Easy Ways to Maintain Your Body’s Warmth for the Last of the Winter Season By Rachel Schwartzman, ND #wellbeingwednesday
It looks as though winter has finally arrived, and with that comes the cold. In Chinese medicine, winter represents the Yin; it is the dark, cold, slow, inward energy of winter. It is the time where the surface of our body cools, and we need to help keep our internal body’s core warm. For today’s Wellbeing Wednesday tip I will share with you some ways to maintain your body’s warmth for the last of the winter season.
Increase cooked foods. In Chinese medicine, it is important to avoid too many raw foods during the winter months as these foods cool the body and deplete our digestive “fire”. The body needs to “cook” these raw foods, requiring a lot of internal energy and heat to assimilate food efficiently. The recommendation during the winter is to eat more cooked foods, allowing the body to conserve energy and heat, and stay warm. Focus on soups, stews and cooking root vegetables. Adding greens to your cooked food is an excellent way to increase your meals nutritional value. If you are a real salad lover, try making a ‘warming salad’ by adding some cooked vegetables onto that bed of greens, or steam greens adding some raw veggies on top.
Winter is the time to nourish the kidneys. Winter, in TCM, is associated with the kidneys and the kidneys are the gateway of life. They store our heat and essence, regulate reproduction and development, distribute fluid, and support longevity. It seems impossible to be too good to the kidneys in Chinese medicine and supporting them becomes increasingly important, especially as we get older. Kidney supporting foods include; black beans, kidney beans, bone broth, lamb, chicken, black sesame seeds, walnuts, whole grains, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Include foods and spices that are warming and also support the digestive system. Try adding cloves, fenugreek, fennel, anise, black peppercorns, cayenne, ginger, cinnamon to soups, stews, and cooked dishes. Cinnamon can be added to a bowl of oatmeal and freshly grated ginger made into a tea with boiling water and raw honey as a winter warm up beverage.
Avoid Peppermint tea in the winter. I know so many people love to drink peppermint tea, especially after a heavy meal, as it can aid digestion. However, peppermint is very cooling to the body, and will actually make you feel colder. While this cooling herb is great to drink in the summer months, I would recommend avoiding it in the winter months. Try chamomile or ginger instead.
Warming Winter Butternut Squash Soup.
Roast 1 large or 2 small butternut squash and 6 carrots. Toss the carrots in some olive oil first and then put in the oven. Roast veggies for about 30 minutes.
Sautee 1 onion in a little olive oil in a large pot. Add 1 tbsp tumeric, a 1 inch cube of finely grated ginger and 3 cloves of garlic. Once squash and carrots are done roasting, peel the squash and cut up the squash and carrots into smaller pieces and place in the pot. Top with 6 cups of water and half an organic veggie bouillon cube. Simmer for 45 minutes. Blend. Top with black sesame seeds, fennel seeds, and/or seaweed. Enjoy.
Hope these tips help to keep you warm for the rest of the winter season.
RACHEL SCHWARTZMAN is a naturopathic doctor in the St. Clair West neighbourhood. She is the co-owner of West End Naturopathic Doulas, a naturopathic collective that supports pregnant women and partners with the birth of their babies. Westenddoulas.com