Eating well this winter
As the clocks go back and the days get colder and longer we all have a tendency to look towards comfort food – think stodgy pies, big meaty stews and doughy dumplings or piles of mash, all of which seem much more appealing than during the winter. Plus winter is the time when we suffer with sneezes, sniffles and generally feeling just a little bit below par.
Keeping well and fighting fit during winter can be done and food (the right food) can help. Certain foods help boost our immune system and can easily be incorporated into everyday recipes for a healthier take on traditional comfort food. Try incorporating these into your winter diet:
Omega 3 (often called the “good fats”)
You can’t help but notice the amount of positive PR these essential fatty acids are getting and studies have shown they can help reduce feelings of depression as well as reducing inflammation which is what often makes us sick.
I’ve started to include a tablespoon of flaxseeds in my morning porridge but other great sources include nuts and fatty fish such as salmon and sardines.
Whilst vitamin C usually gets the glory when it comes to keeping away illness, vitamin D has been linked to huge increases in immunity. The best sources is from the sun which our body then synethizes, however, as we all know there isn’t much sun in our winters (heck, there ain’t much sun in our summers!). So, we need to look for food sources and these include egg (yolks) and fatty fish (again!).
Here’s a great way of getting a good dose in my mackerel and spinach frittata which takes less than 10 minutes to make
- Wilt a handful of spinach in a small frying pan
- Add a couple of skinless mackerel fillets and warm
- Whisk up 4 eggs, season and throw into the pan
- Once the bottom is cooked (you will see the top start to bubble) put it under the grill until cooked all the way through
It’s no surprise I am including Vitamin C – for decades we have been told about the links between this vitamin and the immune system. Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and increases levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses.
There is some debate around the best sources but you can’t go wrong if you eating, daily, a wide range of fruits and vegetables and aiming for 75mg – 100mg/day. Good sources include: kale (160mg per 2 cup serving), broccoli (89mg per 100g), red peppers (one half contains 142mg), kiwi (70mg), oranges (70mg), strawberries (one cup is almost 100mg), sweet potato (35mg).
According to a recent study in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, mice that ate soluble fibre recovered from infection twice as fast as those eating mixed fibre. Mice aside, soluble fibre—abundant in citrus fruits, apples, carrots, beans and oats—helps fight inflammation. Strive for 25 to 38 grams of total fibre a day, paying extra attention to getting the soluble kind.
Here’s one idea how you can bring some of these foods together with Spanish inspired stewey pot of warmth. And the best thing with winter food is that it looks best when it looks rustic so you can chop how you like and cook it in a big family size pan. Any left-overs can either be frozen or boxed up for lunches (beats a sandwich from M&S any day)
4 Chicken thighs
1 red pepper
1 sweet potato
1 red onion
2 garlic cloves
100g chorizo (optional)
Can of chopped toms
A can of butter beans/kidney beans
A bay leaf
1tsp hot or sweet smoked paprika
Pinch of saffron
1. Heat some oil in a pan and brown the chicken thighs, remove from pan
2. Chop the carrot, sweet potato, pepper, garlic and onion and soften for around 15 minutes
3. Add the chorizo and colour slightly
4. Add tomatoes, stock, bay leaf, paprika, saffron and beans
5. Put the chicken on top of the stew and turn up the heat, then simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is properly cooked
6. Serve with veggies, or rice, or in a bowl with fresh bread
Thanks goes to Beth at Embody Training for another wonderful post. For bespoke nutrition and fitness advice to keep you healthy this winter you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also read more from Beth right here on our site.