I used to hate everything about winter. I would loudly state that I was “solar powered” and had to just “get through” the season. I’d moan a lot and I’d just wait for my sparkly spring and summer to return. I hated the cold weather, the stodgy food, feeling sluggish, and don’t even get me started on winter fashion – I hated feeling like a frump in a parka.
But then something happened. The more I studied women’s hormones and the benefits of working with/listening to the different phases of our cycles (read about it here), I realised that winter isn’t something to avoid. It’s necessary.
Spring and summer are our two seasons to be “out there”, giving us more light, more energy and a desire to be outside. Then comes autumn and winter, when we’re supposed to calm down, rest, recover and hibernate. A year is perfectly balanced and if we go with the flow of the seasons we can stay healthy and in balance too.
Instead of trying to “go, go, go” all winter and keep eating salad, I realised that if I listened to my body, followed what the season was showing me to do, I could enjoy it so much more. And this year, that’s what I’ve been doing!
I’ve learnt to “layer up”, take the dog out before it gets dark, put my pj’s on as soon as I get home (even if it’s 4pm), fill my lounge with fairy lights, candles and faux-fur throws – and it’s made me so much happier. I’ve realised that warm foods and drinks are what my body wants and needs to be nourished during this time.
And, as part of my first year of enjoying winter (it’s only taken me 38 years), I want to share three drinks that I enjoy to boost my energy, mood, keep my weight stable and keep illness away.
Mood-boosting morning Matcha
I know many of you love your morning coffee, but Matcha can give you the same energy-boosting “caffeine buzz”. And because it has high levels of the calming amino acid L-theanine, the alert feeling is more balanced, meaning it is kinder to your mind and body. Think of it as green tea on steroids, or an anti-cancer powerhouse that enables you to open your eyes and kick-start your day.
Here are just a few of its crazily amazing health benefits:
All that in one cup of a beautiful green drink! I make my Matcha with just the powder and warm water and whisk them gently, but you may want to whisk it with a nut milk to make a Matcha Latte or try adding some honey to sweeten the taste (as it can be a little bitter if you’re not used to it).
NB. Don’t have it (or any caffeinated drink) without drinking some water and eating first, as it could make you feel strange. And, don’t have it after 4.30pm as it could affect your sleep (same with other caffeinated drinks).
My recommended Matcha is this one FINEST ORGANIC MATCHA GREEN TEA | Japanese matcha tea | Finest vibrant green powder | Super Premium Ceremonial Grade | Organic | Natural & Vegan | Tea Masters choice. I wouldn’t recommend buying cheaper or non-organic versions as they can be highly contaminated.
Toasty Turmeric latte
This is my ‘hug in a mug’ winter drink. I’ll have this in the evening or late afternoon if I’m craving something sweet and comforting – as it’s both those things (and as a bonus. also a big time health- boost).
Here’s my recipe:
½ tsp organic turmeric (This herb is everything! Named as one of the planet’s most powerful disease fighting herbs, over 10,000 studies have been done on it – more specifically its healing compound curcumin. It’s been found to be a natural anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, helps skin conditions, weight loss, stomach problems, high cholesterol and is one of the most studied herbs in relation to it killing cancer cells).
½ tsp organic cinnamon (which is a natural anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal, and anti-viral spice. It’s immune-boosting and high in antioxidants. It’s health benefits are from its cinnamaldehyde, which has an ability to inhibit cancer tumor growth, protect DNA from damage, and encourage cancerous cells to destroy themselves – this is not a reason for you now to call your Danish pastry a health food!)
3 grinds/pinches of black pepper (this should always be paired with turmeric in drinks or cooking as it enhances the benefits of the curcumin in turmeric by about 2000%).
1 grind/pinch of Himalayan salt
2 ½ tsp raw honey, you can add more or less depending on your taste (boosts energy, your immune system, helps promote sleep and is a natural cough syrup).
1 mug of nut milk (be careful that you buy one that just contains nuts, water and salt, as many contain vegetable oils and other unhealthy ingredients. I really like a brand called ‘Plenish’, but let me know if you find others).
Put all the ingredients in a pan and stir/whisk gently. When it starts to simmer, pour into your favourite mug about ¾ full and then use a battery powered frother to make a gorgeous foamy head. If you don’t have one of these then simply whisk up a froth in the pan once you take it off the heat and before you pour it (but it wont be as good done manually).
Kombucha – my good-time girl drink
Now who doesn’t love a glass of fizz? It seems wired into our female DNA to love sipping on a glass of something light and bubbly.
However, my fizz quaffing days are behind me (for health reasons, I probably average about 4 glasses of wine/prosecco per year). But I still love parties and going out and I don’t want to be resigned to a life of drinking orange juice from a clunky tumbler as my girlfriends all sip something pretty from a long-stemmed glass!
Enter my saviour! Kombucha – a 2,000 year-old drink, used by ancient Chinese communities for health and energy. They even called it the “Immortal Health Elixir.” I’ll get to its health properties in a minute, but aesthetically (and I’m not going to pretend that’s not important to me) Kombucha is pretty. It can be poured into a champagne flute and bubble away with the best of them. It has an unusual taste and it tastes mildly alcoholic, but feels like a refined drink, rather than having a “kids” soft drink while the adults enjoy the other stuff.
But wait until you hear about its health properties! It’s packed full of probiotics, so as well as being a beautiful drink to indulge in, it boosts (and not depletes) health with every sip. You can read about some of its properties here but here are my favourite sparkle-boosting benefits of it:
Pretty great huh?
You can make your own Kombucha but I don’t have time or patience so I buy mine from health food stores or Ocado. My favourite brands are Equinox (the Original and Ginger flavours) and ProFusion (Turmeric, Lemon and Ginger), but try out different ones and see which you enjoy. And before you look at the ingredients listed on Kombucha and freak out when you see sugar as one of the main ingredients – the majority of this gets used up during the fermentation process, so it’s still one of the healthiest fizzy drinks out there.
So, lovely ladies, a big fat cheers to us all enjoying winter and becoming more and not less sparkly this year!