February is the shortest month of the year, but it sure seems to drag on when you haven’t seen the sun since November. If you’ve stopped thinking the winter wonderland is wonderful and find yourself glaring at your friends’ vacation photos on Facebook, you’re not alone!
Need a way to thaw out? We’ve put together a collection of foods that will warm you right up. Order one of these items on your next restaurant excursion and you’ll beat those winter blues in no time.
1. Spicy foods: Need to warm up? Try ordering something spicy. If you’ve ever started sweating after eating hot wings or spicy salsa, you know what we’re talking about. Hot peppers contain a natural ingredient called Capsaicin that literally causes your body to heat up. It stimulates thermogenesis – the process by which cells convert energy into heat, and can cause sweating and a feeling of warmth. Hot peppers also have an added bonus for winter diners: Capsaicin is a natural nasal decongestant.
2. Grilled cheese and tomato soup: An increasing number of restaurants have realized it’s a smart move to capitalize on comfort food, and this traditional melted sandwich is popping up on menus across the country. If you’re feeling gourmet, try a variation with goat cheese and sea salt, or stick to wheat bread and American cheese just like mom used to make. No matter your cheese choice, a hot cup of tomato soup will be the perfect warming complement.
3. Oatmeal: Healthy, delicious and warm, this simple breakfast cereal does more than just warm you up. Whole grains, including oats, are high in Vitamin B, which can help ward off depression. Add fruit for some antioxidants or nuts for selenium – also thought to help fight depression. Plus, it’s easy to find: Oatmeal has been appearing on menus at many restaurants of late, including coffee shops and even fast food chains!
4. Grilled Salmon with Sautéed Spinach: It might seem counterintuitive that a meal from the water will help keep you warm, but this dish is a sure bet to beat those winter blues. Salmon is high in the Vitamin D that many people severely lack during the sunless winter months, while spinach is a great source of the iron you need to keep your energy level up during those gray winter days.
5. Chili: This hearty winter staple has all the warming qualities of soup, with the spice and meatiness of an entrée. Variations of chili abound, with everything from streak, sausage, turkey, carrots and brown sugar finding their way into recipes. Try a vegetarian version or one with ground turkey for a healthy yet satisfying take on this traditional treat. Many restaurants offer a cup of chili as a side option instead of fries (unless you want to go crazy and put it ON your fries!)
What foods warm you up? Do you have a favorite dish to fight the winter blues? Tell us in the comments below!