Warm and Nourishing YOU
Have the winter blues set in yet? Not a familiar term? If not, you likely live in the south😉. The winter blues could be defined as when cold weather arrives, the sun shines less, you are freezing your derrière off, and on top of it, you feel like you have less energy. Yup, winter has arrived.
If your symptoms feel more extreme, you might be suffering from SAD or Seasonal affective disorder. SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD usually begins in the fall months and continues into the winter months. It can sap your energy, making you feel moody, and with no desire to remove your body from a warm blanket and the couch. If this is relatable, I highly recommend discussing it with your physician.
Whether it is a case of the winter blues, or the more extreme SAD, do not just brush off that yearly feeling of a seasonal funk. You do NOT have to tough out on your own. Seek the help you need. And hell yes, the ongoing challenges of Covid could surely be adding to your lack of sunshine bliss.
One way to tackle the chilly times is to warm up with some hot and tasty foods and beverages. You can feel your best during the winter months, but it likely will take some effort. Preparing and consuming hot meals and drinks during the colder months helps to warm you from the inside out. Here are some tips to get started:
- 🌶 Incorporate warming spices such as cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, cloves, paprika, garlic, cayenne pepper, chili pepper flakes, and ginger. Think hot drinks, savory oatmeal, spicy chicken, shrimp, and tofu dishes.
- 🍲 Prepare one or two larger meals over the weekend, to nourish you throughout the week. Your favorite curry dish would be a win.
- 🧣Bundle up and get outside. Fresh air is mother nature’s gift to the soul.
- 📚 Embrace the slowdown. Read one of the books on your list, listen to music, rewatch a favorite movie, or take a longer walk — inside or out.
- 🙌🏾 Turn inward, listen to your thoughts, and challenge your negative ones. Change them into positive or neutral thoughts. Empower yourself to change them. You can do it!
- 🍜 Choose hot meals as much as possible. Soups (see December post), stews, and roasting lots of veggies in the oven work great for lunch and dinner. Prep on Sunday and heat up during the week.
- 🍵 For breakfast, switch out your cold cereal or yogurt, for some hot oatmeal, eggs, and other savory breakfast options.
Move more, outside whenever possible, embrace the slower times, and mindfully turn the negative into positive. Be brutally honest with yourself — what is true for yourself right now, leaning into self-kindness and appreciation, while continuing to strive for your personal vision of self-care and health. And heat things up!
MORNING MUFFINS, ANYTIME
A hot steamy muffin has always been one of my favorite ways to start the day. Switching out the delicious yet dense carb, fat, and calorie-laden muffin (MacTaggart’s Market for any Wisconsin peeps☺️) with a couple of savory egg white muffins provides the warming flavors to start your day, with a dose of spice and protein to replenish your muscles and energize your mood. And have it your way — use your favorite combination of ingredients…and, double and triple the ingredients for another dish or two later in the week.
2 cups egg whites or egg substitute
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped (tip: caramelize a whole bunch for another dish)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup cooked crumbled chicken or veggie sausage
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced (or 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes)
1–2 cups fresh spinach, washed, chopped (or 1/2 cup frozen, defrosted)
2 cups egg whites or egg substitute
pinch of chili flakes, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper
Nonstick olive oil cooking spray or olive oil spritz
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
Place a non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat and spritz with olive oil. Add the garlic, bell pepper, onion, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the sausage crumbles, tomatoes, and spinach, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Place 1–2 tablespoons into each muffin cup. *Option-top with 1 tablespoon of your favorite cheese here (ie. brie, mozzarella, feta).
Next, whisk the egg whites (or egg substitutes) into a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the chili flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper. Pour about 1/3 cup into each muffin cup tin, topping off the veggie mixture.
Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until the egg has puffed and comes clean with a toothpick. Cool in a muffin tin for a few minutes. Run a knife around the edges to remove the egg muffins. Enjoy while hot for breakfast, as a snack, or as part of your sandwich for lunch. Add a little salsa or hot sauce for a kick, and/or a tablespoon of nonfat Greek yogurt for a creamy topping. Makes 6 servings; 2 muffins per serving.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator to eat within 5 days, or in the freezer for up to a month. To reheat from the fridge, microwave for 30 seconds or until warm throughout. To reheat from frozen, microwave for 45 seconds or until warm throughout.
OH, THOSE OVERNIGHT OATS😋 Overnight oats are one of the most satisfying breakfasts for a winter morning. Just some easy prep the night before, and you have a steaming fresh bowl of goodness in minutes at sunrise -you do not have to get up quite so early, of course ;), as this could also be lunch.
1 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
2 cups almond milk (or desired milk: cow, cashew, or coconut milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons chia seeds
Optional toppings (ANY combination):
- 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter + 1 Tablespoon low-sugar maple syrup (or reduced sugar jelly)
- 1/2 cup fresh berries + 1/4 cup Greek yogurt + 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 dark chocolate chips or cacao chips + 1/2 cup sliced banana
- 1/2 cup diced apple +1 Tablespoons honey + cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons chopped pecans + 1/2 cup sliced banana + honey drizzle
In a medium bowl, combine oats, milk, vanilla, and chia seeds. Pour the oat mixture into 6 small storage containers and cover them with a lid.
Place in fridge overnight.
Remove lid and heat each serving for 1–1 1/2 minutes in the microwave, stirring halfway and adding more time as needed.
Top with your favorite combinations, stir and enjoy! Makes 6 servings.
*Just want one serving? Go with 1/6 of all listed ingredients!
SPICY TURKEY PASTA
This dish calls for whole-grain pasta, lean protein, and loads of tomatoes. It is a one-dish meal (though not in the preparation 🙃). This combination will leave you feeling satisfied from the balance of spicy flavors, with fewer carbs, for better portion control and fewer calories overall.
½ medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground turkey (or other lean meat or meat substitute of choice)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you really like to spice things up!)
1 Tablespoon basil
½ Tablespoon oregano
28-ounce can diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
12 ounces whole grain pasta
Nonstick cooking spray
Optional toppings: fresh Parmesan cheese, fresh basil leaves, fresh parsley
Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 5–6 minutes, until onions start to brown. Add turkey and sauté for about 4–5 minutes, until the turkey begins to brown, stirring frequently to break turkey meat apart. Lower heat to medium-low. Add salt, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and tomatoes (with liquid). Stir well and heat another 5–6 minutes, until warm. Reduce heat to low and stir in balsamic vinegar. Prepare pasta according to package directions (make sure to just use 12 ounces for this dish). Place pasta in a large serving bowl, and mix in 3/4 of the turkey sauce. Top with remaining turkey sauce and optional toppings. Makes 4–5 servings.
You could use a lower sugar hot chocolate recipe or mix, or go for the real thing. It is a hot and spicy soothing treat. Warming the body and soul. You are welcome😊
1/2 ounce elderflower liqueur
4 ounces hot chocolate
Heat the hot chocolate until warm. Add the tequila and elderflower liqueur. Stir well. Pour into a mug and garnish with marshmallows.
Every thirty-minute recipe is a lie.
~Stephen Colbert — @StephenAtHome ~ The comments on this tweet are hilarious 😂 — highly recommend checking it out!
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