Colder weather—especially around the holidays—inspires an appetite for heartier foods, including more fats and sugars. That can cause sluggish digestion and slower metabolism. But with these warming recipes, heartier doesn’t have to translate to heavier.
You can use seasonal foods to improve your digestion. Body warming foods, what food science calls thermogenic, help the digestive process by increasing circulation, aiding elimination and revving up metabolism. But not every “body” finds balance at the same temperature range. Some of us tend to be cooler, lighter and drier types while others thrive on heat producing, heavier and more moist foods like fats and oils.
If your body type, or ‘dosha’
tends to the cooler and lighter side of the energy scale, you can still benefit from warming foods that also help detoxify your system, such as the delicious ginger tea recipe below.
The following recipes will keep you warm and grounded during the colder months, but also include cooler, temperature-balancing options.
Here are three seasonal food classics with an energetic twist:
Lemon Ginger Tea
Ginger tea is an excellent digestive aid and warming herb.
- 2 in. fresh ginger root
- 4-5 cups water
- 1 lemon, cut into quarters
- 1 tsp. raw honey
Grate ginger root, add to boiling water, squeeze in one lemon wedge and simmer 5-15 minutes. Stir in the honey and enjoy. If you want extra ‘heat,’ add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
If you want to balance the heat, cool it down with a dollop of fresh coconut or coconut oil and mint.
Fig & Almond Chai Custard
Figs are high in fiber, almonds are loaded with calcium, and you’ll find plenty of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in the spices of this recipe.
- 3 large eggs
- 6 tbsp. raw honey
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp. real vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- ½ cup raw almonds
- ½ cup raw figs, peeled and sliced
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp. fennel or anise seed
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 12 cloves
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ in. ginger root, sliced thin
- 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. grated orange peel or 2 bay leaves
- 7 cups water
Optional: 1 tbsp maca root powder
According to Ayurveda, black pepper balances heat. Cool it down by adding more peppercorns and eliminating the cinnamon.
Preheat oven to 300°F
Warm the milk to tepid (about 120°F). Blend the warm milk with honey, figs, ginger and almonds, cardamom, fennel or anise, peppercorns and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla and salt with a wire whisk. Gradually stir in the milk mixture.
Pour into six 6-ounce custard cups and sprinkle with nutmeg. Place the cups in a 13-inch x 9-inch baking pan on oven rack. Pour very hot water into the pan to within one half inch of the tops of the cups.
Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean.
Remove the cups from the water and let cool for 30 minutes.
Chicken Squash Pot Pie w/Arugula
This savory, stick-to-your-ribs dish is loaded with healthful veggies and antioxidant herbs. Make a batch and enjoy for lunch and dinners.
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- Coarse ground sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. rosemary
- 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 12 tbsp. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 small yellow onions, chopped
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 cups medium-diced carrots
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 2 cups celery, chopped
- 2 cups baked pumpkin or acorn squash, cubed
- ½ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
- ½ cup minced arugula
If you want a cooling, astringent kick, chop up the carrot top greens and sprinkle them into the pie filling.
For the pie pastry
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup butter, chilled
- 6-8 tbsp. cold water
- 2 small eggs (for crust ‘wash’)
Preheat oven to 425°F
Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large cubes, making 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add the salt, ground black pepper, rosemary, turmeric and heavy cream. Add the chicken, carrots, peas, celery, squash, onions, arugula and parsley. Mix well.
Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. If you want, you can brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.
Directions for Pie Crust
Place mix into a bowl and use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal. Slowly add in the water and blend it with a fork until dough holds together.
Combine dough into a ball and knead 2-3 times in the bowl. Sprinkle a piece of plastic wrap with more flour and roll dough out with a rolling pin. Use flour as needed to prevent the pin from sticking to the dough. Invert dough into greased pie plate and remove plastic wrap. Shape pie edges as desired.
Bake pie crust at 425°F for 15-18 minutes, or until turning brown. Remove the pie crust and add the filling. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for another 40 minutes. Makes one 9-inch pie crust (12 servings).