Lifelong cook, graduate of the Clayton College of Natural Health, holistic nutritionist and creator of Pueblo’s Farm Fresh Market, Jo Schrubbe, shown above, provides Ranch Foods Direct with a line of wholesome prepared meals and offers her customers classes on weight loss and proper nutrition. She is also committed to bringing healthier fresher food to Southern Colorado’s dinner tables, local schools and hospital cafeterias. Here, she offers her recommendations for staying healthy during the winter season.

“Compared to other seasons, winter is a challenging time for eating healthy. The bounty of summer produce is gone. A winter tomato is usually picked green, artificially ripened, and shipped thousands of miles before it reaches the grocery store. You’ll pay a hefty price for a very blah tomato. However, winter is a great time to switch to warming produce like root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage). But if you’re just dying for a tomato in winter, rejoice. Southern Colorado has a good variety of hydroponically and greenhouse grown produce.

• Staying hydrated in winter is a challenge. A glass of ice cold water doesn’t sound as tempting on a frosty winter day. Meet the goal of half your body weight in ounces of water by drinking herbal teas, hot water with lemon and eating soups made with broth.

• Winter weather can derail the heartiest outdoor exerciser. Be sure to have alternate activities available like fitness DVDs around your home or head to yoga classes or the mall for a brisk indoor walk.

• The key to staying healthy during cold and flu season is to boost your immune system. Consume Vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, lemons, and peppers along with foods high in zinc like spinach, pumpkin seeds, seafood and Callicrate Beef. Beef is a great source of zinc. A small, lean rib-eye steak has about 95% of the USDA daily recommendation for zinc.

• Don’t forget that sugar is the enemy of immunity so toss out any leftover holiday sweets that might be lingering around the house, limit alcohol consumption and wash your hands often.

• Make the effort to seek out healthy foods. Since I’m a trained nutritionist, the quality of ingredients we use to make our Farm Fresh Market meals (available at Ranch Foods Direct) is of primary importance to me. We make everything from scratch, using sustainably raised meats and produce. Our meals have no additives or preservatives, and we don’t over-salt our food. Ranch Foods Direct is our exclusive provider of beef, pork, chicken and lamb, so you can be sure the flavor is outstanding and the quality high. Our heat-and-eat meals have been recommended by the Diabetes Care Center and the Cardiac Rehab Center at both Pueblo hospitals.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Ranch Foods Direct,” Jo concludes. “Once our customers try the meat, they’re hooked. This is what meat is supposed to taste like. They really appreciate the quality for the price. Customers who try our prepared meals notice how good the meat tastes. There’s a definite difference. Local, sustainable, and flavorful – it doesn’t get any better than that!”