From a nutritional view-point, winter is the time to use the reserves that have been built up in the autumn. We need more calorie-rich meals to keep us warm, and the most favoured ingredients are pulses, rice and grain, cabbage, leeks and root vegetables. Fish and fatty foods help to keep us warm, and dried foods provide energy.
In Chinese philosophy, it is thought of as the season of most yin, when the energy is inward-looking. Nature sleeps and prepares. The energy is resting deep in the ground. Outside all is barren and still, but inside there is warmth, and opportunity to study and learn, time for leisure, culture and rest.
The element of this season is water, which corresponds to the kidneys and bladder. Special attention should be paid to the basic life energies. Keep warm and well nourished, stay quiet and peaceful, and enjoy this season of still life.
In winter soups are warming, healthy and nutritious. Virtually any vegetable can be cooked. Many can be blended with an electric blender to whatever coarseness or consistency is desired. Spices and pre-prepared food stocks can be used to add flavour. In this way, you can make such soup dishes as leek and potato, spicy green lentil, carrot and ginger, mixed bean, creamy parsnip, pumpkin, cauliflower, mixed vegetable etc. For added flavour, I love to add a tasty chorizo sausage or heaps of curry powder.
Pastas are a natural for winter. Spaghetti, tagliatelle, penne, macaroni, linguine and conchiglie can be married up with chunky, creamy or pesto sauces in such dishes as spaghetti bolognese, spinach and artichoke tagliatelle, penne with basil pesto, Lebanese pine kernel macaroni, linguine with mussels and conchiglie with chunky spices sausage.
Pizzas are as versatile as any food and can be pre-prepared and frozen. Typical constituents are mozzarella cheese, tomato paste, peppers, and chillies, with seafood, chicken, mince, ham, sausage and assorted vegetables.
Additional flavours according to taste can include anchovy fillets, black or green olives, crushed garlic, shiitake mushrooms, capers and oregano.
Casseroles are a hearty meal and can be pre-prepared for convenience and taste.
Typical ingredients in many casseroles include diced potato, onion, carrots, celery, tinned or fresh tomatoes, broccoli, chic peas, beans and cabbage or bok choi with either casserole steak, chicken pieces, lamb chops or shanks, diced meats such as lamb, veal, pork or chicken thighs.