Winter’s nutritional cornucopia

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT

As last week’s storm blanketed the St. Louis area with snow, the reality of winter began to sink in for me. Not being among those fortunate folks who can spend the frigid months in Florida, I am stuck here for the duration. Honestly, for the most part, I don’t mind this time of year. What I do find challenging, however, is the fact that the abundance of fresh produce, which had come to occupy a hefty percentage of my meal plan, is now gone until at least April!

Several of my clients have been wondering how to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into their daily diets, now that strawberries, blueberries and melons are not nearly as readily available. While it is true that winter poses a unique challenge in terms of the grocery store, rest assured that your good nutrition need not go on a hiatus during these cold and dreary months.

When searching for sources of vitamins and nutrients in your local produce department, a slight step outside the box may be just what is needed at this time of year. Oranges and grapefruits are plentiful, and are a great source of Vitamin C when strawberries are out of season. Kale, a terrific source of iron and calcium, is a hearty winter leafy green to cook up like spinach; and colder temperatures actually bring out its sweetness. Yams and winter squash are also readily available now. Not only do they contain high levels of fiber, which can aid in digestion, but their hefty levels of Vitamin A and beta-carotene have been linked to the prevention of a multitude of diseases. Cabbage is good for more than just making cole slaw! Its crisp flavor mellows and sweetens the longer it is cooked. Escarole and curly endive, found in abundance during the winter months, can add a bit of spice to a mixed green salad. Toss some pomegranate seeds into that salad, and you have just boosted your body’s ability to prevent premature aging!

Hopefully these choices will help ease the pinch of the frosty season. Experiment with some new foods, and help keep your health and good nutrition on track this winter!

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.