Choosing fresh, seasonal, abundant and readily available foods is a smart way to add variety to your diet and flair to your lifestyle. In the winter, however, it can be more difficult to pick good foods that are good for you.
During the busy holiday season and continuing into the long, dreary days ahead, here are some tactics for maintaining senior wellness, and a strategy to help you banish the winter blahs, boost your energy, and pack a lot of nutritional punch at the same time.
- Pick foods for their colors. Deep green and bright red, colorful orange and smoky purple, even chalky white taste treats can grace your dinner table and are not only good to look at, but good for you.
- Spice up your life. Literally. Adding spices in the winter carries bonus benefits for senior nutrition.
- Remember what your mother taught you. Some of those old "folk remedies" are better than you thought they were. Science has now, in many cases, caught up with the "wisdom of the ages."
Simple dietary additions, exotic spices and some tried and true practices can aid in the fight against infection, ease aches and pains, decrease inflammation, and battle the kind of winter malaise that begins with a scratchy throat, a stuffy nose or a sore shoulder.
Colors of Health
Pick foods for their intense hues, and you are almost assured of health benefits within. Stock your winter shopping cart with a kaleidoscope of goodness as you fill it with kale, collard greens, chard, escarole, purple onions and purple cabbage, winter squash in all its delicious varieties, sweet potatoes, colorful small potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips and rutabagas. Don't forget the citrus fruits (try blood oranges) and add in cranberries and pomegranates.
If you are lucky enough to have a year-round farmers market, pick the freshest and best produce. Most winter vegetables keep well for extended periods, either in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator. Depending on your location, you might also score such things as radishes, late harvest artichokes, winter carrots and specialty mushrooms. Radiccio, garlic and fennel are other great choices.
The vitamins that are packed into these winter treats are immense and their disease-fighting properties are well-documented. In terms of senior wellness, the food you consume may be powerful insurance.
Sugar and spice… Well, maybe not. But ginger and cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric, garlic and mint, cumin and curry all have certain healthful properties.
You don't have to go crazy with the spices, but there are distinct benefits to be had from a cup of tea spiced with orange and cinnamon, or perhaps peppermint, and an occasional cinnamon-laced hot cocoa.
Lemon and honey are winter favorites for banishing a scratchy throat, and ginger is acknowledged as a way to settle an upset stomach, whether caused by too much party food or a pervasive "bug." Use fresh ginger in recipes, chew on pickled or candied ginger, and use ginger syrup on your pancakes.
Add fresh garlic to your diet. Use it liberally when you prepare soups and sauces, and savor warm garlic bread— it may help prevent the common cold!
Chocolate, Red Wine and Chicken Soup
Finally, remember that winter is a season to be enjoyed, but you should not abandon your familiar senior wellness routine of healthy eating, appropriate exercise and mental stimulation— especially during the holidays. Though don’t fear indulging yourself with a little chocolate and an occasional glass of red wine if you choose. The latest word is that both have measurable health benefits. Also remember that researchers have confirmed the preventive and restorative powers of homemade chicken soup! Remember, too, the spirit of the season; laughter may well be the best medicine.