We are about to enter winter, with the Winter Solstice on Friday 21st December, the longest night and the shortest day of the year is about to signify that winter is here. Not many people notice this happening because it’s so close to Christmas and everyone’s attention is getting everything ready for that major event of the year of opening presents and eating too much food. Hopefully you haven’t left your Christmas shopping to the last weekend before Christmas, lets face it the queue to get out of the shopping mall car park will take you longer than it did to ‘whizz in’ to get that last one thing you needed! Stress levels rise as queues get longer as the last minute bits are organised for Christmas and Boxing Day.
I remember as a child my mother having us queue up outside Marks and Spencers food department on Christmas Eve before it opened in the morning, this was to get the fresh whipping cream she needed for the sherry trifle she made every year! My mother made a great sherry trifle and so only the freshest cream was good enough. Every year as a child I was dragged along to take part in a stampede of middle aged women all doing the same thing for that last minute item that made their Christmas dinner their finest meal. My mother made her trifle with egg custard and for years so did I, I never used powdered custard it just seemed, wrong. The whole trifle could be a potent affair depending on the mood of my mother, the base being of sponge fingers soaked in sherry with a liberal scattering of fruit, it was lethal if you wanted to stay sober afterward and probably meant that many of us even as children were over the legal limit for driving just from her dessert.
Rather than the extra stress that is now normal in modern life, winter really signifies the chance to hibernate, to slow things down, and quieten things for yourself. We wouldn’t be wanting to move much if possible, just making sure we are keeping warm. Potentially that’s not the way it’s panning out for you, but it might be something to consider because our lives are totally out of sync with nature. We’ve become accustomed to this season being hectic, over full, and it now demands so much from us not only during the day itself but also for some many months afterwards. Yes it’s meant to be about great feasts of food, celebration, and gifts but not at the detriment of our overall health and well-being.
So keep a focus on your health during this time.
Root vegetables help to keep us warm with their starchy carbohydrates, and help to increase our energy, soups and stews are comforting at this time of year, and also hydrating.
Adding cayenne pepper, black pepper or cardamom will help the circulation, helping with movement, and they heat the body. Cardamom is also helpful for the respiratory tract great for those with a cough. Using small amounts of spices can be a powerful addition to a food or drink as simple as hot chocolate with nutmeg, chilli, or even for the brave cayenne. Poached pears with cinnamon are a lovely easy snack or dessert.
Rosemary, oregano, and marjoram are gently warming herbs that are great added to stews but which also carry other benefits that are helpful for keeping germs at bay, help digestion and for improving memory.
Use herbal teas to keep you warm, ginger tea will help to heat you, cinnamon tea is lovely, and adding cinnamon to your porridge adds a dose of natural antibiotics. Vanilla has that deep taste which is soothing to the soul add to your hot chocolate or redbush tea to emphasise the taste.
We often like more salty food during winter, consider adding sea vegetables to your diet and use a pinch for your soups and stews or sauces.
Diffuse frankincense, myrrh, wild orange essential oils, they give a lovely Christmassy smell and are antimicrobial so will help to stop air bourne pathogens. Wild orange is great for uplifting energy, and mood. Use frankincense when you are meditating for it’s spiritual connections and for recover!