Tuesday, March 31, 2009

News: Pistachio Recall

It was tomatoes first,then peanuts, now pistachios. The FDA has issued a warning stating that pistachios may carry Salmonella bacteria.
Kroger Co. has recalled the pistachios sold.For more info check out this article on:
  1. WebMD: FDA-Stop eating Pistachios,Salmonella feared
  2. CNN Health: California plant recalls 1 million pounds of pistachio products

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chilly Tofu

Chilly Tofu
This is an 'quickie' dish.Takes just about 10-15 minutes.I was inspired by Nita Mehta's 'Chilli Paneer' recipe.I just substituted the firm tofu for the paneer and omitted the ajinomoto(MSG).
  • Firm tofu-200gms (cut into 1" cubes)
  • Garlic- 6-7 flakes (chopped fine)
  • Green chillies-2 nos.(chopped fine)
  • Tomato sauce- 3 tbsp
  • Chilly sauce-1-2 tsp
  • Soy sauce- 2 tsp
  • Coriander/Cilantro -2 tbsp(chopped fine)
  • Oil-1 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Pepper: 1/4th tsp
  • Sugar:1/4th tsp
  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan.Add the chopped garlic and chillies.
  2. Fry for a minute or two(take care not to burn it),reduce heat and add the salt,pepper and sugar.
  3. Add the tomato sauce,soy sauce and the chilly sauce,mix well.Add about 2tbsp water.
  4. Add the tofu cubes and the chopped coriander/cilantro leaves.
  5. Cook for another 3-4 minutes on reduced heat.
  6. Serve hot.

Water with added vitamins-why and for whom??

I fail to understand the need for water which has been enriched with certain vitamins and minerals.I'm a strong believer in the fact that if you eat a 'Balanced Diet' you don't need to take nutritional supplements(unless you have been advised by your doctor or are an athlete/sportsperson with special needs). I believe that the body is able to absorb vitamins better from those found in it's natural form, rather than from supplements. What about countries where these products have not been launched-does it mean that they are not getting their Recommended Dietary Allowance(RDA). Or what about animals-does anybody give them supplements? Don't they survive even in the wild with their regular food-so,why does a regular human being require supplements?
Next comes the question 'for whom' are these products targeted at? Those who can buy the product can buy and consume foods which contain these very nutrients(with added benefits of getting fibre thrown in for 'free'). The malnourished people who do require them, probably cannot waste money or afford to buy these products.
Also,those of you who are watching calories need to be aware that unlike 'plain water' these 'special' waters are not Zero Calorie!! Most of them contain anything between 9-70 kcal/ 8 ounce serving!!
So let's raise a toast to the only "Zero" calorie drink-good old 'plain' water(about 8-10 glasses/day) and fresh fruits and vegetables!!
For further reading check out these two articles on WebMD:
  1. Super-Waters:Health or Hype.
  2. Vitamin Water On the Hot Seat.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My "3 teaspoon oil" meal !!

If I can dish it up, so can YOU!! Here's a 'dekko' at the yumptious Indian thali meal(served in the thali plate I manged to get from India). The meal consists of:

  • Rice (ran out of brown rice,so it was the 'white rice')
  • Dal('Mung' dal-recipe courtesy Sharath M)- 1tsp oil for tempering
  • Dry sabzi(khol rabi leaves, potatoes, capsicum)-1 tsp oil
  • Chutney( roasted channa dal, cilantro)-1tsp oil for tempering
  • Khol rabi salad
  • Fat free yogurt/curd
Nothing fancy-just the regular fare cooked with just the minimum amount of oil(the only innovative thing I did was to include the khol rabi leaves with the 'alu+capsicum' sabzi). So no recipes. Anyone can make a healthy meal of the day-to -day fare,and remember portion sizes also matter!
Bon appetit!

Monday, March 23, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be A Teacher!

Time for another "Guest Article".Teaching as everyone knows is a very noble profession,yet not many of us get into the profession. This article throws light on "who should,and how one can get started in the teaching line".
It's written by a retired Professor,Ms.Shobha Kumar, with whom I had the good fortune of being associated through the Indian Dietetic Associations(IDA),Bangalore Chapter. Incidentally,she is also the current Vice-President of the IDA (Bangalore Chapter).
Read her article: To Be Or Not To Be A Teacher.

Friday, March 20, 2009

There's Something In The Air Today.........

Today is officially the "First Day Of Spring"!!Celebrate it by enjoying the outdoors-go trekking,cycling or just take a picnic basket and hit the park nearby.
It's so beautiful,I wanted to share this snap I took from my balcony.

