Today, I’m here with SOL nutrition expert Florence Neville and we have some advice and ideas for what to eat in winter to help you feel nourished and content throughout the season.

Florence is an experienced health and nutrition coach who helps people use food to reach optimum health and I have worked as a nutritionist and holistic chef on wellbeing retreats around the world, gaining valuable knowledge and experience supporting people on their own wellbeing journeys.

At State of Liberty, we believe eating should be joyful and celebratory. Nutrition, health and wellbeing are intrinsically linked. When we’re conscious of our food choices and aware of our personal needs, natural rhythms, cycles and habits, we are choosing the most responsible and liberating way of eating and living.

What to Eat In Winter

In Chinese Five Element Theory, the season of winter is governed by the water element. The organs relating to water are the kidneys and bladder, so in this post we’ll be referring to kidney energy, that which supports our vital energies or ‘mojo’. You can read more about this in our introduction to the season.

Water

You might think all we need to do to support our kidney energy is drink plenty of water, but this is only part of the story. Too much water (and particularly too much cold water) acts like an internal flood, washing away valuable minerals. We also need salts to maintain optimum hydration.

We recommend that mugs of warm water or herbal teas replace glasses of cold water during the colder months, and we also suggest that people look to increase their levels of sea or rock salt.

Good quality salt such as sea or rock salt contains vital electrolytes, micro-nutrients and minerals which help to maintain hydration, support your kidneys, reduce fatigue, lessen sugar cravings and balance blood pressure. Avoid table salt because it’s manufactured sodium chloride, highly refined, has synthetic chemicals added and lacks the essential minerals. Rock salt and sea salt are harvested naturally to maintain the perfect balance of essential minerals.

Maintaining optimum hydration levels by drinking warm water and consuming around half a teaspoon of sea or rock salt daily helps to reduce fatigue, lessen sugar cravings and balance blood pressure. Try starting your day with a pinch of salt in a mug of warm water and note if there is a difference in how you feel throughout the day.

Kidney energy is supported with foods from the water element such as fish and seaweed, and naturally salty foods such as miso, soy sauce (or tamari) and salted preserves. This means it’s a great time of year to look at traditionally prepared East Asian foods and recipes.

Slow-Cooked Foods

Thick soups and stews simmered for several hours. Vegetables gently roasted in the oven until the edges are lightly caramelised. Meats cooked until they fall off the bone. Grains soaked overnight and warmed into thick porridges in the morning. These dishes are winter fare at its best.

Soaking grains such as oats makes their nutrients more available, so they become easier to digest. Try soaking oats in water overnight (at a 2:1 ratio.) In the morning, gently heat and stir in some butter or coconut oil, a pinch each of salt and cinnamon, and any natural unrefined sweeteners you like such as honey or molasses. Top with toasted nuts or stewed fruits for a nourishing and sustaining start to the day.

Broths

Broths made from simmering potassium-rich vegetables or roasted bones can be made on a weekly basis and stored ready to make a nourishing hot drink, or added to soups, stews, sauces and noodles. Don’t forget to salt generously! Keep things interesting by trying some of the following flavour combinations:

  • Garlic, ginger, chilli and tamari (add a pinch of seaweed as well if you have some)
  • Rosemary, sage, thyme
  • Turmeric and black pepper

Seasonal Vegetables

Winter is all about roots and deep green leafy veggies, and bowls of comfort food to warm your hands and belly when it’s cold and wet outside. Here are some simple vegetable dishes for you to try:

  • Mash a combination of boiled potato, carrot, celeriac, parsnips and swede with cooked leeks and cabbage for tasty bubble and squeak.
  • Shred cabbage or kale and flash fry in butter or coconut oil before topping with one of the flavoured broths suggested above.
  • Fry any leafy or cruciferous greens in plenty of butter or coconut oil with garlic and caraway or cumin seeds to serve as a side dish.
  • Sauté parsnip or carrot matchsticks with garlic and cinnamon, cumin seeds, thyme or caraway seeds.
  • Roast diced sweet potato or pumpkin with chilli, sage and sweet smoked paprika.
  • Roast a whole sweet potato and top with coconut oil, honey, tahini and toasted chopped hazelnuts.

What seasonal produce do you look forward to in winter?

As part of our Winter Home Retreat we have created a menu to nourish and support your body this season. Full of vibrant and seasonal foods, all of the retreat recipes are made with simple kitchen ingredients, they are quick to make, highly nutritious and easy to digest.

The recipes are gluten, sugar and dairy free, because these are potentially stressful foods for the body; even if you don’t have a known allergy or intolerance to these foods, it’s good to eliminate from time to time to give the body a rest.

If you would like to enjoy a retreat experience in the comfort of your own home and learn how to cook delicious seasonal food and understand the nutrition and health benefits, you can read more about our Home Retreats here.

Love Lizzie, Florence and the SOL team x

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