By Jordan Douglas, HHC
Winter is the season of inner contemplation and encourages us to practice introspection in silence and serenity. It is the time to get quiet with ourselves, to reflect, to be still and to ground down. The element of the season is water, which manifests in both our internal and external environments. Winter is a great time to show some love to our urinary system, focusing on fluid balance, adequate mineral intake and efficient filtration of blood and waste so that we can nourish our kidneys, bladder and adrenals. Imbalances of the season tend to manifest as degrees of stagnation: constipation, cold extremities, dry skin, lethargy and feeling blue. Gentle daily movement, such as yoga and tai chi, is a great way to combat stagnation.
Energetically, winter is cold and moist, so naturally we tend to gravitate towards soft, warming, grounding foods (think soups, stews, broths, curries, porridge). The predominant taste is salty, and saltier flavor in foods can help to dissipate stagnation. Remember that salty flavor can come from more sources than just salt. Sea vegetables and celery are two of my favorite ways to achieve saltiness (and add essential minerals) without salt. Winter is a time to enjoy plenty of good fats, such as ghee, coconut oil, sesame oil, nut butters, roasted nuts and seeds. Moist foods tend to be more gentle on our digestive systems than dry foods. Try cooking your grains with a little extra water and a 1-inch piece of kombu to increase the mineral content and digestibility. Root vegetables and winter greens add color and a nutritive punch to any meal. Use warming spices — cinnamon, ginger, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, etc. — abundantly and unrefined sweeteners — maple syrup, molasses, raw honey, dates — in moderation.
When selecting herbal allies for the winter season, choose those with a high mineral content, such as nettle, red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, horsetail, goji berries. One of my favorite ways to enjoy herbs year round is with infusions. This Mega Mineral infusion (recipe below) is particularly nourishing this time of year.
Mega Mineral Infusion:
In a 32oz jar* combine:
- 2 tablespoons nettle
- 2 tablespoons red raspberry leaf
- 1 tablespoon goji berries
Cover with boiling water and allow to steep at least four hours, or overnight. Strain and enjoy throughout the day.
*Adjust ratios (halve or double) as needed.