Let’s face it carbs are probably all our favourite foods around this time of year, they’re comforting, warming and they generate a huge boost of serotinin (yep, that’s the happy hormone). In the winter it can be tempting to go for all the stodge to keep us warm so I’ve put together a list of some of the most warming healthy foods which will nourish your body and your soul too.
Porridge is an all time classic. Although recently, the gram’s competition to make the most insta worthy bowl has created unrealistic expectations for porridge. Don’t get me wrong porridge is healthy, cheap, comforting and delicious but just be aware of your portion sizes and don’t let the images on the gram mislead you. Oversized bowls, drowning in unimaginable amounts of nut butter, doused in maple syrup and smothered in melted chocolate probably isn’t the best way to start the day.
A modest bowl of porridge oats made with milk of your choice, cinnamon, berries or a banana and a teaspoon or so of honey or nut butter where needed is a much more realistic way to get going in the morning. Try spicing up your porridge by adding a range of spices including cinnamon as cinnamon has been shown to help stabilise blood sugar levels.
Pasta has and probably always will be one of the easiest most comforting and warming foods in the history of food! Although we can do much better than a bowl of white pasta with cheese and tomato sauce (yep, my childhood favourite too). Try switching your white pasta for brown pasta (or mixing it half white, half brown) or for the gluten-free folk try the likes of chickpea, brown rice or lentil pasta. These options are much higher in fibre and b-vitamins than the white varieties. I recommend adding at least 2 portions of vegetables into your pasta. Mushrooms, peas and spinach are easy options to stir through. If tomato sauce isn’t your go to then start experimenting with butternut squash or sweet potato cheesy sauces. This is another great way to up your vitamin A intake to support your immune system in the winter. Although if tomato sauce is your thing make sure you’re picking up a good quality jar without added sugars.
- CURRIES, SOUPS STEWS
Not only are these foods super warming and comforting they all have one thing in common… they’re generous on the herbs and spices. Herbs and spices have been around for thousands and thousands of years and were traditionally used not only to provide flavour to food but also as preservation methods.
Ramp up your winter soups, stews and curries with dashings of paprika, cumin, turmeric, ginger, oregano, garlic, mixed herbs and chilli. Herbs and spices contain a range of phytochemicals (these are chemicals found naturally in plants) which provide them with their individual aromas and flavours. They have many properties including: anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting.
These dishes are also the perfect way to pack in your fibre by adding a range of beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils. These will help to support your gut and keep you fuller for longer too.
4 BONE BROTH
Bone broth is another current trend although it’s something that our ancestors have been making for many years. Bone broth is incredibly nutritionally dense as it’s high in collagen which plays a key role in skin health and we’re starting to understand the importance of collagen for a healthy gut too. BB is also rich in the aminio acids arginine, cysteine and glutamine which have been shown to improve immune function. It’s no wonder chicken soup is often referred to as Jewish penicillin. More than this though bone broth is rich in micronutrients such as calcium and magnesium to help with bone, nerve and muscle health. Try adding vegetables to your bone broth to increase your nutrient intakes further.
- PUDDINGS, MINCE PIES, CHOCOLATE
Around this time of year we’re slightly more lenient with our diets as we’re more likely to be feeling cold and sorry for ourselves. So naturally we head for the sweet indulgences. The truth is, if you’re going to indulge enjoy it don’t feel bad and try and limit the unnecessary indulgences (e.g. the chocolate that you picked up to eat on your commute or the daily PSLs).
Remember add the veggies to your favourite dishes, try not to over indulge but most importantly be kind to yourself.