Some (Don’t) Like It Hot * My Simple Healthy Recipes #7

In which we digress from the “Winter Beauty” series to explain ‘warming foods’ and whether or not those need to be super spicy.

Some people just don’t dig spicy. I sometimes get oblivious to this…
After the Winter Beauty series “aired”, I received a question from someone who wanted to stay anonymous:
“What are warming foods other than spices and do all warming foods have to be spicy?”


The concept of cooling/warming foods originates from the nutrition therapies of traditional Chinese medicine. There’s an extensive, yin-yang rooted system of foods, but I don’t want to tell a long ringmarole here.

In short, you don’t need to have or to believe the ancient Chinese knowledge.

Play safe by sticking to warming, plant-based comfort food instead – and no, it doesn’t need to be ginger, cayenne, horseradish and black pepper, the fantastic four with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties!

Even mild spices and herbs are helping to warm you up from inside – and come with various health-boosting bonus perks (in brackets), just check it out:warming-spicesoregano (potassium, zink, iron), parsley (beta-carotene, copper), thyme (iron, vitamin K, manganese, calcium; soothes coughs as a tea; is good for brain health), marjoram (copper), cinnamon (make sure to pick the Ceylon variety; rich in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, vitamins A, C and E; helps with insulin balance), cardamom (manganese, iron, magnesium), paprika (Vitamin A, iron), turmeric (check out this detailed post).


Seeds and nuts are great winter food as well.
Sesame seeds and tahin, the seed paste, are rich in copper and iron. Another food that’s rich in copper and iron is raw cacao powder. Unsurprisingly, really, cacao is made from beans. Other ideas: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts.


More food that is good for you in winter: garlic and onions come packed with powerful antioxidants; dried fruit for your sweet tooth (apricots, dates, and plums – make sure to pick unsulphurated) are high in minerals, primarily iron, and fiber. If you soak dried fruit overnight (my fave is the 1:1 ratio), and cook them with just a pinch arrowstarch the next morning, you’ll have a nice, naturally sweetened “fruit soup” to go with rice or noodles or even over som porridge.

If you’re craving sweet foods, try to cook with lovely orange vegetables like pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes:  their indisputably amazing nutritional benefits (beta-carotenes, anyone?) are only surpassed by their mild and sweet taste making them ideal for comfort food.cut-pumpkin-wedgesOther sweet vegetables that help you stay warm include turnips, and beet roots, and fennel, and all sort of cabbage.
Still unsatisfied? Try to incorporate organic coconut sugar into your cooking: it’s all the craze now, but it’s probably truly the healthiest sweetener out there in the moment, and has a delicious caramel taste.

Try to pair your fave warming foods: how about red cabbage with dried apricots? Cinnamon, cardamome and ginger powders make a delicious homemade Chai tea; oven-roasted carrots, beetroots or pumpkin wedges generously sprikled with herbs like oregano and parsley are a fantastic side dish. If you stir-fry chopped red onion and add some coconut sugar in the end (it doesn’t need much heat to melt and comes with a great caramel taste by design), you have a fantastic red onion jam to top your grillables.sweet-potato-steaks-bakedMaking sweet potato oven fries, sprinkle them with a mix of herbs, coconut sugar, and paprika powder. For a healthier cinnamon bun spread, mix almond or cashew paste with coconut sugar and cinnamon. Make my turmeric drink.warming-vegetables-exampleOr the following blended soup of gorgeousness.


Carrots + pumpkins + red onion + cauliflower (200g / 150g / 100 g / 150g), turmeric and paprika, coconut sugar and parsley (1 TSP each) are the base of this wicked delicious soup, the vegan answer to chicken soup. Only that it contains not only healthy, but also beautifying ingredients: beta-carotene, anti-oxidants, flavonoids, minerals – just no trans-fats or animal proteins…  In yo face, chicken soup!creamy-pumpkin-carrot-soup-veganHow-to: Stir-fry chopped red onion, carrots and pumpkin in a large pan with as little oil as possible. Once the onion starts to caramelise, add coconut sugar, turmeric and paprika, then deglaze with hot veggie broth and let cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add cauliflower and parsley, and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; blend. You will obtain a delicious, bright orange puree you can easily store in the fridge for about 2 days if you must.creamy-soup-carrot-pumpkinYou can add it to mashed potatoes later; or make soup variations, depending on which liquid (coconut milk/lemongras miso soup/tomato juice…) and how much of it (1-3 cups per serving) you will add, what toppings (freshly grated garlic/mint leaves/Worcester sauce/coconut flakes…) you will choose. Here I went for just one cup of veg broth per serving, making the soup extra thick and creamy, and topped it off with chopped dried apricots (iron maaaan!), liquid vegan yogurt, a few drops pumpkin seed oil and freshly ground black and white pepper. What a huge anti-inflammatory, uber-healthy super-nom!

Now you must spill the beans: What are your fave winter-time recipes, savoury or sweet?
What is your comfort food? Is it helping you get healthy through the winter months? Tell!


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

12 Responses

  1. Heather in Arles

    Woot Woot! It’s a miracle! Because for once, I am beaming with pride. I eat all of this stuff! Yippeee!!!
    This has been the Winter of Roasting. So that means tons of squash, cabbages and legumes. Tonight I am making what was last winter’s go-to dish: Smitten Kitchen’s Spicy Squash with Lentils Salad: (not vegan but easily modifiable).
    This years winter go to dish is by the same author but the reciper is from her book: roasted eggplant and cumin chick peas with a lemon, tahini, yoghurt sauce that I am hopelessly addicted to…

  2. I used to make sweet potato wedges in the oven, it’s funny how we can make things for a long time and then suddenly stop, but the good thing is that this post has reminded me of them, and how much I enjoyed eating them, so sweet potatoes are on this week’s shopping list and menu. 😉

  3. I am pleased to learn about oregano. I have masses in the garden. I love roasted carrots and I will make sure I sprinkle them with oregano next time. Sesame seeds went in to my bread yesterday. I love them.

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