In this Guide to Winter Food, we're showcasing 10 of the most popular seasonal ingredients for winter: winter squash, leafy greens, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli + broccoli rabe, pears, pomegranates, cabbage and brussels sprouts. You'll learn about the health benefits of in season produce AND we've rounded up 100 delicious Winter recipes that will inspire you to cook and stay warm in your kitchen during these chilly months!
UPDATE: This post was originally published in December 2017.
Winter–which officially started December 21st and ends on March 20th –doesn't exactly scream seasonal produce the way Spring and Summer do, but there are still a surprising amount of fresh vegetables and fruits that peak in the Winter.
We're lucky that some of Fall's bountiful produce like sweet potatoes, winter squash and beets store well and keep for months. Citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruit and tangerines peak in the winter, and nutritious leafy greens like arugula, collard greens and spinach thankfully grow year round.
There's nothing like getting fresh fruits and vegetables from your local farmer's market or CSA to inspire clean, healthy eating. Read on to discover some recipes that are bound to become some of your favorites this winter!
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD + 100 COMFORTING WINTER RECIPES
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Winter Squash
Winter squash comes in all types of varieties including butternut, delicata, spaghetti, acorn and kabocha. Delicious roasted, in soups, sauces or used in place of pasta noodles, it's hard to get tired of squash when there's such a variety of ways to eat it!
These anti-inflammatory gourds are also super good for you, filled with fiber (helps eliminate toxins), beta-carotene (great for your skin) and folate (which is especially important if you're planning to get pregnant).
WINTER RECIPES: WINTER SQUASH RECIPES
- The Creamiest Vegan Mac and Cheese (Gluten Free)
- Curried Butternut Squash Soup (Gluten- and Dairy-Free)
- Vanilla + Cinnamon Butternut Squash Rice Cakes
- Polenta Pizza with Kabocha Squash and Kale from Lemons & Basil
- Tempeh Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash from Hummusapien
- Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Herbs from Pinch of Yum
- Vegetarian Tacos with Delicata Squash + Black Beans from Rachel Cooks
- Cinnamon Ginger Kabocha Squash Soup with Tart Cherry Drizzle from Running to the Kitchen
- Roasted Maple Acorn Squash with Bacon Dust + Toasted Pecans from Mississippi Kitchen
- Spaghetti Squash Casserole from Well Plated
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are tremendously healthy and totally delicious! Add to stir-fries or soups, sauté for a simple side dish, blend into smoothies or use as a base for salads.
Dark, leafy greens are a powerhouse food that support optimal heart health, brain cognition and microbiome gut health, to name a few!
WINTER RECIPES: LEAFY GREENS RECIPES
- Thai-Style Sauteed Greens with Coconut Milk
- Easy Homemade Spicy Tuna Poke Bowls
- Skinny Peppermint Mocha Green Smoothie (Vegan + GF)
- Healthy Turkish Breakfast Bowls with Herbed Yogurt
- Healthy One-Skillet Shrimp with Rainbow Chard from Baked Ambrosia
- Dairy-Free Creamed Spinach (Paleo) from Irena Macri
- Crispy Collards + Kale from Clean Eating Veggie Girl
- Lemony Swiss Chard and Quinoa Saute with Fried Capers + Olives from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Collard Greens with Cumin + Apricots from Reclaiming Yesterday
- Stir-Fried Chicken and Bok Choy from A Mind”Full” Mom
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits show up every year when the days get shorter and we’re in desperate need of some bright flavors and colors. Grapefruits, lemons, oranges and tangerines are all wonderful ways to add vibrancy to our plates and palates.
Known for their high Vitamin C content, citrus fruits provide a much needed boost when winter colds kick in. They're also hydrating and help your body absorb other nutrients, so it's smart to pair them with superfoods like leafy greens for maximum health benefits.
WINTER RECIPES: CITRUS RECIPES
- Citrus Kale Salad with Maple Granola and Pancetta Vinaigrette
- Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tonic
- Green Detox Smoothie with Citrus + Herbs
- Homemade Gummy Sour Candy with Real Fruit
- Paleo Lemon Poppy Seed Bread from Joy Food Sunshine
- Citrus & Spicy Shrimp Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette from Lexi's Clean Kitchen
- Lemon Lime Macaroons from Feasting on Fruit
- Blood Orange Avocado Salad from Oh My Dish
- Grapefruit Ginger Compote from Nutrition Stripped
- Tilapia with Tangerine Salsa from Healthy Seasonal Recipes
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Sweet Potatoes
Inexpensive, long-lasting and downright delicious, sweet potatoes have come a long way from just getting paired with marshmallows at Thanksgiving and are now showcased in a variety of recipes, from soups to tacos, casseroles to even desserts!
