Category Archives: winter


Winter Hydration Tips

Winter Hydration Tips

Why hydrate in cold weather?

We’re used to thinking about hydration when it’s hot outside. After all, when we’re active and sweating we’re losing moisture. But you may not think about the importance of winter hydration. It turns out staying hydrated in the winter is equally as important. During these colder, usually dryer, months, you are drying out both through your skin and by breathing. 

When cold, dry winter air hits your lungs, they have to warm it up and humidify it. This takes moisture from your body. And if you’re spending lots of time outside, especially if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you’ll need even more hydration because the more effort you expend, the more humidity your body releases.

If you’re sweating you may not realize how much moisture you’re losing. That’s because when it’s dry out sweat evaporates much more quickly. And because you’re already cold you may not notice the increased cooling that comes from sweat drying.

Signs of dehydration

Dehydration can suppress your immune system and also leads to a number of other health challenges. Be on the lookout for these signs that you may need to drink up:

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth 
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness or cramping

The hydration factor

Before we get to the tips to support healthy hydration in the winter it’s important that you know what your hydration factor is. This formula is a general guideline. If you’re spending lots of time outdoors, or expending extra effort, or even if you’re at a higher elevation (say for skiing), you’ll need to consider increasing how much hydration you’re getting.

To figure out how much hydration you need, calculate your body weight. Divide that in half for the number of ounces needed to be properly hydrated. Divide that number by 8 to get the number of cups of fluid.

For example:

     150 pounds
     divided by 2 = 75
     divided by 8 = 9.4 cups

Take that number, divide it by four and then set a “hydration alarm” approximately every two hours. When the alarm goes off put your beverage in front of you with the goal to drink it before the alarm goes off again.

Remember that this does not mean plain water. Too much water is not healthy either as it can dilute your electrolyte balance. Adding hydrating foods or other beverages is a good option to support your body and help avoid dehydration.

How to hydrate in the winter

Winter tends to be the time of year when we turn to warm liquids such as herbal tea and soup. This is not only a comforting idea, but it’s also better for us. This is because room temperature or warmer liquids actually help to stabilize your core temperature. 

Here’s a list of a few of my favorite soups for winter. They’re not only warming and delicious, but they’re also nourishing:

The types of liquid you consume during the winter is also important. Avoiding excess consumption of caffeine (found not only in coffee and tea, but also in that wintertime favorite, hot chocolate) and alcohol is helpful.  Both have diuretic qualities and can contribute to dehydration.

Not just soup

In addition to including herbal teas and soups, it’s a good idea to add fruits and veggies to your diet that have more moisture in them.  These include:

  • apples
  • pears
  • citrus fruits
  • winter squash

Top tips to avoid dehydration

In addition to making sure you’re getting plenty of fluids, there are a few things you can to to help avoid dehydration:

  • Bring a water bottle with you everywhere you go (this tip is year-round, not just for summertime)
  • Layer appropriately – Have layers that you can add and remove as needed.  Overdressing so that you are hot and sweaty actually contributes to hydration loss)
  • Use a humidifier in your home to help keep the air comfortably moist (your dry skin and static-y clothes will thank you)
Mockstroni soup recipe

Mockstroni Soup

What is mockstroni?

I love minestrone soup. But it tends to come with pasta and I find I do better when I avoid eating gluten. This soup was born out of a need to avoid gluten but also not wanting to include gluten-free pasta. While I’m not opposed to gluten-free pasta, I find that it tends to disintegrate pretty easily in soup, especially if there are leftovers. So I created this very satisfying soup that features that classic minestrone combination of herbs, beans, and vegetables. Because it’s not your classical minestrone I decided to change the name and call it mockstroni.

This soup is very hearty and can be served either as a starter to a meal or simply use bigger bowls and it becomes a meal all by itself. Don’t forget that the traditional way to make this soup was to use whatever was in season. So feel free to experiment with whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. Fresh herbs are always best, but in the wintertime (my favorite time to make this comforting soup) dry herbs are fine.  And if you want to make a vegetarian version, you can simply use vegetable broth instead of the bone broth.

Mockstroni Soup

Mockstroni Soup
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Ingredients
  1. Serves: 6-8
  2. 3 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  3. 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  4. ½ medium yellow onion, chopped small
  5. 3 medium carrots, chopped small
  6. 3 large stalks celery, chopped small
  7. 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  8. 2 cups cooked beans (cannellini and red kidney beans work well)
  9. 4 C bone broth*
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 1 T. fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (or 1 t. dried)
  12. 1 T. fresh thyme leaves (or 1 t. dried)
  13. 1 T. fresh oregano leaves (or 1 t. dried)
  14. ½ T. crushed red pepper flakes
  15. Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  16. 2 c. fresh green beans, cut into ½” pieces
Toppings
  1. 1/4 C. freshly parsley, minced
  2. Shaved parmesan
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat
  2. Sauté garlic, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or just until the garlic starts to turn golden brown
  3. Add chopped onion, carrot, and celery and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are soft and tender
  4. Add diced tomatoes, beans, broth, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes to the pot, stir to combine
  5. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low
  7. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes.
  8. Remove the cover from the pot and add the green beans
  9. Stir to combine and continue cooking, uncovered, another 20-25 minutes or until green beans are crisp-tender
  10. Add additional broth, if needed, stir to combine
  11. To serve, divide among individual serving bowls and top with chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
  12. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. * If needed use extra broth to reach the desired consistency
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
Instant Pot Split Pea Soup

Instant Pot Split Pea Soup

The recipe is originally from my book The Pantry Principle.  Back then it was designed for a slow cooker.  Now that we have Instant Pots the recipe has been modified.

