When winter is in full swing what foods do you think of to beat cabin fever blues?

Chances are you’re not thinking about a salad, slice of watermelon, and hamburger as you would during summer BBQ months, but rather something with a little more warmth to it, such as a soup or chowder. Winter is the perfect time for these meals as they can cook all day, filling the house with warmth and aroma. Add a fresh loaf of bread with some butter, and you’ve got a northern comfort meal that will fit any palette. These meals are hearty, warming and full of nutrients that can make coming in from shoveling the driveway or skiing the local hill something to truly look forward to. Soups are also a great food to cook with children as they are easily prepared, require few pieces of equipment, and the aromas really get them engaged!

Beating cabin fever blues doesn’t have to entail actually leaving the cabin. Sometimes getting absorbed in an activity is enough to make us forget how dreary the weather can be and provide us with a bit of relief from the season. Cooking is an activity that can keep us engaged, make us feel rewarded, and provide an opportunity to train our children in valuable life skills. I’m sure many of us have memories about cooking with our families. In fact, I remember my very first recipe, “blueberry soup,” an absolutely dreadful concoction my seven-year-old brain created one winter evening. While I don’t advise teaching your kiddos how to turn blueberries, spices, and water into a meal, winter does provide an excellent opportunity to teach them how to make other soups and stews!
Children are full of curiosity and wonder. Creating unique foods can help fuel their need for exploration and instill healthy cooking habits for life. Allowing them the opportunity to add the ingredients they want, helps to foster their innovation and cognition, and creates lasting memories that you and they will cherish forever. By the way, it has been thought that the olfactory memory, which is the recollection of scents, is very resistant to forgetting, and may explain why so many of us have fond memories of cooking with our families when we were children.

Sometimes we feel blue during the winter months because we may be lacking vitamin D, which our bodies produce from sun exposure. During these long winter days, when the sun is down as we arrive and leave work, we don’t get much exposure which can cause us to become deficient in this vitamin. To maintain adequate levels of vitamin D, we must get it from our diet, and fortified dairy contains high levels of vitamin D in many of its forms. Dairy is a large component in our winter stews and chowders as milk is often used instead of stock, and butter is used to sauté an onion or two. This addition of dairy into the diet can help prevent vitamin D deficiency, provide you and your children with the nutrients necessary for healthy bones, and hopefully help stave off the cabin
fever blues.

No matter what you do to beat the cabin fever blues, make sure you’re eating well for the season. We talked a lot about soups, stews, and chowders, but we left out my favorite… chili! I love how rich and hearty a big bowl of chili can be, with a side of some fresh bread and butter of course. Here’s a recipe that we think you and your family will love. It’s a creamy spin on a traditional chili that is sure to warm you up after a hard day in the cold. This bowl of chili provides necessary protein for recovering from that family sledding session, fiber to help fill you up, B-vitamins for energy, iron and zinc for immunity, and vitamin D from the milk to help keep immunity and mood in peak condition for these long winter months.

Take advantage of the time the season provides to be with your kids. Beyond the recipe for Creamy White Chili , branch out and try new ones; let your kids be involved in the process. Go
ahead and explore, have fun, and be well.