Warming Foods for Winter Weather
Keeping the body warm and nourished during persistently bitter temperatures can give us the courage to reach Spring. Winter is still a time for inward focus, for reserving internal strength and encouraging organs to function steadily.
The element of water is associated with this season. Water is changeable and fluid and an important part of the human body and the planet. The bladder and kidneys help process water in the body, and water is connected to the cycles of the moon and the reproductive organs. This element can stir deep emotions, so allow yourself to feel and be gentle, to rest and dream a little more in these remaining cold weeks.
Nurturing the body with good warming and healing foods can make a significant impact. Foods that support the kidneys include the whole grains: millet, barley, and buckwheat; and beans: black, aduki, kidney and soy.
Hearty and sweet vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, parsnips, squash and sweet potato, can provide long-lasting sustenance and soothe the emotions. Mushrooms, beets, burdock, and sea vegetables (kombu, kelp, dulse, hiziki, arame) also provide concentrated nutrition.
The kidneys contain a deep energy source of the body, Jing, which supports constitutional strength as well as physical and mental health. Specific foods can help the body acquire this vital energy, including almonds, milk, clarified butter or ghee, fish, micro-algae, and bee pollen.
Cooking styles for this season use higher heat and longer cooking times. Try broiling, baking, boiling, pressure cooking, and — occasionally — frying foods. The water element is also associated with the salty flavor, and the fermented soy products of miso and tamari can be tasty additions. Pickles added to dishes or eaten as a condiment can also provide the body with the healthful salty taste.
Engaging in activity at this time of year is important to proper organ function. A brisk winter walk, strengthening yoga class, or invigorating indoor swim can do wonders.
When you pack your daytime meal, try taking a thermos of soup. For a snack, grab a handful of dry-roasted almonds. Experiment with buckwheat pancakes or a low-fat, low-sugar muffin recipe. Stay prepared for Spring’s upcoming cleaning by eating more cooked greens, such as kale and collards. Don’t forget to drink plenty of delicious water.
For more winter menu ideas, visit Nourishing Spirits‘ winter menu choices page. And try the following cookie recipe for a delightful winter snack.
ALMOND BUTTER COOKIES
(adapted from Natural Foods Cookbook by Mary Estella)
Serving: 30 cookies
Time: 30 minutes
Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, whisk, 2 cookie sheets, parchment paper
3+ cups whole wheat flour pastry flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 lb. almond butter (unsalted, smooth)
2/3 cup safflower or canola oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Sift flour into mixing bowl, then add sea salt.
Cream almond butter, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla together in a separate, larger bowl, using a whisk. Cream until smooth.
Add flour to almond butter mixture and stir to fully combine flour.
Form dough into walnut-sized balls and press down, then mark with a fork.
If dough does not form easily when rolled, add a bit more flour.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown on undersides of cookies.
Allow to cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack till completely cooled.
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