When you think of warming foods, a piping-hot bowl of soup might come to mind, but it may surprise you to learn that it’s not just the temperature of your food that will help you warm up. In Chinese culture, ingredients fall into either the ‘warming’, ‘cooling’ or ‘neutral’ category, based on their effects on the body. Embrace the warm ingredients this winter and you’ll be on your way to improved digestion and general wellbeing.
Did you know that chilli can help you cool down, rather than warm up? If you want to feel toasty from the inside out, reach for spices such as ginger, garlic, galangal, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and fennel. Is it any wonder we crave curries and spiced stews during winter?
Try: Five warming ginger recipes.
You can also warm your body from within by choosing the right protein source. Beef, chicken, lamb, ham and tofu are all celebrated for their warming properties, which might explain why we hanker for hearty beef dishes during the cooler months.
Try: Braised beef short ribs flavoured with warming ingredients such as pepper, onion, garlic and ginger.
Bulk out your meal with warming fruits, vegetables and starches, such as coconut, dates, mandarin peel, mango, leek, mustard greens, onion, pumpkin, potato, rice and oats.
Try: Paneang pumpkin and lentil soup with coconut, onion, garlic and curry paste.
The temperature of your food plays a role too, though perhaps not in the way you might think. By avoiding raw foods and indulging in well-cooked dishes, the digestive system doesn’t have to work so hard to break down the foods, ensuring an even distribution of heat throughout your body and aiding in the absorption of nutrients.
Try: Chanko nabe with chicken meatballs and winter vegetables or warm up with authentic Vietnamese soups.
Wine is also on the warming list, so feel free to pour yourself a glass while you’re cooking dinner.
Too hot in the kitchen? Discover 10 of the best ingredients with cooling properties.
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