Guys, I love winter. I do! I guess I love all the seasons, but winter is particularly special to me. Our Austin winters are well deserved after our long summer months of hot, hot, hot! Winter is short, but man, is it sweet. For me, I get to break out my nice warm sweaters, and my kitty gets extra snugly because she wants to be inside more. I like watching basketball and it's in the winter that I take up knitting scarves again. And my favorite winter activity, cozying up with my friends and family and taking the time to cook and enjoy a meal together.
We all naturally change our behavior from season to season. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), our health has long been considered to be closely tied to nature and our health is determined by our inner balance and our relation to earth and its changing patterns. So, it stands to reason that we are affected, directly and indirectly, by changes including those related to the weather, climate, and duration of daylight. Right?
Winter is the time to conserve our energy so that we have an abundance come spring. The warmer months emphasize growth, movement and expansion, but now we get to slow it down a little. Winter is the time for stillness, meditation, storage, and introspection.
There are certain dietary rules for winter that can keep us our healthiest. We want to be nourished and keep our inner warmth. Cold and raw foods aren't the best for us right now, but cooked seasonal veggies are the greatest! Root vegetables are perfect. If you're a meat eater, lamb, chicken, and beef. Any kind of homemade soup. Break out the crock pot and do some damage! According to the 5 Element Theory of TCM, in winter the Kidneys should be well attended to. Here's a list of foods and spices to support your Kidneys:
- Black Bean
- Black Sesame
- Bone Broth
- Dried Ginger
- Kidney Beans
- Meats Cooked on the Bone
- Water Chestnut
- Wheat Germ
If we're taking time to slow down this season, the same can be applied to how we prepare our meals. Consider meals that take longer to cook, such as simmering stews or roasting meats. Making a homemade bone broth is especially helpful in the winter because it's full of nutrients and can boost our immune system. I really like these instructions by Wellness Mama if you need some tips on how.
If you haven't made a breakfast congee yet, now is a great time to start! Super easy to make, especially if you have a crockpot, and you'll have a nice warm breakfast already made when you get up. It also warms your digestive system, improves metabolism, and helps to eliminate excess fluids from your body.
Begin with a Basic Congee, and once it's finished add a tablespoon of toasted black sesame seeds and some walnuts to your bowlful for some texture and crunch. This is a great Kidney nourishing breakfast. I like to sweeten mine with a little local honey. In addition to being delicious, honey moistens the lungs and throat, so it's great if you are feeling dried out or have a cough or sore throat.
If you have any favorite winter soups, stews, congees, or any other healthy winter meal you enjoy, I'd love to try your recipe! Feel free to post them here. Stay warm and enjoy the rest of the season!