Health Benefits Of Festival Food
Do you know that the special dishes traditionally prepared during festivals have many health benefits? Reap all the goodness of bevu bella and obbattu this Ugadi.
By Monali Bordoloi
Come Ugadi, the family home of Rajeev Gangur wears a festive look. There are frenzied activities everywhere as all join hands to spring-clean the house before the festivities. On the day of the festival, children, Shreya and Shyamanth wear new clothes and visit the temple to pray to Sun God along with their parents, Rajeev and Jayashree. Afterwards, they are served the special Ugadi dish Bevubella as their mother explains the significance and meaning of all the six ingredients used in the dish. To celebrate the onset of spring and a new year, Jaya also prepares special sweets like obbattu for the festival.
Festivals in India are incomplete without food, Ugadi is no exception. Ugadi is the New Year’s Day for the Kannada and Telegu communities. Being a spring time festival, lavish spreads are prepared during the festival.
Traditional Ugadi sweets like obbattu or hollige is prepared from toor daal, wheat flour, jaggery and ghee. So, it has carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fibre, all of these you need for a balanced diet.
Bevu bella or pachadi as known in Andhra and Telengana, is a symbolic dish to signify six different taste of life. Six distinctly different ingredients are used in the dish shows six different flavours of life. All the family members are encouraged to taste it.
Six ingredients and what it symbolises
The six ingredients used in the Bevu bella or pachadi are, neem flowers; which symbolise bitterness of life, tamarind symbolises the challenges we face, pepper powder is for anger or upsetting moments in life, raw mango symbolises surprises in life, salt is for zest for life and jaggery symbolise the sweet taste of life like happiness.
Through this dish different experiences of life are explained.
Health benefits of the six ingredients
Apart from its symbolic meanings, all the six ingredients used in the dish Bevu bella has many health benefits.
Jaggery: Jaggery has good amount of iron and is a less processed compared to sugar. It is also said to improve immunity, cleanses the liver and good for preventing constipation.
Raw mango: Raw mango has vitamin C, vitamin A and lots of magnesium. It also considered good for heatstroke. Consuming raw mango helps in managing blood pressure, improves digestion and boosts immunity.
Tamarind: Tamarind has good amount of iron and magnesium. Magnesium helps in protein synthesis, controlling sugar and blood pressure levels
Neem flowers: Neem and it flowers possess many antioxidants. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It is used to treat intestinal worms in children. Also good for nausea and belching, neem reduces wound healing time, helps control diabetes, aids in healthy hair and skin.
Pepper/chilli powder: Whether you use black pepper powder or red chilli powder to your Ugadi dish, both have their health benefits. Black pepper powder is good for treating cough, anorexia and indigestion. Chilli powder increases the metabolism and boosts immunity.
Salt: Salt in limited amount is needed to maintain the hydration levels of the body.
Children and festival food
Dr Sowmya Bharani, dietitian and CEO of NutriGENEus, Bangalore lays much emphasis on encouraging our kids and teens to eat traditional food, specially food prepared during festival. She says, “With the craze for fast food on the rise, it is important that we, parents introduce nutritious traditional food to our kids. Proper nutrition during childhood helps them grow into healthy adults. It will also help them cultivate lifelong healthy food habits. Also, spices used in our traditional food are good for health.”
Dr Sowmya adds, “Traditional festive foods use ingredients that are fresh and has little or no processing and no additives. Foods prepared for festivals are seasonal foods and we must encourage families, including children to consume those foods.”
How to make traditional food interesting for children
Dr Sowmya says, “Traditional foods can be made more interesting by involving children in the preparation, cooking or serving, depending on their age. Traditional foods can be made more colourful by adding natural colours like beetroot juice, carrot juice, etc. Using cookie cutters to cut traditional savouries into different fun shapes also helps to increase the wow factor. Forcing children to eat food, traditional or otherwise, makes them more stubborn. Instead, ask them to taste different foods and allow them to develop their own likes and dislikes.
Eating seasonal food:
Eat more seasonal food as Dr Sowmya urges all to eat local seasonal food. “Taste and basic nutrients of fruits and vegetables are lost in transportation. That can be avoided by choosing locally available products.”
Eating seasonal foods also impact our health positively. It also ensures that nutrient deficiencies are reduced. Eating certain foods at certain time of the year could boost immunity and overall well-being.
About the author:
Written by Monali Bordoloi on 20 March 2018.
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