Thursday, March 6, 2014

Four Warm Foods to Fight the Never-Ending Cold

As I sit here in my office in Chicago-area, it is snowing outside. Last I checked it was March. So, Mother Nature...what gives?! Two can play at this game. Here are four warm foods to combat this cold weather.

1. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are not only delicious but full of immune-enhancing nutrients (a good idea in the cold weather). Whether baked, microwaved, pan-fried in slices, or baked wedge-style in the oven, they make a warm, sweet treat full of Vitamins A and C and fiber. Here is one of my personal favorite recipes that involves sweet potatoes. I make this at least 3 times a month because it is easy, fast and super healthy...not to mention delicious.

Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup
Source: All Recipes...with a few modifications
Yield: 6 Servings

1/4 cup canola oil
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large apples, peeled and chopped
1 medium-large onion, chopped
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh or dried ginger (fresh is tastier)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
5 cups water
Plain yogurt...for topping at the end if desired

1. Heat large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add canola oil, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples and onion. Cook until apples are soft and onions translucent...about 10 minutes.
2. Add remaining ingredients except for the yogurt. Bring soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered until the lentils and vegetables are soft...about 30 minutes.
3. Using a stick blender, puree soup right in the pot. If you don't have a stick blender (get one), puree soup in batches in a blender.
4. Give soup a final stir and then serve with yogurt if desired.

2. Cauliflower
While you may not think warmth when you think cauliflower, I'm hoping this recipe will change your mind. Mashed cauliflower makes a fantastic whole or part substitute for potatoes in mashed potato recipes. It will add fiber and a huge dose of Vitamin C and potassium as well. When using that recipe, sub canola oil for butter and whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.

3. Stewed Apples
Thinking of stewed apples makes me happy. High in fiber and Vitamin C, apples are a great choice for your sweet kick. They only get better when heated. Stewed apples are fast and quick. If you have never made them, here is how: Slice 1-2 apples and core (keep peel). Place in frying pan with a small amount of water. Heat on medium low until apples soften and release juices. Add water as needed to prevent drying out. I like to add cinnamon to mine but nothing else. Be patient with this or it will not turn out. Of course, if you want to dress up those cooked apples, a good apple crisp recipe is warmth for the soul. Here is one I like. The only change I would make is to add 2-3 Tbsp ground flaxseed to the crisp topping for some extra omega-3s.

4. Hot chocolate
I'm not talking about the sugar packets you buy in the store. Make yours homemade to reap greater benefits of inflammation-reducing cocoa, calcium-filled milk and less added sugar. Here is a super easy recipe.

Homemade Hot Chocolate
Source: MOMables...with modifications
Yield: 5 cups

1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar or your sweetener of choice
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups milk (cow's or soymilk is best for good protein; almond milk is okay if you just want a bit of healthy fats)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine cocoa, sugar and water in medium saucepan.
2. Heat over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly.
3. Stir in milk and heat, but don't boil.
4. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and stir. Serve immediately.

Be Extraordinary,


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