Eating Seasonally: A Winter Diet
A ‘building diet’ is the name for a diet that is best for the cold, wet winter months (i.e. a winter diet) to keep our body’s functioning at their best. It is also the perfect diet for any season when the body has been under chronic stress or illness and you need to rebuild the body–i.e. to add healthy body weight after chronic or acute illness.
Eating different foods with different seasons is called ‘eating seasonally.’ Eating seasonally is an ancient way of keeping healthy in many traditional medicine systems. In general, you should aim to eat what is in season; so root veggies in the fall/winter as part of a winter diet (which is a building diet) and salads and more raw food and fresh fruits and veggies in the summertime. This helps our body adapt to the changes in weather, dampness, and temperature with the changing seasons.
In a modern city life, it is still importantt to try to eat ‘seasonally’ as much as you can–here’s my easy simple tips for how to do it without spending hours in the kitchen making complicated dishes that require loads of ingredients.
Here are some of my nutrition tips for winter eating or in any season to ‘build’ the body up after illness:
1. Make a Spcied Protein smoothie (or can use fruit instead) for when you are on the go: This is really easy to stomach, doesn’t have that nasty ‘protein powder taste’ that you get with the other protein powders because it is all natural and unprocessed and yet is still packed with meal’s worth of protein. Great for the am commute for breakfast!
- 1 scoop Hempseed or pumpkin seed protein powder (find this at a natural food store or good grocery store)
- 1/2 cup-1 cup Natural yoghurt (look for a local brand that is natural and unsweetened if possible).
- 1/2-1 tablespoon Honey(optional for sweetness)
- nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon, to taste
- optional: frozen berries or apples if you still have any of the local variety around can take the place of spices to make this a fruit smoothie
Mix ingredients in blender till smooth and enjoy!
2. Eat lots of ‘warming’ foods like root veggies, stews, and soups. You can find many easy quick recipes for stews and soups online if you google ‘healthy easy recipes–stews’ for example. A few of my favorite websites for recipes for easy stews and soups are: http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/2004/02/master-recipe-list.html and from Real.Simple mag: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/seasonal/hearty-soups-and-stews-00000000027508/index.html
3. Make a ‘Warm’ Salad to get your veg: If you are craving a salad, you can make a ‘warm salad’ by chopping the following veggies and very gently steaming them in a steamer: bok choy, pumpkin, yam, carrot, beet, fresh basil leaves, and whatever other veggies you like. Then, once they are gently steamed, remove from steamer and mix with virgin olive oil, garlic and spices of your choice. You can also add some pan-fried or sautéed chicken boneless skinless chicken breast and chop it up and add to the mix.
3. Choose Bison over Beef. Bison and ‘game meat’ is the healthiest form of red meat because it is grass fed instead of grainfed. This makes it have as many omega 3 fatty acids as salmon! It is a ‘building’ food–meaning it is perfect for rebuilding the body after stress or illness. It doesn’t matte what cut of meat you choose–you can get the cheap cuts of bison and throw them in the slow cooker and they taste great. Just toss the meat in the slow cooker, add some wine or other marinade and some chopped root veggies in the am and by the time you come home from work, dinner is ready!!
4. Eat ‘soaked’ Tree Nuts–Nuts are another great ‘building food’ but they can be a bit hard to digest when the body has been under stress, because the proteins can be a bit hard to break down. You get around this by taking raw or ‘natural’ almonds or other tree nuts (except peanuts which aren’t as healthy and are not actually a nut) and soak them in some water overnight. Then, you can put them on cereal, muesli, porridge, yoghurt or just eat them by themselves and they will be easier to digest and you’ll be able to get more nutrieints from them. My only caveat with nuts is because they are so energy-dense they can make you put on weight if you eat too many of them!
note: Peanuts are actually a legume and not a true nut and don’t have the same health benefits of the other nuts.
5. Mix up your grain side dishes with Millet. Millet is grain similar to rice but very easy to digest and a great alternative to rice or other grains. It goes great with just about any dish, and is very easy to make.
How to Cook it:
Similar to rice, use twice as much liquid as millet. You can substitute organic vegetable or chicken broth for water or even light coconut milk for water to make it more flavourful and add saffron, or other spices to the water while it is cooking. Cooking time is approx. 15 minutes.
Millet is great side dish with stews and healthy yoghurt curries or stir frys and quicker to make than rice!