Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Comfort Food Recipes & Self Care Ideas For Winter

Want to slow down, live in the moment, and truly enjoy the winter season? Check out this inspiring list of winter-themed self-care ideas and comfort food recipes from some of my favorite blogger friends. Add a few to your weekly routine & you'll be feeling relaxed and nourished in no time.

18+ Comfort Food Recipes & 11 Self Care Ideas For Winter

Last fall, I began a 4-part Seasonal Self-Care Series to share healthy activity ideas for each season of the year. I hope these posts remind & inspire you to STOP the busyness, purposefully slow down, and prioritize yourself on a regular basis.

Of course, comfort food goes hand in hand with self-care so I'm also including recommendations for specific foods or drinks that are best consumed during each season. I consider yummy food that sings to your soul a necessity.

(Note: If you're just here for the food, scroll down past the self-care tips to check out the recipes.)

You can read the rest of the series here:

Today I'm sharing Part Two, which focuses on the winter months. Following the winter solstice and spring equinox, winter officially runs mid-December to mid-March. However, there are parts of the country that stayed buried in snow until late April or early May.

If you're one of those folks experiencing six months of winter weather (even if the light is slowly increasing), it's vital to take care of yourself--both physically and emotionally.

One region in the world knows how to do this better than anyone--Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway & Sweden). These folks get six months with barely any sunlight, then another six months with hardly any darkness. Talk about extremes!

I've visited Norway several years ago (the fjords were absolutely stunning) and experienced the never-ending summer daylight. At first, it felt odd waking up in the middle of the night and cracking open a thick drape only to peer out into brightness. But I quickly adapted and actually left Norway craving the midnight sun.

The flipside of this plethora of light is the months-on-end darkness. Seems pretty daunting for us sun bugs, eh?

Well, folks in the far north have learned to welcome this cold & dark period by embracing something called hygge (Danish) or koselig (Norwegian). Both words roughly mean "cozy", and describe a feeling or moment of warmth, comfort, and happiness. Sounds perfect for winter, right?

To foster this feeling, you focus on creating a home environment that allows you to slow down and bask in the small, everyday pleasures of the moment.

Maybe that's draping yourself in a chunky blanket and reading a good book. Or sipping on a hot (spiked) beverage while outside chatting with friends. Or fixing a hearty stew in a kitchen surrounded by candles.

The best part is hygge doesn't involve buying anything. It's a feeling, not a product. So, you can achieve it using things you already own and love.

11 Self-Care Ideas For Winter:

Here are 11 simple self-care activities you can implement during the winter months of December through March (or even further into spring if it's still snowy in your area) to facilitate relaxation and keep you grounded in the present. 

1. Curl Up By a Fire

Woodburning fireplaces generate much-needed warmth, but also provide a trio of ambient light, white noise (hiss, crackle, pop), and earthy scents that combine to create the ultimate relaxing environment. Don't have a fireplace in your home? Play the audio on this fireplace Youtube video (keep the screen turned off) to mimic the cozy sounds.

2. Map Out Your Intentions & Goals For The Next 3 Months

Use these quiet, slow months to reflect & brainstorm what you'd like to achieve in the next 3-6 months. To avoid overwhelm, keep your list short & specific, then break those bigger goals down into bite-sized tasks you can hammer at every day or week for small wins and progress.

Are you a fellow entrepreneur in the online space and need some help with content strategy, time management, and goal setting? Check out Learn to Blog (Hangouts with Crystal and Kelli). I've been following these ladies for years and they're both down-to-earth & relatable. Join their free Facebook group for tons of inspiration & loads of helpful videos.  

3. Play Board Games or Cards

In a world that's seemingly digital everything, it's refreshing to use tangible things like playing cards or board games, especially when you're going to be stuck inside anyway. These are active, social games that keep you in the present moment as you hold or move plastic/metal/wooden/paper pieces, follow the rules, strategize your next move, and shoot the breeze with your competition or team members. Grab some tasty beverages + snacks and enjoy a few hours of pure, simple fun.

Don't own any board or card games? Here are some of my favorites: Jenga, Exploding Kittens, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Pandemic, Scrabble, and Space Hulk.

4. Drink Warm, Nourishing Beverages

One of my favorite parts of fall & winter are the cozy beverages. Drink them often to keep warm and make your taste buds happy. Bulletproof coffee, pumpkin spice lattes, gingerbread lattes, golden milk lattes, hot herbal tea, mulled wine, Hot Toddies, Irish coffee, hot cocoa, hot chocolate, and the list goes on! (Scroll down to the bottom of the post for some bonus hot beverage recipes!) 

