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What`s on your plate today?

Why eat Broccoli?

Loaded with micronutrients like Manganese, Vit K, Vit B complex and Folate which is necessary for iron formation and absorption in the human body, Brocolli tops the list of those super foods which even if consumed in smaller quantities will provide quality nutrition.  A broccoli will help to

1)   Reduce inflammations and pains

2)   Reduce blood pressure (try this by consuming broccoli 3 – 4 times in a week though in small amounts and you will se a significant drop in your BP)

3)   Prevent Cancer

4)   Reduce bad cholesterol due to the presence of good fiber

5)   Alkalize your body and maintain the body acid levels which will further prevent stress.

6)   Detoxify your body due to presence of fiber and water.

7)   Boost metabolism and thus keep excess calories at bay.

You can consume broccoli in various ways like include in pastas, pizza, salads, if you love vegetables, just chew on some steamed broccoli and boiled corn with lime and some pepper! Below is one healthy option you can include in your diet. It will not only add variety but also make your plate colorful with its lush green color and palatable!

Broccoli and Walnut Soup

Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

2 large stalks of wash and cleaned Broccoli

1 small potato

1 med onion

2 – 3 garlic cloves

Some coriander

½ cup skimmed milk

Some walnuts (cut in small pcs)

2 tsp olive oil

Method:

*      Steam the broccoli, onion, and potato and keep aside. Do not throw away the stalk.

*      Sauté the garlic and walnuts in olive oil until you smell lightly fried garlic.

*      Blend the broccoli, onion and the stalk with sautéed garlic and walnuts until thick paste.

*      Simmer the mix on low temperature and add the milk to give a smooth consistency

*      Garnish with some salt and pepper

*      Serve hot with bread sticks.

Healthy Variations:

  • If you wish to make this as your light supper meal, you can add all your favorite veggies like the corn, carrots, French beans, and some whole boiled beans along with whole-wheat pasta and relish this a complete meal in the form of a soup!
  • If you want to encourage your kids to eating Broccoli, replace the skimmed milk with regular milk and grate some cheese on top before serving. The calcium in the milk will not hinder with any nutrients in the broccoli and therefore this combination will ensure a quality supply of micronutrients. You can also replace walnuts to almonds, incase your children do not like walnuts.
  • For a party at your place, you can use the above combination to make a pasta sauce base. Below are few changes you must make:
  1. Prepare a white sauce with low fat milk and I don’t believe its not butter.
  2. Add low fat cheese slices to enhance the flavor of the sauce
  3. Make a thick puree of the ingredients instead of the soup
  4. This combination will taste the best with olives and baby tomatoes and some fresh parsley.
  5. Garnish with Italian herbs and spices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eat enough before you sweat it out!!

With the holiday season weight loss mania already setting in, I can see flocks of people rushing to the gym, running for hours till they drop, lifting weights more than their body weight with a sole purpose to look slimmer and fitter than the last holiday season!! Yeah!! Why not?? I am also one of them!

Been said a million times all over, it is very clear that correct nutrition is very essential even when workout regimes are a part of your daily chores.  Depending on the kind of physical activity you are about to perform, it is necessary to replenish your muscles first so that it can help you expend the energy and burn calories for you. Whether you meditate and stretch with yoga or dance the Zumba style, all require constant supply of energy to sustain the activity for long.

 High Intensity Short Duration Workout:

Work out right.

Depending upon the duration and intensity of workout, our body will use the available sources of fuel. Any high intensity, short duration activity like weight lifting, sprinting, competitive running, rock climbing, swimming, circuit training and boxing will require spontaneous flow of energy. Such activities utilize the stored energy from muscles. These activities may burn fewer calories, since the body does not have to do much to supply energy. Energy is readily available from the muscles. However, such activities do not continue for long without a break since muscles cannot store enough energy to sustain activities for longer durations.  The advantage of such activities is it strengthens your muscles and helps to tone and define a shape thereby giving your body perfect cuts and curves.  Besides, it charges up the muscles to such an extent that even after the workout, your muscles are constantly working to burn energy though in smaller amounts. This is why strength exercise is believed to boost your metabolism since it keeps the cells burning for long.

Since high intensity workout requires instant flow of energy along with strong muscles, your pre workout meal must supply a combination of carbohydrates and proteins. Carbohydrates will provide instant energy for example whole fruits like apples, bananas, peaches, pear or even a boiled potato. Proteins will prevent and replenish any muscle damage and increase the strength. Best sources will be whole eggs.  If you choose to have an energy bar, ensure it must supply more of carbohydrates than proteins and fats. Consuming milkshakes is a bad idea since they make you feel blotted and hinder in high intensity performance.  Fruit juices do provide instant energy but this energy is utilized very fast and you may run at a risk of energy depletion in middle of your performance.

Medium/ Low Intensity Long Duration Workout:

Eat right before you run.

