Warm-up your Winter!Luke Coutinho
It is that time of the year again! The weather is changing in most parts of our country right now, and as the season changes, we must look at what nature gives us. If you look at your ancestors and grandparents to date in India, food choices are made as and when the season changes. With the onset of summer, we consume more cooling foods. Towards winter, we shift towards warming foods for better thermoregulation, to boost immunity, maintain good skin and hair health, and most importantly, to keep away from sneezing and blocked noses!
Here is a list of winter foods to keep you warm and improve your overall health:
- Ghee: Pure and ethically sourced A2 ghee is one of the most easily digestible immunity-boosting fats, which generates instant heat and energy to keep your body warm. We can change our cooking medium to ghee or add it to your roti, rice, or khichadi during the winter season. It also keeps the skin moist and prevents dryness associated with winters.
- Amla: The Indian gooseberry comes packed with immunity-boosting vitamin C, which helps to keep infections at bay. You can have amla in the form of murabba, pickles, candies, chutneys, juice, or eat as is with a sprinkle of black pepper powder. Check this article on the benefits of Amla.
- Chikki (Peanut Brittle): Winter is the season to eat chikkis or traditional energy bars. A lot of commercially bought chikki is loaded with liquid glucose, white sugar, and maltodextrin. You can make chikki at home with sesame seeds or peanuts and jaggery. These foods generate good heat in the body. Sesame seeds are a rich source of calcium, zinc, manganese, and even iron to keep the bones strong and ensure healthy blood circulation.
During winters, it is vital to maintain adequate iron levels, as iron aids in binding oxygen to RBCs. Thus, the lower the amount of iron, the lesser is the availability of oxygen in the body, and the colder you feel. The beauty of Indian culture is that chikki is also served as a traditional food during festivals like Lohri and Makar Sankranti.
- Bajra (Pearl Millet) and Maize Flour: Maize flour and bajra or pearl millet tops the charts when it comes to warming foods. These foods are fibre-rich starches that provide energy, increase blood circulation, and hence raise the body temperature. One can make rotis (flatbreads), laddoos, crackers, or millet khichadi with ghee.
- Panjiri: This dry and sweet snack prepared during winters in the northern parts of our country is very warming and believed to help relieve body pains and opens up muscles and joints. One can make different versions of this using whole wheat, millets, sattu, or moong dal flour and to this, add ghee, nuts, dry fruits, and spices like cardamom, fennel seeds, saffron, and nutmeg.
- Fresh Turmeric Root: It is an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and a significant warming food that helps stimulate your immune system. Have one teaspoon of this with salt and lemon, or add it to pickles or turmeric milk.
- Fresh Green Garlic: We call it a natural-antibiotic because of its allicin content which is a potent disease-fighting food. We know it is anti-inflammatory and of high medicinal value, and hence it is imperative to add it to your diet. One can prepare chutney of green garlic with coriander leaves and consume with meals or have it steamed.
- Ginger-Honey: The mixture of good quality ginger juice and raw unpasteurized honey will keep your body warm and prevent mucous formation. Have one tablespoon of this on an empty stomach. Check this Ginger Ladoos
- Good Quality Leafy Greens: They are a potent nutritional powerhouse, abundant in phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. The Indian dishes Sarson ka saagand Oondhyu are a great blend of traditional wisdom meant to be relished in the season.
- Ladoo: Winter is the time to consume all sorts of ladoos like methi/guar gum/urad dal/dry fruits/dates. All these are winter superfoods – warming and energizing! You can increase the protein content by adding sattu, and as long as we add jaggery to it, it is good to go, as jaggery too is a warming food and perfect for winters.
- Guar Gum: This looks like a hard raisin and is great winter food. It is fluffed in ghee and then consumed by adding it in ladoos, panjiri or by itself. It is excellent for improving strength and lubrication in bones.
- Raab / Porridge: This can be prepared with ragi or bajra. Having a warm bowl of raab is hugely beneficial, as it keeps the body warm and prevents mucous formation.
- Root Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, yam, turnips, and carrots are loaded with beta carotene which is a source of vitamin A, good fibre, potassium and manganese, most of the B vitamins and many more nutrients.
Also, root vegetables are not fattening, so we need not fear them. They help in producing serotonin which is a happy hormone, reduce free radical damage to the brain cells and also prevent oxidative stress, thereby helping the cells to be happy and healthy. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s add them to our meals and pump up our endorphins!
One could consider carrot halwa, which is savored across the country or add root vegetables to hot soups or tikkis or parathas. Check this Sweet Potato Soup recipe.
- Kadha: Kadha or herbal concoction is the way to go in winters. Take some ajwain (carom seeds), jeera (cumin seeds), fennel, Ceylon cinnamon, black pepper, tulsi, and prepare a magical concoction with these! You can add some ginger for its throat relieving properties and raw honey for sweetness.
- Green Peas: Our much loved tender green peas flood the markets in winters. They are rich in folate and protein and make a perfect winter food. Check this Sattu & Green Peas Soup recipe!
- Tulsi: This inexpensive, easy-to-grow and a widely found herb/ adaptogen has multiple health benefits, from fighting bacterial and viral infections to strengthening your immune system, especially in winters.
- Fresh Seasonal Berries: Ensure you consume the seasonal produce and berries that usually grow in this season, like strawberries and litchis. They are abundant in the winter season and are perfect for immunity.
- Jaggery: Good quality, ethically sourced jaggery is an iron-rich sweetener. It soothes throat irritation by creating a layer on the inner linings of our throat, provides a soothing sensation and reduces dryness. It also dilates the blood vessels, improves blood flow, and produces warmth in the body.
- Garden Cress Seeds: Garden cress seeds or Halim is a tiny treasure trove of nutrients. It is loaded with iron and is also an excellent source of folic acid, vitamins C, A and E, dietary fibre, calcium, protein, and most importantly, helps increase body heat. Soak one teaspoon of these seeds and add it to your smoothies or ladoos or have it with lemon water.
All these foods exist in our Indian traditions, and we need to get back to our roots! If you feel these foods make you put on weight, then you need a mindset change. Foods given by nature do not make us fat; it is poor lifestyle adoption and greed that makes us put on weight!
You can visit our platforms; Luke’s Wellness Market and Luke’s Holistic Health Store online to check our recommended brands that offer the foods mentioned above, which are of natural origin and excellent quality.
- A2 Ghee:
Adya Organics – https://amzn.to/3jlUdTc
Two Brothers Organic Farm – https://amzn.to/32Dm1N4
- Amla Honey:
- Honey and Spice – https://amzn.to/2YGe1rN
- Amla Powder:
- Natfru : https://amzn.to/2KdO1Q6
- Amla Juice:
- Satvyk – https://amzn.to/2IT9JIp
- Amla Garlic chutney :
- The Little Farm Co – https://amzn.to/3b1OYo0
- Tic Tac Toe – WhatsApp https://api.whatsapp.com/send/?phone=%2B919923516842&text=Hi+I%27m+Interested&app_absent=0
- Ladoos :
- Two Brothers Organic Farm – https://amzn.to/3kJqTFT
- Adya Organics – https://amzn.to/36xtsVU
- Taru Naturals – https://amzn.to/32xO3aW
- Two Brothers Organic Farm – https://amzn.to/2QuofqJ
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Very nice article on the winter foods. Would like to have more such articles to improve my Knowledge and put it into practice.
Would like to know more about back and knee pain in detail.
Am suffering from lower back pain, thigh and hip pain, calf and knees pain.
Would be very grateful if you can advise me to get rid of these pains.
Thank You in Anticipation.
I have done videos and blogs on this in the past. Check them out.