Fall routines for a healthier winter

October 26, 2022

This is my favorite time of year. To me it is the season of routine, crisp weather, sweaters and lattes!

As you read this we are well into Fall and perhaps have started to skip our walks, becoming less active because of shorter days and cooler weather. What I have noticed in my practice, is that this time of year is KEY to setting us up for Healthy Winter months. This is the time of year that we can walk, bike or run outside 5-7 days per week without weather being an obstacle. We are much more likely to continue to be active at least a few days per week once the colder months are upon us if we are active in the fall. We all find it more difficult to start regular exercise in January and maintain it throughout the winter and spring months if it hasn’t already been a regular part of our routine.Darker mornings and evenings along with cooler months make it harder for us to stay motivated.

Benefits of staying active in winter

With colder months we may start to sit more, socialize less, and stay indoors more. This means we have less exposure to Vitamin D which has been shown to boost serotonin levels (which boosts our mood and helps to regulate our food cravings). Exercise and any movement also boosts our serotonin as much or more than anything else we can do or eat. Logically, why would we avoid it? As our energy decreases with the shorter days we find it harder to stay active but I guarantee, if you stay active your energy will be higher, and your mood more stable throughout the shorter days and colder months.

There is a vast number of studies that show that exercise improves memory and improves brain health. The conclusion of one study from the National Center of Biotechnology Information stated that there is adequate evidence that shows that physical exercise (PE) is a strong gene modulator that induces structural and functional changes in the brain, determining menormous benefit on both cognitive functioning mand wellbeing. PE is also a protective factor for neurodegeneration. This study was conducted April 27, 2018. I included the study link at the end of this article.

Exercise ideas

Yoga, chair yoga, swimming, walking, running, weights, biking, and yardwork.

A fun healthy recipe

Here is a healthy recipe that will satisfy our cravings for comfort foods! The reason to choose a healthy latte recipe is that they contain less sugar and little to no artificial ingredients.

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Latte

This healthy Pumpkin Spice latte is a lighter, healthier alternative, using 5 easy ingredients.

  • 1 cup of brewed coffee
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 tsp of almond butter
  • 1 tbsp of pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice

It tastes like a decadent coffee drink, without using refined sugar or preservatives. You can use 2% milk, skim, or your favourite nondairy milk to make it at home! Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of spices that you can buy as a pre-made mix, but you can also make your own.

Pumpkin Pie Spice:

  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves or allspice
  • You’ll need 1/4 tsp of this mix for the recipe, but if you make two servings, use all of it!

How to make a pumpkin spice latte:

  1. Stir the ingredients. Add the coffee, milk, pumpkin, maple syrup, and spice to a small saucepan and whisk them together to make sure the pumpkin is incorporated smoothly.
  2. Warm it up. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, over medium-high heat. When it starts to simmer, test it to see if it is the right temperature for you.
  3. Enjoy! Garnish your latte with whipped cream and extra pumpkin pie spice on top, for a coffee drink that looks like it came from a coffee shop. I typically make this recipe with almond milk, but you can use any milk. I recommend using homemade oat milk for cold lattes only because it will thicken when heated, unlike store bought.

Helpful Tips

You can always add more sweetener. 1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup makes it taste like a coffee shop version. The perk of making it at home is that you’re in total control of the final outcome. You can use honey or maple syrup, which both easily dissolve into the drink.

Adding pumpkin puree to coffee can give it a slightly grainy texture if you let the drink rest too long, so keep that in mind when making this! Just stir it again to re-incorporate, if needed.

If you don’t care for coffee, feel free to use extra almond milk instead, for a caffeine-free drink. It will be more of a steamer. You could also use your favorite tea to replace the coffee.

To make it an iced drink simply whisk the ingredients together and serve it over ice.

Enjoy your lattes and the fall!