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Fall In Love With Foods That Will Keep You Warm This Winter
Ready to cozy up with foods that help keep you warm and vitalised this winter? If so, stick around. I'll show you how, instead of piling on the usual pounds that come from indulging in a few too many of the regular rich and creamy comfort-foods.
Read on for the low-down on the best warming foods to eat this winter. Ingredients and meals that are loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, and immune-boosting powers to keep you feeling warm, satiated, and energised.
What's Thermogenesis, and How Does It Work to Keep Me Warm?
Thermogenesis is the ability our body has to produce heat, through the food we eat.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches us that different foods have warming or cooling properties. And we can use this knowledge to our advantage to help ourselves stay warm and healthy throughout the winter months.
Here's how that works according to TCM:
The Physiology of Warming and Cooling Foods
When cooling foods are eaten, the energy and fluids of the body are directed inward and lower (yin), so that the exterior and upper portions of the body cool first.
Conversely, warming foods push the deep energy and blood up and out to the surface of the body (yang).
Interesting is that the hottest foods, such as cayenne peppers, can cause an extreme reaction – we feel temporarily warmer, but then cooler as the heat radiates out of the body.
Examples of foods that produce a nice slow-burn, enduring type of warmth are:
How Food Grows and the Way We Eat It Also Affects How Warming It Is
• Plants that take longer to grow (such as carrots, parsnips, and cabbage) are more warming than those which grow quickly (such as lettuce, zucchini, radish, and cucumber).
• Cooked food is more warming for the body, than raw food. Raw food is cooling. As is any food eaten cold, straight from the refrigerator. Instead, allow it to come to room temperature. And avoid microwave cooking.
• Cooking methods that involve more cooking time, higher temperatures, and/or pressure, impart more warming qualities to food.
• Chewing food more thoroughly creates warmth. Chewing not only breaks food down but, in the case of carbohydrates, the action of saliva initiates the release of digestive enzymes, helping greater assimilation, and warmth.
I'm always fascinated by what TCM teaches us. So taking these points into account, here are my top 10 foods to keep you warm this winter:
1) Enjoy A Bowl of Warm Porridge
Porridge made with oats, quinoa, or brown rice is the perfect way to start your day. These grains are full of fibre, which mean they're slow to digest, leading to an uptick in warmth, and they keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Bonus points for adding: warming sunflower or sesame seeds, walnuts, or pine nuts, together with a sprinkling of cinnamon, which boosts the metabolism and generates heat in the body. Also, add a teaspoon of warming honey, which is excellent for the immune system.
2) Ginger Tea
Ginger is a diaphoretic, meaning it helps your body warm from the inside out. So next time you're at the supermarket, grab some fresh ginger root, slice it, and allow it to steep in boiling water.
3) Fresh Turmeric Root Tea
Take your ginger tea to another warming and detoxifying level by simmering it together with slices of fresh turmeric root. Both boost our metabolism and promote blood flow. And turmeric is also known to reduce inflammation and keep the body feeling warm and cozy.
Or try boiling slices of fresh turmeric, together with a glass of milk for the perfect warming and beautifully golden-coloured winter's day drink.
4) Savour Soups, Stews, and Slow-Roasted Foods
One of the quickest ways to warm yourself from the inside out is with a bowl of slow-cooked soup or stew.
Add in some chunks or pureed slow-roasted root veggies to a base of beans, lentils, or red meat, and you have yourself a grounding, warming, immune-boosting winner.
Bonus points for adding: some cloves of roasted garlic!
Now is a great time to break out the slow-cooker and add a handful of ingredients in the morning that will be a deliciously warming meal by the time you walk in the door tonight.
Root vegetables are those that grow under the soil, such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, and sweet potatoes. These veggies help keep us warm because we digest them more slowly than above-ground growing vegetables, and so they generate more heat.
5) Cook with Coconut Oil or Ghee
The beauty of coconut oil and ghee is that they're both easy to digest, warmth-giving, prevent constipation, and increase immunity, which helps prevent winter colds and flu.
6) Enjoy Red Meat
Beef, lamb, and pork are all excellent sources of iron, which is an essential mineral for carrying oxygen throughout our body. According to TCM, food rich in iron builds our blood. It's also a nutrient that our meridians need to transport energy and warmth throughout the body.
If you've ever been low in iron, you've most likely noticed having cold hands and feet, or tiring more quickly.
7) Eat Mussels
Not a fan of meat? Mussels are not only delicious they're also the most healthful of all shellfish. Their high levels of good long-chain fatty acids help keep you warm, improve brain function, and are anti-inflammatory.
Interesting is the fact that mussels also contain levels of iron comparable to red meat.
8) Snack on Dried Fruit & Nuts, Bananas & Roasted Chestnuts
TCM advises that dried fruit and nuts such as almonds, cashew, raisins, and dates generate heat in the body. It also suggests they help with the side-effects of anaemia, a lack of iron, and feeling tired.
Do you know that bananas help our thyroid and adrenal glands to function well? They do, and it's these glands that help regulate body temperature. So add a bunch or 2 to your shopping trolley this week.
And who doesn't love the strolling through lit-up streets this time of year with a packet of roasted chestnuts in hand? According to TCM, these (low in calories and fat) nuts are a wonderful blood circulator, and a tonic for the spleen, stomach, and kidneys.
9) Enjoy Your Coffee
It's true. The caffeine in coffee increases your metabolism, which in turn can raise your body temp. So drink on.
10) Drink Water, Water, And More Water
Water is the one thing that we need to be drinking ALL the time. If you're like me, you probably thought that winter is the one time we don't have to be focused on drinking those 8 glasses of water a day.
While winter may be the time of year you feel less thirsty, it's also the time to understand that dehydration causes your core temperature to drop. So a simple way to keep warm this winter is to ensure you're always carrying a water bottle and sipping on water.
Remember, what you eat and drink affects your body. So when the temperature drops outside and Jack Frost moves in, nourish yourself with food and meals that help raise your body temp and keep you warm.
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