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.