When we’re feeling under the weather, warming foods are comforting and easy on our digestive system. Think of the cozy ‘chicken’ soup we crave when we have a cold or the steaming pot of ginger tea to clear our sinuses. Consuming hot foods during winter time is something we’re naturally drawn to, and for a good reason — they bring us warmth and provide us with the energy we need to combat the cold and the stresses of our daily lives.
Cooking our food also means that the molecules are broken down and assimilated quicker by our digestive track. In fact, many vegetables, including sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus provide us with more vitamins and minerals in their cooked form.
Apart from nourishing our bodies with essential nutrients, certain foods and spices have a thermogenic effect on our system. Consuming them raises our temperature, increases our metabolic rate, and encourages satiation. Examples of thermogenic foods include ginger, garlic, and chili peppers.
Want to know which warming foods to include in your diet to ease your digestion and help your metabolism? Here are 10 soothing plant-based foods, along with recipes from the Food Monster App to inspire you:
Raw Instant Miso Soup Bombs/One Green Planet
This traditional Japanese soup is one of our favorites thanks to its umami flavor. Miso, its main ingredient, is made up of fermented soybeans and is a perfect antidote to digestive woes as it contains Aspergillus oryzae, a fungus beneficial to gut flora. This probiotic adds on to the good bacteria in our digestive tract, which is important for properly digesting and assimilating nutrients. Along with probiotics, miso paste also gives you a good dose of calcium, iron, magnesium, B-vitamins, copper, and zinc.
Lemongrass Pho/One Green Planet
Long used to soothe a common cold, ginger root also has beneficial properties for digestion, thanks to the compounds it contains. Gingerols and other volatile oils exert a stimulating effect on gastric muscles to help our food move along. Because of this, eating ginger regularly is a good idea if you suffer from constipation or have painful and slow digestion. As a bonus, ginger can also reduce nausea and protect you from serious diseases ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disease due to its high antioxidant content.
You can include ginger — ground or freshly grated from the root — in dishes like this Lemon-Ginger Farro Salad With Pomegranate and Pistachios, this Ginger Garlic Tofu Curry, this Sticky Grilled Ginger and Miso Eggplant, or these Grilled Tofu Steaks With Orange Ginger Glaze for a warming meal.
Creamy Kimchi Zucchini Pasta/One Green Planet
Made from fermented Nappa cabbage, this Korean dish is packed with probiotics that promote healthy gut flora. It also contains vitamin C, b-carotene, B-vitamins, potassium, iron, and phosphorus thanks to cabbage, its main ingredient. Plus, Kimchi is rich in flavor, and has the perfect amount of spice to warm up your senses and elevate your meals.
Not sure how to cook with kimchi? Check out these 15 Gut-Healthy Vegan Recipes Featuring Kimchi for some inspiration. You can also try this Kimchi Chigae: Korean Kimchi Stew, these Gochujang Kimchi Sausages, and this Kimchi Poutine.
Hearty High-Protein Lentil, Kidney Bean, and Chickpea Chili/One Green Planet
A staple in Mexican cuisine, cumin is a spice that brings a pleasant heat with its earthy spicy taste and warming aroma. Its benefits aren’t just culinary however, as cumin also contains bioactive components that benefit digestion. These positive effects are due to their ability to stimulate enzymes responsible for digestion. Cumin also promotes bile production, an essential process for assimilating nutrients.
Looking for recipes using cumin? Try out this Red Kuri Squash Soup With Cumin, this Poached Tofu Shakshuka, this Black Bean Chili Pot Pie, and these Jicama Burgers With Cumin, Coriander, Dill, and Lemon.
Turmeric Ginger Oatmeal/One Green Planet
A warm and filling bowl of oatmeal is one of the most comforting breakfasts out there. Luckily, it’s also incredibly healthy and easy to digest! Oats are packed with carbohydrates, amino acids, and a variety of vitamins and minerals (vitamin E, B-vitamins, zinc, and iron). They’re also a good source of prebiotics. These gut-friendly fibers are fermented in our gut and encourage the growth of good bacteria in our digestive tract.
