As the seasons change, so too does our body’s food requirements. As we move into the cold dry months, the temperature change leads to dryness in the body. Hello dry skin.
Due to the dry and cold qualities of the environment during winter months, the body’s mucus membranes can become irritated, which coupled with weakened immunity, can lead to viruses, a cold or the flu.
Consuming warm foods that boost your digestion as well as your immune system during that winter months is key to maintaining good health. A large proportion of your immune system is actually located in your GI tract so it’s important to focus on foods that improve digestion as well as immunity.
Want to know which foods to include in your diet to improve your digestive and immune health this winter? Here are five foods to highlight this season, along with a recipe to inspire you.
All of these foods should be prepared warm during the winter months, such as in soup, stir fry or roasted during the winter months to combat the harshness of the external environment.
5 Winter Foods for Digestive and Immune Health
Garlic is packed with gut-friendly benefits. Garlic is rich in prebiotic compounds that, when consumed regularly, will improve your digestion by stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and preventing constipation.
Long used to soothe a common cold, ginger root also has beneficial properties for digestion, thanks to the compounds it contains. Gingerols and other volatile oils have been shown to exert a stimulating effect on gastric muscles to help our food move along the GI tract.
Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, which is associated with enhanced immune function.
Spinach is rich in a number of nutrients, including zinc. A cup of cooked spinach provides 1.4 mg of zinc, contributing 9% DV of this mineral. Zinc is an important mineral in building a healthy immune system.
Kale helps to strengthen bones during times when our body does not get enough sunlight for vitamin D conversion. The lack of sunlight also causes hormonal fluctuations, and kale has estrogen-balancing effects, thereby improving our mood.
Warming Cauliflower Soup
If you need a bit of inspiration to improve your digestive and immune health this winter, try this warming cauliflower soup. It is easy to make and infused with flavor. It also reheats beautifully so it makes the perfect lunch during the week or an ideal make ahead dinner.
When you use cauliflower as the base of a soup, it is virtually a blank canvas for whatever seasoning you would like to use. I’ve paired this soup with cayenne, garlic and ginger as well as a balsamic reduction using Filippo Berio Balsamic Vinegar. The balsamic reduction uses just one ingredient, is done in under 10 minutes and adds acid and sweetness that when paired with the cayenne pepper really makes this dish pop!
- 1 tbls coconut oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 pound carrots, chopped
- 1 32-ounce package vegetable broth
- 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
- 1.5 lbs cauliflower florets (approximately 1.5-2 heads of cauliflower)
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup Filippo Berio Balsamic Vinegar
- Add coconut oil to a large soup pot over medium heat
- When the oil has melted, add onion, garlic
- Next, carrots, cauliflower and vegetable broth. Stir well, then cover the pot.
- Let the vegetables simmer for about 20 minutes, then add the coconut milk, ginger and cayenne
- Stir well and let it simmer for an additional 10 minutes
- Transfer soup to high-speed blender, or use an immersion blender to process soup until very smooth
- To make balsamic vinegar glaze
- Pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan.
- Turn heat to medium high and bring vinegar to a boil
- Once boiling, reduce to simmer and let simmer for about 5-7 minutes until vinegar has reduced down. Stir occasionally (be sure to keep an eye on it because it can burn quickly). You will know it is done if it coats the back of spoon
- Drizzle on top of soup
- Optional: top with micro greens, sprouted chickpeas and hemp seeds