Staying healthy in cold, Northern regions like Maine means most of us need extra heat to balance the naturally occurring external cold of our environment. One way to maximize a healthy internal warmth can be found right in your kitchen. The crock pot enhances the warming properties of food. The longer your food cooks the more heat it absorbs. When you eat slow-cooked food you ingest that energetic quality.

While most of us need that energetic push towards warmth in winter, some people do not. If you have a condition that a Chinese medical practitioner would describe as a “heat” condition, your internal thermostat won’t register the cold of winter as an extreme. You are the person in short sleeves while everyone else is wearing two layers of fleece, or the person who doesn’t wear any socks while the rest of us buy Smart Wool and Alpaca in bulk. If this describes you, slow cooking may not be ideal for you. But before you count your blessings in the winter, ask yourself if you’re miserable in the summer heat. If the answer is yes, than winter would be a good time to address the disregulation of your internal thermostat. Then, like the rest of us, you can use seasonal foods and cooking methods to handle the extremes of your natural environment. If slow-cooking and warm clothes isn’t enough to warm you up, specific foods could help as well. Your acupuncturist can point you in the right direction.

Here’s a great vegetarian crock pot recipe. It is based on a recipe that a friend sent me, but I altered it to my liking. I hope you like it too.

Red Lentil and Butternut Stew

What you’ll Need:

3/4 Cup Garbanzo Beans, soaked the previous night
1 medium Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and cut in large pieces
3 large carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 Cup Red Lentils
4 Cups Vegetable Broth
1-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 and 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)

Directions: Put everything in the Crock pot, making sure to cut the squash and carrots in rather large pieces so they won’t completely break down during the long cooking time. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours, until the garbanzo beans are tender and the lentils have begun to break down.