Thursday, September 10, 2015

It's Time to Spring Clean........Your Diet!!!

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time to clean up…your diet!! That’s right,it’s high time you took charge of your health and got it back on the right track by making little changes in the way you eat and of course by being more active. To know more check out my article published in an Australian Magazine called Indus Age:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pump Up Your Iron Consumption!

My article on iron published in the Times of India's Indiatimes website:
Have you been feeling tired, fatigued, weak, dizzy or breathless too easily of late? It could be possible that you are not getting enough iron in your diet! Read more at: 
Pump Up Your Iron Consumption!

Instant Whole Wheat Sweet Banana Dosa (How to make banana dosa) Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes with jaggery (How to make Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes),

How to make instant whole wheat sweet banana dosa/ pancakes? It's easy and simple. All you need are some really ripe bananas, some whole wheat flour (atta), jaggery and milk. These whole wheat banana pancakes make a healthier option for kids and can be served both as a snack or as a breakfast item. Since jaggery is already added to the batter, they are naturally sweet and don't actually require any syrup while serving. You could just serve them with some freshly cut fruits. These instant whole wheat banana dosas are great when you want to make a quick snack or breakfast.
Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes
Ripe Banana- 1 no.
Whole wheat flour (atta) - 1 cup,
Jaggery- 3/4cup (or to taste)
Skimmed milk- 1 cup
Salt- a pinch
Cardamom- 2-3 pods (remove the skin)
Soda bicarbonate-1 tsp (optional)
To serve:(optional)
Banana/strawberry-half cup sliced (to garnish)
Maple syrup

1) Add all the ingredients (except the soda bicarbonate) to a blender and blend till you get a fine batter (if required add more milk to get a batter consistency).
2) Pour the batter into a bowl. Add the soda bicarbonate (optional) if you like fluffy pancakes. Mix well.
3)Heat a non-stick pan, add a little oil. When hot, pour a ladle full of batter to the centre of the pan.
4)Cover a cook for a minute or two( do not try to spread it like a dosa).If you have added soda bicarbonate, the pancakes will get bubbles (holes) on top.
5)Flip and cook on the other side till done.
6) Serve hot as such or with some maple syrup/ jam, sliced fruits like banana, strawberry, mango.
Instant Whole Wheat Banana Dosa

Monday, August 3, 2015

How to gain weight in a healthy way?

For those who are underweight (BMI < 18.5*), gaining weight can be as hard as losing weight. Being skinny has its own set of health problems ranging from weaker immune systems (making them prone to infections, surgical complications) and slower recovery times for illness. They also tend to have low muscle mass, and less than ideal hair, teeth, and skin composition. They may have disruptions in the ability to regulate hormones and protect bone health, and women could become unable to menstruate
Gaining weight should be a safe process and takes a lot of time and effort. The best way to gain weight without becoming fat and gaining extra harmful calories is to follow a healthy balanced diet, along with workouts and weightlifting/strength training exercises.
The notion that ‘skinny’ or ‘underweight’ people can eat high calorie foods (like chips, cakes, pizzas, cookies, etc) without it adversely affecting their health is wrong. Poor diets can lead to ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Plus, people who gain weight eating anything and everything tend to retain it as fat, and in much more undesirable places.
Here are some healthy ways to add extra calories to your daily diet:
  • Eat more frequently: Eat five to six small meals throughout the day rather than two or three large meals.
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods: As part of an overall healthy diet, choose whole-grain breads, pastas and cereals; fruits and vegetables; low-fat dairy products; lean protein sources (like egg whites, chicken, fish, soy and soy products, legumes and pulses); and nuts, seeds and dry fruits.
  • Watch what you drink: Don't fill up on diet soda, coffee, tea and other drinks with few calories and little nutritional value. Instead, drink smoothies or healthy shakes made with milk and fresh or frozen juice and sprinkle in some ground flaxseed. Drink fluids either 30 minutes before or after a meal, not with it, to avoid becoming full before you eat.
  • Add in calorie-dense snacks: Choose calorie-dense foods, such as nuts, dhoklas, idli with sambar, upma with vegetables, usal/ shundal (steamed pulses with a little tadka/seasoning) cheese, paneer, dried fruits, bananas, avocados, figs. Also, have a bedtime snack, such as an omelet/cheese/ paneer sandwich, or a sandwich with banana and honey, or a cup of curd with chopped fruits and honey.
  • Mix it up: Add cheese/skim milk powder to soups, scrambled eggs, curries. Add pulses/legumes to dishes like vegetable pulav’s, poha’s, and even to regular sabzi’s (e.g. try adding kabuli channa to the cabbage sabzi/ sprouted moong to aloo matter,etc).
  • Have a sweet treat: But be sure to select sweets that also provide nutrients, such as yogurt/curd with fruits/ dry fruits, groundnut chikki’s and milk based sweets like kheer, peda’s, rosugullas, rasmalai .
Besides eating, exercise, especially strength training, can also help you gain weight by building up your muscles and adding more "bulk" to your body. It may also stimulate your appetite and help you eat a little more. Remember that it can take a while to gain the weight you need, but be patient and continue to choose healthy foods until you reach your goal weight. Once you reach your goal, the next step would be to maintain that weight with regular exercise otherwise you could end up being overweight.
[* Body Mass Index (BMI) = weight in kg / height in meters2
If the BMI is:
(Note: The BMI for Indians/South Asians is different from the western population).
1. Equal to or less than 18.5 = Underweight
2. between 19-22 = Normal
3. between 23-25= Overweight
4. 26 and above = Obese ]

