Cooking at kitchen

Written by: Tosca Reno

It’s dark when you get up and dark when you go to bed and it’s been cold for months. Late winter is getting you down. Your butt is dragging. Is there anything to eat to boost energy? Check these strategies for firing up waning energy and get yourself back on track. You just might boost your longevity too.



LOCAL & SEASONAL. Focus on local and seasonal foods. These are not only cost effective but highest in nutritional value for this time of year. Much of what is readily available in winter includes squash, root vegetables, allium (onions and garlic) family vegetables and hardy greens and brassicas, loaded with goodness for high power energy, ideal for fuelling a winter body.

Each of these foods delivers a powerhouse of long lasting energy needed to warm the body, fuel activity, drive digestion and metabolism and feed the always hungry brain.


FUEL INJECTION. Think about each meal during the day as an opportunity to deliver nutrients that fuel your every activity. Also consider how heavily the immune system is taxed at this time of year. When we feed ourselves with appropriate nutrition, the immune system has the best opportunity to keep us well. Whole, clean foods are the best sources of these nourishing molecules.


GET YOUR GLOW ON WITH MINERALS. Ensure that your water and foods are highly mineralized. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and 92 other trace elements and minerals keep us better hydrated, protect heart function, nourish organs – each organ depends on specific minerals for optimum performance – and drive the metabolism. Minerals literally light you up from the inside out.


FIRE IN THE BELLY. It’s hard to pull energy from food if you are not digesting properly. A mistake I often see, is people having an ice cold smoothie for breakfast in the middle of winter. This is like throwing cold water on your digestive fires. The spleen and belly need to have a fire going down there in order to properly digest. Heat up your smoothies with warming ingredients like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, chili peppers and turmeric. The more goodness we can pull out of our nutrition the more energized we will be.


PLATE IT RIGHT! Every plate you stare down should be well planned. Half of it should be filled with winter veg (see TIP 1), a quarter with lean protein like grilled chicken or fish, and another quarter with whole grains that have been properly prepared – brown rice, barley, etc. Using this method helps to balance meals and deliver optimal nutrition to the body, particularly protein and fibre which both take longer to digest and therefore provide more sustainable energy.


Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: 6 (plenty of leftovers)


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and deveined, cubed
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp unrefined sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced for garnish
  • Plenty of fresh lime to squeeze over dish


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place squash on parchment lined baking sheet and bake until golden in colour – about 35 minutes. Remove from oven when done.
  4. Meanwhile heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Add onion and sauté until it just begins to soften and turns color.
  6. Add garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until onion is golden.
  7. Add spices and Worcestershire, and stir into onion and garlic (the first time I made this, I was afraid to add the full 3 Tbsp of Worcestershire!)
  8. Next, add the beans and then the rice.
  9. Combine the rice and beans evenly and cook until mixture is heated through.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste and divide between serving bowls. Top with cooked squash.
  11. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a liberal squeeze of lime.

A fitness model, motivational speaker, and Oxygen and Clean Eating columnist, Tosca is the best-selling author of “Your Best Body Now, The Eat-Clean Diet® series,” and star of her own reality TV show, and The Start Here Diet. At 40, she transformed her overweight and unfulfilled self into a strong, fit woman by eating clean. For over a decade she’s been helping people lose weight and get healthy with her no-nonsense, friendly, compassionate approach. Connect with Tosca on social media – @toscareno