Depending upon the duration of the activity, the body will first consume energy from muscles just like the high intensity workout. However, within minutes of activity, the body will switch over the source of fuel and now start utilizing stored fats as the source of energy. Activities like low pace running, prolonged jogging, brisk walk, skipping, aerobics, zumba dance, salsa etc fall in this category. Such activity is best suited for people who target to lose fat percent. When the body is working out for longer duration with medium intensity, there is certainly increased intake of oxygen.  It is in presence of this increased oxygen, that the body switches the source of fuel from carbohydrates to stored fats. As a result, the body now burns fat to produce energy. Interestingly, 1 gm of fat will produce 9 kcal almost double of what 1 gm of carbohydrate can produce.  Such activity is good for people who want to increase their heart capacity, lose excess fat, and increase endurance. It is very true that once you tune your body to cardio activity, you feel more energetic to perform after 20 mins of sustained exercise. This is because, by this time the body has switched to fats which produces more energy than carbohydrates with increased amount of oxygen running in your system which energizes you to perform for longer.

The best pre workout meal for such activities will be a whole fruit or any source of simple carbohydrates like dates, just before the workout. Again, fruit juices should be avoided since it will be easily utilized in first few minutes and the liquid form will hinder in performance.

Right amounts of carbohydrate and proteins are very essential to help the body to switch over the right source of fuel during out performance. Pre workout meal is not just about carbohydrates and proteins. Certainly it requires combinations of vitamins and minerals as well.  Pre workout meals are available in the market in the form of sports bar, energy drinks and sometime even power packed tablets. It is advisable to evaluate your level and intensity of workout before you start consuming them. To know more about pre workout and post workout meals, and customize one for you write to myplate@gmail.com.

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How did you cook that?

Cook wise. Cook Right

Cooking is a science. Food is termed healthy when it is cooked healthy and eaten healthy! Fresh and natural food is so vulnerable to cooking methods that if you do not follow the right method, by the time the food reaches your plate, it may be very tasty but cannot be guaranteed healthy! It is easy to judge the volatile factor of any foods. For example, foods that contain moisture in its natural form are very volatile to cooking methods like all fruits and vegetables and all the greens. Foods like whole cereals, grains, pulses are dry therefore are very less volatile to heat and cooking methods. Meat and fish contain all the nutrients trapped in the muscle. Thus proper heat is necessary to release the nutrients and juices.

With the advancement of technology, we now have electric stoves, which exemplify slow cooking methods. Slow cooking methods can be advantageous for many foods like the raw vegetables and fruits. However, may not always work in the favor of making chapattis, pulses, and rice since slow cooking increases their glycemic index. It isn’t just the cooking technique that matters when considering the health of your meal. Even when you choose an extremely healthy option, such as steaming, adding high levels of salt, sugar or fat to your food can negate any health benefits you might have gotten otherwise. Choose healthy ingredients to begin with and season them with spices and herbs to ensure that you get the most health and flavor out of whatever cooking technique you might use.

Did you know?

1)    Whole pulses should be soaked over night before cooking because soaking increases the enzyme activity and make it easy to digest food.  Some do practice cooking with a pinch of salt without over night soaking.

Cook healthy. Eat Healthy.

2)    Sprouting them further activates many enzymes that may remain inactive even after pressure-cooking. More enzymes in your food contents, higher the digestion, greater the absorption.

3)    If you cook any starch containing foods like potatoes, rice, pasta and noodles for too long in water, the starch molecules swell, thus increasing their gylcemic index. Foods with high glycemic index increases sugar levels and thus contribute to obesity. Therefore always cook starches to “al dente” state

4)    Boiling vegetables on high flame loses their micronutrients. Best is to cook in steam on a medium flame. Vegetables themselves have enough moisture that can soften them with medium flame.

5)    To practice healthy frying, steam the vegetables until semi done and the shallow fry them. One of the healthiest ways to cook French-fries at home.  Steaming causes the starch to swell, which will further decrease the oil absorption when shallow fried.

6)    Marinate your vegetables, tofu, cottage cheese, chicken in curd and species before grilling or BBQ. This will help you to avoid additional fat coat over it generally used to add spices and flavor.

You can further change your everyday cooking practices like avoiding iron knives for cutting, always uncover the vessel while blanching spinach because covering the vessel will result in oxalate retention in spinach which is one of the reasons for kidney stones. Make sure you wash your cooking range well with soap and ensure the grease is out. Any grease remains may impose risk to heart related issues.  Use non-stick cookware for pan frying, deep-frying and even tossing.

Cooking is not just an art but also a science. All the do’s and don’ts may look like a long list to follow or remember. However once you consciously put in the efforts to correct your cooking methods, it will go with the flow. This is a wake up call to all the housewives, mothers, actually who so ever is cooking in the house. I can be sure of that we all have at least one member in the house who is consciously following healthy lifestyle and eating habits. Either our kids, or siblings, may be husbands or even our grannies! When they are putting enough efforts, I guess it is wise to boost their results with our cooking methods.

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The Leftovers!

It is not unusual to see a mother, housewife or even a housekeeper eating leftovers the next day or sometimes for several days. During my stay in USA, I turned into one- a leftover hogger!  I disguised this habit under being lazy, busy and not willing to cook everyday for myself! Apart from losing quality of freshness, leftovers are 50% less nutritious than fresh food despite of being refrigerated. Leftovers have been one of the major reasons for gaining weight among women than men. Besides poor nutritional quality, leftovers are at a higher risk of food poisoning chances than any other foods.

