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Winter produce at its best


In our country the winter season generally lasts from October to March. The days begin to get shorter and there is often just so much more to do, in terms of cooking and eating. A reason behind this is the ample amount of a variety of produce that becomes available in winter. When I close my eyes and think of the colours that correspond with winter I see lovely hues of greens, reds and oranges.
Why don’t you try it? Close your eyes and think of the vegetables as well as various fruit that you associate with winter. Let us try and get to know the goodness that lies hidden in the wonderfully colourful world of winter vegetables and fruit:
Spinach

I took to spinach as a fan of Popeye the sailor man who in testing times grabs a tin full of spinach and wins against his rival. I shred palak leaves to use in soup or steam them to pair up with a healthy dose of cottage cheese to make an irresistible palak paneer or knead it into my dough to reap its goodness in the form of the regular roti. The green leafy vegetable is known for its high content of iron. Other than that, spinach leaves are a rich source of carotenoids and flavonoids which are an important source of anti oxidants for our bodies. Spinach is also rich in various minerals and vitamins that are a must have for everyone, especially growing kids like you.
Fenugreek leaves

Methi or fenugreek leaves are more commonly known as a close cousin of spinach. The green leaves bunched together offer as many benefits for your body and immune system as any other vegetable. Rich in fibre content and minerals, fenugreek leaves are known to help lower cholesterol ­— the harmful part of fat — as well as help to control the dreadful disease diabetes.
Radishes and Carrots

The two root crops carrots and radishes are known for their high fibre content but that is just the beginning of how power packed these are. Radishes are high in potassium and ascorbic acid which are required by the human body whereas carrots are loaded with carotene and Vitamins B, C, E and K. Carrots can single-handedly take care of minor vision problems. So grab a bowl of gajar ka halwa or munch on a raw carrot.
Citrus fruit

The joy of sitting under the warm winter sun and enjoying an orange is rarely matched by any other experience. This forms a major part of my fondest childhood memories which were full of other sweet-tart citrus fruit like mousambis and kinnows. The citrus fruit are a rich source of Vitamin C. Hardly is there anything else that can beat the Vitamin C content in them or the freshness that they infuse in their air as soon as one of these is peeled.
Apples


You must have grown up hearing the old adage ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Have you ever wondered why that is? Let us delve into the benefits that lie within this deciduous fruit. That apples are a rich source of iron and fibre is common knowledge, but recent studies show that apples also help fight various kinds of cancer in the human body especially lung cancer. An antioxidant called quercetin found in apples aids physical endurance by making more oxygen available to the lungs. Apples like many winter fruit and veggies are a rich source of antioxidants which prevent damage to our cells and tissues. Apple consumers have been noticed to run a lower risk of heart diseases.

(The post appeared as a column first in The New Indian Express on Dec 21, 2012. You can find it here- http://newindianexpress.com/education/student/article1388060.ece)  

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