The cold winter months are a great time to introduce new fruits and vegetables into your diet. That way, by the time summer rolls around you’ll be a produce pro. One way to work more fruits and veggies into your diet is to use them in place of other foods. Numerous recipes that normally call for starches or other foods can easily be substituted with vegetable alternatives without sacrificing flavor. Here are a few examples:

Cauliflower pizza crust
Spaghetti squash pasta
Eggplant pizza
Sweet potato fries
Lettuce wraps
Kale chips
Cauliflower “rice”

A simple online recipe search will yield numerous vegetable substitution recipes and variations. Adding vegetables to your diet provides a myriad of benefits including essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber as well as flavors that cannot be found using any other food. Vegetables also help to make boring foods fun and colorful, while increasing nutritional value. It’s a win-win situation!

While vegetables are important, don’t forget about fruit during winter. Fruits are a great source of healthy carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Fruit also provides taste that few other foods can rival. Try adding more fruit to your diet in the following ways:

  • Sweeten your breakfast. Add berries to warm bowl of oatmeal, have half a grapefruit with your morning cup of coffee, or have a glass of orange juice before braving the winter elements.
  • Eat hand fruit, like apples or bananas, on the go instead of a bag of chips or a candy bar.
  • Snack on fruit by adding it to Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese between meals.
  • Mix fruits with vegetables. Make an apple or berry salad for dinner and get a double whammy of goodness.
  • Be sure to make half your plate fruits and vegetables for every meal. Remember MyPlate!

What’s in season
Not all fruits and vegetables hibernate during the winter months. Fruits and vegetables considered in season during the winter months include

  • Cauliflower—provides dietary fiber, folate, and vitamin C
  • Clementines—great source of vitamin C
  • Dates—deliver fiber and potassium
  • Kiwifruits—great source of vitamins C and E as well as potassium
  • Oranges—source of vitamin C and fiber
  • Sweet potatoes—high in vitamin C, calcium, folate, potassium, and beta-carotene
  • Winter squashes—provide folic acid, potassium, vitamin A and beta carotene


Fresh produce available on campus
The Fresh FAVs program makes fruits and vegetables both affordable and convenient. Participants choose from three size options and pick up a bag of produce on campus each week of the program. Spring 2014 Fresh Favs will run from February 28 to April 25, with no pickup the week of spring break. For more information, visit

Free nutrition consultations available
Whatever your nutrition goals are, let us help! Schedule a free, confidential nutrition consultation to receive one-on-one support. Fill out forms and return to Health Promotion and Wellness. Email or call (309) 438-WELL (9355) with any questions.

Arthur Valentine is a nutrition and healthy living graduate assistant.