Thursday, January 29, 2009

9 Healthiest Winter Vegetables

I thought I would post this article by Donna Gates, author of The Body Ecology Diet book and contributor on Intent.

Winter is here and unless you live in warmer climates, many of us spend the majority of our time indoors. The gardens may be frozen over, but that does not mean you can't enjoy the bounty of the earth and use this winter to heal! Plenty of vegetables thrive in winter, making this the perfect season to use them in your favorite recipes. I recommend that you choose organic produce, whenever possible.

Here are 9 of the healthiest winter vegetables for you to try this season:

  1. Kale

Why? This descendent of wild cabbage is a member of the Cruciferae family, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and collards. Kale originated in Asia Minor; around 600 B.C., and Celtic wanderers most likely brought the vegetable to Europe.

Leafy green kale is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. It also has plenty of dietary fiber, copper, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium. 

Look For: Crisp, tender leaves that are bright in color.

Make: Do not eat these raw. Instead, here's a favorite recipe. Sauté onions in a bit of ghee then, add the chopped Kale. Pour about 2 inches of lightly salted water over the top. Now, slowly pour a small amount of olive oil over the top in a spiral. This will make the kale even more tender. Do not stir until the very end of cooking. Simmer the kale over low heat for at least an hour. Try adding cooked kale to your salads or eat for breakfast or brunch with eggs.

A note about cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts all belong to the Cruciferae family of vegetables. These vegetables when eaten raw and unfermented, may suppress the thyroid. I recommend cooking them to eliminate this tendency. You can also ferment them as fermentation boosts the nutritional content of these vegetables because their nutrients are much more available to you. Read why you need to cook these vegetables or maximum nutrition to learn more.
  2. Artichokes

Why? Artichokes are a great source of fiber and vitamin C, and have minerals like magnesium, folate, copper, potassium and phosphorus. Be sure you cut off all of the point "chokes" before cooking with a pair of scissors. 

Look for: Heavy artichokes that are tightly closed.

Make: Steamed artichokes taste great with little adornment. Cultured butter or olive oil with a squirt of lemon and dash of Celtic Sea Salt are all you need. Cut up steamed artichoke bottoms or "hearts" from last night's dinner into your salad.
  3. Cauliflower

Why? The milky, sweet, nutty flavor of cauliflower is a nice change from stronger-flavored vegetables. 

Even though it lacks chlorophyll, cauliflower has plenty of other nutrients including vitamin C (91.5% of the DV), folate and dietary fiber. Cauliflower is even a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Look for: Tightly packed heads that have no brown spots.

Make: Delicious soups and pureed cauliflower spice up your usual vegetable routine. 
Try Claire's Creamy Curried Carrot and Cauliflower Soup in The Body Ecology Diet book, that also has a delicious Cauliflower Dill soup recipe.
  4. Cabbage (*Also a member of the cruciferous family, see note on kale above.)

Why? Grown in ancient Greece and Rome, cabbage was considered a cure-all for a myriad of health conditions. Later, sailors took sauerkraut (made the traditional way ... see article below) on long voyages to prevent scurvy. Now we know that cabbage (especially fermented cabbage) has amazing anti-cancer properties, and is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

Look For: Tight and firm heads with no broken or bruised leaves.

Make: Check out the Sweet and Sour Savory Cabbage, a favorite Body Ecology recipe. Plus, you can make your own cultured veggies and kimchi for the most beneficial properties of cabbage including cleansing.
  5. Winter Squash

Why? Winter squash comes in a variety of shapes and flavors. Examples are acorn, butternut, buttercup and delicate squash. Pick one (or more) that you enjoy for a delicious and nutritious winter dish. Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber, and a good source of folate and thiamin.
 Look For: A squash that feels heavy for its size. Skin should be thick and hard without blemishes.

Make: One simple and VERY DELICIOUS recipe called "Yummy Baked Acorn Squash." You can also make roasted squash, pureed squash in place of mashed potatoes, or add to a starchy soup.
  6. Brussels Sprouts (another cruciferous vegetable, see note on kale above)

Why? Native to Belgium, specifically Brussels, these little vegetables were once a staple all around Europe. 

They look like perfect miniature cabbages. An excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K, they also have folate, vitamin A, manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 and thiamin (vitamin B1), omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorous, protein, magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin E, copper and calcium. 

Brussels sprouts also have amazing disease-fighting phytochemicals.

Look for: Brussels sprouts of equal size (if they are no longer on the stalk) to ensure they cook evenly. 

Make: Steamed Brussels sprouts with butter and Celtic Sea Salt are excellent. Be sure to cut an x in the stem so that the tightly packed interior leaves also cook. 

For a new twist on ordinary Brussels sprouts, check out this Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts recipe that will make everyone want to eat their vegetables!
  7. Avocadoes

Why? Delicious avocadoes are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E and potassium, and a good source of fiber and iron.

Look for: Avocadoes that yield to soft pressure, are uniform color and have no bruises.

Make: Add half an avocado to a green smoothie, or cut up avocadoes into salad, or enjoy as an edible "dish" along with cultured vegetables. Donna Gates, founder, often cuts them in half, removes the big seed and fills the hole with cultured veggies. She then sprinkles dulse flakes and pumpkin seed oil over the top to create a quick lunch or snack.
  8. Turnip Greens (another cruciferous vegetable, see note on kale above)

Why? Turnip greens are an amazing source of vitamin A (through their concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, copper, calcium, and dietary fiber. These nutrients are of special importance when fighting rheumatoid arthritis, colorectal cancer and atherosclerosis.

Look for: Healthy, un-wilted leaves and moist stems.

Make: Turnip greens cook up beautifully. Slice off the stems and just quickly sauté the leaves with onions and cook until tender.  Mix with other greens for flavor and texture. 
  9. Broccoli (cruciferous vegetable, see note on kale above)

Why? Broccoli contains glucosinolates (special phytochemicals), and the carotenoid, lutein. Broccoli is an excellent source of the vitamins K, C, and A, as well as folate and fiber. Broccoli is a very good source of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and the vitamins B6 and E.

Look for: Firm stems with heads that are a dark green-purple color. Buds should be closed with no sign of yellow flowers.

Make: Broccoli florets can be steamed until tender. They are delicious to eat on the go like in lunch boxes. If you peel the woody part off the stems and you can use them too. Also, steam them for a fiber-rich and crunchy winter vegetable dish.
As you can see, there are so many ways to eat healthy mineral-rich vegetables in the winter months. Winter is the season designed to restore your adrenals, kidneys, and bladder organs. If you have adrenal fatigue or burn out this is your time to harness the power of nature to heal your body. Adrenals need lots and lots of minerals. Winter is perfect for slowing down, resting and reflecting. It's also an ideal time to nourish your body with delicious, vitamin, mineral and phytochemical-packed soups and meals made with nature's perfect super food—vegetables!

Don't forget those ocean veggies either. For more articles like these or to sign up for our free newsletter, visit

For comforting, yummy winter vegetable soups, buy my SOUPer Slim Diet ebook at

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