We are two months in now and I'm craving sunshine and a bit of warmth (above zero would be fine). A trip to Hawaii not being in the cards, I turned to registered nutritionist Emily Kennedy for advice about beating the winter blues through a vegan diet.
"Vegan or not, many of us feel low in energy and a little grumpy at this time of year," says Emily. "For vegans, consuming warming foods that are rich in essential fats that will help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins (like D) will help you through to the asparagus and sweet peas of spring and summer."
Emily's top 8 vegan energy-boosting foods:
1. Coconut Oil – raw or slightly warmed and organic, cold-pressed
2. Shiitake Mushrooms – a bit of vitamin D and protein here, and it's fun and easy to grow your own (Check out the mushroom-growing log available through Young Urban Farmers.)
3. Natto – fermented bean product, a traditional Japanese breakfast food, good for protein and probiotics
4. Pumpkin Seeds – supply much-need zinc to boost the immune system and prevent colds and flus. Soak and grind them if you want to increase digestibility.
5. Collards – I was going to say kale here, but everyone knows to eat kale! Collards are just as deserving of attention, loaded with folate, calcium and magnesium - and collard leaves do well in vegan wraps.
6. Beets – your daily dose of nitric oxide, a potent “clean-up crew” for the arteries and a sweet energizer that will help clear lactic acid after a good workout. Grate or juice them if you must, but roasting or making a beet soup is better in winter.
7. Ginger – Zing! Your wake-up call is here! Ginger is a proven tonic for fatigue, nausea and congestion. Brew some ginger tea and feel the heat! The gingerols in this ancient root increase motility too, just in case you're a vegan with sluggish bowels.
8. Dates – A very handy breakfast or snack food if you work long hours, have long workouts or a physically demanding day ahead of you. A small handful combined with some seeds or nuts is a quick fix that will keep your blood sugar from tanking.
Do you eat these foods? What's your favourite energy-boosting food?
Emily Kennedy, MSc RHN, is a registered nutritionist who works at medical and naturopathic clinics in the North York and Thornhill, Ontario areas. She is a part-time vegan, full-time personal health coach. Learn to eat intelligently. emilykennedy.ca