Add winter produce to every meal of your day

If you are trying to watch your weight, vegetables are your new best friend. Naturally high in fiber, vegetables will keep you feeling full even as you cut your caloric intake. And most vegetables are considered nutrient-dense foods, which give you the most nutritional bang for the calories.

To maximize your veggie intake, rethink the role vegetables play in your meal planning. Instead of thinking of your dinner as meat with a little bit of vegetables, think of a plate full of vegetables with a little bit of meat: two or three vegetable sides with a small portion of meat.

Of course, you shouldn’t wait until dinnertime to eat your veggies. Here are some ways to add winter produce to every meal of the day. Use these tips in conjunction with your usual dinnertime vegetables, and you’ll be you’ll be well on your way to a more healthful, veggie-packed diet.

● Add a carrot to your fruit smoothie. More fiber, mildly sweet flavor.

● Before scrambling eggs, lightly sauté some veggies: onions, peppers, carrots, kale, radishes, mushrooms, or a combination. Then pour the beaten eggs directly over the vegetables and cook as you would for ordinary scrambled eggs.

● Finely chop raw carrots, cabbage or daikon radish and add to tuna salad.

● Add sprouts, sliced mushrooms, endive or bok choy leaves to sandwiches.

● Enjoy raw carrots instead of chips at lunchtime, but don’t stop there. Mix them up with raw daikon and black radishes, broccoli and cauliflower.

● Microwave a sweet potato (scrubbed and pierced a few times with a fork) for a midafternoon snack.

● Eat a raw carrot — or a few hakurei turnips or radishes, a small wedge of green cabbage, an apple or a pear — about 20 minutes before dinner. Why? Because you’ll fill your belly with a high-fiber, low-calorie food and ultimately eat less of the high-calorie stuff.

● Load your spaghetti sauce with veggies. You’ll need less pasta on your plate when your sauce is chock-full of flavorful, fiber-full vegetables. Try adding chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, grated carrots, grated beets, chopped kale or Swiss chard, or even chopped broccoli. In a saucepan sprayed with cooking spray, cook the vegetables until tender before adding the tomato sauce. (And if you buy your tomato sauce, choose one without sugar or corn syrup in the ingredient list.)

● When cooking ground hamburger meat, add grated carrots or chopped onion.

● Top chicken breasts, steaks and hamburgers with sautéed or grilled mushrooms.

● Serve meats on a bed of steamed broccoli, kale or cabbage.

● Top a baked potato with chopped kale or Swiss chard.

● When cooking pasta, in the last two minutes of cooking add broccoli, cauliflower florets or thinly sliced greens to the pot. Drain the pasta and veggies together and continue preparing your pasta dish.

● Add chopped raw broccoli, peppers or even thinly sliced collards to frozen pizzas before cooking.

At local farmers markets

Apples, beets, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, endive, escarole, fennel, frisee, herbs, kale, leeks, lettuce, mixed greens, mustard greens, parsnips, peppers, radicchio, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, sunchokes, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, tatsoi, turnip greens, turnips, winter squash

From farther afield

Looking good: Apples; Chilean apricots; Caribbean asparagus; Mexican avocados; Florida and Mexican beans; Texas and Mexican beets; California and Arizona broccoli; Chilean blueberries; Arizona and Mexican broccoli; Texas and California cabbage; California carrots; Arizona and California cauliflower; Chilean cherries; Florida corn; Mexican cucumbers; Florida eggplant; Texas grapefruit; Chilean and Peruvian grapes; Carolina and Texas greens; Caribbean honeydews; California and Italian kiwifruit; California lettuce; Florida and Mexican oranges; Chilean nectarines; Arizona and Texas oranges; Chilean peaches; Washington pears; Florida and Mexican peppers and radishes; Florida strawberries; Florida and Mexican tomatoes; Caribbean watermelon

Coming in: California avocados, Honduran cucumbers, Mexican eggplant, Chilean plums and raspberries

Variable quality: Harvest of many Florida crops — including corn, cucumbers, eggplant, oranges, peppers, tomatoes and strawberries — has been slowed by the cold weather. California artichokes; Mexican blackberries; Caribbean cantaloupes; Mexican carrots, corn and honeydews; Arizona lettuce; Caribbean peas; Mexican and California raspberries and strawberries; Mexican watermelon

Local reports and the Packer


Cardamom Carrots

Hands on: 10 minutes Total time: 15 minutes Serves: 6

Highlight the natural sweetness of carrots with orange zest and cardamom.

1 pound carrots, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Zest of 1 orange

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

In a steamer basket over simmering water, steam the carrots until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Place the carrots in a serving bowl and gently toss with the butter, orange zest, cardamom and ginger. Salt to taste and toss again.

Per serving: 68 calories (percent of calories from fat, 53), 1 gram protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 4 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 10 milligrams cholesterol, 46 milligrams sodium.