Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sensible Eating through the festive season!

 Indian Sweets (pic courtesy: BBC)
 They say that someone once asked Lord Buddha "What is POISON"? His answer was simple-"Every Thing EXCESS In Life Is Poison"!!! 
Words of wisdom which holds good even today. Excess of even the good things in life can bring with it,it's own set of problems! This is true even with festive food these days. 
Sometime back I remember discussing our change in food habits and the increasing problem of obesity and other health problems that India (and Indians all over the world) are now facing and a friends father's put it nicely as "Hamare zamaane mein Diwali saal mein ek baar manayi jaati thi. Aaj kal tho log Diwali roz manate hein!! Translated into English, "In our time, Diwali (the main festival for Hindus) used to be celebrated once a year and we would indulge ourselves on sweets and other festive food. These days it's like Diwali  is celebrated daily as people eat sweets and other high-calorie food on a regular basis!". 
With Indians being able to spend more on food, waiting for a festival to gorge on sweets doesn't seem to be worth it anymore. No surprises that India is not only seeing an obesity epidemic but will also soon be crowned the "Diabetes capital of the World"!!
Most Indians find it difficult to eat sensibly right from October till January. Navarathri(which generally falls sometime in October) usually heralds the start of the festive binging, then comes Diwali in October/November, Christmas in December and then finally New Year! For Indians in the US,-there's also Halloween and Thanksgiving around the same time to deal with. To top it all, the cold winter months brings on food cravings.With so much tempting reasons for festive food, how does one stay on track with healthy eating?

Indian Festive Food (photo courtesy:BBC)
Here are some tips:
  1. Don't skip out on your exercise during these months.
  2. Enjoy the festive food, but stick to portion sizes.
  3. Try to have a small snack, soup, sandwich, yogurt and fruits before leaving for a party-that way you won't be very hungry when you arrive at the party.
  4. While planning a dinner/party during the festive season, try not to put all the festive food (read: pooris, mixtures/chivda/farsaan, parathas, pakodas, biryani's,jelebis,gulab jamuns) on the menu at the same time. Choose two or three items and then balance it out with healthy food.
  5. Include salads/raitas and fresh fruits in the menu.
  6. Serve fresh juices instead of soda/aerated drinks.
  7. Instead of gifting your friends and relatives sweets or chocolates, think healthy and gift them with exotic fresh fruits, fruit bouquets, dry fruits and nuts, gourmet coffees/teas or even some herbal spa products or a spice/flowering plant.
   The idea of celebrating a festival should not be centered on overeating festive food but getting into the spirit of the festival. Eating smart or sensibly through these months will  ensure that you don't end up with health problems in the New Year.
Here's wishing a Happy, HEALTHY and Prosperous Diwali to all !!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mangalorean Egg Curry (Mutta Curry)

Mangalore Egg Curry (Mutta Curry)
The Mangalorean Egg Curry is one of the dishes that usually features on my menu whenever I invite eggetarians (ovo-vegetarians) for dinner! It's quick, simple (since I use coconut milk from a can) and a 'sure to be a hit' dish !! I always poach the eggs in the gravy-since I feel that it adds to the taste. But if you don't like the look-you could boil the egg and then put them into the gravy!

Ingredients for Mangalore Egg Curry (serves 4-6):
  • Eggs: 6 nos.
  • Potato: 1 medium boiled and diced
  • Onion: 1 big (finely sliced)
  • Tomato: 1 medium (diced)
  • Coconut milk: 1 can (I use the thick one not the 'lite')
  • Red chilli powder: 4-6 tsp (depending on our spice tolerance)
  • Coriander powder: 4 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 1tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds/ jeera: 1/2 tsp
  1. Heat the oil in a kadai, add the mustard and cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the turmeric and sliced onions.
  2. Add the salt and fry the onions till they are translucent, then add the diced tomatoes and let it cook.
  3. Add the red chilli powder, coriander and cumin powder, potatoes and mix well.
  4. Add the coconut milk and about a cup of water and simmer. Taste the gravy and then reduce the flame.
  5. Carefully break the eggs and drop the contents into the gravy one by one (leaving a little space between each). Cover and cook on a low flame for 6-8 minutes (DO NOT STIR).
  6. Once the eggs are cooked switch off.
  7. Serve the mutta curry (Mangalore Egg Curry) with rice and a side dish. 
The mutta curry also goes well with phulkas/chapathies.

Mangalore Egg curry with rice

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mooli Ki Sabzi (Dry Radish Curry)

Radish, garlic, green chillies
The recipe and photographs for this simple yet tasty 'Mooli ki Sabzi' (Red Radish Curry) are again courtesy my friend in Oregon-Taranjeet Kaur!! Thanks TJ-and thanks Prateek for tasting and giving a 'thumbs-up' for this recipe. Coming from a person who normally isn't too fond of radish speaks volumes about this dish and Taranjeet's culinary skills :)
Taranjeet's Recipe for 'Mooli ki Sabzi': 
  • 2-3 bunches of red radish with leaves
  • 1 green chili
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (smashed) 
  •  1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Oil: 1tsp (enough to sauté the garlic)
  • Salt: to taste       
  1. Wash and chop the radish and greens.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan ,add garlic,sauté for a minute and add turmeric powder.
  3. Add the chopped radish .Let it cook for a couple of minutes .
  4. Add the leaves and mix it well.
  5. Sprinkle salt as per taste. Cook covered for 5 mins.
  6. Serve the 'mooli ki sabzi'  hot with roti. This also goes well with rice and moong dal.                                                                           
 'Mooli Ki Sabzi' (Dry Red Radish Curry)

 Thanks TJ- hoping for many more recipes (and photographs)!                                    

