Sankranti: Reaping the Health Benefits of the Harvest

Sankranti? Then it’s time for sesame sweets and kite flying. This harvest festival is celebrated across the different regions in different ways as – Makara Sankranti, Suggi, Lohri, Maghi, Pongal, Magh/Bhogali Bihu, Uttarayan, Magha Saaji, Kicheri and so on.

The significance lies in the delicacies prepared to mark the occasion. Let’s have a look at what Sankranti brings to the table for us. Down south, this festival is celebrated by cooking pongal and sharing ellu-bella and sugarcane.

Elite Ellu-bella

Courtesy: Sizzling Tastebuds
Courtesy: Sizzling Tastebuds

It is a blend of white sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, dried coconut, jaggery and roasted Bengal gram. No doubt it’s a nutrient treasure trove. Take a look

  • Dried coconut, peanuts and sesame seeds provide the much need fats essential to combat the dry, cold winter.
  • While sesame seeds provide zinc, copper and vitamin E-like compounds, coconut provides lauric acid that keeps illness at bay by making the immunity strong and mighty.
  • Sesame seeds and peanuts are winter harvests that keep the body warm. Winters are the time of heart trouble and these two foods do their part by promoting heart health as well.
  • Jaggery gives the much-needed energy boost and the Bengal gram adds the protein power.

Maybe not exactly as ellu-bella, but across all the regions, sesame and jaggery are feasted on during this time and now we know why.

Sweet Benefits of Sugarcane

Munching on sugarcane naturally cleanses the teeth, strengthens gums and gets rid of bad breath. Apart from the extra energy you need to keep the body temperatures up and going, sugarcane is rich in flavonoids that have antioxidant action (attack and destroy chemicals that harm our body). It is also a superfood that protects the liver!

Courtesy: Cook with Smile
Courtesy: Cook with Smile

Sugarcane is the bumper harvest of this festival. Since it cannot be stored for long, it is preserved as jaggery and sakkare achchu (sugar figures).

Promising Pongal

Another popular delicacy of this festival is pongal or kichadi which is a blend of rice, dal and ghee. This nourishes the body with ample amount of energy, protein and good fats. The sweet version of Pongal is made by adding jaggery.

As Sankranti is a harvest festival, each region celebrates by cooking, sharing and eating the local harvest. Local and seasonal foods are always healthy. As a matter of fact, you will notice that all the delicacies prepared for this festival are perfect for the winter – to keep your energy levels high, body warm and immunity at its best.

New Year Resolutions for Parents to Raise Healthier and Happier Kids

New-year? Time for resolutions. We all think of starting the year fresh, develop new healthy habits or exercise more. And if you’re a parent, you’re sure to think of how to make your child more active or how to improve your child’s general health. Here are some resolutions that can help you to take charge of your child’s health.

Let the little ones grab enough ZZZZs

Sleep plays a critical role in a child’s growth and development. Moreover, sleep deprivation may lead to reduced concentration, difficulty learning and retaining new information, and may make the child hyper or moody. Make sure to set a strict bedtime to develop a healthy sleep pattern.

Breakfast is the only way to start the day the right way

A hearty nutritious breakfast is the much-needed fuel to restart the engine of the car after a night’s halt-over hence the name ‘break-fast’. It kick-starts the body’s metabolism and refuels the body’s glucose stores. Studies have shown that breakfast improves kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory. It prevents irritability, fatigue, and restlessness.

Be a role model for right eating habits

Eating together as a family is how children learn to make healthy food choices. It also gives you a chance to set an example as children mimic and learn from their parents. When all family members follow a healthy meal pattern (3 meals and 2 snacks) with appropriate meal timings, the child adopts the same.

Make nutrition a part of their life

Children are more open to trying new foods when involved in the cooking process. Give them more ownership – take them with you to the grocery store and let them pick out. It is an opportunity to educate how to differentiate between good and bad food items and to read nutrition labels. You can even ask them to help stock the refrigerator with healthy options.

Have your kids play a role in prepping foods and ask them to choose recipes for meals. Make them in charge of choosing the veggies or fruits based on their favourite colours. Let them know why their choice of food is good for health. How about a kitchen garden? Include the children in planting and maintaining the garden. They will love to learn about the foods grown by them.

Eating in the right way

Eating doesn’t mean gobbling down food nor is it okay for children to push food around their plate. Make sure mealtimes are a family affair. Screen time (like TV, mobile use, video games) during meals must be avoided as they do not concentrate on the food and may end up binge eating. Unplug and create a device-free zone or time where all family members set aside their respective devices.

Sweat it along with the little ninjas

Last but not the least, don’t forget that food and exercise go hand in hand. Encourage more activity by getting the entire family involved. Activity doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym, it can be a game of football, running and catching, or how about some fun family contests?