5. Plan a Baking Day

Baby, it's cold outside. So, you might as well crank up the oven, get your blood flowing, dirty every single bowl & measuring utensil in your kitchen, and manage to spill dry ingredients all over the counters & floor. Maybe that's just me.

Try a few of my favorites: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, Healthy Banana Bread, and Cherry Turnovers with Homemade Cherry Pie Filling.

6. Bundle Up & Go For A Long Walk

Wrap yourself up in lots of layers, including a hat, scarf, and warm shoes, and go walking. The combo of brisk air, stillness, and bare skeletal-like tree limbs contrasted against gun-metal gray skies is hauntingly beautiful and peaceful. Bonus points if the ground is covered in snow so it feels like a winter wonderland.

7. Turn Off All Phones, Computers & Televisions

Unplug. For realsies. Turn those devices OFF (not vibrate or silent - that's still a temptation) and put them away. It'll help your attention span and let you enjoy the present moment.

8. Light Beeswax Candles

Use candles to create relaxed ambient lighting in all your rooms to make the long, dark nights more enjoyable. Beeswax candles are the best for this and SO worth the extra cost. Why?
  • First, burning them actually purifies the air (much needed in the middle of winter when you can't throw open every window for hours on end). 
  • Second, they last WAY longer than those cheaper mass-produced candles made with soy, paraffin, etc. I never believed this until I actually tried it myself, which took years because I was being a stubborn cheapskate cool person. 
  • Third, they give off a lovely light scent and contain no toxic synthetic fragrance. 

9. Handwrite a Letter 

Like #3, handwriting a letter is a personal, physical act that anchors you in the present moment. Spending 20-30 minutes to write a letter to a friend or family member, then sending it via snail mail will make them feel extremely special & appreciated. In our busy lives, time is the most valuable commodity, and when you take that time to write a letter or craft a DIY gift, it sends a big message: you matter to me. And that feels really good for both parties.\

If you don't feel like writing anyone, grab a notebook and journal instead. Do a freethought exercise (just write whatever pops in your head) or scribble down what you're grateful for instead.

10. Finally Read That One Book

You know, the one that you've been meaning to read for-evah and keep putting it off. Or it's sitting all lonely-like, half-read on your nightstand.

My nightly winter routine the past two months has been an Outlander book (I'm currently on book 4 in the series) + a Warm Blanket + a mug of Hot Herbal Tea (like Nighty Night & Nettle Leaf) + a Crackling Fireplace and it is absolute bliss for an introvert like me.

11. Take an Epsom Salt Bath

Salt baths are an excellent self-care activity all year long, but especially so in the cold winter months when you want to keep warm or relax before bedtime. I typically use a combo of Epsom salts, magnesium chloride flakes, Dead Sea Salts, vitamin C powder, baking soda, and calming essential oils (like lavender, frankincense, cypress, etc.) in my salt baths. I hope to publish my recipe on the blog here soon. :)

(Click Here To Pin This To Your Self-Care Pinterest Board!)

18+ Comfort Food Recipes For Winter

Now that I've shared my self-care tips, it's time to make you super hungry for comforting food! I've rounded up 18 warm dishes from my food blogger friends (and a few from me) that will keep your belly & soul happy in the winter months.

Lentil and Potato Stew from Alexandra of Occasionally Eggs

Alexandra says: "I always turn to soups and stews if I'm stressed or sick, and this is my favorite comforting winter meal. It's a reminder of the kind of food I grew up eating and with plenty of veggies and lentils, it's a nice cozy meal without feeling heavy."

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Lentil and Potato Stew from Occasionally Eggs

Low-Carb Ham and Cauliflower Casserole Au Gratin from Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen

Kalyn says: "This Low-Carb Ham and Cauliflower Casserole au Gratin is one of my absolute favorites when I need some cold-weather comfort food. This tasty casserole is cheesy and loaded with flavor, and if you're lucky you might have some leftovers for another meal!"

