Food Picks for (Good and Bad) Snow Days

It’s been a warm winter on the East Coast, but Old Man Winter wasn’t going to hide forever. This past week, we saw our first snowfall of the season! It was brief, but it was a good reminder that winter and the cold are here.

How do you stay warm? Hibernation? Blanket fort? Both great options, but I like to treat myself to warm foods that are perfect for winter days.

Open Up with Oatmeal

For getting ready to build a snowman, choose oatmeal. (It also just happens to be National Oatmeal Month!) Packed with iron, vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, whole grains, and protein, oatmeal makes a great breakfast staple to start your day. It’s also a toasty afternoon snack to warm you up after an epic snowball fight. Use low-fat milk or protein-filled milk alternatives like soymilk instead of water for an extra nutrient boost. As a bonus, add fruits and nuts for a balanced meal. Want something sweet? Add a touch of maple syrup.

Chow on Chicken Noodle

If you are sick and can’t enjoy the snow, choose chicken noodle soup. The benefits of chicken noodle soup aren’t just old wives' tales – they’re backed by actual SCIENCE! One study found that eating chicken noodle soup can help to clear up a stuffy nose. Another study found that amino acids in chicken soup or chicken breast extract can blunt the overt inflammatory response (one of the main reasons why you feel sick) that results from an infection like the flu. That gets you feeling healthier faster. (You can read more tips for cold and flu season here.)

Fetch Some Fish

For getting your vitamin D fix, choose fish. According to the NIH, vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in a lot of foods, and getting your daily requirements from the sun can be difficult in the winter. Lack of vitamin D can lead to diseases like rickets and osteomalacia (softening of the bones).

Luckily, swordfish, salmon, and tuna are chocked full of vitamin D to help keep your levels in check throughout the long, dark winter months. Salmon and tuna are great options because you can buy shelf-stable cans or pouches to keep on hand. If fish isn’t your thing, look for foods fortified with vitamin D like milk, orange juice, and cereals. There is no excuse not to get your vitamin D!

Stay Smart in a Storm

Not all snow days are happy-go-lucky. Winter can be dangerous, and it is important to be prepared. Having adequate and safe food to eat during a snowstorm or other weather emergency is essential.   Restaurants and grocery stores might be shut down, so prepare in advance.

Ready.gov recommends protein and fruit bars, crackers, non-perishable pasteurized milk, peanut butter, dry cereal or granola, and food for infants as essential items for a disaster supply kit. Choose foods that won’t make you thirsty, and be sure to keep dietary needs/restrictions in mind. As always, have at least one gallon of water on hand per day for every person in your family.

Here are some additional food safety tips for emergency situations:

  • “Keep in the Cold: Remember to keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed during power outages to maintain the cold temperature.”
  • “Smell Won't Tell: Do not rely on the appearance or smell of a food item to determine its safety.  It's important to use a thermometer to determine a food's safety.”
  • “When in Doubt, Throw it Out: If you are unsure about the safety of food items that were in your refrigerator or freezer during a power outage or anytime, THROW IT OUT!”
  • “After the Fact: After any emergency situation, it is important to thoroughly clean and sanitize dishes, utensils, and even the freezer and refrigerator.”

Have fun, be safe and enjoy the snow (or lack thereof) wherever you are!