Cold-weather nutrition

Squashes at the Kingston Farmers Market. (photo by Dan Barton)

When skies are clear and it’s 80 degrees out, it’s easy to run around, eat salads, and stay healthy. But when it’s bitterly cold out and icy or snowy forms of precipitation are falling, you’d rather order pizza or nuke a frozen dinner than go buy healthy food to cook.

Shorter, colder days mean we get less vitamin D and less serotonin, causing carb-craving, dark moods and worse. For some of us the main factor is the stress of the holidays. Jolly as they may be, seeing relatives, making arrangements, and just adding all that extra stuff — from attending events to mailing cards to shopping to figuring out how to pay for it all — tops out an already maxed-out schedule. And those extra worries coupled with less time equals grabbing things to eat that are really quick and/or really comforting. That may not be the best bet for our bodies.

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The first plan of attack is to keep it simple. “After Thanksgiving and many delicious meals out in a row, my body was craving simple foods,” says Holly Shelowitz, a Rosendale-based nutritionist and cooking teacher (658-7887 or www.nourishingwisdom.com). “Salads, soups and one-pot meals are what I’m after these days. Never underestimate the power of a baked sweet potato, or the simple luxurious taste and belly-filling goodness of simmered potatoes and cauliflower.” Shelowitz steams quartered potatoes and “giant chunks of cauliflower” until the potatoes are soft and the cauliflower still crunchy and puts them atop a dressed tossed salad. She adds butter pats or olive oil, nutritional yeast, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Homemade soups are tastier and more nutritious than canned, and freeze well. You can even cut up a bunch of onion, garlic, carrot and celery and freeze in smaller portions for a future quick soup-starter.

Your local winter farm market is your second line of attack in your arsenal against the season’s bad eating. Although the outdoor ones and most farmstands are gone with the flip-flops, a new trend in the last few years is to continue offering the bounty throughout the year at a cozy, warm, indoor location. Several local winter markets have been organized recently, in Kingston and Rosendale, among other places. Farmers can store many kinds of produce at controlled temperatures so that they are still fresh weeks and months down the road. Growing tunnels extend the growing season of tender greens, too.

From a recent trip to the first-of-the-season indoor market in Rhinebeck, I had a haul of Bosc pears, white and yellow turnips, daikon radish, rose gold potatoes and an orange kuri squash (and all for less than 10 bucks). The Rhinebeck event takes place at the town hall every other Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 pm; the next one is Dec. 16. The Red Hook winter market is at the Elmendorph Inn on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the next one Dec. 15, also on alternating weeks. Not to be outdone, Greig Farm, at 223 Pitcher Lane in Red Hook will also host a weekly Saturday winter market.

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