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Winter bells are ringing!

by Mahnoor Fatima & Fatima Shakir

Its finally happening. The nights are getting colder, air conditioners have been bid farewell, fans are slowly losing speed and the warm clothes are on their way. There’s much to prepare for, whether it be looking for new recipes for all the winter vegetables and fruits, or getting the new clothes sewn and brought. So, this winter, we hope that you will let us share a few facts and tips for a smooth winter, the Sunnah way!
Come winter, come the joy of dry fruits. As the cold approaches, nut cracking around the heater turns into a good excuse to spend time with the family. We know you all treasure those moments and now we’ll give you reason to cherish them even more. According to the National Nutrient Database of the U.S Department of Agriculture, the ideal nuts serving size for a healthy person is 1oz per day, which conveniently comes to about a handful. Nuts, be it walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or peanuts, are rich in vitamins E and B and unsaturated fats, which are good for your skin, nervous and digestive system and are often termed as ‘heart friendly’ fats.

There are several food items which come as winter guests, which are proven to be very beneficial, through the Prophet’s(s) ahadith. These include dates, figs, honey and olives. He said, “Eat olives, and use it on your hair and skin, for it comes from a blessed tree.”(Trimidhi)

He also said, “Make use of two remedies, honey and Quran. ” (Trimidhi)

Also, don’t we all enjoy devouring the delicious, melt-in-your-mouth dates? Regarding them, the Prophet(s) said “Indeed in dates there is a cure. ” (Muslim)

Now, coming to some beverage talk. As soon as we think of the cold long nights of winter, we think of our beloved coffee and tea. We find reason to brew our cuppas one after the other, and let their warmth soothe our insides. A cup, about 124 ml, of plain black coffee contains 250 mg of caffeine, which drops to about 45 mg in a cup of black tea. Now, we’ll tell you this; caffeine is good for the prevention of cancer, asthma attacks and Diabetes type 2. But, but, but! Hold it right there, coffee lovers! We have some bad news too, because an excess of caffeine can cause hypertension, and cancers in the reproductive system. So our recommendation would be to stick to the safe limit, which is 400ml per day of caffeine.

Just in case you are looking for an alternative, our best pick is warm milk and honey. This is good for your heart, digestive system and is also known to cure insomnia.

If, however, you are reluctant to leave the coffee ship, we have a few more suggestions. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can cause excess urination. This, in turn, causes dry skin, itch, dehydration and fatigue. To cope with this, it is essential that you take 8-9 glasses of water per day, which is the body requirement of a normal adult. If you are one of those people who, despite exercising seem to put on all those extra pounds, particularly around winter, let us be your guide. When we feel thirst, we often fail to differentiate between it and hunger and end up gobbling something instead. This leads to obesity, along with deficiency of water. In short, increase the water intake!

A little bit about wintery fruits and vegetables, because really, they are the ones which make up a season! Carrots are rich in Vitamin A, which is required for good eye sight. Turnips contain Vitamin C which serves as a good anti-oxidant. Peas are rich in Vitamin C and K, which help to maintain a healthy digestive system. Spinach is filled with iron which increases immunity & keeps the heart in good shape.

And lastly, all the little delicacies which make winter worth waiting for, which not only delight the taste buds but also ensure that we are comfortably warm and in best shape throughout the season. Yes, we are talking about gajjar halwa, aalsi halwa, Makaai rotti, choori and date biscuits! And of course, we know we don’t need to say this, we are sure you’ll be maximising on soup and fish!

We hope your winter is happy and healthy, all round, inshaAllah!
 The co-author, Fatima Shakir is a Nutritionist at Nahl Health Club. You can find out more about her work by visiting the following link:

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