For as long as we have cultivated the soil, we’ve become accustomed to celebrate these festivities through food. From the trick or treat loot, to stuffing ourselves with Thanksgiving dinner, by the time we get to a Christmas day feast and an end-of-year merry-making, we’ve most likely already bit off more than we should have chewed. With the holiday cheers comes the over-consumption of food, and usually not the most healthy choices. Our New Year’s resolutions will predictably be something about getting back on the fitness and health bandwagon now that we’ve had our annual fix of indulgence.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. We can remain mindful of our nourishment while creating hearty meals.
During the holiday season, the changes in the environment coincides with the changes in our body, and it is just a matter of intuitively listening to what our body demands to keep it in balance. As our bodily needs change in the colder months, so does the earth as it provides an abundance of produce needed to get through the coldest season. Grounding root vegetables and grains, combined with spices and warming oils invite hearty soups and stews to warm the chill from our bones, and keep our energies centered.
As it gets colder, favor a warm breakfast by infusing some of the following recipes into your meals. Make a home-made chai tea, or a steaming miso soup. Healthy, hearty, and rich in warming and drying “yang” – exactly what is needed to keep our bodies balanced during the colder months. This spicy herbal tea can improve the circulatory system and likewise relax weary winter muscles.
On the other hand, salads and raw foods, which I normally crave and lean towards, are “yin”, these tend to cool down the body, so it is suggested not to consume much of these when chilled, especially since these are also mostly out-of-season too at this time.
You may find yourself seeking more rest, we are naturally programmed to be in a hibernation mode during the winter months. As we try to recharge and find balance through rest, it is also essential to get moving and do some exercise to keep our internal fire ignited, stay happy and avoid lethargy or seasonal affective disorder.
An activity suited to build some body heat during the winter time is yoga. Yoga builds heat, gets the lymph system moving and realigns our mind and body to relax and find balance. On milder days, a hike to the woods or the mountains, or even a walk around the park, are good ways to get your cardio going, and at the same time commune with nature and enjoy the crisp, fresh air that the winter season brings.
RECIPES TO KEEP YOU WARM DURING WINTER
CHAI TEA RECIPE
- 1 cup loose rooibos tea
- 2 tsp ginger powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp clove
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
- ½ tsp star anise powder
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store in a mason jar until ready to drink.
- Add 1 tbsp to a tea strainer and steep for 5 minutes.
- Mix with fresh, homemade cashew/hemp milk.
CASHEW / HEMP MILK RECIPE
- 1 cup of cashews, soaked for 2 hours and rinsed
- ¼ cup hemp hearts
- 3.5 cups water
- A pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tbsp coconut nectar or maple syrup
- Drain the cashews, rinse well and put in the blender along with the hemp hearts, sweetener and nutmeg. Add only 1 cup water and blend with less water in the beginning to make a smoother paste. When smooth, add the remaining water and blend until frothy.
WILD FOREST MUSHROOM MISO SOUP
- A drizzle of olive oil
- 2 cups of mushrooms (use a variety), chopped
- 1 cup onion, chopped small
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp miso paste, mixed with 2 tbsp of warm water
- A drizzle of toasted sesame oil
- Chopped chives or scallions for garnish
- Pink salt and pepper
- 1 cup water
- Using a wide soup pot, saute mushrooms and onion in olive oil and season well with pink Himalayan salt and pepper.
- Cook well, stirring often, until mushrooms have released their water and have a deep earthy flavor and beautiful brown color (about 8 minutes).
- Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Stir in the tamari and and miso paste and simmer.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes to combine all the flavors.
- Drizzle with sesame oil and add a bit more tamari if your broth is lacking salt.
- Serve this deeply warming soup with a bowl of brown rice (add the rice to the bowl if you want a heartier soup) and sprinkle with fresh chives or scallions and a little extra cracked pepper if you’d like.
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