Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tofu Bhurji (Scrambled tofu)

Soya or Soy is originally from East Asia, but has recently gained popularity all over the world ever since it's health benefits were discovered. Recently though, it has been getting some negative reports,but I personally feel that soy in moderation is fine.
The protein in soy is complete(equal to meat) and hence is better than other beans and legumes. There are many products that are made from soy,like soy flour,roasted soy nuts,soy milk, tofu,soy nuggets,etc.
This recipe is from Ms.Meghana Ghatpande(Rohini's mom and Meghana aunty to the rest of us).
Tofu is just like paneer to see and taste, but more nutritious and healthier as it's a plant product and made by coagulating soy milk. This makes a good side dish with phulkas and can also be used as a filling inside a sandwich/wrap. It's basically a protein packed dish,and the mustard,cumin and coriander make this dish oh-so Indian!!

Tofu Bhurji(Scrambled Tofu): Serves 4
  • Firm tofu*: 350 gms, cut into small squares or crumbled
  • Onion: 1 medium, finely sliced
  • Tomato: 2 big,finely chopped
  • Mustard seeds:1/2 teaspoon
  • Jeera/Cumin seeds:1/2 teaspoon
  • Dhaniya/Coriander seeds powder: 1teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder:1/4 teaspoon
  • Green chilli: 1 no. (slit length wise)
  • Oil:1 teaspoon
  • Coriander leaves/Cilantro:a handful(finely chopped for the garnish)
  • Salt:to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick kadai/pan.
  2. Add the mustard and cumin seeds.
  3. When it starts to crackle and pop,add the sliced onions,salt and saute till it becomes translucent.
  4. Add the turmeric, cumin powder,slit green chilli,tomato pieces and saute till it gets cooked.
  5. Add the tofu,stir for a couple of minutes.
  6. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with phulkas.
*While buying the tofu for this dish,pick up the firm tofu if possible(as the silken/soft tofu are more suited for making dips).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Khara Chakoli (Spicy Wheat Squares)

Yipee,we're on a roll!!My second "Healthy Snack Recipe" contribution is from Suvarna Patil, currently residing at Corvallis,Oregon. It's a traditional North Karnataka snack made from whole wheat flour. It also has a little tur dal(good protein+carb combo) and requires very little oil. Tastes yummy when eaten hot!!
Khara Chakoli(Spicy Wheat Squares):Serves two
  • Whole wheat flour: 2 cups
  • Tur dal: 1/2 cup
  • Green chillies:1 (or 2 if you want it really spicy)
  • Garlic: 3-4
  • Corainder leaves:1 tablespoon(finely chopped)
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Jeera:1/4 teaspoon
  • Oil:1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt:to taste
  1. Boil tur dal in about 4 cups of water until it's cooked but not mashy.
  2. In the meanwhile,make a dough with the flour and roll into a regular chapathi/tortilla.
  3. Cut into squares and keep aside(be careful not to pile it one on top of the other,or else it'll stick to one another)
  4. Make a paste of the green chillies and garlic.
  5. Once the dal is cooked,add the squares and cook until the water starts to thicken.
  6. Then add the paste of garlic+ green chillies,oil, salt, turmeric powder and coriander leaves.
  7. Cook on reduced flame for about 15 minutes(add little water if needed).
  8. Serve when it is still warm.

Papad ki sabzi (Indian Pasta curry)

I had first tasted this recipe when I was a Dietitian at Manipal Hospital.One of the trainee dietitians had got this dish for lunch and we just loved it. It's a typically Rajasthani dish.I had almost forgotten about it till a few months back. My hubby loved it and even took it for lunch the next day.That's when it was renamed as "Indian Pasta curry" by his colleagues as the papad tastes like a spicy pasta!! Goes well with phulkas or as a side dish with rice and dal.
Papad ki sabzi (Indian Pasta curry):Serves 4
  • Papad-2 or 3(straight from the packet-not fried or roasted)
  • Curd/yogurt- 2 tablespoon
  • Corriander leaves- a handful,finely chopped
  • Hing/Asafoetida -a pinch
  • Turmeric-1/2 teaspoon
  • Red chilli powder- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Mustard seed-1/4 teaspoon
  • Jeera/Cumin seeds-1/4 teaspoon
  • Oil-1 teaspoon
  • Salt-to taste
  1. Break the papad into 1" pieces,
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan.
  3. Add the mustards and cummin seeds.
  4. When they crackle and pop, add the turmeric and asafoetida/hing(be careful not to burn it)
  5. Add the curd and chilli powder quickly and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add about a cup of water.Bring to a boil.
  7. Add the papad,salt and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  8. When it is done,garnish with chopped corriander.
  9. Serve hot with phulkas.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lose weight and gain health!