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mangalore Cucumber and Moong Sprouts Ghassi (curry)

Moong Sprouts, Coconut and Mangalore Cucumber
Another favorite Mangalorean dish-the sprouted moong/mung and Mangalore cucumber ghassi. Ghassi is the Mangalorean term for 'curry' or gravy. The Mangalore cucumber is also called the 'Malabar Cucumber' is a commonly seen vegetable in South India.
Ingredients for Mangalore Cucumber and Moong Sprouts Ghassi : 
  • Mangalore Cucumber: 1 medium size
  • Moong Sprouts:200gms
  • Tomato: 1 big or 2 small (chopped)
  • Coconut: 1/2 or 1 cup grated
  • Red chilli powder: 4-5tsp(add more/less according to your tolerance level)
  • Coriander powder: 3tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1/2tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Cumin /Jeera seeds: 1tsp
  • Turmeric:1/4th tsp
  • Urad dal: 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 8-10nos.
  • Garlic: 2-3 crushed
  1. Wash and cut the Mangalore cucumber into half-scoop out the seeds from the centre(check if it's bitter, if bitter than make sure you scrape out all the seeds and fibre around it).
  2. Cut them into 1" cubes. Take a saucepan and cook them along with the sprouts with enough water and a little salt.Cover and cook till the Mangalore cucumber almost turns translucent (or is almost cooked),then add the chopped tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are soft.
  3. In the meanwhile, grind the coconut with the red chilli powder, coriander and cumin/jeera powder to a fine paste.
  4. Add the coconut paste to the saucepan, mix well, test for salt and cook for about 6-8mins.
  5. Switch off.
  6. Take a smaller saucepan/tempering pan and heat the oil, add the mustard,jeera and urad dal. When the mustard starts to sputter, add the turmeric, curry leaves and then the crushed garlic.
  7. Add the tempering to the ghassi. Close the saucepan immediately.
  8. Serve the Mangalore Cucumber and Moong sprouts ghassi with rice and a side dish/chutney.

Mangalore Cucumber and Moong sprouts Ghassi

NOTE: In case you don't find Mangalore Cucumber, you can replace it with potatoes (in fact an uncle of mine prefers it with potatoes)!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dry Bhindi Sabji (Dry Okra Recipe)

Dry Bhindi Sabji (Dry ladiesfinger masala)
Do your kids turn their nose up at the mention of ladiesfinger/Okra/bhindi? Try out this tasty and easy recipe of dry bhindi sabji (Dry okra recipe) and watch them gobble it all up. This recipe is something I learnt from my friend Rohini's mom, Meghana Ghatpande. Meghana aunty-thanks a ton for making this one of the kids favorite recipes :)
Ingredients for the dry bhindi sabzi:
  • Okra/ladies finger/bhindi: 250gms
  • Cumin powder: 1tsp
  • Chilly powder: 1/4th tsp (optional)
  • Lemon: a dash
  • Cilantro/Coriander leaves: 1-2tbsp chopped(for garnish)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 1tbsp
  1. Wash, pat dry and cut the okra.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the okra slices. 
  3. Stir occasionally till the okra is almost done (the slimy part goes away) .
  4. Add the cumin powder , salt and/or red chilly powder and mix well.
  5. Stir fry till done.
  6. Switch off. Squeeze a dash of lime and garnish with cilantro.
  7. Serve the dry bhindi sabzi as a side with rice and dal or with phulkas.

 Dry Bhindi Sabji with phulkas

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bonne Nutrition gets featured in the Daily Buzz Healthy Living Top 9!!

My article on "Tips for a Healthier and Fitter Family"  makes it to the TOP 9!!! YAY, YAY, YAY!!!
Bonne Nutrition is honored to be featured in the Daily Buzz Healthy Living-thank you :) 

Click here to see the post:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No-oil Microwave Gobi sabzi (Cauliflower dry curry)

No-oil Microwave Gobi/Cauliflower ka sabzi

 The Microwave version of the Gobi/Cauliflower sabzi was inspired by my mother-in-law who uses the microwave daily for her cooking (and not just for reheating stuff). The "No-oil" part was my experiment in making the dish healthier! The resulting "No-oil, Microwave Gobi/Cauliflower ka sabzi" is not only easy to make but also turned out pretty good. You could even try the same recipe with broccoli(or any other vegetable) in lieu of the cauliflower.
  • Cauliflower: 1 (washed and cut into tiny florets)
  • Red chilli powder: 1-2tsp (or according to your spice tolerance)
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4th tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Cilantro/Coriander leaves: 3tbsp (finely chopped)
  • Lime juice: 1 tsp 
  1. Put the cauliflower florets in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 5 mins.
  2. Then sprinkle some salt on it and mix-well.
  3. Microwave again for 2-3 mins. Mix well. Repeat this procedure every 2-3 mins, till the cauliflower is almost cooked.Test for salt(add more if needed).
  4. Sprinkle the red chilly powder, turmeric and the cumin powder and mix well. Microwave again (mixing every 2-3 minutes) till the cauliflower gets cooked.
  5. Add the lime juice and mix well.
  6. Garnish with the cilantro leaves.
  7. Serve the "No-oil, Microwave Gobi/Cauliflower ka sabzi" with phulkas or as a side with rice and dal.

No-oil, Microwave Cauliflower sabzi
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moong Dal Payasa/ Kheer (Split mung pudding)

Moong Dal Payasa
Another favorite from the family Mangalorean recipe box-the moong dal payasa is made for special occasions and festival feasts. Since I've been on a mission to try out (and publish on this blog) traditional Mangalorean recipes, this was undoubtedly the first thing that came to my mind as the sweet dish for this years Ganesh Chaturthi feast at home. 
  • Moong Dal: 1 cup
  • Jaggery: 1 1/2 cups (you could substitute with sugar,but jaggery gives the actual traditional taste)
  • Milk: 1 cup
  • Water:1 cup
  • Coconut milk: 1 cup
  • Salt:1/4th tsp
  • Saffron/Cardamom powder: a pinch (soak saffron in a little warm milk)
  • Cashews, raisins: a few(fried in a little ghee)
  • Ghee: 3tsp
  1. Roast the moong dal in a teaspoon of ghee till you get a pleasant aroma (do not let it brown).
  2. Add the milk and the water and bring it to a boil. Then simmer till the moong dal is well cooked, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the dal is cooked add the jaggery, the saffron milk/ cardamom powder.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stir for a minute. Switch off.
  5. Serve moong dal payasa/kheer hot or a little warm garnished with the fried cahews, raisins and the remaining ghee.
NOTE: Do not add the jaggery/sugar at the beginning or else the dal will not cook (I learnt this the hard way the first time I made this!)
 Moong dal payasa, mung dal and jaggery

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kala Channa Rasam( Brown Chickpea Rasam)

Kala Channa/Kadle Rasam 
Kala channa/ kadle rasam doesn't actually have any kala channa but is made from the water left over from boiling the kala channa/ brown kadle. When using the channa for a dry sabzi like Manoli kadle or usali, instead of throwing the water, you can make another dish out of it. Moreover, making dal/sambar as the gravy dish will make the meal too heavy with too much protein. The kala channa/ kadle rasam then becomes the perfect side dish for the meal.
  • Kala channa/kadle water: left over water after pressure cooking 
  • Tomatoes:2-3 (pureed)
  • Garlic: 3-4 (skinned and smashed)
  • Rasam powder:2- 3tsp (according to taste)
  • Turmeric: 1/4tsp
  • Green chillies:1-2 slit in half
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves- finely chopped
  • Salt: to taste
  •  Mustard seeds: 1tsp
  • Cumin/jeers seeds: 1tsp
  • Urad dal: 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 8-10
  • Hing/asafoetida:a pinch
  • Oil: 1tsp
  1. Heat the oil in a pan, then add the mustard seeds,cumin and urad dal. 
  2. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the hing, curry leaves, turmeric and the slit green chillies and smashed garlic and stir for a few seconds.
  3. Add the tomato puree, the rasam powder and salt and stir or 5-6 minutes.
  4. Add the kala channa water , salt and mix well.
  5. Let it boil, then let it simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  7. Serve the kala channa/ kadle rasam with rice and the Manoli kadle.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tips for A Healthier, Fitter Family

