After the wet monsoon, it’s time to welcome the winter with its pleasant mornings (especially for Mumbaikars who only see heat, humidity and rains for the rest of the year) and cool breeze. However, the cold season brings with it, its maladies too. Adults and children alike suffer from cold, cough, sore throat and flu. Here is my basket of 7 winter superfoods that will keep you relatively sickness free throughout the winter months.
- Tulsi (Holy Basil): This humble plant that is more or less found in every Indian home is a mine full of benefits. It builds immunity and keeps colds, coughs and fevers away. Have 5-6 leaves daily, however, do not chew the leaves (as it erodes the tooth enamel), just keep it at the back of your mouth and slowly exert pressure with your gums to release its juices. For small kids who don’t want to chew, boil tulsi leaves in water, and give them this herbal tea. Tulsi is also a great remedy for asthma that flares up in winter months.
- Turmeric: Indians make a liberal use of turmeric or haldi in their cooking. However, in the winter, you get fresh turmeric roots which should be used to the maximum. Apart from keeping away viral infections, turmeric helps in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis that flares up in winter. An interesting way of including fresh turmeric in your diet is to make a pickle out of it. Buy mango ginger (curcuma amada) and fresh turmeric roots, wash them, peel them, finely slice them, add sliced green chillies, lemon juice and salt. Mix it well and store it in a container. Have a little every day with your meals.
- Amla (Indian Gooseberry): Come winter and the markets are awash with these pale green fruits. Don’t be fooled by its unattractive colour, this humble gooseberry packs quite a healthy punch. Amla translates to ‘nectar of life’. It is a super fruit, no idea why it isn’t getting the due that it deserves! Rich in vitamin C (it has eight times more vitamin C than an orange), it helps fight the common cold, boosts metabolism, builds immunity and relieves arthritis-related joint aches. Also, it improves the quality of hair and skin, and the eyesight. Make sure it is a part of your and your child’s daily diet. Either include it in your vegetable/fruit juice, make murabba or pickle it in salt and turmeric water.
- Cinnamon: Do you know cinnamon is the favourite spice for fall and winter baking? Also, it’s not a coincidence that cinnamon sticks are used in mulled wine or cider. Apart from its sweet taste and woody smell, cinnamon has a host of benefits. Firstly, it keeps you warm in the winter months. Cinnamon treats cold and cough, settles your stomach and boosts your metabolism. This spice is clearly a winner! Soak a cinnamon stick in hot water, and sip it when it’s comfortably warm.
- Ginger: Cold, dark winters often lead to indulgence in rich, heavy foods. Ginger eases digestion and helps to expel gas from the digestive tract. It is a time proven remedy for wintertime sniffles, runny noses and chest congestion. It helps reduce joint pains and swelling. No wonder, Indians love their ginger tea. However, include ginger in your child’s diet by adding grated ginger to his meals, baking gingerbread cookies or making fresh ginger pickle (use of new ginger roots is advisable for this pickle).
- Garlic: Call it an herb, a spice or a vegetable, the truth is, this pungent smelling root is extremely versatile in treating many illnesses. In the winter months, it’s a great food to boost your immune system and keep cold and flu away. It maintains healthy lungs and stomach, and reduces inflammation associated with various forms of arthritis. Garlic bulbs are available all the year round, however, in winter, you get fresh garlic, which looks like a slimmer version of spring onions. Finely chop them and use them generously in your dals, subjis and chutneys.
- Ghee: Don’t make that face yet! Ghee is a fat-soluble food that is rich in vitamin A, D, E and K. It helps in digestion. Having a teaspoon of ghee daily prevents dryness of the skin in the winter months, and keeps it moisturized. It provides the desired lubrication to the joints and keep them healthy. Apply ghee on kids’ rotis or pour a dollop of ghee on their rice, khichdis and dals. Or as our mommies do, make gaund and besan ka laddoos, or gajar ka halwa that make a good use of ghee.
With these commonly available winter superfoods, you can make sure that your winter is sickness-free. Enjoy the winter!!