Frozen Assets: Winter's Healthiest Foods

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Lima Beans

Lima beans, which are available fresh only a few weeks in summer, are rich in fiber and potassium, and they provide 12 grams of protein per cup. They also add a dose of iron to your diet. "That's important for runners," says Marrs, "because it helps transport oxygen to muscle cells to help generate energy."

Greek Lima Bean Salad

Microwave two cups of frozen lima beans until cooked. Mix with two tablespoons olive oil, 1/3 cup sliced olives, one diced red pepper, one ounce feta cheese, one tablespoon lemon zest, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper. Serve as a side dish or light lunch.

Mango Slices

Mango slices add tropical flare to your diet, and choosing frozen saves you the messy work of peeling and pitting. Mangoes are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B6, which your body needs to make hemoglobin. This compound carries oxygen through the body to keep energy levels up. Researchers at Texas A&M University recently found that antioxidants in mango have anticancer properties that inhibit tumor cell growth.

Ginger Mango Stir-Fry

In a skillet, cook two cups cubed chicken. Mix in one sliced red bell pepper, one cup frozen mango slices, two tablespoons soy sauce, one tablespoon chopped ginger, 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, and juice of one lime. Cook three minutes. Serve over brown rice.

Peach Slices

Just 10 slices of thawed frozen peaches provide more than double the daily quota for vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. "Vitamin C is necessary for keeping cartilage healthy, which is key for runners," says Scritchfield. Studies suggest vitamin C also reduces oxidative stress associated with exercise while also lowering diabetes and asthma risk.

Cinnamon Peach Topping

In a saucepan, combine one cup frozen peaches, 1/2 cup orange juice, one teaspoon lemon zest, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Simmer five minutes. Add two teaspoons cornstarch and two tablespoons maple syrup. Simmer until slightly thickened. Serve over pancakes or pork loin.

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Spinach

One cup of frozen spinach is denser than a cup of fresh, which means the former contains more vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate. "Folate helps red blood cells carry oxygen to working muscles," says Scritchfield, "so not getting enough folate will make your runs seem more taxing." She adds that vitamin K helps bones retain calcium, keeping them strong.

Potato Spinach Soup

In a pot, saute one chopped onion for four minutes. Add four cups broth, one box frozen spinach, one chopped potato, one teaspoon cumin, and salt and pepper. Simmer till potato is tender. Puree in a blender. Add juice from one lemon and 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt.

Winter Squash

Winter squash brims with beta-carotene. "The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A," says Marrs, "which helps maintain immune cells that respond to cold and flu viruses." Winter squash also contains loads of carbohydrates, making it a great energy source, says Marrs.

Butternut Squash Hummus

Add one 10-ounce box of thawed squash puree to a food processor. Blend with 1/3 cup tahini, one tablespoon orange zest, two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, one teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, two garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. Serve with vegetables or pita.

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