3 Healthy Comfort Food Recipes for Wintering

The Winter season has officially arrived with the magic of the Solstice. Ahhhhh, can you feel it? Time to turn inward, to hibernate, to contemplate. This is a time to gently release the old, that which we no longer need, and to create space for the new. Here in Northern Ontario, we endure long months of cold, wind, ice and snow, a beautiful insulation for this time of deep clearing.

During our annual hibernation period we can support our bodies and these processes above with simple whole foods that also bring about feelings of warmth, joy, and satisfaction. Mindfully preparing a big pot of soup and enjoying the fragrance as it simmers on your stove can soothe the soul in wonderful ways. Choose organic and local where possible, with a foundation in seasonal foods (think root veggies, winter squashes, dried beans and legumes) topped off with a splash of superfoods/superherbs and raw living foods to balance out your diet and nourish your body, mind and Spirit.

Be sure to get outside, get some sunshine on your face, catch a snowflake on your tongue, connect with those you care about most, and share these Soul Food recipes in community . . . occasionally. 😉

Masala Squash Soup

This Indian inspired squash soup is absolutely delicious and warming with its blend of anti-inflammatory and digestive aid spices. The Red Kuri squash looks like a small, red-orange pumpkin without the deep ridges in the sides. The flesh is bright orange and has a mellow, somewhat nutty flavor. If you don’t have or can’t find one of these little gems, a similar dense flesh winter squash such as kabocha. Roast your squash ahead of time as they’re in season and freeze it to have on hand for soups and smoothies alike!

  • 1 med/lg red kuri squash, cooked (about 3-4 cups)
  • 1 lg sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 ½ tsp Himalayan salt
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 8 cups water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes until translucent. Add in the cooked (and thawed if it was frozen) squash, water, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring well. Meanwhile, heat the other tbsp oil in a pan over medium/high heat, then add the cumin seeds, stirring until they’ve become golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add in coriander and turmeric and stir another 30 seconds until aromatic. Carefully pour the spice mixture into the soup pot – sometimes the hot oil will splatter when it hits the soup. Turn heat to medium/low, mix well and simmer for another 5-10 minutes to allow flavours to blend. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, and puree using an immersion blender or Vitamix. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro.

Healing Kitchiri

This Indian dish is often used when cleansing in the practice of Ayurveda. It is very gentle on the digestive system and allows the body and colon to cleanse and detoxify. In fact, in this 5000+ yr old sister science to Yoga, Kitchiri is often used as a cleanse itself. Given its properties, it is also an excellent food to use when breaking a fast or cleanse (ie. Coming out of a juice cleanse), and as a gentle calming food to give your children and loved ones when they are feeling sick, and physically or emotionally stressed.

This recipe is one variation of endless combinations of two simple basic ingredients, rice and beans/lentils. The traditional version uses basmati rice and mung beans, which I LOVE and often use when making this recipe, but I thought I would include this variation using green lentils for variety! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

  • 1 cup basmati rice, soaked for 15 minutes, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup green lentils, mung beans, or split mung dal (If using whole mung beans, soak overnight.)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1” pc ginger, grated or minced
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • ½ head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • 2 whole dried chilies (optional)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp asafoetida (hing)
  • 1-2 tsp Himalayan salt (as desired)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • Hemp seed oil (optional)
  • Tomato (optional)
  • Sunflower shoots (optional)
  • Green onion (optional)
  • 4-6 cups water

Add coconut oil to a large pot over medium/high heat. Add whole spices and temper for 30 seconds. Add powdered spices and temper for 30 seconds more, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. Add the ginger, onion and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add in potatoes and cauliflower if using (these can be left out if you choose a simpler version of Kitchiri), and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add the rice and lentils/beans, stirring for another few minutes. Finally, add the water and salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer, covered for about 20-30 minutes more or until beans/lentils and potatoes are soft. Note: longer cook time for whole mung beans. Remove from heat and stir in juice of 1 lemon.

Serve in bowls garnished with all or some of the following: a dollop of coconut oil and or hemp seed oil drizzled over top, fresh diced tomatoes, chopped green onion, sunflower shoots, a drizzle of fresh lemon juice, and a bit of hot sauce if you want to add a little kick. Serves 4-6.

Not Your Average Potato and Onion Hash

A delicious transition meal, part cooked, part raw and fermented, for a satisfying comfort food meal that is sure to please!

  • 4 small/medium potatoes, cubed
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • raw sauerkraut (or sauerkraut with beet/ginger variation)
  • 1/4 cup Daiya Cheese (optional)
  • Himalayan salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Virgin coconut oil

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes. Season with desired amount of salt and pepper. Add potatoes and saute uncovered for a few minutes more. Cover, turn heat down to medium low, and continue to cook until potatoes are tender (about 10-15min.) Sprinkle on Daiya cheese if using and replace lid for another couple minutes to melt the cheese over top.
Place a couple fork fulls of sauerkraut on a plate, serve potato hash on top, and garnish with fresh tomatoes and/or sunflower/pea shoots!

Sign up for my monthly newsletter, Green Spirit News, for more plant based whole foods recipe ideas and holistic living tips!

All my love,
Leanne