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If chicken soup is good for the soul, what other foods are good for our bodies in winter? The answer is, plenty! And more than any other time of the year, the right nourishment is so important to help us ward off winter ills and chills.
But, not only can what we eat keep us healthy, it can also make us happy too – because there’s nothing like a hearty meal to warm us from the inside out. So here’s a few tips on foods that your body will love this winter.
What our bodies need in winter
To give ourselves a fighting chance against common colds and other viruses that circulate during winter, it’s good to top up with a few essential vitamins and minerals.
One of the main ones we miss out on in winter is Vitamin D – because we mostly get it from sun exposure. Vitamin D helps with all sorts of good stuff, and in particular, the winter blues, a seasonal disorder that occurs in the colder months. Vitamin B12 is also crucial when it comes to balancing our moods.
You also can’t go past the benefits of Vitamin C, widely known to boost the immune system and one to reach for not only when you get the sniffles, but as a proactive way to keep the tissues at bay.
Iron may also be something you need to think about getting more of during winter (but have a chat to your doctor first to see if you’re actually deficient), and lastly, Zinc is also another powerful immune booster, acting as an antioxidant in the body.
What fruits and vegetables are in season
There’s two good things that come with ‘eating in season’ – you not only have a range of delicious fruits and vegetables to choose from, they are also a lot cheaper because they are in abundance.
In winter, you can treat yourself to plenty of broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions, mushrooms, parsnips, spring onions, silverbeet, swedes, as well as kiwifruit, lemons, mandarins, navel oranges, passionfruit and feijoas. Of course there are plenty of other types available too – but this is what you probably see lots of that is grown right here in New Zealand.
Food for the soul
In winter our bodies seem to naturally crave more food, with some studies saying it’s because we need more calories to keep ourselves warm. And this can be a good thing, as it allows us plenty of opportunities to support our immune system with delicious, healthy food.
Slow cookers, stews, soups, casseroles and roasts are no doubt some of our favourite winter meals. The smell of lunch or dinner cooking on a cold day is just so comforting, and it’s easy to add a few things here and there to not only bump up the flavour of your food, but to also achieve a few extra health benefits. Garlic and onion are top of this list, as well as some richer spices like curry powder in pumpkin soup, or cinnamon on your next roast chicken.
Growing your own herbs
Growing your own herbs at home is so easy and having them on hand to add to a dish is a great way to enhance its flavour. And – yes, you guessed it, they also come with their own health benefits too. Herbs are packed with protective polyphenols, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. In short, they are full of nutritional goodness, and taste good too!
Herbs that thrive inside during the winter months include:
- Chives – ideal to add to any kind of soup.
- Oregano – great on pizzas and in other tomato-based dishes.
- Rosemary – for winter roasts and scones.
- Thyme – delicious in crockpots or stews.
- Parsley – tasty with potatoes and butter.
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