vegans look for plant proteins. Kale is alkalizing, palatable particularly when steamed or stir-fried with spices, and vitamins K, A, C B6, B2, E, manganese, fiber, copper, tryptophan, calcium and potassium. It is anti-inflammatory, and great for cardiovascular function. De-stem the leaves before steaming or sautéing and cut into small strips for easier and more even cooking. Add kale to salads, as a side for dinner, or juice the kale for its raw nutrients.
4 Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is another gourd, though different in its hourglass shape, gaining in popularity due to its health properties and distinctive taste. It is high in vitamin A, iron, potassium, vitamin C, fiber and cancer fighting antioxidants, and when steamed, baked, or pureed it is just mouthwateringly fabulous, especially considering it is low in calories and low-glycemic. Slice the butternut squash in half, take the seeds out, place the halves face down on a cookie sheet and bake for one hour or until piercing the skin is easy to do. Blend into a puree for a nice snack, blend with water and stir-fried onions and garlic for a scrumptious soup, cut into squares and serve with steamed or stir-fried greens, or simply add a bit of tamari and scoop out to feel like a real Paleo man or woman!
3 Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is rapidly gaining popularity due to its spaghetti-like nature when steamed and pulled away from the shell. It is significantly healthier than pasta but is equally satisfying due to its slightly sweet, starchy nature. High in vitamin A, vitamin C, B6, B5, folate, manganese, fiber and vitamin K while also being low in calories, spaghetti squash is a wonderful replacement for pasta or simply a healthy addition into one’s diet. Simply cut the spaghetti squash in half, place face down in a glass dish with about ½ inch of water, and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Scrape out into a bowl once cool enough to handle and add marinara sauce, tamari, butter and salt, or whatever sounds good to you.
2 Sweet Potato
Good news for all you carb-lovers! Sweet potatoes are one of the most hearty, clean and satisfying tubers growing in vast amounts November and December, though you can find them year-round in most places. Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, B6, B5, tryptophan, potassium and fiber. Bake whole sweet potatoes at 425 degrees for 20 minutes (pierce the skin with a fork), or cut into fries, toss with coconut oil and sea salt, and bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, shaking them up at 20 minutes to cook on all sides. You can steam sliced sweet potatoes for 15 minutes and enjoy as is with salt or Tamari, or puree them with some organic corn for a luscious fall or winter puree.
Pumpkins are not only available for use in all sorts of sweet to savory dishes, they are also extremely beneficial for your health, containing over 200% of your RDA for Vitamin A, 3 grams of fiber in a 1 cup serving, cancer-fighting and skin-protecting beta-carotene, and more potassium in a 1 cup serving than a banana, making it an excellent pre or post-workout snack. It is also low in calories for those of us who are watching our weight while trying to keep the nutrition high. Add pumpkin to soups, oatmeal, soups, pancakes, cornbread, risottos, and yogurt to get the benefits daily.
All in all, winter isn’t so bad – the produce that tends to come at this time of year is heartier and can be easily made into enticing meals or snacks. Be sure to visit farmers markets if they are still on in your region and if not, ask your grocery store what’s in season for more choices.