The sun has sprung out as the winter chill melts away.  Colourful kites circle the blue skies and people have come out of their cozy abodes to soak up some sun on their roofs. It is the time of the year to celebrate Makar Sankranti – the festival that marks the ascent of the sun into the northern hemisphere.

And as with any festivity in India, it comes with a host of traditional delicacies which feature the country’s rich harvests – spinach, rice, various kinds of pulses, nuts and sesame seeds and sugarcane. These tasty treats are not only meant to indulge our senses but also to give that extra boost to our immune systems to keep out the common health issues, especially at this time of the year. Let’s go through some of the signature dishes and ingredients associated with Makar Sankranti and see what we can do to make it even healthier!

All Hail the Ladoos

No matter where in India you are from, you are probably well-acquainted with ladoos. These sphere-shaped goodies pack a world full of flavours in them and have uncountable regional variations – savoury ones with fenugreek, cumin and black pepper, or sweet delights with coconut, sesame seeds, cardamom, besan, jaggery or milk. Til and gud ladoos, or those made with jaggery and sesame seeds, are especially popular during Makar Sankranti and for good reason – these two ingredients are no less than superfoods.

Jaggery activates the digestive enzymes in our body, thereby aiding digestion and flushing out toxins from our system. It is also rich in antioxidants and minerals like zinc, which is especially recommended for women.

To make it healthier:

  • Consume home-made ladoos so that you can moderate the amount of jaggery. Although healthier than white sugar, it is still calorie-rich, and industrial jaggery hardly offers many health benefits. So make sure your jaggery originates from a trusted source.
  • If you’re diabetic, you might want to avoid jaggery altogether!
  • You can also opt for a choice of different ingredients – switching cashew nuts in favour of anjeer, for example, can make for lighter, healthier ladoos.

Khichdi:

Fabulously versatile, Khichdi can be made in many different ways and is high up on the list of healthy dishes! The pulses in the khichdi are packed with protein and when combined with the carbohydrates from the rice, they make for a sumptuous, healthy meal.

To make it healthier:

  • Tweak the ratio of pulses to rice and add more dal than rice to make your meal more protein-rich.
  • Avoid adding a ‘tadka’ or tempering which can be far too oily, and offset the benefits of eating khichdi. Use a moderate amount of ghee instead.
  • Toss in a handful of spinach leaves to add the goodness of leafy greens to your plate.

Sugarcane:

Rich in calcium, iron and electrolytes, sugarcane reinforces the immune system and gives us energy. Some even swear by sugarcane for better skin – with the presence of alpha-hydroxy acids, it fights acne, eliminates blemishes, keeps the skin supple and slows down ageing.

To make it healthier:

  • Add a dash of lemon juice and raw mango powder to make a tastier, healthier version of sugarcane juice.
  • When it comes to sugarcane, moderation is key. Opt for smaller glasses and take not too many refills!

To Sum It Up:

Festivals are great but feeling guilty from overeating at festivals is never quite pleasant. So let’s recall the benefits of all these time-tested dishes that are made for Makar Sankranti but let’s also remember that moderation is key. Opt for healthier alternatives, modify your recipes to make them even better for your body, and when in doubt, consult with a dietician on Docvita today!