The quality of leftovers depend a lot on the geographic location, climatic situations, method of cooking, method of storage, time of cooking, time between cooking and storage and the quality of ingredients used. Natural food alters with heat treatment at every level.  First of all, when the food is cooked, it looses some of its nutrients like the vit C and Vit B complex since they are highly susceptible and other vital micronutrients. Once the food is cooked, it undergoes many chemical reactions with other ingredients that are unnoticeable by human eye. We either relish all the food cooked at one go or we store the remains for future use. When we consume the leftovers next day, firstly we have to defrost the food  if the food was frozen, and then reheat to desirable temperature. During this de freeze and re heat process, the food loses additional nutritional value due to heat treatment. Many of us do not know the requirements for proper refrigeration, that is food should be refrigerated within 2 – 3 hours of cooking and the temperature of the fridge should always be below 40 F or 00 C . No doubt the food may have the same taste as yesterday or may even get better, but in the bargain of taste and preventing wastage, we compromise on the nutritional value, the major reason why we should be eating food!

It is a very common practice to pre prepares sauces, curries, and gravies before hand and store in order to save time. What we fail to realize is bulk cooking requires more fat since it has to be stored and sometimes we add additional fat upon re heating to retain the texture. Mood plays an important role in the quality of digestion. Many a times leftovers not elite the mood of the consumer as the fresh food does. Many of us add junk like chips to add more flavors to the food. Also, if I know there is food in the fridge, I will land up eating irrespectively!

The least we can do is ensure, someone is not eating leftovers due to our food swings! There are many ways you can help your mother, wife from eating the leftovers, or even help you:

1)   Always confirm whether you are having dinner at home or no.

2)   If you are attending a party, confirm the number of people from your family in advance.

3)   Try not to be moody during food time that can affect your food intake.

4)   If you are the cook, take some time and effort to understand eating patters of your family members. It will help you judge their intake.

5)   Do not cook in advance to save time or out of laziness. Yes, I agree time is an important factor these days. However, look for cooking tools and devices that can make cooking easy and fast for you.

6)   If you live in a tropical region, or on an island where humidity is persistent, it is best in your favor never to eat the leftovers. Humidity magnifies spoilage.

7)   Look for food spoilage signs in the food. Sometimes texture and flavor remain the same while the food is chemically spoilt. For example, if the food has started leaving water, it is unsafe for consumption.

8)   Encourage your mother, wife to eat healthy and freshly cooked food. After all her health will determine the health of your family!

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Congratulations!!! You have high blood pressure!

How old are you? Are you a male or a female? Does your work involve travelling or is a desk job? Are you pregnant? What is your Blood pressure? Most of us may have answers to all the questions except the last one. On a second thought, do you really know what is your blood pressure?

Blood pressure is not a disease. It is a condition caused by life style. The bad news is it has no symptoms in the developing stage. Only a pulsating headache at times which most of us tend to ignore. The good news is it can be totally controlled through lifestyle and diet modifications and without any medications. It is not surprising to know that most people develop blood pressure during their productive age that is between 24 – 40 years. The culprit is stressful job, smoking, alcohol, junk food, fast and frozen food, processed food and lack of exercise and some have it in the genes. The reason why most of us do not realize increasing blood pressure is because it has no symptoms.

Blood pressure is associated with salt. When kidneys cannot balance excess salt, it begins to retain salt and the excess salt retains more water thereby increasing the fluid pressure. Excess salt is found in sauces like soya sauce, tomato ketchup, mustard sauce, salad dressing, processed food like cheese, bread, pickles, brines, packet foods, cornflakes, dried foods. Remember, a food item may not taste that salty but may contain salt in various forms like the one found in bread or any bakery items. Even a muffin is processed, and considered high in sodium even if it tastes sweet. Likewise, coco powder is high in sodium and so are some chocolates. Caffeine also increases blood pressure. On an average we eat bread almost every alternate day. Indian food style involves a lot of pickles and chutneys. American food habits involve a lot of caffeine, sauces, salad dressings, breads, cheese, French consume a lot of bread and cheese, and Mexicans consume many varieties of brines. Far East use MSG in almost every food item. It can get very difficult to cut down on salt intake. As by the principles of MY PLATE, I believe in focusing on what to eat rather than what not to eat. Below are few changes one can make:

 

1)   Increase intake of fruits. They contain potassium that regulates blood pressure.

2)   Increased intake of magnesium containing foods like broccoli, drumsticks, flax seeds, almonds.

3)   Use alternate natural flavors like lime juice, mint, garlic, ginger

4)   Increase intake of calcium, and fiber. Fiber will help to against developing heart conditions.

5)   Prefer more of unprocessed and natural foods.

6)   Check he food labels of every item. If the sodium percent is more than 5% of RDA per serving, it is considered high.

7)   STOP SMOKING.

