The body has its own way of keeping it warm, but there are several foods which are best consumed in the winter season. There are certain winter special cuisines which give more warmth to the body. It is the best season to enjoy meals such as gobhi paratha, mooli paratha and a plate of moong halwa or gajar halwa. This is also the time to have a share of green leafy vegetables. In Northern India, makki ki roti and sarson ka saag is a hot winter favourite. Winter is also the time to enjoy various seasonal fruits like oranges, grapefruit, guava, amla and lemons. Many people also relish a meal of bajra ki roti, lehsun chutney and a vegetable dish.
But the drop in the temperature causes a lot of cravings to many, leading them to indulge in sugar and fat-laden food. Winter is the season that increases Kapha in your body, making a person more prone to water retention, slow metabolism and at times weight gain too. Also, if we indulge in sugar and fat-laden foods throughout the winter season one can be exposed to the risk of various diseases such as diabetes, dyslipidemia etc.
Following are a few foods you must include in your winter diet to keep your health in check:
- Whole Grains and Pulses: Winter is the time to enjoy a variety of cereals such as bajra and maize. They can be used to prepare porridges, stuffed rotis and even dosas. This also provides variety to our cereal intake and our consumption of refined cereals like refined wheat flour decreases. You can often at bajra and jowar roti to your diet as it might help you keep fuller for longer also it adds warmth to the body due to its hot potency.
- Green Leafy Vegetables: It is the season of green vegetables such as spinach, fenugreek, amaranth, mustard leaves, bathua leaves etc which hold great nutritional value and are rich sources of vitamin A, E, K, folic acid, iron and calcium and is a must to be included at least in 2 meals. Also, green leafy vegetables have abundant potassium in them which helps in maintaining blood pressure and reducing water retention, also since they are alkaline in nature they are Kapha pacifying. You can incorporate green leafy vegetables in the form of stuffings for roti such as methi stuffed roti, spinach stuffed roti also one can have saag regularly.
- Herbs and spices: Ginger, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric and clove have therapeutic properties that can help keep winter sickness at bay, also it will help boost the slow metabolism. One can have water boiled with turmeric, ginger, ajwain and make it into a tea and have it throughout the day. They are also good anti-inflammatory herbs which improve heart health.
- Seeds and Jaggery: Til (sesame seeds) helps in providing satiety, a very good source of iron, loaded with calcium it is among one of the best-known calcium-rich sources, good source of protein, their MUFA and PUFA profile is amazing, the MUFA and PUFA ratio is very high needless to say how beneficial these seeds are for your heart health, your bones, your haemoglobin level and providing warmth to your body. The other superfood available during winters is gur (jaggery) it is always better to choose jaggery over refined sugar as jaggery contains iron, calcium, magnesium, which is not present in refined sugar. While having sugar cravings one can combine a small amount of jaggery along with sesame seeds and have this mixture post meal which not only soothes cravings but also provide protein, iron, calcium and aids digestion.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds and flax seeds are rich in fibre that increases satiety and reduces hunger, also almonds and walnuts help in maintaining blood sugar level, helps in maintaining blood pressure, aids weight loss. Also, these nuts have a good MUFA to MUFA ratio so they are very good for one’s heart health, bones etc. Consuming a handful of nuts and seeds in winters, prevent dry and patchy skin during winter season. As they are warm in nature they help in keeping warm during the cold. One should consume a handful of nuts either in the morning or by adding it into porridges.
But how to incorporate these foods into the diet?
To start your day with healthy winter options, one can have bajra porridge sprinkled with nuts for breakfast. Which will going to provide you with essential fatty acids, protein, calcium, fibre and the list goes on. It is wholesome and filling in nature and keeps you away from packaged and preserved bread/toast.
Another healthy option is to have bajra/ jowar roti with mixed dal or if you are having cravings for sweets so you can make bajra roti and add an inch of jaggery and a tsp ghee to it, this makes a very tasty sweet dish and yet very nutritious.
A very popular combination of sarso ka saag and makki ki roti is also a delicious and healthy lunch option to have along with lehsun and red chilli chutney.
Also, Besan roti with sesame chutney can be considered as a great lunch option.
While for the kids, a mixture of ghee, jaggery and til is a very good and nutritious snack for those who have a sweet tooth. This helps in their growth and development and also increase their bone mineral density.
And when it gets very cold you can sip on some ginger tea, cinnamon tea or even masala chai which not only provides you warmth in this season but also take care of the inflammation taking place in your body and protect your heart against cardiovascular diseases.
So this winter stay warm and healthy!