Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter Fruits and Vegetables

No, this isn't about acorn squash and yams.  I've mentioned before that I have trouble maintaining an adequate amount of vegetables in the colder months because I have no desire for a cold salad when the weather is so cold outside.  And I also mentioned my re-discovery of cooked greens to help with that.  And that's all good, but I've come across a few other ways to get fruits and vegetables into my diet when all I really want is something hot and fattening.

Vegetables:  I mentioned greens and I can expand that to point out that spinach is a great green.  You can buy it in a bag already cleaned (supposedly - you can decide how much additional prep you want to provide).  It steams quickly or it can be added raw to things like eggs, pizza, pasta or casseroles.  One caution - if you are trying to determine amount, a six ounce bag which is the size commonly found in the bagged salad section will cook down to two medium sized portions.  Soup is also a good medium for vegetables.  I used to avoid making soup because I made SO much and was sick of it by the end, but now I take out a smaller pot and I don't try to add tons to things.  I do though have a lot of "pieces" to the amount of broth since often a lot of broth just sits in the bottom of the bowl and travels down the drain at the end.  For soups I've been using a combination of fresh and frozen vegetables.  A lot of frozen vegetables come with resealable bags so you can just take out the amount you want and put the rest back in the freezer.

Fruits:  These are a little easier for me in the winter, but still not the first thing I'm attracted to when the weather is cold.  It helps if I leave a couple of pieces on the counter to warm up before I eat them. I also usually put fruit in my oatmeal and of course there temperature is no issue.  Oddly, though buying fruit already cut up in those little cups helps too.  The fruit is still cold when I eat it, but I haven't had to handle the cold fruit in order to prepare it and somehow that makes it better to me.  But, my biggest discovery this winter has been baked apples!  They only take four minutes in the microwave and provide a nice warm treat at the end of a meal or as a snack.  I core the apple with my nifty apple corer that I found in the back of my kitchen utensil drawer.  Then I fill the middle with a teaspoon or so of brown sugar and a bit of cinnamon.  It doesn't take much sugar and I think it goes for a good cause.  Then I put one of those plastic splatter covers over it and microwave it for four minutes.  I've noticed that there is a big difference in apple variety.  So far I've tried Fuji and Gala.  The Fuji were a lot creamier in final texture.  On my next trip to the grocery store I'm going to buy a few other varieties and experiment.

While diet is about food choices, other aspects have to be considered - like mental perceptions and the particular context of the meal (warm or cold weather, living alone or feeding many, how much you tolerate leftovers).  Sometimes it helps to change the way the food is consumed as much as what food is consumed.  I guess that's the psychology of dieting.  Hmm....sounds like a good topic for someone's thesis.

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