Okay, it's really, really cold. Freezing and rainy and completely miserable. And yes, winter is the best season for the believer, but if you need some tips on how to stay physically warm as well as spiritually warm…
We've got you!
We've compiled a list of all the toasty-warm, highly-nutritious foods you should be eating to stay warm in this frightful weather! Please do share with family, friends and neighbours to make sure everyone stays healthy this winter!
1. Root vegetables
Root vegetables like radishes, turnips and sweet potatoes are ESSENTIAL in winter because of a handy process called thermogenesis. Thermogenesis basically means: the process of your body producing heat, caused by food metabolising. In practical terms, this means that foods that take longer to digest can help to raise your body temperature!
Root vegetables take longer to digest, so toss them in roast dinners or cosy soups this winter so you can get warm quick!
2. Complex carbohydrates
Because it's so cold, you may be feeling a lot hungrier, but don't eat more - eat smart! It's tempting to snack on biscuits, chocolate bars and other cosy little snacks throughout the day, but simple carbohydrates digest really quickly, so they don't keep you warm that long.
Start your day with oatmeal or porridge, to stay full and warm for longer. Other complex carbohydrates include whole grains, potatoes and lentils.
Another healthy option - and one that can be sliced over your morning oatmeal or porridge! Bananas contain vitamin B and magnesium, which help your thyroid and adrenal glands function properly. These glands help to regulate body temperature. So a banana a day keeps the shivers at bay!
Eggs are often described as 'a powerhouse of energy' - not only do they keep your body warm, they are rich in proteins and vitamins and they can help your body fight infection in winters.
Yes, we’ve given you the perfect excuse to feed your addiction! Caffeine increases your metabolism, which can raise your body temperature, so go ahead and pour that extra cup!
6. Hot ginger tea
Okay, for those of you who aren't giddy at the thought of more caffeine - try some hot ginger tea. Ginger can stimulate thermogenesis AND it is a diaphoretic (it warms your body from the inside out) - so it gives you double the warmth! It boosts your metabolism, helps your digestion and even promotes blood flow to warm your fingers and toes.
And if you're not a fan of ginger tea, you can add ginger to soups, stews or even smoothies, so don't miss out on this winter warmer!
7. More spices
As well as ginger, you can't be missing out on these flavoursome five - cumin, cinnamon, sesame seeds, pepper and turmeric.
Many people think hot chilli sauce is the way to go, but it actually makes you perspire slightly, which cools you down. Cumin, however, generates a less intense heat and thus keeps you warm for longer. Meanwhile turmeric is less spicy than red chilli, but it gives heat to food and can even be added to milk or tea.
Cinnamon also raises your body temperature by increasing your metabolism, and it happens to pair really well with warm drinks like hot chocolate and lattes. Of course, adding fragrant cinnamon to soup is also warm and delicious!
Finally, pepper (white or black) and sesame are great for staying healthy in the winter. Pepper wards off the dreaded winter flu, and sesame helps with more serious respiratory illnesses like pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma.
8. Iron-rich foods
If you always have cold hands and feet, you may have an iron deficiency, or anaemia. Iron is really important in carrying oxygen to all parts of your body! Red meat contains a lot of iron, as do spinach, black beans (which are also a great protein source because they don't contain saturated fat), poultry, lentils and iron-fortified cereals.
Ghee is not only an easily digestible fat, it also increases your immunity, protects your body against the flu and common cold, and it strengthens your bones. It's really simple to add ghee to your diet; just cook using ghee instead of oil. (Disclaimer: we have only tried this in South Asian dishes. Mix cuisines at your own peril - we will not be liable for the consequences).
10. Dry fruits and nuts
You can sprinkle these over your oatmeal or porridge as well - or just snack on them throughout the day so you can avoid those unhealthy chocolate bars. Dry fruits and nuts like almonds, cashews and raisins generate heat in the body, and they can also help if you have an iron deficiency. Just don't eat too many - all things in moderation!
If you get cold easily, maybe you need to drink more water! This seems counter-intuitive - we tend to be less thirsty in colder weather - but water helps to regulate your body temperature. When you're dehydrated, your core temperature drops. A great way to remind yourself to hydrate is to always keep a water bottle at hand.
Because it's really cold (we know we keep saying that, but it really is!), a daily spoonful of honey in some hot water is just the ticket to keeping your immune system strong. Honey is a Sunnah food which has a lot of amazing properties, including helping you keep colds and coughs at bay. Honey is warm in nature, and regularly eating or drinking honey will help keep your body warm this winter.
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford the nutritious winter warmers above. With 1 in 5 people in the UK struggling to put food on the table, far too many families are at the mercy of the freezing weather this winter. Thousands of people are forced to choose between heating their homes and eating proper meals.
This winter, we are calling on you to feed our neighbours right here in the UK. The Open Kitchen is open to all seven days a week, serving 100 FREE hot meals a day. Give now to ensure food-insecure families and homeless people have the nutritious food they need to stay warm and healthy this winter.