Top 7 Winter Foods
You know what most of these are already, don’t you? Remember, this blog is all about nutrition & health, so this list is not going to have things like snickerdoodle latte piled with whipped cream, even though it is a hot drink. But, speaking of hot drinks, they’re not exactly food, but folks who drink plenty of steamy beverages during this time of year are definitely onto something!
Our bodies react differently to the same food, depending on the season. You may feel great about having a cool, crisp salad in July, while you actually need discipline to make yourself eat those greens in January. If you know anything about ayurveda, you understand this principle of seasonal eating. One winter, I became a little “gung ho” about eating raw foods. I tried to eat at least 90% of my food (by weight) raw. Besides feeling like I would die of starvation, the next most prominent feeling I experienced was cold. On another occasion, I ate nearly all raw foods for weeks on end during the heat of the year, and loved it!
So now that we are in the coldest part of the year, I want to share with you some of my favorite cold-weather foods.
1) Soups! The best base for soups is bone broth. You can make a clear soup using this broth, but you can also use it in creamy soups. I’ll be posting a recipe soon for this type of soup. For now, check out this link for a great article on soups, their health benefits and how to make bone broth (it’s super easy!)
2) Winter squash – acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash are probably the most common, but there are many more varieties. Squash is inexpensive and nutritious. It’s also easy to prepare. It can go sweet, savory, or somewhere in between. You can even just pop them in the oven for a while on about 350 degrees. When your squash is somewhat soft, take it out, cut & remove seeds. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and/or cinnamon & butter. Delicious!
3) Hot whole-grain cereals – I stay away from wheat, and most commercially produced cereals because they are so highly processed. However, you can get a fantastic whole grain cereal from Bob’s Red Mill. Gluten-free oatmeal makes a nice breakfast if I add some nuts or nut butter and a little fruit or dried fruit. I also like turning leftover brown rice or quinoa into breakfast by adding rice or almond milk (preferably home-made), cinnamon, butter and pure maple syrup.
4) Pastured beef or other red meats. I love a great roast or stew. These meats contain nutrients that are difficult to get if you’re not really meticulous about your diet. I’m not really a fan of diets that contain huge amounts of meat for most people. The biggest reason is that it doesn’t make sense to me since it’s so unsustainable. However, I regularly partake of responsibly, locally raised meats in small amounts.
5) Cruciferous veggies – Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and others in this family are great sources of a wonderful array of vitamins and minerals. They also grow well in moderately cold weather, so it’s not difficult for me to find locally grown, organic offerings even during these months. I have a fantastic recipe for using cauliflower in my new cookbook, “Break Free!” which you can check out if you click this link.
6) Cultured foods – you knew this was coming! Cultured veggies are a perfect garnish for those lovely soups we mentioned earlier. Plain yogurt or kefir also makes a good garnish for soups, and is good on baked yams or sweet potatoes. Miso is a fine base for an easy soup. The thing you have to watch is that you don’t actually cook the cultured garnishes. Exposing them to high heat kills the beneficial bacteria. Just spoon a bit onto the finished cooked foods to boost nutrients and flavor.
7) Sourdough breads and pancakes – I’ll have a bunch of recipes for these in my new book on cultured foods (which I hope to finish before summer!) For now, here’s a link to an article & recipe you can take a look at. Souring increases nutritional content of bread and also improves digestibility. It’s easy to do, especially if you can manage to think ahead.
Delicious wintery foods are one of the best parts of this season, and they can contribute to your overall health. The foods I have listed can even help you heal when you’re battling a virus or health issue. If you have a favorite I haven’t mentioned, I love to hear about it!