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Low-Carb Ham & Cauliflower Casserole Au Gratin from Kalyn's Kitchen

Homemade Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup from Elaina of The Rising Spoon

This recipe uses a whole cooked chicken, as well as fresh veggies & herbs, all of which add a ton of extra flavor to the soup & make it taste like a cross between traditional chicken noodle soup and chicken pot pie. It's creamy, thick & hearty--perfect for any time you're craving comfort food or need a hot meal to warm your belly.

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Homemade Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup from The Rising Spoon

Slow Cooker Beef and Vegetable Stew from Rachel of Simple Seasonal

"Slow Cooker Beef and Vegetable Stew – Fill your home with the inviting smell of a warm, savory stew all day long – without the hassle of watching it all day long!"

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef & Vegetable Stew from Simple Seasonal

Mexican Meatball Soup with Butternut Squash from Linda of The Organic Kitchen

Linda says: "Nourishing broth, winter vegetables and fresh herbs make this a favorite cold weather soup!"

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Mexican Meatball Soup with Butternut Squash from The Organic Kitchen

Low Carb Thin Crust Pizza from Stacey of Beauty and the Foodie

Stacey says: "[This] is a yummy, gluten free, low carb, keto pizza that has a thin, slightly crisp, but sturdy crust. Finally, a crust that is low carb and much like the kind at a pizzeria."

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Low Carb Thin Crust Pizza from Beauty and the Foodie

Nourishing Lamb and Spinach Curry from Yang of Yang's Nourishing Kitchen

Yang says: "Lamb is a top nourishing and warming food for winter from Chinese medicine’s perspective. Curry spices such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon are warming and healing at the same time. When [the] temperature is cold outside, eating foods that stimulate warmth within is key to keeping our health in balance."

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Nourishing Lamb & Spinach Curry from Yang's Nourishing Kitchen

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup by Elaina of The Rising Spoon

Homemade tomato soup is one of my favorite comfort food meals. Pair it with several slices of toasty cheesy bread for dipping & I'm in heaven! My recipe is made with simple ingredients like canned tomatoes, fresh basil, and carrots, which results in a light, yet cozy tomato soup that you'll want to make on repeat all year long. Bonus: it only has 10 minutes of prep!

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Creamy Tomato Basil Soup by The Rising Spoon

BBQ Chicken Macaroni and Cheese from Lane & Holly of With Two Spoons

The Gals Say: "I live in the Bold North (Minneapolis) and when the temp dips below zero, which is often does, I need food that is warm and hearty. This BBQ Macaroni and Cheese is a favorite of adults and kids alike"

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: BBQ Chicken Macaroni & Cheese from With Two Spoons

Chicken Noodle Soup from Dawn of Girl Heart Food

Dawn says: "Homemade chicken noodle soup...a classic this time of year and one of my faves. The broth is infused with dill and there’s lots of chicken and veg. Love it!"

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup from Girl Heart Food

Pasta With Pancetta, Ricotta and Tomato from Emily of Inside The Rustic Kitchen

"Delicious penne pasta with pancetta, ricotta cheese and a simple yet flavour packed tomato sauce. This pasta recipe is so easy, comforting and can be made in around 15-20 minutes. Serve this in large bowls with toasted garlic bread and salad."

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Pasta with Pancetta, Ricotta & Tomato from Inside The Rustic Kitchen

French Onion Soup with Broiled Scallops from Jacqueline of Canadian Cooking Adventures

"This Homemade French Onion soup is simmered in red wine, beef, and chicken broth. Then topped with toasted crusty bread, gruyere cheese, and some scallops. You're going to want to get yourself a set of some good quality ovenproof bowls and then you will be in business to make the best french onion soup ever."

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: French Onion Soup with Broiled Scallops from Canadian Cooking Adventures

Cheesy Alfredo Pasta Bake from Alli of Longbourn Farm

Alli says: "[This] is cheesy, easy and completely homemade. It’s perfect comfort food because it’s packed with flavor but uses minimal ingredients so it’s low stress."

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Cheesy Alfredo Pasta Bake from Longbourn Farm

Easy Beef Stroganoff Soup by Elaina of The Rising Spoon

This savory soup is made in one pot on the stove-top using simple ingredients in about one hour. Each spoonful is packed with tender beef, earthy mushrooms, fragrant onion & garlic, thick & hearty noodles, and a rich, slightly creamy & savory broth. This is simple comfort food at its best! Fix a batch any time you're craving a delicious stick-to-your-ribs meal that'll keep you warm.

