Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Raw energy bite

 A wonderfully satisfying and yummy, all time snack or dessert. You could eat it to combat a mid afternoon slump, a sweet tooth, post workout deficit or even PMS.
This is one recipe where each ingredient is a super food in it's own right and each and every calorie is densely packed with energy, protein, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids , fiber and many micro nutrients !
This raw power packed energy bite is a great way to consume your daily quota of flax seeds. Flax has a unique combination of features—omega-3 fatty acids, high-lignan content, and mucilage gums— which is a key factor in the health benefits it offers.
It's one of the highest sources of heart healthy, omega 3 essential fatty acids. 
The lignans are fiber like compounds which apart from providing fiber like benefits also provide antioxidant support and have a health-supportive role to play, in the form of phytoestrogen or plant estrogen.
"Mucilage" refers to water-soluble, gel-forming fiber that can provide special support to the intestinal tract. For example, gums can help prevent the too rapid emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine, thereby improving absorption of certain nutrients in the small intestine.
Flax protects the blood vessels from oxidative stress and inflammatory damage,and decreases the risk of high blood pressure. The antioxidant and anti inflammatory qualities make it ideal for cancer prevention! It also is diabetes preventative and helps better sugar management for diabetics and boosts digestive health! Flax can also help manage post menopausal symptoms like hot flushes.

Dates and dried figs are a great sugar substitute to create healthier desserts, they not only provide a superior taste and texture but are also better than any other sweetener available because of their high fiber, calcium and mineral content! Together they are great for digestive health and bone health and to prevent heart disease and various kinds of cancers. Figs especially are wonderful for diabetics because of their high potassium content.

Here's the recipe,

1 cup oats
1 ½  cups nuts ground coarsely (a mix of walnuts, pistachios, almonds)*
1/2 cup ground sesame seeds
3/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup finely chopped dried figs
1 cup finely chopped dates
1 cup hot water
1 tsp cinnamon powder
* you could replace the nuts with roasted and ground peanuts if you prefer.

For Diabetics
Replace 1 cup dates with 1/2 cup figs &1/2 cup dates along with the existing fig content.

Put the figs and dates in a shallow bowl and add the hot water, mix well and let it rest for an hour. In a large bowl mix the first four ingredients, then add the fig date water and mix really well. Chill this mixture in the fridge for half an hour. Roll bite sized balls of the mixture and refrigerate. It keeps for a couple of weeks.
It is an ideal snack for kids to carry to school or for adults to carry to the work place! A great replacement to the high sugar, store bought energy bars or muesli bars!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

We are making our children fat!!!

As parents we constantly question ourselves, are we doing the right thing, are we doing enough, are we setting a good example, are we letting them make their own mistakes, are we letting them be independent?
Well, we do the best we can as parents, being responsible for another human being isn't easy. As we are focusing on the issue of the moment - school, academics, friends, sickness, behavior, we most often forget to think about our child's food habits....
As they grow older, we unmindfully reward them with junk food and chemical filled soda, serve oily preservative and sugar filled faux food at their birthday parties and not so surprisingly, our children come to associate this junk with being happy and having a good time! Slowly its just easier to get our kids to smile and make peace, by ordering in or having a quick meal at a fast food place - more processed  junk! And we wonder, why our kids are over weight or obese? We are the  reason for it!
As adults we find it difficult to be disciplined about food and exercise, and we not only lead by example but set our children up on a road to ill health  and obesity and a life time of lifestyle diseases.
We are the parents, we need to take responsibility, change our lifestyles first,  so we can preach what we practice. If we serve home cooked, nutritious meals, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and our kids see us enjoying them, they would come to enjoy it too. Family outings should be about bonding and spending time with each other, whether it's cooking and eating together or playing board games or making music or more physical activities like hiking, gardening or running....
Children learn more from us than we can imagine, they look up to us to see how we react to and solve our problems, if weight is a stressful topic and it's all about starvation diets and reward bingeing, they will emulate us!
We have to make food about nourishment, energy and health and not about instant gratification, craving and excesses.
We have a choice, to make our children healthy, fit, disease free or to continue on this destructive path which will lead to allergies, early puberty, diabetes, cholesterol, heart conditions...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Green Smoothie