Image Courtesy:
 The old saying that "A family that eats together stays together" not only holds good even today but needs to be tweaked a little to suit today's health conscious world . It should now read as "A family who eats healthy and exercises together stays fit forever!"
As a dietitian my goal is not only to get my client on the right 'eating' path, but also to extend the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise to his/her family. Many a times clients (mostly women) give up as it gets difficult to make two different menus-one would be the regular food for the family and the other for themselves. My solution-if the present food and eating habits has resulted in weight gain and other related health problems,then it is advisable to change it not just for yourself,but also for the whole family.  To do that you need to make subtle changes not just in the cooking but also in the family's outlook towards health. Here's how you can bring about a change in your and your family's health:
  1. Reduce oil used for cooking to half of your currant usage. 
  2. Avoid making or buying fried foods like chips, pakodas, fried chicken and such on a regular basis.
  3. If you must, then buy the smallest available packs/size of fried foods,sweets,chocolates, cakes-that way there won't be any left overs for snacking on later.
  4. Use whole grains like brown/semi-polished rice, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pasta, 100% whole wheat breads and locally grown millet and grains like ragi/nachni(finger millet) and jowar(sorghum).
  5. Switch to eating fruits for desserts on a regular basis.
  6. Buy skimmed milk, low-fat cheese, non-fat plain yogurt
  7. Munch on healthy snacks like fruits, salads, a handful of nuts, edamame salad or other cooked beans/pulses like a chickpea salad.
  8. Drink water when you are thirsty and with your meals instead of juices, aerated drinks, beer or energy drinks.
  9. Buy only 100% fruit juices( or you could make fresh juices at home) instead of those loaded with sugar.
  10.  Include a variety of seasonal vegetables (and not just potatoes) with every meal.
  11. Avoid red meats like beef, pork, mutton(goat meat) and instead have fish or poultry.
  12. Eat your meals together as a family and not in front of the television.
  13. Try to inculcate the idea of physical fitness by including the whole family in outdoor fun activities like walking, trekking, hiking, biking, swimming or even playing outdoor games together.
  14.  Include kids and/ or your spouse when cooking so that the resulting meal is a family effort.
Old habits are hard to change, the trick is to be persistent! Try introducing one or two changes every week, that way the changes may actually go unnoticed. Just bear in mind that IMPOSSIBLE can easily turn into I'M POSSIBLE!!

Green Apple Panna

Green Apple Panna
Traditionally in North India, 'Panna' is made from green mangoes (unripe) and had as a drink during the sweltering summers. The unripe mangoes are tart which adds a different flavour to this drink. Added to that the different spices makes it an unusual, yet tasty drink. The Black salt /kala namak used in this drink is a type of salt found in India which due to the sulfur content, gives a distinct aroma and taste.
Since fall is also the season for apples and everyone seems to be making desserts with them, I thought a 'Green Apple Panna' will be a welcome change!
This recipe was tested out and also photographed by Taranjeet Kaur-Kothari, a friend from Oregon. Thanks a ton TJ- the photos are superb ( do we see a budding photographer and blogger in the making???).
Ingredients for the Green Apple Panna:
  • Green apples(Granny Smith) - 4nos.
  • Roasted cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Sugar: 4-5 tsp (or according to taste)
  • Black salt- 1 tsp
  • Lemon-1no.
  • Mint leaves- a few
  • Green apple chunks - 20-25g (optional)
  1. Coat the skin of the apples with a little oil and bake( or roast over a flame) till soft.
  2. Scoop out the pulp and mash in the mixie with lemon juice with water, sugar, mint leaves,black salt and roasted cumin.
  3. Whisk thoroughly.
  4.  Let the panna cool down and then add lots of crushed ice to the panna.
  5. Add green apple chunks(optional)
  6. Garnish the Green Apple Panna with some mint leaves and serve chilled.
Note: Black salt/Kala namak can be found in all Indian grocery stores.
 Green Apple Panna
Once again a big shout out to Taranjeet and her hubby for testing, tasting and photographing this delicious drink!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sweet Banana Dosa ( Sweet Banana Crepes)

Sweet Banana Dosa
This is a favorite breakfast/snack item at home. I first made sweet banana dosa/crepes when I had a few over ripe bananas and wanted to try something other than the banana raita. This is similar to the popular Mangalorean recipe of "Southekai dosa" or 'Sweet Cucumber dosa'. Years ago I had experimented replacing the cucumber with mango puree and the resulting 'Sweet Mango Dosa' too had turned out really well.
Here are the ingredients for the Sweet Banana crepes:
Ingredients:(Serves 4)
  • Dosa Rice: 1 cup
  • Ripe Bananas: 2 nos.
  • Beaten rice/poha/ avalakki: 1 cup
  • Grated coconut: 3-4 tbsp
  • Jaggery: 3/4th cup 
  • Low-fat Yogurt/curd: 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom powder: a pinch
  • Salt: 1/4tsp
  1. Soak the rice and methi seeds for at least 3-4 hours.
  2. Just before grinding the batter, wash the poha and leave aside for 10-15 mins.
  3. Grind all the ingredients (except the cardamom) together with enough water to make a fine batter (test the batter for sweetness).
  4. Leave aside for 1/2-1 hour.
  5. Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
  6. Heat a non-stick pan and pour a ladle full of the batter onto it. Spread it out in a circular motion to make a dosa/ crepe.
  7. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, then add a little oil to the edges.
  8. Flip the dosa over and let it cook till done.
  9. Serve the sweet banana dosa/ crepes hot off the pan and watch them vanish.
 The sweet dosa can be eaten as such without any side or dipping sauce.

Note: Store any left over batter in the refrigerator.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Kothu Phulka/tortilla-a Healthy version of the Kothu Parotta!

