Winter according to Ayurveda and Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks
I want you to close your eyes and take a big inhale.
And then, take a long exhale out of your mouth.
Winter is here in Australia (cue the Game of Thrones music). It’s time to pause, take a deep breath, and slow down.
According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical philosophy, winter helps balance the fast-paced nature of summer and autumn, giving you the opportunity to redirect your energy inwards, rest, reflect and practice stillness. It’s crucial to embrace winter’s change rather than fight it.
If you crave warming soups or stews but choose to drink smoothies by the fire to stay warm because they’re ‘healthy’, it’s time to change. The worst thing you can do for your body is ignore what the season tells you. According to Ayurveda, winter is the season where the Agni – digestive fire – is strongest. The body needs more fuel to stay warm and healthy in the cooler months, and the cold weather forces the fire principle deep into the core of the body – igniting our digestive capacity. Routines that follow the change of season will help you keep your health on track.
Winter food should be warm and comforting, and no, before you close this tab and call the hot chips place down the road, that’s not the kind of comforting food I’m talking about! Focus on eating warm, cooked, slightly oily, well-spiced foods with tons of flavour, and avoid frozen or cold food, excessively sweet, heavy or oily foods.
When it comes to the eating principles of Ayurveda, it’s best to drink room temperature, warm or hot beverages, and avoid iced or chilled drinks. If you tend to feel sluggish during winter, give some warming, soothing drinks a try.
If your gut needs reinforcements (hint: it most definitely does!), include a tablespoon of my love your gut synbiotic powder daily in room temperature water. It supports the digestive system with dietary fibre, digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics to help get things working well internally. You’re guaranteed to feel clearer, more energetic and brighter after just a short period of time.
I recommend consuming loads of root veggies, such as sweet potato and carrots, with hot spices, like garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and chilli. If you love to root for root vegetables, this sweet potato, broccoli and ham soup is soup-erb!
Winter is also a great time to increase your protein intake with plant based sources or other foods such as eggs, chicken, and lamb, which brings me to what you’ve all been waiting for: my delicious winter lamb shanks recipe.
Now, I know I could tempt you by telling you that these shanks will help warm up your insides, or I could say that lamb is rich in protein, which is excellent for maintaining a healthy weight, building muscles and protecting your bones, but really, these slow-cooked, hearty lamb shanks sell themselves.
They are nothing short of glorious, and I cannot wait for you to try them.
Slow cooked lamb shanks
A beautiful mixture of aromatic spices infuses the most delicious flavour into every mouthful of these succulent lamb shanks. Just brown the shanks and place all the ingredients in the slow cooker mid-morning, and by evening, you’ll have an intensely flavoursome and fulfilling meal, the slow-cooked meat just falling off the bone. Instead of dried blueberries and cranberries, you could use dates or raw honey for a touch of sweetness.
Cauliflower or celeriac mash partner these shanks perfectly.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 lamb shanks
- 100 g (3 ½ oz) mushrooms, chopped
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tablespoons mixed ground spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, turmeric, coriander, cumin and ginger
- 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- 3 tablespoons dried cranberries or blueberries
- 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) good-quality beef or chicken stock, such as the Gut-Healing Turmeric Chicken Broth
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- chopped parsley to garnish (optional)
- Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Working in batches, if necessary, cook the shanks, turning occasionally, for 3–5 minutes, or until browned all over.
- Transfer to a slow cooker.
- Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and sauté the mushrooms, carrot, celery and onion for 3 minutes, or until softened.
- Stir in the garlic, ground spices and salt, cook for 1–2 minutes, then add the mixture to the slow cooker.
- Add the dried berries, pour lemon juice and vinegar, pour in the stock, and add a few good grinds of black pepper.
- Put the lid on, set the cooker to low and leave to simmer for 8 hours.
- Transfer the shanks to a warmed wide serving bowl and spoon the sauce over the top.
- If using, garnish with parsley, and serve with your choice of accompaniments.
Note: If you don’t have dried berries, you can add fresh berries near the end of the cooking time. The shanks can also be cooked in a 100°C (200°F) oven in an ovenproof dish with a tight-fitting lid for 6 hours.
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