By Lia Aquila |
During the cold winter months, most of us feel like hibernating, snuggling up in the warm and eating lots of hot stodgy, comfort food. So what do you do if you feel like this and you also want to live a healthy lifestyle?
Most warm, winter food on offer is full of refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed fats. I often get asked, “How on earth I stay raw in winter with all that cold food?”
The answer is… I don’t eat cold food!
I am definitely a sun worshipper, I really do not like being cold, the thought alone of drinking cucumber juice or a cold salad in winter gives me chills. It’s actually not good for our bodies to eat cooling foods during the winter.
Eating seasonally is better for our bodies, physically and energetically. It’s natural to want more root vegetables, fermented foods, and winter greens, rather than more spring foods and tropical fruits.
Lots of people in winter especially, after the Christmas holiday indulgences, go straight on a juice cleanse or major salad spree, but then fail because it’s hard to sustain.
Eating a very healthy, clean diet in winter is possible, whilst ensuring you feel warm, satisfied, full and comforted at the same time. Let me explain how.
To start, if you want to eat more raw food, then gently warm it up. Food is still classified as ‘raw’ when it is heated up to 42 degrees. Anything above 42 degrees is classed as cooked food, that’s about the temperature of a nice, hot Jacuzzi. Anything heated above 42 degrees, starts to lose its nutrients.
Great, raw dishes to enjoy warm are soups, curries, spaghetti Bolognese and even apple crumble! Just make a simple, raw version and warm up on a hob, I normally put the heat on, then turn it off quite quickly so you know the food won’t get any hotter.
The best way to check if it’s still raw is to stir it with your hands. If it’s too hot for your hands, then it’s too hot for the food! Salad leaves wilt if you warm them, therefore it is better to warm the harder vegetables and nuts/seeds/avocados etc. and then add to the leaves.
Then you will have a lovely, warm satisfying salad.
If you are eating more cooked food, then add lots of lightly steamed vegetables. Swap the carbs for a healthier version, so wholemeal or gluten-free pasta, brown/wild rice or quinoa. Soups and stews, when cooked, retain more nutrients because the vitamins and minerals stay in the water.
Warm smoothies and juices may sound weird, but give it a go. They are really nice, warm and milky. Nut or Seed milk smoothies with ginger and cinnamon are lovely and comforting. They can either be made with hot water or add hot water at the end.
Spice it up! There are many spices that have a warming effect on the body. They are used a lot in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Spices such as ginger, cinnamon, chili and other curry spices taste great and leave you feeling cozy, comforted and glowing.
If you really feel the cold, and then avoid having cooling foods such as cucumber and coconut water in the cooler months, this will really help, I normally can’t eat or drink these as soon as it gets cold. I also never drink cold or room temperature water.
Hot water in a glass is warming and comforting. I also drink lots of warm herbal teas, fresh lemon and ginger tea is a real favourite. This keeps your hydration up and keeps you warm throughout the day.
Another tip is to have regular hot baths and if possible a sauna, I feel warm for days after a sauna! And even if you don’t feel like it, simple exercise will get your blood pumping and raise your metabolism. Doing squats and star jumps fully clothed, will get you lovely and warm very quickly!
When choosing healthier alternatives look at swapping the ‘normal’ foods that are most detrimental, which are dairy, sugar, wheat, meat and processed sweeteners and fats. Start with choosing organic and more natural versions and you will notice a big difference in how you feel.
You will feel lighter, have more energy, fewer aches, and pains, have better sleep and generally feel warmer! There are lots of yummy vegan, raw and gluten/sugar/guilt free treats like chocolates, cakes, and cheesecake on offer so you don’t have to feel deprived, it’s always important to enjoy your food.
I hope you feel inspired to be able to enjoy both good health, as well as warm and comforting food during the winter months.
Here are some very simple, tasty and warming raw vegan recipes to enjoy 🙂
Lia Aquila x