There is a sure nip in the air, mornings are colder and evenings positively chilly even in Mumbai (Delhi, of course is totally freezing!). While most people (not me, I am a bonafide love-the-sun gal) are rejoicing as they hug their stylish woolies and big brand coats, some are also facing the assault of runny noses, sniffling and terrible sneezing, and also the myriad flus that are part and parcel of this cold and dry season. So how does one duck this onslaught and stay warm – from inside?
Everyone has their ways it seems. In Japan they pour green tea over grilled pickled plum and drink, in South Africa they inhale a mix of turmeric and boiled water, and in Scotland they drink nettle tea. Italians have a hollowed turnip filled with honey and French swear by their rum and brown sugar mix – in they slowly melt two to three teaspoons of sugar, add a few drops of water, a cup of plum brandy and once melted it is drunk hot; they call it Serbian tea. Nice tea this one!
So what should we do sitting here in India? Do we have some nice, tasty, warm ways to well… get warm? Seems everyone has their own little secret. Shatbhi Basu a friend and a well-known mixologist and celebrity bartender served me a nice cinnamon-laced warmed up apple juice when she saw me shivering in spite of my thick coat at a brand launch (of whiskey, where I was possibly the only one not drinking); she insisted I sip it, and it worked! And how! Thanks Shatbhi… that apple juice was a life saver. Possibly because hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, prevent dehydration, and soothe the inflamed membranes that line our nose and throat right away.
We all know about mulled wine (a delicious concoction of fruit, spices and wine) and hot toddy (brew a cup of hot herbal tea, add one teaspoon of honey and 1 small shot of whiskey or bourbon), but for those who prefer their drinks non alcoholic, I have listed some equally effective lifesavers:
1. Hot Pomegranate Cider: Heat 3 cups apple cider, 1 cup pomegranate juice, 3 cinnamon sticks and 4 cloves in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks and sip. Pomegranates, one of the most powerful source of antioxidants, combined with apple cider and comforting spices makes for a tasty immune strengthening beverage.
2. Warm Broth: Make a veggie broth that is a celery, cabbage, carrots, leeks, kale, garlic, seaweeds and a mushroom blend. Or just stir up the age old remedy: a warm, comforting bowl of chicken soup, which never goes wrong.
3. Hot Lemonade: Lightly squeeze the lemon juice into a mug of boiled water and then pop the wedge, skin and all, into the mug. Enjoy it warm. The lime wedge can be used for a couple of drinks. For added benefits add several slices of ginger root too. Add honey if you prefer it sweet.
4. Ginger-Cinnamon Tea: In a saucepan, simmer freshly sliced ginger, cinnamon sticks, and water for 20 minutes or more for a stronger tea. Add some honey and strain the tea through a sieve.
5. Hot Cocoa: Curling up with a cup of hot cocoa is a great idea, as besides the warmth, the drink also delivers antioxidants that keep us strong from within.
6. Honey Cayenne Tea: Heat water and steep the tea for about four minutes. Remove bag and combine the tea with the honey and cayenne in a mug.
(Note: Cayenne pepper naturally does what many cold medicines try to do. It effectively helps clear the respiratory passages as it has great immune strengthening and antimicrobial properties, and it a great food to consume to help prevent a cold from even coming on).
And finally don’t forget, you must drink lots of warm water too, as it helps the mucus flow more freely and clears up the congestion. And water in which aniseed has been boiled for a while is even better, as this cousin of the parsley family is an effective congestion fighter.
Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She is also the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico). She contributes to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.
Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan