Monday, November 1, 2010

Weight Management Simplified

The words “Weight Management” can mean different things to different people. For people who are underweight, it would mean increasing their weight to that which would be ideal for their height and age.
For those who are overweight or obese, it would mean bringing their weight down to a healthy level. For others who are at a healthy weight, it would mean weight maintenance.
How does weight gain, weight loss or weight maintenance happen? Simply put, here’s what happens:
Weight gain: when calories eaten > (more than) calories burnt,
Weight loss: when calories eaten < (less than) calories burnt,
Weight maintenance: when calories eaten = calories burnt.
To find out which group you fall into, you would need to follow 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). You can calculate it manually by using the formula BMI= weight in kg / height in meters2.
Step 2: Check if your BMI falls within the Normal range (BMI=19-22), Underweight (BMI≤ 18.5), Overweight (BMI=23-25), or Obese (BMI=26 and above). (Note: The BMI for Indians/South Asians is different from the western population).. For more information on this,please check my earlier post here:New BMI Guidelines for Indians/South Asians
Step 3: Get yourself (and your family) on the path to good health by following a healthy diet and by exercising regularly.
A qualified dietitian will be able to help you with a personalized diet plan that will keep your needs and also the needs of your body in mind.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ragda Patties ( Potato cutlets in a white pea gravy)

Ragda Patties
Ragda patties is another street food which comes in the category of 'chaat' in India. The ingredients for Ragda pattes are 'white vatana' or dry white/yellow whole peas (which makes the main part of the ragda/curry) and potatoes for the patties/cutlets. 
Ingredients for the Patties:
  • Potatoes:4-5 big (I use the red skin potatoes as they don't get too mushy when boiled and mashed)
  • Ginger+garlic paste: 1 tbsp
  • Green chillies: 1-2 (finely chopped)
  • Onion: 1 small/1/2 big (chopped fine)
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves: 1 small bunch (finely chopped)
  • Rava/semolina/frarina: 1 cup (to coat the patties)*
  • Salt : to taste
  • Oil: 2 tbsp (for shallow frying)
*I use rava/semolina(cream of wheat) to coat the patties before frying as it tends to absorb less oil. You can also use bread/bread crumbs.
  1. Boil and mash the potatoes.
  2. Add the ginger+garlic paste,chopped onions, green chillies,cilantro and salt and mix it well with the potatoes.
  3. Check for salt. Make 15-20 portions of this mix, flatten into a cutlet/patties.
  4. Roll the patties in the rava.
  5. Heat the oil in a pan, when it's hot, add the patties and shallow fry till it becomes golden brown. Remove from pan.
Ingredients for the Ragda:
  • White vatana/dry white peas: 1 cup(soaked overnight)
  • Onion: 1 small/1/2 big (finely chopped)
  • Tomatoes: 3 (finely chopped)
  • Ginger+garlic paste: 2 tsp
  • Zeera/cumin seeds: 1 tsp
  • Bay leaves: 1
  • Chole masala: 1 tbsp
  • Water: 1-2 cups (depending on how thick you want the gravy)
  • Chili powder,amchur(dry mango powder),chaat masala : to taste (optional)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 2tsp
  1. Pressure cook the vatana/white peas in about two cups of water. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil. Add the zeera/cumin seeds and the bay leaves.
  3. Then add the chopped onions and fry till it changes colour.
  4. Add the ginger+garlic paste and the chole masala and fry till the oil leaves the sides.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir till the tomatoes are cooked.
  6. Add the vatana, water,salt and let it cook for one boil.
  7. Check for taste(you can add the chili powder,amchur and chaat masala if needed).
To serve the ragda patties:
  1. Place two patties on a quarter plate/bowl.
  2. Pour the ragda (curry)over the patties.
  3. Garnish with freshly chopped onions and cilantro.
  4. Add a dollop of tamarind+date chutney on top (you can also add some 'sev' on top) and serve.
Enjoy Ragda Patties  in any season!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Brinjal Bharta (Eggplant Curry)

