Fruits and Vegetables: Eating More During the Winter Months

Elaine M. Hinzey, RD, LDN

January 2016

Eating fruits and vegetables is so easy in the summer, a pint of berries here, a soft peach there, but come winter, all bets are off for your fruit and vegetable intake. Sure, most fruits and vegetables are available across the country year round these days, but for some, they may not be as appealing during the winter months.

However, you can find plenty of ways to reap all of the health benefits of produce, even when it is dreary and colder outside.

Look for seasonal produce
Stick with produce that is in season, as much as possible. The following fruits and vegetables are abundant and fresh during the winter months:

Fruits
Bananas
Clementines
Cranberries
Grapefruit
Grapes
Guava
Kiwi
Kumquat
Lemons
Limes
Mandarin oranges
Oranges
Pears
Persimmons
Pomegranates
Tangerines

Vegetables
Artichokes
Avocados
Beets
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Kale
Leeks
Lettuce
Parsnips
Potatoes
Radishes
Rhubarb
Rutabaga
Turnips
Snow peas
Sweet potatoes
Watercress
Winter squash

Fill up on fruits and vegetables first

One of the main reasons that people eat fewer fruits and vegetables during the winter months, and particularly during the holidays, is because they fill up on other types of food first. Make eating fruits and vegetables first a priority, and then eat other types of food afterward.

Keep it simple
Do not overthink the idea of including fruits and vegetables?just work it into your daily plan. Try these ideas:

Add a handful of frozen berries to your oatmeal
Put mushrooms, onion, spinach, pineapple, or peppers on your pizza
Add banana slices to your peanut butter toast
Look at every time that you eat as a challenge and an opportunity for creativity. Work some produce into the mix, even if it is not a full serving.

Choose from all forms
You do not need to always use fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables count just the same as fresh ones. If the fruit is canned in heavy syrup, drain it well. If vegetables are canned with salt, drain and rinse them before eating.

Make it appetizing
Some people notice that their appetite changes during the winter months. Warm food and spices may seem more appealing. You can make most fruits and vegetables suit your need for comfort foods during the cold months. For example:

Baked fruit, such as pears or apples, are great with a little honey and cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Add applesauce, diced banana, raisins, and diced pears to oatmeal, serve them on top of pancakes or waffles, or fold them into a muffin batter.
Roast butternut squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, beets, or carrots and make them either savory or sweet, depending on the herbs and spices you choose.
Soups are a great way to add vegetables to your diet. Buy lower-sodium canned soup and add extra veggies to it, or make your own soups and add more veggies than the recipe calls for.
Do not give the idea of a cold salad another thought if it does not appeal to you, but if it does, add some diced apples or pears, toasted pecans, and warm chicken strips to that salad, and top it with a nice warmed maple vinaigrette or other seasonal dressing.

Review Date:
Friday, March 6, 2015
Author:
Elaine M. Hinzey, RD, LDN