INDIA New England News Columnist
I got to admit winter is not my favorite season. Brutal wind chills, black ice, chapped lips and cracked heels, those heavy jackets and snow boots, runny nose and scratchy throat. Not a fan for sure. However harsh the winter is one thing that comforts me is staying cozy by the fireplace with loved ones.
Did you know that winter is actually a season to build immunity? Sound ironical, isn’t it? But it’s true. With the help of some warm nourishing foods we can stay warm and can actually boost our immunity. Every coin has two sides J
With some research and trial error I have come up with a list of these immune boosting comforting foods that my family not only enjoys but reaps the benefits. Give it a try and let me know it if it works for your household.
- Whole Grain Cereals and Pulses – Whole grains like wheat, bajra, brown rice, quiona, lentils provide the much needed fuel to combat the cold.
- Dried and Fresh fruits – Fresh fruits like papaya, apples, peaches and pears are thermogenic in nature and provide the much needed warmth so load up on these juicy fruits. Another one to add to your list is the dynamic dates, they are loaded with essential nutrients and energy to keep you healthy. And ofcourse the all time favorite vitamin C rich fruits like oranges, berries etc that are immune boosting and keeps the cough and cold at bay.
- Nuts and oil seeds – Walnuts and Sesame seeds especially black are a must for winter. Eat them as a snack or add them to a dish.
- Vegetables – Any vegetable that takes time to grown and where the edible part is underground are warming in nature. Root vegetables like yam, potato, carrot, beets, turnips, garlic, and onion are all a good. Like some fruits there are some awesomely delicious thermogenic veggies- Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage), Greens like spinach, methi, kale etc.
- Herbs and Spices – Mustard seeds, black pepper, hot red chillies, ajwain, suva (dill), clove and cinnamon, methi seeds, dandelion, ginger (fresh or powdered), turmeric, tulsi ( holy basil) are all comforting this winter.
I love to make spice tea with these herbs and spices. Not only does it taste good but is very good for your throat.
( I use “organic india” brand)
- Ginger – ½ inch grated
- Clove- 1
- Cinnamon – 1 small
- Ajwain and Suva (dill)- ¼ tsp each
- Dandelion leaves- 2-3
Method – Infuse all the above ingredients in hot water. Let it seep for couple minutes and enjoy.
Take a step further
Have you heard of food synergy? Certain foods when combined can work synergistically to bring great nutritive value and warmth to our body. Here are some suggestions that will surely bring a smile on your face. Of course MODERATION IS THE KEY!
- Grains and Pulses (lentils) when combined with some good Fat (like ghee or clarified butter) provides the much need nourishment. That is why many Indian households make “sheera”
(made with moong dal, wheat flour,daliaa, rava, etc) “ladoo”, “paak”, “halwa” during winter. Feel free to add some nuts almonds, cashews etc for added crunch and warmth.
- Vegetables with Fat – Carrot Halwa ( carrots cooked in milk with clarified butter/ghee) provides the much needed fuel to combat the winter blues.
- Eat ‘em all together – Vegetable broth made with vegetables, whole grains and lentils with some added spice or Vegetable Khichadi seasoned with ghee and mustard seeds make a very comforting and nutritive meal.
- Oilseeds/nuts with ghee and jiggery – till ladoos or chikkis
- Nuts and seeds – make a dry snack or mukhwas (mouth freshener) with some almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, ajwain and suva. Roast them with some ghee, added some rock salt and grated dried coconut. Eat a handful after every meal. Not only does it aid in digestion it also provides warmth to our body.
Staying “fit” in winter
As the temperatures start dropping, it often interrupts with our exercise routine and activity. With not much to do, one can feel bored or depressed and lean towards food for the emotional comfort. It is very important to be mindful of what you eat and how much you eat.
- Try eating synergy foods Eg- carbohydrates with proteins (rajma chawal for eg.) this will keep the hormones in balance and uplift your mood.
- Avoid eating processed foods and also eating at odd hours
- Include some exercise going to the gym couple times/wk or exercise video will be a good substitute to those outdoor activities.
- Make sure you sleep for atleast 8 hrs everyday.
- Wear warm clothing and stay covered all the time.
If you have any age-old family winter tradition or recipes do share with us.
Wishing you all a cozy and a fit winter.