For many, the winter is a time to detox, cleanse and abide by newly made resolutions. It is also a time of endless cold, snow, hibernation, and comfort food. Not exactly the ideal combination for those seeking renewal and rejuvenation. That’s why winter is the perfect time to restock your pantry and swap out unhealthy comfort foods with healthy, nutrient-dense staples.
Here are 10 Healthy Winter Staples that will see you through any cold day:
Beans: Beans (cannellini, chickpeas, black, kidney, pinto, lentils, etc…) are essential for winter cooking, low in fat, and an excellent source of protein and fiber. Stir them into winter soups, stews and salads or turn them into filling veggie burgers and dips.
Nuts: Not only are nuts the perfect cholesterol lowering snack, they are a great addition to any meal. Slice or chop them in your salad, toast and toss them with vegetables or grains or crush them to coat poultry and fish.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is the quintessential wintertime breakfast. For a cooking twist, grind it into a powder to make muffins, breads, pancakes or used as a healthy alternative to breadcrumbs and flour when creating a crisp crunch on sautéed chicken.
Whole Wheat and Brown Rice Pasta: Whole wheat and brown rice pastas are the ultimate quick, easy, and healthy dinnertime lifesaver. Whether tossed with vegetables, tomato sauce, beans, chicken, seafood, herbs or high-quality olive oil, you truly can’t go wrong.
Whole Grains: Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and faro are high in fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins. More than just an ideal side dish, these grains can create the base of a hearty and delicious meal. Use brown rice in a stir-fry, Farro instead of white Arborio rice in your risotto, or quinoa in soups and salads. Barley, buckwheat, kasha and polenta also top my list of nutritious whole grain staples.
Canned Tuna: Tuna packed in olive oil is high in omega-3’s, doesn’t need to be cooked and is delicious. What’s not to love? Chop celery, onion, toasted walnuts and dried cranberries to create a wonderful sandwich or salad topper.
Canned Tomatoes: Canned tomatoes, whether whole, diced, crushed, or pureed, provide the necessary flavor and consistency to create a great sauce, soup or hearty stew. If that’s not enough, the also have cancer-fighting properties.
Dried Vegetables: Dried porcini mushrooms, dried chile peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes are a terrific addition to any meal, adding powerful antioxidants and loads of flavor in very little time.
Dried Fruit: In the winter months when fresh, organic fruit is hard to come by, dried fruits such as dates, raisins, currants, cranberries, apricots, and figs are a delicious and beneficial substitute. Whether used in smoothies, trail mix, salads, breads, soups or stews, they are an indispensable wintertime staple.
Condiments: Vinegars/Oils/Herbs/Spices: Extra-virgin olive oil, low-sodium soy sauce, red wine, balsamic and rice vinegars, cumin, dried thyme, capers, olives and anything else that will add tons of flavor to your meal without adding any extra guilt.