Filled with magnesium and potassium, these spuds are also a great way to satisfy a sweets craving with their naturally sweet taste. Their sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, providing a balanced source of energy – no blood sugar spikes or fatigue here!
WINTER RECIPES: SWEET POTATO RECIPES
- Twice Baked Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins with Chipotle Beans
- Maple Cinnamon Fudgy Flourless Brownies
- 30-Minute Leftover Sweet Potato & Turkey Enchilada Skillet from Ambitious Kitchen
- Garlicky Sweet Potato Noodle Casserole (8 Ingredients) from Minimalist Baker
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash & Eggs from Garden in the Kitchen
- Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries w/ Roasted Garlic Tahini Yogurt Dip from The First Mess
- Easy Grilled Sweet Potato Pizzas from Fit Foodie Finds
- Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Eggs from Food Faith Fitness
- Smoky Purple Sweet Potato Soup (Bacon + Chipotle) from Viktoria's Table
- Sweet Potato Toast from The Detoxinista
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Beets
Beets have become much more popular over recent years with their deep, earthy flavor and wide variety of applications since they can be eaten fresh, cooked or roasted. Cooked beets are pretty sweet and juicy, meaning that beets have even been showing up in dessert recipes like chocolate cake or red velvet cupcakes!
Beets have been linked with lowering blood pressure, increasing stamina and fighting inflammation, making them a healthy and detoxifying addition to your diet.
WINTER RECIPES: BEET RECIPES
- Easy Superfood Beet Hummus
- Red Velvet Green Smoothie with Beets
- Vanilla Roasted Root Vegetable + Yogurt Parfaits
- Strawberry + Pickled Beet Salad with White Balsamic Dressing
- Oven Baked Beet Chips from A Spicy Perspective
- Golden Beet Cauliflower Soup from Catching Seeds
- Beet Stacks from Pixels + Crumbs
- Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese from Platings + Pairings
- Simple Delicious Beet Gazpacho from Feasting at Home
- Quinoa Beet Burger from Running on Real Food
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Broccoli + Broccoli Rabe
What can broccoli NOT do? A cornerstone of most American tables, broccoli is perfect steamed, roasted and sauteed, as well as in soups, casseroles and raw with dips. Its sophisticated cousins–broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, broccoletti and broccoli raab—is like a hybrid of broccoli and mustard greens with a slightly bitter flavor.
A true powerhouse, broccoli contains many health-promoting nutrients. A couple standouts include folate– which has been found to decrease the risk of breast cancer and protect against colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers–and Vitamin K for bone health (just one cup of chopped broccoli provides 92 micrograms of vitamin K, well over 100 percent of your daily need!). (source)
WINTER RECIPES: BROCCOLI RECIPES
- Broccoli Rabe Pasta with Smoky Chickpeas from Savory Nothings
- Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup from CaliZona
- Pea and Broccoli Fritters from Little Big H
- Vegan Broccoli + ‘Beef' from Cheftographer
- Grilled Broccoli and Vidalia Onion with Pine Nuts + Parmesan from Aggie's Kitchen
- Super Green Detoxifying Broccoli Soup from Abra's Kitchen
- Broccoli Buckwheat Salad with Semi-Dried Tomatoes from Nourish Everyday
- Vegan Broccoli + Cauliflower Rice Hemp Casserole from Kara Lydon
- Hot Garlicky Broccoli Rabe Sandwich with Smoky Tahini Cheese Sauce from Connoisseurus Veg
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Pears
Sweet and juicy, pears are simply delicious raw. If you want to get fancy, trying roasting, poaching or baking pears in a tart or crisp. Pears also make a fabulous addition to salads, especially when paired with crunchy nuts like walnuts or pecans, crisp frisee lettuce or pungent blue cheese.
