Eating to Beat the Winter Blues
Healthy Eating: February 2020
By Gretchen Heimsoth
Right around this time in the new year- after all the hustle and bustle and stress from the holidays is finished, (and hopefully the decorations are put away!) we can come to a pause after all the festivities where we can feel a lull in energy and focus, as well as low mood and motivation.
Shorter days/less sun, chilly and rainy days all add up and can express in a syndrome known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD can affect all age ranges. Children pent up inside when they would otherwise be running around expending energy are no less susceptible the seasonal “blahs” then adults are. Consider the possibility that a large portion of us spent the last six weeks or so indulging in holiday favorites, foods often laden with fat, sugar and calories with little to no nutrients, then the beginning of the year starts looking like a great time to refocus our attention on what we are putting into our bodies so we can continue to get out of our bodies what we demand of them. Make it a family affair and open the dialogue of what healthy eating looks like to your children so they can start to exercise their mental muscle when it comes to food choices!
There are key nutrients and foods we can focus on during the winter months to support our bodies and help mitigate the effect of SAD. They are easy to obtain foods, especially on this Central Coast of California, in which we are graced such an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies, many of which enjoy a long growing season here. Focusing on these foods can give you and your family a boost that will help them be as healthy as they can through the winter while giving their body fuel to prepare for longer days and warmer weather.
Salads are excellent ways to get a lot of these foods on your plate in one sitting. However, I find salads to be unmotivating at times during these colder months. The last few weeks under the redwoods have been particularly cold. Soups lend themselves to the winter occasion, offering both warm comfort and an aid in digestion with the added liquid as well as the breaking down of plant fibers during the cooking process. Following is a sausage, greens and lentil soup recipe that will bring smiles to even most fastidious little faces!!
Sausage, Greens and Lentil Soup
In soup pot, heat oil and sauté onions, celery and carrots until lightly browned. Add sausage or mushrooms and sauté for another two minutes. Add bell pepper and potato, rosemary, cumin, garlic and salt and pepper. Sauté for another minute and deglaze with one cup of the stock. Let cook 8 to 10 minutes to soften potato and vegetables. Wilt in the greens, season with a few grates of fresh nutmeg, stir in tomato paste, lentils, stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer soup until the lentils are tender. About 30 minutes. Salt and Pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh herbs, scallions, some cubed avocado or some grated parmesan and serve!!