It's A New Way To Walk!

"It's a new way to walk"-that's a song on Sesame Street that my son loves watching.It's got a nice catchy tune(just right to pep you up) and the newer version is sung by Destiny's Child!!The tune keeps going on and on in my head and that's when I thought that it'll be a great inspirational song for people who need a little push to start exercising.Listen to it and walk your way to a healthy life!!
Walking is one of the easiest and simple ways to keep yourself fit. Start with half an hour of regular walking around your neighbourhood (if it's too crowded,then pick a park close-by or walk on the treadmill). Then after a day or two, increase your speed to a brisk walk and finally if you do have the time,increase it to an hour's walk. If you don't have time for a walk early in the morning,try walking before lunch/dinner, or even in the evening after work.The important thing is to find time for some kind of physical activity in your busy day!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Food labels-a quiz!

Ok-so you think that you know how to spot "Healthy Food" by reading the labels. Let's see how good you are by taking this quiz on WebMD titled "Nutrition Label Quiz:Can You Spot Healthy Food Choices?"
It's an eye-opener!!If you don't do too well on the quiz,that's fine.Just be careful when you go grocery shopping the next time. If you've done well-then,hurray for you!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mushrooms and Green Tea to stop Cancer?

Apparently yes-a friend of mine sent me a link last night from the "Sydney Morning Herald". The article titled "One Mushroom a Day to Stop Breast cancer" talks of a study conducted to determine the protective properties of traditional Chinese diets. The study concludes that mushrooms(as little as one per day) and green tea could protect you from breast cancer.Lab research has shown that mushrooms have anti-tumor properties while green tea has polyphenols (an antioxidant compound) that have shown to fight breast tumors in animals.
So,the next time you go shopping,don't forget to buy some fresh mushrooms and a packet of green tea.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Authentic Indian Junk Food

Junk foods are a Dietitian's worst nightmare! What is junk food anyway and why is it such a taboo word?It is actually a slang word for foods which have very little or absolutely no nutritional value and yet are very palatable and popular. In India, the general mindset is to limit junk food to just pizzas and burgers,so avoid these, and you are eating healthy food-not true. What about the Indian junk food? They are equally as bad as their western counterpart, if not worse. Let me list out some of the "Authentic Indian Junk Food" that we all so unknowingly consume:
  • Mixtures/chivdas/ farsans:don't we all have a couple of packets of these in our houses. Whether it is 'ghathia' from Gujrat or 'murukkus' from Madras,we all have our hot favourites!
  • Bajjis/pakodas: whether it is a rainy day or not,we like it with a cup of hot 'chai' or even with our meals.
  • Vadas/pooris: eaten as a snack or even for breakfast,these deep-fried foods are not helping you maintain your weight or your lipid levels!
  • Paani-puri/ sev puri/bhaturas: a-ha, a visit to your friendly neighborhood 'chaatwala' and you loose count of the calories you gleefully tuck into!
  • Vada pav: our very own authentic Indian burger. Just white bread with deep fried mashed potatoes in a besan/chickpea flour coating.
  • Butter Masala dosa/cheese dosa/Chinese dosa: all ways to to make the 'dosa' as unhealthy as it can get.
  • Gobi Manchurian: even the Chinese will have a fit if they eat this so called 'Chinese' dish.
With these Indian junk food, and the fact that most of these are still being fried in 'trans-fat',we are probably eating the worst.Here's a solution,check out the Healthy Snack options and try eating them instead all this month, and you might just acquire a taste for eating nutritious food!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Healthy Nutrition Month

March is 'Healthy Nutrition Month'. The American Dietetic Association(ADA) celebrates it annually with campaigns.This years' theme is "Eat Right"
Try to make the right choices with what food you buy,what you cook and finally,what you end up eating.
For more information on healthy choices read my previous posts on:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brain surgery for weight loss?

That's exactly what a woman in West Virginia did.An article in the Times Of India titled "Woman has brain surgery to fight flab" says that the woman tried deep brain stimulation after trying everything else(diets,stomach stapling,etc). It is only the second such surgery performed and is a part of a clinical trial.
In the procedure, wires carrying electrical impulse were inserted into the region of the brain that controls the stomach and uses electricity to control her feelings of hunger and satiety.
For all that she has gone through,I just hope the procedure works!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bringing up a healthy child.

