Cozy socks, warm jumpers, hot baths and deliberating over putting the heating on – these are all things our minds are turning to as the cold weather starts to show its face again. After a pretty glorious summer and lots of vitamin D everyone is looking fantastic but the weather is turning and many of us are feeling a little down about the prospect of the shorter days and colder nights.
The weather change always seems to herald an annoying period of eating more too and comfort food is as vital as my favourite pyjamas at this time of year!
Nutritionists and scientists have done a range of research to demonstrate the altering effects of food on our mood – with the weather already bringing us down we thought we’d take a look at how food can help keep us healthy and lift our spirits during the winter months.
- Dark leafy greens
Not wanting to sound like your mum but we must eat our greens! Leaves such as spinach, spring greens, kale, beet leaves and swiss chard are all rich sources of immune boosting, cancer beating vitamins and minerals. Rich in vitamins A, C, E and K as well as a wealth of minerals, dark leafy greens keep the body prepared and ready to fight the development of cancerous cells. Maintaining our immune system also helps ward off illness, keeping us feeling fit and healthy all year round. Dr Terry Wahls, author of the Wahls Protocol, puts leafy greens at the centre of her diet and recommends we eat 3 cups per day.
- Kale Crisps (Healthy comfort food! Leave out the nutritional yeast if you don’t have it) http://ohsheglows.com/2014/03/12/6-tips-for-flawless-kale-chips-all-dressed-kale-chips-recipe/
- Greenalicious Pasta https://goodnessgraciouskitchen.net/2016/08/29/greenalicious-pasta/
- Spring greens with a lemony dressing http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/simple-lemony-spring-greens/
2. Allium vegetables
The allium vegetables are garlic, leeks, chives, shallots and spring onions. These are a sulphur rich family with links to having a big impact on cancer. They are also identified by the ‘Happiness Diet’ as crucial in the formulation of serotonin as well as in protecting your brain, lowering your risk of heart disease, and protecting yourself from the most common forms of cancer (especially of the mouth, throat, colon, and breast).
- Salmon & Leek parcels http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5607/salmon-and-leek-parcels
- A few onion recipes (the onion fritters really stand out) https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/27/onion-recipes-soup-fritters-salad-10-best
- Gorgeous garlic recipes https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/may/04/10-best-garlic-recipes
Hopefully you have a glut of tomatoes just ripening because tomatoes are rich in both folic acid and alpha lipoic acid – both are important in fighting depression. Research completed in Japan assessed the mental health and dietary habits of 986 people aged over 70. They found that those who reported eating tomatoes two to six times a week were 46% less likely to report mild or severe symptoms of depression than those who said they ate tomatoes less than once a week.
- Baked tomatoes, Italian style http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/baked-tomatoes-395749
- Sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pork-recipes/sweet-cherry-tomato-and-sausage-bake/
- Spicy frozen Bloody Mary (well we need a bit of fun too!) http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,50400000130212,00.html
Beetroot has been listed as a superfood for a long time now. It is a good source of iron and folate (naturally occurring folic acid) and is linked to improving exercise performance because it is low in calories and high in sugar. As well as lowering blood pressure beets also release energy slowly making you feel more active for longer. It was also used as viagra by the Romans!
- South Indian Beetroot Thoran http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/beetroot-thoran-recipe-beetroot-thoran/
- Carrot, beet, berry juice http://www.makeitnaked.com/2013/07/carrot-beet-berry-juice/
- Yottam Ottolenghi’s beetroot recipes https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/26/beetroot-recipes-yotam-ottolenghi
A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry links the rise of psychiatric disorders in the western world to the reduction of Omega-3 in our diets. Walnuts are one of the richest plant based sources of omega-3 and as well as being a good source of folic acid, are a key helper in reducing anxiety. Walnuts are particularly good for women’s health and research suggests that those who eat a handful a week are “more active, independent and vigorous in old age”!
- Golden orange and walnut flapjacks http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1430/golden-orange-and-walnut-flapjacks
- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s walnut recipes https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/oct/25/walnut-recipes-hugh-fearnley-whittingstall
- Sweet and savoury spiced snacking walnuts http://www.food.com/recipe/simple-sweet-and-savory-spiced-walnuts-41368
6. Dark chocolate
Good news, a small amount of dark chocolate at least once a week has a significant impact on brain function! A study done over 40 years assessing the link between blood pressure and brain performance had not considered chocolate as part of the story. It found though “that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively“. The researcher behind this study found it’s effect “significant” and said “it touches a number of cognitive domains.” See the Washington Post article on the ‘chocolate effect’.
- Healthy double chocolate brownies https://goodnessgraciouskitchen.net/2014/08/10/double-chocolate-brownies/
- Dark chocolate, banana and rye loaf http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/dark-chocolate-banana-rye-loaf
- Dark chocolate and almond butter cups http://slimpalate.com/dark-chocolate-almond-butter-cups-with-smoked-sea-salt-paleo-refined-sugar-free/
Love it or hate it Marmite is a good source of vitamin B-12, hailed as one of the key depression fighting vitamins. Banned in Denmark for being too rich in B vitamins the UK is firmly behind the health benefits of Marmite and it remains a key way to get a regular boost of B-6 and B-12. It is also packed full of niacin which reportedly helps our immune systems fight bacteria, up to 1,000 times better. And it’s supposed to be a useful as a mosquito repellent, who’d have thought it?!. Read about it here.
Reports do suggest a link to acne and it’s high salt content means it is not good in large quantities – the marmite website includes a number of more unusual recipes but we prefer it on toast with lashings of butter.
We hope these tips help to get you through the winter blues.
To find some extra coziness this autumn, pop into AIRR in Wirksworth to have a look at our new collection or view online at http://www.airrclothing.co.uk.
All at AIRR xx
Image featured – by http://www.chriswebbphotography.com/ for AIRR