Bring out the drum roll ladies and gentlemen , as I am about to introduce to you the queen of super foods, Green Leafy Vegetables!!! Seriously? Yes, I know, you probably expected a fancy, difficult to source, expensive food item. But the real winner has been right under our nose! So, why is the humble greens a super food?
For starters, they are almost a complete food, rich in calcium, protein (yes, surprise!), fiber, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin A, C, E and other minerals. And Chlorophyll !

Chlorophyll is the molecule that absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to synthesize carbohydrates from CO2 and water. Its most amazing benefit comes from the fact that it's molecular structure is identical to hemoglobin except for the center atom. In hemoglobin this is iron, whereas in chlorophyll it is magnesium. This means that when ingested, chlorophyll actually helps to do the job of hemoglobin (hemoglobin is vital to the health of our blood – in fact, blood is approx 75% hemoglobin). It helps to rebuild and replenish our red blood cells, boosting our energy and increasing our well being almost instantly.
Chlorophyll carries significant amounts of oxygen with it and thus, also plays an important role in supporting the aerobic or 'good' bacteria, promoting intestinal flora and overall health and destroying anaerobic or 'bad' bacteria (which cause infection and disease).
Chlorophyll helps in preventing and healing many forms of cancer, providing iron to organs, making the body more alkaline, counteracting toxins ingested by us, improving vision, reducing pain caused by inflammation, soothing ulcer tissues, relieving sore throat, eliminating  body odors, purifying the liver. In fact scientific research shows that there are hardly any illnesses that could not be alleviated by chlorophyll.

It is difficult to find a better way of consuming chlorophyll than by drinking green smoothies, which are essentially a blend of dark green leafy vegetables, fruit and water. Adding a portion of fruit to the greens makes it palatable. And in a blended form, their nutrients are absorbed efficiently by our bodies.
A great source of green smoothie recipes is http://www.rawfamily.com/recipes
The addition of green smoothies in my family's diet is fairly recent, but all of us have come to love them so much, even my 6 year old and more importantly each of us can see a distinct improvement in our energy levels, health and skin!

My versions of the green smoothie

4 cups cubed watermelon
2 cups cubed pineapple
1 bunch of spinach 
2 cups water
1 chopped pear
1 chopped apple
1 plum
1 pomegranate
1 bunch fenugreek leaves
10 leaves of mint
2 cups water

Blend all of the above in a high powered blender and enjoy fresh everyday. 

You could use any locally available dark greens like beet greens, turnip greens etc and rotate them to include a variety in your diet!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Maintaining discipline in the face of social pressure ....

There are so many social scenarios where it gets difficult to eat healthy, eat vegan or avoid eating at odd hours. I have struggled a lot in the past at maintaining a healthy lifestyle without having to give up an active social life! It requires planning and foreseeing and a sense of humor!
So let's see, Scenario 1: The  festival season is here and there are several Diwali parties to attend! The theme is excesses, sweets, food, drinks, partying, it's a real challenge to not be a victim to the situation and yet, enjoy every bit of the festivities. So, what do you do, to not end up with acidity, water retention and a few extra kilos? Drink a lot of fresh fruit and vegetable juices (with pulp) throughout the day, eat a light meal, low on salt and oil before your dinner party. During the party, graze on raw or roasted nuts, avoid the sweets and deep-fried snacks, and at dinner, eat just one thing that you truly love.
Scenario 2: Sunday brunch (my husband is incredibly fond of these). Don't starve yourself all morning to go eat at brunch! That kind of fasting and feasting done often, will make you store calories as fat, as the body expects periods of being deprived and prepares for it. Eat light in the morning and at the brunch, fill up on the salads without the heavy dressing and sample a few other items. For dessert choose a small portion of just one item.
Scenario 3: Clubbing followed by a late night meal. Well to start with, an early dinner at home before heading out, and get a healthy appetizer like grilled veggies, no cheese thin crust pizza, roasted nuts or a mezze platter to share and skip the late dinner altogether ! Dancing the night away helps burn those extra calories...
And remember an occasional fried snack or late meal won't ruin your discipline but the joy of sharing a wonderful evening with friends and family will be a memory worth making!!!
Happy Deepawali !

