When it becomes cold outside, there are foods you can eat or drink that will help you stay warm during the cold weather. All of us crave comfort food during the cold months, but traditional recipes are often loaded with not so healthy ingredients and lots of calories.
You can enjoy comfort foods and still gain many health benefits with the following superfoods that warm and nutrify your body at the same time:
• Pumpkin soup. Pumpkin is high in vitamin A, which is good for your vision. Adult women should take in 700 mcg of vitamin A per day. You can get this amount of vitamin A and more with just one bowl of pumpkin soup. Don’t use cream in the soup if you are watching your weight. Pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant. It has been shown to fight cancer, among other things.
• Oatmeal. Cold weather is the time to make oatmeal. Steel cut oatmeal is made from whole grains so you can get many fiber and plant proteins that will curb your hunger and keep you warm. Oatmeal is also high in beta-glucan, which can lower your LDL cholesterol by 5-10 percent. Add almond butter and chia seeds to the oatmeal for maximum nutritional benefits.
• Black bean soup. This soup is high in cumin and chili peppers that will heat you up this winter. Beans are the superstars of this dish. Black beans are a great source of copper and iron so you will give your muscles more oxygen and will help improve your immunity. One serving of black bean soup has about a cup of black beans in it, which provides you with fifteen grams of fiber and protein. Black beans contain nearly no saturated fat and contain a high level of flavonoids as well.
• Chili. The hot peppers used in chili have capsaicin that gives it its spicy flavor. It also increases your metabolism and helps decrease the fat in your body. Capsaicin has been found to lessen the body weight by 8% when eaten along with a diet high in fat. Chili beans are high in protein, which builds muscle mass. Tomato paste in chili is high in lycopene and the onions in the chili have antioxidant properties. Don’t put a lot of meat in your chili as this can increase your chances of having heart disease and cancer. For a lower fat alternative, you can use ground turkey instead of beef. There are also many vegetarian chili recipes that use beans as the main protein source instead of beef cutting the fat content to almost zero.
• Walnuts. Walnuts are especially good when roasted in cold weather. Just toast them on a cookie sheet for five minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a light misting of oil and add pepper for seasoning to make it more flavorful and healthy for you. Walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as alpha-linoleic acid, believed to help your heart work better. People who eat walnuts or walnut oil have a lower blood pressure than those who eat less of the omega 3 fatty acid.
• Hot chocolate. Hot chocolate can warm your tummy by just drinking a cup of the beverage, but skip the instant packets found in supermarkets as Dutch or alkalized cocoa is processed that yields a loss of 90% of essential antioxidants. Make a much healthier version with real chocolate. Use two squares of dark 70% cacao chocolate, melted into low-fat dairy or almond milk. Dark chocolate has health benefits all of its own. It contains flavonoids, which are a kind of antioxidant that protects you against heart disease and cancer. Cacao has been found to cause a reduction in oxygen free radicals when you drink it. Good cacao has fewer than 15 calories per tablespoon and almost no fat so you can get your chocolate fix without the guilt.
• Brussels sprouts. These are like tiny little cabbages that contain a great deal of phytonutrients that fight cancer as well as fiber. They contain a lot of vitamin C, which has been known to shorten the length of a cold. If you heat them up, you will have a better taste when you eat them. They are especially great when roasted with olive oil.
• Avocado. Try roasting the avocadoes in the oven to make them especially creamy. Then chop them up while warm and put atop another type of vegetable or even whole grain crackers. Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, which lowers LDL cholesterol and helps your cells to function better. Avocados help you feel fuller for longer so you don’t eat as much after eating a meal containing the fruit.
• Apples. Try baked apples in cold weather, as these are high in both insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows your digestion and insoluble fiber helps your GI tract move more smoothly. You are less hungry after eating apples and your stomach will appreciate it. Don’t peel the apples as much of the fiber is in the apple peel. A medium apple with the peel still on it contains about 4.4 grams of fiber. Put cinnamon on your apples to get a higher level of antioxidants. Apples are high in water content so you won’t get dehydrated if you eat them whole.
• Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A. One medium sweet potato has more than 400 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. It also is high in fiber, especially if you eat the skin. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and iron. It is a low calorie food if you don’t put a lot of butter or other toppings on it. Try putting a spice on it instead, such as rosemary, instead of butter. Rosemary has a great deal of vitamin B in it and phytochemicals that help fight cancer.
• Squash. Squash has a lot of vitamin C and calcium in it and many types are high in potassium as well. Diets high in potassium have been found to decrease the risk of both stroke and heart attacks. The vitamin A in squash is good for you and the fiber will help you feel full. A cup of cubed squash has more than 400 percent of the daily value of vitamin A in it as well as 7 grams of dietary fiber with only 82 calories in the cup. Try it seasoned with garlic salt, cumin, turmeric, or pepper. The seeds can be baked just like pumpkin seeds.
• Ginger tea. Ginger tea has special thermogenic properties, which means that it keeps you warm. People who eat ginger also have less hunger and feel fuller after a few hours of drinking ginger tea. Ginger tea is also good for muscle aches you get after working out too much.