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Suddenly we’ve all started realising we’re in Autumn, probably with the clock change and its hit us as hard as that storm last night! Firework night has been and gone too and the C word is starting to be mentioned more and more and so this is a good time to have a look at what you can put into your food to sustain you through the colder months.

All spices and herbs have energetic properties, this means that they can do different things to your body, your gut and your metabolism. Some of them you’ll realise that they have certain properties, for example most of us know all forms of mint are cooling and a chilly is hot! There is however a whole array in between and so I thought I’d show you a few of these today.

This came about when talking to one of my clients recently, a lady who has radically altered her diet over the last couple of years to help passing through the Menopause, and whilst we were chatting she said ‘I’m just waiting for you to tell me to give up spices in my food’. Ahhh, I thought, just how spicey do you have your food?

The answer was – to the point of crying spicy!

There are times when spices that make you sweat are great, for example when you know a cold is just about to come on and you feel you want to ‘sweat it out’, but do this everyday and you’re continually heating your body up to a point that isn’t natural, so the ‘less is more’ is the balanced way to cook with spices, just starting to bring out the warm flavours.

These spices when toned down are warming to the body and supportive to your constitution to get you through the winter – cinnamon, ginger, paprika, cardomon, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric, black pepper, fennel and star anise.

Herbs have quite a medicinal effect on the body and are mainly in the energetic temperatures around the middle /balancing, not too hot or too cold – oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage – the woodier ones. Then you have leaves like coriander and rocket – they’re spicier and hotter so again good at this time of year.

Have you ever thought about how you eat your roast meats?

Lamb and Mint – mint cools, and lamb is an energetically hot meat, and why a lot of people can’t eat it

Beef and Horseradish – horseradish is hot! Beef is an energetically cold meat

Pork and Apple – both ingredients here are neutral and balanced, better for someone who isn’t feeling great

I even feed my pets pm meats and fish depending on their energetic qualities and time of year. Misty my JRT has always got cold in her stomach so she had lamb based kibble. Tids my cat likes warming foods too, won’t touch fish at this time of year, but I always give her Tuna after she’s had a bit of a temperature – refreshing to eat.

For me, I love chutneys in the winter, you just feel they’re the right thing to eat alongside tasty cheese or cold meats, and you’d be right, they’re full of many warming qualities where as cheese on its own creates damp, fruits are cold as are meats that have been cooked and refrigerated – we needs those spices to balance out the temperature of the food and its affects on our body.

A quick note about the temperature of food, and I’ll mention this later in my doggie article too, don’t eat foods straight from the fridge. We’re trying to keep our internal heating in a good place over winter and we shock our system everytime something colder than room temperature enters our system.

My advice to everyone and this includes anyone that always feels too hot, don’t have ice colds drinks or damp/cold food out of the fridge, it’ll only make a colder person colder and a hotter person won’t benefit

It’s all to do with our kidneys and our constitution, it’s a Chinese Medicine thing, this is the seat of our metabolism and our energy and a bit like a steam engine, it needs to have its boiler stoked to keep it running well. The best thing we can do for our kidneys is keep them warm. You’ll see I’m always saying about an extra layer over the kidneys (see my kidney warmer article below) and with food and drink its nothing below room temperature, and add warming spices into your cooking throughout the winter months.

The type of cooking at this time of year should be roasting – roasted vegetables, stews and thick soups. Steaming food cools it down, I learnt this many years ago, altered how I cooked my veg through the winter and felt so much better. A high water content in your food just means the kidneys will aim to regulate and make you wee more! If you have a day where you think ‘I’ve run to the loo every 5 minutes’ and you’re passing a lot of water, you’re cold – warm your kidneys and eat warm foods – your kidneys will love you!

Another thing that can help us get through the winter is nuts, packed full of nutrients and really good fats, and the great thing is you can have them salted! Again the kidneys need a little pick-me-up so when you have that 3pm slump don’t reach for sugar, have a handful of salty nuts, almonds are one of the best; or walnuts give some brain energy and you don’t need salt on those.

I found years back when I used to dread the summer passing and always being cold for months to come that switching what I did with my food was a revelation, so altering your eating to include nourishing spices and herbs really can alter your temperament too!

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