What’s in season for Winter?

Oh Soup! How do we love thee, let us count the ways.  One: hearty, tomatoey lentil. Two: roasted red capsicum and carrot.  Three: comforting split pea and salty ham hock. Four: Mum’s veggie life-saver with pearl barley. We could be here a while.

How spectacular it is to snuggle up on a rainy night with a deep bowl of soup and cloud-soft chunks of sourdough.

Winter’s yummiest 

The joys of winter are just beginning! Home-made apple and pear pies with shortcrust pastry; big lamb stews and beefy bolognese swimming with frills of kale so nourishing, you can feel your blood coursing in contentment; fussy artichoke appetisers tease the palette, before a warming roast that spruiks a liquorice hit of baked fennel. New season brussel sprouts are liveliest with a squeeze of lemon, dob of butter and salt and pepper ‘snow’. Then there’s wilted spinach, Japanese style, glazed in rice wine, mirin, ginger, sesame oil and seeds, to lift the tempura prawns.

T’is the season to be baking 

Baking vegetables and fish is a wonderful way to enjoy the warmth and health of winter food. You can side-step all that confusing research about the hazards of frying with oil, and baking makes vegies tastier as it caramelises the skin.

Kale is so tasty and crisps into nothing when daubed with olive oil and baked at 180 degrees until dry. Likewise, thinly sliced beetroot makes a beautifully sweet crisp when baked. Celeriac ‘chips’ are tangy and satisfying too.

It wouldn’t be winter without baked apple crumble for dessert, or, for the health conscious, baked apple and vanilla yoghurt.

Wintery weekends cooking with love are so therapeutic for the mind and soul.

Winter staples

These lunch box necessities, while available year-round in supermarkets, are at their peak of vitality and nutritional value now: apples, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, and mandarins. Get your stew pots, baking trays and woks ready for broccoli, broad beans, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, turnips and parsnips. For domestic goddesses, it’s time to make quince paste and cumquat liqueur for fire-side Saturday nights.

Winter’s natural antidote

Nature kindly provides plenty of nutritional medicine for cold and flu season. The overproduction of mucous occurs not just with colds, but through improper diet and food combinations. Many people who suffer sinusitis, asthma and bronchitis can dramatically reduce unnecessary mucous production through a smarter diet.

Warm and spiced winter foods help to open the airways, for example. A plain vegie broth made from winter staples and greens (spinach, kale, silver/rainbow/beetroot beet leaves, and in particular, cauliflower and celery) makes ideal sipping to help clear mucous. Citrus fruit is a great mucous liquidator, so pick a plump winter grapefruit for breakfast, and squeeze winter’s lemons and limes into drinking water.

Restore Yourself

On those weary days, when you feel like staying put and bundling yourself into a woolly jumper and bed socks, try Sam Gowing’s excellent restorative tea with new season’s baby beetroot stems. You can feel this tea hugging you from the inside after every sip.

Restorative Beet Tea

  • 1 bunch of beet tops (the leafy, red-stalked end of beetroot)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 large piece of ginger
  • Handful Vietnamese mint leaves
  • Kaffir lime leaves (crunched)

Method:
Blanch the washed leaves and stems for 5 minutes in boiling water. Add lemongrass, minced ginger and mint leaves. Reduce heat, simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain and sip as a restoring tea.

Flu Fighter Smoothie
And there’s no better time to try this power-packed immunity booster from raw food expert and cancer survivor, Katrina Ellis.

  • Kale leaves
  • Parsley
  • Baby spinach
  • 1/4 lemon with skin
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/4 cup of blueberries
  • 1 tblsp super green powder
  • a chunk of ginger

You can use orange in Katrina’s smoothie recipe if you prefer a sweeter taste, and she recommends leaving the skin on because it contains limonene, an immune boosting neutraceutical.