Health and food are interconnected and every season has its own variations as far as both the factors are concerned. Seasonal food has existed since time immemorial and has been the forte of many families to ensure the health and wellbeing of their members.
Winter is a month that offers the right opportunity to use some exotic varieties of food that are rich in fiber, color and flavors. Food that keeps the body warmer and ensures that sufficient nutrients are supplied to the body are the preferred ones. These foods also provide the necessary vitamins, minerals and functional proteins essential to keep us healthy and going.
Mainly winter food consists of legumes, berries, jams, squashes and other nutrition-packed items that are picked, prepared and packed during the much more abundant summer months.
Legumes are the food we regularly use in India but they seem to be more preferred during winter. Legumes contain abundant nutrients, fiber and protein. Legumes include kidney beans, lentils, white and black beans and so on. Legumes have a hearty, meaty taste to them which makes them high on a cold winter day when used to prepare a soup or stew or curry.
Usually, cranberries are very popular, especially in western countries. They are obtained fresh during the winter month and a lot of winter dishes are made with cranberries. Cranberries are not only fresh; they are low in calories and supply a daily allowance of vitamin C. Cranberries best go into salads, bread, muffins and as toppings in chicken and turkey preparations.
Turkey though not very commonly used in India, is today widely available and used to prepare traditional dishes during the festive season. Turkey is a staple food during winter and especially for festivals like Thanksgiving. It is an excellent food for winter since its lean, a great source of proteins and comes with low calories. The preferred dishes are usually turkey sandwiches, whole turkey roasts and delicious turkey soups.
Winter is the season for delightful fresh citrus fruits, including oranges. These fruits are loaded with vitamin C. One orange alone offers more than 100% of your daily requirement of power-packed vitamin C and other vital nutrients. Oranges contain folate, a vitamin B variant that helps to keep the heart-healthy. It also contains fiber and potassium.
Cabbage and Kale
The red cabbage variety is abundant during winter months as well as the standard range. Cabbage is low in calories and a source of natural phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin that helps keep your eyes healthy and working. Kale is a cousin of cabbage and yet another popular winter food abroad. Kale is a powerful source of healthy nutrients, beta carotene, vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium and several phytochemicals. Cabbages are best for salads, soups and stews.
Frozen foods or canned foods are not considered very healthy, but since they reach us a variety of food during winter, which helps widen our scope of food choices, they are also preferred during the lean winter months. Produce, which is timely picked, processed and stored well, can be exciting and tasty to be used during winter. They also help widen the nutrition intake.