Don’t Fall Down the Winter Hole: Healthy Eating in the Cold Months

Words by Jeffrey Stern. Photos and recipe courtesy of Farmers to You

Fall is the start of shorter days, colder temperatures, often less motivation, more time bundled up watching movies on the couch and less time getting your sweat on. Winter is when the reality of the cold, rainy, snowy, bundled-up-at-home and read books (or watch Netflix) all day season truly hits. It can be somewhat depressing and definitely not motivating to stay active and eating the foods that your body needs. It’s too easy to eat that whole bag of cookies rather than spend some time behind the stove.

Even with the holiday season behind us, it doesn’t stop the usual cold weather temptations from starting to creep into your mind. Beer and pie for dinner! Seconds? Yes, please. This is also the time of year that your local farmer’s markets are bustling with a whole array of different colored fruits and veggies packed with glucosinolates (cancer-fighting compounds), antioxidants, beta-carotenes and much more. Rainbow colored foods that taste good in stir-fries, homemade soups and breads – all meals bursting with nutrition to give you energy to get your exercise on, as well as keep your belly warm when it’s cold outside.

One of my favorite recipes for when the weather turns foul and my belly is yearning for something warm, healthy and fueling for continued activity is soup. Of all the soups in the world, there is something about a butternut squash based soup. It’s like liquid gold for the soul. I enjoy sprucing it up with ginger and carrot, which makes it even healthier and adds a few more layers of mouth bursting flavor. This Carrot Butternut Squash Ginger soup will keep your body fueled and temptations at bay, as we all try to keep from digging ourselves to big of a hole this winter that we can’t climb out of!

Serves: 4-6

-1 medium sized butternut squash
-3 medium sized carrots
-2 cloves garlic
-1 inch sized piece of fresh ginger
-1 small onion
-1 quart vegetable (or chicken) stock
-Olive oil
-Salt & pepper
-Optional: coconut milk or sour cream  


Instructions: Cover the bottom of a large pot with oil, add diced onion and a bit of salt on low heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent. Add garlic, ginger, salt and pepper to taste, then cook another 5 minutes so the flavors blend together. Peel, seed and cut the butternut squash into large, one-inch chunks. Wash and cut the carrots into large chunks as well. Add the stock to the soup pot, then the carrots and squash, then add enough water to barely cover the vegetables. Bring the pot to a boil, then simmer until the carrots are tender. Using a potato masher, crush the cooked vegetables and blend to your preference. I usually like to blend half leaving some of the mashed carrots and squash for some texture. Optional: stir in something creamy if desired – I prefer a half-can of coconut milk for an additional flavor. Add sour cream into the serving bowl as a garnish.


Climbing out of that fitness hole once the deep winter starts to thaw will be even easier with your nutrition and hearty meal preparations dialed. Best of all you’ll have earned round two and maybe even three of Grandma’s homemade pie that you couldn’t toss after the holiday’s, but is just waiting to be defrosted, whenever you may please.


Ask Beardo: What should I eat while riding my bike?

Editor’s note: Beardo the Weirdo is our resident spiritual advisor and greasy wrench expert. You can usually find him in the pages of Bicycle Times but sometimes he fires up the dial-up modem and logs in here. Ask him anything at [email protected]—ANYTHING—and he’ll answer you. Be forewarned.



I’ve begun adding distance to my weekend rides, and I’m having a hard time finding food that doesn’t upset my stomach, but can still be eaten on the bike. Any ideas?

Barry Gronouski


The first thing I gotta ask: why eat on the bike? The allure of pre-packed snacks is obvious, but the idea of eating on the bike has always struck me as something done by racers and those training to race. If that’s you, it might be a good idea to set aside some of your budget and experiment with the various options on the market. Gels, powders, bars, pills, fizzy lifting drinks, lots of options for the many types of bodies, metabolisms and activity levels.

Personally, I neither race nor eat what most people would consider pre-packed sports snacks. Not because I have anything against either thing; I think it might have to do with all the formaldehyde I was exposed to while hauling stage props as a roadie for Slayer, but ever since then I’m on a pretty strict diet of canned meats and white rice. Children’s vitamin supplements have kept the scurvy at bay to this point, but man, some days all I want to do is eat an orange and take a nap on the beach.

Potted meat is surprisingly easy to find at many supermarkets, and modern pop-tops make it possible to eat while riding without needing to carry a can opener. But why bother? I find it much more enjoyable to find a proper lunch spot, crack open a can of preserved meats, slurp the layer of fat off the top, and take a breather while chewing contemplatively on unknown muscle groups.

I’ll hazard a guess that my dietary oddities aren’t shared by many other riders, but I’ve found most other people enjoy stopping, getting off the bike, and taking on nourishment like a civilized human. Sitting down to eat with friends is a custom shared by many cultures, and regardless of how many gels you’ve sucked down while in the peloton, there isn’t really time to discuss world politics or what it smells like when you drop a glass jar containing a pig fetus of unknown age.

Some of my favorite big rides have been planned around a new or favorite lunch spot. Eat a big breakfast, pack a proper lunch (canned meat and rice soup is a favorite, and travels well in the Thermos), and enjoy the break as much as the ride. Even racer types might find this a welcome respite to the frantic consumption of plastic wrapped goodies. A nice sandwich—eaten between intervals—might make for a more motivating training ride.


Portrait of Yours Truly by Stephen Haynes

This review originally appeared in Issue #34 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss an issue, order a subscription.

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