Trying to get even a couple of kgs/pounds off the weighing scale will go a long way in your quest for a healthy life. Being overweight increases your risk of developing associated health risks like Heart disease,Diabetes,certain types of Cancer, Gout and many more lifestyle related diseases.
The best thing to do is to lose the extra weight and once that has been achieved try and maintain your weight close to the ideal body weight.
The surest way to lose weight is to follow a diet+ exercise regime simultaneously. Don't look at it as "being on a diet"(sounds more like a new year resolution, and we all know what happens to that!). Look at it as choosing or opting for a healthy lifestyle.
In all my years of consultation,I've realized that the main culprits for weight gain are:
  • Bad choice of day to day foods,
  • Excessive consumption of sugar/sweets,
  • Excessive use of oil when cooking meals,
  • No physical activity.
Here are a few tips:
  1. Reduce total sugar consumption to just 2-3 teaspoons/day,
  2. Use just 3 teaspoons of oil for your entire days cooking (get a good non-stick pan)
  3. Include lots of vegetables(cooked and raw) at every meal time,
  4. Eat at least 3-4 different fruits a day(snack on fruits),
  5. Avoid fried foods and munchies (say no to chips,mixtures,pakodas/bhajjis,etc),
  6. Don't skip a meal(esp.breakfast)-it'll only make you binge at your next meal,
  7. Drink at least 10-12 glasses of water per day,
  8. If you are a non-vegetarian,use lean/white meat(eg:egg whites,fish,skinned chicken),
  9. Avoid carbonated beverages and juices which have added sugar,
  10. Don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach,
  11. Don't keep high calorie foods(like chips,chocolates,etc) in the house.
  12. Watch portion size while eating-just because the snack has been given the "healthy"rating, does not mean you can have unlimited servings of it.
  13. Sticking to your diet the whole week does NOT qualify you to binge on all the restricted foods during the weekend.
  14. Make a list of your favorite foods and pamper yourself with just 1 item per month.
  15. And most important-Exercise for 1/2 an hour to one hour everyday.
I was asked to emphasize on tip no.6 by my friend Rohini Ghatpande, as she feels that most people think that they can skip meals and lose weight. Thanks Ro, have highlighted your point, hopefully the message will go home!!
For sample diets and healthy snack recipes,please go through my earlier posts.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Healthy (and Tasty) Snack-Quick Mini Pizza

Hurray, a contribution to my Healthy recipe bank! Thanks to Tina Khanna from Delhi,who also happens to be a nutritionist,my former colleague and a friend. She swears that this recipe is a hot favourite with her husband and daughter.What I liked about the recipe, is the fact that it's a wholesome combination of whole grain(whole wheat bread),proteins(low fat paneer/tofu)and also a good source of fiber(veggies). So here's the recipe:
Quick and Healthy Mini Pizzas(Serves 2):
  • Whole wheat bread: 4 nos.(you could cut it with a bowl/biscuit cutter for a round shape)
  • Low fat paneer(home made from skimmed milk) or Tofu: 100 gms
  • Mixed Vegetables(Capsicum+onions+mushrooms+tomatoes): about 150 gms, finely chopped
  • Oil:1 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  1. Lightly toast the bread.
  2. To a non-stick pan,pour one teaspoon oil and saute the mixed vegetables and paneer/tofu.
  3. Add salt.
  4. Spread this on the toast and grill in an oven or warm it in a closed pan.
  5. Serve hot.
So,who says pizzas are bad for you-try this healthy version instead!! Any takers?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Healthy (and Tasty) Snack-Corn Bhel

The Sukha Bhel recipe reminded me of another one of my favourite snack item which has ingredients similar to that of Sukha Bhel.You just have to substitute the puffed rice with boiled corn kernals. Here's the recipe:
Corn Bhel(Tossed corn salad):
  • Boiled corn kernals-2 cups
  • Tomato-1 chopped
  • Onion-1 small (finely chopped)
  • Carrot-1/2 (Grated)
  • Cucumber-1/2(finely chopped)
  • Corriander(cilantro) leaves-a handful,finely chopped
  • Green Chilly-1 finely chopped or 1tsp red chilly powder
  • Chaat masala-1/2 teaspoon
  • Raw mango(optional)-1/2(finely chopped)
  • Lemon juice-1 tablespoon
  • Salt-to taste
  1. Put all the ingredients into a big bowl.
  2. Toss well and serve immediately.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Healthy (and Tasty) Snack-Sukha Bhel

