5 Healthy Comfort Foods to Indulge in This Autumn & Winter

5 Healthy Comfort Foods to Indulge in This Autumn & Winter

The cold weather is here, and nothing feels better than settling in with a hot bowl or plate of your most favorite dish that’s heavy, fatty, and oh-so-satisfying. Well, it's certainly oh-so-satisfying until of course you realize you're so full you can barely move!

Believe it or not, comfort foods can be tweaked so that they’re much less heavy and contain far fewer caloriesthan their full-fat counterparts. Check out some of the healthy comfort food ideas below and suggested recipes to bring warmth and nourishment to your body all throughout the autumn and winter months.

 

Vegetable soup

Skip the canned soups instead for your stock pot or slow cooker and lots of fresh veggies. Making your own vegetable with vegetable/chicken broth and optional chicken and/or noodles will help you cut down on the sodium content often found in canned varieties.

Try adding veggies like onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, and anything else you think would go lovely in a soup. Here’s a loaded vegetable soup recipe to try if improvising isn’t your thing.

 

Vegan mac n’ cheese

Whether it’s from a box or homemade, regular mac n’ cheese certainly packs a lot of calories and fat from all that dairy. But making it vegan with a cheese substitute is a much healthier alternative—and it still tastes amazing!

Nutritional yeast is what you’re going to need, along with some almond milk, spelt flour, your pasta of choice and a few more ingredients to pump of the taste. Follow this easy, cheesy vegan mac n cheese recipe to get it just right.

 

Pita pizzas

You could order a pizza from your favorite pizza place… or you could just break out a few pitas and use them to make your own mini personal pizzas. This way, you have complete control of all the ingredients that you decide to top onto your pizzas.

Pita pizzas mean no dough making and no mess. This five-minute pita pizza recipe uses pocketless pita flatbreads. Best of all, you can make them in a toaster oven if you’d rather skip preheating the big oven.

 

Baked sweet potato chips

Settling in for a movie night calls for snacks, and chips are often a first choice. But instead of grabbing a bag from the grocery store, why not make your own healthier baked variety from sweet potatoes?

All you need is a mandolin slicer, a bit of olive oil, some kosher salt, and of course a sweet potato. This baked sweet potato chips recipe will show you how to turn that sweet potato into yummy chips in just 20 to 25 minutes.

 

Veggie lasagna

Lasagna sure is delicious when it’s loaded with ground beef, noodles, and lots of yummy cheese, but you can make a healthier version by at least swapping both the beef and noodles for veggies (and go easy on the cheese, please). Instead of noodles, use zucchini slices!

Veggies like spinach, eggplant, bell peppers, and onions turn this comfort food casserole into something much more nutritious yet still very filling. Take a look at this recipe to make it in your slow cooker!


Healthy Foods to Favor for Staying Grounded

5 Healthy Foods to Favor for Staying Grounded

Ayurveda states that we feel the changes of the season in our bodies. In the midst of the autumn season, you’re much more likely to feel restless, anxious, unable to focus, or even out of control due to aggregated vata—the dosha that's at its strongest this time of year, characterized by air and space.

To balance out excess vata in the body, it’s recommended to adopt lifestyle habits that keep you grounded. This means sticking to a daily routine and enjoying foods that are warm, heavy, moist, and nourishing.

To help pacify vata and feel more grounded, start looking toward these healthy foods.

 

1. Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are great for grounding and stabilizing vata because they grow underground. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, parsnips, turnips, garlic, radishes, rutabagas, and ginger are all ideal examples of root vegetables that can be cooked up in warm dishes throughout the autumn season.

 

2. Pumpkin and Squashes

Ayurveda recommends going for sweet, sour, and salty flavours rather than bitter, astringent, and pungent ones. Many root vegetables and squashes fall into the sweet category when they’re cooked, so get creative by adding pumpkin to your baked goods, or incorporating squashes into your soups and sides.

 

3. Lean, High-Quality Meats

Yogis who are not vegetarian or vegan can help themselves feel more grounded by taking advantage of the high protein content in high-quality meat sources like fish, poultry, and beef. Just be sure to select meats that are as cruelty-free and environmentally-friendly as possible by looking for labels like organic, hormone-free, free-range, grass fed, etc.

 

4. Naturally Red Fruits and Vegetables

The root chakra, located at the base of the spine, is the chakra that governs grounding and is associated with the color red. Root vegetables help to balance this chakra but you can go further with it by incorporating red foots into your diet. Tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, apples, and pomegranates are just a few suggestions to try—especially when they're cooked or stewed.

