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Winter warmth from within – using foods to keep you warm

Breakfast (or anytime of day :)

What you eat for breakfast can influence your body temperature and energy for the day.

Porridge made with pea protein milk ('Sproud'), turmeric, Manuka honey and berries laced with flax oil for breakfast is a deliciously warm start to the day that contains fibre, Omega3, antioxidants and plant protein.

Food has a substantial impact on body temperature in a number of ways. The more fibre and nutrients contained in a meal the more sustainable the warmth in your body becomes. It’s called thermogenesis. There are physically hot foods that warm you, the obvious being soups and stews due to the volume of warming liquid that enters the body. Then there are reactive foods like spices. Beyond this, every food has its own warming, cooling or neutral thermal nature or ‘energy’.

This energy can change depending on how you store, prepare and cook them. Some foods are obviously warming like chilli and ginger, but you’d be surprised by the thermal natures of so many foods and how these may affect your body’s own energetics.

The way we eat foods can have a profound effect on the health in our gut and body and on our temperature. In the summer we eat cooling foods like tomatoes and raw salad veg, but in the winter, we should be consuming warming foods. The access to all foods all year round has taken away our knowledge of seasonal foods and mislead into eating cooling foods in the colder months.

Creating internal warmth through foods is healthy too:

- Warming foods aid digestion and circulation and encourage the right kind of gut bacteria.

- Creating hot hydrating meals and drinks that contain ‘vasodilator’ foods can create instant internal warmth and aid circulation and detoxification, reducing inflammation and pain.

- The more fibre and nourishing nutrients a dish contains, the longer it will take to digest, creating

more heat and give you sustained energy, keeping you warmer for longer.

There are 4 kinds of food energetics: Heating, Warming, Cooling and Neutral

In the winter we can help keep our whole bodies infused with warmth from within creating less need for central heating. Exercise creates heat in a similar way as the metabolism is stepped up to burn energy.

Instant heating foods:

When you need an instant and effective boost of warmth, these foods are the stars and by their very nature are ‘warming and expansive’ meaning they push heat out to all areas of the physical body. In the summer they can cool you down as the brain switches the temperature control on to sweat away the heat, but in winter if you are wrapped up, that heat will stay around to keep you warm.

Chilli – Boosts metabolism by helping to burn fat at the same time as creating a surge of blood through dilated blood vessels and spreading warmth to all areas.

Ginger – Ginger is a ‘vasodilator’ as well as being spicy, this helps with circulation moving warm blood to hands, feet and skin making you feel warmer.

Garlic, Shallots, onions and scallions – All promote warmth and heat in the body, improving circulation and detoxification.

Turmeric – Speeds up thermogenesis the process of burning calories which creates warmth. (Max limit is 1 small teaspoon a day with food or you may experience side effects. Also don’t take if anaemic).

Cardamom – warming and calming qualities.

All the above can give you an immediate feeling of warmth.

Warming thermal nature:

The following is a list of foods that will help you to create meals that help you stay warm and give you plenty of health benefits to see you through the cold winter days.

Walnut (fresh are best), Sunflower seeds, Pine nuts, Pumpkin seeds, Coconut, Oats, Parsnips, swede, turnips.

Sweet potato, Quinoa, Cabbage, Kale, Parsley, Asparagus, Courgette, Cherry, Green tea.

Animal products are warming in nature as they can create heat in the body which in excess is not ideal – so using small amounts to increase protein content is fine. Reducing meat consumption is healthier for you and for the planet and cheaper.

Neutral thermal nature:

Foods that are neutral won’t cool or warm you on their own but mixed with warming foods and spices they can be very ‘warmth’ supportive.

Corn, Buckwheat, Rice, Rye, Lentil, Peas, Green beans, Carrot, Potatoes, Beetroot, Shiitake mushroom, Apricot, Fig, Grapes, Papaya, Pineapple, Raspberry, Papaya, Fig.

Cooling Thermal Nature:

Foods that are cooling in nature and should be avoided in large amounts on their own in winter or when you are feeling cold. You can combine them with foods like chilli or ginger to create heat.

Wheat, Tomatoes, Soya, Celery, Broccoli, Common button mushroom, Aubergine, Radish, Spinach

Watercress, Apples, Avocado, Banana, Peach, Pear, Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Plum, Pear

Watermelon, Seaweed – Kombu, Nori, Wakame, Mint.


Try this delicious warming hearty soup that supplies lots of fibre, minerals and phytonutrients that will keep you warm and your gut healthy. If you'd like to increase the protein you can add some goat's cheese or a small amount of organic chicken, for vegans add tempeh or quinoa when cooking.

Parsnip and Chilli Soup with Romanesco and Sage

Ingredients - Serves 2

2 finely chopped medium white onions

2 good sized organic parsnips, diced

A large chunk of Romanesco (at least half depending on size) cut into florets

1 pint of organic vegetable stock

Pinch of chilli flakes or chopped fresh chilli.

Fresh sage leaves

Olive oil

Pink salt


Add the water to a pan, add the chopped parsnips, onions and florets. Bring to the boil, lower the heat to simmer, add a big splash of olive oil and a pinch of Chilli and some sage leaves. Leave to simmer until everything is softened. In the meantime place a little oil in a pan, heat and drop in some sage leaves until crispy.

Once the soup is ready, place half of it in a blender or use a hand blender. Blend only half to keep it chunky and taste it to judge how much seasoning it needs, add a little pink salt or you can use brewers yeast. Serve and garnish with the crispy sage, drizzle with a little oil. This soup lasts well in the fridge for 2/3 days, reheat thoroughly. I like this with Spanish style dried corn or broad beans as 'croutons'.

Health benefits: The parsnips, onion and chilli are extremely warming and the Romenesco supplies detoxifying properties that support the liver. Contains an abundance of healthy prebiotic fibre helping beneficial gut bacteria to flourish.


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