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Eating well

January 11, 2016

Weather the dead of winter with healthy eating

If you’re tempted to fight the cold with carbs and fat (hello, chocolate-chip muffins), try these healthy recipes instead.

Rejoice -- it’s officially “the dead of winter.”

That’s what weatherman David Phillips says we should do at this time of year when Canadian temperatures reach their absolute bottom before starting their long climb back up.

“This is a time to celebrate,” says Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist (and evident optimist). “It’s time to say ‘Hey, it’s the halfway point!’ If you love winter, there’s still lots of it ahead. If you’re not a big fan of winter, you can say there’s more winter behind you than ahead of you.”

The dead of winter differs from city to city, says Phillips. It generally occurs earlier in the West and later in the East. For Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, it comes in the first half of January; Toronto and Montreal reach it in the last week of the month, while Halifax and St. John’s don’t make the turn until early February.

Phillips bases his calculations on 75 years’ worth of average high and low temps across the country, not this year’s weather. It also doesn’t have anything to do with the length of the days -- if it did, December 21 would be the coldest as well as the shortest day of the year. Since then, the days have been getting longer and the sun has been climbing higher in the sky, but it takes a while before we start feeling warmer.

Cold days can make you want to reach for high-fat, high-carb comfort foods like heavy-on-the-meat chili or rich cream soups. Trouble is, too much of that and you could find yourself carrying unhealthy weight come the warmer weather.

Instead, try healthier versions of your old favourites, or bright-tasting salads made with fruits and greens. Some ideas:

  • Vegetarian chili. When winter winds howl, there’s nothing like a hot bowl of chili to warm you from the inside out. This one is full of fibre-packed kidney beans. Skip the cheese topping to save even more calories. You can make a double batch and then freeze individual portions for a fast, healthy meal.
  • Spanish orange and avocado salad. This colourful salad with its healthy fat (thanks to the avocados) and abundance of vitamin C (thanks to not only the oranges but also the red peppers) will brighten the coldest, darkest winter day.
  • Roasted cauliflower and red pepper soup. Warm up with this easy, healthy and tasty recipe for roasted veggie soup. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants.

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