Before the mass importation and exportation of food a few decades ago, there was no choice but to eat seasonally. That was all that was available.  Today, you can pretty much buy anything you want all year around.  But learn from local farmers: if it’s not available it’s a good indication you’re not meant to be eating it.

Here are a couple of suggestions for healthy food available in the winter.

Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens, such as kale, chard and collards, thrive in the chill of winter when the rest of the produce section looks pretty grim. A frost can actually enhance the flavour of kale by taking away the bitterness.  These greens are rich in vitamins A, C and K. Collards, mustard greens and escarole are also excellent sources of folate.

Here is a recipe using 2 types of dark greens.

Baked Eggs with Spinach and Chard

 Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves, roughly-chopped into bit-sized pieces
  • 2 cups packed fresh Swiss chard leaves, removed from stem and roughly-chopped into bit-sized pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 tbsp milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Carefully break the eggs into small bowls so that the yolks stay intact. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, until just beginning to brown. Add the spinach and the Swiss chard to the skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally until the greens begin to wilt and cook down but are still bright green, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove the greens from the heat and divide into 2 oven-safe ramekins or small, shallow baking dishes. Top each with two eggs. Drizzle each dish with the cream, then top with a sprinkling of Parmesan and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cream begins to bubble and the eggs are cooked to your desired doneness. Serve immediately.

Winter Squash

There are many varieties of winter squash—including butternut, hubbard, acorn,  and spaghetti squash.  All are great choices in the winter. One cup of cooked winter squash has few calories (around 80) but is high in vitamin A (214 percent of the recommended daily value) and vitamin C (33 percent), as well as being a good source of vitamins B6 and K, potassium and folate.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup (adapted very slightly from the blog “Flavor The Moment”)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 8-10 servings

This soup is full of the  flavour of roasted butternut squash and pears , with some maple syrup added to the mix. This is pure comfort food, excellent with a garnish of choice.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4-5 cups butternut squash, cut into 1″ cubes (about 1 medium butternut squash)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and quartered – could substitute apples
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • salt, to taste
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt, chopped dried cranberries, and chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the pear (or apples) and cinnamon, tossing gently to coat with the olive oil and cinnamon. Roast for an additional 20 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and caramelized. Remove from the oven.

In a large pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the broth and stir until combined. Add the roasted squash and pear to the pot.

Puree the soup in a blender in two batches until perfectly smooth. Make sure the insert in the lid has been removed as the liquid will be very hot and the steam will need to escape. Pour the pureed soup into a serving bowl or pot and stir in the maple syrup, and salt to taste. Serve in bowls with garnishes if desired. Enjoy!