8)   Cut down on alcohol. Though alcohol does not increase blood pressure directly but it results in weight gain, which hinders lowering of blood pressure.

9)   Develop a healthy workout routine.

10)  Track your blood pressure on regular basis. Use your smart phones!

11)   Sleep well.

 

Congratulations if you are detected with high blood pressure!!! Now is better than later. Stop worrying, and write to My Plate at myplateme@gmail.com to learn how you can manage your blood pressure without medications.

 

Understanding Blood pressure

 

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Good Morning! Wake up to Breakfast Mechanics.

‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar’.

Diabetic, obese, heart patient, child, mother and even granny all benefit from breakfast irrespectively. Imagine your body as a machine which has been at rest for at least 7 hours. It’s a new day and all bodies have to work. Metabolism is a body process. It requires fuel to operate. When you feed breakfast to your body which has been at rest for last 7 hours, it now begins to warm up and requires enough fuel to reach to its max speed. When a machine is at its peak of operation, needless to say it turns very efficient in its process. Likewise, when you feed breakfast to your body, the metabolism begins with a great speed since the stomach was empty from last night. Now that it has enough fuel, it is able to operate and reach its max speed by lunch time and gradually it will decrease when it’s about time to shut off. If you help your body reach to its max metabolism, your body in turn will burn max calories for you through out the day. Certainly, physical activity plays an important role to help burn excess fat. You must supply 2/3 of your energy requirement of the whole day only from your breakfast! Besides, you body needs to be fed on regular intervals to keep the metabolism going.

Lets assume, you skipped your breakfast or did not have proper breakfast as per your body requirements. By nature, the body is tuned to conserve first and then use the fuel. Therefore, in this case whatever you eat after a long break specially when you skip your morning breakfast, the body will first convert the carbs and proteins into fats and store for future use.Only after storing enough reserves will the body start burning calories to produce energy. Unless, you have intense physical workouts everyday, the excess fat will be burnt. Unfortunately, most of us cannot maintain a workout regime/ routine for long. This conservation mechanism is the underlying reason why some people who fast under religious beliefs can sustain without food for days. Nature has been kind enough to us to develop our body that can self-heal, protect and conserve energy for future. However, it is our responsibility to make sure we feed healthy and nutritious meals to our body that can keep the senses, organs, cells fit and healthy. The core is to feed right amounts and proportions with healthy combinations.

My Plate has Aloo paneer methi parantha made with multi-grain flour with mInt Chutney on the side and a Glass of almond banana milkshake made with skimmed milk. Did you have your breakfast today?To know more how to make your breakfast healthy, write to myplateme@gmail.com, follow Nanee202003 on Twitter
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Permutation and Combination

Eating is not what causes weight gain. What really matters is the food combinations and time. It can be early morning glass of water, pre or post workout meals, next day meals after heavy drinking, first meal after a religious fast, and even a weight loss diet. All require correct food combinations and permutations. Practically, most of us eat most variety of food however, at different times. Certain food combinations can work wonders while some compete with each other inside! Even nutrients get picky with their partners! Some form a team and help each other in absorption. While some compete with each other. Can you guess what can be wrong in MY PLATE for breakfast if I consume a plate of poha(flat rice flakes) with veges and a cup of unsweetened milk coffee? Nope!! Calories are not what I am talking about because as per calories, this can be an ideal breakfast. The problem lies in the nutrients. Poha is a source of Iron. Milk is a source of Calcium. Coffee is nothing but caffeine. Iron and Calcium compete with each other for absorption! Lets say you add a dash of lime to the poha, which is Vit C. Vit C, helps in iron absorption. But the presence of caffeine will affect the absorption of all the nutrients!! This is just one example of a common indian breakfast that tastes very good, is easy to prepare but nutritionally not sound. Can you imagine in our everyday life, how many wrong practices we may be following under the disguise of nutrition?

Women after 40 are generally on calcium supplements. With the setting trends in nutraceuticals, most of us consume various vitamin and mineral supplements to maintain energy levels, to feel fresh, for health and beauty and sometimes for medical reasons. If you are unaware of the right food combinations, even your supplements can do very little help to you.No food is right or wrong. Nature has been kind enough to us to give us the best. However, it is we humans who alter the goodness either with various processes or with different combinations! To know more about the right food combinations, write to myplateme@gmail.com, connect with @Nanee202003 on twitter.Let me leave you with a question!glass of warm water with honey and lemon.A glass of warm water with a dash of lime in the morning is a very common practice adopted by many to lose weight. However, a common mistake most of them make is add honey!! This combination can work wonders if you are a heart patient or over 30% obese but may not work in favor for all. Can you guess what can be potentially wrong here?

