Saturday, 29 December 2012

Resolution 2013

Every year, promptly before the beginning of the new year, we think of all the things that we need to change in our lives or the goals that we need to reach! Then we go ahead and set our resolutions with all the hope and expectations that a new beginning brings. With that done, and the new year still a few days away, the thought creeps in, we have decided to be good the whole of next year, oh my god, lets have the last few days of fun! And we do the exact same things that we promised ourselves not to…. This is the beginning of our downfall and yet another year of unfulfilled resolutions…
Of course the most popular resolution is to lose weight (which used to be mine year after year for many years), which we approach with a number and make it even more daunting. I have to lose 10 kilos this year or fit into a size 8 dress etc. Typically this kind of plan ensures the first 2 weeks of January being great (eating breakfast, avoiding the ice cream after dinner, no namkeen with tea etc), that slowly changes, one meal at a time, and we get back to our normal routine and then some big occasion lands itself suddenly and demands a crash diet, weight loss and a subsequent weight gain, and back to routine. So, we start again, another December, a few kilos heavier with the same resolution!

How about we try something slightly different this new year? Like focussing on Health vs Weight and to acquire at least one healthy habit for the entire year and hopefully for life . 
So, lets see, maybe I could list a few that will help you choose…

1. Eat a portion of raw vegetables or fruits at each meal. This will add a host of immune boosting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to your diet. Every colour of fruit or vegetable brings its own unique group of phytonutrients or plant nutrients that protect and cure the body in a multitude of ways. e.g. Blue-purple coloured fruits and vegetables like blueberries, purple grapes, plums, eggplant contain resveratrol, anthocyanidins, phenolics, flavonoids which support heart, brain and bone health and provide antioxidant protection against ageing. Raw fruits and vegetables will also add the extra fibre to our diet which is great for digestive health and will make us full even with consuming lesser calories.

2. Swap one refined grain that you are currently using with a whole grain, like rice with red rice, white bread with whole wheat bread etc. Whole grains not only reduce the risk of many chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease etc, but also have a lower glycemic index and high fibre content which helps weight management.

3. Eat your last meal 2-3 hours before your bed time. This helps your body digest the meal fully before the body prepares to rest. During digestion the blood rushes to the digestive organs and while we sleep, our body repairs and rejuvenates the wear and tear of the cells. If we sleep immediately after a heavy meal, both of these processes cannot take place efficiently. This causes the undigested food to remain in the system for long causing acidity, burping, a bloated stomach and waking up feeling tired, not fresh as the recovery was hampered.

4. Cut the sugar in your tea or coffee by half. Sugar apart from being addictive and adding to the empty calories causing weight gain, is also toxic for the body in many ways. So, a great way to start being aware of your sugar intake and controlling it, is to halve the quantity consumed daily in your morning and evening tea/coffee.

5. Swap one snack everyday with a portion of nuts or seeds. Snack times are typically moments when even the most enthusiastic healthy eaters give in to unhealthy munching. It is the best time to chomp on a portion of nuts or seeds like peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax etc. The high protein and fat content keeps you fuller for longer and the B vitamins give you energy and promote your metabolism. They also contain selenium, chromium and vitamin E, which are all components of antioxidants that fight free radicals (that can age and damage your body's cells).

6. Drink 2 glasses of water on waking up. For our body to work optimally, we need to be hydrated. After 7-8 hours of sleep when we consume water immediately on waking up, it hydrates all the organs of the body which makes us alert and refreshed. This also increases the metabolism and helps the kidneys effectively eliminate various toxins and waste products. It also adds to the total water consumption of the day!

I hope this new year, you are able to achieve all that you set your heart on. Wish you good health and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Kickstart your day with a yummy breakfast smoothie.....

Breakfast is the most important meal of   the day! We have heard that often enough, but it is tough to find time to prepare and eat something that is nutritious as well as appetizing in the morning rush!

There are several advantages to eating a healthful breakfast -
It revs up your metabolism! After a 12 hour night time fast, when you eat a nutritious breakfast, the brain and the body feels alert and energized and reassured with the supply of energy (and hence doesn't try to conserve or store it as fat reserves for contingency/starvation ) but prepares to use the energy for all the day's activity.
Eating breakfast keeps you from bingeing.  A lack of real food in the morning, followed by many rounds of coffee or tea to camouflage the hunger,  creates  an artificial satiety and then by lunch time you are ravenous and are likely choose fatty calorie dense food and too much of it!
A morning meal keeps your blood sugar regulated and that, apart from keeping your body stress free, also keeps you in a good mood.

I begin my day, everyday, with this amazingly delicious, raw, vegan smoothie, which is now a favorite with so many of my friends, family and clients!
To call it a protein shake just doesn't do it justice, it's a complete meal, antioxidant rich, full of vitamins, minerals, omega -3 essential fatty acids, digestible energy, amino acids and protein.
Each ingredient in this smoothie is nutrient rich and adds it's own unique set of benefits to the mix.

Sprouts, which is a great breakfast/smoothie ingredient, is said to, ‘represent the miracle of birth’. They are in the true sense, super foods. They are alkaline, whole, pure, and natural foods.                

