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America’s Healthy
Cooking Teacher

Eating with the Seasons: Series post 3 of 5

We live in a great country where we can get any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year. That’s good news and bad news for us. It’s good because it’s a sign of abundance. It’s not so good because in all that abundance, we have lost touch with what’s in season—and how foods change and shift from cold to warm weather. We eat strawberries at Christmas and beef stew in the summer and wonder why our bodies are uncomfortable in the weather of any particular season. Mother Nature has blessed us with a great variety of foods that are constantly changing, constantly providing us with new excitement, as well as the particular nutrients and levels of moisture we need in any particular weather.

If we eat in season.

Winter

I love to bake. Even on the hottest summer day, you’ll find me whipping up a batch of cookies for dessert. No kidding. 

I think baking opens the heart of a home and invites the love of the world inside. No one is in a bad mood when they smell chocolate chip cookies baking. Consternation is forgotten when the perfume of apple pie fills the air.

Winter cooking is a symphony of hearty soups, whole- grain pilafs, veggie and bean stews, hot casseroles that go steaming from oven to table, and pasta dishes smothered in hearty sauces. Vegetable dishes are simpler as the fare is more limited. There are no fresh berries and tender lettuce leaves to freshen our meals, so we rely on heartier veggies that we cook in a variety of ways to keep our diets balanced and our bodies flexible, with fresh salads still on the menu, but with different ingredients than during the summer. We bake desserts--like pies and cakes to sweeten our lives during the short, grey days and long nights.

According to Chinese medicine, winter is a time of dormant energy. We tend to stay indoors more, curled up on the coach under a cozy blanket. Our kidneys and bladder are influenced strongly in this season, so we cook and use foods in ways that keep the body warm and densely nourished with nutrients to keep our kidneys strong. When the kidneys are working well, we are not so chilled come those long winter days.

You will see some tropical choices in this list because they really are in season in the winter months. They serve to keep our cooking—and our energy—fresh with all the heartier foods we are eating for warmth, but don’t get carried away with them. Taken in excess, they can make you feel cold during the winter months.

The special snowflakes of winter are:

Banana
Cauliflower
Citrus fruits
Chocolate
Coconut
Cranberries
Dates
Dried fruit
Mushrooms
Hazelnuts
Onions
Parsnips
Pomegranates
Raisins
Rutabaga
Seeds
Spices
Turnip