The cold and dark months of winter might seem like a bleak time of year for a nation of outdoors enthusiasts, but it’s actually the ideal season to feed your soul and nurture your health with fresh, nutritious fruit and vegetables.
5+ A Day Project Manager Carmel Ireland says while the lower sunshine hours and shorter days can lead to a loss in energy and put a strain on mental health, the choices we make at mealtimes can not only reverse the ‘winter blues’ but also boost your immunity.
“This is the time to embrace the indoors and lift your mood with your favourite music and food for the soul that incorporates the freshest seasonal fruit and vegetables,” says Ireland.
Winter fruit are a powerhouse of vitamins. In season at this time of year are kiwifruit, tamarillos and lemons. Navel oranges – that half-time sport’s staple – will be in soon. All of these locally-grown fruit provide a high level of Vitamin C which supports immunity and is critical to managing chronic diseases, heart health and blood pressure.
“Adding winter fruit into your day can be as simple as a scoop of tamarillo on your porridge in the morning or a yummy, warm kiwifuit crumble for a healthy end to the day,” she says.
Winter is the perfect time to embrace slow cooking methods, whether you’re taking the time to put on your favourite music and try out a new recipe or throwing together a crock-pot of fresh winter vegetables and fresh herbs to create tasty, nutritious meals.
“Soups, stews and roasted vegetables really come into their own at this time of year. Parsnips, carrots and potatoes are a seasonal favourite and form the base of so many budget-friendly meals for the whole family,” says Ireland.
“Winter is also a good time to keep up your green vegetable intake with kale, broccoli and fresh herbs providing an important source of a wide range of vitamins and minerals as well as excellent dietary fibre.”
Current vegetable superstar, cauliflower, is also in season over the winter months.
“Cauliflower is so versatile, whether you’re serving it as a rice substitute, or roasted and spiced, or mixed with other vegetables to bulk up a meal, it’s a nutritious winter staple for family dinners,” says Ireland.