Carbs in Winter

Do you feel less energized yet hungrier during the winter months? This may be due to a combination of a craving for carbohydrate calories that once helped humans survive the winter months, and less sunlight. Dietician Leslie Beck also noted in the Globe and Mail a few years ago that serotonin production is also lower in winter, which leaves many people feel lethargic. Carbohydrates do temporarily increase their production.


We meet these ancient cravings with winter dishes made with ingredients our ancestors preserved for winter, like dried fruits, flour, and potatoes. These helped create traditional winter and holiday foods such as breads with jam, cakes, and of course, latkes.


Balanced Kosher Meals Can Help Moderate Carbohydrate Overload


Many people consume far too many carbohydrates in winter than modern life needs, which has contributed to the rise of Type 2 diabetes throughout the developed world. The Public Health Agency of Canada says Ontario has among the highest numbers of people with diabetes in the nation, with six percent of residents reported to have the disease in 2009.


Clearly, something needs to be done to train people to think low- (or lower-) carb. As I’ve discussed in this blog, keeping kosher means thinking about what you eat. Put this sensibility to work when you plan your grocery list and meals and look for ways to cut back on red meat and carbohydrates. I’d like to add that at Mitzyuan Kosher Catering, we walk the talk: our kosher catering menus emphasize fish, chicken, fruit, and lots of vegetables. We embrace Mediterranean, Indian, and Far Eastern dishes, which are low on carbohydrates and big on vegetables and lentils.


Think back to what they ate during the winter in the Old Country besides bread and potato dishes. They ate soups and stews, which are easy to prepare and fit in well in a kosher diet. They also don’t need carb-heavy ingredients to make for a satisfying meal.


The secret to feeling full during the winter isn’t another slice of pound cake: it’s a bowl of delish loaded with little meat and more non-meat proteins like beans, peas, and lentils.


Bean There, Done That


I was reminded about beans and peas the other day when I picked up the January/February issue of Natural Health because I wanted to read about Jessica Alba’s natural beauty secrets. (Kidding!)


I was interested in a story about “the natural ingredient that’s not,” which discusses ways to persuade people to reduce meat consumption by offering other sources for protein. Among the “pseudo-food” items it rated as tasting pretty close to meats include Beyond Meat’s “fake meat” crumbles and chicken strips made from pea protein.


Beans, of course, don’t need to be imitated since they already are meat-free and pack a protein punch comparable to meat. They bring a satisfyingly bulky presence to many meals. And when I think about it, I really do like chili even if I’m not a huge fan of other things that come from Texas.


Here’s a very easy chili recipe that replaces meat with beans and chickpeas from Craig Lefebvre, as it appears on AllTheCooks.com.




40 oz (2 small cans or 1 large) kidney beans or 1 small can each of kidney and black beans

15 oz (1 small can) chickpeas

14.5 oz can of tomatoes or 6 chopped fresh tomatoes

8 oz can tomato sauce

2 chopped garlic cloves

Chopped medium-sized onion

3 T chili powder

1 T olive oil

1 T oregano

1 t basil

½ t thyme


Rinse beans and chickpeas to remove salt, drain, and set aside.

Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil in large skillet

Add beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, sauce, and the remaining ingredients

Bring to boil, then turn down to simmer at least 20 minutes or until it gets thick


Serve with shredded cheese, crackers, or a nice thick slice of bread.


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