Category Archives: Leafy Greens

Healthy Changes to Your Diet in the Winter

Healthy Changes to Your Diet in the Winter

As the temperature drops, our nutritional needs change. Except for winter-sports enthusiasts, people become less physically active. After all, when it’s cold and snowy outside, even a trip to a neighborhood grocery store is a daunting task. And with the advent of cold and flu season, staying healthy takes a bit more effort. What’s more, nutrition-packed fruits and vegetables that were plentiful during the summer may be in short supply—and take a bigger chunk out of our wallets.

However, there are many delicious and affordable ways to ensure proper nutrition during the dark days of winter. These tips will help you maintain optimum health and please your palate at the same time.

Go for Beans

There are many varieties of legumes, including garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), lentils, lima beans, and pinto beans. These hearty foods have something in common: they are fiber and protein powerhouses. Beans can be added to stews and soups, served in salads, and cooked and eaten by themselves. To reduce gassiness, soak them in water for six to eight hours and rinse before preparing.  For a quick 20-minute meal, check out my Cuban Black Beans & Kale recipe.

Try Some Spuds

Potatoes have an undeserved bad reputation for their starch content. However, they are chock full of vital nutrients. One potato provides hefty amounts of immunity-boosting vitamins B6 and C, fiber and folate, essential for the proper development of unborn babies. Purple potatoes are a great source of antioxidant with a variety of benefits ranging from keeping heart disease at bay to reducing inflammation. Adding carrots, parsnips, turnips, and other roots vegetables to mashed potatoes is a delicious way to include vegetables in a wintertime diet.

Talk Turkey

This bird is not for Thanksgiving only. Low in calories and high in protein, it’s a natural in sandwiches, soup, salads, stir-fry, and by itself.

Include Winter Squash

Spaghetti, acorn, and butternut are only a few types of this colorful, tasty, nutritious vegetable. Winter squash is low-calorie and rich in fiber, vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamin C. Acorn squash also has vitamin B1, B6, and magnesium. And butternut squash is a powerhouse of vitamins A and C.  Add a little grass-fed butter, applesauce, maple syrup or cinnamon to infuse some flavor.

Add Some Greens and Reds

Chard, collards, and kale flourish in winter; frosty weather can reduce kale’s bitter taste. With healthy amounts of vitamins C, A, and K—and plenty of folate in escarole, mustard greens, and collards—leafy greens can keep people’s immune systems in good shape. Red cabbage, a cousin of kale, contains few calories and lots of vitamin A, plus zeaxanthin and lutein, phytochemicals so important for eye health as people age.

Don’t Forget Fruit

Citrus fruit is loaded with vitamin C. Grapefruit, oranges, and their cousins are also excellent sources of all-important flavonoids, known to raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind), reduce LDL cholesterol, and lower triglyceride levels. And if you have not yet tried pomegranates, you may want to add it to your daily regimen. It contains more antioxidants than any other kind. Studies show that pomegranate may help prevent free radicals from doing damage—and increase the flow of blood to the heart in patients whose tickers do not receive sufficient oxygen because of blocked arteries.

By adding these good-tasting and nutritious foods to the menu, you can ensure that you and your family will weather the chilly season.

What dishes do you plan to make that this article inspired?  Leave a comment below or post in the Facebook group.

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Holiday Kale, Yam & Pomegranate Salad

Holiday Kale, Yam & Pomegranate Salad

Serves 4-6 people

Salad Ingredients

1 large bunch curly kale (or baby kale)
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 large yam or sweet potato, diced
1/2 pomegranate, seeded
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup Goat or Feta cheese, optional
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Olive oil, drizzled

Vinaigrette Ingredients

1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 small shallot, cut in quarters

Instructions

Blend all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and pour into cruet. Set aside.

Cut yams or sweet potatoes into ¼ inch size cubes. Toss with olive oil, maple syrup and cinnamon. Roast in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until tender. Let cool.

Wash kale and remove stems. If using curly kale, tear into small pieces into a large bowl. Pour 4 Tbsps of vinaigrette onto kale and massage with your hands for 2 minutes to soften the kale leaves. (If using baby kale, skip this step.)

Remove the seeds from pomegranate into a small bowl.

Layer the red onion, roasted yams, pomegranate seeds, pecans and goat or feta cheese over the kale.

Serve with additional vinaigrette and enjoy!

Cuban Black Beans & Kale

Cuban Black Beans & Kale

A quick Cuban vegetarian-style pot of black beans (ready in 20 minutes)

Ingredients:

8 oz of fresh store-bought salsa/pica de gallo or homemade:

4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 head fresh cilantro
2 cloves small garlic

1 tablespoon jalapeño, chopped (remove seeds for less spicy flavor)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 14-oz cans black beans
1 cup of vegetable broth/stock
4 cups kale, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Instructions:

If using the fresh salsa or pica de gallo, you can skip the next steps.  Otherwise, cut the tomatoes, bell pepper and onion into large chunks. Place them into a food processor along with the cilantro, garlic and pulse until vegetables are chopped fairly small but not pulsed into a paste.

Add olive oil to a medium sized stock pot. Over medium heat, add vegetables and jalapeno and saute until softened about 5-8 minutes.

Drain the liquid from just 2 of the 3 cans of black beans.  (For a thicker bean consistency, drain all three cans of black beans.)  Add all the cans of beans to the vegetables, the broth, the seasonings and the honey.

Bring the beans to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Add the chopped kale and cook another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (based on taste). Taste beans and adjust spices as necessary.

Serve over whole grain rice, cornbread or stuffed into a tortilla.  Add cilantro as garnish.

Citrus Kale Salad

Citrus Kale Salad

10 cups kale, chopped or torn
¼ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
¼ cup red onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 whole avocado, chopped
½ cup quinoa, cooked
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Sea salt

Pour the lemon juice, lime juice and EVOO onto the chopped kale. Massage kale with hands to soften leaves.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Serves 2-4 people.