Written by Deborah Phillips, MS, LDN, CHES
Stay Healthy This Winter

Stay Healthy This Winter

In the world of Functional Medicine, we know that what you eat can improve the strength of your immune system, the efficacy of your body’s detoxification pathways, and your overall anti-inflammatory response. Imagine how it would feel not to catch colds, the flu, or nagging coughs this winter! What you choose to eat is as important as what you choose to avoid, and your choices can boost your body’s natural resistance to all the “bugs” floating around. So, here are colorful, satisfying, and delicious ways to enjoy “food as medicine” this winter.

  • An apple (or two) a day
    • For a satisfying sweet snack, have an apple with a handful of nuts, or topped with almond butter. Apples provide soluble fiber to support intestinal health, and almonds give you a healthy dose of protein.
    • Spice-up homemade applesauce with a vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. According to Chinese Medicine, apples quench thirst, strengthen the heart, lubricate the lungs, decrease mucous, and increase body fluids: all of which support immune health.
  • Eat your greens
    • Bake a spinach pie, toss a kale salad, or gather a mess of collard greens to fortify your immune system with anti-oxidants and vitamins.
    • Juice raw greens with carrots, beets, and apples to get the most out of the water-soluble vitamins and enzymes that enhance cells’ well-being.
  • Enjoy your berries
    • Add berries to your fruit-smoothie or baked crisp for added fiber, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and vitamins that support a healthy immune system.
  • Devour winter vegetables
    • Roasted root vegetables, beet borscht, and baked winter squash are great sources of beta carotene, fiber, and phytonutrients for increased immune support.
    • Roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts provide nutrients that help your body detoxify.
  • Love those anti-bacterial foods
    • Add to your chicken soup: garlic, mushrooms, turmeric, oregano, ginger, leafy greens, and cabbage for an immune support powerhouse.
    • Ferment/pickle your own cucumbers, cabbage, beets, or green beans (or buy pickles or sauerkraut at the store) to support the healthy bacteria in your gut.
  • Savor healthy fats
    • Coconut–Almond Balls (recipe below) are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and contain lauric acid, which converts into monolaurin to help destroy invading organisms.
    • For more omega-3 fatty acids, try sardines or poached salmon served atop endive leaves.
  • Make sure to get enough protein
    • Stews of pasture-raised beef or lamb, enhanced with turmeric, black pepper, oregano, garlic, onion, leeks, and lots of vegetables provide amino acids needed for cell health.
    • Eggs Florentine (poached over spinach) supports the liver’s detoxification activity and provides vitamin A for the immune system.
  • Drink plenty of fluids
    • Herbal teas are warming: mint, ginger, Echinacea, chamomile, and rosehips are just a few that support immune health.
    • Marrow broth soups are warming, healing, and hydrating.
  • Avoid sugar and alcohol, the immune system’s enemies.
    • Support digestive health with an elegant cocktail of seltzer with lemon, lime, or bitters (Argostura bitters or herbal digestive bitters). Bitters can be found in a liquor store, and herbal bitters are available on our online store.
    • Snacks such as nuts, olives, and hummus keep blood-sugar balanced and nourish the body and soul.
    • Poached pears with pureed raspberries make a nutritious dessert that fights bacteria and viruses.
  • And don’t forget to get enough sleep
    • Try an Epsom salt bath with a few drops of lavender oil before bed to detoxify and relax.
    • Make a bedtime tea from passion flower, hops, chamomile, and lemon balm. There are a number of good bedtime teas on the market including Yogi Bedtime and Sleepytime.
    • Try listening to guided imagery, relaxing music, or nature sounds to help your mind let go.

Winter can be tough, unless you are mindful about what you eat and how you take care of yourself. You can make it through with health and vitality, by eating foods that support optimal health! Food is medicine, but it also should be pleasure.

The best way to get through winter is to embrace it. With my new pair of snowshoes, I can go outside in the sunshine on a snowy day, and feel energized rather than confined. Nothing beats a snowshoe walk followed by gentle yoga and a cup of tea. I hope this brings the same smile to your face that it brings to mine.

Coconut-Almond Balls

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, divided
  • 1 cup almonds or any kind of nut you like
  • 4 tablespoons Coconut butter
  • 8 pitted dates or any other dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Put in food processor with “s” blade and process 1/4 cup coconut flakes, nuts of choice, cocoa powder, and salt until coarsely mixed. Add coconut butter, dates, and raisins if desired. Process until mixture holds together when gently pressed between fingers. Roll into balls and then roll in 1/4 cup coconut.

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