Fend off winter weight gain with these delicious seasonal foods
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A cross between a lemon and an orange, this fruit could help rev up your metabolism! According to research done at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, the d-limonene found in this fruit can help improve your liver's ability to break down metabolism-slowing toxins by up to 30 percent.
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This mix of a grapefruit and a tangerine has only 60 calories and three grams of belly-filling fiber, plus a large dose of vitamin C, folate, and potassium to give you plenty of energy for your winter workouts.
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Researchers in Italy found that the antioxidants (called anthocyanins) that give these oranges their bright color may also aid in weight loss. According to their study, animal subjects who were given a daily dose of blood-orange juice lost up to 13 percent of their body weight in just three months (without making any other changes). But don't just drink their juice; Eat fiber-rich blood oranges to make them even more effective for weight loss.
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This creamy corn dish serves up a low-fat complex carbohydrate (corn) that is high in fiber. "Corn is a surprising source of several vitamins, including folic acid, niacin, and vitamin C, and its insoluble fiber helps fill you up, lower cholesterol and weight," says Sarah Reilly, a certified holistic nutritionist and owner of Get Nourished.
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This tropical delight can help chase away your winter blues, says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist, eating strategist, and owner of Essential Nutrition for You.
"Guava is a sweet, pink tropical fruit that is not only rich in taste, but also in vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium. Some varieties have extremely high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which may prevent coronary artery disease."
Batayneh recommends using guava instead of tomatoes for homemade salsa that is perfect for parties.
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Pomelos, an ancestor of the grapefruit, pack in tons of flavanones, a class of antioxidants that have been shown to help prevent the spread of cancerous cells, Batayneh says. "It also contains potassium and folic acid and can easily replace grapefruit, orange, or even pineapple in many recipes."
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These portable seeds make a great healthy snack. Just a handful can help suppress your appetite and provide your body with plenty of magnesium, selenium, and vitamin E—the body's primary fat-soluble antioxidant, Batayneh says.
"Vitamin E travels throughout the body, neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules such as cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol."
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Honey is the perfect all-natural sweetener! Its natural sugars help to prevent fatigue and boost your energy level, its antioxidants help bolster your immune system, and it even has antimicrobial properties to help kill bacteria and soothe winter sore throats, Batayneh says. "And, this sweet wonder can even help cure your hangover—natural sugars speed up the oxidation of alcohol in the liver."
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Eggs are a superior source of all essential amino acids and provide optimal sources of selenium, iodine, tryptophan, and vitamin B12—all of which are important for nourishing the body, says Stella Metsovas, a clinical nutritionist in Los Angeles, Calif. "Providing the body with optimal nutrients helps in maintaining a healthy weight by stabilizing blood sugar."
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Out of all the different types of nuts, macadamia nuts provide the highest amount of monounsaturated fat or 'clean fat'," Metsovas says. "'Clean fat' is an important addition to your diet because the right type of fat can provide you with a synergy of nutrients, as well as help keep you feeling full longer."
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An overgrowth of gut-bacteria has been linked to obesity and weight gain, so flourishing your healthy populations of bacteria in the gut with foods like kimchi can help you maintain a healthy weight, Metsovas says. "Kimchi is similar to sauerkraut, although many times people might prefer the Asian-like taste with their meals—I love kimchi!"
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"The antioxidants found in cactus pears have been studied for their anti-inflammatory benefits—and weight gain is considered pro-inflammatory," Metsovas says. "Most studies correlate the benefits of cactus pear because of its ability to protect the liver from damage caused by hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar)."
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"Papayas are super-rich in Vitamin C and A—two critical nutrients during the winter months when typical foods consumed are generally always cooked," Metsovas says. "Adding fresh, raw-foods (in addition to cooked food) can help naturally add antioxidants lacking from foods exposed to high cooking temperatures."
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"Potatoes are rich sources of vitamins and minerals—especially the heirloom varieties," Metsovas says. "Most people are concerned with the starch component of potatoes, but they shouldn't be—the skin of the potato contains enough fiber to help slow the release of starch. And, combined with fresh or steamed vegetables and olive oil, you're getting almost ½ your daily allowance of fiber in one meal. Fiber is a win-win addition to your winter diet for regulating blood sugar."
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"One of my favorite recommendations to use when sautéing vegetables—pairing sweet onions with haricot vert (a French green bean), broccoli, kale, or spinach is the perfect way to get more dark leafy greens into your diet during the winter months," Metsovas says.
Pink Lady Apples
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Baked apples are one of my favorite winter treats when topped with whipped cream and pecans, Metsovas says. "Apples are rich in pectin fiber and antioxidants like vitamin C, making them a perfect addition to your winter dietary intake, especially if your cravings for sugars are increased."
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If winter weight gain has you down, try adding a little coconut milk to your next meal. Research suggests that the medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) found in coconut milk may help speed up your metabolism and even promote weight loss.
