3 warming winter recipes by Lee Holmes
As beautiful as winter is, it does involve an inevitable drop in temperature — and an inevitable onslaught of sniffles and sneezes. For many of us, the natural response to the colder weather is to not only cover up with warm clothes but also adapt our diets, the lighter meals of salads and juices a distant memory as we load up on heavier and more filling foods.
When the body’s temperature starts to drop, it works hard to keep the core warm. In fact, a change of even 1°C to your core temperature could lead to developing a fever and being rushed to hospital. Luckily, our clever bodies have a way to handle such situations and natural physiological responses such as shivering and diverting blood from our extremities keep the core toasty.
If you want to remain fighting fit this winter, one of the first things to tackle is your sleep. Studies show sleep is our biggest ally when it comes to the health of the immune system. It’s particularly important for initiating effective adaptive immune responses, so sleeping well equals quicker immune responses.
Loading up on antioxidants through your diet can also help ward off any bugs. Make a batch of protein-dense quinoa on the weekend and place in jars in the fridge ready for early-morning starts, then just warm in the morning and layer with vitamin-C-rich fruits. Or, on weekends, try my delicious peach and berry pancake below.
During winter, make delicious anti-inflammatory bone broths — they’re ideal for those weekends when the temperature is low.
Another area to look at for winter health is the gut. The gut wall houses 70 per cent of the cells of your immune system, the first-in-line area for attack. Nourishing your gut garden with beautiful healing foods is the best way to combat infection. Probiotic-rich foods such as kefir are great to dollop on breakfast cereals — or why not try my chai crème brûlée (below) with its gut-friendly spices?
Anti-inflammatory foods are Mother Nature’s natural painkillers. Inflammation can occur within the body when it’s stressed from infection. When your body’s systems experience a constant inflammatory response, you can also become more susceptible to disease. During winter, make delicious anti-inflammatory bone broths — they’re ideal for those weekends when the temperature is low. You could also try my tuna tikka recipe below, packed with a trifecta of nature’s most powerful healers: garlic, ginger and turmeric.
Including good fats in winter can help boost your brain power because of the essential fatty acids (EFAs) they contain. Beyond their important role in building brain structure, EFAs, as messengers, are involved in the synthesis and functions of brain neurotransmitters and in the molecules of the immune system. Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in EFAs is another way to help your immune system survive during winter.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin commonly associated with the sun yet naturally present in very few foods. Vitamin D is linked to bone, muscle and overall health and is produced by UVB sunlight, which converts cholesterol in the skin into vitamin D. This vitamin influences the natural responses of the immune system; therefore, the more sun we can safely soak up, the better. Plus, eat more vitamin-D-rich foods such as mackerel, tuna and egg yolks.
You also need to keep moving! Exercise, friend or foe, is an excellent support for the immune system. It helps flush bad bacteria from your airway and by increasing your heartbeat exercise encourages your white blood cells and antibodies to move more quickly around the body, finding and fighting infections faster.
Enjoy a healthy winter — and some of my favourite winter warming recipes.
Oven-Baked Peach & Berry Pancake
- 1 tbsp ghee, melted, for greasing
- ¾ cup almond meal
- 2 tbsp rice malt syrup, plus extra to serve
- ½ tsp Celtic sea salt
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
- 125mL almond or rice milk
- 1 large peach, sliced
- 1 cup mixed berries, plus extra to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a 25cm ovenproof frying pan or baking dish with the ghee.
- Put the almond meal, rice malt syrup, salt, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking until smooth. Place the peach and berries in the prepared pan and pour the batter over the top.
- Bake for 20–25 mins or until puffed and golden. To serve, slice into wedges and top with extra rice malt syrup and berries.
Tuna Tikka Curry
- 4 tuna steaks
- Ghee, for frying
- Salad leaves and home-made raita, to serve
- Salad leaves and home-made raita, to serve
- 2 green chillies, seeded & chopped
- Handful of coriander leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic
- 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 tbsp mustard oil
- 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
- ¾ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan
- Rinse the fish, pat dry with paper towel and place in a large shallow dish.
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a blender. Add this mixture to the tuna and mix gently with a spoon to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Heat a little ghee in a large frying pan over medium heat or on a barbecue hotplate and cook the tuna for 4–5 mins on each side or until cooked to your liking.
Chai Crème Brûlée
- 400mL tin additive-free coconut cream
- 125mL almond milk
- 1 tbsp rice-malt syrup
- 1 chai tea bag
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 6 whole cloves
- 4 cardamom pods, bruised
- ½ tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
- 1 tsp agar agar
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- Combine the coconut cream, almond milk, rice malt syrup, tea bag, spices and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmering point but do not allow to boil. Simmer for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Strain then return the liquid to the saucepan, discarding the solids.
- Place the agar agar in a small bowl and ladle over a little of the coconut mixture. Stir well, then slowly pour back into the saucepan, stirring well until dissolved. Pour into ramekins and refrigerate for 3–4 hours or until set.
- When ready to serve, cover the top with an even layer of coconut sugar and place under the grill set to high, or use a blowtorch, until a caramelised crust appears on top.
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