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Delicious Yet Nutritious

November 20, 2016

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I get a lot of queries about diet and food.  Since holistic health is largely about diet and exercise, I make it a point to attend as many sessions as I can to gain insight into different food trends and beliefs.  Your diet, like your style of clothing, has to be something that you are comfortable with and that works for you.  Food trends that may work for others may not be suitable for your body chemistry.  A diet which is convenient for others may not be convenient for you at all.  For this reason, I feel we should all be very mindful about our diets, and also willing to experiment.  Beliefs that we’ve been holding on to for years may not hold good for us.  Alternatively, things that we think are not true and ‘don’t work’ may actually show results!

Growing up around the world at a time when Indian food wasn’t easily accessible ensuredimg-20161114-wa0000.jpg that I’m a simple and unfussy eater.  I did have my quirks (like all kids).  For instance, for some reason I couldn’t stand tomatoes in any sabjis and dals and would always fish them out of my food!  However, living all over the world ensured great gastronomical delights such as candy apples in the famous carnivals of Brazil, khubz and fasulia in the by lanes of Yemen and mishti doi in the mangroves of Bangaldesh knowns as the Shundarbans.  Food is a big part of culture and to this day I enjoy sampling local flavors and cuisine.

Rekha Diwekar is a proponent of local food.  Her talk was aptly titled ‘Delicious Yet Nutritious’.  She wanted to dispel the myth that food has to be tasteless and bland in order to be nutritious. Her contention is that it is possible to remain fit and healthy by eating clean and local produce.

Below are some points from her talk:

  1. Your food is responsible for producing the digestive enzymes that will extract the nutrients that you body can use.  The process of digestion starts from the moment 20161115_122609.jpgyou see and smell the food and start to salivate  in anticipation of the delicious food.  Tasteless food creates no enzymes and therefore digestion doesn’t happen optimally.
  2. The process of aging occurs when the number of cells that are regenerated and renewed in your body are less than that number of cells that die.  This process starts at the age of 25.  In other words, you start to age at 25.
  3. We eat food, food eats us too.  Any food that doesn’t nourish you is eating you up from the inside.
  4. One of the main factors you need to keep in mind when choosing is the food miles.  The more local your food, the less it has travelled with artificial preservatives to  keep it fresh for longer.
  5. The food you choose should be traditional and seasonal.
  6. The best way to decided whether you should eat a particular food is to ask yourself two questions about the food: Can I eat this food repeatedly for 15 days.  For instance, panipuri is tasty and it makes you salivate, but in all honesty, can you eat it for 15 days straight with the same zeal and gusto?  Probably not.  The next question to ask your self is whether you feel light and energetic.  If you feel heavy and sleepy post lunch, it would be a good idea to analyse what you are consuming for lunch.  According to Rekha Diwekar, just like some clothes look better on the mannequin, some foods look better in the shop and should stay in the shop and not in our tummies.
  7. Rice is a superfood.  It is a popular myth that diabetics shouldn’t have rice because of the sugar content.  The sugar found in rice is different from actual white sugar.  Plain and simple sugars like glucose and cane sugar have a chemical formula.  They go into your system and react.  Rice has no chemical formula, so what happens to it once it enters your system is different from what happens when you eat sugar.  Rice is an anti allergen so its great for gluten intolerant people.  Also, rice contains Lysine which is the precursor to the Human Growth Hormone (HGH).  The reason you start to age at 25 is because the  HGH production decreases.
  8. Eating rice at night is a great option because rice is easily digested and you end uppomelo_20161115102745_save.jpg feeling light and fresh in the morning.  Although rice has a high GI (glycemic index), when mixed with something (such as curd or dal) the GI becomes low and rice becomes a superfood.  Single polished rice is recommended.
  9. The vitamin deficiencies that have become omnipresent now can be linked to the absence of healthy fats in our current diets.  Vitamins A D E and K are fat soluble.  So you need good quality fats to dissolve them.  Good fats are composed of SCFA – Short Chain Fatty Acids.  When we sit in the sun hoping to combat our Vit D deficiency, we need to also understand that the process of conversion from D2 to D3 will only happen in the presence of good fats.  Ghee is a good fat.  Traditionally we make gajar ka halwa during the winters.  When made with ghee, this combination contains good fats and Vit A.  Also, traditionally women are asked to eat a lot of ‘fattening’ food when they are pregnant.  This usually consists of ghee laden ladoos and panjiri.  During pregnancy your Thyroid has to work overtime and the healthy fats from these goodies ensure that your Vit D levels stay normal.
  10. Another source of good fat is coconut.  Coconuts contain MCFA – Medium Chain Fatty Acids and MCTs – Medium Chain Triglycerides.  Both these are responsible for your physical stamina and mental peace.  Coconut water helps in treating vaginal infections and muscle cramps as well.
  11. Many people I know (and I have to admit I’m guilty of this too) don’t have the coconut chutney with their idlis and dosas.  But the combination of the idli/dosa and chutney is optimal.
  12. Avoid LCFA – Low Chain Fatty Acids.T hese are found in biscuits, fried street food, bakery products and cakes.
  13. When cooking with oil, just use the oil once.  At high temperatures oil becomes rancid and not nutritious for you.
  14. Have local filtered oils.  In the south these would include peanut and coconut oils and in the north this would be mustard oil.  Seed oils are the best oils.
  15. When it comes to Indian food, you will get the most of the nutrients only by following combinations should be followed:
    • cereal + pulses (eg. dal chawal)
    • cereal + milk products (eg. kheer, curd rice)
    • milk + pulses (eg. kadi chawal)
  16. Another food label that we should become aware of is GRAS – Generally Regarded as Safe.  A lot of processed foods contain this label and it is misleading.
  17. The food plan for a typical day would be:
    • Wake up and drink water.
    • Have some fruits/dry fruits.
    • Tea
    • Breakfast
    • Mid morning snack: Fruit/Coconut/Sherbet
    • Lunch
    • Mid afternoon snack: Fruit
    • Another snack
    • Light dinner
  18. Eating a food for a particular nutrient (fiber, protein etc.) is impossible.  Food and our bodies have a complex chemistry and it is impossible to reduce the process of digestion and assimilation to a single nutrient found in a particular food.
  19. For those who are allergic to gluten, millets are a great idea.  Gluten is a non nutrient, so it is OK to eliminate it from your diet.  However, elimination of any food groups should only happen if you are allergic to that particular food.
  20. Sources of good fat: coconuts, nuts, filtered oils, and homemade butter.
  21. All sources of fructose have low GI.  So all fruits have low GI and are easy to metabolise by your body.
  22. Too much fibre isn’t good for you.
  23. Many of us rue our hunger.  However, hunger is a sign of youth.  A growing body feels hungry.  So revel in your hunger because it shows you that you are young and healthy.

