Here in Alaska, we have a rather long stretch of time before we can eat ANY fresh, local produce.  To still get that power-punch of nutrition, we have to think a little creatively.  When I teach group nutrition classes I always hear about the quality of produce and how it can’t be done.  Well, my friends, that sounded like a challenge to me.  I like challenges….

Of course you can still eat lots of veggies in winter!  Where there is a will, there is a way.  Here are four key ideas to keep in mind:

  • 1.  Frozen veggies.  Through the winter months, for most of us, those vegetables have to travel quite a distance and can be quite depleted in nutrients.  Not to mention moldy.  Ew.  Frozen vegetables are frozen at or shortly after harvesting, thus, keeping a lot more vitamins intact.  The double win?  Frozen vegetables are often cheaper.
  • 2.  Root Vegetables.  Don’t be afraid of that parsnip!  Root vegetables and winter squashes naturally store well for long periods, making them a hardy choice for the winter months.  When moving towards more whole, real foods, one goal is to eat seasonally.  Take advantage of all the winter squashes and root vegetables available, it almost feels decadent at times.
  • 3.  Cultured Vegetables.  Traditionally speaking, our ancestors would harvest their food from the summer and ferment their yields to carry them through the winter months. Cultured vegetables actually have more nutrients in them, as the culturing process makes the nutritional content more bio-available to you.  Not to mention, it is a great way to get more probiotics into your diet.  As word is getting out, supermarkets are carrying more and more varieties that you can try.  And, then when you are ready, learn to culture your own!
    4.  Step out of the organic box.  GASP!  Everyone assumes that I do, exclusively, buy absolutely everything organic.  I don’t.  I prioritize.  Meats and fats, absolutely (or if I can, talk to the farmer to find out how the animal was raised), produce, this is where I fudge a little more.  Is it local?  Is it thick-skinned?  Is it on the dirty dozen or clean fifteen?

When it comes to food, I find that we have many pre-conceived notions of what it ‘should’ look like or how we ‘should’ procure our ingredients.  We have to think outside of the box sometimes and use a variety of sources to stay within the budget and still provide, colorful, nutrient-dense foods to our family.  It can be done!