Brinjal Bharta
'Eggplant/Aubergine' or 'Brinjal' as it's popularly called in India, is on my list of 'not-so favorite' veggies . It's not that the list is very long-there are just two vegetables (brinjal and potatoes) and again it's not that I will not touch them. I prefer to eat them only in certain dishes:potatoes as chips or in Masala Dosa and brinjal as a bharta, pakora or stuffed.
For the Brinjal bharta, the brinjal is usually first roasted whole over a fire (since we have an electric cooktop here, I had to bake it) . Once roasted,the brinjal pulp is then cooked with chopped onions,tomatoes and garnished with chopped cilantro. The Brinjal bharta goes well with 'phulkas/roti' or with steamed rice and dal.Here are the ingredients for Brinjal Bharta:
  • Eggplant/brinjal: 1 big
  • Onion: 1 medium, finely chopped
  • Tomatoes: 1-2 ,diced
  • Green chillies: 1-2,slit lengthwise
  • Ginger: 1 tsp, finely chopped
  • Garlic: 4-5, finely chopped
  • Garam masala: 1tsp
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves: 5 tbsp, finely chopped
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 1tsp
  1. Spread a little oil over the skin of the eggplant/brinjal and roast over an open flame till it gets cooked(or you could bake it in the oven for 20-30mins).
  2. After it cools a bit, remove the skin (the oil applied on the skin makes it easy) and coarsely chop the eggplant pulp. Keep aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan,then add the chopped ginger and garlic. Let it fry for about a minute,then add the chopped onions and salt.
  4. Saute till the onions become translucent, then add the slit green chillies, diced tomatoes and garam masala powder. Stir for about 5-6 minutes till the tomatoes are cooked.
  5. Add the pulp of the brinjal and cook for another 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Garnish the brinjal bharta with chopped cilantro and serve hot with phulkas.

Brinjal Bharta
Question: What is your favorite dish with 'eggplant/aubergine'?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Zucchini Majjige huli/ Moru curry/ Morkulambu/Majjige Pulusu (Buttermilk/Yogurt Curry)

Zucchini Majjige huli
Majjige huli is a popular curry in Karnataka. It's called "Morkulambu" in Tamil Nadu, "Majjiga Pulusu" in Andra Pradesh and "Moru Curry" in Kerala-just goes to show the similarities in cooking styles in South Indian cuisine.
'Majjige' is 'buttermilk' ,while 'huli' is 'sour' in Kannada. Usually majjige huli is made with one vegetable (like cucumber, eggplant, ashgourd, spinach,etc). I had a couple of Zucchinis in the fridge and decided to use it as the vegetable in the majjige huli. Since I've never made majjige huli before, I had to call up my mom for the recipe,so here goes:

Ingredients for the majjige huli:
  • Zucchini: 2 small cut into cubes (or any one of the vegetables listed above)
  • Coconut: 1 cup grated(fresh/frozen)
  • Channa dal/split chickpeas: 1tbsp soaked in water for 1/2hour (optional)
  • Green chillies: 2-3
  • Cumin seeds/zeera: 1tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1tsp
  • Yogurt/ curd: 1 cup (should be slightly sour)
  • Water: 2-3 cups
  • Salt: to taste
For the tempering:
  • Mustard seeds: 1tsp
  • Cumin seeds/zeera: 1tsp
  • Urad dal: 1tsp
  • Curry leaves:3-4 nos.
  • Oil: 1tsp
  1. Boil the zucchini in just enough water till half done.
  2. In the meanwhile grind the coconut,green chillies, the soaked channa dal(optional), mustard and cumin seeds till you get a fine paste (add a little water when grinding).
  3. When the zucchini is half cooked add the ground masala and a cup of water and let it boil.
  4. Add salt, yogurt and another cup of water and cook for a minute or two.
  5. In a separate pan, heat the oil and add the mustard,cumin and the urad dal. Wait till the mustard starts to pop, add the curry leaves , then pour the tempering over the majjige huli and mix.
  6. Serve the majjige huli hot with rice.
Q: What is your favorite side dish to go with rice?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Collard Upkari (a Mangalorean style stir-fry)

Collard Upkari

"Upkari"(or stir-fry) is a very simple vegetarian dish which is a regular in most Mangalorean households. You can make 'upkari' with any vegetable (cabbage,beans,radish, string beans,etc) or with any green leafy vegetable. 'Upkari's' are traditionally made by adding the chopped vegetable/leaves to the tempering along with one or two slit green chillies and cooked till done. At the end, a garnish of freshly grated coconut(Mangalore is a coastal town and has an abundance of coconut trees,and hence the use of coconut in almost every dish) is added which gives it the characteristic flavor.
I've modified the recipe for the collard upkari by adding some chopped onions,some chopped ginger and a pinch of asafoetida(hing) as I like the flavor it adds to the dish.

