During the colder months, when it's dark by 4:30 p.m., you might be tempted to crawl under a blanket—until it's time to order out for dinner.
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In the winter, the body retracts, so we need foods that are expansive and fill us up. Comfort food, which our bodies crave in the winter, doesn't need to be unhealthy.
There are some easy, healthy meals that can be prepared using ingredients that stay fresh for a long time and rarely go to waste.
Wintery Orange Veggies
This includes sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash and spaghetti squash.
Benefits: These foods carry a large nutrition punch and are the perfect complex carbohydrate to consume before you're off and running.
They also last for weeks in a cool dark cupboard and are perfect to pop in the oven when you're too tired for complicated prep-work.
Suggestions: Cut them open, scrape out the seeds, add melted coconut oil and sea salt and bake them on a cookie sheet at 375 for about 45 minutes. Make extra to have the next day or two.
Bonus tip: Need a great complex carb for a long distance run or race? I've had many clients cut up a cooked sweet potato in a zip-lock bag and take it with them to keep that sustained energy!
More: 5 One-Pot Meals for Runners
Speaking of foods that are expansive, this is on the top of the list.
Benefits: Quinoa is the best grain for health and weight loss because it absorbs a ton of water and keeps us full for a long time.
With its energy-producing B vitamins, fiber, vitamin E, and healthy monounsaturated fats in the form of oleic acid, it's one of the healthiest things you can eat. It's also a complete protein (yep it's got all the amino acids) making it a great choice for the non-meat eater.
Suggestions: You can prepare quinoa just like rice, but the key here is to make extra and store the cooked quinoa in an air-tight container in your fridge for the week. Add it to your favorite veggies, mix it with beans or lentils with a few fresh or dried herbs, or toss it into a meatloaf.
Bonus tip: Quinoa makes warm wintery breakfast porridge. Warm one cup cooked quinoa in a saucepan with about ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk or any milk you wish until warm and creamy. Transfer to a bowl, add a dollop of plain, Greek yogurt , cinnamon, and a touch of honey.
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Organic Tomato Soup
This is one of the best things to keep in your pantry any season, but especially the colder months.
Benefits: It's there for you in a pinch to serve on its own, to the kids, or as a part of a quick recipe.
Suggestions: Toss a can into a slow cooker with some browned lean meat, onion, and shredded carrots for a savory casserole.
It also serves as a quick lunch with a few whole grain crackers and some turkey breast. Be sure to use an all natural brand and go for the lower sodium.
Bonus tip: If the low sodium isn't flavorful enough, sprinkle some lemon pepper or any of your favorite spices on it and it will come back to life! It will save you over 300 milligrams of sodium, and taste even better!
More: 7 Tips to Avoid Processed Foods
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