You may wonder why I don't send out an email blast or blog advertising a New Year's program, detoxes probably being the most common amongst alternative health practitioners at this time of year. My reasoning is simple: you can't undo indulgences from the holidays, but you can get back on track (or start a new path). January, to me, means hibernation, comfort foods, cold noses and fuzzy jammies. The winter is not a great time to detox in our climate because of the limited availability of good quality, fresh produce, and the cold weather that demands we eat more warming foods. I don't want a cold salad either! When we're chilly, the best foods to eat are cooked (not raw) with lots of ginger and garlic to warm us up and boost our immune systems.
Instead of detoxing, which suggests that we eliminate foods from our diet, I suggest reloading. Don't focus on what you're not going to eat, just focus on making sure you consume loads of cooked veggies to replenish our bodies. To do this, I recommend soups, stir fries, and healthy variations of good ol' fashioned comfort foods. Don't fight the body's natural tendency to want these foods at this time of year, embrace it with a new twist. If your body is properly nourished, you'll naturally find yourself having fewer cravings and a lot more energy to do the things you love.
Now that the snow has arrived, we can enjoy some winter activities. Personally, I prefer activity over formal exercise. You and your family will benefit tremendously from getting some fresh air and a little fun. It is much easier to reconnect with your loved ones over a shared interaction than a shared couch. Pick up some proper warm winter clothes while they're on sale. They will last you forever (if you're not terribly style conscious) and make the outdoors enjoyable! No one likes tobogganing when they're freezing at the top of a hill, but it's actually a ton of fun and a great workout if you are dressed for the weather. Some other awesome outdoor activities to try are snow shoeing, cross country skiing (Monora Park has family memberships), making forts, snowboarding (lots of local options), skating and hiking. Make it your mission to try something new this winter, and you will be amazed at how your confidence, mood and energy skyrocket.
So, my challenge to you this winter is to organize an active day or two with friends or family, and prepare some slow-cooker chili for afterwards. Let's skip the major detox for now (we'll do that with the rest of the spring cleaning), and save the Netflix marathons for after 7pm.
Comfort Food Twists
- Shepherd's Pie: use ground turkey or beef but add in a mixture of diced carrots, chopped green beans, peas or kale to the mix so that 50% of the pan is veggies. Use a combination of sweet and white potatoes, squash or cauliflower for the topping.
- Unrolled Cabbage Rolls: Sautee ground meat of your choice with onion until cooked. Drain then add one chopped head of cabbage, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 small can of tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of water, and 2 minced cloves of garlic. Bring to a boil, then simmer until cooked. Serve over brown rice or quinoa if desired.
- Homemade chicken soup: Boil a whole chicken for 2 hours with onions, carrots and celery. Remove the chicken and strip the meat, returning it to the pot. Add one bag of frozen cauliflower or broccoli, more chopped carrots and celery, 1/2 bag of frozen butternut squash, 1/3 cup butter, 1 tsp curry powder or turmeric, 1 tbsp fresh parsley (optional), salt and pepper. Simmer until vegetables are soft. Top with 2 tbsp sauerkraut (optional).