  • Collard leaves: 1 bunch (chopped)
  • Green chilly:1-2(slit length wise)
  • Onion-1/2 medium (finely chopped) optional
  • Ginger-1/2 inch (cut into long strips) optional
  • Coconut: 1tbsp(freshly grated/frozen)
  • Salt to taste
For the tempering:
  • Oil: 1tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1tsp
  • Urad dal: 1tsp
  • Asafoetida/hing: a pinch(optional)
  • Curry leaves: 3-4 (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and urad dal.
  2. When the mustard starts to pop, add the asafoetida and the curry leaves.
  3. Add the chopped ginger,slit green chillies and onions and saute till the onions turn translucent.
  4. Add the chopped collard (or any of the other vegetables/green leafy vegetables) and stir-fry for 10mins.
  5. Then add a little water, salt to taste and cover and cook till done.
  6. Garnish the collard upkari with the coconut scrapings. Serve hot with a dash of lime (goes well with dal and rice).
Note: You can add 1/2 cup of split moong(wash and soak for 15 mins-add at step 5 with the water) or cooked pulses(kabuli channa) to add some protein to the dish.

Q. Which is your favorite recipe with greens?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicken nuggets anyone????

Has anyone watched Jamie Olivier's "Food Revolution"? It's quite an eye opener. The program not only shows the loopholes in the recommendation for school lunches but also gives an insight to the ingredients and methods used by the food industry for packaged foods.
Here is the inside story of commercially prepared chicken nuggets:

To know more check out his website:
Q: Would you buy a pack of chicken nuggets after watching the video?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tandoori fish

Tandoori Fish

There are just a couple of seafood dishes that my husband is okay with,one of them being "Tandoori fish". He's a little particular that the dish doesn't "smell fishy" (?) so I need to buy fish which aren't too oily(that also unfortunately means less omega-3 in it) and also choose methods that doesn't make the dish smell fishy (fish curry is a strict "no-no"). Here's a list of fish that are HIGH in Omega-3's:
Bass(striped); Herring; Mackerel, Oysters(Pacific); Sablefish(also called black cod);Salmon; Trout(freshwater);Tuna.
The tandoori masala and the marination seem to camouflage the smell and the result is very tasty too!!You can pick up tandoori masala at any Indian store and if you are a little wary of the 'red color' you could opt for the organic version(with no added colors) or make it from scratch with garam masala, ginger-garlic paste,paprika, pepper powder and salt ( I'm not familiar with the actual proportions for each,it's usually trial and error when I make it). Tandoori Fish when baked or grilled is a healthy way of serving fish. Here are the ingredients for the 'tandoori fish':
  • Fish steaks/fillets (halibut/tilapia/tuna/salmon): 4nos.
  • Tandoori masala: 1-2 tablespoon (use less for milder taste or more if you want it spicier)
  • Yogurt: 2 tablespoon
  • Vinegar: 1tsp
  • Lemon : 1/2
  • Onion : 1/2 medium (chopped into rings)
  1. Wash the fish well (traditionally fish in India is washed in water,then some tumeric and lemon juice is applied to the pieces and kept for 1/2 an hour,and then washed off again).
  2. Mix the tandoori masala, yogurt and vinegar and taste for salt. If required,add a little salt.
  3. Coat the fish with the tandoori masala and let it marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or you could also shallow fry it in a pan till done.
  5. Squeeze some lime juice over it just before serving.
  6. Serve the tandoori fish with some lemon wedges and some onion rings.

Tandoori Fish
Q: What is your favorite method of cooking fish?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dahi-batata Chaat Towers(Yogurt and potato Chaat)

Dahi-batata chaat towers
A 'chaat' is a kind of street food that probably combines all the tastes(sweet, spicy, tangy, salty) and all the textures(crunchy, gooey, soft, crispy) that food can be made into. In India,there are different types of chaats-the most popular being bhel puri, pani puri, sev puri and so on and so forth(oh my-just writing about them is making my mouth water). What started as a street food is now also on the menu of most big restaurants,because let's face it-it's something which all Indians love!!!
Besides bhel-puri,my all time favourite chaat is anything which has 'dahi'/yogurt. I love the taste of yogurt when it's mixed with a spicy cilantro chutney and the sweet-n-spicy tamarind and date chutney. I found some Quaker puffed rice cakes (which claims to have 5gms of fiber/cake and is made of whole grain brown rice)at the grocery store and instantly visions of 'chaat' flashed across my mind. I used the rice cakes as a base and built the chaat tower on it. Here's what went onto the rice cakes:
Ingredients:(Serves 2)
  • Rice cakes: 4
  • Spicy cilantro chutney/Green apple chutney: 4 tbsps
  • Boiled potatoes: 2 (coarsely crumbled)
  • Onions: 2-3 tbsp finely chopped
  • Tomatoes: 3 tbsp finely chopped
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves: 3 tbsp finely chopped
  • Green chillies:1-2 finely chopped(optional)
  • Plain yogurt: 3-4 tbsp
  • Tamarind-date chutney: 3 tbsp
  • Sev: 4tsp
  • Chaat masala: 2tsp
  1. Spread some spicy cilantro chutney/green apple chutney on the rice cake.
  2. Layer it with a mixture of boiled potatoes,chopped onions,cilantro,tomatoes and green chillies(optional).
  3. Slowly drizzle some yogurt and some tamarind-date chutney over it.
  4. Finally sprinkle a teaspoon of sev and some chaat masala over it and your chaat is ready!!
You can even add some sprouts or some tangy fruits to add in some more flavors and textures.
Eating the towers can be a little messy,but it's worth a try!!

