[dropcap]I[/dropcap] am no doctor, but I have spent the last several years getting into holistic health. My interest began when I was living in Fayetteville.
Being surrounded by like-minded people, I became an outdoor enthusiast in the Ozarks, and dove into a borderline obsession with hot yoga. The yoga has now taken a backseat to other interests, but I still use the basics. At least once a week, I’ll pull out my mat and start with a downward dog, or my personal favorite – child’s pose. Try it.
Another good thing that feels amazing was choosing to spend my extra money on organic food. I loved going to Ozark Natural Foods and looking at all of the “good stuff”, my favorite kind of shopping. I could literally spend hours in there! My healthy eating made such a difference in the way I felt. This lead me to slowly move my interest into holistic health – from recipes, to tinctures, herbs, vitamins, to name a few areas, and the importance of seeking out non-GMO food.
To me, it made perfect sense – what you put in your body determines how well it functions, and thus, how well you felt. I could attest to that.
However, lifestyle changes change everything. I no longer live in Northwest Arkansas and I have developed many other interests, meaning I save my money for different things. I still try to buy organic produce (if you are going to buy organic – I absolutely believe that it is most important to start with produce); however, things like boxed goods – I get from a supermarket. I do eat meat, but organic meat was always too expensive to buy, so I just have to swallow that one (no pun intended).
Organic eating or not, there are several tried-and-true recipes that I continue to incorporate that are easy and effective.
In the summertime, it is easy to grab a piece of fruit and call it a morning. But, I notice that in the winter, I gravitate toward warmer, fattier, more nurturing foods. I don’t necessarily want a bowl of cold strawberries.
Winter is a time for hunkering down and resting. Like animals, it is our instinct to retreat to more comfortable, warm places. We eat more, because we need the extra fat – it is only natural. Some get the “seasonal blues” from lack of being out in the sun. Being a warm-weathered bird myself, I certainly do. So we all need to sit outside and face toward the sun when we can, even if just for a minute – to get a dose of Vitamin D.
So, a few healthy and comforting ways we can take care of ourselves in the winter, for me, center around nurturing from the inside out–Stocking up on fatty acids like avocados are great for this, as well as nuts. Almonds are also a great source of fatty acids. Personally, they are a bit dry for me, so I opt for cashews. Although avocados are not seasonal now, keep your eye out – there will be a good batch every now and then.
While it can be time-consuming, bone broth is an excellent way to nurture your whole body, and a natural way to take care of your collagen supply (holistic anti-aging!). To make some, you can find excellent how-to’s in the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
Probiotics are always a good thing to have. You could take vitamins, but taking it from a base source such as yogurt or kombucha is the more ideal way to go. Probiotics take care of your core health – your gut health. Look into it – gut health seems to be everything.
Here are a few very simple, easy recipes for general winter “upkeep” for your internal health. Try them and see if you like them.
Here’s to good health, in preparation for spring renewal! Happy hibernating.
Roasted Garlic – Garlic is a natural antibiotic. Not to mention, it will flood your home with the best smell. I’ll admit – I’ve roasted it before, just for that.
1 head of garlic
Olive Oil (preferably organic)
Take a clove of garlic and slice off a small bit of the head, exposing the insides of the cloves. Peel back the outer layers, and lightly pull the cloves apart. You can leave some of the skin on the outside. Place in a foil boat and pour olive oil over cloves, making sure it gets in between all of them. You could sprinkle with seasoning if you like but I personally do not feel that it is necessary – the garlic itself is flavor enough. Preheat oven to 400 and place foil boat on rack. Once heated, place garlic in. Start to watch it at about 35 minutes. You will want to take out when the cloves are golden brown. I love to eat the garlic alone or put in salads. You can also spread it over bread or use it for soups, chicken dishes – anything really. Another option is to store and freeze for later use.
Ginger & Lime Tea – Make a batch of this weekly to keep in the fridge. It is a great way to kick-start your mornings, or warm up at night before you go to bed. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory. Disease and inflammation go hand-in-hand, so this is an important health factor to pay attention to. Another great anti-inflammatory is turmeric, which is easy to throw into a soup or broth. I picked this recipe up from a friend who swore by it. Now I do as well.
1 ginger root
1 lemon or lime
Agave nectar or local raw honey
Start with a ginger root. Cut it up into pieces (it doesn’t really matter how large, just as long as the inside pulp is exposed). Drop into a large pot full of enough water to fill a pitcher. Bring water to a boil and continue to do so until the water takes on a “Chardonnay” color. Ginger has a kick. I like it so I boil mine a little longer, but that is up to you. Cut up some limes (or lemons) and drop them at the bottom of the pitcher. Because the ginger is strong, I only do a few slices of lime. Strain out the ginger roots and let the water cool – but not all the way. Pour the warm water into the pitcher, over whatever citrus slices you choose. Add agave nectar or local raw honey to sweeten to taste. Agave nectar is what I choose. I find that it is sweeter than honey, and a little goes a long way. Both agave and local raw honey are extremely good for you.
Avocado Toast – so simple, so good.
Toast your bread, slice an avocado in half. You can butter your toast before if you want ( I do, butter makes everything better, right?! ). Spread the avocado on and then dust with salt and pepper. Yum.
Herbed Tomato Soup – This recipe is taken from Celebrating Herbs from The Arkansas Unit of The Herb Society of America
1 (20 oz.) can tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 tsp. instant minced onions
3 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried
1 bay leaf
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
1 c. water
Combine all ingredients in large saucepan and simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot or cold. Yield: 4.
Preventative Tea – I picked this recipe up from a woman that owned a Lebanese restaurant that I used to work at. It is no longer in operation or I would give a strong recommendation. She is now living in Spain, probably treating those over there with her delicious home cooking. This restaurant was as authentic as it gets. Made to order, all from scratch. Lebanese cuisine I found is quite good for you. I was feeling stopped up and under the weather one day and she made me a tea and told me that if you drink it at the earliest onset of cold-like symptoms, it can prevent you from truly getting sick. It worked for me.
Fresh Oregano (Dried works too, but you will have chunks of it in your tea)
Grab a few slices of onion, a couple cloves of crushed garlic, and some fresh oregano. Boil for a few minutes. Strain the ingredients, pour liquid into a cup. Squeeze in some fresh lemon. Drink. Heal. It is quite strong, and some people I have made it for don’t like it. I love all of those things and you may too once you notice that you feel better.
Stay tuned for tips on inexpensive holistic skin care.