Winter Health Tips

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Winter brings with it cold frosty days, snowfall in some areas and long nights perfect for snuggling under warm blankets. It can also bring its own unique set of health challenges. Enjoy the winter months and feel your best with these winter health tips.

Winter Health Tips title meme

Winter Health Tips

Following these simple winter health tips helps to ensure wellbeing during the year’s coldest months. Being indoors more, colds and viruses, drier air due to heating and cloudy, overcast days all contribute to health challenges. We aren’t at the mercy of the weather or the shorter, colder days however. Taking proactive, preventative steps goes a long way toward experiencing a healthier winter.

Get Enough Exercise

Like many animals, it feels like we want to go into hibernation mode when temperatures drop. We tend to eat more and move less. Exercise is one of the best ways to combat that sluggish feeling and keep energy levels high. Even on colder, snowy days a brief walk outdoors does wonders. Some of my most beautiful walks ever took place as snow fell around me.

When the weather just doesn’t permit walking outside, move exercise indoors. Do aerobics, dance to music, ride a stationery bike, do yoga, stretch. Studies show that just 11 minutes of exercise a day improves health and extends life. Make a game out of getting those 11 minutes of exercise in each day. Use a tracking app or keep a simple notebook detailing your success.

Winter Health Tips exercise
Winter Health Tips – get enough exercise

Beware the Winter Blues

For many people shorter days with less sunshine causes a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. It’s not uncommon during the winter to feel sluggish, however those winter blues can become a depression that lasts for months.

Up to 20% of the population experience varying degrees of SAD. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include weariness, anxiety, depression, craving carbohydrates, irritability, weight gain and avoidance of social situations.

However, help is available. Sunlight decreases the symptoms of SAD. On sunny days try to spend short periods of time outdoors. Vitamin D helps too. And check out this post for foods that ease seasonal affective disorder, naturally. Stay connected to friends and family through texts, phone calls and facetime. If depression worsens seek professional help.

Winter Health Tips sunlight
Winter Health Tips – sunlight to beat the blues

Supplement with Vitamin D

Speaking of vitamin D, try adding a daily supplement to help prevent SAD and to boost the immune system. Vitamin D also supports healthy bones and teeth, improves brain health, aids the nervous system, contributes to lung function and heart health, decreases risk of flu, and regulates insulin levels. Just don’t think more is better with this supplement. Stick to 5000 IU a day for the best results.

Winter Health Tips vitamin e
Winter Health Tips – take a vitamin E supplement daily

Include Colorful Foods

During the winter months, take advantage of colorful, seasonal fruits and vegetables. They are loaded with nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals. Citrus fruits such as oranges, clementines and grapefruits add vitamin C. Winter squashes and sweet potatoes are rich with vitamin A. Check out the produce section of the grocery store at the beginning of your shopping trip and load up on fresh fruits and veggies. See how many colorful foods you can eat in a day. Your body will thank you for it with improved health and increased immunity.

Winter Health Tips seasonal foods
Winter Health Tips – eat colorful foods

Drink Plenty of Water

During the warmer months, we naturally drink more water. It’s easy during the colder months to skimp on water because we don’t feel as thirsty. Try adding citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes or oranges to a pitcher of water and set the intention of emptying the pitcher by the end of the day.

According to Anthony William, author of Life Changing Foods, citrus fruits added to water are ultra-hydrating and electrolyte producing because they are a top source of mineral salts and trace mineral salts. Plus they contribute highly absorbable vitamin C. In addition, lemons provide bioactive calcium. The phytochemicals called limonoids actually bond the vitamin C and calcium together, so where one goes in the body, the other tags along.

Winter Health Tips water
Winter Health Tips – drink enough water

Add Herbal Teas

One of my favorite practices, winter or otherwise, is afternoon tea. Those hot cups of herbal tea are especially soothing on cold winter days. Including a cup…or two…of herbal tea a day helps with hydration and provides a wealth of health benefits.

I often say “there’s an herb for that”. And there truly is. Upset stomach? A cup of hot peppermint tea soothes it. Need to unwind? Try a cup of chamomile. Feel a cold coming on? Drink a cup of nettle tea.

Here is a list of the absolute best herbal teas for cold and flu season. If you don’t think you’ll like hot tea I suggest you try it anyway. If hot tea still isn’t your “cup of tea”, steep the herbs in hot water, chill in the fridge and pour tea over ice.

Winter Health Tip herbal teas
Winter Health Tips – add herbal teas

Pamper the Skin

This time of year, with cold temperatures outdoors and hot dry air circulating indoors, many experience dry winter skin. Limit showers and baths to no more than ten minutes, if skin feels tight, dry or itchy. And use warm water rather than hot. Blot skin dry with a towel then slather on a high quality skin moisturizer. Hydrate the skin by drinking enough water and herbal teas. A cold water humidifier in the home helps to soothe dry skin as well.

Winter Health Tips skin care
Winter Health Tips – pamper the skin

Fight Germs

We all learned the importance of this tip last year. Winter brings with it more cold and flu viruses. Wash hands frequently, using the 20 second rule. Sing “Happy Birthday” while you wash hands with warm water and soap. An alcohol based hand sanitizer works well if soap and water aren’t available. And boost the immune system with sunlight, vitamin D and fresh fruits and vegetables. Add a high quality vitamin C supplement daily and keep elderberry syrup on hand. Take as directed at the first hint of a cold. Herbal teas are wonderful as well for their immune building properties. And of course, while COVID is still a threat this winter, wear a mask and observe social distancing if you must go out, wash hands and use hand sanitizer after excursions. Stay home as much as possible.