Friday, 9 November 2012

Swapping refined grains with whole grains

Although we have been making many changes towards eating healthier as a family, it has taken my husband more time to adapt, especially when it came to the traditional specialties! But he very bravely took up a challenge recently to "Reverse his Diabetes", as his birthday gift to me, I was over the moon, yay!! Finally, I could have my way with him, yes I know how it sounds;), but I needed to tread slowly, not overwhelm him with too many changes.
So, I chose a breakfast staple - Dosa - fermented rice and lentil pancakes, which he loves, and swapped the regular white dosa rice with organic red rice.

White rice is a refined grain. What does that mean?  It's germ and bran has been removed, which results in loss of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Refined grains get digested quickly and this rapidly increases the amount of blood sugar or glucose in the bloodstream which in turn triggers a surge of insulin to help cells use this nutrient. As glucose is metabolized, blood sugar plummets, making us want to eat again. This "blood sugar roller coaster" boosts triglycerides, lowers helpful high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and increases the risk for heart attack in people who are overweight.

Compare that to red rice, a whole grain, which means it has all the essential parts (bran, endosperm, germ) and the naturally occurring nutrients of the rice - fibre, manganese, B vitamins, iron, selenium, magnesium, phosphorous and thiamine. And of course the benefits are endless, lower risk of diabetes or in my husband’s case, better blood sugar management, lower risk of heart disease and gastrointestinal disease, lower severity of asthma attacks, prevention of gallstones, weight control etc.
Well, the red rice dosas turned out to be much tastier, slightly crisper and browner than their white rice counterpart and well, the husband ate, a little surprised! Round one goes to whole grains!

So, here's the recipe -

2 cups red rice (Fabindia or Navdarshanam organic red rice, both are quite good)
1 cup urad dal
3 tsp fenugreek seeds
Salt to taste

Wash and soak the rice, dal and fenugreek seeds overnight . Grind the soaked  grains in a blender or stone grinder and pour it in a large bowl. Keep it in a warm place, free from drafts, let it ferment for 8-12 hours or till the batter rises and has a distinct smell of being fermented. Add salt and mix well.
To make a dosa, take a ladle full of batter and spread evenly on a hot griddle. Cook only on one side till it's done. Enjoy with fresh coconut chutney !

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Food & I

My relationship with food has been like a long love affair, it started as an infatuation, wherein I had an  intense fascination for all of my mother's amazing gastronomical adventures, she loved cooking and I loved eating, for every achievement in school the reward was a yummy ma ki daal (split urad in creamy sauce) or dal baati (mixed lentils with baked whole wheat buns dipped in clarified butter)! Life was beautiful:)
As a teenager, our relationship grew to the next level, we began to realize each other's flaws, if I over ate, I put on weight! I had feelings of guilt and anger, the first disagreements after a romantic courtship, sigh...
I moved out of my parent's home, to study and then to work, my happiness in life was tied to my relationship with food! If I had a great day at work, I celebrated by eating out, if I had a terrible day, I cheered myself by eating out.
I got married, but it was only when I was pregnant with my daughter, that I seriously considered HEALTH, over weight! And that's when I appreciated my body the most. Recovering post child birth, was when a serious tryst with health, diet and  nutrition began! My relationship with food, now was a serious one, of maturity, trust and deep love!Our body is a self healing organism. If we nourish it with clean, plant based nutrient rich whole foods , it has the innate intelligence to heal and repair itself.
My goal through "cure yourself with food", is to bring an awareness, for people to look within themselves, their lifestyle and food choices to have a healthier, younger body, prevent disease and cure themselves of disease.