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Sugar = FAT

Glucose, which is a chemical name of sugar, is the only nutrient that all the body cells use to carry out their functions in presence of vitamins and minerals. Thus whatever you eat, your body will break down to glucose for absorption.  You consume glucose in almost everything. A glass of coke, bread, potatoes, whole-wheat rolls, fruits, unsweetened fresh fruit juices, low fat milk, a glass of wine and almost everything has glucose. Glucose is present in different chemical forms in different foods like starch in potatoes, fructose in fruits, lactose in milk.  Based on your everyday physical activity including walk to the train station, standing in line for food, walk in the grocery market, dedicated exercise (yoga, aerobic, strength) cooking, studying and likewise, your body will burn energy to help you sustain these daily activities. In other words, the glucose that you feed to your cells will produce energy to help you perform these activities. If your body needs immediate energy, it will burn the glucose right away. If the energy requirements are low at any time, your body will store glucose in liver muscle for future use. However, there is a limit to the storage of glucose in the liver. Thus all the remaining glucose will be stored as fat. This itself explains why “ eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar”. At the start of the day, you have a list of daily activities to be performed, which means you will need a lot of energy. As and when the day passes by, you have almost reached half the list and thus, your calorie requirement decreases with the decent in the day. Thus when it’s about nighttime, the only activity left is to sleep and refresh for the next day.

You must be able to understand your hunger and your energy requirements. Notice your eating speed. If it decreases after a few bites, it is a signal that your stomach is almost to be full. If the food is no longer tasty after a couple of bites, then it a signal by the brain that your stomach is full. If you feel tired in just few minutes of your walk, or you feel tired already by the time you reach office, it means you are not eating right. Certainly, it is practically impossible to eat exact calories as you burn. However, the goal is not to eat too much or too less. Eating right is a simply permutation and combination of nutrients and every one has its own formula.

To calculate your plate, write to myplateme@gmail.com

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Does the nutrition label fit in your plate?

Sample nutrition label

“I switched over to corn flakes with extra fiber and added minerals. Besides, 1 bowl of corn flakes gives me only 95 kcals.” I was surprised when my client’s wife told me this! My client is hypertensive! Certainly I advised her to switch over to DASH DIET –  Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension for her husband but definitely did not want the source to be bowl of corn flakes! You know why?? Because besides less calories and added minerals and fiber, processed corn flakes come with added sodium!

How many of us take a look at the nutrition label when we go grocery shopping? Do you really know how to read a nutrition label? Do you understand how are the nutrients calculated and the gimmicks behind per serving size? Do you take a look at the ingredients?  Do you know what does sugar free, low fat, extra lean, low cholesterol, fat free indicate? Balancing your plate just by calories is not enough. Understanding the importance of other nutrients like minerals and vitamins is also necessary. It is only in the presence of vitamins and minerals will your carbs, fats and proteins be digested. There is more to reading a nutrition label than just the calories!

One of the most common gimmicks for health claims is “ Zero cholesterol” Firstly; cholesterol is rarely present in plant foods (vegetarian sources). Though some oil seeds like FLAX seeds do have cholesterol but it is a source of good cholesterol.  Cholesterol is majorly present in animal food and products like cheese, pork, beef, eggs. Then why does potato chips bag claim to be “ Zero Cholesterol” when it is obvious that it is a vegan option? Unless the bag claims to be baked, I can be assured that the product is prepared with least quantity of fats. However, if the chips are flavored with sour cream onion, cheddar cheese, they will have cholesterol. Besides cholesterol, a bag of potato chips is loaded with sodium, which can further affect your heart. Excess salt in diet  is one of the factors leading to obesity. Another gimmick in the nutrition label is the calorie content! Let us assume 1 serving size of potato chips provides ONLY 95 kcal. Do you know what is the serving size for DEEP FRIED PROCESSED MOUTH WATERING POTATO CHIPS? 1 serving size of potato chips = 28 gm. The net weight of a standard potato chip bag available in the markets is approx 220 gm! Let us picture this:

1 serving size = 28 gm = 95 calories

1 bag I bought = 220 gms = 8 servings approx * 95  =  760Kcal !!!!

760 kcal = 1 ½  lunch serving size based on a 2000kcal diet.

How many of us actually eat only 28gms out of that bag?

It is not just cholesterol. Health claims like sugar free, low sodium, baked, fortified with minerals, high fiber, organic and many more are hovering around the food industry. I do not mean to say that nutrition labels are incorrect! Before the nutrition facts appear on the packet, they go through a whole process of research, and approval by the USDA, FPO and likewise food and health governing authorities. However, it is important for you as a consumer to know what will best fit in your plate. Once in a while I do have potato chips and put it on the craving part of my plate. This way I make sure that it is a part of my meal and not random food intake. Besides, the cravings allowance being small-sized further helps to control the portion size. To know more about nutrition labels, to know how you can fit your favorite food in your plate, contact me at myplateme@gmail.com.

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One for All.

There is one for all. Not a single one matches the other one. Yes! Your plate is unique to you. Just think of the different roles you play in your everyday life. You may be a working mother or a struggling artist or an accomplished businessperson, may be you are a teenager or perhaps you are a retired old man. You may be diabetic but not obese. You may have high blood pressure but good cholesterol levels! Perhaps you have a physically impairment or a mentally challenged child.  Your clinical condition may be different now from what it was before. Not only this, the geographic location, availability of food options, your emotional, social and economic status, genetics and current level of physical activity has a major influence on your plate.

