The foodie’s guide to winter goodies - The New Indian Express

The foodie’s guide to winter goodies

Published: 10th November 2013 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 09th November 2013 02:42 PM

Eat local. Eat what’s in season. Eat organic. The multiple messages emanating all around are bound to leave even the most seasoned consumer confused. Modern food processing and worldwide distribution have made every variety of fruit and vegetable available all year-round. But traditionally, vegetables and fruits are seasonal. And research suggests that eating with the season is healthier as there is a variation in the nutrient content when they are harvested off-season. Moreover, when produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. And for most of us, the taste of the food is as important as the cost, if not more so. When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped from other parts of the world, and both affect the taste. “Foods lose flavour just as they lose moisture when they are held. Fresh, locally harvested foods have their full, whole flavours intact, which they release when we eat them,” says Susan Herrmann Loomis, owner of On Rue Tatin Cooking School in France and author of numerous cookbooks.

So here goes a list of fruits and vegetables that are best had in the winter months.

Oranges: Winter is the season for fresh citrus fruits and oranges are the top pick. The fruit packs in a load of the very essential Vitamin C, in addition to potassium, folate, minerals and fibre. It’s low in calories too.

Apples: This otherwise super-expensive fruit is available in plenty during the chilly months, which makes it more affordable. Bite into one for your mid-day snack, and reap its benefits.

Carrots: This root vegetable has more carotene (which the body converts to Vitamin A) than any fruit or vegetable. They are also an excellent source of Vitamins B, C, D, E and K, as well as calcium pectate. Make gajar halwa or eat them raw, this naturally sweet and crunchy vegetable is sure to make it to the top of your list this winter. It has been found that falcarinol in carrots may help fight against cancers by destroying pre-cancerous cells in tumors. The vegetable is free from cholesterol.

Mustard leaves (sarson): A winter crop, the mustard plant’s leaves are highly nutritious. The young tender leaves of the plant are flavourful and very popular in Punjab. Fresh mustard greens are an excellent source of several antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and carotenes. Commonly known as ‘sarson ka saag’, this green leafy vegetable has more Vitamin A, carotenes, Vitamin K, and flavonoid anti-oxidants than most vegetables available round the year.  Regular consumption is known to prevent arthritis, osteoporosis, iron deficiency, anaemia and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases, asthma, and colon and prostate cancers.

Peas: With their sweet taste and starchy texture, peas come loaded with phyto-nutrients that provide us with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Recent research shows that these legumes can help prevent stomach cancer. This succulent vegetable is rich in folic acid, ascorbic acid and Vitamin K. These are also high in essential B-complex vitamins and a source of many minerals.

Turnips: The best turnips come to the market in this season. A root vegetable about the size of an apple, turnips pack in insoluble fibre, folates, vitamins and minerals. This root vegetable has a rather pungent taste, which becomes mild after cooking.

Spinach: It’s counted among the world’s healthiest veggies, thanks to its nutrient richness. Vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and a host of flavonoids that offer antioxidant protection, it has them all. It is highly rich in Vitamin A, C, and K, and Omega-3-fatty acids. The tender, crispy, dark green leaves can be used in a variety of food preparations. Too much of boiling, frying or steaming may cause it to lose its nutrient contents.

Fenugreek leaves: We all know it as methi, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre and phyto-nutrients. It can lower cholesterol, help keep diabetes under check and more.

Radishes: A root crop that is pungent or sweet in taste is available in plenty during winter. This vegetable has a lot of roughage and is a powerhouse of potassium, folic acid and ascorbic acid. Eat it raw, make parathas, sambhar or whatever. Radishes are low calorie and rich in Vitamin C, folates, Vitamin B-6, and minerals like iron, magnesium, copper and calcium.

Beet: Thanks to their exclusive colouring pigment called betain, beets are cardiovascular health-friendly roots. From leaves to roots, intake of this vegetable provides you protection against coronary artery diseases, helps lower cholesterol and has anti-ageing effects. If eaten raw it is an excellent source of folate.

SARSON KA SAAG

Ingredients

● 1 bunch mustard leaves

● 1 bunch spinach

● 1 onion , grated

● 1/2 tsp grated ginger

● 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic

● 3 green chillies , chopped

● 1 tbsp grated processed cheese (optional)

● 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

● salt to taste

● 1 cup water

● 2 tbsp ghee

● 1 tbsp oil

● 1/2 tsp garam masala

● 1 tbsp maize flour

Method

1. Chop spinach and mustard leaves, wash and drain.

2. Heat oil in the pressure cooker. Add drained greens, green chillies and stir.

3.Add ginger and garlic. Add few pinches of salt and water.

4. Pressure cook till done.

5. Keep aside to cool and then blend to a coarse paste in a mixer.

6. Heat ghee in a pan, add onion and saute till brown. Add the coarse paste, garam masala, maize flour and lemon juice.

7. Stir well and cook till the oil starts to separates.

8. Garnish with cheese.

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