Summer Fun- Mango Granita

With the mango season just around the corner-here is a simple dessert for those days when you want to have something ‘icy’!
Mango-3 cups cubed
Water-1 cup
Sugar- 1 tbsp. (can be omitted if the mangoes are very sweet)
Rose petals- for garnish
Blend the mangoes, water and sugar in a blender and blend till smooth(add more water if it is too thick)
Pour onto a large, flat baking tray and freeze for about an hour.
After that, take it out and run a fork along the sides of the container to break up large chunks of ice. Repeat this process for every hour till you have a grainy texture.
Freeze again till serving time. When serving, fork out the portions into a small bowl, top with a rose petal and serve immediately.
Note: You can add a little ginger for variation.

Watermelon Granita

Beat the HEAT with Granita
Granita is a kind of semi-frozen Italian dessert more like a grainy slushie or sorbet. It is a simple, refreshing and exotic sounding dessert which is bound to impress everyone. Simple, as it usually consists of not more than 3 ingredients and refreshing, as it mainly consists of water, which is perfect on a hot summer’s day.
Watermelon Granita: (serves 8)
Watermelon: ½ (deseeded and cubed)
Lime juice: 1 tbsp
Sugar: 5tsp
Mint leaves: for garnish
Blend the watermelon, sugar and lime juice till you get a smooth puree.
Take a wide pan or baking tray and pour the puree, cover and freeze for about an hour and a half.
Take a fork and stir the frozen mixture, breaking any frozen pieces.
Take it out and again scrape with the fork making small icicles when you do so.
Cover tightly and freeze till you need it.
When serving, scrape with a fork and place the icicles into a small bowl.

Can your breakfast cereal provide you with antioxidants?

That’s right-your bowl of cereal has a lot more nutrition than you knew. A recent study aimed at studying the anti-oxidant content of some of the popular breakfast cereals and whole grain snacks revealed that raisin bran cereals and popcorns contained a large amount of polyphenols.
Polyphenols are chemical substances that act like antioxidants and have been known to protect against health problems like cancer, heart problems and even prevent aging by removing free radicals from the body.

The study which was conducted by Dr. Joe Vinson at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania adds a new dimension to the benefits of whole grains. Whole grains were always known to be beneficial due to its fiber content, but the discovery of polyphenols greatly increases its nutritional value.
The researchers also pointed out that the polyphenol value increased with the addition of polyphenol-rich ingredients such as raisins and cocoa to the breakfast cereals. The study also concluded that among the whole-grain snacks, popcorn topped the list in having the highest amount of polyphenols.
Though this gives us more reason to reach out for whole-grain cereals and snacks, a general word of cautionsince some of these products can be high in terms of sugar(e.g.: breakfast cereals), fat and salt content (e.g.: popcorns).
A few tips while buying packaged product
  • The best thing to do is to check the labels.
  • Choose cereals that have whole grains instead of refined.
  • Buy cereals with less or no added sugars and sweeten your bowl of cereals with fresh/dried fruits.
  • As far as popcorns are concerned, buying the corn kernels and popping them at home with a little oil and a dash of salt would be a better idea than buying the readymade microwavable sachets.

Are Frozen Foods good for you?

