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Best Foods to Eat During Winter

Baby, it’s cold outside! And just like how the seasons change, the types of foods we eat should change, too, depending on the time of year.

For instance, we tend to eat more berries, and certain vegetables, like zucchini, during the summer when they are abundant, and maybe we have cravings for smoothies.

So, what are the best foods to eat during winter? We tend to want different things when the weather turns cold, like a crockpot stew or soup. (And if you like recipe ideas, be sure to see the bottom of this post for a list of all my favorite winter recipes.)

a photo collage of 9 of my favorite winter recipes

When you think about it, it makes sense: we usually eat what’s in season or at the farmer’s markets at that particular time of the year, and coincidentally, these tend to be the most nourishing foods for our bodies at that time, too. Nature points us in the right direction, if we get still and notice.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), during the winter season, it’s important to consume foods that nourish and warm the body. It’s the time of year to nurture our kidney energy, so the foods we eat should help do just that.

Here are some foods commonly recommended in TCM for the winter, plus a list of my favorite recipes at the bottom:

Best Foods to Eat During Winter

1. Root vegetables: Sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and radishes are considered warming and nourishing for the body.

2. Winter squash: Butternut squash, pumpkin, and acorn squash are believed to support the kidneys and provide warmth.

3. Dark leafy greens: Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are considered beneficial for nourishing the yin and supporting the kidneys. Arugula works as well.

4. Mushrooms: Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are believed to strengthen the immune system and provide warmth to the body.

5. Beans and legumes: Black beans, adzuki beans, and lentils are considered nourishing and warming for the body.

6. Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, chestnuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds are believed to provide warmth and nourishment.

7. Warm spices: Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise are commonly used in TCM to warm the body and improve circulation.

8. Warm beverages: Herbal teas, such as ginger tea, cinnamon tea, or chrysanthemum tea, are often recommended to warm the body during winter.

It’s also good to remember that, while in summer we generally have more energy to digest raw foods, in winter, it’s a good idea if we cook or gently saute our veggies.

Favorite Winter Recipes

Here are my favorite recipes, which all include yin-boosting ingredients for winter time:

If you’re interested in this idea but still prefer cold drinks or recipes, try my Golden Yin Yogurt, my Soothing Winter Green Smoothie, or my Blueberry Chia Pudding. These all have yin-boosting ingredients for winter.

And, if you like this topic and want to hear more, watch and listen in on my interview with David Crowley of Cook Local Eat Local. It’s a short episode where we cover a range of topics about winter eating, such as what to eat, how to prepare it, and more. Watch and listen here.

It’s important to note that these suggestions are general, and are based on TCM principles. Individual dietary needs of course may vary, so take your own body into account when deciding what to eat and how.


Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

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