December 6, 2014

Winter Foods That Heal

The full moon of December is here, and snow covers every last remaining plant stalk and kale leaf in our gardens. This moon is known by indigenous people of North America as the Cold Moon, the moon of long nights, and the Winter Moon. I try to welcome winter with warming foods.

Deer are browsing the crab apple branches and chickadees buzz between bee balm stalks to stay warm. I love this time of year. It is peaceful. The snow that blankets everything is a metaphor for stillness. Take ease in this time. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do.

Even if the holiday commitments are piling up, take time to rest each day. Even if you rest for five minutes while sitting at a window or on your couch with a cup of tea, this practice invokes the stillness of the upcoming Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.

This is the stillness that rejuvenates, respects the spirit, eases the mind, and clears stress from the body. From this calm place, ask yourself what you need to be truly nourished.

I like to prepare soups, whole grains, and delightful, wholesome desserts at this time of year. My husband and I sit, light a candle, and savor carrot ginger soup. I wake up to a simple, hearty breakfast of eggs poached in greens.

I enjoy baking simple desserts and sharing them at holiday gatherings. This way, I avoid eating lots of white flour and white sugar and having a headache and bellyache the next morning.

Here is a recipe for my latest holiday creation. Try it!

Maple Almond Gingerbread


You will need:
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon Dandy Blend* or other instant chicory/dandelion drink powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 inch fresh ginger root, chopped
1 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and ginger root powder
1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg and cloves
a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a blender, dissolve Dandy Blend in water. Add oil, syrup, extracts, brown rice, and ginger.
Blend until a thick paste forms.
Add all other ingredients and blend well.

Oil a loaf or cake pan with coconut oil.
Spread batter into it and bake for 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
Wow.

*Dandy Blend is also a delicious after-dinner drink. Dandelion supports lymphatic circulation, cleanses the liver, and releases the tissues from the stresses of rich foods.

Healing Properties



Almonds: high in monounsaturated fat, which promotes heart health, helps reduce LDL cholesterol, and aids in carbohydrate metabolism, thus contributing to weight loss; contain flavoproteins to balance blood sugar and improve energy levels.

Brown Rice: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grain like white rice or flour to maintain a healthy body weight; high in fiber and selenium to ensure healthy digestion and mental clarity; contains phenolics, antioxidants that work to prevent disease and soothe the nervous system.

Coconut oil: saturated fat, solid at room temperature, is a plant-based alternative to saturated animal fats. It stimulates brain function and promotes intestinal motility; its anti-bacterial benefits make it an important fat to choose during times of illness or infection and is specifically indicated for combating intestinal parasites.

Ginger: warming, anti-inflammatory, soothes stomach cramps, reduces flatulence, alleviates common cold and flu symptoms. Fresh ginger root is slightly less drying than the dry version, which is why I try to use both at the same time.




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