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Embrace the Bite of Winter: 7 foods to eat to keep warm

Whole grains and oats, rich in complex carbs, sustain heat by aiding digestion for an extended period



As the crisp Indian winter air nips at your nose and paints landscapes in shades of gold and rust, you know it’s time for a culinary shift. Gone are the light summer salads, cooling buttermilk, and lassi. In their place, a symphony of flavours emerges, each note is a promise of warmth and comfort.

This is the season of gajar ka halwa, a fiery orange beacon of sweetness, where grated carrots dance with ghee and nuts in a pot, their aroma filling the house with the promise of warmth. Imagine dipping a makki ki roti into sarson ka saag, emerald green mustard leaves infused with garlic and ginger, their pungency a delightful counterpoint to the winter chill.

Our country’s diverse landscape experiences a variety of winter climates, from the crisp mountain air of the Himalayas to the mild coastal chills of Kerala. But no matter where you are, there are a few nutritious foods that will help you stay warm and cozy all winter long.

Gajar Ka Halwa: This classic winter dessert made with grated carrots, ghee, milk, and nuts is not just a treat, it’s a powerhouse of warmth. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A and keeps your body temperature up. Ghee, a clarified butter, is another source of warming energy.

Sarson Ka Saag: This mustard greens dish is a staple in North Indian winters. Mustard leaves are known to boost metabolism and generate heat, while spices like garlic and ginger add an extra kick. Pair it with piping hot makki rotis (maize flour bread) for a complete and comforting meal.

Thukpa: This Tibetan noodle soup is a hearty and flavourful way to ward off the cold. The hot broth, packed with vegetables, warms you from the inside out, while the noodles provide sustained energy. You can find thukpa variations across the Indian Himalayas, each with its unique twist.

Undhiyu: This Gujarati dish is a wintertime treasure. A medley of vegetables like colocasia, sweet potatoes, and fenugreek leaves is cooked slowly in a clay pot with ghee and spices. The slow cooking process intensifies the flavors and creates a dish that is both warming and comforting.

Sakarkand Rabdi: This sweet potato dessert is a delicious and nutritious way to end your winter meal. The natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes combined with the richness of the rabdi (thickened milk) creates a satisfying treat. And the warm spices like cardamom and cloves add a touch of coziness.

Til Gur Laddoos: These sesame seed and jaggery balls are a popular winter snack in many parts of India. Sesame seeds are rich in healthy fats and proteins, which keep you feeling full and energised. Jaggery, a natural sweetener, is a good source of iron and other minerals. Plus, the small size of the laddoos makes them perfect for popping in your mouth for a quick burst of warmth.

Masala Chai: This spiced tea is a quintessential Indian beverage and a perfect way to warm yourself up on a cold day. The strong black tea base provides a caffeine boost, while the spices like ginger, cardamom, and cloves add a warming touch. You can enjoy masala chai with milk or simply black, depending on your preference.

How do some foods contribute to keeping the body in winter?

Some foods can help your body stay warm in winter by influencing different physiological processes:

·         Certain foods, like spicy peppers, ginger, and turmeric, increase thermogenesis, the process by which your body generates heat. These foods contain compounds called capsaicin and gingerols that stimulate your metabolism, causing your body to burn more calories and produce more heat.

·         Foods rich in complex carbs, like whole grains, oats, and sweet potatoes, take longer to digest, which keeps your digestive system working and producing heat for a sustained period. These foods also provide sustained energy, keeping you feeling warm and active throughout the day.

·         Foods rich in healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, help insulate your body and retain heat. They also provide essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve blood circulation and keep you feeling warm.

·         Protein-rich foods like lentils and beans help your body build and repair tissues, which is important for maintaining a healthy metabolism and generating heat. They also keep you feeling full and satisfied, reducing the urge to snack on unhealthy options.

·         Spices like cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom not only add flavor to your food but also have warming properties. They can improve circulation and give you a feeling of warmth from the inside out.

·         Sipping on hot beverages like tea, coffee, and herbal infusions can instantly warm you up. They also provide hydration, which is important for maintaining your body temperature. Choose natural sweeteners like honey or cinnamon to avoid adding unnecessary sugar.

Remember, staying warm in winter is a holistic approach. While these foods can help, it’s also important to wear layers, stay active, and get enough sleep. By combining these tips with a healthy winter diet, you can stay cozy and comfortable all season long.

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.

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