Written by John Immel,
Do you live in the Southern Hemisphere? You may need the 10 Ayurvedic Recipes for June instead.
These recipes show you can have both. Knowing the right recipes to cook in December is key to staying balanced while you enjoy the season. The recipes below are vibrant, festive options to help you enjoy the most the season has to offer.
The cold weather and hectic social commitments can leave you feeling depleted and fatigued if you don't have the right fuel. To keep your energy up and immunity strong this December, adapt your diet by adding some of these seasonally appropriate recipes.
In addition to the right food, quiet nights between festive celebrations will help you slow down, enjoy the stillness of winter, and give your body a chance to recover from the occasional holiday splurge.
This month, we've decided to share five bonus recipes with you. These will help see you through one of the most joyful yet challenging months of the year.
Build Blood & Stimulate CirculationIn December, it's common for your skin to look rather dull and lifeless. Your fingers and toes can feel extra frosty too. This is because cold temperatures can cause vasoconstriction and slow down circulation at this time of year. Your body also prioritizes blood flow to your core to maintain consistent body heat. In light of this, December is the month to build your blood and invigorate circulation.
A little red meat can go a long way in December. You don't want to overburden digestion with large portions, but moderate servings of red meat provide rich nourishment and iron for the blood. This Roast Lamb & Vegetables with Mint Pistachio Cream Sauce is a wonderful winter warmer to build strong blood. Plus, leg of lamb is considered a lean meat, meaning you won't clog circulation with excess fat. Persian Pomegranate Walnut Stew Fesenjan is a juicy option that also contains blood building ingredients like pomegranate, turmeric, and walnuts.
What better way to follow your main course than with a dessert that also supports strong blood - Cardamom Cherry Pie! Nourishing cherries can help rebuild deficient, anemic blood due to their high iron content. Their warming nature reduces blood stagnation that can happen in December, bringing a glow back to your skin. The vibrant red color of this dish will brighten up your table and warm winter hearts.
Sharp and pungent, a splash of wine in your cooking can be used medicinally to warm up the blood. This Red Wine Barley Soup with Rosemary & Mushrooms will help you stave off the winter chill. You may notice this recipe brings the heat back to your skin, warming those cold fingers and toes. Its invigorating effect on circulation will inject some energy into a dull, winters day.
Mulled wine is a tradition in many homes throughout December, and for good reason. A few sips is enough to relax your whole body. Ayurveda recommends alcohol in small quantities, no more than an ounce or two, in winter. The warming winter spices in this homemade Mulled Spiced Wine, such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger, dilate blood vessels and warm you up. They also stimulate digestion and clear mucus, helping you fight off any lingering feelings of a winter head cold.
Ward off Winter ColdsFlus and colds are more common at this time of the year. Your body reduces blood flow to the respiratory system to retain body heat, meaning your lungs can get a shock when the icy air first hits, leading to a respiratory infection. Not only should you warm up externally with hats, gloves and scarves, warming up internally will help keep the winter colds at bay. A Virgin Hot Toddy or this Cinnamon Anise Chai Blend will do the trick.
This dairy free Peppermint Cacao Shake offers all the sweet satisfaction of a traditional shake with none of the heaviness and sluggishness of dairy. The light dash of cardamom and peppermint in this recipe helps reduce excess mucus in the stomach that may have accumulated after excessive fall feasting.
Rustic Morning RitualDecember mornings may just be some of the hardest of the year. You wake in complete darkness, and know a harsh chill awaits you at the front door. Ayurveda promotes having a morning ritual or routine to start your day right. In December, a warm, rustic meal is optimal for breakfast.
Starting your day with easy to digest, cooked foods will lift your spirits even on the darkest of mornings. Try Baked Apple with Rosemary or Baked Pear with Cardamom for a comforting breakfast. These meals are exactly what your body craves in December - nourishing, easy to digest, and warming. They stimulate digestion, promote regular elimination, and boost immunity, meaning you start your day feeling vibrant and energetic. Better still, these can both be enjoyed as a dessert too.
For some, the normal bowl of morning oats can be too heavy and sweet in December. Lighten up your breakfast and keep digestion regular with Cinnamon Rye Berry Porridge with Prunes. This will warm your tummy and keep digestion strong.
The winter months are optimal for baking, as the heat of the oven warms your home and comforting scents waft from room to room. Wheat based breads can be difficult for to digest, and can feel like a lead weight in the stomach. Hearty and rustic, this Gluten Free Saffron Walnut Bread is easy to digest. The combination of saffron and walnuts acts a rejuvenative tonic, building strength and vigor. This bread will warm your soul this winter. Cook in the evening, and have toasted for breakfast with a little ghee.
Boost your MoodDespite the festive cheer, it is not uncommon to feel slightly down or even depressed in December. The lack of sunshine can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and dampen your mood. When that happens, reach out to a friend for some company, and treat yourselves to some hot cocoa (with a dairy free milk) and some guilt free sweet nibbles.
Rose Petal Cookies with Almonds & Cherries will take you back to the childhood days of baking holiday cookies. These delicate treats will boost your mood without overindulging. If you want to get the kids involved, prepare a batch of No Bake Paleo Pumpkin Ginger Cookies with them. Kids will enjoy the hands-on opportunity to be in the kitchen alongside you.
If cookies aren't for you, some Dates Soaked in Ghee, Saffron & Spices are sure to make your mouth water and soothe a worried mind. These sweet bites are a rejuvenating snack that will give you back some of your umph if you're feeling depleted.
Last but not least, make sure to take time out to rest and reflect this month. Light some candles and play uplifting music with your meals this December. Just walking through the neighbourhood is enough to lift your spirits as the twinkle of lights and the glow of a roaring fire enchant you.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.