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.