What healthy food will get you through Winter?

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In Summer there’s salad, and you don’t even have to try to want it, you just do. And you crave fruit. But in Winter, you crave gravy. And that’s not great for every day eating. So what foods have got you through?

Laura Lloyd 2016 Sweet potato brushes ipad painting

Sweet sweet potato. Laura Lloyd 2016

This was a great question from one of my eating psychology associates on a forum.

Here’s what I’ve mostly been eating that feels relatively healthy.

Roasted or grilled veg

I love including big cloves of roasted garlic, adding rosemary or thyme or sumac. You can use an oil spray bottle if you don’t want to overdo the fat, but our bottle isn’t a good squirter. I sometimes roast in coconut oil, which is supposed to be one of the healthiest fats for you!

Dips and toppings for vegetables

If steamed veg are boring, I also really like to make a little dip of wasabi ‘mayo’ (yoghurt with a dash of olive oil and salt and wasabi). This is heavenly with sweet potato chips for an indulgence.

Ottolenghi has some great ideas for additions to give extra flavour to veg. His recipes include things like basil oil, adding sweet sesame dressing to broccoli to make a warm salad, roasted hazelnut and cooked celeriac salad, making a dip with tahini, mustard seeds & tarragon over green beans, or roasting squash and then making a drizzle of lime juice, greek yoghurt, tahini, cardamoms, allspice and chili.

But basically, if you look to flavoured oils, vinegars, herbs, spices, seedy sprinkles, or more substantial sprinkles like fried bacon bits or tofu chunks or feta, then you’re in the same zone as topping and dressing salads, but now you’re doing it with roasted or steamed or stirfried veg. Which is a combo with unlimited variations!

Stir fry with soy sauce

The great thing about stir-fried veggies is that you can add so many kinds of extras, like sesame seeds, smoky tofu, cashew nuts. And you can box up the meal to eat it again the next day.

Miso soup with seaweed and buckwheat noodles

And ginger. And veggies floating in it. And tofu. You can kind of make your rahmen dish however you like it! Miso is so great for calming cravings and meeting your protein needs. Seaweed is one of the only sources of iodine, which your thyroid needs, unless you eat iodized salt or take a supplement. This meal feels good for an immune boost.

Poached chicken

This is a meal that I got from Moro East cookery book. Here’s a version. You boil a chicken whole in a big pot with a grain called freekeh (I often do it with brown rice or with barley), cinnamon sticks, juniper berries, and you put the veg in with it at the last minute. You eat the meat with yoghurt and sumac. The stock is great and you can eat the remains of this meal for days. Bone broth has some great health benefits and again, is part of the protein you need.

Grilled salmon

I love the idea that keeping your Omega-3 fats up in Winter can help beat depression. So nuts, especially walnuts, have been on the menu, as well as avocados, and we’ve been putting linseeds on our breakfasts and in our bread.

Juices, especially lemony ones!

I’m not recommending juicing all round. What I’ve read of it hasn’t sung its nutritional praises because of the sugar levels in juice (I keep it to vitamin-hit my children when they refuse to eat fruit or anything coloured), but when I’ve had a cold coming on I’ve loved juicing lemons, ginger, with celery, cucumber or carrots and kiwis.

I’ve tried to avoid having vitamin C with sweet things since I heard on a cancer documentary that your immune system needs your insulin uptake channels, so if you eat sweet you knock out your immune system for a time by blocking the passageways.

Salads

I have actually still been loving the salad! Grated carrot, spinach as a base rather than lettuce, grated raw beetroot, celeriac coleslaw… Beetroot with blood oranges and feta… I think you just need to reinvent the salad for winter and there are hundreds of recipes to start you off out there. But you can invent your own. “Cucumber salad with smashed garlic and ginger” is Ottolenghi’s name for a cucumber salad. So do an exotic mix, give it a Moroccan name, and voila!

But you. You, dear one!

What foods have got you through? The comment thread is yours.