Like most people, I had no clue that there was such a month as “Frozen Food Month” (definitely frozen food manufactures have something to do with this)! Anyway, we were grocery shopping and a poster for the same caught my eye. Although I’m not for frozen ready-made/ready to eat food as it has way too much sodium and preservatives, I am a regular visitor to the frozen veggie aisle.
Frozen fruits and veggies are according to me a life saver for working women (and of course those men who can and will cook)! Washing,cutting and cooking veggies take time and that’s where these frozen veggies come handy since they are already cleaned and cut.
Nutritionally too, frozen veggies have the same nutrition as fresh vegetables and fruits. Some scientists feel that frozen fruits and vegetables are more nutritious than fresh foods as they are picked, cleaned, cut and frozen immediately after harvesting. Compare this to the amount of time it takes for the fresh veggies to be picked, packed, sent to the different parts of the country before it reaches a sabziwala(vegetable vendor) or sabzimandi or bazaar near you. Even after that, it’s probably sitting on the cart/refrigerated shelf for some time before you pick (and put in the fridge) and it gets eaten!
The advantages of frozen veggies and fruit:
Easy, convenient and saves a lot of time (can you think of the amount of time saved peeling fresh peas)!
Sometimes frozen veggies can be cheaper when the fresh vegetable is not in season.
Similar in nutritional content as fresh veggies/fruits.
I always have a packet of frozen mixed veggies which has green beans, carrots, green peas and corn-I usually use this in pulav’s, upma, khichdi, poha, biryaniand even in pasta and noodles!
What kind of frozen foods do you pick up?

Healthy Diet During Ramzan

The Muslim Holy month of Ramadan (or ‘Ramzan’ in India) is the important month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast during daylight hours.
Those who are physically able to, are required to fast each day of the entire month, from sunrise to sunset.  

Here are some tips for eating healthy during Ramzan:

  • During Suhur/Suhoor (pre-dawn meal): switch to complex carbohydrates like brown rice (parboiled rice/semi-polished rice), whole wheat breads/atta/pasta as these take time to be digested and hence will keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.
  • To avoid acidity: Eat foods rich in fiber like vegetables, fruits, whole pulses/legumes. Avoid coffee, spicy and fried foods as these tend to increase the gastric secretion that can irritate the lining of the stomach.
  • To avoid weight gain: Avoid fried foods like namkeens (chivda/mixtures/sev/ghatia), samosa, fried chicken, fried fish, sweets,pastries, chocolates, desserts, biryani (on a daily basis), ghee, butter.
  • To avoid dehydration: Between Iftar and Suhur, drink loads of water, tender coconut water, lemonade, buttermilk/chaas and also eat fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water/moisture like watermelon, muskmelon, pineapple, cucumber, all gourds (like bottle gourd, turrai, ash gourd).
  • Choose healthy methods of cooking: Opt for grilled/baked non-veg instead of fried.
  • Instead of high calorie desserts: Opt for fresh fruits on a daily basis, these not only have less calories but will also provide you with the all-important fiber and water.

For those who are looking out to eat healthy during Ramzan, here is a sample Indian diet that is balanced and does not go overboard as far as calories are concerned:

Breaking the fast (at sunset): Dates + Water

Iftar is the Dinner - the meal which ends the day's fast. Options you can consider for dinner meals -
Option 1: Rice with Gajar Methi sabzi along with Masoor Dal and a piece of Tandoori Chicken along with Cucumber and Tomato salad with a glass of Buttermilk/Chaas. A bowl of watermelon.
At Bedtime: Skimmed milk.
Option 2: Phulkas with Baingan Bhartha and Channa Masala along with Grilled Chicken Kabab and Mixed veg raita. A bowl Muskmelon.
At Bedtime: Buttermilk.
Option 3: Rice with Fish curry and Cabbage and Peas sabzi along with Chickpea Salad with peppers and tomatoes. A bowl of Pineapple.
At Bedtime: Ragi malt.
Suhoor is the meal eaten pre-dawn before the day begins for fasting. Options you can consider for your early morning meal :
Option 1: Veg Daliya Khichidi with Kadi and Stir fry mix veggies with a piece of Grilled chicken and Carrot and Mint salad. A bowl of Papaya.
Option 2: Brown or Semi-polished rice with Beetroot Sabzi and Radish Sambar with Mixed Veg Salad and a glass of Buttermilk. A bowl of Strawberry.
Option 3: Jowar Roti with Bhindi Sabzi and Chicken Curry with Mint Raita and Tender Coconut Water. A bowl of Banana.
Eating healthy through Ramzan will not only be easy on your stomach but will also make sure that you don’t put on unnecessary weight during the month. Keep the feasting and all the yummy biryanis and kheer’s for Eid-after all, everyone deserves to indulge in some feasting after a month of fasting!