If you are very happy today you might just allow an extra serving of your favorite sweet or may get even more conscious of what your are eating. Perhaps you are angry and do not wish to eat you meal today! May be you had a busy day at work and skipped your lunch and now you are acidic and don’t know what to eat! Ahhhh you had a gala time with your friends over a couple of drinks last night and next morning you just want to get rid of your headache! Ever wondered how all these day-to-day life situations affect your nutritional status over long run? Basically it is very difficult to abide by one standard meal format. In doing so, you are not only refraining your self from the vast wonderful options available around you but you are giving the same nutrition to your body as what you did yesterday and will do it again tomorrow! it is very difficult to maintain the same calorie intake everyday, or even provide 0.8gm of protein/ kg body weight in your diet every day. A standard diet format further limits your body’s unique ability to adapt to various sources of nutrients because every source traps the nutrient in its own unique way. The ability of your body to identity, break down and release the nutrient depends on how often the body is exposed to variety of options.

Food is the sole source of energy to your mind body and soul. Just as my plate suggests, every individual has his or her own preferences over food. It is important however, not to eliminate any of these qualities but you can adjust the proportion sizes to your likes each day. With coming time, i shall focus on how to select your plate and the right sources every day. There is no single strategy that works when it comes to nutrition. It is different for every one.  Therefore in my opinion, the key is to BALANCE. You must learn to compensate the junkie dinner or binge eating over the party you had last. While at times you can sit back and relax a full share of your favorite dessert!

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The Gluten Phobia

Gluten is a PROTEIN and not a FAT. Oh Yes! You read it right. It is a protein sticky in nature, insoluble in water, makes the bread softer and spongy, gives it a chewy texture and it also enhances flavor for ketchups sometimes and makes your beer so tasty! Eating food items containing gluten may make some people really sick. But not EVERYONE! It is better to be gluten aware than be gluten phobic. Gluten with so many good properties is now termed as a “Villian” in the food diaries of many. And I am here to its recue J

Unless you are medically advised to stay away from gluten as seen in people with Celiac Sprue, there is no viable reason in my opinion to completely omit gluten from your life. If you are turning gluten sensitive, it is advisable to stay away from gluten for a few weeks but not completely give up on it. Gluten intolerance also called as Celiac Sprue is a clinical condition where the stomach lining does not have the required enzymes to digest Gluten. As a result, the body considers it as an alien and triggers auto immune system in response to it. As a result, the person may suffer bloating, inflammation, acidity at times. Only in few cases, this condition can be life threatening.  Gluten sensitivity is different from intolerance. Gluten sensitivity is a result of poor lifestyle, stress, overweight, and too much gluten consumption than what the body can digest and in some cases, pre disposition to the condition. Gluten free is not necessarily healthy. One must be aware that gluten sources like wheat, barley, rye etc also contain other nutrients like the vits B, fiber, plant proteins etc and not consuming them can be nutritionally not the best choice.  Gluten is not a fat. It ideally does not make you fat. Did you know, gluten free items may contain higher amounts of saturated fats, sodium and perhaps even sugar that will make your fat!!  Did you fail to notice that the gluten free carrot cupcake is loaded with butter and sugar? What really matters is the type of sugar/ carbs in the gluten sources that makes a difference. Example, the most commonly consumed wheat is the richest source of gluten and also high in glycemic index, meaning it can spike up your sugar immediately.  Thus gluten is not the culprit; it’s the type of carb. Unfortunately, most wheat flours contain super starch which means it has highest levels of gluten that makes them soft and elastic.

The most common reason (if not medical) why people follow gluten free diet is to lose some pounds, feel less lethargic, control sugar levels etc. In such cases, it is the carbs you have to stay away from not the gluten.  In the past few decades, our lifestyles have been dominated with technology thus making our routine more dependable and less active physically and perhaps even mentally. On the other side, our bodies have been loaded with more and more gluten through forms like chocolates, sauces, ketchups, desserts, beer, cookies, confectionaries, refined wheat flour items etc. This is why many people are now turning gluten sensitive. If you are not amongst them, you need not fear gluten. Gluten free is expensive, nutritionally not balanced and in most cases does not even help in weight loss. Get your facts right. Avoid gluten for right reasons and not because it is trending!

One of my favorite gluten free Dinner that I once read in a health magazine. I have added some of my changes

  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • ½ of a medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 Tbs Sprouts
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can low-sodium black beans, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 and ½ cups water quinoa fajitas
  • ½ cup shredded finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12 (6 inch) gluten free tortillas
  • 1 cup salsa or pico de gallo or Gaucomole
  • ½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Warm the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and the bell pepper. Cook stirring occasionally until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the chili powder, salt and smoked paprika. Stir. Add the quinoa, beans, tomatoes and water or broth. Stir. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer until all liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is soft, about 13-16 minutes.
  2. Remove the skillet from the heat and uncover. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese. Return cover and allow the heat from the quinoa to melt the cheese.
  3. Serve the quinoa mixture in gluten free tortillas with the salsa and sour cream.

