Winter Snacks

I hope you got a kick out of my last post! It is the hard truth of anyone cooking in the kitchen. :) You never need to feel like my efforts of cooking are somehow better than yours, merely because I have a blog and I post the successful recipes. We live in a world where people are doing so many things. It seems like it is not enough just to live; we must constantly be trying to do more. Elder Uchtdorf said in the October 2012 conference, “Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.” Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope and even blogs make us feel like there is more we should be doing. There is crafting, cooking, sewing, building and showing everyone what we can do. The trend is to do more than the next person, or you are not of worth; you have no talent. This is not true. There is more to talent than performing for others to see. Talent is giving of your time, caring for others, seeing what others need, or noticing the gifts someone else possesses.

I was thinking about this concept and a little parable came into mind, in kind of a poetic form. I wrote it out and it goes like this:

There was a man who planted roses,

for that was his talent you see.

He hoped to share his garden,

spreading beauty, love and glee.

But no one came to the garden

All throughout the day,

No one even noticed,

as they went their busy way.

A woman passed the flowers and the Gardner gently said,

“Do you see the roses? Won’t you enjoy the view?”

But she implied as she hurried away,

“I shouldn’t stop, for I have much to do.”

To an unhappy business man the Gardner kindly said,

“I have a rose garden, would you like to come and see?”

The man frowned at the Gardner and turned his head,

“I am a busy man, just go and leave me be.”

The Gardner began to sorrow,

For what he held so dear,

Had gone unnoticed all day long,

And had brought no one great cheer.

But then a child paused in the garden

And stooped to smell a rose.

Then from the child’s little mouth,

A bashful smile arose

“Thank you” beamed the Gardner, “For the joy you have given me”

“But why?” asked the child, “For I’ve done nothing here.”

The Gardner replied, “It is not what you have grown.

“It’s because you smelled the roses, which I have held so dear.”

The truth is not all see,

The talents which others show,

Therefore talent is to notice,

And not just flowers grow.


I consider myself to have a little cooking talent, and maybe photography too. But what would that be worth, if it were not for you. It is because you take the time to read my blog, and maybe even try my recipes that my talent has a purpose. So a big thanks to you, for stopping to “smell the roses”.

If you are like practically everyone else, you have New Year’s resolutions galore, and not forgetting something about eating healthier after all the holiday sweets. But where do you start?

After throwing away all the remaining cookies and candies, you have to replace them with something, or else you’re going to resort back to whatever junk you have left in your cupboards. Here is where this post comes in handy. The ground in January is still frozen solid, and the summer fruits and veggies don’t have a chance of growing abundantly. Strawberries, watermelon, zucchini and practically everything else seems overpriced at the store. Lucky for us, not everything stops growing in the winter. You probably know that winter is prime time for oranges and other citrus, but here are a few other ideas of fruits and veggies that you can snack on, as you recover from your sugar hangover.


Just a quick note before we get started! I have learned about nutrition in college and lots of books and articles. I am not an expert, but I try to base my statements on proven studies and tests. Most of the information for this post comes from The New Complete Book of Food: A Nutritional, Medical, and Culinary Guide. It is a great resource and quick reference if you want to know more about the individual food items you use in your kitchen. A more comprehensive list (and recipes) of Winter produce can also be found at cuesa.org.


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Citrus

As I just mentioned above, winter is prime time for citrus. Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and clementines are all great snack options. And what a blessing it is that in mid-winter, when the cold and flu are going around, citrus, with all its immune-boosting vitamin C, is in peak season! And here is a little fact: Although we love to eat cold fruit, letting citrus come to room temperature before serving will intensify the smell and taste.

If you are feeling brave, why don’t you break out of the routine and try kumquats or pomelo?


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Pomegranates

Limi and I love snacking on Pomegranates! We split one, and watch a movie while we pick at the seeds. Winter is also a great season for this fruit, as you may have noticed stores selling them beginning around Thanksgiving. Pomegranates are rich in potassium, which helps maintain low blood pressure. The juice has also been rated better than red wine for lowering cholesterol.

It may seem daunting to pick a ripe pomegranate though. You should look for a firm, dark or bright red skin, and a pomegranate that is heaver than it looks. I have also heard that flat-ish sides indicate juicier seeds. Here are a couple tutorials for easy ways to open pomegranates (Here and Here). You can store pomegranates in your fridge anywhere from a week to a month, and you can also freeze the seeds.


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Nuts

Some of you might not want any more nuts, if you buy loads of them for Christmas, but I think some of you are like me, and you completely forget about them when it comes to holiday parties and snacks.

Pecans, chestnuts, pistachios, macadamias, and all other nuts are great to buy in the winter.It is important to get unsalted nuts though, so that you don’t spike your blood pressure while you get the fiber and protein from the nuts. If you prefer salted nuts, try roasting and salting them yourself, so that you can better control your sodium and blood pressure. Nuts have lots of protein, of course, but they are also great for fiber. Sure, they do have a lot of oils, but if you stay within a reasonable serving size you can reap the benefits without the oil being a problem. Healthy fats are good in healthy amounts. :)


A few other healthy snack and food items that are especially in season are:

  • Kiwifruit
  • Pears
  • Chard
  • Beets
  • Avocados
  • Sprouts

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