This article about foods to keep you warm this winter was last updated in 2022.
Short of staying tucked up in bed this winter, it can be hard to keep the cold out. If your electrical bills are rocketing and the kids are still complaining about the freezing temperature, it might be time to try something new
What we consume plays a big part in our body’s thermostat, and some foods are believed to have the ability to help keep us warm. By incorporating them into your winter diet, you’ll be heating-up your whole family from the inside out.
We’ve tracked down the best chill-busting bites for our list of foods to keep you warm this winter.
Further reading: How boost your immune system using pantry staples.
15 Foods to keep you warm this winter
Ginger keeps the chills at bay by keeping the blood flowing. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Metabolism, ginger improves thermogenesis. It may also reduce feelings of hunger and help people who are losing weight.
How to cook with ginger: Fresh or powdered ginger is delicious in stir-fries, baked goods or added to hot water to make ginger tea.
Onions have many uses in traditional medicine. One of the most popular is to help combat the common cold and other cold weather illnesses. Even if you’re in perfect health, onion tonics may help increase perspiration and bring energy to the body surface to keep you warm.
How to cook with onions: Sliced raw onions are great to top salads and pizzas, and caramelised onions are yummy on sandwiches. Pearl onions are perfect for soups, while larger onions are flavourful aromatics for roasts and stir fries.
It’s the compound capsaicin in chillies that make them oh so hot and spicy. Hot soup with chilies will warm your belly (literally) on these cold winter nights. But don’t use a lot if you’re hypersensitive.
How to cook with chilli: Try chillies in sauces and soups, roasted with winter vegetables and stir-fried with veggies.
Turmeric is a main ingredient in curry powder and gives it its spicy kick and yellow colour. Turmeric is a great at warming up the body by giving off-heat. This trendy root is also used as an anti-inflammatory and may treat symptoms of stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
How to cook with turmeric: Add ground turmeric to smoothies, shakes, soups, rice dishes, hummus and lentils. Fresh turmeric can be used the same way as fresh ginger root.
Nothing’s better than a bowl of hot porridge when it comes to food to keep you warm in winter. Porridge like hot cooked oats not only warm you up and make you feel fuller longer, it’s also super healthy. Oats can help lower bad cholesterol and, according to traditional Chinese medicine, may absorb excess moisture in the body.
How to cook porridge: Add fruits and nuts to porridge for a healthy breakfast, make overnight oats, or combine with other grains like bran and quinoa to make multigrain bread.
Honey is another warming food that will help you fight the winter chills. Ayurvedic medicine says that honey has a heating and drying effect that can clear mucus that comes with coughs, colds and flu. A small amount of honey at bedtime can also help reduce coughing spells in children age 2 and older.
How to cook with honey: Use honey to sweeten hot beverages, substitute honey for sugar in baked goods, drizzle honey on cheese and add to sauces and salad dressings.
MORE FOODS TO KEEP YOU WARM THIS WINTER
7. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are a great addition to winter sweets and baked goods. Although sesame seeds don’t come to mind when thinking of foods to keep you warm, they are one of the oldest seed oils and are full of good fats that are naturally warming. Add sesame seeds to steaming rolls and hot soups to chase the chills away.
How to cook with sesame seeds: Add sesame seeds to stir-fries, roasts, soups, salad dressings and sauces. Sesame seeds also add a subtle nutty flavour to buns, rolls and breads.
8. Root vegetables
Winter menus aren’t complete without a classic medley of root vegetables. Root veggies are delicious and naturally warming, especially when roasted or added to hot soups. Root vegetables are also packed with filling fibre and important nutrients.
How to cook with root vegetables: Roast root vegetables in the oven or on the stove top. Root vegetables with or without honey can also satisfy a sweet tooth when cooked long enough.
Ghee is a type of clarified butter that is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine as a vehicle for herbal treatments. It’s full of fats that naturally warm the body and increase the absorption of fat-based vitamins and minerals. Ghee has amazing depth of flavour and a high smoke point, making it an ideal cooking oil.
How to cook with ghee: Ghee’s nutty, sweet flavour is great for making curry and soups. Also try drizzling ghee on lobsters, other seafood, roasted vegetables and salads.
Eggs are energy-giving and rich sources of proteins and vitamins. Eating eggs for breakfast will boost your energy and warm you up when it’s cold. Eggs also help the body fight infections like coughs and colds. Yes, eggs really can help to keep you warm during the cold winter months.
How to cook with eggs: Eggs are yummy poached, hard-cooked, fried or added to pancakes, bread and other baked goods. Add eggs to salads and mix in sauces for extra richness.
Unlike other spices, cumin is mildly intense and will warm you up without burning your mouth or making you sweat. Some studies suggest that cumin may promote digestion and reduce food-borne infections. A pinch of cumin adds a smoky, sweet earthy flavour to any dish.
How to cook with cumin: Add cumin to stews, curries, spice blends and savoury recipes.
12. Whole Grains
Whole grains are healthy, complex carbohydrates that fill you up and warm your belly. One study published in the journal Nutrition found that eating carb-rich foods increased thermogenesis, which is the human production of heat. Unlike simple carbs, whole grains take longer to digest and raise your blood sugar slowly.
How to cook with whole grains: Cook whole grains like rice and add your favourite herbs and spice blends. Use whole grain flour for baking instead of regular flour for nutritious breads and sweets.
OUR FINAL FOODS TO KEEP YOU WARM THIS WINTER
13. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a key source of carbohydrates that boost energy to warm you up in winter. Dried fruits are also rich in antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory, fibre that helps you feel fuller so you don’t snack as often, and other key nutrients. Dried fruit is great eaten alone or with overnight oats.
How to cook with dried fruit: Add dried fruit to baking mixes, porridge, salads and sauces.
Bananas are rich in B vitamins and magnesium that aid the thyroid and adrenal glands in regulating body temperature when it’s cold outside. Bananas are great eaten alone or added to porridge and salads. Make a bowl of steaming porridge and top with bananas and dried fruit for a warming breakfast or snack.
How to cook with bananas: Add bananas to overnight oats or hot porridge, slice bananas for sandwiches and make banana bread.
A steaming cup of coffee is a winter staple and literally warms up your tummy. But iced coffee is also a great drink for colder days, as non-intuitive as that sounds. It’s the caffeine in coffee that signals your body to burn fuel by stimulating the release of fatty acids from tissues, which can lead to an increase in body temperature. Grab yourself some speciality coffee beans from Will & Co!
How to cook with coffee: Besides drinking it, you can make a ground coffee rub for roasts, add coffee glaze to salads and soups, or add to bean chilli and baked goods.