Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How Foods Can Keep you Warm this LONG Winter…

by Lisa Batson, CNP

It’s March, snow is STILL falling, and we’re all just sick to death of winter.  But as much as we are dreaming about those summer months, we still have to eat like its winter. What does this mean? Well, most of us don’t take much time to think about how our food choices play a role in keeping us comfy, cozy, warm and happy when the Canadian weather feels like a little more than we can handle.

Eating for the seasons, (aka: following the idea of warming vs. cooling food), is a widely acknowledged practice that can really help us sail smoothly through those winter blues. The idea is that our bodies will function more efficiently when food is consumed that supports our body’s natural state. In summer, when the weather is hot, our bodies want light & fresh seasonal foods that help the body stay cool and that we can digest easily while providing lots of necessary fluids, vitamins and minerals. Conversely, in the colder months, it’s best to make choices that naturally promote feelings of warmth and contentment in the body. So, how can you make these better choices this winter season? Here are some guidelines:

Firstly, you should look to the more warming, autumn harvest or root vegetables, including carrot, sweet potato, winter squash, turnip, beet, onions and garlic. Some other yummy and nutritious foods that support warmth include beans & lentils, nuts, tempeh, coconut and any pretty much all cooked or stewed vegetables. Whole grains like barley, oats and brown rice are warming, and also contain lots of important nutrients to support mental health and happiness, adding another level of fighting power against those winter blues. Make sure to also use more warming spices like ginger, curry, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and mustard seeds. To keep your body warm and your circulation flowing in the colder winter months, the ideal diet for comfort & joy should consist of predominantly warming foods and spices.

The best ways to make sure you’re getting your fill of warming goodies is to eat lots of cooked plant-based whole foods. Personally, I can’t get enough of stews and soups this time of year. They are so easy and so practical to those of us who don’t have tons of time during the week to cook – which these days is pretty much everybody. They are super-low maintenance, highly nutritious, and wonderful to prepare in advance – so they can be a quick lunch or reheated dinner within minutes. 

My very favourite thing to eat this time of year is roasted root vegetables! They are so sweet and hearty and delicious, and go amazingly with any meal. Try the very simple roasted root vegetable recipe below and let me know if you love these kickass veggies as much as I do. Sooo good!

Autumn Roasted Root Vegetables

1 sweet potato, cubed
3 large carrots, sliced thickly
1 medium white onion, sliced
2 cup butternut /winter squash, cubed
3 beets, de-skinned & chopped
1 cup turnip, sliced or cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp sea salt.


Add all cut vegetables in a mixing bowl. Preheat oven to 375. Add olive oil, garlic, rosemary, oregano, and sea salt in a mixing bowl, & toss with vegetables. Roast for 40-50 minutes.

*Picture by Evgeni Dinev

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