Woodford Files: Nourishing Body and Soul in Deep Winter

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As I write this, it’s cold and dark outside as the city lays nestled under a blanket of winter. Imbolc, a pagan holiday on February 2nd, marks the midway point between winter solstice and spring equinox. I love the deep darkness of February, a time to slow down, get under the covers, and contemplate the meaning of life. By allowing ourselves to rest and recharge at this time of year, we begin to reclaim lost energy and restore adrenal power.

In A Beautiful Medicine, author David Mercier comments:

“If we are sewn into the cloth of the world, into the fabric of the Whole, then caring for our own health is ultimately a contribution to others. Self-care is not only about our own bodies. To take good care of our souls and bodies is to take care of the world’s true wealth.”

We often go around like zombies at this time of year, head down, working hard, and taking care of business. It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves.

One good place to start is in the kitchen. I find that robust winter appetites call for cauldrons of soup and stew simmering on the stove. To help you conjure up some steamy soup medicine, this month we feature Deep Winter Dining by Linda Gabris, who shares her grandma’s recipes for root cuisine. From stir-fried Turnip Sticks to Root Vegetable and Split Pea Soup, these dishes are not only comforting but also deeply nourishing, and provide good ballast against chilling winter winds.

To Linda’s root recipes, I would add some favourite ingredients of my own:

  • Turmeric is a medicinal root that comes in powdered form and can be sprinkled into any soup or stew to give it an anti-cancer boost.
  • Burdock root is a cooling, anti-inflammatory, blood cleansing herb that can be grated or chopped and added to soups and stews.
  • Garlic, oregano, and probiotics all help to enrich our inner terrain, making it strongly resistant to viruses and bacteria.

On February 14, along comes St. Valentine’s Day, when love and romance is in the air. As we learn from naturopath Aimee Hughes, who has written our Foods for Love feature this month, there are some excellent superfoods which carry long histories of libido boosting and sexual strengthening according to folklore medicine. These can be incorporated into smoothies, shakes, teas, and cakes, making for delicious nutritional medicine to stir the flames of desire.

Meantime, for those who are ready to take a rejuvenating break from the hype and hustle of city living, here’s an idea for you. Pick a day, and resolve to stay in your pyjamas all day no matter what. Spend time relaxing, soaking in a hot bath, meditating, napping, and scooping meals from the soup pot. Write in your journal, daydream, and resolve to not ‘accomplish’ a single thing. Be lazy. Let spontaneity rule the day. Enjoy yourself. Laugh a lot. Let time stop. Oh yes, and read a magazine, preferably this one.

Julia Woodford, Editor ~ Vitality Magazine

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