By Nicole Staniger, CPM, LM
In general, we eat hot food year-round. How we imbue heat into food, however, changes with the seasons. Open-flame or grilling in the Summer comes with a culture of communal gathering and deliciously charred nostalgia. As Autumn creeps in with its chill and frost (and need for quick prep!), the efficiency of crockpots and casseroles come onto the stage. But, as Winter hits, there is nothing like sitting down to a pot of hot soup on the stovetop.
It is no coincidence that soups are a powerhouse for old-timey healthful cooking. Our grandmothers and generations before them have used low heat over long amounts of time to create bone broths. Slowly sucking the marrowy goodness from the bone joints, the broth creates a starting point for Winter Health. How many times in literature have we read about an ill-to-dying invalid taking “sips of broth” to revive them? So, go find a local butcher who knows where his cows come from and ask for equal amounts of grass-fed marrow bones and rib or neck bones. Place your meaty & marrow bones on a cookie sheet, slather them with tomato paste (hats off to Anthony Bourdain for that step) and roast them for 15 minutes at 425ºF. When they are finished, scrape them with all their roasted bits stuck to the pan into a large stockpot, add equal parts quartered onions, chopped carrots, and chopped celery. Bring to just under a boil, and simmer for 12-48 hours before straining and storing. I always enjoy a mugful right after brewing with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan on top. That’s it – the oldest, most basic, easiest way to embrace Food as Medicine in the Winter.
Truth be told, Winter is not my favorite time of year – my constitution does not tend to thrive in the darker shorter days and the cold weather. Yet, I choose to live in a place where Winter is the greediest season, often gobbling up much of Spring with snow, melting snow, or muddy coldness. But friends, there is nothing like waking up after a good snowy night, stepping on my front porch and looking at the mountains transformed into a white canvas. There is a newness to it filled with an anticipation, like all the world is waiting for us to approach it with a fresh palette of colors. Even the animals are quieter, the birds more silent. Then reality hits – this snow must be shoveled, cars dug out, sniffly noses wiped, snow clothes hung by the fire to dry (again and again and again!). It may seem iconic to come in from the winter work and have a mug of hot chocolate or black coffee, but this Winter let’s listen in to some older wisdom and make a pot of Hot Garlic Ginger Lemonade. These ingredients are widely known and researched for their immune-boosting and cold-fighting properties. Simply crush 3-6 cloves of garlic into your teapot or mason jar and add 1tsp of grated fresh ginger root. Pour about 4 cups boiling water over this and steep for 30 minutes. Add the juice of 1 lemon and your choice of natural sweetener (honey or maple syrup). Some like to serve it in the cup with a stick of cinnamon for good cheer. This is a staple for winter wellness in our home and everyone loves it, from the baby to the papa to everyone in between.
This winter, I wish you and your home a happy healthy season of making memories around soups and teas. Peace.