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Easy Beef Stroganoff Soup from The Rising Spoon

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup from Jenn of Food with a View

Jenn says: "For me, it's all about soup and about making sure I have healthy food to eat all week at lunch, so I don't grab something unhealthy or forget to eat at all. This is one of my favorites!"

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup from Food with a View

Scottish Mince and Tatties from Samantha of My Kitchen Love

Samantha says: "Cozy, comforting and smells like something grandma would make."

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Scottish Mince & Tatties from My Kitchen Love

"A hearty broccoli cauliflower cheese soup loaded with chunky add-ins. Using a few varieties of sausage as well as bacon really ups the flavor!"

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Sausage from Low Carb Yum

"Vegetarian Skillet Enchiladas [are] my deep-dish, gluten-free, comfort-food paradise. Check out that pull-apart cheesy goodness on the top with loads of healthy ingredients underneath."

Winter Comfort Food Recipe: Vegetarian Skillet Enchiladas from The Kitchen Girl

Bonus: Comforting Winter Beverage Recipes

Ginger, Turmeric & Cinnamon Tea by Joanie of One Dish Kitchen

Joanie says: "This healing Ginger, Turmeric, Cinnamon Tea is full of immune-boosting spices. Used to halt a cold or speed up recovery. Made with fresh ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, lemon juice and sweetened with a touch of honey. Spicy, sweet and comforting."

Winter Drink Recipe: Ginger, Turmeric & Cinnamon Tea by One Dish Kitchen

Homemade Hot Cocoa with Cacao Powder by The Rising Spoon

Learn how to make a decadent & healthy hot cocoa recipe on your stove-top in minutes using cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder), cinnamon powder, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and your favorite sweetener + milk (dairy or dairy-free). Once you go homemade you'll never want to use the store mixes again.

Winter Drink Recipe: Homemade Hot Cocoa with Cacao Powder by The Rising Spoon

Turmeric Tea (Golden Milk) by Marina of Yummy Mummy Kitchen

Marina says
: "Golden Chai Spiced Turmeric Lattes are the perfect way to add some sunshine and nourishment to your cold winter days!"

Immune Boosting Elderberry Tea by Kelly of Tasting Page

Kelly says: "In winter, it seems like everyone is sick. When I see people start to fall ill around me, I reach for this immune-boosting elderberry tea. It keeps me healthy and feeling strong!"

Winter Drink Recipe: Immune Boosting Elderberry Tea by Tasting Page

Healthy Sweet Beet Hot Chocolate by Emily of Recipes To Nourish

Emily says: "When it comes to self-care and needing a little extra love, two things always come to mind - warming drinks and chocolate. This healthy Sweet Beet Hot Chocolate is a fun twist on the traditional warming drink. It's a bunch of nourishing love in a mug and perfect to cozy up with."

Winter Drink Recipe - Healthy Sweet Beet Hot Chocolate by Recipes To Nourish

Saffron-Rose Chai Tea by Molly of Easy Cooking With Molly

Molly says: This is a "healing and deliciously aromatic tea that’s a mix of soothing spices, rose, and saffron. The ‘chai tea-mix’ or ‘chai-masala’ as called in India is made at home and can be stored for months. Perfect to serve on Valentines or a special occasion."

Winter Drink Recipe - Saffron-Rose Chai Tea by Easy Cooking With Molly

Thick Hot Chocolate with London Fog Whipped Cream by Mikaela of Wyldflour

Mikaela says: "Thick hot chocolate is my go-to winter splurge. Everything about it to me signifies warm and cozy and being curled up in front of the fireplace with a blanket and watching the snow come down! My winter heaven!"

Winter Drink Recipe - Thick Hot Chocolate with London Fog Whipped Cream by Wyldflour

Fire Vinegar by Holly of Taste And See 

A powerhouse mixture of vinegar, onion, garlic, horseradish, ginger root, and fresh herbs to support your immune system through the winter months. Also works as a tasty salad dressing.

Winter Drink Recipe - Fire Vinegar by Taste And See

Click Here To Pin This To Your Comfort Food Recipes Pinterest Board!  

Want to slow down, live in the moment, and truly enjoy the winter season? Check out this inspiring list of winter-themed self-care ideas and comfort food recipes from some of my favorite blogger friends. Add a few to your weekly routine & you'll be feeling relaxed and nourished in no time.

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MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

Hot Chocolate Winter Photo by Jill Wellington on Pixabay via Pexels (Creative Commons Zero license)

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