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Staying Fit During the Winter

Winter is not a time of year when we necessarily want to cut back on food. Baby it's cold outside!

While we tend to eat more during the coldest months of the year, fluctuating 5 pounds is absolutely normal and understandable. That said, more than 5 pounds and I highly recommend you hit the breaks, sooner rather than later.

There are smart ways to stay fit during the winter while eating a little more than usual. If you focus on liquids, you'll do just that. I'm not talking about a liquid diet. It's a bit more substantial than that.

You can eat stews and braised dishes in small quantities, or indulge in all sorts of soups and hot beverages. Noodle soups filled with broth and loaded with vegetables, or thick bean, lentil or pea soups are my go to. They are filling, and using little to no fat, are also incredibly healthy and full of nutrients. Throw in a salad and you have yourself a balanced diet that you can live with during the winter.

If you love seafood or meat, just add small amounts in your soups, or daily meals in general. Looking to eastern food practices, animal protein is traditionally consumed in very small amounts, often considered flavor enhancers. Vegetables are always the focus of any balanced diet, whole grain taking up only a small portion of your plate though slightly more than meat or seafood protein.

Remember that winter air is dry. We feel it in our skin and the way we breathe. Loading up on liquids will not only keep us hydrated but help us flush toxins from the body, reducing the chances of getting sick.

Stay hydrated with all sorts of soups and these:

1) hot water with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a hint of honey, especially if you're starting to feel under the weather. The honey will coat your throat, the lemon juice will balance any acidity in the body, and the water will help you eliminate effectively.

2) hot cider infused with spices (cinnamon, cloves) with a splash of pure cranberry juice (no sugar added). Apples are a natural colon cleanser, and cranberry juice breaks down fat in the body, helping you to maintain a healthy weight. Be sure to buy pure organic juices with no sugar added. Pure cranberry juice is incredibly tart, for this reason, mixing it with either water or apple juice helps to drink it.

3) hot water or hot tea (No sugar or dairy added, just pure!) In Asia, drinking these after a meal is common practice and helps with digestion.

4) hot broth, any kind of broth, skimming the fat off the top first. Miso soup is a popular one and take only a few minutes to make at home. 1 heaping tablespoons shiro-miso ("white" miso) with 1-1/2 cups water, whisked over medium-low heat. Add chopped scallions, some peas if your wish and enjoy.

5) Hot chocolate—here's my recipe which is based on the Aztec hot chocolate made with water, not milk. It's no more bitter than a cup of straight up coffee. To keep it healthy, skip dairy and sugar, but try it with coconut milk, if water doesn't do it for you.

Unsweetened Hot Chocolate

Serves 1

2 tablespoons raw cacao (chocolate) powder

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch cayenne powder

4 green cardamom pods (my touch)

1 cup spring water (or replace 1/2 cup with coconut milk)

In a small pot over low heat, add the ingredients stirring well until the cacao powder is dissolved completely. Bring to a gentle boil for 1 minute and serve.

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