Winter Health Tips wash hands
Winter Health Tips – fight germs

Practice Self Care

Winter is a time for intense self care. With colder weather keeping us indoors, we can learn to really focus in on our bodies, emotions and needs. Creating healthy habits is a form of self care. So is moving our bodies. Go to sleep earlier. Nap in the afternoon, preferably in a patch of sunlight streaming in through the window. Reflect. Journal. Write down your thoughts.

Winter is also a time to prepare for the warmer months. Write down goals. Dream big dreams. Make plans. Learn a new language. Read. Enjoy a hobby. Try new things. Cook healthy meals. Get rid of clutter. Whatever brings you joy, do those things.

Winter Health Tips self care
Winter Health Tips – practice intense self care

Have a Cozy and Healthy Winter

I hope these simple tips give you ideas for increasing your health and wellbeing this winter. It’s the coziest time of the year. May you stay warm and well and safe and use these months to create health habits that take you into spring and beyond.

Winter Health Tips

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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

Vegan Spinach Lasagna

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Prior to becoming plant based, I made a mean lasagna. Loaded with four cheeses, a homemade meat sauce, eggs, and wheat noodles, this lasagna took hours to make. It tasted good to me back then, although now I cringe when I think about what I fed my body.

I haven’t eaten lasagna for more than four years…until this past Christmas Day. One of my 63 birthday activities, the words on this slip of paper read “Create a new dish for Christmas dinner”. I’d already decided to look for a vegan lasagna recipe. I found one, from Simply Quinoa, that I adapted slightly. Check out the original recipe HERE.

I LOVED this easy to prepare vegan spinach lasagna. Read on for the recipe and tips on making this dish for your next special meal or weekend dinner.

Vegan Spinach Lasagna title meme

Vegan Spinach Lasagna Recipe

Simple to make and absolutely delicious, this lasagna features gluten free noodles, fresh spinach, store bought marinara sauce and two vegan cheeses made from almond milk.

Vegan Spinach Lasagna ready to eat

Vegan Spinach Lasagna

Quick and easy vegan spinach lasagna is perfect for a weekend or special meal
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pkg gluten free lasagna noodles
  • 8 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 15 oz jar marinara sauce (I use sugar free)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan ricotta
  • 1 bag shredded vegan mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pan, add gluten free lasagna noodles to boiling water. Return to a boil for 2 minutes, cover and turn off heat. Let set for 14 minutes. Drain and run cold water over cooked noodles.
  • While noodles cook, wilt spinach. Place spinach in a large pan or skillet, add a couple of tablespoons of water and cook and stir over medium high heat. Spinach will wilt and reduce in volume. Remove from heat.
  • In a 9X13 pan, add a small amount of marinara sauce to bottom of pan. Layer rest of ingredients: lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, shredded cheese, spinach, Italian seasoning, sauce. Continue to layer (I made three layers), ending with marinara sauce and the last of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake for 35 - 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let lasagna stand for 10 minutes. Cut and serve. Makes 8 large servings.
Keyword Spinach Lasagna, Vegan

Tips for Making Vegan Spinach Lasagna

The Spinach

I’ve made this lasagna twice already. It’s that good. Both times I wilted the spinach, which is very easy to do and takes about a minute. I purchase a large bag of fresh spinach. The last time I prepared the recipe, I divided the spinach into two batches and wilted each separately. It was easier to manage the spinach that way. The spinach really does reduce in size as it wilts. Drain any liquid off before layering.

 

Vegan Spinach Lasagna fresh
Fresh spinach ready to wilt.
Vegan Spinach Lasagna wilted
Wilted spinach for vegan spinach lasagna.

Assembling the Lasagna

Layering the lasagna is the fun part. With the ingredients listed above, I’m able to make three layers. Adding a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan keeps the noodles from sticking.

I use gluten free brown rice noodles. My favorite marinara sauce is the Paul Newman brand. It’s sugar free and available at Wal-Mart or health conscious grocery stores. And I purchase both vegan cheeses at Natural Grocers.

Doing the layers, I’ve found one package of gluten free brown rice noodles is perfect. Assemble the ingredients, spreading them out as you layer, and finish with the last of the marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. No need to cover the dish when baking.

Vegan Spinach Lasagna ready to bake
Vegan Spinach Lasagna – ready to bake
Vegan Spinach Lasagna baked
Vegan Spinach Lasagna out of the oven.

The Taste Test

I served this lasagna at a very small family Christmas dinner. We all loved it, even the non-vegans. In fact, I believe I like it better than my old lasagna that I used to make, and that’s saying something!

The vegan cheese is not heavy and yet adds a creaminess to the dish. And I love the added spinach. It adds a wonderful flavor plus it’s so good for me. Best of all, I like that this recipe comes together quickly…prepped, baked and ready to eat in about an hour.

I could easily eat this lasagna every week! Served with steamed or roasted veggies and a big chopped salad, it makes a filling and satisfying meal. I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe too!

Vegan Spinach Lasagna ready to eat
Vegan Spinach Lasagna – ready to eat

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