When the temperature hovers right around zero, a crisp, cool salad is probably the last thing you want to eat. More likely, your body is craving something warm, filling, and comforting. Sure a big bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese might seem like the perfect food on a cold and snowy day but, though it is delicious, the high fat, high carb food is going to push you even further into hibernation mode - and add some unnecessary body fat.
Summer meals often incorporate fruits and vegetables because many are fresh from the garden and the summer heat often prompts us to eat lighter meals. The great thing about salads is they are a delicious way to consume many of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that support the immune system, keep the digestive system working efficiently, and energize our bodies.
Winter salads can fulfill your need to eat something warm, filling, and comforting if you think beyond the traditional lettuce and tomato salad. Sturdy greens topped with roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, and a warmed balsamic vinaigrette is a quick and healthy meal. Sprinkle some roasted hazelnuts on top for extra crunch.
Most of the "winter" vegetables can be roasted and the high heat and oil bring out their natural sweetness. Broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and even green beans are delicious roasted.
Roasting vegetables is easy: cut the up into bite size pieces, or separate florets, and coat with olive or avocado oil. Be sure the oil gets on all pieces, then spread the veggies out on a baking pan, keeping space between the pieces to avoid steaming them. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, place the veggies in the oven and let them be for about 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, stir or flip the veggies and continue roasting until they are softened and browned. Remove from the oven and use them to top your salad, serve as a side dish, or just munch on as a snack.
Be creative with your seasonings - parmesan cheese, chili powder, curry powder, cumin, and lemon pepper are delicious sprinkled on the veggies before or after roasting. I often roast mine unseasoned so I can season them according to how I am going to serve them.
Don't give up on your veggies or suffer though some overcooked casserole - load up on sturdy, nutrient-dense vegetables and start roasting.