A fistful of goodness – NUTS

Nuts are one of the super foods that are power packed with healthy cholesterol, energy, good quality proteins and some of the essential vitamins and minerals like copper and magnesium. The best part about nuts is you can just eat a fistful and yet obtain your power dose. They are just perfect to munch in between major meals of the day like the breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are a good choice to control your blood glucose, hunger pangs and the best way to snack healthy. 

The picture about nuts is not very clear to many because of its calorific value. Let me simplify why the nutritional content in nuts is healthy despite of the high calories. Just like any other food item, nuts are also composed of 3 major nutrients – Carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Being very low in carbohydrates, they are friends to diabetics and to those watching their carb intake. Just one fistful of most nuts which is about 10 – 12 gms on an average will give you 5gms of proteins which is equivalent to protein content in 1 slice of processed cheese and even 1 glass of milk. Perhaps, almonds contain 80% of protein of the red meat. Since proteins are present in every part of your body including hair and nails, it is obvious proteins are very essential. Eating nuts for their protein content is beneficial to women because it can promote healthy hair and nails growth as well as lustrous skin. Nuts can regulate your metabolism and thus are best friends to people trying to lose weight. Nuts give a sustained source of energy and therefore are highly recommended to be consumed with morning breakfast. 

Another major component is Fats. 40% of calories in nuts come from fats. But hold on!! Lets understand what makes this 40%. We all know, there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol is saturated fats. Good cholesterol is unsaturated fats which is Omega 3 and omega 6. Good news, out of that 40%, 80% is good cholesterol content in nuts. This good cholesterol helps in brain development to growing children. Protects the heart from oxidation caused due to stress. This function is precisely more applicable to men since researches say, men are more prone to heart conditions caused due to stress than women. Besides, nuts are amongst those few foods that have a very good omega3 to omega6 ratio. Infact, nuts are the only source of healthy fats for vegetarians. It is always a healthy fat ratio that matters. Now if we look at the micronutrients which apparently play a major role in our body like the copper, magnesium, vit E you must know that eating nuts can take care of upto 28% of your daily requirements of essential vitamins and minerals. Also one must remember that nuts are power foods. Therefore their one portion size is just one fistful or and a half compared to any other food items. The only time, you can be wrong with consuming nuts is when you are consuming artificially flavored with sugar or perhaps deep fried nuts in excess quantities.

To evaluate food on the basis of calorific content ONLY is not the best way in my opinion. I try to understand food science and social science very closely. It is evident, had nuts not been nutritionally sound at such high scale despite of the fat content, they would have been available for cheap just like the fried chicken in KFC because even chicken has protein and is very high in fats. Buts certainly it is no where close to the nutritional value of nuts. in some parts of India and neighboring countries, consuming nuts or perhaps gifting nuts is a status symbol! So now if i picture this, i can see I am holding a fistful of goodness. Nuts are indeed an integral part of out diet. 

Below are few interesting ways to incorporate nuts in daily diet

1) Sprinkle over your bowl of breakfast

2) Add to your steamed vegetables for a flavorful delight.

3) Add them to your bread like the walnut bread to increase the nutritional value of your meals.

4) Simply make almond butter dip!

5) Just simply munch them. 

If you want to go nuts with your snacks, take at look at http://www.munchbox.ae They are delivering healthy snacks in the form of natural nuts right at your desk! 

Fun facts about Tomatoes

 

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”.

Tomato being a fruit is widely used in various preparations like sauces, curry, salad, and even juice. The British call it as

te-may-tou while the North Americans call it as te-meh-toe and the South Americans call it as ta-maah-toe. Not only its various pronunciations from different country is famous but also its tangy sour taste and a bright red color is appealing to many! Tomatoes are native to South America, first grown by Mezo American civilization. The literal meaning of the word TOMATO is ‘swelling fruit’. Lycopene—an active component of tomatoes gives it peculiar features and benefits. Lycopene is one of the most powerful natural antioxidant helping against prostate cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In a 100 gm of tomatoes, 94gm is water, which makes it an excellent source for urinary tract disorders. This water content also makes it easy and quick to cook tomatoes. Tomatoes have good natural acids which when applied on the skin help to protect against UV rays. It can also be used as natural bleach for the skin. Interesting to know, tomato juice is the official state beverage of Oklahoma, USA. Where the world’s heaviest tomato was ever grown weighing 3.1kg!! 
“Tomato” in other languages
English: tomato
French: tomate
Dutch: tomaat
German: Tomate
Danish: tomat
Spanish: tomate
Italian: pomodoro

Here is a quick dip recipe for tomatoes that can be used for literally anything: chips, bread, side accompaniment or even with plain steamed rice. Can be served hot or cold.

2 big tomatoes
4 small green chilies or Jalapeño
Small piece of ginger
1 ½ tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
few curry leaves (optional)
½ tsp turmeric powder
some mint leaves
salt to taste

Method:
• Heat the oil in a pan and allow the mustard seeds to splutter. Add ginger, chili, curry leaves.
• Blenderize the tomatoes and add to the pan, sauté for a few min and add turmeric, salt and mint leaves and half glass water.
• Cook on low flame until it becomes thick.