A sprout is at the transitional stage between seed and plant. Sprouts are essentially pre-digested foods as the seeds’ own enzymes do most of the work. During sprouting, much of the starch is broken down into simple sugars such as glucose and sucrose by the action of the enzyme ‘amylase’. Proteins are converted into amino acids and amides. Fats and oils are converted into simpler fatty acids by the action of the enzyme lipase. On sprouting, there is also a tremendous increase in nutrients as compared to the dried grain. The vitamins, minerals and protein content substantially increase (to give you an idea, the vitamin B2 content goes up by over 500%) with a simultaneous decrease in caloric and carbohydrate content. 
Also, during sprouting there is a reduction in the gas producing quality of beans. Mainly oligosaccharides have been held responsible for gas formation. As the process of germination ends and sprouting begins, the content of oligosaccharides is reduced by 90 percent.
The content of fiber and water increases tremendously, which is a boon for a healthy digestive system.
Sprouts are a good source of chlorophyll, said to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They are highly beneficial foods for losing weight too. They keep one full for a long time and also prevent over-eating as one feels satisfied on consuming just a handful and is the best way of getting the advantage of complete nutrition.

To sprout the grain, wash and soak it in water overnight, in the morning, drain the water and tie the grains in a cheese    cloth or a thin muslin cloth in a pouch and let it hang for a couple of hours (to drain the extra water). Now, put this pouch in an air tight container and store it in a warm humid place for 18 - 24 hours, depending on the weather.

So, here's the recipe that will change your life, it did mine...

1 apple
3 small (cardamom) bananas
1 orange peeled with an inch of it's peel
1 pear
1 kiwi fruit
5 almonds
5 cashews
1 tbsp flax seeds
2 cups water
1 cup ice
1 tbsp of sprouts (ragi/moong/red rice)

Blend the above in a  high powered blender.

Now, that's a great start to a wonderful day! Enjoy!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Protecting your spirit

No matter what you are told, how you are treated, you have to believe in yourself, protect yourself, stand up for yourself.... No one else is going to do it for you.
Food cannot be a substitute for actually feeling good with yourself, and that is not dependent on any one except you. You, are responsible for your own happiness , not your spouse, not your boss and not the amount of money you make !
Sometimes, we go through life, having no sense of awareness, just getting thrown from one situation to the other, from being elated one moment to being despondent the next, feeling helpless and out of control! And it's the same lack of awareness with food! There is an intense craving, followed by bingeing, which results in a euphoric sugar high, then a crash and a guilt trip.
That's when we need a realistic, detached assessment of our situation, a bird's eye view.
So, ask yourself, are you stuck in a rut? Can a change in your attitude or behavior help you deal with it better? Certain things are beyond your control and certain things are within, can you identify them and focus only on what is within your control? Are you appreciating all the positives, big and small that you have been blessed with?
Food needn't control your life, you should be in control of the food!
The first step is to recognize emotional eating for what it is, stop and analyze the real issue, try to work through it, find a hobby or social work to immerse yourself in (there is nothing like seeing other's problems up close  to get a realistic perspective on yours)!
Focus on all the positives in your life, appreciate the good that people do for you and remember, food cannot fulfill an emotional void, only you can.
Eat clean, nutritious food that will energize and nourish your body, make you healthier and stronger. Food shouldn't evoke feelings of guilt, food shouldn't make you sluggish and drowsy, food shouldn't clog your arteries or give you disease!
Take time out for yourself everyday, even if it is just 10 minutes of drinking your ginger tea in peace or doing Pranayama or yoga or even watching your favorite TV show or read a book!
Experience joy each day:), even it's for a few moments! 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

One Pot Meal

It has been a cloudy, cold and wet day, and this melancholic weather always makes me crave ghazals, ginger tea and pipping hot 'khichdi' (lentils and rice cooked together to a soft consistency and tempered with cumin). There is something soothing and healing about khichdi, almost as if it nourishes the soul with the body, a cure for all maladies emotional and physical.

I make various versions of it, depending on what I feel like or what is available at home, this particular recipe calls for bajra or pearl millet. Its an easy and quick way to experiment with a variety of whole grains and lentils.
Bajra/Millet is easily digestible and gluten free, which makes it an ideal grain for people with celiac disease. It contains all the essential amino acids and is especially rich in B vitamins, calcium and iron. It helps maintain cardiovascular health by decreasing triglycerides and is even good for diabetics, causing lower blood glucose levels and LDL cholesterol levels.

So, here it is - Millet pot meal

1 cup whole bajra or pearl millet soaked overnight
1/2 cup moong dal
4 cups chopped vegetables (carrots, beans, spinach, tomatoes, bottle gourd, cauliflower or any other vegetable of your choice)
3 cups water
Cumin seeds, turmeric, salt, green chillies to taste.

In a pressure cooker, dry roast cumin and add the dal and bajra. Roast a little and add the chopped vegetables, chillies, turmeric and salt. Add the water and cook (3 whistles on a low flame).
Enjoy on a cold night or after a long and tiring day, it's satisfying and sure to warm you up!!!