It’s been a dark, cold, wet and snowy winter! New Year’s resolutions notwithstanding, it’s really difficult to resit curling up inside instead of going outside and, you know, moving around a little. Between the lack of light and the lack of activity that can afflict us this time of year despite our best intentions, the food we eat is as important as ever in terms of keeping both body and mind feeling comforted, energized and generally balanced. These are a few of our tips for foods that will work with your psychology and physiology to bolster you up while things slowly get warmer and brighter out there.
Spice Things Up
Now, technically, if your food is so hot and spicy you break a sweat eating it, that will cool you down not warm you up because sweating is your body’s built in cooling system. But a moderately spicy (whatever moderate is for you) chilli or curry will absolutely make you feel warm from the inside out, and there are loads of really healthy recipe options out there for both of these. Ginger of course has some delicious heat to it, and you can sneak it in anywhere from soups, to flavouring roasted veg, to a cup of tea. And cumin, cinnamon and turmeric are all spices known for bringing some deep warmth to dishes without pushing things into eye-watering heat territory, so look out for recipes that feature them!
Raise The Temperature
This is super straight forward, but you can always take some of your favourite healthy snacks and meals, and just warm them up! While there can of course be some compromise on nutrients when food is heated they certainly won’t be depleted of nutrition, and the psychological benefits of having something warm in your belly shouldn’t be underestimated! Apples, for example, are often a go-to snack and as delicious as they are all crisp and fresh, they are also wonderful baked and sprinkled with cinnamon, or made into homemade applesauce that can be eaten hot off the stove. Think about very lightly sautéing some of the greens you might normally eat raw, or preparing warm salads where the greens do stay raw but are topped with freshly cooked meats, seafood, eggs, tofu, tempeh, root veg… (January’s recipe for Wild Chum Salmon Salad is a great example!)
Harness The Nutrients
To get to a more elemental level, having low iron will never make your life easier but it may make things particularly difficult in the winter, because people who suffer from anemia and borderline anemia do often have a difficult time keeping their body temperature up. There are lots of high quality iron supplements out there, and/or be sure you’re eating iron-rich foods like ethically raised red meats, oysters, spinach, lentils, tofu… Meanwhile, good fats from foods like avocados, quality plant oils (coconut, olive, seeds), fatty fish, grass-fed butter, and so on, will help keep your metabolism at a good, steady burn which will help regulate both your energy and your warmth. And a final note that will make many of us addicts happy: your morning coffee will also give your heat-generating metabolism a little kick!
Stay warm, happy, and healthy, friends!