 

5. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds offer plenty of protein and healthy fat (in additional to several vitamins and minerals), making them ideal to snack on or add to meals during vata season. Stock up on cashews, almonds, pistachios, and peanuts during this time. Sesame seeds in particular are also good to have this time for their powerful vata-pacifying effect.

 

Other Foods to Favor

During vata season, ground yourself in warm, nourishing meals that incorporate the above foods plus others like whole grains, some dairy products like milk and homemade cheese, naturally fermented foods (such as sauerkraut), warm spices, and healthy oils. You’ll want to cut back on anything that’s dry, raw, cold, or iced to avoid aggravating vata.

Though many dry and raw foods are healthy in general, now is not the time to be serving yourself a bowl of dry cereal for breakfast or a salad with raw veggies for lunch if you want to keep vata balanced. Liquids including milk and water should also be consumed ideally warm or at room temperature—with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a dash of spice like ginger.

Take this as an opportunity to really hone in on your diet, check out some new recipes, and enjoy the foods that this season has to offer. You’ll get to enjoy new tastes and feel better too.


Self-Care Practices to Embrace the Autumn Season

Self-Care Practices to Embrace the Autumn Season

In autumn, many people decide to get serious about their goals and the routine they need to establish to get there, but many also fall victim to overdoing it. They often push themselves against their resistance, unknowingly causing a cascade of adverse effects that push back in ways that either halt their progress altogether or cause them feel like they've moved backwards.

Self-care, when done right, is anything but selfish—and it's key to personal growth. We practice self-care not because we're self-indulgent, but to regain balance in our lives again—on all physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.

Here are five things you can do this autumn, or any season whatsoever, to take care of yourself and reap the benefits of a well balanced lifestyle.

 

Get Serious About Downtime

Downtime is the time you take away from the day-to-day responsibilities that use up your energy rather than restore it. To get serious about downtime, you’ll have to put it into your schedule. An hour at the end of every day or a full 24 hours every week are good places to start.

 

Let Your Inner Child Out

Play is a form of active rest, and you can use the downtime you schedule into your day or week to embrace what your inner child loves to do. During the autumn season, you might want to try:

  • Jumping in piles of leaves with your dog, kids, spouse, etc.
  • Going apple or pumpkin picking
  • Using pencil crayons to color in a coloring book by the warm fire
  • Making autumn-inspired crafts out of leaves, twigs, rocks and other outdoor items
  • Reading mystery, drama, or horror fiction books while sipping on hot cocoa

 

Create Your Own Personal Spa

Your downtime can also be used to pamper and nurture yourself with warm, soothing spa practices designed to moisturize and relax your entire body. Many of the items included in our Lifestyle box are perfect for creating your own little mini spa in your very own bathroom at home—such as Gypsy Soul Organics' Barefoot Lake Candle that came in our September box and Lotus Flower OM’s Bohemian Funk Massage Oil that’s in our October box. Simply light a candle, draw a warm bath, and sink into relaxing bliss!

 

Routinely Check in With How You Feel

The great thing about checking in with yourself is that it can be done anytime in as little as a few seconds, and you don’t necessarily need to take a significant amount of downtime to do it. Simply stop what you’re doing to mindfully check in with the physical sensations of your body, the mental thoughts flying through your head, and the emotions that are present. How is your body, mind, and spirit trying to tell you to take care of yourself?

 

Create the Perfect Sleep Routine and Environment

Lastly, never underestimate the importance of sleep in a good self-care regimen. Sleep is foundational for everything, so making sure get a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night on a regular schedule is vital to feeling at your best and doing your best throughout the day. Consider removing clutter from your bedroom, eliminating all sources of light, and bringing items in that serve to relax you in healthy ways—such as by adding houseplants, using aromatherapy diffusers, or replacing your old pillows with new ones.

Most importantly, remember not to let anyone else make you feel bad for taking care of yourself first before tending to other responsibilities. To give the greatest gifts you’re capable of giving, you must fill yourself up with love first—and only you have the power to do that for yourself.


6 Mindfulness Tips for Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You

6 Mindfulness Tips for Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You

To reestablish a sense of balance in your life, letting go of all those bad habits you’ve picked up over the past year (or possibly years) is the only way to make more room for all the good things you know you should be embracing.

Look toward Mother Nature this autumn season to find inspiration in everything that retreats inward, falls to the ground, and dies. It’s not the end—just the opposite, in fact.

To facilitate the opportunity a new beginning, you must learn to let go. Here’s how.

 

1. Notice Activities and Behaviors That Make You Feel Good

The real key to creating good habits lies in taking notice of how good you feel when you do something or behave in a particular way. Note that this doesn’t mean it won’t also feel challenging—it can still feel good while part of you resists it.

