I took this picture when we were traveling back home after visiting my family for Christmas. It is to me the embodiment of winter in the mountains–rolling fog, gray skies, the tiniest bit of blue peeking through. It is also a picture of how I feel in the winter–a desire to hibernate, nest + be cozy, while knowing that spring is just around the corner.
In years past, I have found it challenging to attempt a New Year’s Resolution-esque cleanse, and I am now connecting that to my wintertime feelings of slowing down + staying in. A new year is always a fresh start, yes, but it falls right in the middle of a dark winter that encourages stillness and quietude. I don’t want to start a juice cleanse + rigorous exercise routine on January 1st–I want to eat soup, take a grounding yoga class, and curl up to watch a movie. (Of course juicing and exercise are wonderful things–I’m just expressing my own seasonal feelings. I’ll rendezvous with juicing + rigorous exercise in the spring.)
Right now I’m seeking comfort food–nourishing, fulfilling, warming, and grounding. “When we turn to food for solace, we should choose dishes that are an expression of our principles and beliefs, not an exception to them, ” writes Tamar Adler about what comfort food should mean in this lovely article (that also includes 3 delicious-looking comfort food recipes).
Another great resource for eating comfort foods that still express principles of healthy eating was in today’s Goop newsletter about adding superfoods to your winter diet–easy and delicious for body + soul alike.
This soup from Good Things Grow is next on my list to make–health + comfort can and should live together in harmony!
In this hibernation season, commit your time and energy to your own supreme well-being, and respect your own potential to heal + to be whole. Be well!
Chicken + Barley Soup
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 cup barley
small bunch of swiss chard, chopped
1 cup chopped rotisserie chicken
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne
Heat some olive oil or butter in a soup pot over low-medium heat–add shallots and garlic and stir frequently until softened, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, smoked paprika, cayenne, and a sprinkle of salt–stir to combine everything and cook for a few minutes. Add the vegetable broth and barley–cover and bring to a boil, then reduce back to medium for around 20 minutes. Check the barley for doneness, letting it cook a bit longer if needed (barley will be toothsome, but should not be crunchy!). When the barley is done, add the chicken + chard and cook until the chicken is warm and the chard is wilted, around 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, stir, and serve!
Delicious, filling oatmeal made my early new year morning so much brighter. Besides the familiar coziness a bowl of oatmeal provides, oats improve resistance to stress and support the system being in healthy balance. They also stabilize blood sugar, regulate the thyroid, soothe the digestive + nervous systems, and reduce cholesterol. Oats have a high unsaturated fat content, which provides a sense of stamina + warmth, and a feeling of being grounded.
Overnight Oatmeal (fully inspired by Heidi)
Serves 2…or 1 person 2 mornings in a row..
1 cup of rolled oats
2 2/3 cup of water
1/2 an apple, chopped
handful of sliced almonds
drizzle of maple syrup + pat of butter
Before bedtime, heat a tablespoon or so of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the oats and stir them around a bit as they toast, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the water–let it sit overnight. In the morning, heat the oatmeal on medium-high for at least 10 minutes–beyond that, let it cook to your desired consistency (longer = thicker).
Scoop out a bowlful and top with butter, chopped apple and almonds, and finish with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt.
Cheers to a happy + healthy new year!
Her heart of darkness is a bird named sorrow.
He flaps his wings once for no
Twice for tears
Three times, just for exercise.
Sorrow flaps twice and the eardrums of those passing by
Speak no more of lineage
Of those who came first because
They did not make you.
You were born
In the same instance when
A bird was sighing, a man crying, a child
Understanding, but not quite yet
That sometimes you must see the rise and fall
Of your own
To know you are being.
Sometimes you will
And not quite know, and
Other times you will know and just barely
”To me, it’s most important to have a good life: to feel well, to be reasonably healthy, learn from your mistakes, have good relationships with friends and family—that’s what it’s about. It’s not about being healthy—it’s about what health allows you to do.”
Two of my essentials for cold season: Ginger Miso Soup + Winter Citrus
Ginger Miso Soup
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch chunk of ginger, chopped finely
4-5 cups of vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon miso (I used yellow)
1 Tablespoon nama shoyu
1 bundle of soba noodles (my soba noodle package had 3 wrapped bundles)
chopped cilantro for garnish
1/2 lb shrimp (optional)
Heat a pat of butter* in large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, around 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute. Add the veggie stock and let it simmer for a few minutes. Turn the heat to high and add the soba noodles when the stock is boiling. Cook according to package directions–add shrimp (if using) about halfway through the noodles cooking. Reduce the heat to medium–remove a ladle full of broth to a smaller bowl, and stir in the miso and nama shoyu. Return to the pot and stir to incorporate–taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Top with cilantro and enjoy!
*A note about butter: I’ve been cooking almost exclusively with butter recently, using olive oil mainly for cold dressings or a finishing drizzle over cooked food. Ideally, olive oil should not be heated over 325 degrees to preserve its health benefits.
Mary is the first person I met when I moved to Nashville 8 years ago, and I’m so glad to call her a friend. In addition to being the most generous person I know, she is a gifted yoga teacher and runs a farmer’s market…and she’s a fantastic cook! She recently taught me how to make a delicious roasted chicken–enjoy! Full recipe here.