This is a delicious way to utilize split peas from your food storage.  If necessary this recipe can be modified to also used dried vegetables from your storage however this will require the addition of extra liquid.  See the parenthetical notes in the recipe for food storage modifications.

IP Split Pea Soup

Serves 6

The addition of the dulse, an edible seaweed found in the North Atlantic, to this recipe adds a wonderful flavor and a big boost of iodine and the other trace elements our bodies need. If you want to make this as a vegetarian dish simply substitute vegetable broth or water for the bone broth.

Making this soup in the Instant Pot is a great way to have a quick hot meal ready to eat after a long day.

2 carrots, diced (1 cup dehydrated carrot slices)
2 ribs celery, diced (1/3 cup dehydrated celery)
1 onion, diced (1/3 cup dried onion)
1 pound dried split peas, picked over and washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
6 cups bone broth 
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons dulse (a type of seaweed), crumbled

Place all ingredients except salt, pepper, and dulse in an Instant Pot. Stir well to combine. 

IP Cook Time 15 minutes  Natural Release approximately 15 minutes.

Slow Cooker Time – 8 hours on low

Remove bay leaf
Add salt and pepper
Blend together with an immersion blender
Ladle into bowls to serve and top with 1 teaspoon crumbled dulse

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Roasted Vegetable Soup With Tomato And Fennel

As the weather gets chilly and the days get shorter I find an increased desire for soup. Nourishing and warming, soup seems to really hit the spot.  Plus it’s so versatile. Soup is great as a snack, as a meal starter, or in some cases as the meal all by itself. 

This particular roasted vegetable soup is a favorite. After all, who doesn’t love tomato soup? But part of what makes this so wonderful is the fennel which gives it a delicious flavor boost. This soup tastes even better the second day, so be sure to make a lot (this recipe doubles or even triples with ease) to ensure you have leftovers.

Roasted Vegetable Soup with Tomato and Fennel
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Ingredients
  1. 1½ lbs. Roma tomatoes, halved
  2. 2 medium red bell peppers, deseeded and quartered
  3. 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  4. 2 large carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  5. 2 medium shallots, outer skin removed and halved
  6. 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  7. 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  8. Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  9. 2 T. fresh thyme leaves
  10. 4 c. organic chicken bone broth
  11. ½ c. full-fat coconut milk
  12. ½ c. fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat and set aside
  3. Arrange the tomatoes, red peppers, fennel, carrots, shallots, and garlic in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper, to taste
  5. Toss to combine and sprinkle veggies with fresh thyme leaves
  6. Place baking sheet in preheated oven and roast until vegetables are tender and lightly charred, approximately 20-25 minutes
  7. Transfer the roasted veggies and any juices from the baking sheet to a large soup pot and add the bone broth
  8. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot and and bubbly
  9. Remove from heat
  10. Using an immersion blender, blend contents of the soup pot until completely smooth
  11. Stir in the coconut milk and fresh basil, and serve
  12. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Safety Tip: If you don’t have a stick or immersion blender, it is possible to use a blenders to process the cooked veggies and liquid. However it is important to be sure your blender lid is vented  properly to prevent the hot liquid from exploding when you turn on the blender.
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

Store in the refrigerator for several days. It can also be stored in single-serving containers in the freezer for a quick meal or snack later.

crockpot chicken and sweet potato stew

Crockpot Chicken And Sweet Potato Stew

With the shorter, darker days and the dipping temperatures, we all know that winter has arrived.   And on those cold, dark days, sometimes it’s difficult to be inspired when it comes to making dinner.  Especially when you’ve got a hungry crew to feed.  While I use my crockpot all year round, at this time of year I somehow feel that it’s my best friend.  There is nothing better than setting everything up in the morning and coming home to a delicious, hot meal, cooked and ready to go.  If you’re looking for a new recipe that combines all the best of winter comfort food, today’s blog post has the answer. 

Winter can be a lovely time of year. You really can’t beat a beautiful, fresh snowfall.  At least this is what I like to tell myself when it is dark at 4 pm and frigid outside.

One thing that can make winter more enjoyable is snuggling up at home with a good book and a large bowl of warm winter stew. I am very excited to share this new stew recipe with you that I created for such a scenario. I also wanted this to be a healthy stew to kick off the upcoming winter season on the right foot. One of the things I like best about this recipe is the combination of rosemary with chicken and sweet potatoes.

Rosemary is one of my favorite spices because of its distinct aroma and fresh taste. As an added bonus,  rosemary is rich in antioxidants which help strengthen your immune system. Sweet potatoes also have great health benefits. Not only are they rich in iron and fiber, they also contain a lot of Vitamin C, which can help you fight off those pesky winter colds. This recipe is easy to make and can be altered to include other veggies if you wish.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew
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Ingredients
  1. 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  2. 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  3. 1 cup of celery, chopped
  4. ½ onion, chopped
  5. 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  6. 2 cups chicken broth
  7. ½ teaspoon of dried rosemary (or 2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary)
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  11. 1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
  12. ½ pound white button mushrooms, sliced
Instructions
  1. Place chicken at the bottom of the crock pot
  2. Add all of the other ingredients (except the mushrooms) over chicken
  3. Stir to combine
  4. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, checking after 4 hours for doneness
  5. Add mushrooms and cook on low for 1 more hour.
Notes
  1. This can be served as is or over rice or quinoa
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
Alli Berry is a Crock Pot cooking blogger and offered to share her wonderful stew recipe with us. You can check out her blog, What a Crock!
 
For more crockpot recipes: