As the layer of warmth slowly gives way to colder temperatures, sweaters lying dormant are suddenly needed for stepping out of doors. Like the sweaters being donned, crock pots and stew kettles are also making their way to kitchen counters, providing warm foods for colder weather.
Some of the Washington grown foods finding their way into the crock pots and kettles are squash, carrots, onions, potatoes, pumpkin, green tomatoes, kale, lentils, and other legumes. All of these foods provide a rich variety of vitamins and minerals which enable our bodies to produce energy and keep our immune systems in good form.
In her amazing wisdom, Mother Nature embedded special nutrients called carotenes in some of the winter foods; this is especially true for orange colored vegetables like squash, carrots and pumpkins. The carotenes are able to turn into fat soluble vitamin A in our bodies. Also brilliant is that we cannot consume too much carotene, as our bodies only convert as much as we need to vitamin A. Vitamin A is particularly important for our night vision and healthy cell development. However, if you’re taking a supplemental form of vitamin A, you can overconsume it, so check with your physician.
Whether you’ve grown your own winter vegetables or purchased them at a supermarket, leftover cooked squash and sweet pumpkin can be frozen and then mixed into stews, casseroles, stir fries, curries, or pies. My personal favorites are pumpkin pie, or some baked squash topped with a little butter and brown sugar.
Soups and stews can be loaded with nutrients and fiber, but a big part of the enjoyment is feeling the warmth travel from your bowl to your insides; kind of like putting on a sweater before stepping outside.