Wholefood cooking with Jude Blereau
It is June once again, thank goodness. I love the way the light dims especially early and we retreat into our homes to warm up and perhaps after a satisfying meal, to snuggle. This is my kind of food weather, and it must be said clothes weather (I think I suit winter clothes far better than summer clothes!). This is the time of year for a warm, satisfying pot of soup or stew and, for me, I would follow that with a delicious dessert.
With the winter season, comes the call from nature to slow down and rest. There is, in fact, restoration being done, but this a call not often heeded in our busy 2013 lives. In this article today, I'd like to encourage you to slow down a little and, in particular, to eat your dinner a little earlier. This is especially true for children.
Traditionally, late afternoon is a natural and best time for children to eat dinner (remember the nursery meal and high tea?) or at least something very substantial. This is only intensified in the cold, dark June and July months (our shortest day comes in late June). Eating when hungry will help to settle them down (hunger needs have been met) and they will be less tired and scattered at dinner. This is equally true for adults, and our health in these winter months will be supported if we can tone down our busy lifestyles and eat dinner a little earlier.
I'm not at all suggesting that you don't eat together as a family, but making children (generally up to 10) wait to eat until later is far too difficult. They are tired, and if they have had to snack on food with little nutrient density (even though it might be healthy, such as fruit), their body and biochemistry will be stressed to the max, and they pick at their dinner. These children never settle, their cells are starving for nutrients, and this continues into the evening bed routine. Wherever possible, try to have your family dinner as early as possible and also think of afternoon tea as a small meal - enough to sustain, but not so much as to fill up, so they can then enjoy a little of the family meal.
The winter dinner needs to be a lot more of a '4 square' meal than summer. This means we need to not only meet our physical need for nutrients, but also our needs for deliciousness. Indeed, the body has a far higher requirement for both nutrients and fat in winter. Fat is an important part of a winter meal, especially in the colder climes, where its dense nutrition contributes extra calories for the body to burn for warmth. Saturated fat is also a huge part of our immune system and it satiates. It's a great experiment to try - eating a low fat legume meal (delicious as it might be) as opposed to that same legume meal made with a lovely, fatty bone stock, or a meat stew with fat from the bone or butter. In most instances, the eater feels 'happier' and more 'met' when that fat is present.
I am also a big fan of a bone stock in winter, especially with a wholegrain or legume soup or stew, as it helps us digest those tricky carbohydrates and makes the nutrients more bio-available.
Looking through the recipes that have been posted over the years on the NOVA website, (www.novamagazine.com.au) I can see many of my favourites for this time of the year - they will still serve you well. Looking at what is there I see Shitake Mushroom, Barley and Vegetable Soup - I had forgotten about that and it's going on the stove for eating this week.
Finally, don't forget about something a little sweet - we all need a little bit of comfort and joy on a cold dark day, and this is not an unhealthy thing. But, because I know that many of you like to reduce your gluten and dairy load, I've chosen a dessert to suit that. As it is still a grain-based dessert, I would serve this after a predominately meat/vegetable meal, whether that is a roast or a stew. With its saturated fats, that meal will satiate well, and the lighter fat load in the dessert will not overwhelm. Plus, did I tell you, this dessert rocks.
Please, as you go into the darker days of the winter months, take a little time to slow down - I promise it will pay you dividends.
Jude Blereau is a wholefood cook and writer based on Perth. www.wholefoodcooking.com.au