 Kothu Phulka-the healthy version of the "Kothu Paratha"

Traditionally in Tamil Nadu, 'Kothu Paratha' is made from 'parotta' or the South Indian 'paratha' which is a layered paratha made with loads of oil and maida. I did try it out once with frozen Kerala Parotta's (available in all Indian stores) and I admit that it is sinfully delicious!
The tasty Kothu Parotta never became a regular feature as obviously I had my reservations of using the frozen 'maida' (refined flour) oily parotta's.

Yesterday, I had 3 leftover phulkas (roti's made whithout oil) from lunch and with it came the idea of the 'healthy version of the Kothu paratha/ parotta'!! This I have renamed as "Kothu Phulka" !
Kothu Paratha's are made by tearing up the cooked paratha and then cooking it in a gravy of either meat, chicken or egg. The kothu phulka that I made is with egg. Vegetarians/vegans can omit the egg and make it with just the onion+tomato gravy or replace the egg with tofu. Here are the ingredients for the 'healthy version of the Kothu Paratha(the Kothu Phulka):
Ingredients: (Serves 2)
  • Phulkas/whole wheat tortillas: 3-4 nos. ( broken into 1" pieces)
  • Eggs: 3 nos. (can be substituted with 200gms tofu or omitted entirely)
  • Red onion: 1 medium or 1/2big (chopped fine)
  • Tomatoes: 2 medium (chopped fine)
  • Green chillies: 1-2nos. slit in half (use more or less according to your spice tolerance)
  • Cilantro/Coriander leaves: 2-3 tbsp (finely chopped)
  •  Red chilli powder: 1-2tsp(again according to your spice tolerance)
  • Coriander powder: 1tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Cumin/jeera: 1tsp
  • Curry leaves: 8-10nos.
  • Turmeric: 1/4th tsp
  • Oil: 1 tsp
  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard and cumin seeds and when it starts popping add the curry leaves.
  2. Then add the turmeric powder,chopped onions, the green chillies and salt and fry till the onions become translucent.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder and the coriander powder and stir till the tomatoes are cooked.
  4. Add the eggs/tofu and mix well. Keep stirring on a low flame till the eggs are almost cooked but not too dry. Test for salt.
  5. Now add the phulka/tortilla pieces and mix well such that the egg/tofu mixture coats all the phulka pieces.
  6. Garnish with lots of cilantro and serve the 'Kothu Phulka' piping hot.
For those who want to avoid the egg/tofu-add the phulka pieces directly after the tomatoes are cooked (point 4).
Enjoy this healthy version of the "kothu Paratha" at lunch/dinner, breakfast or even for a Sunday brunch !
It also makes a good lunch box recipe!
Kothu Phulka- the healthy version of the 'Kothu Paratha'

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Manoli Kadle (Ivy gourd with Brown Channa/Chickpeas)

 Manoli Kadle
Another favorite Manglorean recipe is the Manoli Kadle-made with Ivy Gourd called 'Manoli' in Tulu (one of the languages spoken in Mangalore) 'tondli' in Marathi, 'tendli' in Konkani 'tindora' in Hindi and 'tondekai' in Kannada. 'Kadle' is the brown channa/kala channa (brown garbanzo beans) that is traditionally used but you could substitute it with kabuli channa (chickpeas/garbanzo beans) if you don't have the brown variety.
Ingredients:(serves 4)
  • Brown/kala channa:3/4th cup (soaked overnight and pressure cooked till soft)
  • Tondli-250gms(cut into long strips or thin rings)
  • Grated coconut-2 tbsp.
  • Red chilly powder-2-3 tsp( or according to your spice tolerance)
  • Coriander powder: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic: 2 big/ 4-5 small(peeled and smashed just before adding to tadka/tempering)
  • Tamarind paste-1/4tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1tsp
  • Urad dal: 1tsp
  • Curry leaves-10
  • Hing/Asafoetida -a pinch
  • Dry red chillies: 1-2(broken into half)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 2 tsp
  1. Heat the oil is a non-stick pan, add the mustard seeds, urad dal and let the mustard pop.
  2. Add the broken dry chillies, curry leaves and then the smashed garlic. Saute till the garlic gets a slight brown color.
  3. Add the turmeric, hing and the chopped tondli and fry for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked channa, red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and about 1/2-1 cup water.
  5. Cover and cook till the tondli is soft,then add the tamarind paste. Mix and let the water evaporate.
  6. Add the grated coconut and mix.
  7. Serve the manoli kadle with hot rasam (recipe in my next post) and rice.
1)You can also use the dry dessicated (unsweetened) coconut available at grocery stores. Rehydrate it by adding it to hot water for 5 minutes. Strain and then add.
2) Use extra water when you pressure cook the kala channa-then drain the water and you can make rasam with it.
The manoli kadle, and the kala channa rasam combo goes together and is eaten with rice.

 Manoli Kadle with kadle (kala channa) rasam

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

8 Commonly Heard Myths about Exercising:

There are a number of myths associated with exercising. Here are some of the commonly heard myths still doing the rounds in India:

Myth 1: I don't want to start exercising as I've heard that I will put on more weight when I quit!!
This is obviously someone who is looking for reasons not to exercise! When you exercise you burn fat which brings about weight loss. Moreover people also tend to be more conscious of their diet since they are putting in so much effort to exercise. When you quit, you also tend to get back to your old eating habits. This increase in calorie intake and no means of burning those calories will ultimately make the weight creep back.
Solution:  Don't Quit!! Exercise is not a short-term means to achieve your goal of weight-loss. Make it a daily routine and it'll help in maintaining the weight you lost (along with a host of other health benefits).

Myth 2: Women should not train with weights otherwise they may end up looking like bodybuilders.
Both men and women can benefit with a little strength/weight training. Weight training has shown to help make your bones stronger and can also help in shedding weight faster by maintaining muscle mass and reducing the percentage of body fat. As for the fear many women have of becoming bulky-relax! Women don't have enough testosterone (the hormone needed for building muscles) like men to end up looking like bodybuilders!
Solution: Work out with less weights at least once or twice a week.

Myth 3: Don't drink water during your workouts.
This myth probably originated in gyms where the trainers had to show instant weight loss after a workout! Water should be an essential part of your workout routine. You lose a lot of water from the body in the form of sweat and water helps in hydrating your body. Watch any sport and you'll see players(cricketers, tennis players, basketball players, gymnasts and such) grabbing a bottle of water whenever they can to avoid cramps due to dehydration!
Solution: Try to sip a 1 liter bottle of water  during your workout.

Myth 4: Crunches will help get rid of belly fat.
Spot reduction is a myth. You need to reduce the overall fat in the body to see some difference in the belly fat. Crunches can help in tightening/toning the abdominal muscles, but it cannot convert the belly fat into muscle.
Solution: A balanced diet and a regular exercise routine will help you over a period of time.

