Chinese Wisdom offers us some really great advice when it comes to the best food and drink to enjoy for optimum health and wellbeing during the Winter months.
Chinese medicine supports the notion that we should be living in harmony with nature and the changing seasons as much as possible. This applies to our food and drink choices too. We should be enjoying seasonal, locally grown and ideally organic produce – just as man has been doing for an eternity!
In ancient times, without access to modern-day grocery shopping, everything consumed would have been seasonal, ensuring that immune systems remained healthy and strong; but in our busy, 24/7 lives this is no longer always possible. Our lives are so chaotic; we are regularly too rushed off our feet to source an organic, home-grown farm shop at the end of a busy working day, let alone tend to our own veg patch. It’s far quicker and more convenient to nip into the local supermarket.
But is this healthier? Probably not. Yes, we have access to any amount of delicious “out of season” foods but what we are actually doing is ignoring the vibration of nature, ignoring our natural and intuitive inner cravings. If we ’d listen to our bodies, we’d know what they want: that in Spring we instinctively enjoy a little sourness such as lemons or sourdough bread to support our Liver qi, or in the Autumn our Lung qi would be calling for moistening foods such as figs, pears or pumpkins.
So what foods are best for this time of year? The organs associated with Winter are the Kidneys – right now they enjoy warmth and TLC so that they can conserve their reserves of energy, ready for the coming Spring. So avoid cold, raw foods and instead look for warming, nourishing and preferably slow-cooked meals to enjoy.
I absolutely adore a good, hearty stew or soup made from root veggies, winter greens, turnips, carrots and cabbage. I like to add some kidney or black beans and a tiny touch of salt (the “taste” commonly associated with this season). Chuck in some protein-rich chicken or lamb with a little garlic, and don’t forget to use the bones to make a delicious and nourishing bone broth. (Bone broth is also well-known for its anti-ageing properties – win win!)
Nuts and seeds are also so beneficial for us at this time of year, so grab some chestnuts, walnuts or black sesame seeds and eat as a snack or as a garnish to make meals even more delicious.
If you know me at all, you’ll know I can’t turn away a good bowl of stewed apples. Grab a bowl for breakfast – I add some porridge oats and sometimes add a little spice; ginger, cinnamon and cardamon are all fabulous additions that provide a warming glow – they’re like central heating for your Kidneys!
Make the Most of Nature’s Bounty
Winter can be a wonderful time for our self-care if we just attune ourselves to the vibration of nature around us, listen to our bodies and give them what they need. Seasonal food and drink is an easy (not to mention delicious and enjoyable!) way to do this each day.
And don’t forget Water! Not only is it the element of Winter, but as this time of the year can be a very drying period, literally sucking all the moisture out of us and potentially accelerating the ageing process, we need to make sure we have sufficient fluids. So now is the time to use high quality filtered water to make a pot of delicious Pu-erh tea. With its myriad health benefits, unparalleled warming and nourishing qualities which help to increase qi, stave off dampness in the body and support our digestion as well as keeping our Kidneys happy, Pu-erh is absolutely my go-to Winter hot drink!
But if you’re not a tea fan, try my favourite Cinnamon Twig Decoction (posted on my IGTV – @katiebrindle) for a lovely, heart-warming treat.
I’ll see you in the kitchen!