A few days ago, I read an articl in the New York Times about “embracing Winter” and What can we learn from the Scandinavians – a country where during some parts of the year, the sun barely rises. And yet has relatively low depression rates. Do read the article, it is a great overview of looking for the good in the every day. But it got me thinking.. maybe we need a bitmore than just a quick article – the article itself mentioned having bonfires – yes a fabulously romantic idea, but in my urban garden, with plastic grass, that isn’t going to happen. But what other things can we do, especially during these testing times, that allows to make the most of the cold and darker months. Today, I want to talk about how mindful comfort food can help us embrace winter!
Embracing Winter Starts with You
I hope to put together a series of posts to help you along your way. Though each of these posts, has one guiding theme:
To embrace winter, to make the most of winter, to LOVE winter.. it has to start with YOU. No one can make winter special, apart from you. It is a mindset shift. And it is a continuous mindset shift. You can say “today, I will like winter”… you have to seek out the good bits EVERY day… and keep working at it.
Leave the behind the things you CAN’T do… and start focussing on the things that you CAN do!
So today’s theme is Wholesome COMFORT FOOD.
Comfort Food is great for those days, where you don’t quite make it outside.. hunker down, the heating on as the rain lashes against the windows. Alternatively, Comfort Food, is also great for after a long walk out in the cold.. come back with pink noses, cold toes and tuck into a wonderful slow cooker stew ready, as you walk in from the bracing window. Either way, winter comfort food is a great way to relish the colder months ahead and make embrace winter!
I asked my Facebook Friends, what Comfort Food they looked forward to and what happy memories they associated with it…. I love, how QUICK my friends where to jump in and respond… talking about their favourite foods and happy memories. I love how many of the the foods started with “My Mum’s xxx”… a few had “My grandmother’s…” or “Grandfather’s….”. So comfort food is not just about the seasons, but it is also about memories.
Think – a cold, wet, dark day.. what isn’t cozier, than a bowl of hot soup and some crusty breads?
My friend’s comfort foods include:
- A favourity of seasonal soups
- Lentil based soups and stews
- Meat stews
- Anything from the slow cooker
- Raclette (you get so hot, that you can only really eat it on a cold day)
- Hungarian ghoulash (with memories of trips to grandparent’s and Lake Balaton)
- Cheat suppers of shop bought pies and crisps
- Choucroute garnie
- Beuf bourgignon
- Polish chicken soup (I love the theme of countries coming out here! ie family heritages and customes and traditions)
- Rice pudding (complete with thick layer of skin!)
- Chicken Pot Pie with extra mash and loads of veggies
What is really interesting about this list of foods, is that they are wholesome, healthy, staple family meals. They are mostly meals you can easily cook on a budget and for large families. They also include seasonal foods – all associated with winter – an thus giving you another reason to whole appreciate and embrace the winter months!
As I read this list of foods, it became quickly apparent, that Comfort Foods are not just linked to the winter season, but to family, cultures, memories and traditions.
So why Wholesome Comfort Food to embrace Winter?!
For me there are four reasons why you should embrace comfort food to make the most of winter!
- Re visit old family memories and traditions, then turn these into new traditions, or find new dishes to make your own for your family
- Hearty food that nourishes you from the inside
- Connecting with seasons through food – think pumpkins, squashes, leaks, beetroots and more
- This mindfulness “activity” focusses on enjoying being doors! (More coming soon, about making the most outdoors!).
Remember comfort food does not have to be super difficult nor expensive to make.. it should simply be tasty! If you think of “grandpa’s ghoulash” or “mum’s lentil soup” – these are every day foods, made special by being a staple of your childhood! Be sure to pass on recipes and memories to your family. Involve the kids in cooking (if you can!). Keep it simple. Don’t add pressure to your day, just enjoy!
My Comfort Food Challenge to you:
- See if you can write a list of foods that you look forward to during the winter season. Are there any happy memories attached to these? What are they? If not – does the list above whet your appetite? Maybe you can start your own comfort traditions
- Have you been making these meals in recent years? If not, can you get hold of the recipes?
- Plan in a comfort food day every 2-3 weeks (don’t go overbaord with expectations and pressure on yourself, keep things simple and realistic!)
One final thought on Comfort Food
Remember, comfort food does not equal – unhealthy food (though may sometimes include unhealthy elements). Don’t replace comfort food, which is often wholesome and inexpensive to make, with “treating yourself”. Treats have a place of course (e.g. we LOVE Christmas Baking), but this Comfort Food article is about staying healthy and wholesome. By focussging on wholesome comfort food, you are not only creating wonderful memories, nuturing your mind and soul (sorry that is terribly cheesy.. but you know what I mean), but you are also nourishing your body and staying healthy, during trialling times!