Myth 5: Don't workout during your periods.
Sounds more like an excuse to get 3-4 days off from exercising! Unless you have severe cramping/pain, working out during your menses can actually help in reducing the discomfort.
Solution: Try doing lower intensity workouts like walking or yoga on those days.

Myth 6: I'm not overweight,so I don't need to exercise!
Exercise has many health benefits out of which weight-loss is just one of them. Lack of physical exercise can increase the risk of obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, strokes later on in life.
Solution: Exercise should be as important to you as brushing your teeth. Even low intensity workouts like walking 2-3 times a week will help you in the long run.

Myth 7: You need to workout in a gym to see the desired results.
Any kind of exercise/physical activity whether done in a gym, in a park,on the beach or in your house is enough to see results.
Solution: Aim at exercising at least 4-5 times a week for 30mins-1 hour.

Myth 8: I don't have time to exercise!
I don't have time either-I make time!! Just remember someone busier than you is exercising right now!!
Solution: Take inspiration from the President of the United States who is known to exercise regularly!
(Image Courtesy:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Andropause or Man-o-pause: Does it really exist?

Is your man over 40 years of age and been suffering from fatigue, depression, weight gain, hair loss and blaming it on “mid-life crisis”? Think again, researchers have long realized that these symptoms and some more could be a result of Andropause/ Male menopause or rather MAN-o-pause, which is a result of a gradual drop in the levels of testosterone in the body. A low level of testosterone in men can lead to:
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Weight gain
  • Reduced libido
  • Premature aging
  • Hair loss
  • Breast enlargement (Gynecomastia )
  • Depression, irritability, fatigue
  • Mood Swings
Though this condition is known to those in the medical profession since the 1940’s, not many men are aware of this condition and generally think that age is finally catching up with them when they experience these symptoms.
Many experts dismiss Andropause as just a myth as the decrease in testosterone occurs over a period of many years which is unlike women who experience a sudden decrease in the reproductive hormones.Testosterone  levels tend to decrease on an average by 1% right through adulthood and this is the reason why men find rather low levels of the hormone when they reach their 40-50’s.
Like the controversial Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) in women, the testosterone replacement therapy does have its own risks mainly worsening prostate cancer(which is of major concern among men). Most physicians feel that the safest way to approach Andropause is to make sensible lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly which can help in increasing the muscle mass and also strength.
So the next time you hear the man in your life complain about putting on weight-take charge and put him on a diet and exercise regime!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back To School-7 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

 (Japanese Bento box-Image courtesy BBC News )
Getting a child to eat his lunch at school and making sure it's also a healthy meal can be a daily nightmare for most parents. A child's lunch plays an important role in meeting their day to day nutrition needs. To know more about the right foods for your child you can read  Is Your Child Getting the Right Nutrition .
Packing a healthy lunch box for a kid isn't always difficult. Sometimes it may not be always possible to pack a balanced meal into a child's lunch box. Just make sure to avoid packing junk food or processed foods like cookies,chips, jello's and such. Here are 7 Healthy lunch box ideas for your child: 
  1.  Parathas+ Yogurt+ Salad/Fruit: when made with less oil can become a healthy and filling lunch box favorite. Avoid the frozen commercially packed varieties (which may be more convenient) as they can be too oily. Alternatively (if time is a constraint)you could roll out the parathas in advance and cook them in the morning. Kids love aloo parathas,methi parathas, gobi parathas, radish parathas and even the most fussy kid will devour a broccoli paratha.
  2. Sandwiches/Wraps+ Fruit: (Use 100% whole wheat/ double fiber breads,pita breads or whole wheat tortillas/wraps). Fillings can be with the good ole' P&B(Peanut butter) or other nut butters(almond/sunflower/cashew nut,etc), chutney, guacamole, hummus, tofu spreads. You could add freshly cut fruits like bananas, strawberries, peaches  or vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce to the filling or put it as a side. Avoid adding salt/sugar as this could make the sandwiches soggy.Cold cuts of turkey,tuna, eggs, grilled chicken, or cheese slices could also be a filling option for kids
  3. Roti's, tortillas,bagels, English muffins (whole wheat)+ egg/paneer/tofu burji(scrambled), chole/rajma(lentil/pulse/bean) curry + salad/fruit.
  4. Rice dishes+ low-fat yogurt/Greek yogurt+ fruit/salad. You could make a mixed vegetable pulav, mint/pudina pulav, palak/spinach rice, peas pulav, curd/ yogut rice, egg/chicken fried rice and such.Try adding some pulse/lentil/paneer/tofu/soy nuggets to add some protein to the rice dish. Avoid dishes like khichdi, bisibele bath which are not palatable when eaten cold.
  5. Idli/dosa/dhokla + chutney/nut butters+ salad+ Low-fat milk. You could try out different varieties of dosas like adai, pesarattu, neer dosa and idlis like rava, coin, stuffed vegetable idlis.
  6. Mixed vegetable upma + low-fat yogurt+ fruit. The upma can be made from rava/semolina, oats, vermicelli poha or dhalia/broken wheat.
  7. Noodles, pasta+ salad+ 100% fruit juice. Try adding some mixed vegetables to the noodles/pasta along with chicken/tofu/paneer/egg to increase the fiber and protein content.
Try to be as creative as possible with the foods. Children love fun shapes, so use a cookie cutter to cut the salad vegetables/ fruits. Even sandwiches can be made into different fun shapes with the help of different sandwich cutters. Use desserts as an occasional treat for the kids. Don't make it a habit of giving a sweet drink (juice, flavored milk) on a daily basis.
Take a look at these creative Japanese moms: Japan's Amazing lunchboxes
 Bento Box-Image Courtesy BBC News Magazine

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chicken and Vegtable Biryani

