3 Days til Winter
Tip: Beat the Carb Cravings.
For most of us winter is synonymous with carbohydrate cravings and weight gain.
Less sunlight and longer, darker days tend to leave us feeling less than enthusiastic. In the winter the body's production of serotonin, the chemical messenger in the brain that regulates mood, appetite and sleep, is at it's lowest. It is at these times that we tend to reach for high carb comfort foods such as pasta, bread and pastries. These simple carbohydrates raise insulin levels, allowing tryptophan to enter the brain and produce more serotonin, resulting in a significant mood lift. However this boost in happiness also raises the blood sugar level and creates a craving for more carbs.
There are a few simple guidelines you can follow to help you beat the cravings this winter: start the day with a protein packed breakfast for a good energy boost, include protein and healthy fats (avocado, oily fish, flaxseed oil etc) with your lunch to keep you going through the afternoon, stick to complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans and vegetables and, finally, add spices to your food- tasty food tends to be more satisfying and spices such as cinnamon, cloves and turmeric help regulate blood sugar levels and curb cravings.
Ancient, culinary spices have long been used for their medicinal properties. In addition to being aromatic, spices have active compounds that support immune function and healing. Spices are known to have many health benefits including anti-bacterial, anti-septic, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, as well as beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.
While I am not recommending consumption of these spices in therapeutic doses (as supplements) here, I do suggest adding some spices to your cooking to give your immune system an extra boost in winter.
Recipe of the day: Garam Masala - Indian spice blend
Garam Masala is an aromatic spice blend that is used as a warming flavour base in Indian cooking and may be used to season meat, fish and vegetable dishes. There is no one recipe for garam masala as the combination of spices varies according to the different regions of India.
The word garam, meaning "hot" refers to "heating the body" in Ayurvedic medicine. The warming effect of these toasted spices helps to fight infection.
In this recipe I use:
Black peppercorns - anti-oxidants, aids digestion, aids nutrient absorption
Cumin seeds - aids digestion, supports immune function, helps in respiratory disorders (asthma, bronchitis)
Coriander seeds - antioxidants, improves skin health, blood sugar regulation, stimulates immune system, supports weight loss.
Cardamom pods- anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, cholesterol control, blood circulation, blood sugar regulation.
Cloves- supports immune cell production, aid digestion, anti-bacterial, blood sugar regulation.
Cinnamon - blood sugar regulation, antibacterial, improves concentration and cognitive ability, digestive support, anti-oxidant.
Nutmeg- anti-oxidant, digestive support, anti- fungal.
Turmeric- anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, enhances healing, supports weight loss, protects cognitive function, reduces pain.
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seed
2 tsp cardamom seeds (from about 20 green cardamom pods)
4 tsp whole cloves
7 cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 whole nutmeg, grated
1 tsp turmeric (ground or fresh grated)
1. Place all the spices except the nutmeg and turmeric in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Toast for a few minutes until spices become aromatic.
2. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. Add spices + nutmeg + turmeric to a spice (or coffee) grinder, or grind in mortar and pestle, to a fine powder.
4. Store in an airtight container out of the sunlight.
Browned beef or lamb, vegetables and a tin of tomatoes for a rich, nutritious curry.
Red lentils and stock for a delicious dahl.
Vegetables, chick peas and coconut milk for a creamy, vegetarian curry.
Enjoy a warm, comforting curry on a cold winter's night with brown rice or quinoa, a dash of chilli and the company of family, friends or your favorite streaming service.