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Best healthy cooking methods for Fall and Winter

Q. How should I cook in winter? And why is it different than cooking in summer?

A. It's natural to want a bowl of hot oatmeal on a cold morning, a piping hot bowl of soup for lunch, and slow-cooked meat and vegetable one-dish meals for dinner. Why does this feel so natural? Because winter is a time when you are trying to stay warm, so your body wants foods that are warming. And just as the foods that are in season in the winter will warm your body, so will the cooking methods we recommend for these winter foods.

Q. How do I know what foods and cooking methods are best in fall and winter?

A. It just so happens that winter cooking methods and foods naturally available in winter, like root vegetables, complement one another. Most winter root vegetables take longer to cook than summer vegetables and make healthy and flavorful additions to warming soups and stews, so they are ideally suited to cold weather cooking methods.

Q. What are the best cold weather cooking methods?

A. The best cooking methods for cold weather months are:

  • Braising in the oven, with a little liquid in the pan, which should be covered
  • Simmering slowly on top of the stove on low heat
  • Crock pot cooking
  • Roasting vegetables in the oven

All of these slow cooking methods will provide the best nourishing and warming results for your body in cold weather. Although many of our soup recipes can be easily prepared in a short amount of time, the longer you cook them, the more warming effect they will have. Similarly, braising in the oven or on top of the stove cooks meat and vegetables slowly. Braising tenderizes meat and vegetables, infusing the broth with their flavors. When the mornings turn frosty, slowly cooked food deeply nourishes your body, is easier to digest, and helps your body build and maintain heat. This lessens the work your body must do to keep warm when it's cold outside and alleviates stress—and virtually every body can benefit from less stress.

Q. Can you give me an example of how to slow cook?

A. The best way to cook foods slowly is to start with the vegetables that are in season, such as root vegetables. Begin by Healthy Sautéing onions until translucent, then add meat or legumes and root vegetables. Mix well and add broth. Your covered pot can either be put in the oven at this point and left alone to slowly braise at a temperature no higher than 350 degrees, or cooked on top of the stove on low heat.

Slow cooking on top of the stove is a little faster than in the oven, but stove top cooking requires more attention. You'll need to check the pot periodically and stir. If you choose to braise in the oven, you can simply put your oven-proof pot or casserole in the oven on a low temperature and return a couple of hours later.

Roasting vegetables in the oven is another way of creating a more warming effect from your food. Remember, if you want a more warming effect from these recipes, slow down the cooking. The longer and slower these foods cook, the more warming the effect they will have on your body.

To help you get started, here are some of our warming winter recipes.

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