Winter wasn’t my favourite season growing up. Having to pull myself out of my cosy blanket, dressing up in multiple layers of clothing and standing in biting cold for our school bus, all before 6:30 am, wasn’t a welcome experience. It didn’t help matters that Mom made us gulp down all kinds of bitter kadhas to keep cough and cold at bay. However, now I’ve swapped positions and responsible of putting my kids through the same ordeal. Is it imperative to torment them though? Winter foods are by far the healthiest, tastiest and most gratifying of all seasonal foods. Why not indulge them as well as ourselves with some yummy treats?
Winter foods are one of the best ways to naturally boost body immunity against health issues in winter. They are often high in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and iron as well as natural oils and calories. It is hence important to understand their limits and benefits properly before hungrily gorging on them.
Who doesn’t like dry fruits? Try laying down them in a tray for your guests and you’ll find it wiped clean by your own family! They can be added to desserts, biryani or gravy and are the best snack ever.
- Almonds –“Acchi memory ke liye badam khao” we were told as kids. Almonds contain high amount of antioxidants and are known to cure respiratory and heart disorders. Start your day with soaked almonds for a power-packed energy boost.
- Walnuts – Walnuts are underrated because of their peculiar taste but are the loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids. They contain dietary fibres, minerals, promote gut health and help lower cholesterol. They also support good brain functioning.
- Dates – Dates have high iron content and can be used to cure anaemia. They are a boon for weight-watchers since their high natural sugar make them the perfect substitute for sweet cravings.
Apart from these cashews, figs, apricots, pistachios and other dry fruits are a great source of dietary fibre, proteins, minerals etc.
Traditional foods have been part of our cuisine through generations for a reason. Desi ghee can be enjoyed all year round and winter foods aren’t complete without its generous helping. It contains good cholesterol, boosts digestion, is good for eyesight and great for skin. Also, contrary to belief, it doesn’t make you gain weight. I can vouch for it. How can you add it in your winter foods?
- Gond ke laddoo – Desi ghee is an integral part of gond ke laddoo. Your whole home, and neighbourhood, is bound to be enveloped in the heavenly aroma of wheat flour being roasted in it. It gives them their distinct taste and also helps balance their nutritive and cholesterol content.
- Gajar ka halwa – Winters bring along red carrots that are sweeter, softer and available aplenty. Gajar ka halwa is everyone’s favourite and can be made in many different ways. Roasting grated carrot with desi ghee makes it creamier and leaves a sinful lingering sweet taste in your mouth.
- Gud ki Roti – Jaggery and desi ghee is a combination made in heaven, both in health and taste. Gud ki roti baked a crisp golden brown on both sides, punctured with a spoon and then bathed in a big spoonful of ghee is one of the best winter foods ever. Now who can resist that!
Adding desi ghee to your dal-chawal, using it for tadkas or smearing it on your chapatis are easy ways to have it daily.
Green leafy vegetables
Winters aren’t all about high-calorie food. It is also the time when many different types of green leafy vegetables flood the market. These seasonal winter foods have immense health benefits and must be included in your daily diet.
- Spinach – Remember how Popeye developed big muscles and strength the minute he downed a can of spinach? Spinach is packed with folate, plays a crucial role in red cell production in the body and is highly recommended during and after pregnancy. It is also very versatile and can be used in soups, salads, parathas and gravies.
- Sarson ka saag/ Mustard greens – Winters are incomplete without sarson ka saag, period. This incredibly nutritious leafy vegetable is high in vitamin K and C, antioxidants and reduces risk of cancer. It boosts immunity and is good for heart health too. It makes the perfect pairing with Makke ki roti and a dollop of fresh white butter.
- Fenugreek/methi leaves – Methi has a strong, unique, slightly overpowering taste. It is good for heart and improves digestion and bone health. Its leaves cannot be ground smooth like spinach or sarson and are popularly used in parathas, salads and dips. Fenugreek seeds too are quite beneficial and are often used in daily cooking.
Additionally, microgreens, red chowli leaves, kale, lettuce, cabbage etc can be added to your diet too.
Winter foods have a scope and variety far beyond this post. This is indeed an inclusive list and there’s lot more one can add to it. Would you like to share your favourite winter foods with me?
This is my tenth post in my Health and Wellness Series for #CauseAChatter. Please do share your feedback.