One 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects who consumed meals containing MCFAs lost twice as much weight as those that didn't. Just be sure to read labels—not all coconut milk is the same, and some brands are very high in calories. (We love So Delicious' Original Fermented Coconut Milk—which also contains plenty of weight-loss promoting healthy bacteria—with only 70 calories per cup).
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Chicken broth is a great kitchen staple to have on hand during the winter months. Use a little broth instead of oil while sautéing or swap it in for butter and cream when making homemade mashed potatoes to save on calories and fat. And we highly recommend using it in these delicious slimming soup recipes.
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Sensitive to gluten? Try Malanga. Malanga, a South American root vegetable that can be cooked and eaten like a yam or potato, is a fabulous food for people with sensitivity to gluten, and it's often ground up and used as flour in many breads and baked goods, says Margaux J. Rathbun, B.S., N.T.P., founder of Authentic Self Wellness. "And its high fiber content helps curb hunger and promotes a healthy digestive system."
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Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, are perfect for promoting weight loss, Rathbun says. High in filling fiber, sunchokes are also low in calories and full of nutrients, including folate, vitamin C, iron, and potassium.
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"These leafy greens are low in calories, high in nutrients, and very filling," Rathbun says. "And they make an excellent non-dairy source of bone-building calcium and immune-boosting vitamin A."
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"This peppery salad leaf is a great diet food because of its powerful antioxidants that help to cleanse the kidney and the bladder, purify the blood, and promote an increase in energy levels," Rathbun says. "Watercress is a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, zinc, and can help to stimulate the liver, gall bladder, and kidneys, regulating important body processes that are essential to weight loss."
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"This superfood is full of health-promoting nutrients, including both fiber and protein," Rathbun says. "Like fiber, protein is important for weight-loss because it helps to stop hunger and food cravings.
Chia seeds have been shown to help balance out blood sugar levels and give us a sustained level of energy, making them the perfect pre-workout food. They are also full of heart-healthy fatty acids and immune-boosting antioxidants."
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Weight loss is nearly impossible if you feel restricted, and since dark chocolate is rich and decadent, a small amount can perfectly satisfy the need for something sweet without pushing you overboard on calories, says Alexandra Oppenheimer, a registered dietitian in New York City. "Stick to a one-ounce portion of 70-percent cacao or higher. That way you can get the health benefits of flavonoids and the pleasure of a sweet treat—in moderation."
Einkorn Wheat Pasta
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"Einkorn makes a rich and nutty flavored pasta with 9 grams of protein (vs. the 7 grams typically found in most whole grain pastas) per serving," Oppenheimer says. "The fiber and protein help fill you up while eating less, and it has the naturally occurring B-vitamins and minerals that make whole grains so good for you."
Be sure to look for a 100-percent whole grain Einkorn pasta to maximize the nutritional value.
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Skip seasonal coffee drinks and ciders that can easily add up to more than 300 calories and warm up this winter with some tea instead, Oppenheimer says. "Tea is naturally calorie-free and provides plenty of heart-healthy flavonoids."
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"Between the holidays and football season, winter becomes surprisingly filled with dips! Replacing sour cream with plain, fat-free Greek yogurt can spare your waistline by ditching five grams of fat for every two tablespoons," Oppenheimer says. "Greek yogurt is also a great swap [for oil] to decrease the fat and increase the protein in baked goods."
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"Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are packed with fiber, which is essential to keeping your digestive system healthy," Oppenheimer says. "With 7 grams of protein per half-cup serving, they help keep you satisfied, and in a season filled with soups, stews, and one-pot meals, chickpeas are a great addition to any meal or delicious roasted as a snack or salad topper."
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"With 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per half cup, navy beans are another food that will help you feel full for longer," Oppenheimer says. "The fiber found in navy beans may help lower cholesterol levels and maintain steady blood sugar levels (pushing off hunger). Using navy beans in soups and chili recipes is a great way to incorporate more healthy plant-protein sources in your diet."
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"Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is said to bring you good luck and prosperity," Oppenheimer says. And for good reason! These nutritional powerhouses have only 80 calories per half-cup serving with 4 grams of fiber and nearly 25 percent of your daily folate needs.
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"A one-cup serving of strawberries has only 50 calories and contains 2 grams of fiber and 160-percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C," Oppenheimer says. And a recent study found that the antioxidants and phenolic compounds found in strawberries may help protect your stomach from alcohol damage. Good thing they're available year round!
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"When you start getting bored of your typical fruit choices, a star fruit is a fun, satisfying option to throw into the mix," Oppenheimer says. "They're easy to prepare by washing and slicing, and they're a great addition to your diet to help keep your fruit intake adequate and interesting." (Plus, they only have 29 calories per fruit).
