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10 Fruits & Veggies to Brighten Winter Meals

Get more energy, boost your mood, and keep the doctor away with these colorful fruits and veggies.
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If you need relief from dreary winter days, the produce department is a great place to get started. Research shows upping your daily intake of colorful, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables can have a major impact on physical and mental wellness. Here’s the best part: Putting more plant power on the table is also a delicious way to break out of the same old eating routine. Check out our top 10 must-have produce with tasty recipes that prove when it comes to nutrition, an apple a day is just the beginning.  

1. Jicama  
This root vegetable from Mexico is one versatile vegetable. Add to any salad for extra crunch, slice and bake or cook in the air fryer for chips, or grate and add to a cabbage slaw. The white flesh is juicy, starchy, and slightly sweet, like a cross between a potato and a pear. It also contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that may help increase the good bacteria in your gut. It’s great when you’re craving the freshness and crunch of salad. Here we’ve added avocado for creaminess and clementines for sweetness to create a winter winner.

Jicama, Clementine, and Avocado Salad

2. Beets 

It’s hard to overlook a plate of vibrant, reddish-purple beets, and you shouldn’t, because they’re loaded with nutrients. In addition to being a source of potassium, vitamin C, and iron, beets are also a good source of fiber, making them a good choice for digestive health. The colorful root veggie, also available in the equally nutritious golden variety, has a mildly sweet, earthy flavor that works in salads, smoothies, and even pasta. We love the tangy flavor and versatility of balsamic-honey glazed beets that cook in the air fryer for a delicious-at-any-temperature side dish or snack.  

Air Fryer Glazed Beets

3. Sweet Potatoes 

You might be surprised by the amount of nutrients hiding in one little sweet potato. Chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even a little protein, sweet potatoes’ numerous health benefits have earned them the label of superfood. Conveniently, their sweet flavor and light, fluffy texture make them easy to incorporate into family-friendly meals.  The next time you’re craving a loaded baked potato, try subbing sweet potatoes for russets. We love the combo of umami-rich miso paste and chickpeas stuffed inside these sweet spuds that cook in the microwave.  

Sweet Potatoes with Miso Chickpeas

4. Leafy greens 
There’s a reason mom always said, “eat your greens.” Bite for bite, dark leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and romaine, boast a variety of important nutrients. Delicious raw, sauteed, or roasted (crispy kale chips, anyone?), hearty greens are a versatile way to pack extra nutrients, including bone-strengthening calcium, into any meal. This budget-friendly skillet with the earthy flavor of za’atar seasoning is bulked up with spinach and kale, along with chickpeas for even more fiber. 

Chicken with Smashed Chickpeas

5. Bananas 

The next time your sweet tooth is calling, grab a banana and go ape! A good source of potassium, an essential mineral for regulating heartbeat, blood pressure, and hydration, bananas also provide fiber, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They’re one of the easiest fruits to digest, so they’re an ideal source of nutrients for anyone with gastrointestinal issues (especially kids). Naturally sweet bananas and applesauce take the place of sugar in these gluten-free muffins with fiber-rich oats and chocolate chips that work as breakfast, snack, or dessert.  

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

6. Blueberries 
Despite their small size and low calories, blueberries pack a big nutritional punch and loads of flavor. The antioxidants that give blueberries their color have been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers, especially when part of an overall healthy diet. Fresh or frozen blueberries add the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness to smoothies, oatmeal, salads, and these blueberry-studded, fiber-packed flapjacks that take the (pan)cake. 

Blueberry-Oatmeal Pancakes

7. Broccoli  
Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable and nutritional powerhouse, provides vitamin C, iron, potassium, and fiber, just to name a few of its benefits. If you have a reluctant broccoli-eater on your hands, try this crowd-pleasing recipe inspired by Chinese takeout. Frozen riced broccoli and cauliflower blend – a smart time-saver for adding veggies to any meal – bulks up the nutrient content (and cuts the carbs of traditional rice) in this five-ingredient beef and broccoli stir-fry.  

Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry

8. Cauliflower  
Another member of the cruciferous vegetable family, cauliflower boasts many of the same health benefits as its green cousin, broccoli. While this veggie is yummy on its own, roasted or steamed, it’s also incredibly versatile, shape-shifting into a substitute for grains, potatoes, and even pizza crust, making it an ideal alternative for someone needing to watch carb intake or find gluten-free options. Here, riced cauliflower is also an abundant source of folate, an essential mineral for prenatal health. This versatile veggie can shape-shift into a substitute for higher carb ingredients, including grains, potatoes, and even pizza crust, making it a great addition to any weight management plan. Here, riced cauliflower morphs into tender pillows of homemade gnocchi topped with marinara that will satisfy any pasta craving.  

Cauliflower Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce

9. Avocado 
Rich, creamy avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, important for increasing your ‘good’ cholesterol. Avocados also offer a slew of other nutrients like fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, an essential mineral for eye and skin health. Research suggests a diet rich in avocados may also help to lower blood pressure and manage cholesterol. In addition to rounding out salads and sandwiches, the fruit (it’s true, avocados are technically a single seeded berry) has skyrocketed in popularity as a topper for morning toast. We took things up a level by adding creamy, red pepper hummus and fresh mint. 

Toast with Hummus and Avocado

10. Citrus 
If you’re looking for a way to support your immune system and possibly shorten the length of a cold, look no further than citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits! Vitamin C, an essential nutrient that your body can’t make, also helps to heal wounds and maintain healthy skin. Tangy-sweet oranges and bright lemons are a natural flavor match with heart-healthy salmon, a great source of protein and omega-3s. Combine them and you have a feel-good meal loaded with nutrients that looks as good as it tastes. 

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Citrus and Herbs

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