Fuel Up & Warm Up with Complex Carbs this Winter
This hearty veggie chili is delicious when you make it in the cold winter months, and it’s perfect for that active person who loves winter sports. Jam-packed with beans, chickpeas, veggies, and spices, this recipe is warming and has the right nutrients you need to get fueled up this winter!
Now I don’t want you to be scared of the word “carbs.” For years, the media and certain “health experts” have tried to push the idea that a low-carb diet is good for you. I couldn’t disagree more. Carbohydrates fuel the body and the brain. For that reason, a low-carbohydrate diet usually translates into low energy. Foods that contain sugars, starches, and fiber all belong to the carbohydrate family. Carbohydrates are divided into two categories, simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.
What is the difference and why does it matter? Simple carbohydrates are simple sugars. They are usually refined and have very little long-term nutritional benefit for the body. Examples include fruit juice, honey, milk, products with white flour, and refined sugar. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They take longer to digest, and they don’t raise blood sugar levels as much as their simple counterparts do. They contribute significantly to energy production. Examples of complex carbs include lentils, beans, zucchini, and whole grains.
Why choose complex carbohydrates? Regardless of your diet or beliefs, it is worthwhile to choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates. You will have more energy and stamina, and you will feel full longer, which may be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight (and is a better alternative to simply cutting out carbs). Furthermore, carbohydrates can be ranked on the glycemic index—a measure of the food’s effect on spiking blood sugar—and, often, complex carbohydrates rank lower, which means they are better for people monitoring their blood glucose level.
My favorite complex carbs:
Sprouted grains: Not only are sprouted grains easier to digest, they will fill you up! I like the Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 bread in a sandwich, with hummus or an all-natural nut butter or a slice of avocado.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate that contains high levels of soluble fiber, which can help remove excess cholesterol from the body. Like other fiber-rich carbohydrates, oats are slow-digesting, so they will also help you to feel full and maintain your energy levels longer. Oatmeal makes a great breakfast option!
Quinoa: Quinoa is not only a versatile complex carbohydrate that can be served as a side dish, entrée, or in salads, it’s also a high source of protein. It’s actually considered a complete protein as it contains all of the essential amino acids. And while quinoa’s a great introductory food, explore millet, amaranth, and teff too!
Brown Rice: Not only does this whole grain contain fiber, brown rice is rich in naturally-occurring oils, manganese, and selenium. A brown rice-based protein powder such as Sunwarrior is an easy and delicious way to get a healthy intake of protein and slow-burning carbohydrates.
Pears: Like grains, pears are high in fiber, thereby aiding digestion and helping you maintain a healthy weight. Rather than reach for a high-sugar fruit like a peach, I recommend choosing pears, apples, and berries instead because their fiber content helps stabilize your blood sugar.
Legumes: Lentils, peas, and beans are members of the legume family. They are high in fiber and protein. I love chickpeas, black beans, red lentils, and black beans.