Cooking Away the Winter Blues with Seasonal Produce
As the winter months drag on, it’s easy to start feeling a bit down. The lack of sunshine, chilly temperatures, snow, mud, rain, and shorter days can all take a toll on so many of us. But one way to combat the winter blues is by focusing on the bright side: winter produce. Squash, potatoes, apples, and carrots are all in season during the winter, and they’re packed with nutrients and flavor. They are some of the latest fall harvests and store well for delicious and nutritious use all winter.
Here are some ideas for how to use these ingredients to create warm and comforting meals that will lift your spirits.
Squash: Winter squash is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Try roasting a butternut squash and using the flesh to make a creamy soup or slicing an acorn squash into wedges and roasting it with a drizzle of maple syrup for a sweet and savory side dish. It also makes a fabulous ravioli stuffing when combined with parmesan, gruyere and sage (Serve with browned butter…to die for). You can also stuff a spaghetti squash with your favorite meat and veggies for a hearty and healthy meal (heck it’s even keto friendly!).
Potatoes: Potatoes are a staple ingredient in many winter comfort foods. You can’t go wrong with a classic baked potato, topped with butter and sour cream. But if you’re looking for something a bit more interesting, try making a potato gratin with layers of thinly sliced potatoes, cream, and cheese (don’t forget the salt and if you can, freshly cracked black pepper). Or, whip up a batch of potato soup with bacon and cheddar for a warming and filling meal.
Apples: Apples are a fall fruit that can be enjoyed well into the winter months. Try making a spiced apple cider on the stovetop to fill your home with a warm and inviting aroma. Or bake some cinnamon-spiced apple slices for a sweet and comforting dessert. You can also add chopped apples to a winter salad for a crisp and refreshing crunch. And who doesn’t enjoy a wintertime apple crisp?!
Carrots/Parsnips: Carrots and parsnips are root vegetables that can be used in a variety of ways. Roast them in the oven with a drizzle of honey for a sweet and savory side dish. Or make a carrot and ginger soup for a warming and comforting meal. You can also add shredded carrots to a winter slaw for a crunchy and colorful salad. Did I mention carrot cake? Add parsnips to your potatoes for an upgrade to mashed potatoes….the flavor is amazing.
Incorporating these seasonal ingredients into your meals can help you feel more connected to the season, feed your soul, and lift your spirits. So, the next time you’re feeling a bit down, head to the kitchen and cook up some delicious winter comfort food. Your taste buds, your family, and your mood will thank you!
AND….Spring is nearly here!
Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 Dutch Oven Pan
- 1 immersion blender or blender
- 2 tbsp oil (olive, vegetable, butter, bacon drippings...)
- 1 medium butternut squash peeled and cubed
- 1 large onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tsp dried sage or 1 T fresh
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup gruyere cheese (or parmesan) shredded
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat the fat over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and sage and sauté for 30 more seconds.
- Add the cubed squash and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is soft and easily pierced with a fork.
- Blend the soup until smooth using immersion blender or by batches in a blender.
- Add the heavy cream and cheese and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.