In my quest to cook 'healthy food' comes this version of Chicken biryani which is also loaded with vegetables! Biryani is something every Indian is familiar with and is usually something made on festivals,special occasions or when you have guests/friends over. Whether it's a 'Vegetable Biryani',Chicken Biryani or Mutton Biryani, most families have their own secret recipes.
Usually, a chicken/mutton biryani is made without vegetables, but here is my attempt at combining the vegetable biryani with the chicken biryani to ensure my family gets it's daily dose of vegetables even on special occasions !
 Ingredients: (Serves 4)
  • Basmati rice: 1 1/2 cups (rinse and soak in water for at least half an hour)
  • Chicken: 250gms (use chicken with the bones)
  • Onions: 2-3 big red onions/5 medium onions (sliced fine)
  • Tomatoes: 2 big (chopped)
  • Ginger paste: 2 tsp
  • Garlic paste: 2 tsp
  • Mixed Vegetables: 1 cup (peas, carrots, beans, capsicum/bell pepper and such)
  • Yogurt/curd: 1 cup
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves: 5 tbsp(finely chopped)
  • Mint leaves: 3 tbsp(finely chopped)
  • Green chillies: 5-6 slit(use less/more according to your taste)
  • Red chilli powder: 2-3 tsp(add less/more according to your taste)
  • Coriander powder: 2tsp
  • Cumin/Jeera powder: 1tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: 3-4 tsp (adjust according to taste)
  • Oil: 2 tbsp
Whole Spices:
  •  Bay leaves: 1-2nos.
  • Cumin seeds: 2 tsp
  • Cloves: 3-4 nos.
  • Cardamom/Elaichi: 2-3nos.
  • Peppercorns: 4-5nos.
  • Cinnamon stick: 1"
  • Star anise: 1-2
  1. Marinate the chicken in a paste made with 1/2 cup yogurt, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, half of the ginger+garlic paste, half of the chopped cilantro and mint leaves and set aside for at least an hour in the fridge. 
  2. Heat the oil in a kadai or thick bottomed pan, add the whole spices and let it fry for a minute.
  3. Add the sliced onions and fry till it turns golden brown (add a little salt to let the onions cook in it's own water)
  4. Add the remaining ginger+garlic paste, the slit green chillies and the chopped cilantro and mint leaves and fry for another minute.
  5. Drain out the water from the basmati rice and add it along with the mixed vegetables and stir for 5-6 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes,salt and the remaining yogurt and stir till the tomatoes are cooked.
  7. Add the marinated chicken and stir for a 5 minutes.
  8. Then add about 4 cups of water, cover and cook (with occasional stirring) till the rice is cooked.
  9. Serve hot with a mixed vegetable raita.
Healthy tip:
  • I use oil when making the biryani instead of ghee and add a little ghee just before serving(an occasional indulgence). This not only reduces the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol in the dish, but also tends to enhances the flavor as the ghee is freshly added. 
  • Since I use less oil while cooking(which also drastically reduces the calories in the cooked recipe), I add salt while frying the onions to let it sweat and prevent it from burning.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tricky Treats!!

Found this wonderful clip on the CDC-TV site:
Introduces the character of Coyote, a trickster, and shows children the difference between healthy snacks and sweet treats.
Watch it:
Tricky Treats. Flash Player 9 is required.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Healthy snack ideas for kids

 Kids are picky eaters and not eating enough at meal times is a common complaint. That's why snacks play an important role in providing the extra nutrition that they tend to miss out. Most parents tend to focus more on providing a nutritious meal and overlook the importance of giving healthy snacks. Chips, cookies, cheese puffs, cupcakes are convenient snacks but not the healthiest choices. Here are some healthy snack ideas for kids:
  • Sandwiches (with 100% whole wheat breads)-you can use cheese, tofu, nut/peanut butter, guacamole, paneer, egg, vegetables as the filling.
  • Seasonal fresh fruits-cut them up in fun shapes/ sizes(use a melon scooper/cookie cutter), mix them in low-fat yogurt, make smoothies or plain fruit salads.Fruit and cheese kebabs are also a fancy way of serving fruits that kids will love.
  • Fresh vegetables: cut them into strips and serve with dips like guacamole, hummus, peanut/almond butter.
  • Steamed snacks: like idli's/vegetable stuffed idlis, dhoklas, khandvi's can be cut/decorated into fun shapes.
  • Mini- rolls/burritos: whole wheat chapathis/rotis can be used to make rolls with egg/paneer/tofu burji(scrambled), rajma/ channa, mung(pulses/lentils) curry/usal or cheese spread.
  • Tikkis/cutlets can be made with soy chunks, mixed vegetables, lentils and shallow fried or baked (instead of deep fried). These can also be served inside a pita bread or sandwich.
  • Mini/triangle/cone dosas/uttapams: these fun size/baby dosas can be more interesting for kids than the regular adult size ones. Serve them with chutney/ketchup/peanut butter (you can even draw a smiley face on the dosa with it)!
  •  Nuts and dry-fruits: older children can be given a handful of mixed nuts and dry fruits.
These snacks can be served with either a glass of low-fat milk/soy milk, water, 100% fruit juices or homemade juices.
Make sure to serve these snacks at least two hours before meal times, otherwise they may not be hungry enough for it.
Here's a great clip that I found on CDC-TV- it introduces Coyote, a trickster and teaches kids the difference between healthy snacks and sweets:

Tricky Treats. Flash Player 9 is required.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is Your Child Getting the Right Nutrition?

A common complaint that most parents have is that their child doesn't eat (enough). The question that then arises is whether the child is getting the right amount of nutrition that is required for growth. There are even instances of parents requesting the pediatrician to prescribe some supplements or health tonics.
Most of the times these are not required as parents just wrongly assume that their child isn't eating enough just because the portions they eat are too small. Keep in mind that they are kids and will not be able to eat as much as an adult. One way of knowing whether is to check the child's growth records. If the child is around or above the 50th percentile,then he/she is getting enough calories to grow. If at any point, the percentile keeps dropping below the 50th percentile in terms of weight and the height doesn't seem to be increasing too much over a period of time, then that may be a sign of under-nutrition.
Sometimes, just getting sufficient calories for growth is not enough-the child may be eating and drinking the wrong foods (chips,candies, cookies, soda/aerated drinks , chocolates and such) most of which which provide nothing other that empty calories.
To ensure that a child is getting adequate nutrition through his/her diet, here are some guidelines:
  •  Make sure that the child eats at least 3 meals (breakfast, lunch,dinner) and has 2-3 small snacks in between. 
  • Serve the meals and snacks at the dining table and not in front of the TV. 
  • Ensure that the child gets a helping from all the food groups at meal times:
Grains: Rice, breads, pasta, roti/chapathi, or ragi/jowar
Protein:Pulses/lentils/beans(e.g dals, mung,rajma,soy, etc) eggs, chicken, fish.
Vegetables: make sure the child eats a variety of veggies and also green leafy vegetables (palak/spinach, amaranth, collard, chard,etc). Limit using only potatoes as a vegetable.
Fruits: can be served at the end in lieu of dessert. Here again choose fresh seasonal fruits rather than canned fruits(which can be loaded with sugar).
Dairy: Yogurt/curd, skimmed milk, low-fat cheese, soy milk are also excellent sources of calcium. These can be served separate or mixed with the meal-cheese sandwich, curd/yogurt rice.
  • Serve water instead of juices with the meals.
  • Healthy snacks can also contribute to the child's nutrition. Avoid foods like cookies, pastries, jello, chips, chocolates. Fruits, cheese sticks, fruits in yogurt, fruit smoothies, mini sandwiches(with cheese, guacamole, almond/nut butter), dhoklas, mini-uttapams, mini-burritos(with cheese/scrambled eggs,pulses ) nuts and dry fruits, coin idlis, sukha bhel, popcorn(with less butter/oil), etc. Use your imagination and make the snacks more attractive when serving. A glass of skimmed milk/ soy milk or 100% fruit juice can also be served with the snacks. 
  • Make sure there is at least a gap of 2 hours between snack time and regular meal times, otherwise the child may not be hungry.
Moreover, keep the child engaged in some kind of physical activity (outdoor play, swimming, cycling, etc) for at least an hour each day. This will not only keep the child occupied instead of sitting glued to the T.V or video games, but will also increase the appetite.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The 'Gold Medal Diet' (for Indian athletes).

