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Warm Up to Winter

December 30th, 2011 - By Therese Madden

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Registered Dietician Althea Zanecosky says what you eat can make the heat. Discover the foods that fuel your body and keep the chill at bay.


RECIPES: Need to warm up on those cold winter days? Give these spicy dishes a try!
-Harissa »
-Vegetable Curry »
-Cajun Turkey Burgers with Spicy Remoulade »
-Spicy Shrimp Noodles »
-Pan Fried Noodles with Tofu and Red Curry Broth »

Morning Coffee

You’ve probably noticed it’s cold outside…

To warm up quickly, there’s nothing like hot, nutritious, liquids. After a bowl of soup and a cup of tea, I hit the streets to talk to some people who spend their days working outdoors, even in the cold.

“My name is Tony I work outside doing construction and I like to drink coffee to keep me warm.”

“My name is Sam Burns I’m a tour director for Philadelphia trolley works and what I eat to keep me warm is pretty much anything with hot sauce.” Hot sauce, he’s on to something. According to Registered Dietician Althea Zanecosky, adding spice to your food can keep you warm for hours, “hot peppers have something called capsaicin, that’s how I say it, but I’ve heard it said a couple different ways, and in fact they are even used in creams for people who have arthritis because they generate heat. When you eat hot peppers or other real hot spicy foods, those foods create warmth in the body.”

Dried Beans

It got me thinking, what about 100,000 years ago? Ever wonder what it was like to survive a winter then? Living in caves, wearing animal skins? Janet Monge is the Acting Curator of Physical Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. She says there’s a certain amount of uncertainty about what people were eating that long ago, “we can probably as an umbrella say, that they were eating a high concentration of animal products in there diet especially in the winter time, because it would have been the only possible really source of nourishment or food.”

And meat is still a good source of iron, which is important this time of year. Zanecosky also says, “if people are cold all the time, as a dietician that’s one of the first things I will ask them is, ‘how much iron are you getting in your diet?’ when you are iron deficient, one of the first signs is that you are cold.”

Egg yolks, leafy greens, and dried beans are also good sources of iron. And one more thing, just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you should skip the fruits and whole grains, on the contrary, “carbs are the other food that we know that help our bodies generate heat. I don’t know why. Metabolically we give off more heat when we eat carbs,” says Zanecosky.

Main photo by Flicker user theothermattm / CC BY-NC 2.0
“Coffee” Photo by Flicker user k.landerholm / CC BY-NC 2.0
“Dried Beans” Photo by Flicker user dolescum / CC BY-NC 2.0

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Photo by Flicker user Chiot's Run / CC BY-NC 2.0

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By Lari Robling - April 18th, 2012

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December 2014
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