It’s really amazing what I have observed, that local Indian food comes for a reason during a particular season. With the temperatures low we often experience joint and body pains. To make us eat the right food in the right season which is right for our body they often link it with religion! It is in Pongal or Makarsankranti if you have noticed the prasad is normally ‘til and gud’. Be it in the form of a chikki or a laddoo. 

How I love the til chikki! In a Gujarati household, once the winter sets in, it is always found on the table. Once I got into nutrition and started eating foods that were good for the body, my hand automatically would reach out for the chikki as the cold winds blew. It’s not surprising as both are essentially warming foods.

Now let me share with you how sesame and jaggery are essential foods during winter:

Sesame is the oldest condiment known to man. It seems as if these seeds originated in India as they are mentioned in Hindu mythology and represent a symbol of immortality. The Assyrian legend says, when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds. Imagine how worthy the sesame seed was thought off. As the chill sets in the joints ache and pain, three tablespoons of sesame seeds contain nearly 600 mg of calcium almost 10 times more than half a cup of calcium content in milk. 

Sesame seeds provide good quality fat. The Japanese, for centuries, consumed grounded sesame daily as a condiment in their food often substituting it for salt. It aids digestion, thus allowing normal peristaltic movement of the intestines thus preventing constipation. The superior calcium content provided through diet by sesame seeds helps prevent the onset of osteoporosis, arthritis and even colon cancer. I would strongly suggest that females add on sesame seeds in any form of food daily to prevent post-menopausal bone deterioration. Lactating women must consume sesame seeds daily to promote milk flow. I often replace my butter on toast with tahini (sesame butter) and toss sesame seeds on my rotis, vegetables and salads.

Have you realised that come winter, there is so much increase of usage of jaggery in your foods? The bajri and makki ki roti with ghee-gud (jaggery) with a leafy green. The noleen gud sondesh, the til ki chikki, jaggery contains a plethora of nutrients. Its high mineral content makes it very beneficial to the body during the winter months. Calcium is good for the joints whereas the magnesium and potassium prevent your muscles from cramping by relaxing them and thus aiding in good sleep and the iron prevents anaemia. 

I for sure believe in what Ayurveda teaches that jaggery is as a healthy sweetener and is useful in combating various health-related problems. Instead of nutrient dead white sugar, why not sweeten your beverages with jaggery? I make a carrot halwa with jaggery. My herbal infusions with jaggery warm me preventing sore throats and chest infections. 

The variety of jaggery that we get in India is countless. From palm to date to sugarcane each varies in colour too from the light brown to the chocolatey brown to the white gold jaggery made in earthen pots. It is just yummy to eat! Make sure that the jaggery you purchase is organic and does not have any added chemicals and preservatives. I insist that sesame and jaggery must be featured in your daily diet especially in these cold winter months. Add them on and see your body sing with joy.

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