7 Superfoods for a healthy winter

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 superfoods that will keep you relatively sickness free throughout the winter months.

superfoods winter

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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).
  1. 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.
  1. 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 foods, you can make sure that your winter is sickness-free. Enjoy the winter!!

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The Foods For Pregnancy

I have been meaning to write this post for a long time now but somehow it got pushed for one reason or the other. When I was pregnant, my mummy’s very good friend gave me a list of things that I needed to eat every month of pregnancy.

foods for pregnancy

These foods were recommended by an Ayurveda /naturopathy practitioner. There’s a specific health reason for eating them though neither the lady nor I know them.

Remember, these foods don’t compensate for your overall nutrition. It’s over and above your normal pregnancy diet.

So here it is.

First let me tell you what not to eat or avoid during pregnancy:

Papaya, pineapple, tindora (ivy gourd), guar fali (cluster bean). Papain in papaya is known to induce premature contractions. Not sure about guar fali’s active role in miscarriage; I just know this that guar fali causes a lot of gas and intestinal distress. Better to be safe than sorry.

What to eat during:

1st and 2nd months: Most women are hardly aware that they are pregnant by this time. Hence, this nutrition diet starts only from 3rd month onwards.

3rd month:

Make a halwa of bottle gourd in milk. Don’t use mawa.

You may even eat petha.

Bottle gourd and petha have cooling properties which is required in the first trimester.

4th month:

Almond Balls

Crushed almond                               –              150 gm

Crushed candy sugar (mishri)     –              150 gm

Crushed cardamom                        –              a pinch

Long pepper (peepramul)            –              ½ tsp

Ghee                                                     –              as required

Warm a little ghee and add crushed sugar in it. Mix well. Once it cools off, add almond powder, peepramul and cardamom in the pan. Mix well. Make small 30 balls, out of the mixture, for each day of the 4th month.

Now take an earthen dish and fill some water. Put one almond ball in a small silver bowl and cover it. Now place that bowl in the earthen dish and leave it overnight.

Eat this ball the first thing the next morning.

5th month:

Eat 1 spoon Chyavanprash every morning with milk.

Coconut Sukhdi

Grated coconut                                –              150 gm

Crushed candy sugar                                      –              75 gm

Jaggary (molasses)                          –              75 gm

Ghee                                                     –              as required

In a pan, warm some ghee and add sugar powder and jaggary. Turn off the gas. Now add grated coconut in the pan and mix well. Pour the entire contents of the pan on a greased plate, spread it well and let it cool. After some time, cut into diamond shaped pieces. Eat one daily for the whole 5th month.

6th month:

foods for pregnancy

Oh, this one’s simple and every one can do it.

Every morning, drink 1 glass of warm milk to which a little saffron and cardamom powder is added.

Every night, drink 1 glass of warm milk to which ¼ sp turmeric is added.

It’s supposed to help your child have a fair complexion. I doubt this claim. I guess they are eaten for their medicinal benefits rather than the colour advantage.

7th month:

This one I had simply hated and didn’t follow it. Well, I was totally put off by cumin in my entire pregnancy.

Caraway seeds (Othmir jeera – I guess that is shahi jeera)            –              50 gm

Cumin seeds (sada jeera)                                                                             –              50 gm

Candy sugar                                                                                                       –              100 gm

Mix all these ingredients in a jar. Take 1 spoon every day for the next 30 days

8th month:

Fenugreek balls

It was ugh, so bad that I had nightmares of eating it even after my delivery. But it has lots of health benefits. That’s what counts, isn’t it?

Wheat flour                                                        –              200 gm

Fenugreek seed powder (methi)                              –              75 gm

Crushed almond                                               –              50 gm

Crushed candy sugar                                      –              350 gm

Long pepper (peepramul)                            –              1 tsp

Ghee                                                                     –              as required

In a pan, roast wheat flour in ghee. Turn off the gas as soon as the flour changes its colour. Now add the ingredients and mix well. Now make small 30 balls. Have 1 ball every morning with milk.

9th month:

There’s no dietary restriction. I remember eating everything from papaya to pineapple. As your baby is entirely formed in the womb, I didn’t see any harm in eating a little of everything. As such post delivery, there are dietary restrictions for 40 days.

Be active and have a healthy pregnancy.