When the clocks go back it is a reminder that serious winter is on it’s way: short, cold days and long nights, not to mention the rundown till Christmas. So many people are filled with dread at facing few hours of daylight and biting temperatures, but winter doesn’t have to be grim. The Danish concept of ‘hygge’ (pronounced hoo-ga, sort of) gets more popular every year, and shows how you can get the best out of winter.
What is hygge?
Hygge basically means coziness. It’s anything which sums up that cosy sensation of being tucked up indoors while it’s cold outside. The Danes use it to describe the positive side of winter. It’s a word which sums up that feeling of getting together with friends or family in the warm, and sharing a roast dinner, homemade soup or even just coffee and cake. Think of putting on your toastiest pair of socks and sitting by an open fire, or drinking tea under the duvet while you watch your favourite box set. It is great to embrace winter by embracing the idea of hygge, but here are a few thoughts on how to do that without just reaching for heavy, fatty foods and sweet snacks to get through those cold months.
Make hearty winter soups
A vegetable soup is a great way to warm up and gives you all those nutrients from the veggies at the same time. I make one with potatoes, leeks, carrots, green beans and a handful of pearl barley, plus some stock, a tin of tomatoes and a few herbs; whatever I’ve got left in the fridge usually. A bay leaf gives it flavour. The soup can be reheated daily if you make enough, making it an ideal snack or lunch with some bread, with zero preparation time. This is a good thing to share too with others, or to eat after a run outdoors.
People from cold countries are fond of saying there is no such thing as cold weather, only inappropriate clothing. I don’t know about that, but I agree that the arrival of winter is no reason to stay locked up indoors. If you have children, all the more reason to get out there and enjoy green spaces by playing a ball game or just exploring nature. Just wrap up warm and keep on the move. I try to get outside even more during the winter months, to make sure I get enough of a daily dose of daylight. It really helps to stop me from feeling down. Of course, a long walk in the park can be rewarded by a hot chocolate in a cosy cafe if you’ve earned it!
Start the day with a bowl of porridge.
I’m the first to admit getting out of bed doesn’t seem that appealing when it is cold and dark outside. The worst thing you can do, in my view, is follow that up with a bowl of cereal with ice cold milk. In the summer, I often eat just fruit for breakfast, but cold days call for something more warming. Porridge is the perfect option - oats give you energy right up till lunchtime, it’s the ideal comfort food, and you can always add berries, sliced apple, clementine segments or any other seasonal fruit to make sure you are getting your five a day. Some raw or manuka honey on top is a better way to sweeten it than golden syrup or sugar, if you want to keep your breakfast as healthy as possible.
Hot fruit punches
Instead of booze or slices of cake -both are allowed of course, just in moderation! - why not make a hot fruit punch to share with visiting guests. Grape juice on a low heat on the stove serves as the base. Then you can add ingredients such as cinnamon, orange slices and cloves to make a punch which is a lot like mulled wine, and fills the house with a delicious scent. Definitely a good one for that cosy, hygge feel. There is no need to bake in order to get the house smelling good. I add water to this mix as I go, since it can get quite strong-tasting if not diluted.
Happy hygge winter to all!