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eating wisely by Shubhra Krishan dressed

Gently cooked veggies create salads that nourish you on cold days and go easy on your digestion.

For a favorite winter meal, Cynthia Copjtetosses cooked dark greens with golden roasted squash and drizzles it all with a slightly tangy dressing. As much as Copple, dean of Mount Madonna institute's College of Ayurveda in Watsonville, California, loves vegetables and salad, when the weather turns cold, she opts for cooked vegetables. "After 2 6 years of working with clicnts, I've found that eating raw foods can increase the tendency toward getting coldsand having congestion. Warm eating wisely cooked food in the winter makes you feel warm and nurtured,'' she says.

When the weather turns cold, you may find yourself less interested in raw, light salads, and craving something warm and hearty instead. That's good intuition on your part, says Devendra Trig tin a. president of the All India Ayurvedic Congress, an organization based in Delhi and made up 0f40,00Q Ayurvedic practitioners, because eating raw produce in the cooler months can strain your digestive system. Those who practice Ayurveda, the traditional holistic medicine of India, believe that raw fruits and vegetables cause your agni (digestive fire) to work harder as it breaks down food so that your body can assimilate the nutrients.

"Uncooked vegetables deplete the metabolic fire in each cell and especially in the digestive system,"Triguna says. "They produce heaviness in the stomach. Unable to process these cold foods completely, the agni is forced to leave behind ama, a toxic residue that wreaks havoc in the form of gas, bloating, and stomachache."

I learned this the hard way I munched for years on big leafy saladsduring the winter and later felt uneasy and bloated. It wasn't until I learned more about Ayurveda and agni that I began to see the pattern in my body and learned to enjoy cooked salads during the cold season. "Our stomach is not made for raw things," says Triguna. "In cold weather, everything should be eaten in the cooked form." It's a simple enough idea: By breaking down rough, fibrous veggies with a little roasting, steaming, or sauteing, I give my agni a head start so it can digest everything more easily and completely A robust agni means a happy tummy and agreater sense of overall well-being. With that information in hand, I found myselfhecoming aconnois-seur of warm or room- temperature salads that include a diversity of cooked vegetables and grains.

BUILD A BETTER BOWL Salads have long been a darling among nutritionists and health nuts alike, who find them a good way to get the recommended nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables. 1 generally make composed salads with separately prepared ingredients bound together by a delicious dressing. Some favorites include cooked carrots and yams tossed with lemon juice and olive oil and arranged over warm brown rice that wilts the bed of greens underneath; or a roasted beet salad whose soothing yogurt-based dressing turns pink from the beet juice.

Copple and Triguna suggest skipping the raw lettuce and roasting, sauteing, wilting, baking, steaming, or blanching the components ofyour salad.Think sau-téed red cabbage with toasted hazelnuts in a ginger-yogurt dressing. Ifyou're concerned that cooked veggies have fewer nutrients than fresh ones, take note: In a study published this year in th & Journal of Food Science, researchers showed that some vegetables, including carrots and green beans, actually have higher levels of antioxidants after they've been cooked.

Like Copple, I'm partial to the flavorful dark, leafy greens that prosper in cold

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