Winter Foods

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With the festive season around, celebrations of Christmas, New year and Wedding ceremonies being the talk of town, its chilling winters in most parts of  the world. Being under weather seems to be in fashion in this chilled weather, given the misty fog filled mornings, less of the mighty sun’s rays, more sneezing and coughing people around you and late night Christmas and new year parties, sinful desserts , indulgent hearty meals  with Family and friends, marriage buffets..all  reasons good enough for  a decline in immunity  levels and those irritating *sniff* *sniff*, *cough* *cough*…ahh did I just heard an “achoooooo”? Ummm …”Bless you”….:-)

But as a matter of fact, Winter is actually a great season to feel healthier and active, and mind you, I am talking about the good Indian winter season and not the nasty, snow filled, stormy, gloomy winters in other parts of globe.

Though non-vegetarians have easy ways to keep themselves warm with all the fat from meat , vegetarians need to figure out some simple remedies to stay warm in this season, so as to avoid the frequent bouts of cold and cough. I am sure, almost each of you reading this, is aware of the winter foods that need to be included in day to day diet, to keep those sniffs away.

Clear Soups: Like French Onion soup or Cabbage soup….Avoid adding cream to the soups.

Vegetable broth: I love the idea of cooking the bits of leftover onion, a wilted carrot, a not so fresh looking capsicum, a floret or two of cauliflower etc, with some whole spices like Bayleaf, clove and black pepper to get that clear, aromatic broth. All it needs is some rock salt, and Black pepper powder to pep up the flavors. Remember just boil the scraps of vegetables and strain. Do not mash it. You can also use this as a vegetable stock to flavor your curries, soups, Dal etc. Go fight those winter blues with the broths.

Dal ( pulses) water / Reserved liquid after boiling pulses or the liquid in which Chickpeas (Kabuli chana) or Black chickpeas (Kaala chana) are boiled. Just take a hot piping cup of this liquid, add a dash of pepper powder and maybe some freshly squeezed lemon juice for that zesty kick ;-). And who won’t love the super Rasam , the spicy aromatic SouthIndian  Soupy dish, with the heavenly peppery flavor…a bliss in the chilling winter !

The ‘C’ thing.…Citrus foods full of  Vitamin C, are excellent source of Bio flavonoids too , both of them help to boost your immunity. A word of caution though..avoid any thing citrusy or tangy if you have a sore throat.So stock some  Oranges and lemons, grapefruits and above all Awla (Gooseberry), the berry that can boast of 600 mg of Vitamin C per 100 gms of its weight…So go ahead make some pickles and Murraba using gooseberries  available in  vegetable markets, this season.

Garlic and Ginger : The two flavors that always go hand in hand, be it in Indian cuisine or Italian, Chinese or Thai. And why not ? They taste awesome together..NO? The ginger with its Gingerols (active constituent of fresh ginger) are natural cough suppressants. Not only that, ginger works wonder against headaches, nausea,  colds, flu like symptoms and helps to reduce the congestion in the lungs, thereby shielding you from the bronchial ailments . Garlic is known to have antibacterial and anti fungal properties , helps to some extent to keep a check on Cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels. But its advisable to use garlic in limited quantity, as the huge intake of garlic, especially raw garlic can lead to heartburn, allergy or even back pain. Though these are mild forms of discomfort and the symptoms generally go away on their own, its always better to be safe than sorry. So use it in moderate amounts and flavor those Pizza, sauces and curries with this pungent bulb !

Sesame seeds : The Till gud (Sesame seeds cooked with Jaggery) combination is actually a sweet way to keep yourself warm, only if you promise not to indulge heavily. A good source of   iron, manganese, magnesium and copper, the seeds helps the skin to retain moisture too ! The warmth provided by sesame seeds and jaggery is so comforting in the biting cold ! For weight watchers or for people who are on sugar free diets, well there are ample ways of incorporating these seeds in your diet……just sprinkle some roasted seeds on sandwiches or parathas before grilling or pan frying them. Toss it in your salads or sprinkle these on your dry curries.

Sweet Potatoes : Any Sindhi Person around having some nostalgic memories of a perfect winter evening , when dear mother served a glazed sweet potato cooked in sugar syrup ? Or that of an old and frail street vendor handing over few pieces of boiled sugary Sweet potatoes with some extra sugar syrup drizzled over it, all these on a tiny piece of old newspaper…well for me its a memory that will remain fresh in my mind all my life !

Here’s what this website has to say for goodness of sweet potatoes
Its vibrant color is a clue to its high concentration of Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. One sweet potato contains five times the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radicals and helps guard against smoking-related diseases like emphysema and lung cancer. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of Vitamin C and the trace mineral manganese.Though they may taste as sweet as candy, sweet potatoes have a positive effect on blood sugar. With high concentrations of fiber, complex carbohydrates and carotenoids, they help stabilize blood sugar levels. Because they also lower insulin resistance, they are thought to have anti-diabetic properties. The substantial fiber content lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease as well.

Mushrooms: WikiPedia says……

International mushroom research continues today, with a focus on mushrooms that may have hypoglycemic activity, anti-cancer activity, anti-pathogenic activity, and immune system enhancing activity.Mushrooms contain large amounts of vitamin D when exposed to UV light, such as when growing outdoors in the wild. Mushrooms and seaweeds are some of the few rich natural vegan sources of vitamin D.

So stock some mushrooms , use these in stir fries, noodles, Mixed vegetable curries, Pulav or biryanis, and even in salads.

Wholegrain cereals: Whole grains are excellent source of  phytochemicals and antioxidants,  vitamin E, fiber, iron and magnesium, zinc and copper. They also provide protein, complex carbohydrates and protective substances such as lignans , that protect our body from heart diseases and cancer .Wholegrains also help in weight management. So include in your diets, wholegrains like  Brown rice, whole wheat,oatmeal, whole oats, barley, bulgar, popcorn,amaranth, millet,quinoa, sorghum or Jowar etc

Fresh fruits and vegetables : Of course one must eat fresh fruits and vegetables whole year around, to remain healthy, but winter in India is the best season to get freshest of fruits and leafy greens. Markets are flooded with carrots and peas, turnips and sweet potatoes, Oranges, Apples, guavas, pomegranates….so just grab fresh produces, incorporate in your daily diet and reap the benefits .

In the next post, we will discuss some easy , traditional and healthy winter food recipes. If you can share any recipes, just write to me using this  Contact form.

If you are a blogger then I am sure you have already posted various recipes that come under Vegetarian winter foods. So why not share it ? Using the same contact form, send me in, the permalink of the post of your recipe , with the subject ” Winter Food Recipes”. You have one week to send in all the recipe links that you wish to share. I will include those in my next post, around 9th or 10th of this month.

Wishing you and your family a very happy and prosperous New year !

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6 thoughts on “Winter Foods

  1. anju bhambhani says:

    Hi alka , need to knw if ur aware of particular sindhi dish …. Majun ji mithai. Pls let me knw

  2. Hi Alka
    yes any Sindhi person remembers the sweet potato in the winter, the roasted Lahori gajar is a thing from childhood in Sindh and among the Sindhi diaspora.
    jiye Sindh

  3. Alka Ji………Thanks for sharing such Delicious, Mouthwatering Recipes on your Wonderful Website… Will Try all One by one. 🙂 Jai Jhulelal. Roma

  4. Lovely Post ! Have a Great 2011 !!

  5. Happy new year dear. Thanks so much for such informative post. Love it and bookmarking it 🙂

  6. Can someone throw more light on what is quinoa? What is it called in other languages because i have many recipes which use “quinoa”

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