The winter foods dilemma lies in the fact that food is available to us both in and out of season. We can go to the grocery store and find fresh berries in the dead of winter . . . and root vegetables in the heat of the summer. In modern society, the idea of eating seasonally has completely fallen by the wayside. The way you eat decides not only the state of your physical health . . . but also the way you think, feel, and experience life. It's the most important activity in determining health. The yogic philosophy pays great attention to the way we eat because it determines the type of body we construct. Your gastrointestinal tract, measuring roughly 30 feet long, is estimated to cover, not hundreds but thousands of square feet, if completely flattened out. So what you eat could be your primary interface with the external world.
If you have a car that requires gasoline, you could pump if full of diesel fuel and it would still run, right? But its lifespan would be shortened, and it wouldn't function at optimal capacity. The same is true for our bodies. However, unlike operating a vehicle, we're not given an instruction manual at birth telling us what our diet should be.
The result? We try everything. From gluten-free to sugar free to paleo to vegan, we stumble around in the dark, bombarded with information about the newest trend that will take 10 pounds off the waistline and give us boundless energy. Did you know the surface of your skin covers roughly twenty square feet of space; and if you flattened out all the tiny air pockets in your lungs it could cover hundreds of square feet?
That's a lot of space. We all know that environmental toxins make an an impact on our health. The air you breath and come into contact with diffuses through the skin and lungs . . . and makes its way into your cells. But before you go up in arms about second hand smoke and pollutants from cars and manufacturing plants, take a pause . . . and think about what's on your plate.
Consume organic foods whenever possible. These are some favorited vegetables, fruits, oils, nuts, grains, spices, and teas:
*Note: All meat, eggs, and fish in moderate amounts are welcomed during the colder months as the body craves additional nourishment and insulation. Most beans, with the exception of mung beans and tofu, should be reduced from diet due to their drying and gas forming properties.
Bring water to a boil and add oats, ghee, and spices. Cook for 2 minutes, cover, and let stand for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add flax meal, maple syrup, and nuts. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon to taste.
*Option: swap 2 cups water for 2 cups milk. Enjoy oats with a cup of cinnamon or chai tea!
Sweet Potato Soup:
Bake sweet potatoes for 50 mins at 400 degrees in oven.
Bring milk, ginger and spices to a boil and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Combine cooked sweet potatoes and spiced milk in blender adding flax seeds and sweetener (if desired).
Soup will be creamy, smooth, and thick. Add more milk or water to reach desired consistency.
Preheat oven to 400°f. Beat eggs and stir in melted butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and hot water. Then add cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir slowly. Pour into greased pan and bake for 18-20 minutes. Top with ghee and enjoy!
Rinse rice well and put in sauce pan with ghee and chopped leak. Stir for 1 min then add water and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and allow to cook for around 20 minutes or until rice is soft.
While rice is cooking chop:
In a large skillet warm 2 tbs sesame oil. Add garlic and ginger and stir for about a minute. Add chopped vegetables and stir for 4 min. Add Â¾ cup of coconut milk stir well. Cover and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes, periodically stirring. Remove from heat when vegetables are soft and well cooked. Serve with rice.
If you're craving something sweet, add 1-2 chopped dates to the above recipe, or 1-2 tsp of raw honey.
When it comes to winter foods . . . think higher fat, higher protein.
References: Greger, M., & Stone, G. How not to die: discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease.New York: Flatiron Books, 2015.