Healthy, hearty foods for winter nutrition

As we continue through Houston’s coldest month of the year, most of us turn to eating specific meals that will warm us from the inside out and help us endure the winter weather. Teresia O’Connor, associate professor and associate director for human sciences of the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, provides insight on how certain healthy and hearty meals we eat during this time of year are good for our body.

“In the winter, many people gravitate toward hearty soups and stews,” O’Connor said. “Both have options where you can include vegetables, beans and lentils.”

Two brightly colored red soups with fresh greens garnishing the top.

Good, healthy choices for hearty meals include chicken soup with lots of vegetables added to it, vegetarian chili and even roasted vegetables that you can put into a soup. “It’s the vegetables in these soups and stews that contain fiber and nutrients that are good for our body and keep our bodies healthy,” she said.

While these meals provide warmth, O’Connor explains that this feeling is short-lived. “Just like drinking a warm cup of tea or another warm beverage – it helps warm you a bit, but that is temporary; it doesn’t last.”

O’Connor also suggests eating a ‘rainbow’ of fruits and vegetables. “All of the different colored fruits and vegetables come with different nutrients. People can use this ‘rainbow’ as an easy reminder to get nutrients they need throughout the week and the month.”

While carbohydrates can be a healthy part of a good, balanced diet, don’t think it is something that you need to load up on in the winter. O’Connor says that different people, based on their medical condition, might require more or less of them.

Overall, she shares that eating healthy meals is important to focus on in the winter, just like you would the rest of the year. “Eat a variety of foods and make sure you’re getting good, lean sources of proteins and lots of fruits and vegetables. This can also include different sources of grains and other carbohydrates to make sure that you get all of the food groups,” O’Connor said.

By Taylor Barnes

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