It's 5pm and i feel like having something 'chatpata'.Hmmm,so what is quick,tasty and chatpata-Sukha bhel!!
If you are wondering why I've added "and tasty" in the title,it's because my husband Vinayak strongly feels that if I just put it as 'Healthy Snack' nobody will want to try it as everyone assumes that anything healthy is not tasty. Not true. You don't have to pour oodles of ghee/oil/butter to make something tasty. Try out this simple and easy snack,and you'll know!!
Sukha Bhel-Tossed puffed rice salad (Serves 2)
  • Puffed rice-2 cups
  • Tomato-1 chopped
  • Onion-1 small (finely chopped)
  • Carrot-1/2 (Grated)
  • Cucumber-1/2(finely chopped)
  • Corriander(cilantro) leaves-a handful,finely chopped
  • Green Chilly-1 finely chopped or 1tsp red chilly powder
  • Chaat masala-1/2 teaspoon
  • Raw mango(optional)-1/2(finely chopped)
  • Salt-to taste
  1. Put all the ingredients into a big bowl.
  2. Toss well and serve immediately.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Planning a Healthy Menu

Do you go to sleep at night trying to figure out what to make for breakfast? Once breakfast is done away with, raid the fridge to find something that can be had for lunch and dinner? Sounds fine,but have you been able to make and eat a balanced diet through the day?
A balanced diet is one which has all the required amount and types of foods that the body needs for normal growth and development.
So,how does one go about planning a healthy menu?
There are five basic food groups that one needs to choose from:
  1. Cereals and grains (Eg:unpolished rice/brown rice,whole grain breads,etc)
  2. Pulses and legumes(Eg: Dals,peas,moong)
  3. Fruits and vegetables
  4. Meat and milk (Eg: skinned chicken, fish; skimmed milk,low fat curd)
  5. Fats and sugars (Eg:Olive oil,canola,peanut oil,etc)
You need to choose an item from each group,but keep in mind that quantity also matters. The cereals/grains would form the main part of your meal and will also provide the required amount of energy. The pulses/legumes or the meat/milk group will provide protein,while the fruits and vegetables will provide the vitamins, minerals and fibre, among other things.
Let's try and plan a meal based on the information provided:
Unpolished/semi-polished rice (Cereal group)
+Dal palak (Pulses+Vegetable group) or Fish curry (for non-vegetarians)
+Garden Salad (Vegetable group)
+Low fat curd (Milk group)
and the oil used for cooking would come from the last group.
Again,I have not mentioned the amount,as this has to be determined individually.
Here are a few things you need to keep in mind:
  • Try using whole grain foods whenever possible.
  • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in the meal.
  • Use just one teaspoon of oil for cooking the entire dish.No frying.
  • Use white(lean meat)when choosing from the meat group.
  • Moderation is the key when choosing from the grain and meat groups.
  • Try to be innovative and add pulses/legumes to recipes if you don't have the time to make a separate dish from pulses-eg. Veg pulav with channa/soya nuggets, Cauliflower and peas sabzi,etc.
As Smitha Suresh has written in the earlier post,it helps to plan the whole days menu.Planning an entire week's menu would be great and would also help you while grocery shopping.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Choosing Healthy Food when Dining out:

