Surviving the February Food Blahs

There’s nothing very glamorous about food in February. Our barbecue is currently sitting under a mound of snow, and we’re only capable of dreaming of the grilled Caesar salads and cedar plank salmon instead of executing the dishes.

My Popsicle molds are gathering dust as summer treats such as cherry limeade popsicles just don’t fit the bill on a blustery winter day. In the grocery stores, as much as we embrace what’s in season now, the produce hardly compares to the sweet berries and tender greens of summer.

So how does one survive the February food blahs? How do we get excited to cook on these dark, cold days? And what kind of snacks are worth writing home about?

Today I’ll share what works for me and hopefully you’ll add your tips in the comments!

Home Preserves

If you haven’t cracked your favorite fruit butter yet, and your jars of canned cherries are gathering dust, then what are you waiting for? Now is the time to reap the benefits of those hours of canning you put in last year.

We’ve been spooning up silky soft apricots in honey syrup and enjoying homemade jam for most breakfasts. They provide a welcome burst of fruit on the tongue. The Strawberry-Honey Jam pictured above is often spooned over ice cream or yogurt for a special treat.

Go ahead. Open some jars!

Winter salads

As much as I adore kale, I crave other varieties of salad during the winter months. Craving is almost putting it mildly: I NEED those antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Here are a few of my favorites, with plenty more inspiration over on my Winter Salads Pinterest board.

Smoothies

If the splash of color on my Just Smoothies Pinterest board doesn’t inspire you to haul out the blender and whip up something refreshing, then I don’t know what will.

If you put up any berries in the freezer last summer, now is prime time to spin them with yogurt and a bit of honey for a smoothie.

whole grain pancake breakfastPhoto by Katie

Comfort Food & Drink

Go ahead, you deserve it. Give into the cravings and make a batch of your favorite comfort food. In our house, it’s pancakes, especially in winter, and hot cocoa or Ovaltine on snowy days.

Everyone has their own comfort food. It could be roast chicken, pizza, chicken noodle soup, or apple pie.

Keep those comforting hot beverages coming:

Spice it up

Spices are my absolute favorite way to affordably add flavor to a dish – without the fat, too! They stimulate the appetite, arouse the senses, and if enough chillies are used, can thwart annoying cold symptoms, too.

Get started here: What You Need to Know About Buying, Storing, and Cooking with Spices.

Citrus

During winter, my crisper drawer is packed full of citrus: blood oranges for salads, clementines for school lunch, grapefruit for breakfast, and lemons for baking. They replace my beloved summer fruits in everything from pancake syrups to cake to salads.

Cleanse

Do you body a favor after the holiday and Super Bowl excess and try a cleanse. I don’t mean some crazy detox that costs tons of money (we’re trying to spend less here), but instead take a week  or two and cut out taxing foods on your body. What might they look like? Sugar. Caffeine. Dairy. Perhaps gluten.

Shannon outlines taxing foods in this post on a physical ‘spring cleaning‘ and shares suggestions for foods that are easy to digest. Your body will appreciate the change of pace.

 

In this month’s edition of Eat Well, Spend Less we’re talking about making food more fun. Check out what the other ladies have up their sleeves…

How do you beat the February food blahs?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Yep, this is where I am–the February food blahs! I’ve had enough comfort food, but it’s too soon for spring!

    I’ve just started making smoothies for my kids again (I need a way to sneak them their fish oil!) and they need to be dairy free so THANK YOU for these recipes, and the link to the Pinterest board. I’m off to peruse that now :)
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s last post: The Tyranny of the Library

  2. Citrus is a must for the February blahs. It just makes you think warm and sunny thoughts. And making a marmalade also sends me back to summer jam making. Just a little pick me up during the cold months!
    Kaytee’s last post: Cheese Making

  3. Funny you should post this today – this morning, I was finishing up the last of my cranberry jam and decided to reward myself with the last of the strawberry jam made from berries I bought in Montreal. :)
    Casey@Good. Food. Stories.’s last post: Parents Need to Eat Too!

