Feed Winter Wellness With Nutrition-Packed Dishes

Check out these hearty and healthy recipes to keep you warm and nourished all winter long.
By aha insurance - Nov 27, 2020

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Everyone has their favourite comfort foods to look forward to at the end of a cold day. With the official start of winter fast approaching, it’s time to enjoy soups, stews, chillis, casseroles, savoury pies and other warm dishes requiring baking or stove-top cooking.

We have menu suggestions that use tasty everyday ingredients and add to your vitamin and mineral intake to keep you going strong all winter long, without sacrificing flavour, or prescribing a cold salad for dinner when the temperature dips below zero, of course.

Squash Your Hunger

Did you know that all varieties of winter squash pack a potent nutritional punch? Winter squash is an excellent source of fibre, minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as vitamins including folate (B9), vitamin C and beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. When it comes to the most nutrient-dense types of squash, acorn and butternut squash take first and second place, meaning these ingredients are an excellent jumping-off point for healthy winter meal inspiration.

You can pair acorn and butternut squash with a wide variety of proteins including, meats, cheeses, veggies and legumes, for a warm and well-rounded winter meal. 

Are you looking for an easy way to cook kale and add more vitamin K to your diet? Try cooking up this 1-pot butternut squash quinoa chilli from Minimalist Baker.

This recipe for Jamaican peanut stew uses acorn or butternut squash, yellow squash, and zucchini, which is also a member of the squash family.

While including superfood squash varieties in your diet is excellent, your body still loves to get nutrition from a healthy array of fruits and veggies. Your “tomatoes are a fruit,” pointing out friends will note that squash is technically a fruit – so you can add even more fruit to your diet by mastering the preparation of spaghetti squash.

Dish Out Another Serving of Beta-Carotene With Sweet Potatoes

The orange colour of common sweet potato varieties hints that they are also good sources of the vitamin A producing antioxidant beta-carotene. While they have similar nutrient profiles, butternut squash is lower in calories, carbs and sugar than sweet potatoes. However, sweet potatoes contain higher amounts of protein and fibre. In contrast, butternuts offer additional vitamin E and calcium. Most importantly, though, like squash, sweet potatoes are good for you and have the versatility to be used in so many satisfying warm meals, for example: 

While sweet potatoes get a lot of praise for their nutritional value, a humble baked-potato contains more potassium than a sweet potato or even a banana. Furthermore, red, white, and russet potatoes are more nutrient-dense than their distant orange relatives. More proof that foods don’t have to be labelled “super” to be part of a healthy home-cooked meal! Go ahead and add some delicious red potato recipes to your holiday dinners.

Add the benefits of sunshine to your diet with vitamin D rich foods

Vitamin D plays an essential role in maintaining bone, teeth, and muscle health. It’s a well-known nutrition fact that as Canadians living far away from the equator, our bodies absorb insufficient amounts of vitamin D from sunlight in the winter. As a result, bone loss can occur faster during the colder, darker months, so we need to ensure we’re eating enough of this nutrient. Many Canadian food products like orange juice, cereals, dairy and dairy alternatives are fortified with vitamin D to help us get enough. However, it’s also a good idea to add naturally vitamin D rich foods to our winter meal plans.

Salmon & Tuna

A 100-gram serving of salmon contains about 66% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin D in addition to a heart-healthy helping of omega-3 fatty acids.

Canned tuna is another accessible vitamin D3 source, with 34% of your daily recommended value for every 100-gram serving. Time to whip out your family’s signature recipe for tuna noodle casserole, or try this healthy tuna noodle casserole made with sustainably caught albacore tuna.

UV Exposed Mushrooms

Mushrooms are the only naturally-occurring vitamin D source (vitamin D2, to be exact) that doesn’t come from an animal product. Mushrooms exposed to adequate UV light during growing or even post-harvesting contain high sunshine vitamin levels because mushrooms can absorb vitamin D much like our skin. You can also place mushrooms in the sun before consumption, but, also like your skin, edible fungi will absorb less vitamin D from the weaker winter sun. A good workaround is to make homemade batches of dried mushrooms in the spring, summer, and fall or purchase dried wild mushrooms that absorbed sunlight outside during the growing process.

Dried shiitake mushrooms are a staple of Asian cuisine that add signature umami flavour to scrumptious warm and hearty dishes like hot and sour soup and brown rice congee. Of course, mushrooms are the star of many nutritious hot meals, from soups and risottos to chillis and casseroles.

Whole Eggs

While some choose to skip yolks to lower their cholesterol intake, egg yolks are among the best naturally occurring vitamin D sources, making having eggs for dinner a healthy option in the winter. Eggs also pair well with mushrooms, cheese and virtually any vegetable. 


Now that you’ve filled up on suggestions for getting your vitamins A through K this winter, we hope you feel inspired with fresh ideas to cook up healthy meals that your family will enjoy. Many of our favourite winter dishes like roasted potatoes and tuna casseroles are already non-fussy sources of nutrients. The addition of colourful produce and a few extra sources of vitamin D can turn a regular wintertime dinner into a bone fortifying, antioxidant boosting, super nutrition feast!

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