Tag Archives: healthy

The simple things in life

31 Jan

With all this advertising going on about how ‘every little helps’ and how we should ‘live well for less’, sometime I really wonder if buying fresh produce like vegetables, fruits, fish and such like, is anywhere near what is promised by supermarkets. It is a pity that I live nowhere near a market, but if given a choice, I think that I’d prefer shopping there, any day.

Recently, I was having a discussion over lunch with some of my work mates about how imporant good quality food really is, and I realised that back at home, in India, I somehow feel much better off knowing that the carrot I am eating comes from the local bhaji wallah who I can scold and argue with if the quality is bad, rather than a sanitary plastic bag that tells me its is fresh and washed, so I can put it straight in the pot (heebie jeebies! always wash vegetables even if they tell you they’re clean)

The discussion moved on to how, in fact, some supremarkets arent doing as well as they would expect, and people are slowly starting to realise that being cheap is one thing and quality yet another.

Flashing back, I also remembered that my grandfather and a few other elder men in the family would have a weekly ritual of going to the market and spending hours choosing only the best for their wives, children and grandchildren. The joy of then cooking with that produce would be unparalleled. Not only would it bring the family together, but also ensure that they lived long and healthy. Better ingredients always made better food, and that is a fact.

It is when the simple things in life are great, like that zesty sweet orange I like sinking my teeth into or the perky pomphret that I put in my curry, that you can truely live well.

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Healthy for 2 weeks and counting…

10 Aug

For the last two weeks, I’ve been on this somewhat-diet that I made from a hotchpotch of advise from women’s magazines, some serious examination of calorie charts and titbits of common sense. Just for fun (and I’m not advocating ANY of this) I thought I’d share this diet with you. I still don’t know how well I’ve fared on the weight loss front, but I am feeling a lot less “loose” and a bit more “tight” if you know what I mean  🙂

So up first, Breakfast. Most important meal of the day for me, and I like to think the most healthiest as well. I never have meat in the mornings anyway, so it wasn’t really that much of a struggle. I usually have bran flakes and a cup of coffee. Although fruits do get a bit heavy on the student pocket, they are totally worth it.

Bran flakes with raisins, blue berries and watermellon

In between breakfast and lunch. When I was in boarding school, they used to call this period between breakfast and lunch “juice break” where we used to get a glass of juice (if we were lucky to get there before everybody else did) and two biscuits. When my parents first heard about this, they found the idea ridiculous. How can one eat so much and constantly? But the idea behind it was this – to keep your metabolism going, so you wouldn’t go overboard at lunch time (not that it stopped us :P). So mid-morning, when the breakfast effect has worn off, I have a few almonds (about 6 to 8) and some swigs of a yoghurt drink. Its both refreshing and nutritious!

Lunch. I discovered this really cool, cheap and tasty option that would leave me feeling full AND help me lose some of that extra flab. Its called Rye Bread. Tada!! My friend Shuli who I suggested it to (and who is a willing consumer of it) fondly calls it “cardboard”. It is. But its healthy, fibrous, nearly no calories cardboard. Now for the fun part: go crazy on the dip that accompanies the rye bread. There’s a whole host of flavours out there that I didn’t even know about! In 2 weeks I’ve discovered 3 types of hummous (all low fat), tzatziki (which is so wonderully like raita), and an aubergine dip that has a lovely smokey flavour combined with a smooth texture. Along with the rye bread, I have stalks of celery or carrots, or some fruit to give me a break from the bread. And sometimes sometimes when I’m feeling really generous with myself, I throw in a stick of cheese 😛

In between Lunch and Dinner. At about 6 in the evening, I get really hungry, and its usually for things like chocolate and chips and other fattening stuff that I should stay far away from. To placate my pangs at this hour, I usually whip up some tea which is usually loose-leaf Assam tea and have it with 2 ginger-nut biscuits (only) and perhaps a handful of peanuts. This combination usually keeps me covered until dinner time : )

Dinner. This is probably totally anti traditional diet, but I let myself go slightly over the top for dinner as compared to my other meals during the day. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I’m used to this pattern because I’ve followed it for most of my life. Even back at home in India, dinner was always the heaviest meal because at the end of the day, you could just relax and enjoy it (plus the family was all sitting together!). So for dinner, I’ve come up with a few options that range from grilled fish, to boiled vegetables and noodle soup (with only salt and pepper!) or just a vegetable stir-fry with egg (sometimes I eat the yoke, at other times I don’t).

Sweet chilli roasted salmon (from Tesco, absolutely delicious) and Noodle soup with celery

So that’s it. Don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up, but I’m hoping it’ll be long enough to get fit!

In Sickness and in Health: Sweet & sour Spinach soup with nuts

6 Jun

This is a wonderful recipe that belongs to my mum. I have never been an avid eater of spinach. Actually, I mostly try and avoid it. But this particular dish is so yummy that I can help but eat a few bowlfuls.

If you are somebody who cannot stand that distinct smell and taste of spinach, then this dish is worth a try, because by the end you will really not be able to tell that you’re eating spinach! It’s tangy-ness  hits the back of your palate, the balance of sweet and salty and the crunch of the nuts under your teeth, is a delight both taste and texture wise.

This is a great soup when you’re feeling sick (spinach is great for strength. Remember Popeye? Its full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and iron) or when you’re looking for something exciting to go with your meal.

(Although I’m calling it a soup, back home in India this is a ‘bhaji’ or vegetable to be eaten either with roti or rice.)

What you need:

300 gm of Spinach leaves (stalks cut)

7-8  cloves of garlic pounded/ finely sliced

a small piece of ginger grated / finely sliced

half a cup of cashew nuts (I personally prefer peanuts instead of cashews)

2 tbsp gram flour (if gram flour is hard to find, you can use regular flour instead, but it will compromise on the flavour a little)

2 tbsp tamarind pulp (or better still, a lemon-sized portion of fresh tamarind)

4 cups of water

Salt to taste

Sugar to taste

1 tsp fennel seeds

For the Tadka (or garnish)

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp hing

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves of garlic pounded)

1/2 tsp dried corriander powder

1/2 tsp fennel powder

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

(when giving the tadka, try to follow the sequence in which the ingredients are listed)

What to do:

Boil the spinach leaves in 4 cups of water with garlic, ginger and fennel seeds in a pot until soft. Leave it aside to cool.

When cooled, crush the leaves with the back of a wooden spoon (or anything else that is strong) to make them  more fine. Add gram flour, tamrind pulp, cashews , salt and sugar. Keep it on sim till the cashews cook.

For the Tadka, heat oil in a saucepan until its really hot. Now add the ingredients in the same order as given above. Switch off the heat when the spices are sufficiently fried (this usually takes a minute).

Now add the the tadka to the soup. Done!

Serve it hot on its own, or as we traditionally do with plain steamed rice or warm rotis.

(Note: Since the soup tends to get thicker as it cools down, add sufficient water and heat the next time you want to eat it. )