During the colder months, energy moves inward and we gain strength from salty foods like seeds, legumes, nuts and grains. Cook root vegetables and grains with stock, onions and spices.
Sugar, caffeine, and processed, packaged foods can cause the body to stay stuck in a cycle of stress and inflammation. To break the cycle and also get the nutrients your body needs to fight stress, eat regular meals each day, making sure to eat breakfast with protein, and trade the sugar and processed foods for whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, and good quality oils such as olive, sunflower, and coconut oil.
To soothe the nervous system, thus enhancing digestion and improving sleep, enjoy good quality fats, both saturated (solid at room temperature) and unsaturated (liquid at room temperature). Choose animal foods that are grass fed (grass contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids) and high quality, cold pressed oils.
Fats are crucial nutrients derived from food, adipocytes (fat cells), and some amino acids. Lipolysis, or fat breakdown, occurs in the mitochondria. Next, lipogenesis, or fat synthesis, takes place in the liver, adipose tissue, and intestinal mucosa. The fatty acids that result from this process are essential for metabolizing carbohydrates for energy. Fat also maintains cell regulatory signals (essential to combating auto-immune conditions), supple skin, balanced hormonal function, and healthy nervous system response. Without the presence of fat in the system, the body stores carbohydrates as fat because it does not know when it will next gain this essential nutrient. Hence, when the body is deprived of fat, it may crave carbohydrates, causing the binge response that can lead to weight gain.
When we consume healthy fats, the body feels satisfied with less food. When fat is present in a meal, the brain releases endorphins to signal fullness, provide ease, and lubricate the digestive system so that it can effectively process carbohydrates and proteins. We give ourselves strength and ease by eating small quantities of high-quality fats such as olive, sunflower and coconut oils. (Salway, J. G. Metabolism at a Glance. Malden, MA: Blackwell Science. 1999).
Fats contain omega 3, omega 6, and other essential fatty acids, which soothe nerves and lubricate bones and joints. Fats support the function of hormones such as the adrenals, which maintain healthy stress response and support immunity. This is a wonderful time to feast with friends and family. I offer gratitude to the land and the hands that feed me. Try these recipes to spice up your feasts.
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked
- 1 cup celery, chopped (about 4 stalks)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 beets, chopped
- 2 sweet potatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon stone-ground brown mustard
- Prepare quinoa: rinse well through a fine-mesh strainer.
- Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, add salt and black pepper. Cook for 15 minutes or until the water is gone. Set aside.
- As quinoa cooks, chop vegetables. Add olive oil to skillet. Add onions and sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Add carrots, beets and celery. Sauté for 15 more minutes.
- Add sweet potatoes. Sauté for 10 more minutes.
- Turn off heat. Add quinoa, minced parsley, and vinegar.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x8 baking dish with olive oil.
- Whisk egg, mustard and 1/4 cup water together.
- Place quinoa in baking dish. Pour egg mixture over it and bake for 15 minutes.
Chile Cilantro Cranberry Chutney
In a small pot, cook for 10 minutes:
- 3 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander, cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 small hot pepper (habanero or other), de-seeded and minced
- 2 Tablespoons raw honey
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
Stir to incorporate. Place in jars, cool, screw on lids, and save in the fridge for 3 weeks or the freezer for up to 6 months.
Writer Lisa Mase is a culinary medicine coach, food writer, translator, and folk herbalist living in Vermont. For articles and recipes, visit Lisa at www.harmonizedcookery.com.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.