0

Cooking Fresh in the ‘Off Season’

Fresh Winter Pears NCES CatalogAs winter settles in throughout most of the country, are you finding that you’re tired of cooking from a can? When spring arrives, it’s exciting to start buying fresh and cooking light, fresh meals with seasonal fruits and vegetables. But, why wait until spring? Instead, adjust your recipes to include fresh fruits and vegetables that are in-season throughout the winter months. Here are a couple of freshtastic foods that have more flavor this time of year than any other!

Brussels Sprouts: If you just said “Gross!” under your breath, you should be ashamed! The days of mushy canned brussels sprouts are gone forever… at least for us. Instead, we’ve found ways to bake, broil and sauté these little gems into tasty side dishes full of flavor and freshness.

Simple and Light Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Food Network

Fresh, Citrusy Brussels Sprouts with Walnut-Lemon Vinaigrette – If you close your eyes, you may think it’s summer

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions – Talk about comfort food!

Pears: Growing up, canned pears were always a favorite snack in my house. Probably because they were canned in sugary syrup. But, have you tried a freshly sliced pear that’s never seen the inside of a can? I prefer a freshly cut pear over the canned variety any day. So, for the spring and summer, remember that an apple a day will keep the doctor away. But, for the winter months, switch to pears for a naturally sweet treat. These are great fresh or cooked in to your favorite dish as a replacement for apples.

Sweet Potatoes: There is a reason that sweet potatoes are a staple at every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal… they are at their finest during the holidays. Although sweet potato casseroles are the most common way we see sweet potatoes prepared, there are so many different ways to cook and enjoy them.

Spiced Sweet Potato Chips – Forget store-bought chips. This is the only snack you’ll need all winter!

Two-Toned Mashed Potatoes – A sweet twist on an old holiday favorite!

Because of the selection of frozen foods in most grocery stores these days, we can enjoy most foods all year long. However, if you have a hankering for fresh (never frozen, never canned) foods in the winter months, remember that there are foods that are in season this time of year. You may have to think outside the box to prepare them. But, rest assured that your palate will appreciate the change in flavor! For a larger list of seasonal fruits and veggies, visit fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org. What are your favorite fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter months? Share them here on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter

0

Please Help Me Avoid the Flu Epidemic of 2013

Young Male Doctor Wearing Protective Headgear and Face MaskThis morning, before I left the house, I went to the usual section of my wardrobe that has all the winter clothes in it. I put together an outfit of warm clothes. Then, before I left, I grabbed the warmest coat I have, gloves and even a hat because it was pretty chilly. But, if you are like me, you fight the temptation every morning to put on some sort of mask to protect you from all the flu germs that seem to be saturating the air this time of year. This winter is no exception! Every day, there is a breaking news story about how the flu outbreak is affecting so many Americans. So, even though we don’t all hide from it like the plague, most of us are still concerned about how to avoid getting the flu and letting it infiltrate our houses.

As many of you know, there are other measures you can take to avoid getting the flu besides getting the flu shot. Although the flu is very tricky and can’t be figured out completely, we’ve identified some power foods to be sure to include in your diet this time of year to help fight the flu germs that threaten us at every grocery store, office meeting and social gathering.

Citrus Fruits: I know. Usually you’ll see multiple blog posts in the Spring and Summer encouraging you to eat fresh fruits and veggies. They’re in season and so fresh at that time of year. Plus, they’re easy to find and fun to eat. This time of year, they kind of get left in the dust (literally). But, citrus fruits like Oranges, Grapefruits and Limes contain high levels of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a great food to have on hand when it comes to fighting cold and flu viruses.

Milk, Cheese and Yogurt: That’s right. Did you catch the trend here? Dairy! Dairy foods are a common source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D goes to work to fight viruses like the flu, helping to protect your body from their effects.
Meat: You may not pay a lot of attention to the amount of Zinc in your diet. But, zinc is important in keeping your immune system healthy and fighting off the flu. So, if you want to have a well-rounded flu prevention program, be sure to incorporate the appropriate servings of meat to take advantage of the zinc benefits. Just another little tip, red meats tend to have higher zinc levels than other meats.

Berries and Green Tea: If you’re looking for anti-oxidants, welcome to anti-oxidant central! Berries contain high levels of antioxidants, which are great for cleaning the free radicals out of your blood stream. Along with making your body healthier to help prevent the flu, antioxidants have also been touted as a great anti-aging tool and a way to help prevent many diseases.
So, here’s wishing all of you a flu-free 2013. And, be sure to share these tips with all of your favorite friends to help them avoid the flu too.

Do you have a place to display the best flu prevention tips? If so, NCES has created a free printable poster all about flu prevention. Click here to view and download this free poster.

2

Will I Freeze if I Drink Water in the Winter?

First off, the answer to that question is No! But, for most of us, drinking water in the winter is harder. I know it’s harder for me! In the summer, when the temperatures are high and the sweat just keeps rolling, it’s easy to remember that we need to drink water. But, it’s important to remember that it is equally important for our bodies to stay hydrated in the winter too.

There are a lot of tricks you can use to make sure you’re getting enough water in the winter. Keeping some kind of handy tracking tool close by can help you keep track of how much water you’re drinking any given day. But sometimes, it’s not just about keeping track of your water intake; it’s forcing yourself to actually drink it.

Did you know that many foods are high in water content and can help keep your body hydrated? Just a little disclaimer here though… eating foods that are high in water content doesn’t replace the need to drink water. They only help keep your body hydrated so you don’t have to drink as much water. So, here’s our list of foods that contain a lot of tissue moistening, joint lubricating H2O!

  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon (Or really any melon for that matter)
  • Lemons & Limes
  • Leafy Greens
  • Eggplant
  • Squash – All squash are good, but some have higher content than others
  • Strawberries
  • Broth Based Soups – Sorry guys, potato soup doesn’t count here!
  • Popsicles/Juice Bars
  • Sorbet/Sherbet

That looks like a list of pretty good foods to me. By incorporating some of these foods in to your diet each day, you can greatly reduce your need to drink as much water as you would without them. Trust me, your body will thank you!

What kind of foods do you enjoy eating that are high in H2O content? As always, share your thoughts here on the blog. We love to hear from you!