3 Steps to Healthful Nutrition in the Winter Months

Compilation collage of fresh food with a theme of Winter vegetabThis article is the latest in our late winter Watershed Healthbooks series – this time Frankie weighs in on important nutrition during this important time of year…

This time of year can feel like a scramble in the kitchen – the end of the day seems to come sooner, there are fewer fresh vegetables and every part of us is really calling out for one thing – comfort! How can you make choices to satiate deeply and make the most of your local seasonal availability?

I am here to share some tricks to help you get through the dark days of winter with delicious ideas to keep your energy and nutrient stores on the rise!

#1 – Eat your FERMENTS – make the available veggies last with added nutritional vigor!

By fermenting your favorite vegetables, you create living food that acts as a catalyst for heightened immune function, better digestive health and appetite regulation. In addition, because fermented foods are pre-digested by our microbial friends, the nutrients are more readily available for absorption – getting more bang for your input! Whether you choose to buy your fermented veggies or you take the leap to explore your own fermentation frenzy, the benefits to your overall health will keep those winter colds and infections at bay as you help your gut … help you.

Basic Sauerkraut Recipe
Fermentation time: 7-14 days
Makes: 1 Quart

Ingredients

  • Half of a 2 lb green cabbage
  • 1 ½ T coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp caraway

Preparation

  1. Cut the cabbage in half. You’ll only be using half for this recipe, unless you decide to double it. Toss the cabbage into a very large bowl.
  2. Now, add the salt. With clean hands, start to scrunch the cabbage. You have to get aggressive here because you’re trying to break down the cells in the veggies and (with the help of the salt) draw out the moisture. This takes at least 5 minutes of scrunching and squeezing. If there’s not a lot of moisture after that time, add more by making some brine (salt water) with 1 teaspoon salt in 1 cup of water.
  3. Add a tsp of caraway.
  4. Pack the veggies into a wide-mouth quart-sized Mason jar. Really push them down. The veggies should come up to about the shoulder of the jar. If there is not at least an inch of liquid covering the veggies, add some brine to cover.
  5. Screw on the quart jar lid tightly. Open the jar daily to release gases and make sure veggies stay submerged in the liquid. If the level of liquid drops then add more brine. Ferment to your desired taste.
  6. Move to the refrigerator and make sure it stays submerged to keep from molding. Will keep for several weeks (or months).

#2 – Add CIRCULATION through your spices

Bring more spice into your life with a few go to ingredients that are sure to circulate your blood flow, warm your insides and keep your energy awake during the chilly months! Here are a few favorites : ginger (fresh or dried), garlic, nutmeg, rosemary, turmeric, cinnamon, star anise, cumin, coriander, pepper, cloves, caraway seed and fennel seed.

Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Soup (borrowed from Rebecca Katz)

Makes 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced small
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 6 cups Classic Magic Mineral Broth or store bought organic vegetable broth
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 (15-ounce cans), rinsed
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Grade B maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the onions, fennel, celery, and a pinch of salt and sauté until golden, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potato and carrot and sauté another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the cumin, turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, coriander, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and saffron and stir for another 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  3. Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the pot, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Spritz the chickpeas with lemon juice, add a pinch of salt, and stir, then add to the pot.
  5. Add the remaining 5 1/2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Ladle 4 cups of the soup into a blender and process for 1 minute or until velvety smooth. Stir the blended mixture back into the soup and cook over low heat, just until heated through.
  7. Stir in 4 teaspoons of lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper.
  8. Taste; you may want to add a pinch of salt, a drop or so of maple syrup, or a squeeze of lemon juice.
  9. Served garnished with the cilantro.

#3 – Stay HYDRATED – tea, broth, soups & warm water help beat the thirst even when the heat isn’t around to remind us!

Don’t be fooled, dehydration happens year round and can often sneak up on us in the cooler months. With less sun, we often reach for more caffeine or sugars to lift our energy levels, which actually leads to further depletion of your much needed reserves. After all, hydration is an essential requirement for nearly every normal function of the body – from sleep to poop and everything in between. Revive your energy stores and keep them building by diversifying your liquids.

Try to avoid drinking cold or icy water during this time of year as it can dampen your digestive fire. Instead, drink teas and warm broths throughout the day to stoke your digestion and hydrate your health. Bone broth is an especially magical addition to your wintertime nourishment as it attracts digestive juices, contains many of our essential amino acids, strengthens the immune system and soothes the nervous system.

Simple Homemade Chicken Bone Broth

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of bones per quart of water or 1 whole chicken (include the neck and giblets – separate the liver)
  • Vegetables rough chopped or in whole pieces (carrot, leek, celery)
  • Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt & Peppercorns
  • Pouch of herbs (optional)

Directions

  1. If there is a lot of meat on the bones, roast them first for flavor
  2. Place the bones or the whole chicken in a medium pot and add water to cover
  3. Mix in the splash of Apple Cider Vinegar and allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour
  4. Bring the pot up to a boil
  5. Immediately, reduce to a simmer
  6. Skim the foam off the top, leaving the fat
  7. Add the vegetables
  8. Add salt
  9. Allow to simmer for 3-5 hours
  10. Strain either through a colander or cheesecloth – depending on the desired clarity
  11. Allow to cool completely before putting the lid on your container
  12. Broth will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator or in the freezer for 3 months

Written by Watershed Team


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