  4. Every year about this time, I realize I have been hoarding my bottled fruits and jams from the year before. There’s something about all the work that went into them that makes me hate to open a jar. But I realize, I don’t want to save them until next year — they were made to be eaten! So I start serving bottled peaches, pears and apricots, and using up my jams and jellies. Each kid has their own favorite. Seems to help us through the month of February when local fresh fruits and vegetables are still a dream.
    Jen@anothergranolamom’s last post: Kids in the Kitchen: Kids Cooking Together — Cowboy Cookies

  5. While we’re having a very mild winter here in the south, I’ve still had a bit of the blahs. I made this fabulous Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Onion from Food in Jars this morning and I can’t wait to pile some on a gooey grilled cheese or some smoked pork shoulder! http://www.foodinjars.com/2010/03/can-jam-sweet-and-sour-pickled-red-onions/

  6. I got some Creamsicle Jelly at a food swap last week. You reminded me that I should open it now and enjoy it. Maybe I’ll mix it in with some yogurt for an afternoon snack for myself and the kids.
    Emily @ Random Recycling’s last post: Menu Plan Feb 19

  7. I’ve been following your website for a while and have loved it. You are such a breath of fresh air in a blog world filled with extremes!! I love your balanced approach which helps me to feel that cooking with whole foods is not only possible, but delicious and most importantly, NOT weird! Thank you!!

  8. I find myself buying and using a lot more citrus during the winter. It makes the kitchen a very bright and sunny place. Comfort foods are always welcome at this kitchen!
    Melissa’s last post: Fat Tuesday Celebration: King Cake

  9. Jams are such a great way of inviting some sunshine into your kitchen, love them! And pomegranate seeds are one of my favourite fruit!
    In Snax In Cuisin – Cheria’s last post: Recipe: hearty, low-fat vegetable soup

  10. I love those winter salads and I make smoothies almost everyday.
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen’s last post: Magimix Vision Toaster Review and Giveaway | The First See-Through Toaster

  11. I love this post, Aimée! One of my favorite things about winter is enjoying some fruit from the freezer that I’ve picked over the summer, or popping open a jar of homemade jam. I definitely need to take your advice and incorporate more citrus into my dishes!
    Tracy’s last post: Gooey Red Velvet S’mores Bars

  12. I’ve made your citrus platter twice for Christmas Eve dinner, and once for a big ol’ fancy reception I catered- huge hit! I always make sugared cranberries at the same time- pour hot simple syrup over a bowl of cranberries and let the soak for a while. Then drain off the syrup, and let the dry on a wire rack til they’re just tacky, and toss them in sugar. I use the drained off syrup to pour over your citrus platter (and mix it into sparkling water for a quick, pink, soda :) So good, and they look so fancy! Thanks for this idea!
    Myrnie’s last post: Backwards and Forwards

  13. I am love smoothies anytime of year! I keep our food pretty simple, especially during the winter when my energy level is low. Our usual comfort foods include chili, our version of zuppa tuscana (chicken broth, potatoes, onions, sausage, and kale), and a simple crockpot creamy chicken and rice. We eat a lot of bananas, apples and oranges as well.
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds’s last post: On Keeping It Simple

  14. Those preserves look absolutely luscious. A taste of summer, definitely!

    As you might expect from a tea lover like me, a good hot cup of black tea is my favorite way to beat the blahs. Nibble some 70% chocolate on the side and everything starts to look better. :-)
    Caroline from Hibiscus Teashop’s last post: Make Perfect Tea with The Zojirushi Hot Water Heater: My Review

  15. Oh, thank god I live in Australia…

    My BBQ under snow is my idea of a nightmare!

  16. Winter is not a favorite food season of mine. I just gave up too many of my favorite fall fruits (persimmons, jujubes, pomegranates, etc.) so I have somewhat of a withdrawal. But even though citrus is not a favorite of mine, I do enjoy Satsuma mandarins (the kinds that are easy to peel) as well as plenty of winter salad leaves.

    I live in SoCal though so I guess we are a bit more spoiled when it comes to selection. Other than outright spring or summer produce like bell peppers and peaches, we still have many options for seasonal food.
    Sleeping Mama’s last post: How to be a frugal mom and still buy Pampers

  17. I love the meal plan you have shared us here….Thanks for the ideas…
    Sabinnah’s last post: The Best User Guide For iPad with Screenshots– Lesson 1 General Settings

  18. Yummy! this looks amazing!

  19. oohhh jam, salad, smoothies…i love love love them!
    Ms.Amber’s last post: Is 2012 real

  20. I find myself craving spicy foods when the winter blahs kick in – so it’s mexican one day (with home canned salsa), and curries the next – Indian or Thai curries usually.

    With the curries all those spices and flavors make carrots and potatoes more interesting to eat again….

  21. I love to make smoothies in the winter. Our favorite is blackberry/strawberry (with spinach hiding in there!). We also like peach/strawberry and strawberry kiwi. Yum!

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