Pears are filled with immune and health benefits: they help fight chronic diseases by supplying high levels of antioxidants; they support the lowering of cholesterol thanks to their high fiber content; they contain special phytonutrients, including anti-inflammatory flavonoids, anticancer polyphenols and anti-aging flavonoids; and studies have linked the fruit’s consumption with lower levels of constipation, kidney stones, high cholesterol and even diabetes. (source)
WINTER RECIPES: PEAR RECIPES
- Arugula Pear Salad with Tahini Dressing from StreetSmart Kitchen
- Pear Oatmeal Bars from Healthy Happy Mama
- Asian Pear Prosciutto Appetizers from Savor the Best
- Celeriac, Fennel & Pear Soup from In the Mood for Food
- Roasted Chicken with Honey Bacon Pears from Reluctant Entertainer
- Zingy Ginger Pear Smoothie from Zen & Spice
- Pear + Brussels Sprouts Salad from The Whole Serving
- Cinnamon Apple Pear Crisp from Joyful Healthy Eats
- Sauteed Pears with Bacon and Mustard Dressing from Bon Appetit
- Ginger, Pear, Cinnamon + Vanilla Bean Infused Water from Tasty Yummies
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Pomegranates
Did you know each piece of pomegranate can hold up to 600 of those juicy, ruby-like seeds? The unique and tart crunchy jewels are common in classic Middle Eastern dishes, but also work great in salads, desserts, and cocktails.
Research shows that pomegranates can help prevent or treat various disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, oxidative stress, hyperglycemia, inflammation and even anticarcinogenic effects. Plus, they're one of the top 10 aphrodisiac foods, in case you need a little boost. 😉 (source)
WINTER RECIPES: POMEGRANATE RECIPES
- Pomegranate Lemon Roasted Chicken from Salt & Lavender
- Pomegranate Panna Cotta (Dairy-Free + Paleo) from Downshiftology
- Buckwheat Pancakes with Pomegranate Compote from Jar of Lemons
- Pomegranate Guacamole from Veggies Save the Day
- Pomegranate Orange Glazed Salmon from Lean Green Nutrition Fiend
- Fall Salad with Delicata + Pomegranate Maple Dressing from Dora's Daily Dish
- Pomegranate Smashed Butternut Squash from Jackie Newgent
- Pomegranate Smoothie from Sidewalk Shoes
- Quinoa, Pomegranate + Spinach Salad from Cooking LSL
- Pomegranate Apple Party Punch from Savory Bites Recipes
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Cabbage
Cabbage can be highly underestimated, but it's hugely versatile, showing up in all kinds of possible forms from stir-fries to stuffed leaves to braised, raw in coleslaws and salads, and fermented like in sauerkraut and kimchi. It also has many varieties including Dutch cabbage (the most common kind in North America) with smooth green or purple heads, savoy cabbage with crinkled leaves and a sweeter flavor, and Napa (also known as Chinese or celery cabbage) with an oblong shape and ridged leaves.
The insoluble fiber from red cabbage (also called purple) is known to prevent constipation, lower the risk of developing diverticular disease and may help relieve symptoms of some gastrointestinal conditions, such as IBS symptoms. (source) Fermented preparations are well known for their probiotic benefits, which support gut health.
WINTER RECIPES: CABBAGE RECIPES
- Baja Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema + Chipotle Slaw (Gluten Free)
- Roasted Red Cabbage Soup from Vegan Yack Attack
- Lazy Cabbage Rolls from i Food Real
- Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad with Cabbage from Evolving Table
- Cabbage and Kielbasa: Polish Summer Hunter's Stew from Eating European
- Cabbage Lasagna from Cooktoria
- Indian Spiced Cabbage and Fennel from Soni's Food
- Roasted Chickpea and Cabbage Salad from Occasionally Eggs
- Instant Pot Braised Red Cabbage from Happy Foods Tube
- Low Carb Enchilada Cabbage Rolls from Isabel Eats
SEASONAL WINTER FOOD: Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts have been making a comeback in recent years; once infamous for being a boiled, overcooked icky mess, brussels are now famed for their uber crispiness when fried or roasted, their tenderness when sauteed and their crunchy cruciferousness when shredded raw for salads.
It's now been shown that consuming high amounts of cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts is associated with a lower risk of cancer–particularly esophageal, prostate and pancreatic cancer, as well as melanoma–likely due to their sulfur-containing compounds. (source)
WINTER RECIPES: BRUSSELS SPROUTS RECIPES
- Whole Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic from The Endless Meal
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts + Tempeh Scramble Tacos from Full of Plants
- Radicchio Mandarin and Brussels Sprouts Salad from Garlic and Zest
- Gochujang Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts from Minimalist Baker
- Kale + Brussels Miso Mustard Noodle Bowls from Healthy Little Vittles
- Apple Sweet Potato Brussels Breakfast Hash from Physical Kitchness
- Sheet-Pan Szechuan Chicken + Brussels Sprouts from Feasting at Home
- “BLT” Shaved Brussels Sprouts Chopped Salad from Southern Parm
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Coconut Curry Sauce from Chef de Home
- Southwestern Brussels Sprouts Chips from The Nut Free Vegan
What are some of your favorite ways to prepare these winter foods? Let us know in the comments below!