By Sara Chana, IBCLC, RH (AHG)
Editor’s note: brrr it’s cold out there! Here on the East Coast we are experiencing a winter storm now, we may have up to 10 inches of snow by tonight! Eat healthy and stay warm 🙂
Enjoy your winter vegetables and spices: Eating with the seasons is a good way to stay healthy and a great custom to pass onto your kids. Changing your diet as the seasons change is how human beings have survived and thrived for thousands of years. These days, most peoples’ food choices usually remain the same, even as the weather changes. However, that may not be the best way to nourish ourselves and our families. Although our commerce has evolved, our bodies have not. Our bodies still have to endure the heat of the summer and the oppressing cold of the winter. So while our food choices can remain the same with each season, they should not. Eating dense foods with lots of nutrients can help us maintain our strength and our warmth in the winter.
As the blistery weather approaches, root vegetables are especially important. Root vegetables are able to continue growing as the weather becomes cooler in the fall, and when harvested before the winter, they can maintain their vitamins as they are stored throughout the season. Root vegetables have been the main source of nutrients for centuries when most other vegetables were hard or impossible to find. Our root plants are categorized by: tubers, rhizomes, and bulbs. As these vegetables grow, they anchor themselves into the ground, where they absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil. Our typical winter vegetables are: onions, yucca, potatoes, carrots, radishes, turnips, beets, ginger, taro, turmeric, yams, garlic, and leeks.
Root vegetables are warming, which is of course beneficial for those of us who have trouble keeping warm in the winter. In addition, root vegetables are very filling and are more nutritious than filling up on starches that are from breads and pastas. For people who have to diet, root vegetables are low in calories and rich in complex carbohydrates; which the body metabolizes slowly, providing good long lasting energy.
Root vegetables have lots of important nutrients. For instance, beets and parsnips are great sources of folate, a B vitamin that protects our DNA and lowers our cancer risk. Rutabagas and turnips provide a compound that stimulates enzymes that deactivate carcinogens (poisons) in our bodies.
Another issue people have in the winter months is that they tend to be less active. When we don’t move around enough, the blood can thicken causing health risks; so an increase in your intake of onions and garlic can help prevent blood from clotting.
Although spices are not root vegetables they are vital for the winter. Warming herbs like peppercorns, mustard seeds, cayenne, chili pepper and thyme help circulate the blood keeping us warmer. Try my yummy roasted vegetables recipe to help stay warm!
Sara Chana is a Classical Homeopath, Registered Herbalist, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and has worked with over 10 thousand moms over the past 20 years. Her new app called Breastfeeding For Boobs has 103 original videos, 350 articles and hundreds of pictures. The app is not free, but is worth every penny! It is an encyclopedia on breastfeeding and has a special section on alternative medicine.