January 14, 2023

Cooking for Wellness in Cold Weather: 5 Tips to Keep You Healthy All Season Long

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, it can be tempting to let your healthy habits slide. After all, who wants to cook a healthy meal when it's so much easier (and more delicious) to order takeout or curl up with a pint of ice cream? But if you want to stay well all season long, it's important to keep up with immunity boosting eating habits—even when it's cold outside. Here are five tips to help you do just that.

Make soup

Winter can be a great time to make soup. With the colder temperatures, hearty soups like split pea, potato leek, chili, or white bean can warm you up in no time. The best part of making soup in the winter is that you can get creative; you don't have to follow a recipe word for word, and most of the ingredients are pantry staples already.

Soups are also easy to batch cook and freeze for later so that your favorite comfort meal is always ready when you need it! If you want to try something new with store-bought ingredients, minestrone soup packs a flavorful punch while also using ingredients like canned tomatoes and onions that are usually on hand at home. Making soups in the winter not only warms your soul but also warms your stomach—giving you an enjoyable activity and tasty snack at the same time.

Incorporate winter produce into your meals

Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean there isn't fresh produce available. Winter fruits and vegetables like oranges, pomegranates, brussels sprouts, and winter squash are not only delicious, but they're also packed with vitamins and antioxidants that will help boost your immune system and keep you feeling your best all season long. 

When seeking out healthy and fresh organic produce during the winter months, look no further than local farmer's markets or natural grocery stores. Farmer’s markets are great places to buy organic produce and other items that may not be readily available at a supermarket and natural grocery stores offer seasonal organic options. Buying organic produce during the colder months ensures you get the freshest ingredients which will result in better-tasting meals. By shopping ethically and thoughtfully, you can help improve your health while supporting farmers from your own community.

Get your protein from sources other than red meat

Red meat is high in saturated fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease. To get your protein fix in a healthier way, opt for leaner sources and cooking techniques like this whole smoked chicken from The Grilling Dad, roasted fish, beans, or baked tofu. Not only are they better for you, but they're usually less expensive as well. 

These diverse sources offer numerous health benefits that are lost when we eat primarily red meat sources of protein. Eating varied proteins provides us with different levels of beneficial minerals like magnesium and iron as well as different amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, varying sources of proteins helps complete the amino acid profile necessary for good health. This mix helps maintain vital bodily functions such as hormones production strong bones and muscles. Therefore, it is important to get protein from other places besides red meat in order to reach maximum optimal health.

Amp up the flavor with spices

One of the best things about cold weather food is that it gives you an excuse to break out the spices—and that's a good thing, because studies have shown that certain spices can have powerful health benefits. 

Cooking with different spices offers numerous health benefits, from enhancing taste to improving health outcomes. For example, turmeric has long been regarded for its healing powers - it contains curcumin which can reduce inflammation and help promote smoother digestion. In addition, the antioxidants found in spices such as garlic and chili can help to protect cells from damage caused by oxidation and have even been known to reduce the risk of certain diseases. For those watching their weight, spices are a great way to add flavor without adding extra calories. Finally, choosing more variety of herbs and spices when cooking may lead to a more nutrient rich diet, as different spices contain differing vitamins and minerals needed for overall wellness.

So don't be afraid to experiment with different spice combinations to find what you like best. Your taste buds—and your health—will thank you for it.

Indulge—in moderation

Let's face it: sometimes only comfort food will do on a cold winter day. And that's OK! Comfort food has a special place in the human psychology. It helps to summon up feelings of warmth, safety, and nostalgic pleasure. Comfort food has remarkable power over our emotions: it can bring inner peace, reduce stress levels and generally make you feel better. 

The effect of comfort food is much deeper than simply providing nourishment. Most people link consuming their favorite comfort food with soothing memories from childhood that bring back fond recollections and trigger sensorial responses such as a feeling of fullness or satiety. For many, having regular access to comfort food is deeply therapeutic both mentally and physically. The psychological benefits of using comfort food as a coping mechanism are not only calming, but also highly beneficial in terms of boosting mental health and well-being. 

Just be sure to indulge in moderation and balance out your unhealthy meals with healthier ones throughout the week. That way you'll still be able to enjoy all your favorite winter dishes without sacrificing your health in the process.

Make soup, buy those winter crops, diversify your protein sources, and definitely don’t forget the spices. By following these tips, you can enjoy all your favorite comfort foods, boost your immunity, and maybe learn some new recipes along the way—without sacrificing your health this winter season. So go ahead and cozy up with a bowl of soup or a slice of pie—just be sure to balance out your indulgences with plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables as well. Happy (and healthy) eating!

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