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Rosemary is a fragrant herb that adds plenty of flavor and disease-fighting antioxidants to foods," Oppenheimer says. "Using rosemary in cooking adds flavor and helps decrease the need for calorie- and sodium-containing ingredients like fat and salt. Foods with more flavor may even help you eat less because the food was more satisfying."
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"Whether you feature veggies or low-fat meat, chili is a winter food winner," says Christen Cupples Cooper, founder of Cooper Nutrition Communications and Education. "Know those cans you've had on the shelf for a year now? Pop them open—take black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, onion, cumin, chili powder, and even some salsa and warm it up until tender for an easy and nutritious (and delicious) dinner. Bulk it up with added greens (spinach, broccoli rabe, fresh or canned tomatoes) for very few additional calories."
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"For only 130 calories per 6-ounce glass, on a cold winter night, you get your antioxidants and a relaxing, fun beverage," Cooper says. "And if you want, go European and heat the wine slightly—add any warm fruits you'd like such as apple, pear, or mango for a little kick that won't set you back more than 60-80 calories."
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Possibly one of the healthiest winter foods around, one cup of kale contains only 35 calories, packs in five grams of fiber, and more than 1000 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin K, 200 percent of vitamin C, and 180 percent of vitamin A. Try this easy recipe for kale chips for a low-calorie, healthy snack that you can eat a lot of without guilt.
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This flavorful, heart-healthy herb can do everything from boost your immunity to slim your waistline. A new study found that garlic may even help reduce the effects of a high-fat diet.
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Nothing beats a warm and hearty bowl of oatmeal in the winter! Full of fiber, this power breakfast provides you with sustained energy, helps to stabilize blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, and will help keep you full until your next meal. And oatmeal doesn't have to be boring! Try some of these 10 new ways to eat oatmeal this winter.
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Nothing says winter like a hot cup of cocoa. And, believe it or not, it's good for you! According to a Cornell University study, hot cocoa may have more antioxidants per cup than red wine or tea. Just be sure to skip the whip cream and make it with skim milk for a treat that is waistline friendly.
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Enjoying some in-season lemons? Don't throw out the peel! Lemon peel is rich in limonene, a compound that may help prevent cancer and help the natural detoxification process of your liver. Just be sure to wash it thoroughly to remove any pesticides before eating.
Try some in this recipe for healthy vegan lemon donuts.
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A recent Louisiana State University study found that black rice contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than blueberries, plus plenty of fiber and vitamin E, making this grain a great addition to any weight-loss meal plan.
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These low-cal, meaty, vitamin B-rich mushrooms also contain lentinan, which may help boost your immune system (especially important during cold and flu season).
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This winter squash is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and it makes a great low-cal, low-carb alternative to pasta. Try it for dinner tonight in this turkey meatballs and spaghetti squash marinara recipe.
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Pure maple syrup is rich in manganese, riboflavin (B12), and zinc, and it's not just for pancakes! Skip creamers and artificial sweeteners for a little of this syrup to sweeten your morning coffee.
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"Turkey is an excellent protein for weight loss," Reilly says. "When eaten at lunch or dinner, turkey promotes the release of tryptophan and aids sleep, which is crucial for weight loss."
Studies show that sleeping less than seven hours a night can cause an increase in your daily calorie intake, leading to weight gain. Avoid preservatives in sliced turkey, and skip the deep frier—this weight loss food is best when roasted.
Mac N' Cheese
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Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. And while Mac n' cheese isn't exactly known as a 'weight loss' food—let's face it, during the cold, dreary winter it may be exactly what you're craving. And giving in to your cravings may be a very good thing for weight loss!
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate mac n' cheese every day ate less of it,and actually lost weight, while those who only ate it on a weekly basis consumed more calories overall, which led to weight gain.
The lesson? By making formerly 'off-limits' foods a regular part of your diet, they may lose their initial appeal, which could have you eating less of them overall.
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While available year-round, oysters typically taste best during the winter months. If you are a fan, these low-cal, protein-packed mollusks are rich in zinc, which could help you fend off that winter cold (and keep you on your workout schedule). Not to mention, they could also help you heat things up between the sheets this winter!
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Another food that is available all year long, winter is a great time of year to add more liver to your diet. This super protein source is full of vitamins, minerals, iron, and plenty of B vitamins. And while it is higher in fat and calories than many leaner meats, it's packed with energy-boosting, weight-loss promoting protein—packing in a whopping 78 grams per average serving of beef liver.
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Available year round canned, fresh, or frozen, tuna is a healthy source of lean protein that is rich in waistline-friendly and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Give a winter dinner a tropical twist with this delicious recipe for
pan seared tuna with mango relish.
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Rich in probiotics, kefir can help boost your immune system, improve weight loss success, and even reduce bloating. Full of fiber, protein, and only about 120 calories per cup, enjoy a glass before heading out to your evening party to fill you up beforehand and reduce belly bloat.