10 Power Foods You Should Eat This Winter

Include these wintertime power foods for diabetes in your meal plan to keep your health on top. Try them in our delicious diabetic recipes!
  • New Year, New You

    Boost your health this season with the freshest winter ingredients. Learn which foods are at their peak during these chilly months, as well as how to pick them, how to cook them, and why they're healthy. These foods are easy to incorporate into a diabetes meal plan and will tantalize your taste buds all winter long.

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  • Brussels Sprouts

    These small bulbs grow along stalks and have a taste and texture similar to cabbage. Brussels sprouts take a long time to grow and are best harvested in winter. In the produce aisle, look for sprouts that are green with little yellowing. To prepare this delicate vegetable, use fresh Brussels sprouts (refrigerate them for up to two days); rinse with cool water and remove the outer leaves.

    Get the healthy secrets behind Brussels sprouts.

    The core of Brussels sprouts takes longer to cook than the leaves, so cut an X at the bottom of the core to allow for venting. You can steam, roast, or saute this vegetable. Sprouts usually take 7-10 minutes to cook; just make sure the bright green color doesn't fade into a yellowish tinge. This is a telltale sign of overcooking, which leads to a bitter and mushy finished product. For best cooking results, select Brussels sprouts that are uniform in size.

    A cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has around 60 calories and 11 grams of carb. They're a great source of fiber, too, with 4 grams per cup. This vegetable also provides potassium and vitamins A, C, and K.

    Enjoy these recipes featuring Brussels sprouts:

    Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with BaconPenne with Brussels Sprouts and Bok Choy

  • Pomegranate

    The edible seeds of a pomegranate are the real fruit of this dry-climate-grown produce. In the United States, pomegranates are typically grown in California and Arizona, where humidity is scarce. The bright red seeds are surrounded by membranes inside and protected by a thick and colorful skin.

    Pomegranates are the perfect balance between tart and sweet. Throw these seeds on top of salads, or eat them plain. You can also cook down the seeds and reduce the juice into a delectable syrup perfect for topping off whole wheat pancakes.

    A 1/2-cup portion of pomegranate seeds has 70 calories, 16 grams of carb, and 3.5 grams of fill-you-up fiber. This unusual fruit contains folate and B vitamins. The deep red hue of this fruit also means it contains the antioxidant anthocyanins. Research shows pomegranates pack a punch of antioxidants and can reduce the risk of some cancers -- such as prostate -- and lower your risk for heart disease.

    At the grocery store, pick the heaviest pomegranates -- they'll be the juiciest. Store pomegranates in the fridge for up to four weeks. The seeds of the pomegranate can also be frozen for up to six months, which means you can enjoy this delightful fruit well into spring.

    Enjoy these recipes featuring pomegranates:

    Pomegranate RiceMarinated Orange Slices

  • Cinnamon

    Cinnamon is a kitchen staple that seems to get more popular as the months get colder. Cinnamon provides a hint of spice and warmth to almost any recipe, including pumpkin pie and hot chocolate. In the 1600s, cinnamon was a valuable commodity in the Dutch East India trade, but its use dates back to the Ancient Egyptians.

    Bark from cinnamon trees is stripped to reveal an inner bark that is allowed to coil into quills. Quills are then cut and dried. Ceylon cinnamon is commonly grown in Sri Lanka. Cassia cinnamon is similar to Ceylon, but it comes from a darker bark and is much coarser and less fragrant. Cassia cinnamon is the variety typically used by Americans.

    Cinnamon contains essential oils that have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Some studies using Cassia cinnamon have suggested benefits for people with diabetes, including a small study of 60 people published in Diabetes Care in 2003, which showed that cinnamon decreased insulin resistance and lowered blood sugar levels up to 29 percent as well as lowered cholesterol levels. Cinnamon's direct effect on blood sugar is a source of ongoing debate and study.

    Cinnamon should be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry place. Stored properly, ground cinnamon will last about three years and cinnamon sticks four years. To check if your cinnamon is still fresh, give it a smell. If it isn't sweetly fragrant, throw it out.

    Enjoy these recipes featuring cinnamon:

    Cinnamon Baked PumpkinCinnamon Custard and Fruit

  • Citrus

    The tang and sweetness of citrus fruits is unmistakable. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons, and limes provide refreshing flavors during dull and cold winter months.

    Must-know facts about grapefruit.

    Eaten out of hand, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits are perfectly portioned, making them a great choice for a healthful snack or addition to any meal. Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C. They also contain potassium, a nutrient lacking in the American diet and important to electrolyte balance. Plus, these fruits are typically low in calories. One medium-size tangerine contains just 50 calories and almost 2 grams of fiber. A juicy grapefruit is a perfect 100-calorie snack that contains 4 grams of fiber. Fiber can help stabilize blood sugar and cholesterol levels and keep your hunger satisfied.

    Grown primarily in California and Florida, citrus fruits are used in a variety of dishes. Add them as a garnish for a striking visual accent, or go bold and make them the featured ingredient in a variety of ethnic dishes.

    Note: It's important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about grapefruit and citrus fruit consumption if you take prescription medications. These fruits may cause drug interactions and complications.

    Enjoy these recipes featuring citrus:

    Citrus Turkey Spinach SaladCitrus Fruit Cups

  • Beef

    Beef has a bad reputation for being high in saturated fat and cholesterol, but lean beef lacks some of the calories from fat and is a great protein source. Protein helps to satiate hunger so you won't go back for seconds. It's important to understand which cuts of beef are the leanest.

    Consume 3 ounces of the least-fatty cuts, such as eye of round, top round, bottom round, sirloin tip, and top sirloin. The tenderloin cut is also lean, plus it's delectably tender. Consider asking your butcher to trim the fat, as some cuts will have a little fat left on them. Avoid the ribeye, spare rib, and brisket cuts of beef; they are typically the fattiest. Not sure what a 3-ounce serving looks like? It's about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of a hand.

