Eating Well for Winter

Eating foods that are in season & grown locally is one of the core principles of naturopathic nutrition. This way we capture the peak in freshness, nutrient levels, flavour, and the perfect support to our changing bodies in the colder weather.

Warmth and Comfort

We need warming, comforting foods at this time of year – lots of soups, stews and steamed or baked vegetables – potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, and the brassicas – cabbage, cauliflower & brussel sprouts. The root veg provide extra carbohydrate which help lift serotonin levels, a feel good neurotransmitter that can decline in winter partly due to lack of light stimulation to the pineal gland.

Superfoods in cooking
Onions & garlic are two of my favourite ‘super foods’, not only do they provide fantastic taste to almost all savoury dishes, they are a wonderful example of food that is medicine – both are members of the Allium plant family and contain compounds that are antimicrobial (anti fungal, anti bacterial and anti viral), anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and have anti-cancer properties, they also help reduce cholesterol, and are traditionally used to treat coughs & colds.

Although not originating from the cool climate of the UK, ginger is a winter wonder – ginger stimulates the circulation and so is very warming to the whole body. It also encourages great digestion, so grated into hot water and added to any herbal tea tastes and feels fantastic.

Central systems support
Winter is a good time to experiment with some of the grains – grains are another warming food – try millet which is cooked like rice (does take a bit longer), millet is gluten free, and is a higher protein grain; or barley which is good to thicken up soups & stews. Wholegrains are a great source of the B vitamins which are essential for energy production and support the nervous system.

All of these foods are high in minerals, especially if they are organically grown – some good examples of these are zinc which is essential for a healthy functioning immune system; magnesium another essential for energy production and balances calcium for strong bones, and the correct muscle tone in the body; and selenium a powerful antioxidant.

Sarah’s Winter Warmer Recipe

One of my favourite recipes for a healing, warming, and very comforting winter soup is Butternut, ginger & cumin soup:

– Sautee one chopped onion in a little olive oil, when soft add a teaspoon of cumin seeds and about an inch of fresh ginger root which has been peeled and chopped.
– Once the cumin begins to pop (don’t let it burn), add the butternut squash (that has been peeled, deseeded and cubed).
– Cover with water and simmer until the squash is soft. Blend before eating, it should be nice and thick.
– You can add some fresh ground black pepper and a little sea salt to taste (I leave this out for my toddler – this soup is one of his favourites).

This article was provided by
Sarah Bowles-Flannery
Naturopath, Nutritionist, Medical Herbalist