Winter is about observing a vigil with our being-ness: observing, sensing and staying in alignment with the dynamic web of life. When we do, we come to know that everything we need is inside. We posses all the knowledge & tools to resource our lives within the cosmic processes of change.
Winter quietly nudges us to let go of the mind and go with inherent intuition/inner-knowing and to rest as we gear up for the next creative cycle. Contrary to what we think of the state of rest, we know it is a very complex incubation phase guided by grace. Rest is not easy, rest involves the body’s capacity to harmonize natural rhythms and balance the body’s reaction to external and internal stimulation. It is a graceful way of being alive.
Water is the biological patron in the luminal spaces; it facilitates these silent transformations inside our bodies. Water is a vast biological matrix as the body is about 75% water. Water oversees cell charge, cell division & growth, body detoxification, protein (hormones) synthesis, energy creation, among many other vital functions. Water is the power of life.
Winter nourishment supports restfulness, nourishing the kidneys, encouraging circulation to prevent stagnation, boosting immunity and warming up the entire body system.
Restorative culinary alchemy for harmony and restfulness
Culinary herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, mint, oregano are the best allies for harmony and restfulness. These green warriors are saturated with antioxidants and have antiseptic properties to protect the body against attack from free radicals and/or pathogens. They also enhance digestion.
Citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, kumquats, mandarin, grapefruits are rich in natural substances (bioflavonoids) that neutralize free radicals and therefore prevent tissue damage and arthritis. They also have an abundance of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for absorption of non-heme Iron (iron from plants). It is also the kidneys best support system as it is alkalizing and detoxifying and therefore can prevent kidney stones from forming.
Seeds and nuts support hormone balance, strengthen the heart and blood vessels.
Red and purple foods such as elderberries, red cabbage, eggplant, strawberries, kidney & adzuki beans (See Harmonizing the Stillness of Winter for accompanying recipe for legume/mushroom stew) are vital in scavenging cancer causing oxidants, boosting digestion and immunity and preventing body inflammation.
Chili improves blood circulation by tonifying arteries, supporting body detoxification, and can be used therapeutically against colds and sinus congestion.
Chocolate is a smooth muscle relaxant because of the arginine amino acid it contains. It is also a diuretic, cardiac stimulant, and a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants that aid in minimizing cholesterol damage to the arteries.
Mole is a great vehicle for many of these winter restorative foods that aid in restfulness. Mole adds earthy warmness to Winter foods such as roasted eggplants, roasted chicken or turkey, bean dishes and many other dishes. It also stores very well so you can make a big batch and use it over time.
Mole Sauce Recipe
2 jalapeno peppers (more or less to adjust heat)
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup raw walnuts
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 large plantain peeled and chopped
1 cup mango (or 1/3 cup raisins)
6 large dried guajillo (or ancho) peppers
1 large poblano pepper
4 roma tomatoes
2 corn tortillas
1/2 diced white onion
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch cilantro
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
2 cups chicken broth
1-1.5 oz 70% dark chocolate
1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon anise
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1. In a pan, dry roast the nuts for a couple minutes until aromatic. Set aside.
2. Roast the dried guajillo (or ancho) peppers in the oven at 400 degrees for 2-5 minutes until aromatic. Be careful not to burn them (they roast quickly). Allow to cool, remove stems and most of the seeds, then boil in 2 cups of water for about 10-15 minutes.
3. Roast the poblano pepper over an open flame using tongs to rotate until skin is blackened. Put inside a covered bowl and set aside to cool. When cool, scrape off most (not all) of the burnt skin and remove the stem and most of the seeds and chop.
4. Take jalapeno peppers and chop up removing the seeds (leave seeds in if you want more heat).
5. In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil, saute onions and garlic until onions start to get clear, add in plantain, tomatoes, all nuts and pumpkin seeds, mango, bay leaf, poblano pepper, corn tortillas (chopped into pieces), jalapenos, fresh cilantro and all the spices. Saute for 8-10 minutes.
6. To the large skillet with the other ingredients, add the chiles (with the water they were boiled in) and chicken stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
7. Allow mixture to cool slightly, put into a blender and puree until smooth.
8. Return to the saucepan and add chocolate and sugar. Simmer until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Add more water or chicken broth if the sauce gets too thick. If the sauce is too runny let it simmer and reduce until it is the desired consistency.