Question: What is your favorite street food?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Top 5 ways to beat workout shyness

Are you one of those who keep putting off exercising to ‘tomorrow’? Do you start your New Year’s resolutions with ‘Start exercising daily’ but never seem to be able to ‘start’ or if you do start never are able to do it for more than a couple of weeks? We all know that we should exercise, but some days it's tough to get moving: not enough time, too tired, no energy. Here are some tips to beat workout shyness:
1. The ‘Buddy’ system: get a friend/ relative/spouse/ neighbor to workout with you. Having a partner makes it more difficult to miss the gym when a spell of laziness hits you, and you are likely to work out harder once you are there. The best part of having a workout buddy is that after you complete, you’ll have somebody to cut loose and celebrate with! You’ll also have somebody to continue working out with in order to keep yourself in your best shape possible.
2. Buy a whole year’s package: basically pay up. Money is the ultimate motivator. A whole year’s gym package would probably cost you a bomb and you’ll find yourself being regular just to get your money’s worth (if not anything else).
3. Set a goal: To start with, set small attainable goals like exercising for five days a week for at least 45 minutes each time. Once you attain this, then you could go one step further by either increasing the intensity of training or by increasing the time for exercising, etc.
4. Find a workout that is fun: Exercise need not be limited to working out in a gym. You could find some fun activities like dancing, jazz exercising, aerobics, playing a sport that you love (like tennis, basketball, squash, etc). Sometimes the fun element in these can make you look forward to it rather than detesting the thought of it!
5. Reward yourself: Every time you achieve a goal, reward yourself-it could be going for a movie, meeting up with friends, a facial, a new dress, getting a new hair cut or buying yourself a gift certificate to a spa (go ahead and pamper yourself, you’ve earned it!)

Along with these tips, don’t forget the health benefits of exercising:
• Helps manage your weight,
• Combats diseases like osteoporosis, heart diseases, certain types of cancers and diabetes,
• Improves your mood,
• Promotes better sleep and
• Boosts your energy levels.

So pack a bottle of water, wear a snazzy exercise outfit and hit the gym (or the dance floor/ tennis court, etc) and watch those extra layers of fat melt away. You may even surprise yourself by fitting into the pair of jeans from your college days!

Friday, March 12, 2010

All about Nutrition Supplements

There are dime-a-dozen nutritional supplements available in the market-but how many of us know what they are and who should/need to take them? Here are a few FAQ’s about supplements:
What are Nutrition supplements?
Any product that provides some sort of nutrients (for e.g vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fibre, etc) can be termed as a ‘nutrition/dietary supplement’. They are sold in the form of tablets, powders, gels, syrups, etc. They can be used to supplement your normal diet, but cannot and should not be used as a substitute for a regular diet.

Who needs/should take supplements?
Those who eat a balanced diet and are healthy need not worry about supplements in normal circumstances. However, here is a list of reasons why one might require supplementation:
• Illness, hospitalization that interferes with regular food consumption,
• The elderly-who cannot eat regular foods in the recommended amounts,
• Deficiency diseases- like anaemia(iron deficiency), osteoporosis(calcium deficiency), night blindness(Vitamin A), etc.
• Those who live in areas where there is a deficiency of some nutrients for e.g those who live in hilly areas can have iodine deficiency, or those who do not get adequate sunlight (at least 10mins/day) can suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.
• Pregnancy and lactation-are phases that require additional nutrients more than what can be got from the diet alone and hence need to be supplemented(e.g :iron, calcium, folic acid),
• Any medical condition that affects how your body can absorb/excrete certain nutrients(like food intolerance, diseases of the kidney, gallbladder, intestine, etc).

How does one know if nutritional supplements are required and in what quantities?
If you have a doubt, speak to your doctor and/or Dietitian. They are the best people to determine whether you require supplements and the appropriate dosages if required.

