We all know we need to eat a decent helping of fruit and veg every day but it seems so much simpler when the days are long, warm and bright. The sunny weather calls out for leafy greens, crunchy salads and refreshing fruit smoothies.
Come winter? A bowl of lettuce doesn’t quite have the same appeal. We crave those warming dishes that fill our bellies with a comfort like no other. Shepard’s pie, chilli and rice, chicken casserole, beef stew: hearty, wholesome and delightfully heavy.
We know that eating denser, earthy vegetables will help us fight flu and keep our energy levels up but, during these cold and dark nights, do we rely too much on those old favourites, those cupboard classics we rustle up when all we want to do is put our feet up?
If you’re vegged out, pied-off and generally lacking in food inspiration, stick these nutritionally charged cold weather weapons in your shopping trolley.
Packed full of dietary fibre, beta-carotene, vitamins A and C plus a helping of antioxidants for good measure, sweet potato is well-worthy of a place on your cold-fighting crusade. Swap your standard white spuds for these creamier nutritional powerhouses.
Start off simple with a big bowl of crunchy sweet potato fries, or go in all guns blazing with an overstuffed Mexican-style potato with peppers, jalapenos, chillies and beans. Fancy something sweeter than sweet? Fudgy sweet potato brownies are actually a thing.
All hail the beetroot. One of the brightest occupants of the fruit and veg aisle, the humble beet is positively bursting with vitamins, antioxidants, folate and fibre. Lower blood pressure, reduced bad cholesterol, a stronger immune system and increased energy - just some of the health benefits linked to this purple veg. What are you waiting for?!
Brighten up the dinner table with an uber-creamy bowl of beetroot and parsnip soup - the perfect starter on a cold winter’s evening. Or, make it part of your main with a ruby red beetroot risotto with tangy feta cheese.
Sit kale at the top of your shopping list; it’s low in calories, high in fibre and contains zero fat. Hailing from the same family as cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts, kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods around. Need more convincing? It’s pretty darn delicious too.
The beauty of this super-green leaf is its incredible versatility, making it just as great in an earthy winter squash stew as it is in a supercharged vegetable juice. Kale chips make one addictively crispy snack too, and they’re much healthier than your standard salt and vinegar.
A frighteningly good source of essential vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants, a little leek can go a long way - from keeping digestion moving to maintaining healthy bones. A close but much milder relative of garlic and onions, trust us when we say you NEED leeks in your life.
The crème de la crème of comfort food, it’s hard to beat a rich leek and potato soup – though we’re more than willing to give it a try. Where winter cuisine is concerned, herby, creamy leek linguine ticks the essential boxes: ridiculously filling and unbelievably satisfying.
A delicious way to keep vitamin A and B levels topped up: eat Brussel sprouts. They’re also a great source of vitamin C, which helps protect the body from free radicals and boasts impressive anti-aging properties.
Brussel sprouts aren’t just for Christmas; roast them in balsamic vinegar or mix it up with smashed sprouts mash with a tangy Parmesan topping - tasty enough to convert even the most hardened sprouts shirkers.