‘Tis the season to crave comfort food—and usually we don’t associate that with veggies. But summer isn’t the only time to eat seasonally: winter produce can be absolutely delicious, and integrating some of it into your regular diet doesn’t have to mean eating salads! That’s right, vegetables can be comforting this time of year, too. We whipped up a few of our favorite ways to sneak them into some of our favorite craveable dishes.
Those “white carrots” in the produce section actually aren’t carrots at all…they’re parsnips! The cool temps help convert some of the root vegetable’s starches to sugars, making these sweeter than their orange counterparts. Don’t let their lack of color fool you, either—parsnips pack plenty of nutrients, too. Cup for cup, parsnips contain three times as much vitamin C as carrots, which may help repair and protect skin during the harsh winter months.
Prep tip: Select small to medium ones because larger versions can have a tough, woody core. To prepare, scrub the skin and trim ends. Parsnips can be cooked just like potatoes or carrots: Since they are naturally sweet, they caramelize well when roasted. Or put a yummy new spin on mashed potatoes, by boiling parsnips with equal amounts of chopped peeled potato until tender, then mash with milk or chicken stock and stir in a generous helping of parmesan cheese.
Feeling stressed? Run down? Round, root vegetables, turnips are a natural source of dietary nitrate, which can dilate blood vessels and help improve blood flow. In other words, turnips may help keep your blood pressure on an even keel and even give your workout that extra edge.
Prep tip: Turnips are typically available in most produce sections and have a creamy white bottom and purple top. They may even have their edible green tops (bonus, two veggies in one!) Simply remove the tops, wash in cold water and sauté them in olive oil until tender for a healthy green side dish). Turnips they make a hearty side for a Sunday roast—or, try something unexpected and make turnip fries. Peel the veggies and slice into fry-shaped matchsticks, toss with olive oil, garlic salt, and paprika and bake at 425 degrees until crispy.
Prized for its noodle-like texture, spaghetti squash is a smart swap for pasta. One cup has 40 calories and 10g carbs compared to traditional pasta’s 220 calories and 43g carbs per cup. Its sweet taste and satisfying texture means you don’t have to be watching your carbs or counting your calories to enjoy it either. Plus, the fiber in spaghetti squash can help slow digestion, keeping you feeling full for longer.
Prep tip: A common cooking mistake is to steam the squash, which leaves you with watery, short strands. For longer, drier spaghetti-like strands, cut the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and cut each half into half-moon slices. Drizzle slices with oil, sea salt, and pepper, then roast at 400 degrees until tender. Remove the skin, separate the strands and serve topped with a rich marinara sauce, meatballs, and parmesan cheese.
Brussels may have gotten a bad rap for being overcooked in the past, but they’re definitely worth another taste. Especially because of their stellar nutrition stats: just half a cup of packs 80% DV of your vitamin C, which can support immune function – especially important during the cold and flu months.You’ll also get more than an entire days’ worth of vitamin K—an important vitamin for bone health (hello ski trips!).
Prep tip: The good news is that you can avoid overcooking them (no stink!) by roasting, broiling, or sautéing. Slice off brown ends, discard any yellow or shriveled outer leaves, and cut in half. At Freshly, we lightly glaze them with balsamic vinegar and coconut nectar. Then roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for about a half hour, or until tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Or try shredding them and sauté with a slice or two of chopped, center-cut bacon, then top with crunchy toasted pecans.