Winter is slowly making its way to South Africa; and as the weather gets colder, many people struggle not to eat as a source of comfort when it’s cold outside and all you want to do is snuggle up under the blanket with your loved ones. Salads and other light meals lose their appeal when the weather is cold and heavier, richer foods sound more delicious. Colder weather can also often spur sugar cravings as your body craves comfort and carbohydrates. If you’re prone to comfort food during winter, our 6 tips for eating healthier during the colder weather should keep you on track.
There is an abundance of foods that are only available in the colder seasons but will also boost your immune system, and give you the warm feeling you’re craving. Vegetables like winter squashes, including pumpkin, Brussel sprouts, apples, pears, potatoes, avocados, naartjies, spinach and more are all available in winter and are great for soups, stews, and pies that will definitely warm you up. Make sure though, that you cook them in the appropriate way for optimal flavour and nutrients
Salads are typically summer meals because they’re light and cool, but they can be just as delicious and healthy in winter. Try roasted vegetables with crispy chickpeas as an alternative to leafy greens and cucumber, and add some warm roast chicken for a healthy salad that will still offer that warm feeling of comfort.
Soups are ideal for winter as they’re both quick and easy to make. They’re also a fantastic way to load your body with vegetables and pack in some vitamins and minerals. Soups are an easy way to get in the warmth and comfort, without consuming too many carbohydrates at the same time. Try and avoid cream-based soups – water-based soups are just as delicious and make it less heavy.
Winter is often associated with certain smells and spices, like cinnamon, turmeric, and paprika. Spices can often add warmth, and depth to your foods whilst adding in extra benefits. Spicy foods also offer winter specific health benefits as well: if you get sinus infections or colds in winter, spicy foods may help clear out your sinuses or relieve a stuffy nose. Many spices are high in antioxidants, allowing your body to get rid of toxins and bugs that may be lurking around.
Everyone has their favourite winter comfort meals, but they don’t always have to be the heavier, unhealthier version. Roast potatoes can be made with red or sweet potatoes, and cream can be substituted with coconut milk in meals like macaroni and cheese, and soups.
One typically tends to only think of vegetables when it comes to winter, but a host of fruits, like apples, pears, pineapple, melons, and papaya, are seasonal for winter. Baked apples with a sprinkling of cinnamon make for a deliciously warm dessert, without being laden with sugar.