For once, we’ve had a ‘proper’ winter. Plenty of blue skies, sub-zero temperatures – and snow, across much of the country. (To do battle with, once the childish thrill’s worn off.) Jo – as you may have read in her editorial last month – loves the cold. But even she loves coming IN from the cold and warming up again – that contrast is central to her enjoyment of winter, actually.
So we thought that right now is a good time to focus on ‘winter warmers’ – products, drinks, tips and tricks (and even a delicious soup) to ensure we feel toasty, no matter what the wind-chill factor.
Let’s start with things to sip – because there’s really nothing like warming your hands on a hot cup of something delicious, when you come in from the cold. We love turmeric lattes – which are super-easy to make, and delicious with it. Use any kind of milk you like – though almond is particularly delicious. Add three-quarters of a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a tablespoon of coconut oil, a quarter of a teaspoon each of ground ginger and ground cinnamon, three whole peppercorns, and a splash of vanilla extract. Whisk until well-combined and wait until the milk begins to bubble at the side of the pan. (Don’t boil – simply heat the milk). If you’ve got a hand-blender, you can use this to whisk the mixture further, creating a froth – but if not, don’t worry; it’ll still be delish. Fish out the peppercorns, and add honey to taste – we find a teaspoon is sweet enough, but you might have a sweeter tooth.
Too much faff? Or you’re not a fan of sweet drinks? Though it’s quite different, we also love antioxidant-powered Pukka Turmeric Gold tea, which is brilliant for the digestion, featuring green tea and Sicilian lemon alongside the turmeric. Another warming drink we turn to in winter is ginger tea. If we’re using ginger in a recipe, we never throw out the peelings but put them in a teapot and leave to steep in boiling water. In ten minutes or so, we’ve a brew that chases away the chill (and is also brilliant if you happen to have a cold). You can also grate fresh ginger – but those peelings make a fine tea in their own right. And for a quick, warming ginger fix, we like another Pukka product – Organic Three Ginger Tea – which blends ginger, galangal (Thai ginger) with our old friend, turmeric.
Soups do a fabulous job of warming body – and somehow, soul too. We regularly make this one, which featured in Jo’s book Yoga for Life – click here to find it, in a previous editorial Jo wrote on ‘The Yoga of Food and Drink’.
Nobody likes to feel freezing at home, in bed, at night. Even though we are lucky enough both to have ‘human’ hot water bottles in our lives, we still like the type you fill from a kettle. But Jo learned an interesting tip from a practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine, which is to hold the water bottle to her middle, rather than use it to warm her extremities as she always used to. This is considered to be the centre of the body, and if you’re warm there, you’ll be warm all over – the heat radiates outwards. (We find if our torsos are warm, outdoors – perhaps with a puffa or a fake fur gilet – then we’re warm all over. Same principle.)
Do try ‘warming’ products for skin, too. There’s a bit of a trend for thermal products, which heat up in contact with skin. They can be particularly effective at deep cleansing – and a favourite of ours is iS Clinical’s Warming Honey Cleanser, which feels just heavenly on the face as the honey-like gel gently warms on the face. A go-to winter skincare treat of ours, at least once or twice a week, this.
Baths are famously warming, too – but you can turbo-charge the effects, with the right products. Any muscle-soothing or pain-easing bath is brilliant for winter – we are big fans of Kneipp Arnica Joint & Muscle Rescue Bath, with wonderfully stimulating pine, along with arnica to relieve aches and strains. Dumping generous quantities of Magnesium Oil Original Flakes in a bath – and we mean generous (as much as a kilo) – is brilliant for a body that’s overdone it in the garden a bit, which is easily done, working to relax muscles. And we also love the ‘thermal’ powers of mud – notably Hungarymud, which stimulates blood flow. We like to soak in a hot bath, with Hungarymud slathered over the bits above the water-line (shoulders, neck and face), drawing out impurities while imparting its cocktail of minerals to the skin.
Tired, cold joints also benefit from a massage with Aromatherapy De-Stress Muscle Gel, with its soothing blend of rosemary, black pepper and ginger. There’s a ‘matching’ De-Stress Muscle Bath & Shower Oil, too – as potent as you’d expect from this wonderful aromatherapy name, capable of filling the whole house – unless you live at Chatsworth, perhaps! – with its blend of lavender, rosemary and ginger essential oils, and a wonderful warming treat in its own right.
And our very last tip is to simply this: get baking. Or cooking pretty much anything, really. You’ll feel even cosier if you invite friends over – their body heat will add to the warmth given off by the oven, which ripples out to heat other rooms. And who doesn’t feel a rosy glow, sharing just-baked cookies with friends…? So: last but not least, we thought we’d share a favourite recipe – for gingernut biscuits – from Hemsley & Hemsley, champions of healthier eating (and heroines of ours). Find this (and more) in their excellent book The Art of Eating Well.
- Two and a half cups ground almonds
- Two and a half tablespoons of ginger powder
- 3 pinches of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- Zest of one unwaxed lemon
- One third of a cup of date syrup (or a little less of maple syrup)
- Combine the ground almonds, ground ginger, sea salt, baking soda and lemon zest thoroughly in a food processor and pulse until well-combined. (As the Hemsleys put it: ‘The unique crunchy texture of this biscuit comes from not using any liquids – so this cookie mixture only comes together in a food processor.)
- Mix the date syrup until well combined – it should be sticky when pressed together, and hold its shape.
- Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball between your hands. Then press flat between your palms. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Repeat with the rest of the mixture – leaving plenty of space between then.
- When you have finished, use the flat of your hand to flatten each biscuit further (approximately half a centimetre thick). The baking soda will make them rise in the oven; the thinner they are, the crunchier they will become.
- Bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes until browned on the edges.
- As they cool, they will crisp up.
- Store in an airtight container (glass or tin) to keep them crisp.