September 22, 2014

Build Winter Immunity

Warming Foods for Colder Moons

A food’s energetic quality is inherent to it. Cooking can modify it, but only to a certain extent.  A cooling food like fruit, even when cooked, is still relatively cooling. Ginger or cinnamon can be added to an apple to increase its warming quality, but the fruit’s original cooling effect remains.  As we prepare for winter, we can eat warm and warming foods to prevent illness and strengthen ourselves for the colder months to come.

Foods rich in protein and fat have more calories and thus are more warming. Vegetables that grow more slowly are also more warming. For example, cabbage is more warming than lettuce and root vegetables are warmer than peppers or tomatoes.

The fire element is related to heat in the body. Metabolism and circulation depend upon this stimulating quality to transform food and body chemicals into functional substances and circulate them throughout the system. Foods that are hot, both in temperature and spice level, increase metabolism and circulation.

To support healthy immunity, we must first promote healthy digestion.
To do so during the fall and winter, eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and slow-growing vegetables for protein and vital energy. Increase fats from nuts and seeds, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive and/ or sunflower oil.

Steam, bake or roast vegetables (use coconut or sunflower oil for roasting) and garnish with oil and garlic. This practice helps the body assimilate of fat soluble vitamins like A and D, which are also found in whole milk, dairy, and eggs.

Enjoy hearty meat and or bean-based stews, root dishes, and spices, whole grain porridges as winter comfort foods that are both heating and healing. 

Gingered Winter Squash Mash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Place a medium-sized pumpkin or kabocha squash into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork.Meanwhile, make caramelized onions:
Choose 1 large yellow onion.
Chop off top and bottom, peel skin and slice in half width-wise.
Place two halves flat on cutting board and slice each one into thin crescent moons. Follow the ridges of the onion when chopping.
Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet that has a matching lid.
When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low, and cover.
Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add spices:
1 inch fresh, chopped ginger root
½ teaspoon each: nutmeg, coriander, garam masala, cinnamon, salt
Simmer for 15 more minutes, until onion starts to brown.
Add water if onion is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Once squash is cooked, peel it, de-seed it, and mix it with onions. You can purée it or leave it as is. Serve as you would mashed potatoes! Garnish with black pepper if you like.

Immune Soup

Start heating a pot of cold water on the stovetop.
3 chicken legs, stew beef with bones, lamb shanks – leave meat out if you prefer
A handful of astragalus root and/or codonopsis root
A handful of fresh or dried shitake or maitake mushrooms
2 inches of rinsed kombu seaweed
1 teaspoon salt
2 carrots, chopped into quarters
2 stalks celery, chopped in half
1 onion, whole with peel removed
1 head garlic, whole with peel removed

Cover the pot and bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, until any meat falls off the bones.
Remove bones, herbs, any dried mushrooms and roots from the soup.

Now, you can add other vegetables and herbs, such as:
Aromatic vegetables like parsnips, turnips, mustard greens and leeks – these reduce congestion
Orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash – these are rich in carotenoids, which support immunity and respiratory health.

Spices such as thyme, black pepper and oregano – these are anti-microbial and reduce risk of contracting a viral or bacterial infection

Simmer the soup until everything is tender, then add more fresh garlic and ginger if you like. Taste for salt.

Serve with a drizzle of your favorite oil and a whole grain. Delicious!

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