Light my fire
The things I cherish in winter are sitting by the fire, drinking tea and pottering in the kitchen cooking delicious, healthy food. My first real experience of a ‘true winter’ was living in Tasmania, an island state off the bottom of Australia that cops the freezing winds blowing from Antarctica. It is snowy, cold and picturesque. When the low pressure systems arrive they bring snow to the mountain tops, big swells and offshore winds. One day a weathered old local gave me some insider knowledge: “When it’s snowing on the mountain, the surf will be at its best”.
I quickly learnt that if I was going to surf the beautiful winter waves I needed to support my body to deal with the cold weather. And that’s how I fell in love with spices. I started using more chilli, pepper and ginger in my cooking, to warm me up and support my circulation so my fingers didn’t fall off. And I added extra cinnamon and nutmeg to my porridge and smoothies to give me that extra boost in the morning. I would even take a thermos of hot ginger and honey tea to drink when I got in from the surf.
In Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) cooking, spices are used to add health properties to foods and support general wellbeing. Food is seen to be more than just a tasty energy hit, and is used as a holistic healing process to boost health and vitality. Adding different spices to your meals not only make it delicious, but also make it medicinal. As the saying goes, “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”.
These recipes will keep you glowing from the inside, so you can get outside and enjoy the surf this winter.
Nourishing Dahl with Warming Spices
Warming Winter Spice Mix
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp black pepper seeds
¼ tsp chilli flakes (this is medium heat, adjust to ½ tsp for hot)
- Mix the above ingredients and grind them in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to release the flavour.
- The Winter Warmer Spice Mix is a perfect balance of spices to warm you up from the inside, support blood circulation, increase digestion and reduce aches and pains. Using whole spices and crushing them just before use maintains the integrity of their therapeutic qualities, as these often are lost during processing and long-term storage.
2 cups pumpkin, chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup dried red lentils
2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
500ml vegetable stock
100ml coconut milk
Olive oil for cooking
Fresh coriander, chopped, to serve
- Warm the olive oil in a pot and add all of the Winter Warmer Spice Mix, onion, garlic and ginger. Fry until the aromatic flavours are released and onions are soft.
- Add the lentils and fry for a couple of minutes whilst stirring. Pour in the stock then add the pumpkin and coconut milk. Allow the dahl to cook for 30-40 minutes on a low heat. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed. The dahl is ready when the lentils and pumpkin are soft to eat.
- Add the baby spinach at the very end after turning off the heat; stir it through and let it sit for a few minutes so the spinach wilts.
Serve with chapattis, yoghurt and fresh coriander.
Buckwheat Cumin Chapattis
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup wholemeal wheat flour
¾ cup warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
- By using cumin seeds and buckwheat flour in the chapattis they become more easily digested and less bloating.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, salt and cumin seeds. Add the oil. Start mixing and slowly add the warm water whilst mixing. Mix until you have a moist, pliable dough.
- Place a damp cloth over the dough and leave for ½ – 1 hour.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes, to make the chapattis nice and light.
- Pull off a small, palm size chunk, press into a rough cup shape and place a couple of drops of olive oil in the center. Roll the dough into a ball. Press the ball flat on the floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a thin round circle. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Heat a flat frying pan until hot (no oil), place the chapatti in the pan and cook each side for about 30 seconds. Brown spots should appear on the underneath side and the chapatti should start to puff up when it is ready to flip. Wrap them in a clean tea towel to keep them warm to serve.
Apricot and Walnut Quinoa Porridge
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
¾ cup dried apricots, chopped
½ cup walnuts, lightly crushed
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup milk, plus extra to serve (any milk will work- almond, rice, coconut or dairy)
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated from the whole nutmeg)
Honey, to serve
- Quinoa is a high protein, low GI grain from South America. Added to your morning porridge, the extra protein from the quinoa will help keep your energy levels higher for longer and prevent sweet cravings later in the day. Both the cinnamon and nutmeg are gently warming spices that support digestion. The nutmeg is also traditionally used for its calming effects and the cinnamon to balance blood glucose levels.
- Rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove bitter coating. Cook the quinoa by the absorption method as follows: Add quinoa and water to a pot and bring to boil, allow to boil for a couple of minutes then turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for 10 minutes or so, checking it doesn’t dry out.
Once half of the water has been absorbed and the quinoa has swelled, add the apricots, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/2 cup milk. Allow to simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes or so. Add more milk if needed whilst cooking.
Sprinkle with walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Serve with extra milk and honey if desired.
Surfers Spice Guide
Turmeric – warming spice that helps reduce pain
Ginger – warming spice that helps cold hands and feet
Cinnamon – warming, stimulating spice that balances blood glucose levels
Nutmeg – warming spice with calming effects
Cumin seed – slightly warming spice that assists digestion and reduces bloating
Bay leaf – stimulates appetite
Mustard – warming spice that helps coughs and sinus complaints
Coriander seed – cooling spice that increases appetite and reduces bloating
Chilli – hot spice that can really warm you up from the inside
Black pepper – warming spice that increases absorption of nutrients from food
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