Photo : Tuulia
When it’s summertime, everything just seems so easy! It’s hot, it’s sunny, and market stalls are overflowing with seasonal, delicious fruits and vegetables. You might be surprised by the number of great options you have come wintertime though.
After a dark and cold day, I used to seek comfort in hot pasta dishes or snack on a blueberry muffin + hot chocolate combo to counter that mid-afternoon slump – even though I don’t have a sweet tooth. Key words being: USED to. Not only was I packing on the pounds, it was just unhealthy in general, and I was losing what little energy I did have. Does this sound familiar to you? That would make sense, because the weather and lack of sunlight in winter can often cause what is known as “seasonal affective disorder”. The need for sugar and junk food is stronger, simply because our body is experiencing a lack of carbohydrates. At this point, you should actually counteract what your body is telling you and stick to foods that give you an extra boost, foods that have real nutritional value.
The Healthiest Foods
The best thing to do is focus on complex carbohydrates (whole wheat rice and pasta, legumes such as lentils or kidney beans, millet, oat) and on foods that stimulate your liver’s immune system.Thyme and rosemary are great options to give flavor to dishes or to brew in herbal tea, as is turmeric because of its anti inflammatory properties. Clementines, kiwi and sea buckthorn berries are chock-full of vitamin C; lemon helps detox your liver (just a few drops in lukewarm water first thing in the morning); kale – as we all know by now – is full of iron, minerals and vitamin K. Chestnuts are mildly sweet (and are alkalizing), as is pumpkin, and keep in mind that any kind of cabbage (cauliflowers, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, turnips, green cabbage, to name a few) is great for your liver. As for fruit, go to town on apples (they help lower cholesterol) and pomegranates (they’re a great source of antioxidants).
Try to eat foods that are cooked and still warm. Steaming is your best option to retain nutrients.
Quick tip: Cook enough for the week and reheat alternate options like risotto, soup, salad, with different vegetables, grains and legumes.
The Ideal Afternoon Snack
When your afternoon hours seem endless, the best way to deal with those crazy 5 pm cravings is to eat a little mix of nuts and seeds, chia seed crackers or kale / apple / pear chips, says Angèle from la Guinguette d’Angèle.
What to Avoid
If you’ve been waiting all year for a taste of that turducken for Thanksgiving, then you should have some. But try to keep it to a reasonable amount. The same goes for sugar: chocolate, pumpkin or pecan pie, cookies … all those tempting holiday treats will wreak havoc on your liver if you consume excessive quantities. Try to avoid anything fried in refined oil (the sugared donuts you’ve been eyeing aren’t recommended, surprisingly enough) and ready-made foods (which have lost all nutritional value and are full of preservatives!). Be careful with dairy products as well: they have been known to promote mucus formation and weaken your immune system.
What About our Kids?
Two really great, easy and tasty options are sweet potato and pumpkin. “Get your kids involved when preparing meals,” recommends Angèle, “it’ll be the best way to transmit a love of seasonal food and home cooking”. In her experience, sweet potato fries (roasted in coconut oil), roasted pumpkin with maple syrup, parsnip chips, applesauce and carrot puree have had great success with the little ones.
Heartfelt thanks to Angèle from la Guinguette d’Angèle, chef and naturopath, for her valuable help in writing this article. @laguinguettedangele