The cold temperatures outside affect more than just your wardrobe. It’s natural for your body to experience a change in energy level and metabolism during the winter.
This change can have you looking for comfort foods, heavier dishes and hot drinks that might be filled with sugar to help you stay warm through the winter. The thing is, a lot of these comfort foods are processed, higher in fat and contain excess sugar. This can add up and leave you feeling sluggish and lower your immune system if you’re not taking in the proper nutrients.
When there’s a blizzard outside, it’s tempting to skip the gym and opt to stay in with a warm meal instead. The truth is that the weather shouldn’t be a factor in creating unhealthy eating habits – especially when the winter lasts almost 6 months of the year as it does in Canada.
Here are some great ways you can winterize your diet so you stay warm and satisfied.
Think oatmeal is just for breakfast? Think again. Try making savoury oats as a side dish, or slow cooker steel cut oats for a convenient morning meal.
Oatmeal provides nutrients that are essential during winter like zinc (which keeps your immune system strong) and soluble fiber (associated with heart health). When choosing your oats, look for whole rolled oats or steel cut oats and skip the packages of quick oats because they’ve been refined (and sometimes contain sugar).
2. Root vegetables
One of the hardest parts of eating well in the winter is the lack of local produce. With shorter growing seasons in Canada, it can be hard to find some of the staples you’re used to in the summer months. That’s where root vegetables come in. Things like beets, carrots and turnips can withstand the cold, so local farmers can provide fresh produce — and you can reap the benefits.
Root veggies contain slow-burning carbohydrates that will keep you fuelled for hours. They’re also high in vitamin C, A and beta-carotene. Try them roasted in the oven, mashed, in soups, or crock pot stews.
Soup is made for winter! There are so many different varieties of soup that you can make. Try mixing and matching your favourite vegetables, meat and legumes for endless combinations of healthy one-pot meals. If you use organic broth from a carton, your soup will be a quick and easy weeknight meal.
Some tips on maximizing the health benefits of your soup – sub cream for coconut milk, use low sodium vegetable broth, and avoid cans.
4. Broccoli and cauliflower
These classic veggies come from the cruciferous family which are high in fibre and nutrients that help your body cleanse and stay healthy. Both broccoli and cauliflower are high in vitamin C, which supports immune function. Blend them into soups, roast them as a side dish, or even eat them raw with hummus. If you can’t find fresh versions, head to the frozen aisle – they’re just as nutritious.
5. Warming Spices
When you think of winter foods, you might think of things that are warm in temperature, but let’s not forget about warming spices. Things like ginger, cayenne, chili pepper and curry blends are nature’s inner heaters and will help you stay warm from the inside out.
Grate ginger into your soups or stir frys. Experiment with adding some chili or cayenne pepper to your pasta sauces or rice dishes. Explore new recipes that include curry and creamy coconut milk to give you a warm, comforting meal on a cold winter night.