Welcome to winter, the season within which plants and animals withdraw, hibernate, and conserve energy. We’re no different and this is the time when we all tend to stay warm and cosy indoors, and eat yummy comfort food. Eating in season ensures we get the maximum benefit of all the vitamins and minerals that we need to support our bodies for that season. Nature, in it’s infinite wisdom, provides us with winter fruits and vegetables which are highly nurturing and packed full of nutrients to support our immune system which often gets assaulted during this time.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for immune function. We have a plethora of high vitamin C seasonal foods to choose from such as citrus fruits; oranges, lemons, mandarins and kiwifruits which come in their own convenient packaging making them an easy, ideal snack during these cold months. Vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli are also high in vitamin C and are excellent additions to meals such as stews, soups and bakes. These fruits and vegetables are also high in phytochemicals and antioxidants which further enhance your immune system. Zinc and vitamin A are also important nutrients for immune support particularly in winter. Zinc rich foods are oysters, red meat, turkey, eggs and nuts and seeds, particularly sesame seeds.
Vitamin A rich foods include carrots, sweat potato, eggs and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, which also include a wide array and vitamins and minerals. Sulfar containing vegetables such as onions and garlic are fantastic for winter as they are antimicrobial, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory making these natures natural immune protectors. Add good quantities of them to all your cooking, particularly at this time of year to protect yourself and your family. …..And for those who are daring and don’t mind the taste or the effect on their breathe, add raw garlic or onion to your morning vege juice for a super immune boost. Winter is a great time for slow cooking with stews, soups and roasts being ideal to warm and nurture our bodies.
Warming foods are important and generally take longer to grow such as root vegetables including carrots, potatoes, sweat potatoes, onions and garlic. Animal foods are also warming including fish, chicken, beef and lamb. So head down to your local Farmers market, to buy seasonal, nutrient packed, fresh fruits and vegetables and you support your local community at the same time. Always try to buy organic where possible, this will maximize the nutritional content and alleviate exposure to toxic fertilizers or insecticides which can further compromise your immune system. Winter vegetables currently in season are: asian greens, avocado, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, fennel, horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leek, onion, parsnips, peas, potato, pumpkin, silverbeet, spinach, sweet potato and turnips. Fruits currently in season are: apple, blood orange, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemon, lime – mandarin, navel orange, nuts, pear, quince, rhubarb and tangelos.