Happy New Year! If eating more nutritious foods fits into any of your healthy resolutions for 2013, January can seem like a bleak time of the year to turn over a new leaf. Summer's juicy tomatoes and sweet corn are months away, and even fall's crispest apples seem to have dwindled on store shelves.
But that doesn't mean that healthy eating is impossible mid-winter. Here, we've assembled a list of some of our favorite seasonal produce for the first month of the year.
They even share a few perks. "These fruits and veggies are free of fat, low in calories and rich in vitamin C," says Heather Bauer RD, CDN, founder of bestowed.com and a HuffPost blogger. "At this time of the year, when the weather gets colder and colder, vitamin C plays a big role in maintaining the immune system to fight colds, sinus infections, coughs and other issues."
Let us know in the comments what we missed!
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> Just one of these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/06/orange-varieties_n_1190194.html">sweet citrus picks</a> contains 60 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> These perfectly-portable fruits are easy to grab and go. Or try adding a few slices to your next winter salad. When paired with a dash of vitamin C, the iron in leafy greens like kale and spinach becomes <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/food-synergy-food-pairings_n_1874641.html#slide=1504290">easier for the body to absorb</a>.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> While these leafy greens sometimes get a bad rap for their taste, they're part of the <a href="http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/foods/cruciferous/">cruciferous veggie family</a> -- the same group that boasts broccoli, cauliflower and other well-known superfoods that fight inflammation and seem to offer some protection against certain cancers. Brussels sprouts are also <a href="http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-brussels-sprouts-00400000001701/">rich in fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C and iron, all for very few calories</a>. <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> Bauer swears by sautéing those Brussels with a little olive oil and garlic.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> A well-known source of vitamin C, grapefruit is also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/healthy-food-healthiest-list_n_1840547.html#slide=1446544">rich in fiber</a>, which can help keep you full and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/30/high-fiber-diet-healthy-why_n_2221255.html#slide=1824749">lower cholesterol</a>, among other benefits. Grapefruit has also been found to aid in weight loss. In a 2006 obesity study, participants lost the most weight when they <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16579728">ate half a grapefruit before a meal</a>. It's also <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20475957_11,00.html">90 percent (or more) water</a>, meaning it can help you stay hydrated. And the red variety is rich in lycopene, the famed antioxidant abundant in tomatoes, says Bauer, which may offer protection from certain cancers and skin damage from UV rays. Just be careful, as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/26/grapefruit-drug-interactions-study_n_2193814.html">grapefruit is known to interact dangerously with certain medications</a>. <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> Broil a half <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/superfoods_n_1184465.html#s589628&title=Grapefruit">with cinnamon and honey for a tasty winter treat</a> or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/19/grapefruit-recipes_n_1216204.html#s622605&title=Mixed_Green_Salad">try the slices as a salad topper</a>, to help with iron absorption.
<strong>Why we love it:</strong> One of the first foods to come to mind when you think "superfood," kale has earned its reputation. It's rich in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/healthy-food-healthiest-list_n_1636409.html#slide=1161890">vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and calcium</a>. <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> If you're going to enjoy it raw in a salad, be sure to add a little healthy fat, like olive oil, avocado or nuts, to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/12/best-worst-salad-greens-health_n_1962626.html">help the body better absorb all those nutrients</a>. Sautéed kale is another tasty option, as are <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/kale-chips_n_1062534.html">kale chips</a> for a fun crunch that's low in calories, says Bauer.
<strong>Why we love them: </strong>These crunchy root veggies deserve their reputation for being good for your peepers -- a cup of chopped carrots contains <a href="http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2383/2">more than 400 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A</a>, also found in the similarly-hued <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/foods-vision_n_1632176.html#slide=1155157">sweet potato</a>. Plus, the naturally-sweet taste may help someone with a sweet-tooth keep cravings at bay, says Bauer. <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> While they're perfectly good raw, they can also be pureed into a cozy <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/carrot-soup_n_1951262.html">winter soup</a> or <a href="http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Herbed-Roasted-Winter-Vegetables-108829">roasted along with other root vegetables</a>.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> Another root veggie with a similar appearance to a carrot, parsnips add a <a href="http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-parsnips-00400000033461/">"sweet, nutty flavor"</a> to winter soups and stews. They are <a href="http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2515/2">rich in fiber, vitamin C and potassium</a>. <strong>How to enjoy:</strong> Besides the afore-mentioned soups and stews, parsnips also go well with other roasted root veggies, or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/potato-parsnip-mash_n_1057003.html">mashed for a less starchy potato-esque side</a>, says Bauer.
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