Healthy Snacks to Ward off Winter Blues and Ailments

      January 31, 2014 08:36

      Feeding one's children becomes more of a full-time preoccupation for mothers over the winter school break, and sweet potatoes, chestnuts and pumpkins all stand as nutritious alternatives to fast food or instant snacks as they are easy to store, tasty and wholesome.

      ◆ Sweet Potatoes

      Sweet potatoes are hardy plants that can grow even in barren soil under harsh weather conditions, which explains why they have served as a famine relief crop for such a long time.

      They can be eaten as a staple food, are rich in nutritional content, stocked full of fiber, and can also help relieve constipation.

      It is important to consume plenty of fiber in winter as people tend to eat high-calorie foods and engage in less physical activity.

      Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A and E, which boost the immune system and help delay the signs of aging. Steamed sweet potatoes can be blended with a dash of soymilk or regular milk in a shake to get the day off to a healthy start.

      ◆ Chestnuts

      Chestnuts are effective in preventing colds or minor illnesses thanks to their rich store of vitamin C. They also protect the skin and bones in the event of tumbles or scratches due to their high calcium content, and can strengthen the spleen and stomach.

      They are a great addition to any diet plan as they are low in calories and quickly give one the feeling of being full.

      As they are less sugary than sweet potatoes or pumpkins, they can be used in many more recipes. They can be used in bread or pastry, in salad, or can be pickled in soy sauce. Children also like eating them fried.

      ◆ Pumpkins

      The beta-carotene in pumpkins protects the skin and helps prevent colds. As they are full of antioxidants and vitamin C, they are also believed to help protect against cancer.

      Pumpkins, like kabocha squashes, can also be skinned and dried for use in rice cakes or porridge. As virgin olive oil boosts the absorption of beta-carotene into the body, it is advisable to stir-fry or fry them for the maximum health benefits.

      Kabocha squashes turn from green to brown if left at room temperature in a dry place, which is when they are at their sweetest.

      Meanwhile, pumpkins should be stored at room temperature and in a dry place as they quickly go bad when exposed to water.

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