With the Covid-19 virus still lurking and respiratory infections on the rise this winter, parents should make it a priority to include immunity boosting foods into family diets, writes Ranjini Rao
Winter is about Christmas and New Year festivities. But also a time of year when children are susceptible to a spate of infections especially cold and flu viruses. With the Covid-19 virus still lurking and respiratory infections on the rise this winter, parents should make it a priority to include immunity boosting foods into family diets. Here are some natural foods — readily available in the local grocery store — to include in the family diet to fortify children’s immune system.
Research has shown that amla/ Indian gooseberry (phyllanthus emblica) is anti-microbial and a powerhouse of vitamin C. It’s a versatile ingredient that can be used in many recipes. Use fresh amla in chutneys, add it to soups and rasam, make a morabba (a sweet relish using grated/ crushed amla with jaggery) or pickle (whole or sliced amla with salt and chilli powder) and add it to curries such as matar-paneer.
Dates contain several nutrients which strengthen immunity. They are rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants such as flavonoids and carotenoids. They reduce inflammation and boost cardiac health. Dates are a great substitute for sugar in desserts. If your child is averse to eating packaged dates, soak dry dates overnight in water, drain and make a paste which can be used in pancakes, halwa, cakes and laddoo.
Sesame seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, minerals, and vitamin B1. Their anti-inflammatory properties build body immunity. They can be added to hummus, chikkis, laddoos, dry and wet chutneys. You can sprinkle them also atop breads, buns, cookies and crackers. Cold-pressed sesame oil is good for cooking as well.
Almonds are a proven source of protein, fibre, and a host of minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium. They boost immunity by improving gastrointestinal functions. Overnight soaked almonds are a great way to begin the day, together with raisins and cranberries. Roasted almonds also make a good evening snack for children who can dip them in chocolate. You can also turn almonds into almond butter to add to cakes and brownies. Also good for addition into a dry fruits/seeds trail mix.
Ghee or clarified butter is rich in fat-soluble vitamins D, K, E and A. These nutrients stimulate and improve body functions. Ghee speeds up absorption of fat-soluble minerals and vitamins from other foods, enhancing immunity. Moreover, desi ghee is a great antioxidant with antibacterial properties, which keep everyday illnesses away. Regular ghee intake also prevents the skin from becoming dry and flaky. Drizzle ghee on dosas, idlis and rotis; use it in cakes and muffins. Do your everyday tadka/ seasoning in it, and sprinkle on hot rice, khichdi and other foods.