2012 Olympic Gold Medal
(Image Courtesy of IOC)

With the Olympics just around the corner, here's wishing all the Indian athletes competing in the London Olympics the 'very best of luck' in their endeavor  for the coveted Gold medal!
With the last leg of training still going on, a gentle reminder to eat a well balanced diet, as diet and good nutrition too play an important role in an athletes quest for Gold.
There are numerous stories in the press after each Olympics about the non-serious attitude at the Olympic village by the Indian contingent. Stories of how the Indian teams gorge on the numerous buffets/foods available, the shopping sprees, the visits to the beauty parlor and the night-outs abound. This is in sharp contrast to the athletes of other countries who have their eyes set on the Olympic Gold and try to stay clear of such temptations (some of whom even go to the level of staying in a private hotel on personal expenses to avoid being distracted)!
Since most in the Indian team cannot afford such luxuries,here are some tips on eating and staying healthy at the games village:
  • Choose whole grains for your meals: Carbohydrates should come from whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat breads, rolled/steel cut oats (avoid instant), whole wheat rotis instead of maida naan/roomali rotis (Indian food is a local favorite in London,so I won't be surprised if there is a section of Indian delicacies), whole wheat pastas. If the latest press release on the Indian teams food choices is accurate, then please note that fast food (read burgers) by the (in)-famous 'evil clown' chain is NOT A GOOD CHOICE!! 
  •  Include high quality proteins every day: chicken,fish, eggs, and for the vegetarians, pulses/beans, soy and soy products(tofu, soy milk), skimmed milk, yogurt must be a part of each meal as exercise/training tends to increase the bodies protein requirement. Avoid eating only protein foods as this can lead to dehydration.
  • Avoid fried foods: french fries, fried chicken (or other non-veg foods), chips, burgers,  must be at the minimum as fatty foods takes a long time to digest and also tend to make the body sluggish. The best way to get your fats is to include healthy fats from nut butters (peanut/almond/sunflower seeds and such), various nuts, fish (a good way to get your omega-3's).
  • Avoid overeating on desserts: The dessert section is a big temptation to all-leave that for your victory meal (after you win the medal). Moreover these can lead to fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and also create a surge in the insulin in your blood. Stick to eating fruits for dessert as that will ensure that you get your fiber as well as various vitamins and minerals. Fruits like bananas and oranges are great for adding the much needed potassium to your diet.
  • Drink plenty of water: keeping yourself hydrated is the key. Avoid soft drinks/aerated /fizzy drinks and alcohol. Sports drinks during your event can be a good alternative to replace the sodium lost through sweat.
  •  Avoid caffeine: although there seems to be a controversy on whether caffeine is dehydrating or not, it is best to avoid it at the moment and experiment with it later after you get back home. 
  • Get adequate rest and sleep: The late night movies, parties, music bars can be checked out after your events. It is most important to give your body the necessary rest required after the day's training.
Think twice before you gorge on the wrong food- you have trained for years to be selected for the Olympics, so why give up your dream?
Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE, for the word itself says "I'M POSSIBLE" !!! So, on your marks, get set and GO....get the Gold Medal!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pomegranate and Dill Raita

Dill known as 'sabsige soppu' in Kannada and 'savaa' in Hindi, is a delicacy especially in Karnataka. It's added to 'dal', upma, rice rotti's and adds a distinct flavor.
The raita is a quick and simple accompaniment to a meal.

Yogurt(non-fat)-1 1/2 cup
Pomegranate seeds- 1/2 cup
Dill leaves- 2 tbsp (chopped)
Salt-to taste
Red chilli powder- a pinch
Roasted cumin- a pinch(powdered)
Chaat masala- a pinch (optional)

1)Mix the dill leaves, pomegranate seeds, yogurt and salt together.
2)Chill for about an hour before serving.
3)Sprinkle the red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and chaat masala just before serving.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Neer Dosa (A Manglorean delicacy)

Neer Dosa
Neer Dosa (neer=water and dosa=crepe) is a no-ferment dosa which is a speciality of Manglorean cuisine. The name "Neer Dosa"is derived from the fact that the batter is almost of the consistency of water which is unlike other dosa batters. The resulting thin lace-like dosas (nick-named "lace dosas" by an aunt of mine) is eaten with relish in all Manglorean homes.
Made from rice, the rice grains are soaked in water for about 2 hours, then ground to a fine thin(water-like) batter. Once the batter is ready it is poured onto a hot round iron griddle(most Manglorean houses have a separate griddle kept aside for neer dosas). The sizzle on the pan creates the craters or lace-like appearance.

Ingredients:Makes 15-20 dosas
Rice: 2 cups
Water: enough to make a thin (water-like) batter
Oil: 1tbsp
Salt: to taste

1)Soak the rice in water for at least 2 hours.
2)Grind to a fine,thin consistency.Add a little salt and mix well.
3)Heat the iron griddle till it's really,really hot.
4)Spread a little oil. Usually an onion is cut into half and dipped into the oil and used as a brush to spread the oil (this is believed to make the pan non-stick).
5)Pour a ladle full of batter into the center of the griddle and let it spread by itself (do not spread)on the griddle (add extra if needed where required to make a perfect circular dosa).
6)Cover and let it cook (do not flip the dosa over)
7)When done, remove the neer dosa gently with a spatula.
8)Serve the with neer doss chutney, honey or kori gussi (chicken curry).