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Lifestyle Recipes

Being Enlightened by Rujuta Diwekar

December 20, 2015

20151219_130154[1]For the last one week or so my friend Geetanjali and I have been excited about the Rujuta Talk that was held yesterday at Sadhu Vaswani Mission’s Little Lamps Pre School.  The excitement was palpable at the venue.  The seats up front were already taken and the camera people were ready.  The best thing about Rujuta’s ideas and beliefs about food is that she preaches a holistic approach to food.  There is nothing fitness fad-ish about what her advice, and her diet guidelines are ‘accessible’ for the masses.  With this in mind I went prepared with pen and paper.

Rujuta’s talk focused on overall family wellness.  So she spoke a lot about children.  There was a Q&A afterwards, where enthusiastic fans needed answers  to all their questions.  I tried my best to note down as much as I could.  Here are my notes:

EXERCISE

  1. 90 minutes of exercise a day is recommended for children.
  2. 150 minutes a week for adults.  Rujuta recommends that you have three sessions a week: weight training, yoga and cardio.  According to Rujuta, men develop a paunch when they lose strength and muscle in their lower body.  Womens’ hips grow wider.  Weight training is an excellent solution for the paunches and the wide hips of this  world.
  3. For every 30 minutes you sit, stand for 3 minutes.  (I’ve already started this by setting an alarm on my phone.)
  4. Diabesity = diabetes + obesity.
  5. Exercise 3 days a week AT A FIXED TIME.  (I believe this has a lot to do with discipline.  In my experience people who don’t pencil their workouts into their calendars are the ones who do them ‘later.’)

SLEEP

  1.  Don’t look at anything that emits light an hour before you sleep.  An important point she made is that fitness bands (the current fad) also emit light and fall under this rule.  So bands that are supposed to measure the quality of your sleep are actually promoting bad quality of sleep.  In her irreverent manner Rujuta said that if you want to know how well you slept then look at the person sleeping next to you.  If you haven’t tossed and turned and snored the entire night, then they would be sleeping peacefully, and that’s a more accurate measure of the quality of your sleep.  (I would like to point out that you maybe have tossed and turned for reasons agreeable to both of you…)
  2. Body chemistry and biology is determined by the HPT axis – Hypothalamus Pituitary Thyroid. (These actually correspond to chakras!)
  3. The HGH (Human Growth Hormone).  With the decreases of HGH there is a also a decrease in muscle tissue and a corresponding increase in fat stores.  And lack of sleep contributes immensely to the decrease of HGH.  (The lack of quality sleep is perhaps what is causing the increase in childhood obesity?)
  4. HGH also decreases with age, which is why you gain weight as you age.  This is why it’s imperative that you continue to workout as you age.