If you’re looking for ways to spice up your morning oatmeal, check out this Coconut Golden Chai Oatmeal, this Turtle Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal, this Gingerbread Oatmeal With Warm Cranberry Orange Sauce, and these Halva-Style Overnight Oats.
Comforting Shiitake and Kale Congee/One Green Planet
Made out of rice, water, and salt, congee is a traditional rice porridge enjoyed for breakfast in many parts of Asia. Its minimal ingredients make it a great comforting meal that’s also easy to digest. Since the rice is cooked for an long period of time, its nutrients are quickly assimilated by our digestive system and require little energy to process. The water and fiber contained in congee also help things move along.
Creamy Potato Leek Soup/One Green Planet
Commonly found in comforting soups and other hearty foods, leeks are a nutritious and delicious vegetable that have more benefits than you might think. Leeks are a good source of prebiotics to strengthen your gut flora and improve your digestion. Including leeks in lieu of onions can also give your meal a sweeter, more subtle taste.
Want to reap the digestive benefits of leeks? Try making this Tempeh Bacon and Leek Quiche, this Red Lentil Soup With Leek, Fennel, and Celery Heart, this Cauliflower Leek Kugel, and these Slow Roasted Leeks With Toasted Grains and Pesto.
Garlicky Cauliflower and Parsnip Winter Soup/One Green Planet
Garlic isn’t just a fragrant ingredient that’s essential for creating comforting warm meals, it’s also packed with gut-friendly benefits. Garlic is rich in oligosaccharides, prebiotic compounds that, when consumed regularly, will improve your digestion by stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and preventing constipation. As a bonus, garlic has antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties to help boost your immune system.
Looking for delicious recipes featuring this flavorful bulb? Some of our favorites include these Eggplants in Tomato Garlic Sauce, these Mushroom and Garlic Tarts, this Garlic Bread Soup, and these Garlic and Rosemary Hasselback Potatoes.
One Pot Spiralized Aloo Gobi: Potato and Cauliflower/One Green Planet
Sweet potatoes are another nutritious and comforting staple for warming up during winter months. They’re packed with healthy carbohydrates and a good dose of vitamins and minerals such as beta-carotene, potassium, B-vitamins, and manganese. They’re also easy to digest, and rich in resistant starch, a type of fiber beneficial to our gut.
If you’re looking for creative recipes using sweet potatoes, we’ve got you covered. Check out this Sweet Potato Waffle Rosti, this Soothing Sweet Potato and Beet Soup, these Sweet Potato and Apple Latkes, and these Sweet Potato Stuffed Shells With Cashew Alfredo.
Hearty Black Bean Soup/One Green Planet
Black beans are a great option for a warming meal, and they’re nutritious and beneficial on our digestion. These beans contain a high amount of fiber, including resistant starch, which the friendly bacteria in our guts feed on. Rich in protein and nutrients such as copper, manganese, vitamin B1, phosphorus, protein, magnesium, and iron, research also indicates that black beans may help protect against colorectal cancer.
Need inspiration to use up black beans? Give these Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchiladas, this Mexican Refried Bean Pizza, these Black Bean Meatballs With Tomato Coconut Sauce, or this Black Bean and Vegetable Cottage Pie With Cauliflower Potato Mash a try.
Comforting Miso and Ginger Soup/One Green Planet
Looking for more gut-friendly foods and comforting recipes that will warm you up this winter? Here are a few articles that might interest you:
- 5 Simple, Healthy Whole Foods That Are Easy to Digest
- Plant-Based Fiber-Rich Recipes to Feed Your Gut
- Probiotic Foods You Need to Add to Your Diet
- How to Regulate Your Digestion Using These 10 Foods
- Top 5 Fermented Foods to Eat to Build a Healthy Gut
- 25 Comfort Food Recipes Made Lighter and Healthier
- Don’t Stress Over Dinner: 15 Comforting Slow Cooker Recipes
If you want more delicious and gut-friendly recipes, we also recommend downloading the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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