Immunity boosting foods for spring
our ancestors always knew the importance of eating seasonally and that is the reason perhaps why our daily diet regimen, traditions and other food rituals were always according to the rhythm of nature. In the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, there is a special term for eating seasonally: called, ritucharya. Time and again it has been proved why eating seasonally matters most and why it is more economic, beneficial for regional economy and overall sustainability of environment, we live in.
Food that grows and follows the natural ripening rhythms, seasonal patterns are undoubtedly more healthier, nutritionally dense and better in taste and with full flavour. With every change in season, nature also presents us with certain immunity boosting foods that can prevent us from seasonal maladies by keeping our immune system healthy.
Spring is the queen of season – time to cheer, sunshine, love. Mother Earth in its full bloom and colorful glory but is no doubt the most notorious of all and are marked by influx of viruses, allergens and other air borne diseases.
So what are the immunity boosting food we should consume in Spring?
In India, every region and every home has their own ways to tackle these issues, our answer is however centered around Bengali cuisine which offers some of the traditional age old remedies and ancient recipes that has been handed down through generations. And off course all these curative measures have sound scientific reasoning behind them but had been turned into rituals so that the concept can be institutionalized, for the benefit of all.
1. Moringa – Moringa is a miracle tree and each part of the tree – its leaves, fruits, flowers and roots are edible and are nutritionally rich and packed with vital nutrients that can boost our immune system.
–Moringa flowers / sojne phool / sahjan ke phool – these tiny yellowish flowers that appears in Spring for very limited time are powerhouse of nutrients and are packed with immense immunity boosters.
Here are few recipes- to prepare moringa flowers / drumstick flowers –
– Moringa leaves (greens) / sojne saag / sahjan ki saag – though the leaves can be consumed all year around for good healthy diet. And its anti inflammatory properties are known to prevent viruses and allergens at bay.
Here is how to use moringa leaves in your recipe-
–Moringa beans / drumsticks – drumsticks are great for diabetes, keeps our heart healthy, improves our bone health and most importantly its consummation in Spring is believed to prevent us from seasonal viruses like measles and chicken pox.
Here is how to use drumsticks in a recipe.
2. Neem or margosa is known for it’s medicinal properties since ancient times and is loaded with antiviral, anti microbial and anti oxidant properties that can boost our immune systems. Eating neem leaves with the onset of Spring is a ritual that is still being traditionally followed and practiced in many Bengali homes.
Here is how to use neem leaves in a recipe –
3. Gota Sheddho / casserole of whole vegetables and lentils-
Gota sheddho is a food ritual, a part of observing Shital Shashti (dedicated to goddess Shasti, protecting goddess of children and childbirth) that is being followed on sixth day of Vasant Panchami or sixth day of Spring.
A huge cauldron filled with seasonal vegetables (vegetables must remain whole without a single incision), whole lentils and spinach with its shoots and roots intact, minimal whole spices is put on fire on the day of Sarasawati puja (vasant panchami). The food is prepared with almost surgical precision. Once the food is cooked, it is kept outside in most hygienic place and is supposed to eaten cold the next day.
This ritual of eating stale and cold food in India is very old and tradition way to approach the new seasons. Seasonal shifts are always marked by new pathogens and this is the traditional approach to introduce our body to probiotic as well as new season’s pathogenic microbes through food that has been allowed to ferment a little.
4. Turmeric is a wonder ingredient and its immense nutritional as well as medicinal properties and values are well known. But raw turmeric or fresh turmeric root is perhaps the most sought after ingredient during winter months. Fresh turmeric roots are harvested through out winter season and they are available in the market as late as mid Spring.
Fresh turmeric roots can be used in the recipe in every possible way, be it in salad, milk or any other drinks or in curries.
Here is how to use fresh turmeric roots in a curry .
Last but not least, seasonal fruits and well balanced diet of good carbohydrates, lean proteins, nuts and seeds and an overall healthy lifestyle approach is all that matters the most.
Read More – 14 unique cooling summer food from Bengal