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By Leisa Wheeler N.D.
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Winter Is Here!

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Leisa Wheeler, naturopath, health and healing mentor, and fatigue specialist, is the founder and director of Embracing Health, a business dedicated to bringing you health information that can change your life. Leisa’s passions include many areas of health – from food as medicine and nutrition, to physical fitness and detoxification; from emotional release work to spiritual healing; these varied interests shaping her belief in the value of integrated healing on all levels; physical, emotional and spiritual.

This was such a great winter post “Winter is Coming… by Rhianna Smith) that I decided to run it again, on this first day of winter!

Winter is coming… Ok please excuse the Game of Thrones, Stark house tagline, but it is appropriate in this case! In the last week we have moved from “Oh it’s a little crisp, I think I’ll lie in the sun for an hour today instead of half an hour”, to “My goodness, where did we store that second doona? Do you know where I left my Ugg boots in August last year??” Winter is most definitely coming, and while we are not feeling nearly as cold here on the Gold Coast as some of our southern cities, it is getting chilly, and with the weather change comes those winter tempters designed at adding an extra layer of ‘padding’ to our frames.

Please don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy the colder months than relaxing in front of a log fire, staring at the flames after eating myself into a comfort food coma… But comfort food doesn’t necessarily mean ‘bad’ food. I love the challenge winter brings of turning the traditional ‘naughty’ food we love to eat into something healthy and nourishing for the body and soul, without encouraging too much winter weight gain! I’ll share my favourite healthy winter indulgences with you here, but seriously I wish ‘Wonka Vision’ had been invented and I could give you a taste of these- I know you wouldn’t feel like you were missing out!

Hot Drink Heaven
There’s nothing like sipping on a hot drink in winter. Not only do hot drinks delight the taste buds, your hands and tummy also get the liquid equivalent of a warm hug! Avoid the nasties that often crop up in hot drinks such as dairy and refined sugar. I always choose a non-dairy milk and use a natural sweetener such as raw honey or coconut palm sugar if needed. Here are my winter drinks of choice!

•    Caffeine free rooibos chai tea with coconut milk and raw honey
•    Organic turmeric chai tea with almond milk and raw honey
•    Hot chocolate made with raw cacao, coconut palm sugar and hazelnut milk (tastes like nutella!)
•    Organic Swiss decaffeinated coffee on soy (only very rarely)
•    Fresh ginger, turmeric and lemon tea with raw honey
•    Immune boosting herbal tea with elderberry, echinacea, eucalyptus, and elderflower
•    Energy boosting herbal tea with licorice and peppermint

Main Meals to Satisfy
I love to make up delicious warming meals during winter. Although we tend to still have a green smoothie during the day, by evening we are both ready for some cooked nourishment. My favourites include:

•    Thai pumpkin soup with coconut cream and chilli, and spelt toast with coconut oil for dunking
•    Indian nourishing kitcharee or daahl cooked with quinoa and topped with a simple green veggie subji
•    Mexican refried black beans cooked with onions, piled high with loads of fresh salads, salsa and cashew sour cream, scooped up by organic corn chips
•    Mushroom pasta made with raw mushroom and pepperberry sauce, brown rice noodles and 4 different types of mushrooms (including the immune boosting shitake)
•    Tempeh kebab wraps- tarami and sweet chili marinated tempeh, together with heaps of fresh salad, toasted in a spelt mountain bread wrap.
•    Slow cooked vegetable curries with moong flour pancakes for scooping
•    Healthy chippies! Slices of organic sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, parsnip and onions, baked until crispy with coconut oil, Celtic salt, pepper and dried Italian herbs

Sweets to Live For
Sometimes it is wonderful to enjoy a little dessert after your nourishing meal. I don’t make desserts all the time, I keep even the healthy desserts as an occasional thing, choosing instead a warm caffeine free coconut milk chai if I have an after dinner sweet tooth. My favourite healthy winter desserts include:

•    Oven baked fruit (berries and stone fruit work well) with a blob of vanilla coconut ice cream
•    Black rice pudding made coconut milk and coconut palm sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and a little nutmeg
•    Buckwheat crepes with a warm berry sauce (using frozen berries) and cashew butter
•    Healthy apple crumble made with raw grated apples and a nut crumble top
•    Chocolate banana pancakes made from raw cacao, buckwheat flour, water and slices of ripe banana. Pan fried in coconut oil and sprinkled with coconut palm sugar
•    Raw carob mint slice with goodies such as avocado, spirulina, nuts and coconut oil

I hope this blog inspires you to get creative in the kitchen and satisfy your winter cravings without having to worry about the waist line. One of my pleasures in life is definitely food, and just because I choose to be healthy (super crazy healthy by Australian standards), does not mean I have to miss out on foods that taste amazing! If you need any help getting creative in the kitchen, losing some winter weight or giving your diet a healthy, delicious overhaul please contact me at Embracing Health. I’d love to help you change your diet, change your health and change your life! Happy eating!




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