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Food Tips for Staying Warm All Winter at Brock University

We all know how important it is to layer to stay warm outside . . . and we know about newly developed, lighter fabrics that allow effective layering. We know about the face warmers and foot warmers and hand warmers, the heat packs that insert into vests or other parts of outer wear, and about making sure shoes and boots are large enough to allow not only warm socks or liners but an air space for insulation.


But did you know that you can eat in a way that will help you stay warmer? It’s true! Digesting food requires energy or calories, which is heat. Foods that require more energy to digest will make you warmer. The actual body temperature difference seems very small, but the impact is significant.


Everyone has experienced feeling cold and hungry, even if it’s just because you got stuck outside in a chilly rain at lunchtime. You probably didn’t plan scientifically what you ate when you finally got that lunch, but more than likely you got warmer after you ate it. You might have even been hungry for something specific, possibly just the thing that would warm your body most effectively. Probably not a sugary slush but maybe a good bowl of chili?


That experience tells you something. So here are some great food tips for staying warm for winter.


Tip #1:

Food needs energy for processing, and the more energy it needs, the more likely it is to heat your body. So which foods require more energy for processing? One estimate is fats require 3%, carbohydrates require 7%, and proteins require 20% of the calories they supply for processing. That means protein is the most warming meta-nutrient, carbohydrates next, then fats.


Tip #2:

Some carbohydrates are more warming than others. Best are complex high fiber carbohydrates like beans, whole grain breads, brown rice, oatmeal, almonds and apples. Root veggies, like sweet potatoes, Idaho potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and ginger require more energy to digest than above-ground veggies so are more warming.


Tip #3:

Spices and spicy foods like cayenne, peppers, salsa, chili and mustard stimulate metabolism by as much as 20% or more so can also warm you.


OK, so if you’re a carnivore, you know what to do: have a hamburger on a whole grain bun with homemade potato salad and some toasted almonds for dessert.


What if you’re vegetarian? How about a great bowl of veggie chili, one to warm you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, one so delicious that even your carnivore friends will want to hang out in Student Lofts with you and enjoy a bowl?


Veggie Chili


  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Garlic, 1 TB
  • Green bell peppers, 2
  • Spanish Onion, 1
  • Poblano pepper, 1
  • Dried small red beans, 1/2 lb.
  • Dried dark red kidney beans, 1/2 lb.
  • Plum tomatoes, 8 large (or one 19 oz. can petite diced tomatoes)
  • Tomato paste, one 6 oz. can
  • Salt, 1 TB
  • Cumin, 1.5 TB
  • Hot chili powder, 1 TB
  • Hot paprika, 2 tsp
  • Cilantro, 1 bunch


Cook the dried beans in water to cover until quite tender. Add more water periodically if necessary, but allow water to cook down until the beans absorb most of it. Set aside.


Add extra virgin olive oil to a pot, then garlic, onion and peppers and saute until slightly softened. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and seasoning and simmer for a moment, then add the beans to the pot, and stir all together. Let simmer together so that flavors are well-blended, then add chopped cilantro and enjoy.


For more ideas about how to enjoy our cold Canadian winter, please contact us.

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