Know more about NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy)

Smokers not only put their own health at risk but also endanger the health of those surrounding them (family, friends, colleagues, society) and also pollute the environment.

Most smokers know the dangers of smoking yet find it hard to quit. This is mainly due to the main ingredient in cigarettes-nicotine. Nicotine is both physically and psychologically addictive and makes it difficult for those wanting to quit. Many times going ‘cold turkey’ (giving up all at once) doesn’t work for some. Such people do well by slowly reducing the number of cigarettes smoked over a period of time and then stopping it. Others do well with NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy).
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) basically works by reducing craving and nicotine withdrawal by supplying the smokers’ body with small doses of nicotine. These contain anything from about one-third to one-half of the amount of nicotine found in most cigarettes.

NRT’s are available in different forms:

Patches: these are stuck on the skin (just like bandages) and the nicotine is released in small doses through the skin into the blood stream.
Nasal spray: delivers the nicotine through the nose which is quickly absorbed by the bloodstream.
Gum: releases the nicotine through the mouth.
Inhalers: contain a cartridge that contains nicotine. When it is pressed the cartridge releases a vapour of nicotine into the mouth (not the lungs).
Lozenges: like the gum makes the nicotine available in the mouth.
There is no proof that one form of NRT is better than the other, but it is important to follow the instructions and stick to the recommended doses to see the desired effect.

NRT is safe when used properly.

That being said, NRT is not recommended for:

  • Pregnant women,
  • Heart patients
  • People under 18 years old

For more information on NRT, talk to your physician or health care provider. Taking the first step towards quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to help yourself and those around you!

Diet may help to reverse the damage caused by smoking

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, in India, over 6, 00,000 men in the age group of 25-69 die due to smoking every year. Quitting is the only solution to stop further damage to the body.
Most smokers have heard that quitting can make them put on weight - this is true as smoking tends to increase the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and hence the body tends to use up more calories. This should not be held as a reason for not quitting as the dangers of smoking are far worse than putting on a little weight (which can easily avoided by sticking to a balanced diet and exercising regularly).
Here is a sample diet that is high in antioxidants that may help in reducing the damage done to the body:
Early Morning: Water + Walnuts

Breakfast: Poha(with vegetables) + Papaya

Mid-morning: Green Tea + Orange

Lunch: Phulka (no ghee/oil) Or Brown rice along with beetroot sabzi and dal, palak mixed veg salad (no salad dressing), curd/ yogurt (fat-free). A cup of watermelon for dessert

Evening: Tea/ Coffee + fruit chaat

Dinner: Dalia Khichdi (with mixed vegetables) and kadhi with beans subzi along with carrot salad. Have cherries or strawberries for dessert.
Quitting smoking is hard work but it can be done. Millions of people just like you have become and are still former smokers!

It's Time To Spring Clean Your Diet!!

With spring just around the corner, people are getting ready to welcome the warmer months by clearing the junk, dust and dirt accumulated over the past few months and storing away the woollies for the next winter. This year along with spring cleaning your house, how about cleaning your diet too?
Spring cleaning the diet follows the same principles as that of cleaning your house-throw out the junk and stock up on the good stuff. Here are some tips to help you to start with:
Things to throw out/stop
Bhujias, sev, chivda/farsaan
Chips, French fries and other fried stuff which are the regular snacks on cold winter evenings.
Butter/ghee and the 5-10 liter oil bottles which was being liberally used on almost everything from dals to rotis,
Egg puffs, aloo buns, vegetable puffs/patties
Parathas, poories,pakodas/bajjis, samosas,vadas, butter chicken,
All those ‘garam-garam’ halwas-carrot,mung dal, sooji, kaju and such.
Alcohol that was used as an excuse to “warm the cockles of the heart”!
With warm weather, the thought of oily, heavy food can make people sick in the stomach. Warmer weather calls for lighter cooking methods, more salads, fruits, buttermilk/chaas, and yogurts/curd.
Here’s a Simple diet for Spring/Summer:
Early morning: Hot water or Tea
Breakfast:Idlis + chutney and papaya
Mid-morning: Masala chaas/buttermilk
Lunch: Brown rice/semi-polished rice
Dal palak + cauliflower peassabzi
Yogurt+Cucumber salad
Evening: Tea/ coffee with fruit chaat
Dinner:Phulkas with capsicum sabzi
Masoor dal,
Carrot raita
Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated with at least 10-12 glasses of water every day.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Spicy Curry Leaf Chicken Fry (Kerala style)