    Beef is rich in B vitamins and iron. B vitamins help with energy metabolism, while iron is essential for carrying and storing oxygen in the body. Insufficient iron can cause anemia, which will make you feel tired. Keep in mind that the body more readily absorbs iron from meat sources, such as lean beef, than iron from plant sources.

    Enjoy these recipes featuring beef:

    Sesame Orange BeefSweet-Spiced Sirloin on Arugula with Skillet Corn

  • Kiwifruit

    The flavor of kiwi is almost as striking as its bright green color. The green fruit, which is surrounded by a fuzzy brown peel, originated in China, where it was called Chinese gooseberries. The United States typically gets its kiwifruits from California, with a few imports from New Zealand.

    Kiwifruits are loaded with vitamins; they have more vitamin C than oranges, plus they're high in vitamins A and K. One small kiwi provides just 40 calories, 10 grams of carb, and 2 grams of fiber.

    To eat a kiwifruit, simply cut it in half and spoon out the inside. Or for less mess, kiwis can be peeled and sliced.

    Enjoy these recipes featuring kiwifruit:

    Kiwi Chicken TostadasWatermelon-Kiwi Pops

  • Persimmons

    Persimmons might look like tomatoes, but don't get them confused. Persimmons have a similar orange-red color, but instead of a tomato's green stem, a persimmon has a brown flowerlike bud at the top. Persimmons should always be peeled. The Hachiya variety is very sweet, but it should only be consumed when very soft -- almost to the point of mushy. The Fuyu variety, which is lighter in color, can be consumed when slightly firm. If not at the right point of ripeness, persimmons will be mouth-puckeringly bitter and sour.

    Because persimmons are a sweet fruit, you can eat them raw, dried, or cooked. Add them to cookies, salads, or even savory dishes. Or make them into chutneys, jams, or puddings.

    Persimmons average about 100 calories and 30 grams of carb apiece. They also contain 6 grams of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as well as half your daily need for vitamin A.

    Enjoy this recipe featuring persimmons:

    Persimmon Streusel Cake

  • Dungeness and Snow Crab

    A popular special-occasion seafood, crab is typically used in salads, entrees, soups, and chowders. The sweet flavor and delicate meat has many nutritional benefits, including being low in fat and calories: 3 ounces contains just 75 calories. Crab also boasts a heavy dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A 3-ounce portion of cooked crab has 300-500 milligrams of these healthy fats. Omega-3s found in seafood sources have been shown to lower triglyceride levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Some might worry that crab, like shrimp, is high in cholesterol, but crab contains just 22 milligrams of cholesterol per ounce, a similar content to chicken and significantly less than eggs when an equal weight is consumed.

    Dungeness crab is considered the best choice to consume by seafood watch organizations, while snow crab is considered a good alternative. Seafood watch organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium monitor overfished populations and environmentally friendly practices in the seafood industry. Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch recommends buying Dungeness crab from California, Washington, Oregon, or Alaska and snow crab from Alaska or Canada.

    Enjoy these recipes featuring crab:

    Crab Cakes with Spring Green SaladShe-Crab Soup

  • Cabbage

    Cabbage is low-cost and versatile, making it the perfect vegetable to stock in your kitchen this winter. Cabbage can be used in a variety of ways. Add chopped cabbage to a stir-fry, soup, or salad. Wrap your favorite vegetables or lean meats in a cabbage leaf instead of a tortilla or bun for a delightful stuffed-cabbage meal.

    There are many varieties of cabbage, including green, red, savoy, bok choy, and napa. Cabbage is also nutritionally sound; raw cabbage contains vitamins A, C, and K. Research shows vitamin K helps with bone health by increasing bone density and decreasing the risk for osteoporosis. Cabbage makes a great addition to any meal, as it is very low-calorie and low-carb with just 22 calories and 5 grams of carb per cup.

    Enjoy these recipes featuring cabbage:

    Pork Chops with Red Cabbage and PearsGreen Apple Slaw

  • Sweet Potatoes

    This subtly sweet, orange-hue starchy vegetable is a nice sweet or savory complement to any meal. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant, which helps reduce cell damage in the body. Beta-carotene from foods might help reduce the risk of some cancers. Depending on the size, a sweet potato can contain 50-150 calories and 12-40 grams of carb, so do your best to properly weigh or measure portions. Sweet potatoes also provide 2-6 grams of fiber, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Adults should aim to eat 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories eaten daily.

    Remember to go easy on sweet potato toppings. Many recipes call for brown sugar, honey, or marshmallows, which will send your blood sugar skyrocketing. Instead, try adding spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to give your potato a tasty boost. Sweet potatoes also pair deliciously with baked apples and heart-healthy nuts, such as pecans and walnuts.

    At the grocery store, choose sweet potatoes that are heavy, firm, and free of blemishes, mold, sprouts, and wrinkly skin. Store your sweet potatoes in cool, dry place, and not in the fridge. There are two types of sweet potatoes: light-skin and dark-skin. Light-skin sweet potatoes have a thin skin and pale yellow flesh, while the dark-skin variety has a brighter orange flesh. Dark-skin potatoes are much sweeter and more moist than their light-skin counterparts. Remember not to get yams and sweet potatoes confused: Yams are grown in Central America, the West Indies, and Asia, and they're rarely found in American grocery stores. Sweet potatoes are commonly grown in Louisiana, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

    Enjoy these recipes featuring sweet potatoes:

    Sweet Potato Pie

    Turkey and Sweet Potato Chowder

    Our Best Winter Recipes

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