Compared to every other season of the year, winter is a time for being inside, and especially around the savory smells of a kitchen in full use. Yes, it is colder outside, and we may need extra calories to stay warm. The reason is: warming up! Nothing is more satisfying on a brisk wintry day than a hearty hot bowl of soup. The idea of your oven compartments and stovetop burners being more active in the winter is an idea in keeping with this focus on inner warmth, and we encourage you to think about the winter as a time to celebrate the warmth of eating. At the World's Healthiest Foods, we do a lot of stovetop steaming and poaching, but winter is the time when you may want to turn more often to baking and roasting in our oven-based recipes. These recipes will draw you up for a longer time against the slow warmth of the oven.
Of course, it's not only the heat of the oven that feels so good in winter. Warming foods are also a great choice during this season. In some traditions, like the tradition of Oriental medicine, warming foods include foods that take longer to grow. These foods include most root vegetables (like carrots), and most cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage). Compared with leafy vegetables (like lettuce) that tend to grow much more quickly, these root vegetables and crucifers make excellent winter choices. We don't need Oriental medicine, however, to tell us about the warming properties of all foods. Those properties are already very familiar to us in the case of some foods like hot peppers (including cayenne and chili pepper, but even the more commonly used black pepper). More frequent uses of these seasonings can also make good sense during the colder winter months because of their warming properties.
Just as we tend to go inside and get more compacted in our movements during the winter, the smaller, denser, and more compacted foods make good choices during this season. In some popular approaches to winter eating, winter is described as the time to store up on heavier, high-calorie foods. Whole grains that include the nutrient dense bran and germ makes the perfect example of a good winter choice. Seeds are another great example of a nutritiously compacted winter food, especially sunflower and sesame seeds, which are considered especially warming in some traditions. Dried beans and lentils that would be used in preparing of a hearty winter soup would also fit into this category of smaller, dense, and compacted foods.
Winter is also a perfect season for getting together with friends and family around a relaxed, well-prepared meal. The sharing of food can be one of the most peaceful and lasting experiences of winter. Particularly if the holiday season brings stress, overload, and more frequent changes in schedule, the reassuring feeling of a genuinely shared meal can help offset other difficulties during this time. It's a season when the description we put on our website, "Selecting, Preparing, & Enjoying" might hold the key to our mental health as we make our way through this portion of the year.
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