Warming foods for cooler nights
As the nights start to get cooler and our lovely autumn days move towards winter, it's time to think about warming foods in your diet. This keeps balance in our bodies by warming from within, while our outer environment cools down. Keeping warm also encourages good circulation and keeps your immune defences patrolling.
Great tips for this time of year include eating cooked foods, including warming soups, roasted #vegetables, porridges, stewed fruits and using more spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric. Drinking chai-flavoured teas and spicy herbal blends is another nice way to add these spices to your day.
Soups are perfect – make one up and you have go to meals for up to a week
This week I have started the soup trail and have been enjoying the warm delights of pumpkin, cannellini beans, cumin, garlic and rainbow silverbeet (chard) in my lunch. Using beans instead of lentils this recipe is really easy to make.
Simmer until the vegetables are soft, take off the heat and let cool. Using an immersion blender gently blend the soup, make sure it is not over-processed and there is still some texture.
Soups are easy to freeze, so if you make a new variety each week, eat it fresh and also freeze portion sizes, these can easily be thawed out to add variety to the next weeks batch or help you get through busy days when it has not been as easy to cook. Exactly the time you want nutritious food on hand!
Vegetables high in Vitamins A and C for immunity
Red, orange and green vegetables give us a good dose of vitamins A and C which are important this time of year to help support our immune systems. Including garlic and ginger which help break down mucous and adds some anti-bacterial, gut supporting garlic goodness to your meals, is also a great idea.
A great vegetable to add to your shopping list s beetroot. It is so beautiful and packed with phytonutrients. Beetroot can be grated into risotto, soups, added to dahls, baked, or used in a warm salad such as this one using red and yellow beetroot. Although I've not seen yellow beetroot yet in my local shops, so my version is probably going to be red and red beetroot 😉
To assemble, layer the beets in small stacks alternating colors. Pour the dressing (blood orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper) over the stack and finish with a sprinkle of feta cheese, fresh parsley and a crack of pepper.
Do you get cold hands and feet?
Keeping warm fortifies your body and immune system. If your feet are little ice-blocks in winter, chances are your circulation could do with a little help. Supporting blood and blood vessel health with herbs and foods, getting some aerobic exercise and taking warm foot baths before bed is all part of a program to help keep your feet toasty warm this winter and your immune system healthy. As Dr. Kerry Bone, the master of circulatory health reminds us, blood vessel health and circulation are supported by increasing these foods in particular:
- Boost green leafy vegetables, and beets as juice or a supplement, raw or roasted (not boiled) to increase dietary nitrates.
- Increase cocoa intake: 85% chocolate, 20 g/day or 2/3 oz. Now that's a prescription many people can get behind!
- Increase berry anthocyanin intake: 60-90g or 2 to 3 oz/day of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Or while scarce in the winter you can try a supplement or a Bilberry tablet. Or stew up some frozen ones and serve warm over your porridge or with a dollop of yoghurt and some toasted nuts and seeds – yum!
- Raw crushed Garlic: ½ to 1 clove/day. As I mentioned above, this also has benefits for the immune system. Add to your meals just before serving.
- Increase herbs and spices: especially Green Tea (3 to 4 of those tiny sized teacups you see in restaurants serving green tea/day), turmeric and ginger.
Sleep for staying healthy
Take a leaf out of the hibernating animals book – cooler nights are great for sleeping. It is also a good opportunity to help your body prepare for the additional stresses of cold weather and the inevitable cold and flu season. Going to bed a little earlier helps remain in good spirits and helps reduce stress, which we know is something that reduces immunity. Burning the candle at both ends isn't the best prescription and as we move further into the working year it is a good idea to reassess how much rest you are regularly getting and make some adjustments if needed.
Look after your good bacteria for immune protection
Include as many whole foods as possible, which means eating as close to nature as you can. Try to avoid gut irritants like refined sugar, processed foods and alcohol. This is to ensure your digestive system is extracting the best from your foods and not causing unnecessary stress on your immune system. Probiotics as supplements and fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, yoghurts, kefir and vegies for fibre all help to keep your digestive immune responses healthy.
Is it possible to avoid germs in winter?
Viruses are hard to avoid completely during winter, but infection can be minimised by good hygiene, washing hands with mild, gentle soaps and encouraging friends, family, and colleagues to take time out to get better before coming back to work or attending gatherings. Perhaps drop them off some of your stores of soup at home – they'll be very grateful and you'll avoid exposure to their nasty lurgy! Of course, if it's your kids who are always bringing home coughs and colds, hand washing, avoiding finishing their meals and building up your and their immunity is the best defence plan around.
Stock up on your favourite herbs and vitamins
If you are prone to colds and flu as the weather turns colder, chat to your naturopath about a personalised check up and defence plan. Supporting your resilience before cold and flus hit is a good way to ensure you recover well and improve your chances of a clear run through winter.