Winter vege heroes: how we can nourish ourselves & cut costs at the same time

Mother Nature cleverly provides everything our bodies need throughout the year and winter vegetables are now in season to keep us healthy and warm.

During winter we are designed to eat more comforting and nourishing foods like soups, stews, casseroles and roasts to help generate energy and keep us cosy. Eating for the seasons is also the most economical and healthiest way to enjoy our food.

5+ A Day is encouraging Kiwis to embrace these cooler months by cooking winter ‘power bowls’ of hearty seasonal vegetables such as carrots, parsnip, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, kale and potatoes.

"There’s nothing better than a bowl full of warm vegetable soup or a delicious roast vegetable salad," says 5+ A Day Charitable Trust General Manager Paula Dudley.

"The colour and flavour combinations are endless. Winter power bowls are also extremely easy - just cut up the vegetables you have on hand and throw them into a pot with some stock to simmer, or pop them into a hot oven to roast. It’s a great opportunity to get kids involved in the kitchen too and teach them about nutrition and healthy eating habits."

Many winter vegetables are rich in vitamin C to help support our immune system through the cold and flu season. One cup of broccoli will provide more than twice your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin C (225%) while a similar amount of cauliflower will provide 120% of your RDI.

Carrots are a source of folate, vitamin B6 and beta carotene which your body converts into vitamin A. This particular nutrient is important for good vision and eye health - which is why we’re always told to eat carrots so we can see in the dark!

Parsnips are closely related to carrots and are a good source of vitamin K which is important for blood clotting and healthy bones. They also contain vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B3 (niacin), both of which are crucial for good health and help to convert the food you eat into energy.

Kale is extremely nutritious at any time of year. Add some to your winter soup or add some leaves to your roast vegetable salad. It contains calcium, manganese, important B vitamins and is a source of dietary fibre.

Dudley points out you can get nearly one third of your daily folate from leeks while potatoes provide a good source of vitamin C, contain folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, magnesium and potassium, so an all-round dose of vitamins and nutrients.

"Potatoes are the most popular vegetable worldwide and with good reason. They’re incredibly versatile and winter is their time to shine," Dudley says. "Instead of just mashing or roasting them, try making a delicious potato, broccoli and spinach soup. The colour is amazing and your body will love all the nutrients that are hidden in the depths of that bowl."

Eating in season always provides the best value for money and best quality. One serving equates to a handful of any particular fruit or vegetable so will vary depending on the size of an individual. The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation recommend people eat three or more servings of vegetables and at least two servings of fruit every day.