Festivals are the soul of India. We celebrate many festivals every year but the first festival of the year that comes right after the new year is Lohri. Also known as the harvest festival, Lohri is celebrated to welcome the colourful spring season and is believed to be the last day of winter. The festival is also celebrated as Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra and Pongal in Tamil Nadu.
The celebrations of Lohri are marked with a blazing bonfire. People sing and dance to the beats of dhol around the ritualistic bonfire and enjoy the celebrations with delicious feast and fun. Unlike other traditional foods and sweets that go with festivals, Lohri is totally different and is, in fact, healthy to the core. There are a lot of sweets and savouries that are made to celebrate this auspicious day that range from gajak and rewri to popcorn and makki-di-roti. As you saviour these sweets, here are a few ways to make this festival a healthy one for you and your family.
1) Make the most of peanuts
Peanuts are commonly available during this season and hence, it makes sense to get the most of these humble nuts. These are a rich source of manganese, folate and essential amino acids. Peanuts are known to play a key role in regulating your blood sugar levels and improving your metabolism. It also promotes the absorption of calcium in the body and aid in keeping the joints healthy. As these nuts are loaded with folic acid, pregnant women are suggested to have peanuts to improve the folic acid levels in the body. Last but not the least peanuts contain polyunsaturated fatty acids which not only aid in reducing the bad cholesterol in the body but also play a key role in increasing the good cholesterol.
Tip: Instead of opting for salted peanuts to crave your hunger pangs this festive season, opt for roasted or boiled peanuts to reap its benefits. You can also have peanut chikki (made from peanuts and jaggery) on a regular basis as it not only provides energy but also fills you up.
2) Stick to sesame seeds
Lohri celebrations are incomplete without delicacies like rewari and gajak. Commonly made from sesame seeds and jaggery, these deserts are a must during the festive season and are known to provide a whole lot of health benefits. These include improving digestion, cleaning the blood, easing joint pain and soothing menstrual cramps. These seeds are a rich source of iron which helps in improving your haemoglobin level and prevent anemia. Also, these seeds help in keeping your warm during the cold season along with providing a wide range of nutrients.
Tip: While gajak and rewari are hot favourite among people this festive season, you can even opt for til ladoos and chikki which have similar taste. The best way to enjoy these are to make these at home. You can even add sesame seeds to cookies, soups, curries and salads for that added crunch to the dish and reap its benefits.
3) Pack up on popcorn
The moment you hear the word popcorn, the first thing that comes to mind is a movie hall. However, there’s a lot more to this humble food than just relishing it during a movie. Coming to its nutritional value, it is a very rich source of fibre and has a very low calorific value. As a snack made up of whole grain, it is rich in antioxidants and helps in protecting the body against free radicals and inflammatory conditions.
Moreover, it can keep you full for longer and thus, stave you off from eating too much, especially during the festive celebrations. And if you are on weight loss and are planning how to stick to your resolution this season, then grab a pack of popcorn for your rescue.
Tip: To maximise its benefits on the health, make sure you eat plain popcorn made at home. Also, check your salt intake as excess salt is not good for health. Refrain from using cheese or caramel to up the flavour and taste of popcorn to stay healthy during Lohri party.
Tips For “Healthy” Lohri
This was all about the food we relish during Lohri, apart from this Lohri is also about gifting. So you can greet your guests with a variety of dry fruits or handmade delicacies such as til chikki or peanut ladoos. Although gifting dry fruits are regarded as gifting health, you can get creative when it comes to gifts but make sure to keep it healthy. So, make the healthy festival even healthier by adding healthy gifts to your list.
But remember anything in excess is not good for your health. Although the delicacies we have on Lohri are healthy, if we overeat them they are not going to do any good to your health. So, just don’t sit around the bonfire and warm your hands, get up and dance to the beats of dhol and burn the extra calories you have added to your weight to stay fit and active this festive season.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe Lohri !!
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)