Keep in mind that the body absorbs nutrients better in its natural form (from fruits, vegetables), so don’t be tempted to buy nutritional supplements unnecessarily!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sleep Disorders

Most people consider sleep as the least important activity of the day, but for those who suffer from any kind of sleep disorder, it could affect their entire day. Sleep disorders range from inability to sleep or staying asleep (insomnia), to excessive sleepiness (hypersomnias), or problems sleeping on schedule and sometimes even disruptive behaviour while sleeping(like sleep walking, sleep terrors). Sleep disorders can create problems like decreased work performance, memory lapses, stress and sometimes can also be the cause of some occupational or traffic accidents.
If you suffer from any of these disorders, you should seek help from your doctor before it’s too late. There are a number of diagnosis methods, tests and treatments that you could benefit from.
Ideally one should get around 7-8 hours of sleep every day for the body to feel rested. Here are some tips to help you sleep better:
• Have a comfortable sleeping environment which includes the right type of mattress and pillows,
• Don’t try to sleep immediately after eating dinner(a two hour gap is ideal),
• Try sleeping and waking up at the same time every day,
• Eat healthy and exercise regularly. However, exercising too close to bedtime can sometimes have a negative effect on your sleep. Some foods that are rich in tryptophan (like milk, banana, egg whites, peanuts, sesame/till seeds) can help you sleep well.
• Avoid drinking coffee and other caffeine containing products close to bedtime.
• Avoid resorting to alcohol and/or nicotine to help you fall asleep.
• Try to relax before bedtime-you can listen to some soothing music or read a book or try some meditation techniques.
Keep in mind that sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Diet during pregnancy and post-pregnancy

Although good nutrition throughout one’s life is important, for a woman it becomes a cause for more concern when she is pregnant and later when she is lactating. The body undergoes several changes during these two phases of life and thus the nutritional requirements also increase during these periods.

Here are a few tips for a healthy pregnancy and successful lactation period thereafter:
• If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, visit your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe a few prenatal vitamins (like folic acid) and minerals (like iron and calcium). Do not miss your prenatal appointments.
• For women who suffer from nausea and vomiting during the first few months of pregnancy-eating small frequent meals, avoiding fluids along with meals, and eating dry toast or ginger based biscuits first thing in the morning may help.
• Avoid smoking, alcohol and too much caffeine (not more than two cups of coffee/day).
• Do not take any over the counter or herbal medications without asking your doctor.
• Eat a well balanced diet which includes whole grains, pulses/legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and milk products, nuts and plenty of water.
• Avoid binging on junk food, sweets and fried foods-these provide little else than calories and could lead to excessive weight gain during/after pregnancy. Remember, what you eat and drink can affect both you and your baby.
• Moderate exercise* (like walking, yoga) during and after pregnancy can help you sleep better, reduce stress and keep you in better shape during and after delivery. (*Speak to your doctor before starting on any exercise regimen.)
• Get plenty of rest and enjoy these phases in your life.

Monday, February 1, 2010

7 Tips for Beautiful Skin and Shiny Hair

Everyone dreams of having a glowing complexion with shiny, glossy hair. People spend lakhs of rupees every year on skin and hair care products without realizing that what you put inside your body matters more than what you put on your skin and hair. A healthy lifestyle with the right kind of food and regular exercise could actually be the answer to all your skin and hair problems.
Here are a few skin and hair care tips that you should be aware of:
• Protect your skin and hair from harsh sunlight-use umbrellas, caps/hats, sunscreens.
• Use a soap/shampoo suited to your skin/hair type.
• Eat healthy-include plenty of fresh fruits, salads, whole grains, pulses, nuts and dark green vegetables in your diet. Avoid fried foods, sweets and junk foods.
• Keep yourself hydrated-drink at least 10-12 glasses of water/day.
• Exercise daily-it can increase the delivery and circulation of nutrients in the body and sweating tends to unclog the pores of the skin. Regular exercise can also control the amount of male hormones (testosterone) produced by the body and help curb male pattern baldness in some.
• Reduce/manage stress, stop smoking and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every day.
• Avoid crash dieting-most crash/fad diets do not provide your body with all the essential nutrients and you could end up having some kind of nutrient deficiency and/or hair loss after a couple of months.

Keep in mind that there are no ‘miracle’ products or a ‘fountain of youth’, its how you take care of your body that will determine how good you look and feel.

(Contact your doctor or dermatologist if you notice a sudden loss of hair or have severe adult-acne or other skin problems, as these may be the signs of underlying health problems).