Winter always seems to linger longer than summer. For some, this is a good thing. However, for others, we tend to complain of the constant cold winds and grey skies. Instead of wallowing in despair, we can revamp our winter blues. Food can paint over the grey canvas and make our days more vibrant, warm, and colorful. As Hippocrates said, let food be thy medicine. Nothing has been more true. It’s time to let food warm not only our bodies, but also our souls these next few weeks, as we patiently wait for spring. Healthy, warming foods and spices can help us defend against sicknesses by boosting immunity too. Whipping up warmer dishes like stews and soups will also bring a warming glow throughout our bodies. During the winter, cook with seasonal root vegetables such as onion, rutabaga, and turnips. Include more dark orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and carrots to nourish your body with beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Evidence has shown that certain spices can help us feel warmer and improve circulation. Listed below are some benefits of these spices:
- Black pepper is an antiseptic (prevent growth, disease) and contains antioxidant properties.
- Cayenne is high in vitamin C and can help relieve chills, coughs, and congestion (bring on the heat).
- Cardamom can help open up the respiratory passages (our lungs!).
- Cinnamon helps dry dampness in our bodies, and warms us up. It is also an antiseptic and digestive tonic.
- Garlic helps fight infection, and improves circulation to prevent blood clots.
- Ginger is another natural antiseptic and antioxidant, and helps circulation all throughout the body. Try a ginger bath – they are warming and relaxing, excellent for cold and flu relieving.
- Horseradish is high in vitamin C, and assists with digestion. It is a strong decongestant; excellent for congested respiratory system. 1
Take advantage of the chilly months by getting creative in your kitchen. Batch cooking stews and soups make for excellent leftovers or can be easily frozen for emergency meals. As the chef in my household, I love cooking in winter months. It gives me a chance to experiment with unfamiliar spices, while focusing on whole food, plant-based meals. Hearty winter vegetables can bulk up meals without adding high-fat, calorie dense foods. Below is one of my favorite winter recipes, adapted from the Love Real Food. So put your chef hat on, grab your kitchen knife, and paint over those gloomy skies.
Moroccan Chickpea, Butternut Squash, and Couscous Stew
1 Mars, B. (2009, December 09). 7 Herbs And Spices That Warm You Up. Retrieved February 19, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/brigitte-mars/7-herbs-and-spices-that-w_b_384883.html