Before learning how to pick out "Healthy Options" from a restaurant menu, try to familiarize yourself with some cooking terminology so that you know how the food is cooked. I'm going to categorize it under "Red-Alarm bells" and "Green-Go ahead".
Red-Alarm Bells:
  1. Deep fried: Deep frying is a cooking method in which food is submerged in hot oil (read:calories,calories).
  2. Pan fried: or shallow frying uses lesser quantity of oil than deep frying using only enough fat to immerse about one-third of each piece of food.
  3. Breaded: to coat a food with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs before frying.
  4. Creamy/in a cream sauce: containing cream or/and butter,cheese.
  5. Basted: to cook food by brushing or spooning with fat at regular intervals.
  6. Crispy: food fried in such a way that it is very crunchy.
  7. Batter dipped: food dipped in a coating mix before frying.
  8. Scalloped/Gratin: refers to a preparation of a thinly sliced potatoes(or any other food) and a cream sauce topped with a crust of browned breadcrumbs and butter,often sprinkled with grated cheese.
  9. Alfredo(used mostly in America):food made with Parmesan cheese,butter and heavy cream.
  10. Au-gratin: Covered with bread crumbs and sometimes butter and grated cheese, and then browned in an oven.
Green-Go Ahead:
  1. Steamed:food cooked by using steam by putting it on top of boiling water in a closed vessel.
  2. Poached: Poaching is the method of gently simmering food in a liquid(usually water,milk or stock).
  3. Broiled:food cooked by placing it at a measured distance below dry heat
  4. Grilled: food cooked on a grill which is placed above the heat source.
  5. Roasted: food cooked using dry heat which could be an open flame,oven or other heat source.
  6. Baked: Baking is the technique of prolonged cooking of food by dry heat acting normally in an oven.
  7. Braised: meat cooked by searing using a little fat then simmered in a covered dish in a small amount of moisture.
  8. Tandoori: food cooked in a tandoor over hot charcoal.
  9. Stir-fried/sauteed:food cooked in very little oil over high heat using light tossing and stirring motions.
Once you are familiar with these terms,choosing a healthy option from a restaurant menu will be easier.Check out this awesome slide show on WebMD titled "Healthy Restaurant Eating"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sample Diet For A Fast Paced Life

Now that Smitha Suresh has briefed us on "Nutrition For A Fast Paced Life",let us see what a day's diet would look like if you choose from the healthy options:
Sample Diet *:
On Rising: A glass of water +1/2 cup skimmed milk for tea/coffee(1 tsp sugar)
Breakfast: Plain Wheatflakes +cut fruits +1/2 cup skimmed milk
Mid-morning: Fruit + Thin buttermilk
Lunch: Kichidi (with mixed vegs)
+Kadhi (no pakoda)
+Garden salad(No dressing)
Tea time: 1/2 cup skimmed milk for tea/coffee(1 tsp sugar)
2-3 high fibre Marie biscuits
Dinner: Clear tomato soup/ Rasam
+Phulkas(No oil/ghee)
+Palak( with moong) curry(less oil)
+low fat curd/Raitha

*Note: the quantities have not been mentioned, as that needs to be determined individually.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nutrition For A Fast Paced Life

For my next post,I thought I'd invite someone to write a "Guest article" for Bonne Nutrition. So ladies and gentlemen,please welcome Ms.Smitha Suresh, a very good friend and also a former colleague of mine who has a pulse on the current situation (I am afterall on a "mommy-break" from active consulting) .
Click here to read the article by Ms.Smitha Suresh:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Information for Students on Courses in Nutrition In India:

Since a lot of my friends have been asking me about how to get started in the field of Nutrition,I thought who could be better to enlighten the public than my very first boss,Ms.Swarupa Kakani. She's been a great teacher and I can proudly say that I learnt my Nutrition "A,B,C's" from her, when I started my career as a trainee at Manipal Hospital,Bangalore.

Click here to view the excerpts from the interview with Ms. Kakani.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How to plan a 'Balanced Meal'.

Planning a healthy meal for you and/or your family is not rocket science. It can be very easy if you keep these 3 steps in mind:
Step 1: Choose an item each from each of the four food groups:
a) Whole grains: chapathi/ roti(whole wheat, jowar, bajra, corn/makkai, etc), rice(ideally unpolished/ semi polished rice), broken wheat/dalia.
b) Vegetables and fruits: aim at including at least two different vegetables and a fruit instead of dessert/sweets.
c) Pulses/lentil/lean meat: dals, pulses (whole or split) and once/twice a week chicken, fish or eggs.
d) Milk- buttermilk, curd/yogurt made from skimmed milk.
Step 2: Avoid/use very little oil for cooking as far as possible (e.g: phulkas/dosas without oil, sabzi’s/palyas made with just 1-2tsp oil). Try to use as little as 3tsp oil/person for the entire day’s cooking.
Step 3: When serving keep in mind ‘portion sizes’. Divide your plate into two halves- one half should contain the sabzi/palya/kootu(1-2 varieties) and the other half can be further divided into two portions-one for the whole grain and the other for the dal/pulse item.
Once you get these basic steps correct, you can go one step further and plan out healthy meals not just for the day but for the entire week. Doing so will ensure that you:
1. eat a variety of healthy meals on a regular basis,
2. plan your grocery list in advance-that way you don’t end up buying more than you will need,
3. save time and money-buying things from the list helps avoid impulse buying and will shorten the time spent in shopping.

