Now that the weather is definitely cooling down, it’s completely normal to want to hibernate a little. What better way to spend a cold, rainy Winter’s evening than curled up under a blanket with a bowl of something warm and comforting to eat? The trouble with this scenario is though, that more often than not the cold weather makes us want to eat foods that are more heavy so that we feel warmer as a result. And if you live in a country that tends to hold on to Winter weather a little too keenly, that’s not always good for your health! But never fear, there are ways that you can stick to a healthy eating plan even when the temperature drops. Here are our top tips on how to eat healthily in Winter…
Why do we want to eat more in Winter?
It’s cold in Winter, and when it’s cold our bodies use up more energy keeping us warm. That means we instinctively stock up on extra calories and find comfort in foods that make us feel warm and full. The problem is that unless we’re hiking up mountains in the Winter, the excess calories we consume don’t get used up simply on keeping warm, so weight gain is inevitable!
But fear not, for there are some ways to stay healthy and still enjoy some comfort food this Winter!
Soup is a fantastic way to get all the protein, veg and grains you need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. And the perfect comfort food for colder weather. Soup doesn’t need to be laden with cream to taste good, either. One of our favourite, and easiest soups to make is the classic tomato- all you need is:
- 2lb ripe tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 1 stick of celery
- 1 small carrot
- A tablespoon of tomato puree
- small pinch of sugar
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pints vegetable stock (home made stock is great if you can make it)
Simply quarter the tomatoes and chop the onion, carrot and celery into small pieces. Heat the oil and add the onion, carrot and celery; cook gently for around ten minutes, or until they’re soft. Add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients and let the whole mixture stew for around 10 minutes. Lastly, add the stock and bring to a bubble. Lower the heat and simmer for around 25 minutes before adding to a blender to give it a blitz. Delicious served with wholegrain bread!
Stews and casseroles
Think Winter, think casseroles. And why not? We all like to come home to a nice warming stew on a cold evening, and they don’t have to be unhealthy either. If you’ve got a slow cooker, use it! Add as many vegetables as you can and serve with brown rice for an easy and healthy dinner. Some super ingredients to add include:
- Pot barley- much more nutritious than pearl barley and perfect for casseroles.
- Quinoa- it doesn’t need much cooking so it makes a great accompaniment for your casserole.
- lentils- a great source of protein and fantastic for filling the tummy
Oatmeal for breakfast is a wonderful way to set you up for the day as it’s a fantastic source of fibre and when you add some frozen fruits, chopped walnuts and flax seeds you really boost the nutritional value too. Oats are a true super food and research has shown that a diet rich in them can help to boost the immune system, curb weight gain and help to prevent type two diabetes. This is our favourite recipe using oats:
Vegan Overnight Oats
- 1/3 cup oats
- 1 cup of almond milk
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 banana, mashed
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the oats, simply mix together and soak overnight. In the morning your oats are ready to eat with a few berries sprinkled on top- no heating required.
For a warmer Oat dish, we love:
- 6 tablespoons flax seeds
- 1 can chickepeas, rinsed
- 2 coves garlic
- 2 tablespoons water
- Handful chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper to season
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 beaten egg
To make the burgers, blend the flax seeds to a fine powder, and add chickpeas, oats, garlic and water. Blend all on a pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the mint, lemon juice, seasoning and flax seeds. Pulse again until the mixture is combined. Then, simply shape into burgers and finish by dipping into the egg then breadcrumb mixture. The burgers can then be gently cooked in a pan with the olive oil and served with a crisp lettuce or flat mushroom ‘bun’. Delicious!
Other tips for staying healthy in Winter
It’s not just about the food. Your exercise programme is equally as important, but you might want to swap the swimming and outdoor running for something else while the weather is bad. Lots of people use the cold weather as a reason not to exercise at all, and this can be a bad combination when your body is naturally craving extra food.
It’s also a good idea to look at your skincare routine too. Lots of homes tend to use central heating to warm the house during Winter, and this can play havoc with your skin, making it dry and itchy. Make sure you moisturise as often as your skin needs it, and it’s worth looking into a humidifier to add a little moisture to the air too, to compensate for what the central heating takes away.
Drink plenty of water! It’s important all year round, not just when the weather is hot. Our bodies need lots of hydration, and when we are crying out for a nice warming hot chocolate it might be better to go for a glass of water first- for more reasons than one! Water will help to replace lost moisture in your hair, skin and nails, curb your craving for extra calories, and help to keep your digestive system regular too.
Get some fresh air. Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you can’t feel the benefit of the great outdoors. Get out there with your layers on, open some windows in the house, and let your lungs breathe some new air. Being inside for long periods increases the chance for germs to circulate, and has been shown to increase the risk of low moods and depression. In short, don’t hibernate this Winter- face it head on instead!
Eat well, sleep well and stay fit and healthy to avoid Winter bugs and germs. It’s inevitable that you may find yourself on the wrong side of a cold this Winter, but if you do all that you can to keep your immune system strong and healthy you should stay healthy this Winter.