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Winter Is Here So Give Me the Carbs

Winter’s not entirely here, but the colder weather already has me reaching for all of my carb-heavy favorites. The temperature isn’t entirely to blame. In my case, it’s most likely the limited amount of sunshine I’m currently getting, considering lately my sleeping schedule has been mostly during the daytime hours.

The reduction in natural light has most definitely had an impact on my mental state. I wouldn’t say I’m depressed, but there has been an increase in anxiety, lethargy, and concentration. Adding more carbohydrates and fats to my diet will naturally help to boost serotonin levels and counter most of those negative feelings.

Unfortunately, foods with too many sugars or carbohydrates have a way of making my brain feel foggy and make it harder to concentrate while working. So, while I have incorporated these happy foods into my weekly meal plan. I still have to be careful about when I eat them. Usually, they are best saved for the end of the night (or day I guess since the sun is usually up at my bedtime right now) when I’m already winding down.

Also, to avoid eating too unhealthily during the winter, I try to make it a point to pick meals that will be filling by not completely stuffed with sugars or refined carbohydrates. This often results in recipes that involve a lot of beans and grains like barley and quinoa. These foods provide those warm fuzzy feelings without eating too much or causing a sugar crash.

Here is one of my favorite winter recipes I made this week and will probably make a few more times before the season is over.

Creamy Chicken Taco Soup

The original recipe was found at Cooking Classy, but I’ve since made a few alterations.

Ingredients

  • Canola Oil: 2 T
  • Medium Yellow Onion: 1, chopped
  • Jalapeno, Chili, or Cayenne Peppers: 2 to 3 of your favorite peppers diced (Use a jalapeno for a milder flavor and cayenne (be careful these are hot) for the most heat. Leave the seeds to increase the heat. Wash your hands right after chopping to avoid touching eyes or other body parts and burning them.)
  • Garlic Cloves: 3, minced
  • Chicken Broth: 32 fl oz (4 cups)
  • Chili Powder: 1 tsp
  • Cumin: ½ tsp
  • Paprika: ½ tsp
  • Salt: ½ tsp
  • Pepper: ½ tsp
  • Chicken Breasts: 2 (butterfly them if they are thick)
  • Diced Tomatoes: 1 ½ cups (if using canned, drain the water)
  • Milk: 1 cup
  • Masa Harina: ⅓ cup (flour can be substituted when necessary)
  • Black Beans: 1 ½ cups (I buy raw beans and cook them in my Instant Pot ahead of time instead of using canned. If you use canned, drain the water. Same for the pinto beans.)
  • Pinto Beans: 1 ½ cups
  • Corn: 1 cup
  • Heavy Cream: ⅔ cup
  • Optional for Toppings: shredded cheddar, avocado, tortilla chips

Directions

  1. In a big pot on Medium heat, add canola oil.
  2. When canola oil is hot, add onion and peppers and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, stir and cook for 30 seconds
  4. Add chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly then add chicken breasts.
  5. Let pot come to a boil. Then put on simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove chicken and set aside to cool.
  7. Mix masa harina and milk together. Then pour into pot along with diced tomatoes.
  8. Let mixture sit for a few minutes until it slightly thickens (turn back up to medium low or medium if necessary)
  9. Add shredded chicken, beans, corn, and heavy cream.. Let it sit for a few more minutes until thoroughly mixed.
  10. Serve warm with toppings of your choice.

If you are suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or just feel down, try talking to your doctor about your vitamin D levels. A 2,000 to 3,000 IU supplement is often needed at this time of the year to compensate for the reduction in sunlight. However, don’t take more than this amount. Too much vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia — a buildup of calcium in the blood — and lead to nausea, vomiting, weakness, frequent urination, bone pain, and possibly kidney problems.

Sitting in front of a box light for 10 to 15 minutes each day has been shown to simulate natural sunlight and reduce depressive symptoms for SAD sufferers. Also, when possible, make it a point to get outside for this amount of time each day. When it’s not, try to sit at windows that look out to nature or other visually stimulating sights.

Finally, if winter is getting you down, find someone you can talk to. We can all use some help from time to time. Want to chat with me? I’m available on discord during most of the day. You’re not alone.

Posted in featured, Food, Life 10 Dec 2019