Foods to keep you warm on chilly days
Winter delicacies don’t have to be sinful
As temperatures dip, it’s easy to give in to the temptation to curl up on the sofa cocooned in a blanket and indulge in the ultimate comfort foods, chips and chocolate. If your taste buds veer towards Indian food, parathas bhajias and pakodas top the list. But none of these are particularly healthy and can pile on the pounds very quickly. Fortunately every region of the country has its own typical wintery delicacies that are tasty and healthy. In fact, they’re just what the doctor ordered!
Traditional northern delights
In the North, winter time equals delicacies and sweets made with sesame seed or til. Think til ladoos and til rewari. Sweetened with jaggery or honey, these sweets are perfect winter foods. Til is a good source of calcium and iron, and jaggery contains various minerals and iron. Another great alternative is chikki made with dry fruit or peanuts and jaggery. Eat these healthy and tasty treats every day to stay warm and sniffle-free this winter. These are also a far better alternative to the usual sweets eaten at this time of the year including barfi, gulab jamun and jalebi. We tend to feel hungrier in the winter so try and have these healthy treats rather than indulging in calorific and nutritively deficient delights such as cakes, jalebis or mithai.
Winter time is also the right time to indulge in seeds like pumpkin and sunflower mixed with sesame and alsi seeds. Dry roast these seeds and add a pinch of chilly and salt to the mixture. You could throw in a handful of almonds or walnuts as well. It’s a good idea to carry this snack in a zip lock bag in your handbag and take a small handful whenever in between meals hunger pangs strike.
Makki, sarson and all things warm
Another ideal winter food combination is sarson ka saag (mustard greens) with makki ki roti (corn-flour bread). If you don’t like makki ki roti, you could eat the saag with bajra ki roti, another winter specialty. Sarson is a pungent winter green and its flavor is enhanced by other warming spices like ginger and garlic when the saag is made. Cook it in mustard oil, a heart friendly, aromatic oil or ghee that also lubricates stiff joints and aids in digestion.
Both makki and bajra atta are choc-a-bloc with nutrients. Makki is a complex carbohydrate and a terrific source of fiber: as much as 5 grams per 1/4 cup serving. It also contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin andiron. In fact, it’s the perfect food to keep you warm and energized on cold days. Meanwhile bajra is a rich source of iron, phosphorous and calcium. Cold days are also a good time to try other wholegrain cereals like whole wheat, ragi and jowar, good sources of vitamin B that regulate the thyroid gland which functions as the body’s thermostat and regulates body temperature.
Warming spices for cold days
This is also the time of year to liberally use warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, saffron and pepper to add zing to food. Sprinkle cinnamon powder on stewed apples, oats, yoghurt and coffee. In fact, studies show that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar in diabetics. Pour a teaspoonful into two liters of water. Bring to a boil and cool. Drink this water all day.
Ginger, black pepper and cloves are an excellent remedy to treat colds. Have a bowl of piping hot pepper infused chicken soup or peppery rasam if you have a cold? Winter is also the right time to have your fill of winter veggies and fruits. Have your fill of spinach, cauliflower, radish, oranges, apples and pomegranates.
It’s also a good time to get your vitamin D levels checked, especially if you have achy joints and are feeling a little low. This “sunshine” vitamin is associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms besides boosting bone density and warding off breast and prostate cancers. Take supplements if required but continue to monitor levels because an excess can lead to toxicity.
Dr. Vishakha Shivdasani has a fellowship in nutrition and specializes in treating obesity and other chronic lifestyle ailments. She practices lifestyle medicine and uses her expertise to treat lifestyle ailments with nutrition and medicine.