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Podcast: Eat Winterly

You may think it’s fantastic that we can shop at our supermarket for strawberries in November and peaches in February. And in a way, it is amazing. But buying and eating them hurts more people than they benefit. Let us explain.

By buying foods that are local and, therefore, in season, 1) we decrease the amount of fossil fuels used in transportation from thousands of miles away, 2) we reduce our reliance on unhealthy pesticides and chemicals used to grow produce out of season and preservatives that keep the vegetables from rotting on their long trips to us. 3) We also save money – because doing all those things to ship them to us costs a lot. 4) When eating seasonally and locally, we also increase the strength of our local community.

That said, what is there to eat seasonally?  It’s cold out there.  In the dead of winter, nothing is really growing anymore, for the most part.  However, foods that are harvested in late fall store well and serve our bodies well all winter long.

In the winter, the cold and wind dry out the land.  Similarly, our bodies become dried out too.  To counteract the drying effects of winter, we want nature’s protein and high-fat antidote in the form of warm, heavy, oily foods that moisten us. We naturally seek foods that taste sweet, sour and salty. Salts heat up the body (just as it melts ice on sidewalks) and it also acts as a carrier to bring mineral and nutrients into the body’s tissues. Spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, cumin, fennel, salt and mustard seed. also have heating qualities. Sweet foods, such as sweet potatoes help to calm and pacify the body.  Sour foods such as fermented foods, yogurts, lemon and cranberries, heat the body and stimulate digestion of the heavy, oily foods.

As a defense against dryness of winter, our bodies naturally produce excess mucus, which is an ideal place for viruses and bacteria to accumulate and breed. In order to balance the excess, go for the warm foods and stay away from cold.

Heavier foods, higher in protein and fat are naturally best for winter. Nuts, grains, root veggies and meats. In the winter our bodies actively seek to store fat, protein, minerals, and vitamins.  It’s perfectly normal to gain five pounds or so in this season eating nutrient rich foods (and then lose them in the spring).  If we do not provide the proper nutrients in the winter, our body will be continually unsatisfied, and we will crave inappropriate foods the rest of the year trying to make up for the deficit. This leads to excess mucus in the spring, manifesting itself as a spring cold, cough or allergy. Nature will automatically prevent allergenic symptoms if we eat what it harvests.

Heavy warming vegetables harvested in the fall and stored throughout the winter: beets, carrots, potatoes, turnips, winter squash, okra, onions, artichoke hearts are loaded with minerals and vitamins to combat the dryness of winter.

Grains are harvested in the fall to provide the carbohydrate energy base to make it through the long winter. Our gastrointestinal system therefor processes grains much better. Whole grains contain protein and essential fatty acids. Suggested gluten free grains include millet, buckwheat, amaranth and oats (processed in a gluten free facility). For those not sensitive to gluten, suggestions include wheat berries, barley, and farro.

Avocados, mangoes, papayas, pineapple, bananas, and citrus, though not grown in our climate, are good winter fruits.  They all have sweet, sour, and heavy qualities.  After the fall harvest, going into winter, begin cooking apples and pears to make them warming.

Nuts and seeds harvested in the fall, are loaded with minerals, fat and protein. They strengthen the nervous and reproductive systems and build muscle, bone and blood. 

Our suggestion: Do your body a favor (as well as the environment and your local farmers) and stick to seasonal eating.  You’ll feel better all around and build your body’s immune system so that you look, feel and perform your best all winter long.

If you would like support creating and planning winter menu ideas, schedule an appointment to get started with year-round health.

Listen to our latest Nourish Noshes Podcast – Eating with the Seasons: Winter.

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