Is It Bad To Eat Salads In The Winter?

Dear Dr.Kim,

My friend told me it was bad to eat salads in the winter. Is this true?

Y.G. Victoria

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Dear Y.G.

Thank you for your question. The answer is yes and no. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), consuming raw vegetables (especially in the fall in winter) is inefficient for the digestive system. The body needs to use energy to warm the raw nutrients up and extract the goods –which can leave your energy (Qi) more drained instead of nourished. Contrary to raw food nutrition, TCM nutrition guidance is to lightly steam, sauté, or bake your vegetables to breakdown some of the fibre and “unlock” the vitamins and minerals. I have found the TCM approach to seasonal vegetables (and food) intake to be a good approach. During the winter and fall it is a good idea to look to build vegetable intake from cooked sources.

With this in mind, raw salads are best in the spring/summer while cooked vegetables are better support for the fall and winter. This doesn’t mean that you should never eat a salad in the winter but it is best that you are moderate about raw salads and you can make ‘salad’ of (mostly) previously cooked vegetables. I like to toss leftover root vegetables (beets, yam, potato) with a diced boiled egg, avocado, nuts and seeds.

Vegetables are an important means of minerals, vitamins, clean starch, water and fibre. Minerals and vitamins are co-factors (necessary partners) of every reaction in your body. In addition, minerals help you maintain good hydration by helping you balance the water you drink against fluid elimination. You should strive to have vegetables as a big piece of your daily food intake pie chart!

Here are some creative ways to enjoy vegetables during the fall and winter months:

  • Blend organic spinach, kale, and/or cilantro into your rice (or quinoa) water before cooking
  • Blend organic spinach into a small amount of water and add it to your spaghetti sauce
  • Bake beets and zucchini into your muffin or loaf recipes
  • Roast root vegetables such as yam, sweet potato, and beet and toss these in a little oil and coconut (or other) vinegar to create a (cooked) salad. Add diced avocado, seeds, or nuts
  • Add flaked dulse to soups and food –remembering that seaweed and sea vegetables are nutrient-dense choices
  • Enjoy pickled vegetables such as sauerkraut in moderation. High quality fermented vegetables can be a good way to tonify your digestion while accessing the minerals and vitamins of vegetables.
  • Make homemade soups that include vegetables (especially colourful ones)

Choosing a Greens drink that boasts a range of green vegetable, and where possible ingredients that are organic, can be a way to augment your food choices. There are a variety of flavours available so try a few brands to find one that best suits your taste. It is great to have your Greens in the morning (before breakfast) but it can also be a nice afternoon pick-me-up.

“Health from the inside out.”

Dr. Kim McQueen, ND



Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. In addition to her clinic work she has been a consultant to the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, Camosun College, Rugby Canada and Rowing Canada. P:778.433.4935 and www.kimmcqueen.com . Kim McQueen is one of the Co-founders of the nourishing Supershake, Rumble. See www.drinkrumble.com