The winter solstice has just passed here in the southern hemisphere, and its high time I posted my ‘seasonal eating’ follow on from autumn! We know the benefits of eating seasonally and locally are numerous, not only for our individual health, but the sustainable health of the planet, and therefore, I think this is an important topic.
Keeping inline with seasonal eating really supports the immune system. So if you find that during the colder months you get reoccurring sicknesses, you may want to introduce some more seasonal foods, and traditional seasonal cooking methods to your diet.
Please read the autumn post too, as the winter way of eating really builds on the information there.
Depending on where you live, these are the typically available foods:
- Apples (granny smith, pippin, red delicious), Cranberry, Dates, Grapes, Kiwifruit, Kumquat, Mandarin Orange, Navel Orange, Pear, Watermelon, Persimmon, Pomegranate, Tangelo, Tangrine. Dried and preserved fruits from previous seasons, are also consumed at this time.
- Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Burdock root, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Daikon radish, Garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Seaweeds (agar, kelp, arame, kombu, dulse, nori, wakame, hijiki), Spinach, Squash (acorn, butternut, delicata, hubbard, spaghetti), Sugar pumpkin, Sweet potato, Turnip, Yam.
- Grains; amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, rye.
- Legumes; Adzuki, black beans, blackeye beans, chickpeas/garbanzo, kidney, lentil, lima, navy, soy.
- Nuts; almonds, Brazil, cashew, macadamia, pecan, pistachio, walnut.
- Seeds; flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower.
Winter is the most ‘yin’ season, the weather is cold, dark, and produces contraction. Everything seeks to go within for warmth. Plants bring their sap and energy in and down to the earth, animals hibernate, and we prefer to stay indoors, cooking and feasting to fuel us for warmth.
The extreme yin conditions, cause our bodies to become effectively yang, as they fight to create warmth and to energise themselves. Because of this, we desire and require more warming, richer, comforting foods. We also need a few more calories if we live in a very cold climate, sadly this probably doesn’t include the tropical paradise in which I live!
A flow on from our autumn diet would be to increase the amount of cooked foods we are eating, adding a dash of good quality, cold pressed/raw oils here and there. A teaspoon of coconut oil for curry, a dash of olive oil in pasta, or a spoonful of hempseed oil on veggies to nourish us with all the fat soluble vitamins, some good omega fats and antioxidants.
Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, squashes, and root vegetables become the mainstay of our diet, giving us that energy we need to create warmth. Some occasional deep-fried foods also ground in extra physical warmth, think Japanese style veggie or seafood tempura. Baking breads and other treats from whole grain flour is soothing, nourishing and calming. I have a real *thing* for buckwheat drop scones at the moment, with cherry preserve, oh my…
Hearty soups full of seasonal vegetables, legumes and a handful of barley or short grain brown rice, could be a staple for this season. Add spices, herbs, home-made chicken or vegetable stock, and whatever else you like to make it interesting. I always cook my soaked legumes with a stick of kombu seaweed to make them more digestible, and add extra minerals to them, or add kombu to a soup broth. Bay leaves or a peeled potato to the legumes as they are cooking, do the same thing, and they all reduce the sulphur that causes bloating and gas.. and important tip seeing as though there is much more family time being spent indoors!
In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys, bladder and reproductive organs are the most affected by winters contractive, inward energy. High mineral foods, like seaweeds, nuts, buckwheat, dried fruits and small pinches of Himalayan salt to our cooking, ensures that these organs are nourished and restored. Here is a perfect winter recipe for inspiration, and I would recommend avoiding sea vegetables harvested in Japan, due to radiation.
remembering to stay hydrated during the colder months can be a struggle for some, especially as a lot of the warm drinks we like are full of caffeine and sugar, which increase urinary output and therefore dehydrate us further. The typical lemon and honey in warm water is a perfect remedy for this, providing the bodies cells with speedy hydration. Herbal teas are very strengthening to the body, and great for keeping us warm. Adding some grated fresh ginger, turmeric, or a small cinnamon stick, introduces more immune boosting and warming benefits.
Wishing you a fun and cosy winter, with plenty of hot chocolate (;
Sami Lou x0
Photo by Philluppus ❤