A little planning never hurt anyone-and if the planning is for a healthy meal, then you (and your family) have only benefits to reap at the end of the day!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Healthy Snack varieties

Now that the healthy options for the three main meals have been dealt with,one tends to wonder if there is any thing called a "healthy snack"? What are you supposed to eat when hunger strikes and you are hours away from your next meal? Snack by all means,but choose wisely, as most snacks are high in calories and low in other nutrients.Nutritious snack foods are a great way to provide energy and nutrients until your next meal,but that does not mean that these can be eaten in unlimited quantities. That means,you would still require to control the amount you eat.

So here are some of the examples for a "Nutritious" snack:
  • Fruit chaat/ Fruit bowl (No Sugar or Honey).A mix of salad vegetables and fruits with chaat masala
  • Sukkha/Dry Bhel (No Sev or Papadi)
  • Corn/Kabuli Channa bhel (No Sev or Papadi)
  • A handful of mixed dry fruits and nuts(10-15 numbers in all)
  • Smoothies made with fruits and low-fat curd/yogurt(No sugar)
  • 2-3 high-fibre Marie biscuits(top it with cut fruits for a change)
  • Home made popcorn (made with very less oil)
  • Steamed/grilled corn on the cob(bhutta)
You could have this with a glass of thin buttermilk,black tea with lime or even fresh juice(no added sugar).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Healthier choices when eating out :

Ever since I put up the last article on lunch and dinner options, I’ve received a lot of emails from friends requesting for tips on choosing healthier options at the office cafeteria and restaurants in general.
Firstly, don’t shy away from asking for food to be cooked with less oil. Chances are that the Masala Dosa that you asked to be made “without oil/ghee” will be made with just 2 teaspoons of oil instead of the regular 5-6 teaspoons, which still makes a big difference in the long run!! Most restaurants nowadays are eager to please their customers and will go the extra mile if asked to do so-so, go ahead and ask!!

Here are some of the other stuff you need to avoid:
.Fried papads
.Pooris/Naans/ Roomali rotis
.Cream soups
.Fried fish
.Fried chicken
.Dal fry
.Fried momos/Spring rolls
.Chow mein
.Oily pulavs/fried rice
.Cream sauces

Instead try:
.Roasted papads
.Phulkas/Chapathi/ Rotis (No oil/butter/ghee)
.Clear soups
.Fish curry
.Tandoori/ Grilled/ Tikka chicken
.Plain dal
.Steamed momos
.Stir-fried food
.Plain rice
.Marinara sauce
.Fruit bowl/platter

It's a different matter if you eat out occasionally(read: once a month),but if you eat out on a daily basis,it makes sense to choose the healthier options.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lunch and Dinner

I strongly believe that the traditional Indian thali is the ideal combination of healthy foods. Nothing can beat a plate of steaming rice,chapathis,dal/sambar, sabzi, curd, salad/raitha and a fruit. Make it healthier by substituting the white rice with unpolished or semi-polished rice(brown rice), whole wheat flour for the chapatis with no added ghee(clarified butter) or oil, and use very little oil for the dal/sambar (lentil) and the sabzi.
Oh yes,we all get bored of eating the same stuff over and over again.So,what are the other options for lunch and dinner which are also "good for you"?

"Good for you" options:
.Mixed vegetable pulav (less oil)+raitha
.Kichidi with vegetables+kadhi or it's spicy counterpart from Karnataka:Bisi Bele Bhath + Curd/ raitha
.Alu/Methi/Gobi/ Dal Parathas (less oil)
.Whole wheat wraps with baked falafel+hummus+chopped tomatoes+chopped coriander leaves as a filling.
.Whole wheat sandwiches with cooked or raw vegetables and mint chutney+ Curd
.Whole wheat sandwiches with egg white omelets or chicken salad (No cheese, mayonnaise or butter) with coriander or mint chutney.
.Phulkas(no oil) with Chole

The trick is to reduce the amount of oil used for cooking/preparing most dishes. Do not add ghee or butter to the end product and you could make a healthy "new" dish using the same recipe!! I personally use only ONE teaspoon of oil for all my dishes(make sure you use a good quality non-stick vessel) and it still ends up tasty!!A 1/2 liter bottle of oil lasts me(two adults) for about 3 months(no jokes)!! No harm in trying-what's to lose? The extra weight-definitely and in the bargain you are driving towards GOOD HEALTH not just for you,but your entire family.