Welcome to Part Two of my Grow with Nutrition Holiday Series. What Holiday menu is complete without the wholesome goodness of delicious winter vegetables? These three hardy and delicious winter veggies will not only add flavour, texture and colour but will give a healthy punch to any holiday meal.Let’s explore why and how to include butternut squash, cabbage and parsnips this season.

Butternut Squash

In my recent Huffpost, I featured sweet potatoes as an immune boosting holiday food. Butternut squash is another immune boosting holiday food with its high beta-carotene and vitamin C (good for immune health). Beta-carotene gives squash its orange coloured flesh and is converted into vitamin A (good for eye health) within the body (1). More good news! Butternut squash contains high levels of the antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health and help combat oxidative stress (2). Don’t forget about the seeds. They are rich healthy fats and zinc and can be eaten as a snack.

Menu Ideas

  • Butternut squash pairs well with a variety of flavours, including apple, smoky bacon, cinnamon, and balsamic vinegSavoury-Butternut-Squash-Barley-Pilafar. It’s a very versatile veggie for the season and can be used in soups (pureed or diced), roasted as a hot side, in pilafs with barley and in cold salads, mashed to replace traditional white potatoes, in muffins and my holiday favourite – maple cinnamon glazed pieces as a sweet savory side dish.


When I think of cabbage, my first thought is sauerkraut, then I envision standard coleslaw. I’m working on thinking outside the Mason jar because cabbage has so much to offer! It is a cruciferous vegetable, which is the same family that broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and kale belong to. Cabbage contains a significant amount of vitamin K (good for bone health) and is high in the mineral selenium (good for immune health). Eating cruciferous vegetables including cabbage has been associated with lowered risk for cancers including breast and colon (3,4).

Menu Ideas

  • Of course there is the traditional cabbage rolls at the neighbourhood potluck and sauerkraut pierogies on Christmas Eve. What about braised cabbage (olive oil, chopped cabbage, red wine vinegar and small amount of brown sugar – simmered stove top for about one hour) as a delish holiday side? It pairs well with both ham and pork. And for Boxing Day brunch, cabbage hash goes well with quiche or simple eggs and bacon. The traditional coleslaw with a Greek yogurt dressing is a welcomed side dish anytime.


Move over kale and cauliflower, the parsnip is 2015’s “It” vegetable! Up until now, parsnips have taken a back seat to their family member, the carrot. Both are root vegetables with similar shape and characteristics. Parsnips are high in fibre (good for digestive health), as well as vitamin C (good for immune health), plus folate, phosphorus, and magnesium. Daily vitamin C can decrease the risk of contracting an illness, such as the common cold, and can decrease the length and severity (5, 6). And another plus of 2015’s “It” vegetable, parsnips only have 71 kcal per 100g serving.

Menu Ideas

  • I have to confess, parsnips are not high on my favourite winter or any vegetable list! So I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them. Roasted parsnips, carrots and turnip were a family holiday favourite (but not mine) growing up. Recently, I found a simple recipe – wash, peel and cut them into skinny strips, then roast them. They are an easy swap for the traditional French fries with turkey sandwiches and burgers over the holidays. Plus I like to dip them in balsamic vinegar. Also, parsnips can be shaved as an ingredient in a cold salad, whipped and mashed as a side and an ingredient in baking and diced or pureed for soups. Let me know your favourite!

Holiday Recipe

That wraps up winter vegetables – part two of my holiday series. To end, I have a parsnip recipe for you! With the busy holiday season, I like the minimal prep time, only three ingredients and the sweet outcome of this maple roasted parsnip recipe from the foodnetwork.com

Stay tuned for part three and the final post in my holiday series…Skinny Cocktails for your New Year’s Eve Celebration.


  1. Wolf G. The experimental induction of vitamin A deficiency in humans. J Nutr. 2002; 137(7):1805-1811.
  2. Johnson EJ. The role of carotenoids in human health. Nutr Clin Care. 2002; 5(2):56-65.
  3. Talalay P and Fahey JW. Phytochemicals from cruciferous plants protect against cancer by modulating carcinogen metabolism. J Nutr. 2001; 131(11):3027S-3033S.
  4. Keck AS and Finley JW. Cruciferous vegetables: Cancer protective mechanisms of glucosinolate hydrolysis products and selenium. Integr Cancer Ther. 2004; 3(1):5-12.
  5. Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, and Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab. 2006; 50:85-94.
  6. Sasazuki S, Sasaki S, Tsubono Y, Okubo S, Mayashi M, and Tsugane S. Effect of vitamin C on common cold: Randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006; 60:9-17.