Spicy Curry Leaf Chicken Fry (Kerala Style)
This is a dry chicken dish which requires LOTS of CURRY LEAVES!! You can even make it with drumettes/ chicken wings.
  • Chicken- 500 gms (cut into small pieces)
  • Red chilli powder- 3-4tsp
  • Coriander powder-4 tsp
  • Turmeric-1/2 tsp
  • Salt-to taste

Boil the chicken in the above ingredients adding a little water. Let the water evaporate. Keep the pieces aside.

Ingredients for the fry:
  • Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
  • Onion- 1 medium (mince)
  • Garlic-4-5 cloves (finely chopped)
  • Green chillies-3-4nos. slit
  • Red chilli powder: 2-3 tsp (depending on your spice level)
  • Coriander Powder: 3tsp
  • Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon juice-1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves-20-25 nos.
  • Oil- 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat the  oil ,add mustard seeds. 
  2. When it pops and half the curry leaves, then add the onion,garlic and chillies and fry till translucent.
  3. Add all the powders and salt. Mix well.
  4. Add the chicken and mix till the masala coats all the pieces. Switch off.
  5. Check the salt. 
  6. Add the rest of the curry leaves on top (lots), mix.
  7. Add lemon juice/tamarind water. Mix, cover and keep.
Serve the Spicy Curry Leaf Chicken hot as an appetizer or with plain rice and dal.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What’s in your kid’s lunch box?

Check out my article published in Complete Wellbeing magazine (14th Dec 2014):

A few smart ideas to pack a healthy and interesting lunch box for your kids: What's in your kid's tiffin?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Eat, Pray and live healthy this Diwali

Flooded with sweet boxes on Diwali? Worried on how to deal with those extra sweet boxes? Here are some tips:
Diwali always brings back fond childhood memories of buying new clothes, bursting crackers and the house filled with the yummy aromas of various sweets and savouries being made at home. Preparations for Diwali would start a week or two in advance and the goodies stored in boxes for eating and distributing among friends and families during the festival. The more we gave the more sweets and other goodies that we got back in return. Though this happened just once a year, by the end of the festive season we got to the point of having an overload of sweets.
Read the whole article on Citizen matters: Eat and Live Healthy this Diwali
Published on 25th October 2013

Here's wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Safe Diwali :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Low calorie Creamy Palak Paneer

Creamy Palak Paneer (low-cal version)

Here's a low-fat version of Creamy Palak Paneer:

  • Palak: 4 big cups or 250 gms
  • Tomatoes: 2 big
  • Garlic: 4nos.
  • Ginger: 1"piece
  • Green chilies: 2-3 (or according to taste)
  • Paneer: 250gms (cut into cubes)
  • Skim milk: 1 1/2 cups
  • Whole wheat flour: 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1tsp
  • Hing(asafoetida): a pinch
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2tsp (or 1 tsp curry powder)
  • Coriander powder: 2tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1-2 tsp
  • Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 3tsp
  1. Puree the tomato along with the garlic and ginger.
  2. Bring some water to boil and then blanch the palak leaves for 3-5 minutes. Take out the leaves and puree when cool.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds, when they start to brown add the hing.
  4. Then add the tomato puree, garam masala, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric/curry powder and stir fry till you see the oil separating out.
  5. Then add the palak puree and mix well.
  6. Cover and cook for 10 minutes stirring in between.Add salt to taste.
  7. Mix the wheat flour in the milk and add to the saucepan. Mix well and then cover and cook for about 5mins.
  8. Add the paneer pieces and mix. Cover and cook for another 5-6 minutes while stirring gently in between.
Serve the creamy palak paneer with phulkas or plain rice and dal.

Note: You can further reduce the fat content of the dish by making your own paneer from low-fat or skimmed milk. Tofu can be used as a substitute for paneer for those who want a vegan recipe and it tastes equally good!