As autumn turns into winter, our daily lives tend to naturally adjust to the shorter days and cooling temperatures. Life gets a little slower, the fun-filled energy of summer slowly wanes, and we tend to spend more time tucked up at home. To keep our healthy balance, Ayurvedic wisdom recommends we adjust our cooking and eating habits as the season turns, too.
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian tradition of whole-body medicine, with a philosophy that centers on finding your balance through a holistic approach to diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Similar to Chinese medicine, Ayurveda places certain foods into groups according to the seasons, largely in keeping with the produce that nature gives us at particular times of the year.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, eating warming foods in the autumn and winter is vital to keep your body healthy and balanced. It is thought that our metabolism has to work harder to keep us warm, and we need to fuel our “digestive fire” with heavier foods. On the flip side, Ayurveda says that cold, damp foods like salads and smoothies (perfect for summer!) can sap our energy and leave us more vulnerable to winter illnesses.
So, what are the foods we should be cooking and eating in these cooler months? Here is a list of common “warming foods” that Ayurveda wisdom believes can support your immunity, provide steady energy and an improved mood throughout autumn and winter:
Raw honey: Raw honey is said to have a heating and drying effect, which can clear mucus brought on by a cold or flu.
Oatmeal: Our favourite breakfast on cooler mornings! Try adding a scoop of chia seeds for extra fibre and protein.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is one of the most delicious warming spices and is perfectly suited to winter baking.
Stewed fruit: Ayurveda recommends we eat sweet, sour, heavy fruits in these colder months, like cherries, peaches, plums and bananas. Stew your fruits in butter and milk (or milk alternative), and add some warming spice such as cardamom or cinnamon.
Turmeric: Ayurveda calls turmeric the “crown jewel of spices,” due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties. Add to soups or curries, or try a golden Tumeric latte.
Sweet potatoes and carrots: Rich in vitamin A and C, these vegetables are the perfect warming and grounding foods to enjoy all winter long. Steam your veggies and top with butter and cinnamon, or try them roasted them with ginger and chili.
Ginger: Ginger is a winter hero, helping to boost our immune systems and keep infections at bay. Feeling under the weather? Try grating a little fresh ginger into hot water with a squeeze of lemon.
Chili: Spicy chilies are the epitome of a warming food! Add freshly chopped chili into soups or sprinkle over root vegetables.
Cumin: This warming spice is used as a digestive tonic in Ayurvedic medicine and is thought to stimulate the production of pancreatic enzymes.
Beets: Try roasting spiced beets in butter and then tossing them with goat’s cheese and nuts.
Red wine: You don’t have to tell us twice! Ayurveda encourages the occasional glass of red wine to stimulate digestion and circulation. Add a few of those warming spices for a delicious mug of mulled wine.