Don’t ignore your resistance, but be sure to place your awareness on the good. The more you do this, the more naturally inclined you’ll feel to start making your new good activity or behavior a regular part of your life.

 

2. Notice Activities and Behaviours That Make You Feel Bad

Similar to building good habits, the key to breaking bad habits also lies in your awareness. Whether it’s smoking, eating junk food, watching TV, procrastinating, or any other bad habit—you don’t necessarily need to force yourself to stop it as long as you commit to being fully aware of what you’re doing, while you’re doing it.

Awareness alone is enough to motivate you to make the choice to stop doing it—because awareness shows you how harmful or unproductive it really is. Likewise, notice your tendency to want to cling to your old bad habit, as if wanting to escape yourself.

 

3. Journal About Both the Good and the Bad

At the beginning of your day, ideally first thing in the morning, take some time to journal about the person you want to be. The activities and behaviors that make you feel good are what will get you there.

At the end of your day, reflect on your day by journaling about the activities and behaviours that made you feel good and not so good. Doing this right before bed will help reprogram your subconscious as you sleep so you can do better the next day.

 

4. Visualize Yourself Growing from Embracing the Good

You can do this anytime, but just like journaling, visualization can often be most powerful first thing in the morning or right before going to bed. Simply close your eyes and picture what your life will be like if you kept doing all those good activities and kept embodying all those good behaviors weeks, months, and years from now.

Visualizing the effects of all those good things can motivate you to keep pressing on, even when times get tough. When you know great things are to come of it, you won’t want to give up.

 

5. Visualize the Freedom You’ll Achieve from Letting Go of the Bad

You could certainly visualize what your life might look like if you kept holding onto all those bad habits, but psychology research has shown that negative motivation rarely ever produces long-term results. While it can help you avoid unwanted effects in the short-term, long-term success relies on focusing on what you do want—not what you don’t want.

So visualize how much better your life will be weeks, months, and years from now without all those bad habits. Imagine the freedom, the happiness, and the potential for growth. This is all you need.

 

6. Practice Self-Compassion When You Slip Up

Mindfulness is simple, but it’s hard to keep up all the time. Most people find it impossible to kick a bad habit overnight, and you shouldn’t expect perfection.

Be kind to yourself when you fall back into your old ways. Simply take notice of what you’re doing, forgive yourself, and do your best to act or behave positively in the present.


Balance

Ayurveda tells us that autumn is a vata season. Its dry, windy, rough, cool, and unpredictable qualities can leave you feeling physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually imbalanced if excess vata is not tamed.

To balance vata, look toward cultivating the following practices in your life. Doing so will help make the seasonal transition not only easier but more enjoyable as you continue to grow yourself in the dark and quiet months leading up to winter.

Stress Relief

Now is the time to take a step back and be honest about what’s stressing you out. Whether it’s a bad habit you’ve developed or an excessive amount of responsibilities keeping you busy, you have to put your well-being first if you want to resolve it. This might involve taking more time for yourself, replacing a bad habit with a healthier one, making an effort to get enough sleep every night, or even making it more of a priority to indulge in therapeutic practices (such as yoga and meditation).

Warmth

As the temperature continues to drop, your body will begin to crave more warmth. By warming up the body, you essentially help ward off many unwanted effects of excess vata—including bloating and constipation, dry or chapped skin, and difficulty tolerating cold and wind. Build heat with sun salutations in your practice, take warm baths, give yourself a soothing self-massage, enjoy spices in your meals, and eat cooked rather than raw foods. And hey, it doesn’t hurt to cuddle with your pet, spouse/partner, kids, or anyone else with a warm body!

Nourishment

Nourishment goes hand in hand with both stress relief and warmth. Take good care of your body by keeping your skin moisturized, your mind calm, and your body well fed. Favour foods that are higher in fat and protein, giving preference to sweet, sour, and salty tastes. You can also add a generous amount of oily foods to your diet as long as they’re of high-quality. Think olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil, and ghee.

Relationships

When vata becomes imbalanced, you may find yourself suffering from mental and emotional states like nervousness, anxiety, fear, restless thinking, and scattered feelings. In addition to meditating on these feelings, be sure to keep close friends and family members near. Knowing that you are loved and connected to others during the colder seasons can help pacify negative thoughts and feelings when they have a tendency to get out of hand.

Groundedness

Last but not least, establishing a sense of groundedness to the the Earth and the present moment will help you stay balanced as you work on letting go of what no longer serves you while embracing what is. Try to get in a good routine with your daily habits (meals, exercise, bedtime) and engage in healthy practices that encourage you to turn inward. Here are a few one-minute grounding techniques you can use this October and beyond as you quietly work on discovering more about yourself and prepare to grow even further into the new you.