Eating Right in the Dead of (Canadian) Winter

Canadian snowflakes, cozy blankets, rich hot chocolate…

Trust me, I miss the summer as much as you. Although, winter has a lot going for it fresh produce is usually not high on that list. In colder climates like here in Canada land, eating locally through the winter can be downright challenging.  (It's not easy to finding fresh veggies in the Okanagan at this time of year, hence why markets close and the big guys ship in more Mexican produce.)

While our #FoodMovement is steeped in local, organic foods, we can't quite head "back to the garden" when there's still remnants of snow and cloudy days predicted for weeks. We can't head to the lovely farmers' market each Saturday from November through March and find fresh foods.

But, there is some good news: Every meal doesn’t have to revolve around potatoes and onions until April. (Can you imagine if it did?) With a bit of advanced planning and of course a dash of creativity, it IS possible to eat fresh foods (and vegetables!) with plenty of nutrients and flavor all winter long.

You just have to think easy, simple foods.

Pro Insight: When you cut down on spending for junk foods, you do have more $$ available for foods that are a bit higher in price than they are in the summer or fall.

So what's the best way to eat in the dead of winter?

Think root vegetables, whole grains and roasting/steaming/baking lots! Raw salads, fruit smoothies or juices just aren't super ideal in the dead of winter. Check out below for the list of vitamin-rich cold-weather foods you need to stock up on right now.

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  • Winter squashes (Acorn, butternut, kabocha, golden and delicata squash are all at their prime during the fall and winter.)
  • Cabbage
  • Leeks
  • Kale, Collards
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

Being indoors more, we have more time to get into a cooking routine, that hopefully we can stick with to through the spring and summer! Try these seasonal soup/stew recipes: garlic & leek soup, african peanut stew (my favourite right now!)

Those are amazing veggies to incorporate in larger amounts in your dinners (and leftover soups/stews make lunch time easier!) Because we won't be eating as much fresh fruits and vegetables like salads or berries (which is good, they are best in spring & summer anyways as they are cleansing foods) we can think more about 'building' foods and can work to start increasing your intake of:

  • free-range, organic meats
  • sourdough bread
  • cooked whole grains like brown rice 
  • organic nuts + seeds
  • farm-fresh eggs

Read more about these kinds of building foods (and taking care of yourself in the winter) here.

The BC Farmer's Market tells us what's about to be in season.... so here's foods to incorporate more, based on where you're located in BC!

What's in season in March?

South West B.C.: Fresh - apples, cabbage (savoy, red), cucumber, kale, kiwi, leek, onions (red, yellow), peppers, tomatoes
Storage/dried/frozen - beans, beets, cabbage (green), carrots, garlic, parsnip, potatoes (red, russet, yellow), rutabaga, shallots, squash (squash), turnip (white)

Okanagan: Fresh - cabbage (savoy, red), kale, leek
Storage/dried/frozen - beans, beet, cabbage (green), carrots, garlic, parsnip, potates (red, russet, yellow), rutabaga, shallots, turnip (white)

Kootenays: Fresh - apples, arugula, beets, burdock root, leek, mushrooms (oyster, shiitake), onion (yellow), parsnip, potatoes, rutabaga, spinach, sunchokes

Northern B.C.: Storage/dried/frozen - apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, garlic, mushrooms, onions, parsnip, potatoes, rutabaga

Vancouver Island: Fresh - apples, kale, leek, mushrooms, onions (red, yellow)

The best way to eat clean in the winter is to spend time prepping meals like soups and stews or healthy casseroles.

Prep is Key: These are the foods that are seasonal in early spring - and are foods we want to eat in the winter as well. While they may not come from local sources, a whole food from further away is better than a packaged food because we couldn't buy a vegetable.

Planning ahead gives you more time to do it, as we aren't as active outside you can use your spare time from planning to do healthy self-care practices and easy starter steps for taking better care that won't eat at your budget but will keep your immunity strong. 

To learn about the best way to do smart meal planning, check out my post on this here. You'll be able to afford healthier foods when you save by not buying junk food.

Good luck- remember - spring is just around the corner!

(Know all this but not actually taking action? Book a consultation for nutrition coaching in the Okanagan today!)