Gone are the days when a 'plump' child was considered as healthy. I remember my mom always admired plump kids and tried her best to feed her skinny daughter (you're right-ME)! Today, mother's get worried if their child is even 'pleasantly' plump. This is the case not just here in the US(where the awareness of child obesity and the associated high cholesterol risks are high),but back home in urban India too. When I worked at Manipal Hospital with the pediatric endocrinologist,I had the chance to counsel many kids under the age of 10 who were not only over-weight but some of whom were also diagnosed with high cholesterol levels.Back then almost all the parents were shocked as they always thought 'cholesterol' was something 'one needs to worry or take care of after the age of 45'.It's a myth that cholesterol starts to build up in the arteries only after forty. Infact, it's building up in your arteries even as you read this.
What are the reasons that children nowadays are more prone to obesity and hypercholesterolemia?The three main reasons:
  1. Lack of exercise
  2. Junk food,chocolates/sweets and colas
  3. Eating in front of the T.V
When we were kids we played outdoor games almost every day. These days you'll rarely find kids playing outside,which means that they get very less exercise. That and the fact that junk food has started to replace the traditional (non-fried) Indian foods in many households adds to the situation.
What does eating in front of the T.V have to do with weight gain?-a lot apparently.An episode on 'The Truth About Food' on Discovery showed an experiment wherein the conclusion was that we tend to eat more without realizing it while watching T.V.
The solution to this is that you as a parent need to make a change now.
  • Stop buying junk food and other 'calorie dense' foods on a regular basis,instead get them into the habit of eating 'nutrient dense' foods.
  • Join your kids in an outdoor sport/game that everyone enjoys,that way the whole family gets an exercise.
  • Start having meals together at the table and talk to your family.
It's one small step for you,but a 'big' leap towards a healthier life for you and your child!

Read more:
1.Kids and Cholesterol
2.Adult Fast-Food Diets Tied to Too much TV as Teen

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to start a career as a Dietitian (in India)?

A lot of students who have earned their degrees in Nutrition have no clue as to what should be their next step(I was one among them,not so long ago). For this very reason I approached none other than the President of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA),Mrs Dharini Krishnan.
Read about it on: Guests on Bonne Nutrition

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Getting kids to eat veggies....

An article in today's Times Of India titled 'Veggie names leaves preschoolers wanting more' talks about a research conducted by Cornell University and suggests that giving fancy and catchy names to veggies got the tiny tots to eat more.
Great idea for all mommies with fussy kids like mine! Mother's on the net,let's put on our thinking caps and think of funky names for all vegetables-any suggestions? How about "Cool broccoli" and "Barney Brinjal" for a start?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Empty Calories

Years of analyzing peoples' diets to check where the fault lies, has taught me that by simply making the person conscious of what is called 'empty' calories,goes a long way in helping them get into a healthy diet pattern. So,what are these so called 'empty' calories?They are foods/ingredients which provide no additional nutrition other than calories,and the three main culprits are:
  1. Sugar
  2. Oil(yes,they do have Essential fatty acids,but we don't need to drink oil to get them)
  3. Colas and Alcohol
I would say sugar and products containing sugar and the oil/butter/ghee we use in our day to day foods are the major source of 'empty' calories.Has anyone ever wondered how many teaspoons of sugar he/she consumes in a day? I've known so many to take around 20-24 teaspoons of sugar just in their tea/coffees (excluding that which is present in sweets/colas).Take this quiz I found on CNN Health,to see if you are aware of the number of liquid calories you could be having in a day. Try and limit your sugar consumption to just 3-4 teaspoons/day.
Next comes oil.I've always mentioned in all my articles that you don't have to drown the food in oil.All oils including olive oil (extra virgin varieties too)contain the same calories,and hence need to be limited. Use just about one teaspoon for cooking the entire dish.Your monthly oil allowance should not be more than half a liter per person per month (if you eat all three meals at home).
I've clubbed colas and alcohol together as I believe that these need to be eliminated(especially colas) in the quest for better health. I came across a lot of people who would have atleast 2-3 colas a day and end the week with alcohol. Along with alcohol, came the other no-no's:the chips,fries,colas and all the regular high calorie foods.
Weekend binging on foods which you have managed to avoid through the week will bring back all the calories you managed to cut from your diet. At the end, the weight loss will not be significant,which generally makes the person put the blame on the diet (if not the dietitian).
If you can bring down the use of these 'empty calories' to it's bare minimum,half your battle would be won (the other half would depend on the amount of exercise you put it).
If you want to know more about which are the other foods that are high in sugar,then check out this wonderful article on WebMD called 'Sugar Shockers-Foods surprisingly high in sugar'.