Part of the reason I live in Melbourne is to enjoy the seasonal changes. I love the start of winter with the refreshingly crisp mornings, sunny days and the occasional grey days which make it feel more acceptable to stay indoors and catch up on your favourite TV shows.
It can be harder to stay motivated to exercise and eat well but this is the time when it becomes even more important since your body may be more prone to infection from cold and flu viruses. Stay away from stodgy, rich and processed foods which burden your digestion and liver making you feel tried and sluggish. Vegetable rich soups are ideal foods as they retain nutrients in the broth, however since heat will destroy some nutrients limit the cooking time to the point when the vegetables have just softened. And don’t forget to add some protein rich foods such as chicken strips, nuts, quinoa or beans or lentils. Protein is essential as it provides the building blocks for the immune system.
Whenever the sun is shining, get into the fresh air for a vitamin D boost, another essential component for good immune function. Brisk walking for 20-30 minutes without sunscreen in the winter sun is ideal, roll up your sleeves and bask in its glory.
If your skin starts to look dry and dull in the cold make sure you’re eating plenty of ‘good fats’ from foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water, I recommend room temperature water or organic herbal teas. Coffee and black tea are dehydrating so avoid warming up with these!
Getting one cold per year which clears fully after a 5-7 days is generally considered a sign of a good immune system so if you’re getting recurring colds then you may need to clean up your diet, support digestion or take additional immune boosting nutritional or herbal supplements. Getting a thorough assessment of your symptoms, current diet and lifestyle from a qualified naturopath will help you decide what is the best action for you to take.
This is one of my favourite soups at the moment, Super Kale and Cashew Soup takes 10-15 minutes to prepare and is rich in immune boosting nutrients. The cashew nuts add protein and a delicious creamy taste and texture.
Super Kale and Cashew Soup
2 large handfuls of kale, de-stemmed by ripping off the leaves (you can also use spinach)
1 cup of cashews, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
1 large onion, chopped
1 small sweet potato, cut into small 1x1cm chunks
1 carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks, thinly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon coconut oil
In a large pan add the coconut oil and sauté the onion, garlic, sweet potato, carrot and celery for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and then blend until smooth.
A high powered blender will give the best result. If you don’t have one then take the time to blend for a few minutes. If using a stick blender you may not be able to achieve the look in the photo – it will stay a little chunkier but still taste great!
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days or frozen for emergency meals.