Why You Should Be Eating Seasonally & How to Do It in Winter
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First things first—what do I mean by eating “seasonally”? Basically, you should be trying to include foods in your diet that are grown at the same time of the year you eat them. And if you think it’s not possible in the cold winter months in a country like Canada, you’re wrong! Read on to understand why you should be trying to eat seasonally, and how to do it this winter (even in Canada!).
Reason #1: Nutrition
The nutrients in fruits and vegetables start to decline as soon as they’re harvested. And in Canada, it’s very common for out-of-season produce to spend up to 5 days in transit and then sit on the supermarket shelves for 1-3 days. Once we bring them home, they might sit in our refrigerators for up to 7 days. Over this time (up to 15 days overall!), produce is losing a surprising amount of nutrients. A study done at University of California shows that within a week, vegetables can lose 15-55% of vitamin C. The same study shows that spinach can lose 90% within the first 24 hours following harvest.1
Hack: Buying frozen out-of-season items is a better option than fresh from a nutrition standpoint. Frozen produce is processed immediately after harvesting so it retains more nutrients than fresh. Personally, I love snacking on frozen fruit—some of my favourites are cherries, blueberries, and mango. Frozen fruit also works well in smoothies or yogurt.
Reason #2: Environmental Costs
Most of us have become accustom to having the same produce available throughout the year and so are disconnected from the source of our food. On top of this, the price usually doesn’t vary by much, making it very easy to forget how far our food is travelling and the corresponding environmental impact. Once you think about it, there’s an obvious high environmental impact of transporting produce across the world, so think local when possible!
Reason #3: Our Bodies Have Seasonal Needs
Throughout the year, our bodies thrive on different foods. As the seasons change, so do our cravings thanks to factors such as temperature and time spent outdoors.
The natural cycle of produce is designed to support our health. For example, in the summer heat, we thrive on foods that cool us down and hydrate us—think watermelons, berries, and cucumbers. In the winter, we thrive on heavier foods that keep us warm—roasted squash, potato, and cabbage. There are also certain spices that help keep us warm, like ginger and cayenne. Keeping in mind these seasonal requirements is an easy way to stay healthier and more nourished (especially during the colder months!).
Reason #4: Taste
Another great reason to eat with the seasons is taste. Foods taste much better when they’re fresh. When we eat out of season, our palette gets used to weak tasting produce and we forget how flavourful fresh foods really can be. If you decide to eat seasonally, you’ll quickly discover the many fresh winter vegetables at your disposal that you might otherwise have ignored in the past—but that are actually delicious and full of nutrients!
How to Eat Seasonally in the Winter
Here are some of my favourite winter recipes. They use seasonal ingredients and are warm and hearty. And, like most of what I cook, they’re quick and easy. I hope you love them as much I do!
Cozy Butternut, Sweet Potato, and Red Lentil Stew – Angela Liddon (Oh She Glows)
Photo credit: https://ohsheglows.com/
I love this stew for so many reasons! It’s filling, healthy, and super easy to make. Another plus is that this recipe makes enough for leftovers (since it’s usually just two of us at dinner) and can then be easily reheated for lunches throughout the week.
Chicken-Ginger Noodle Soup
For me, chicken soup is the ultimate comfort food! This hearty chicken-ginger noodle soup recipe is one of my all-time favourites. It tastes amazing and is full of essential nutrients for cold and flu season. Garlic is a powerful ingredient that boosts immune function and helps fight infection. And ginger is another star ingredient that helps fight infections, reduce inflammation, and relieve many forms of nausea.
During the winter months especially, I like to drink lots of warm beverages and elixirs. They’re quick to make, delicious, and you can easily add-in “superfoods”. My go-to is a turmeric latte. Below is a base recipe and some optional add-ins—basically, I use the base recipe often and then add in whatever else my body needs at that time.
- 1.5 cups hot water
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons hemp hearts
- ½ – 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- Raw honey to taste
- 1 tablespoon goji berries (great source of antioxidants)
- ½ teaspoon maca (may help with energy levels, mood, and hormonal balance)
- ½ teaspoon ashwaganda powder (helps to lower cortisol levels)
- ½ teaspoon fresh ginger (helps relieve nausea and sooth an upset stomach)
Instructions: Blend till smooth and enjoy!
Aly is a Certified Nutrition Practitioner (CNP) who graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and holds a BA from Western University. Aly’s warm and approachable demeanor empowers her clients to take control of their health. She uses a realistic approach, with an emphasis on balance and whole foods to personally address your nutrition needs. Aly believes that eating healthy isn’t about being perfect, it’s about having a plan you can stick to that gives you energy while allowing you to eat the foods you love. Aly believes that with the right tools and guidance you can make positive lifestyle changes to enjoy a happier and healthier life!