So, November came and went. December is just beginning. I don’t know about you, but I find it very easy to get swept up in the fast pace of this time of year. I find I benefit from a little reminder to tune in to my body instead of just going through the motions of that annual game of chicken I play with my immune system.
As we transition through the seasons, we also need to change up the foods we eat in order to work with the changing energies and weather patterns. Wintertime is a chance to rest and reflect as we seek refuge from the chill. It follows that we should consume foods that help promote the retention of warmth in the body.
This time of year, I find myself stepping checking back in with some alternative practices that complement western nutrition therapy. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, salty and bitter foods are thought to foster a centering quality and help cool the body’s exterior while drawing heat in—we notice the cold less when the surface of the skin is cooler. As discussed in Paul Pitchford’s classic TCM text, Healing With Whole Foods, some key things to incorporate into our winter diet are dried foods, small dark beans, seaweed, and steamed winter greens.
It is also important to get adequate amounts of fat, as we are especially susceptible to dry skin and hair in the wintertime. It also helps our body absorb the nutrients in the other food we eat. Sure, you can eat a s*** ton of winter squash, but you’ll reap the benefits of all that fat-soluble vitamin A if you’ve got some enough fat in your diet to allow your body to utilize it!
Anyway, enough science talk. I know it’s Monday morning. I just wanted to share a new recipe with you. This dish combines nurturing greens with slow-roasted squash and garlic. If you don’t have coconut oil for the squash, you can use olive oil.
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1-2 tbsp coconut oil (melted if below room temp)
- 2 heads garlic
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 large bunch kale, washed and trimmed
- 1 bunch chard, spinach, or other dark green, washed and trimmed
- sea salt, to taste
- 2 tbsp white wine or lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Toss squash cubes with coconut oil. Roast at 400, stirring every 15 minutes or so until soft and caramelized (~60 minutes). Set aside.
- Slice pointy top of garlic cloves and rub ~1 tsp olive oil into each head. Wrap garlic and foil and bake at 400 ~40 minutes, or until cloves are soft. Slice cloves and set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove cloves
- Steam greens in a large pot with a little water until wilted.
- Combine greens and squash in a large bowl.
- Heat remaining oil in a skillet. Add sliced garlic and stir, cooking ~2 minutes. Add wine/lemon juice. Bring to a boil and turn off heat when volume is reduced by about half.
- Pour sauce over vegetables and toss well to coat. Season with sea salt as desired.
What are some of your favorite winter foods?