WINTER ON A PLATE nutrition tips
Dietitian Kate Di Prima shares how you can stay healthy, satisfied and on top of temptations when it’s cold outside.
There is no doubt that hot cooked breakfasts are a great way to start your winter days (or any days, for that matter). Eggs are packed with protein, iron and zinc and warm you up when the mercury is heading south. Pair them with vegies such as tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach, a combo rich in antioxidants and vitamin C to help you fight winter bugs. Mix it up by adding foods such as hot poached salmon, lean bacon, baked ricotta or even some homemade smoky baked beans, all good sources of protein. If you need more breakfast inspiration, check out the delicious brunch recipes starting on page 76.
Apple pies, hot fudge brownies and self-saucing puddings often creep back on the weekly menu during winter. Unfortunately, these foods provide very little in the way of nourishment and can add further centimetres to the waistband. One way to enjoy a warming dessert is to use fruit and its natural sugars and bake it with cinnamon and vanilla, letting the heat do the work. Bake a banana, a cored apple or pear in the oven, top with spices and serve with some low-fat Greek yoghurt. The melted, caramelised flavours give you a winter dessert that’s delicious and healthy.
This wonder vegetable is in season from April to September and is packed with nourishment and immune-boosting compounds that protect your body from colds and flu. It also contains isothiocyanates, which help eliminate potential carcinogens, and its high fibre content also helps maintain gut health. Belonging to the cruciferous family, which includes cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, brussels sprouts are low in fat and carbohydrate, and taste fabulous. You can simply steam them, or try slicing them in half before stirfrying them with onion and garlic, or slivers of prosciutto.
This is the kingpin of all winter warmers. The key to making a satisfying, healthy soup is to use plenty of vegetables and a decent serve of protein. Soups can leave you feeling half empty when they don’t have enough protein to satisfy your appetite – because protein delays the stomach from emptying and makes you feel fuller for longer. Winter vegies such as zucchini, pumpkin and leek make wonderfully aromatic soups but need to be pumped up with meat, chicken, fish, egg, seafood or legumes, such as chickpeas, red kidney beans, cannellini beans or even tofu. These will sustain you for hours after you have swallowed your last spoonful. Protein is beneficial not just because it keeps you feeling full for longer; it is also a source of iron, which helps to boost the immune system.
Drinking a hot cup of cacao is a great way to feel as though you are doing something decadent without adding the kilojoules and sugar of a regular hot chocolate. Cacao is rich in
polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. Studies show a diet rich in cacao can boost immunity and also reduce inflammation. You may have to play around with the ingredients of your drink to get it exactly to your liking. My favourite blend is boiling water, cacao powder, almond milk and honey.
Vivid red, green or brown, chillies come in many sizes and pack a load of antioxidants. The active ingredient, capsaicin, is chiefly found in the seeds, home to the hot spice. A Chinese study of more than half a million participants found that people who ate food with chillies once or twice a week had a mortality rate 10 per cent lower than those who avoided the heat. Chillies have anti-microbial and pathogen-killing properties that help to protect against infection and disease. Feel free to spread the chilli love around! Add them to soups, stir-fries, curries, roasts and even hot chocolate.
These nuts contain monounsaturated fat and protein that satisfies hunger, as well as vitamin E, which boosts the immune system. Research has shown that eating a handful of nuts (30g), five or more times a week, can lower your risk of heart disease by 30 to 50 per cent, and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 25 per cent. They can also help to manage your weight and improve longevity. Despite the benefits, only two per cent of Australians eat a handful of nuts every day. Nuts can be added to breakfast or tossed through salads. Alternatively, throw some walnuts and dried fruit into a snap-lock bag for a healthy snack.
We know that yoghurt contains millions of bacteria living harmoniously together and that these microbes help keep the gut in good working order. New research highlights the importance of our gut flora to our overall health and shows that by eating the right foods we can help it flourish. Yoghurt also contains probiotics, friendly bacteria that help to balance out the microorganisms that live in our gut. This helps to boost the immune system. So eating low-fat, Greekstyle yoghurt regularly is a great way to help keep winter colds and flu at bay. #