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers as widely addressed in the western countries and also known as Capsicum are a store house of provitamins. Provitamins are inactive forms of vitamins which are converted into active vitamins in the body during metabolic processes.

Apart from adding color and taste to our meals, bell peppers are excellent source of Vit C and thefore they help against many infections. Besides, they are anti inflammatory meaning they reduce inflammation thus preventing and treating against arthritis, pain, chronic heart diseases. The active component of capsaicin improves blood circulation and therefore reduces blood pressure. Amongst the many uses of bell peppers, Cayenne – hot chilli flakes are favourite among the masses. If you are suffering from acidity, make sure you de-seed them before consumption.Below is a quick low cal, nutrient dense recipe to enjoy capsicum as a whole

Stuffed Bell Peppers

ingredients:
3 medium size bell peppers ( choose one of each color )
1 big size potato, boiled and smashed
1 small cup boiled corn ( sweet or regular)
2 tbsp of low fat paneer
1 tbsp of amchoor/ dry mango powder
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp of asafoetida
1/2 tsp garam masala/ pav bhaji masala
salt to taste
lemon juice to taste

method:
1) wash and scoop the bell peppers from the top. empty the white seeds. do not throw away the scooped head.
2) mix all the above ingredients well and stuff into the hollow peppers
3) close the opening with the scooped head
4) either you can cook them in the oven in a bowl with closed lid( but not tight packed) for 6 – 8 mins ( depending on your oven) or steam in oven for 5 min and cut them into half and pan fry with olive oil

This can be used as a side dish with rice and curry.

The weekend madness

Two days in a week that we all yearn for SATURDAY and SUNDAY! Whether you like to be a part of the weekend rush, clubbing, partying, travel, traffic, fooooodddd or you like to be at home, watching your favorite TV programs or may be sports or playing Taboo, ALCOHOL is an integral part of today’s generations’ weekends. I wont deny at times I too enjoy a bottle or two of beer with my friends. And just like all others I too suffer the silent side effects despite of the fact that I monitor my food habits through out the week. Yes, I suffer loose motions, sometimes tiredness, depressed next morning, may be mild headache and even dehydration.

Lets picture, the journey of alcohol into our body systems and how each of the organ socialize with it! To begin with, depending upon the type of alcohol like shooters or soothers, they enter with a sizzle down the throat reaching up to the hub called the stomach unlike beer who pretends to be the cooler one. Whether your are a first timer or a pro at it, you cannot escape this sizzling entry! From the stomach, the blood escort the alcohol to each organ whom I will refer to as gentlemen and guess what, all of them treat alcohol as an “alien”. They refuse to identify alcohol as a nutrient and therefore, all decide collectively that this alien has to go out! However, Mr Brain at this moment differs and instead, starts enjoying in the alien’s company.  You know, the alien kinda plays witchcraft over the brain! Since alcohol is treated as an alien, all the organs stop doing what they are meant to do like absorbing and digesting nutrients to produce energy and thus they now divert all their mechanisms in finding ways to break down the alcohol so that it can be eliminated from the body. In doing so, they hamper the regular body function and therefore the carbs, proteins and fats have to wait until their turn. This wait converts the major nutrients as fats in our body and thus this is why any alcohol simply makes you FAT. Being over weight and obese has a whole lot of other side effects. Poor little vitamins and minerals, who are now futile in the absence of carbs, proteins and fats that they have no choice but to leave the body along with the alcohol. The estimated time  to get this alien out of the body is variable depending on your metabolic rate, frequency of drinking, total duration of your drinking session, volume of drinks and even your gender. On an average it takes about 1 – 1.5 hours for 1 bottle of beer to be flushed out of your system. Many a times, this alien enters with others like fries, jalapeño poppers, popcorn; nuts etc that only causes further load to the body. And yes the brainy Mr. Brain realizes next morning that he was possessed!!!Until the systems regain their functions, guess what.. Its about to be a weekend again and the cycle continues.

Unlike smoking, in my opinion alcohol effects can be reversed or managed to least destruction in the body with the help of WATER and knowledge about alcohol drinking. Effects of alcohol also depend on the climatic situations. For example, in a deserted land, if I choose to drink wine, it is advisable to opt for white instead of red because red wine is considered to be a dry drink. It gets you more dehydrated than any other drink in hot weather. Ensure you change the source of your poppers while drinking. Change from fries to fresh cucumber and carrot sticks or may be grilled potatoes. The psychology behind poppers is when you are drinking, a different texture like crispy is more desirable than any other. Lastly develop a habit a dilute the alcohol when you are about to finish the session. This will help the organs to flush out the alcohol at a much faster rate. Next morning ensure to drink enough water to fasten the detox process. As young educated adults, it is in our favor to be fully aware of the side effects of consuming alcohol. My Plate does not have any allowance to alcohol. Not even in cravings. However, my plate can be designed to detoxify and rejuvenate to your needs. Alcohol is harmful when it is more than once a week and one more every week than the previous week.

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