Neer Dosa /Lace-Dosa

Monday, June 25, 2012

Foods that can stain your teeth

So you’ve tried every teeth whitening product and still don’t have those pearly white teeth? Don’t blame the product-it may be time to watch what you are eating!
Yes, that’s right; your diet can both help and wreak havoc on your teeth. Here’s a list of foods (and drinks) that you should try and avoid for your teeth, especially after you’ve tried a teeth whitening product:
Tea: Your daily cups of hot chai could be staining your teeth. This is due to the presence of tannins in tea.
Wine: Both red and white wines can stain the teeth due to its high acid content and also due to the tannins present in them.
Energy drinks, sports drinks, colas/aerated drinks: the acid content in these tend to erode the teeth enamel while the color added to the drinks stain teeth.
Dark colored fruits, berries: the natural color pigments in these fruits can latch on to the teeth enamel thus staining them.
Tomato based curries/sauces, soy sauce: again the natural color pigments present in these are strong enough to stain teeth.
Spices like turmeric, saffron and other masalas.
An easy rule of thumb to remember which foods can stain the teeth is that if the food can stain your clothes then they are more than likely to stain your teeth too!
Since completely avoiding all these foods is impossible, here are some tips to reduce the staining effect of these foods:
1. Eat these foods with other foods especially crunchy foods like carrots, celery, apples, and cucumbers. These tend to scrub the teeth while being chewed.
2. Sip drinks from a straw-thus minimizing contact with teeth.
3. Rinse your mouth after each snack, meal and drink. Brushing teeth after a meal if possible is a much better option.
4. Floss your teeth at least once a day to remove all food particles stuck in between teeth.
Take care of your teeth, after all like the saying goes, “Every tooth in a man's head is more valuable than a diamond”!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

How To Stay Fit While on Vacation

Everyone deserves to take a break and come back refreshed. But weight watchers rarely are able to enjoy a vacation for the fear of putting on some extra ‘holiday pounds’! Here are some tips for those who want to stay in shape even while on a vacation:
Diet: While it is very difficult (sometimes impossible) to stick to a rigid diet plan while on a holiday, weight watchers can still enjoy a variety by ‘eating smart’:
Avoid tucking into unnecessary fried foods like chips, fries, namkeens-these not only add on unwanted calories, but also make you feel sluggish and lethargic (the last thing you want while on vacation)
Eat a wholesome breakfast-anything from cereals and milk, oats, idli, sandwiches along with fresh fruits. Keep the Belgium waffles, chocolate doughnuts and muffins for the occasional indulgence. Eating a hearty breakfast and then stepping out to explore the place will keep you going till lunchtime.
Be adventurous-try out the local cuisine. You don’t have to stick to the tried and tested menus. Holidays are all about exploring and what could be better than exploring the local cuisine. Besides they can be a lot healthier than the fast-food joints that you would otherwise end up at.
Stick to portion sizes- You just need to know when to stop. Don’t eat till you feel stuffed and not able to move. Avoid eating at the buffets on a daily basis.
Keep yourself hydrated-with natures ‘zero-calorie’ drink, WATER! Avoid the sodas/aereated drinks and ice-cream sodas. Choose fresh fruit juices or tender coconut water instead.
Check out the local markets-If you don’t want to shell out exorbitant rates for fruits and salads at the hotels/restaurants, then check out the local markets for seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Exercise: Most hotels are equipped with a gym so make sure to pack your exercise shoes and some workout clothes. If working out in a gym is not your idea of a holiday, then you can still burn the extra calories by:
Walking/jogging- explore the nearby areas by going on a walk/jog in the morning or late evening.
Swimming: Cool off by taking a splash in the pool/lake or ocean.
Try out adventure sports-like rock-climbing, snorkeling, deep sea diving, water skiing, surfing, white water rafting. These are not only fun, but will also make sure that you are keeping yourself active.
Cycle/hike- instead of taking a tour bus or renting a car on all days, chalk out places that are close to where you stay and you can rent a cycle or go on a hike and get a feel of the place.
Dance: Check out the local hot night spots and have a ball dancing the night away.
Don’t stress out too much if you aren’t able to follow any of the tips-after all the whole idea of the vacation is to unwind, as Cliff Richards’ classic oldie ‘Summer Holiday’ goes:
“We're all going on a summer holiday,
no more working for a week or two.
Fun and laughter on our summer holiday,
no more worries for me or you,

for a week or two”
You can always get back to your diet and fitness routine once you get back home!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Diet and Fitness Tips for the Monsoons

After the long, hot summer months, the monsoon rains bring much needed relief from the heat. The rains, which are a welcome change, can spell the end for outdoor exercises for all health enthusiasts. The rains also tend to bring to the table steaming teas along with hot ‘pakoras’. So how does one take care of the diet and exercise with all these hurdles? Here are some tips to help you continue your weight loss journey:
• Outsmart the rains and join a gym/aerobics/yoga/dance class. Since these are conducted indoors, the rains are highly unlikely to hamper your fitness plans!
• Invest in some exercise machines like the treadmill/elliptical/exer-cycle and burn those calories without having to leave your home(make sure to exercise otherwise you’ll end up using them to dry your wet clothes)!
• If joining a gym/exercise class or buying exercise equipment isn’t too friendly on your pocket-then pick up some exercise DVD’s or surf the internet for exercises that you can do at home.
• Keep yourself active-take the stairs whenever possible, jog inside the house, do simple home exercises. Doing this will keep your metabolism from slowing down.
• Avoid binging on fried foods (pakoras, chips, namkeens, samosas,etc) as far as possible. Moderation is the key word here.
• Snack on the grilled buttas/makkai/corn that seem to pop up everywhere with the rains. Nothing smells better than corn being roasted over hot coals on a rainy day, besides the fiber makes it an excellent heathy snack.
• Eat light meals and keep yourself hydrated by drinking loads of water.
Precautions: A word of caution as the monsoons also brings with it the dangers of waterborne diseases like cholera, jaundice, typhoid and diarrhea. Here are some tips to avoid falling sick this monsoon:
1. Drink only boiled/ bottled water. Carry a bottle of water from home to avoid drinking water from unsafe sources.
2. All vegetables and fruits should be washed well in clean water especially those that are consumed raw. Avoid eating salads and cut fruits, juices, golas and chaats from the street vendors.
3. Eat home cooked meals as far as possible. If it isn’t feasible at all times, then opt for cooked meals like roti/chawal with sabzi/dal. Avoid sandwiches, raitas, salads, which can contain raw vegetables.
With these simple precautions you can prevent yourself from falling sick which will end up as another excuse for not exercising.
Just keep in mind that the monsoon season is no excuse for NOT exercising!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Antioxidants? Look in your cereal box!

That’s right-your bowl of cereal may have 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 caution since 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 to keep in mind while buying packaged products:
• 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 (less than 27% sugar) and sweeten your bowl of cereals with fresh/dried fruits (adding fruits will also increase the antioxidant content of the cereal).
• As for fat-choose cereals which have less than 9% fat.
• 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.