A few of my favourite things (winter fruits and veggies edition)

15 Jan

I’ve decided to start a new series on my blog. Every so often (I haven’t decided just how often yet) I will share some of my favourites with you…this includes foods, exercise routines, kitchen tools…and whatever else I can think of. I’m really excited about this series, as I am pumped to share with you all the things that I love. First in the series is going to be winter fruits and veggies.

Now…fruits and veggies may not seem glorious and exciting….but I love them in any season. They are key to bulking up my meals…filling me up without filling me out…and they are chock full of fibre, water, vitamins and lots of good stuff (do I sound like an add for the Food Guide yet?). Seriously, though, I don’t just eat fruits and vegetables because I know they’re good for me, I also genuinely like eating them. I do not think that fruits and veggies are bland or boring….if prepared right, they can be full of flavour. In the winter, it can be harder to get your fill of the good stuff, but here are some that are available during the colder months (note: this is NOT complete, as I couldn’t fit all of my favourites into one post, I’m just highlighting some that I love) :

1. Butternut (or any) Squash

I really can’t say enough about how much I love squash…it is just so tasty and so versatile. You can puree it in soups, roast it in the oven (especially tasty with apples), stuff it, top it with veggie chili and cheese for a healthy lunch (one of my favs), use it to make Hungry Girl’s butternut squash fries (which were part of supper tonight) or any of the other wonderful squash recipes HG has, put it (roasted and cooled) on salads, mash it as a side dish, or use it for breakfast. I buy this stuff like crazy all fall and winter long.

2. Apples and Pears

I’m always excited when apple season comes around. For both apples and pears, the crunchier the better is my philosophy. My favourite apple varieties are Ginger Gold, Crispin/Mutsu (different names but the same apple), Empire or Honeycrisp. Bosc pears (the brown ones) are my favourite. And how do I enjoy them? Let  me count the ways! There’s always the classic – grab a whole apple and pear and eat it, plain and simple – always a good option and great if you need a quick snack. But I go beyond that – simmer one in a little water, with some brown sugar twin and spices for use in breakfast (mix with yogurt or top an English muffin and ricotta) or dessert (top with a crumbled fibre 1 caramel bar and serve with sugar free vanilla pudding for a quick, healthy apple crumble, serve over ice cream, spread with some sweetened cream cheese inside a tortilla and grill for a dessert quesadilla). Dip a sliced apple or pear in any one of my favourite dips – melted caramel candies with a little bit of water, or fat free cream cheese mixed with Cool whip, cinnamon and a bit of Splenda, or light peanut butter mixed with a bit of fat free caramel dip. And don’t forget about savoury uses for apples or pears. You can slice them over a salad or in a slaw, put them in a grilled cheese sandwich, or cook them in a quick chutney with raisins, vinegar and spices to serve with meat. You can also make your own applesauce by cooking apples (peeled or unpeeled), sweetener of your choice, cinnamon and water until the apples are tender, then mash with a potato masher. I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but you get the idea.

3. Winter Greens (kale, collard greens, chard)

I decided to give winter greens a try when I was living on my own during university…and I’m so glad I did! They are full of flavour and nutrition….I always feel super-healthy when I eat them (sorry to get all Food Guide-y again). These all need cooking and, although you may start with a huge pile of greens, they wilt quite a bit once they’re cooked (you can steam or boil and/or saute them). I love greens as a side dish sauteed with garlic and olive oil. They also make a hearty addition to pasta dishes or pureed vegetable soups (try with squash soup). You can also roast kale in the oven to make crispy kale chips (sounds weird, I know, but give it a try!).

4. Pomegranates

The window of availability for pomegranates is short, so act quickly. And yes, they are a hassle to prepare, which is why, if you eat them a lot, you should invest in the Arils Removal Tool. I read about it in the LCBO magazine and ordered one online (as well as one for a gift for my sister and brother-in-law). This tool makes removing the arils (seeds) much quicker and easier. I use the pomegranate arils as an addition to my morning yogurt mostly, sometimes to top salads, or in mixed fruit sauces.

5. Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts

Now I know there may be many readers out there who think they don’t like one or both of these veggies but hear me out – prepared correctly, they are absolutely delicious! With brussels sprouts, I like to roast them in the oven with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper or maybe some garlic. Roast at a high heat (400 or above) for about 30 minutes (more or less, dpending on temperature or quantity. They are delicious on their own or in a salad. I like making “sweet and sour cabbage,” inspired by a recipe I saw online once. I saute the cabbage with a bit of onion in a nonstick pan with a bit of olive oil. After a few minutes, I add vinegar (balsamic, apple cider or white wine vinegar are all good choices), salt and pepper, and a pinch of splenda. I also sometimes add a touch of chicken broth. Then I reduce the heat, cover and simmer until tender. Cabbage is also great in slaws…make ahead so the cabbage can absorb the flavour of the dressing, and the texture is better too. My favourite basic dressing is fat free Miracle whip, vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and a touch of sweetener. After that I play with flavours. I love adding apple to my slaws, and of course, lots of onion. Cabbage is also good to add to soups and stews.

Well, that will be it for my first edition of favourite things. There are so many more fruits and veggies I love, but these are just 5 of my favourites that are good this time of the year. More faourite things to com ein the future – let me know if there’s any particular category you’d like to see.

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9 Responses to “A few of my favourite things (winter fruits and veggies edition)”

  1. Kim Shay January 16, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    I love butternut squash, too. I made soup with it for the first time over Christmas, and I loved it. I’ll have to try the winter greens; I’ve never had them before! Good luck, Hilary with your blog!

  2. Catherine M.A. January 16, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    I would love to see a “favourite meals to cook for one” edition–I often find inspiration lacking if I’m cooking just for me.

  3. Courtney VanV January 16, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    I’m so excited you’ve started this blog! Your delicious “flight of bites” for C’s bday a few years ago has become legendary in our family; I’ll certainly be an eager reader of your culinary adventures!

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