FOOD

  1. Always have breakfast.  Your breakfast should be hot and homemade.  Never have anything that comes out of a packet such as oats and cereals and tetra pack milk (!).
  2. Have your husband cook twice a week  Here Rujuta made a point that resonated very strongly the feminist in me.  She said that most of us have grandfathers who can cook.  Some of us have dads who can cook.  But none of us have husbands who can cook.  In fact our husbands may not even know how much sugar we take in our tea!  To be empowered doesn’t mean to only go out and earn a living and draw a fat paycheck.  Empowerment also has a great deal to do with how much equality exists in the home.
  3. Don’t count the composition of your food (calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat etc.)
  4. Coconuts have no cholesterol.
  5. Cashews have no cholesterol.  If you have high levels of blood sugar you should have cashews.
  6. The USDA has revised it’s guidelines in April 2015 to state that there is no link between cholesterol consumption and heart disease.
  7. Learn food systems and not food groups.
  8. Have a banana on your way to the airport and not a Subway sandwich.
  9. Are you bloated when you wake up?  Do you crave for coffee/tea post a meal?  Are you constipated?  Fear no more!  Just have a banana.  Bananas contain prebiotics, they help in fat burn and they are rich in fiber.  Prebiotics provide the infrastructure for all the millions of good bacteria to flourish in your gut.  These are as important as probiotics.
  10. Great breakfast option:  Roti + banana + sugar
  11. Great fruits with a meal: bananas, jackfruit and mangoes.
  12. “Banana zaroor khana.”
  13. Ghee helps in post pregnancy weight loss.
  14. Make your ghee from milk.  Do NOT use your mixer because the heat from the centrifugal force kills the important fatty acid bonds in the ghee.
  15. Ghee has prebiotics.
  16. Ghee reduces the GI (Glycemic Index) of food.
  17. Have single polished and hand pounded rice.  Rice has lycene, an amino acid which is linked to HGH.  HGH is at it’s peak in the night so if you have rice in the night, you give your HGH a boost.
  18. Raagi is high in calcium, gluten free and high in fiber.  It is a complete non allergen and it’s great for bones.  In an age when everyone seems to be deficient in Vitamin D – Raagi is the solution because it helps in retaining it!
  19. Sugarcane detoxes and cleanses your system.  (It’s cold pressed!  Rujuta exclaimed mirthfully.)  If you have sugarcane juice in the winter, you can prevent all the seasonal issues that come along with the onset of winters.
  20. Jaggery – another form of sugarcane!  It contains glycolic acid which prevents wrinkles and it keeps your collagen intact.  (Personally I’d rather eat wholesome food containing glycolic acid than slathering on chemical formulae on my face.)

Post the session everyone gathered around Rujuta to ask her questions, take pictures and have her sign their books.  I also took a book along but was dissuaded to go up to her by the throng of people around her.  However, Geetanjali whipped out her phone and egged me on.  And when I finally managed to get up to Rujuta and told her that I’ve taken notes and is it OK if I put it up on the blog, she said yes! of  course and what blog is it that I write for?  I told her that I have a blog called yogawithpragya and Geetanjali captured this moment:

 

Rujuta says she’s read my blog!!!! OMG!!!! Rujuta Diwekar has visited my blog (happy dance)!!!!  That explains this expression:

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All in all it was an awesome morning.  Rujuta is an engaging and intelligent speaker.  She seamlessly links grandmother’s food wisdom to solutions to modern day environmental issues such as global warming.  She talks about cooking and women’s empowerment.  She talks about the transience of food fads.  And she reads the newspapers and this blog! 🙂

Lifestyle Recipes

Vegan For a Day

September 3, 2015

I got invited to a full day workshop about veganism this past weekend.  We were invited for a detailed talk about what it is and why it’s good for us.  We were going to be treated with a vegan breakfast, lunch and snack.  And we were surprised with a goodie bag at the end of the session to enable us to continue on our Vegan journey without a stop.  The session was quite intense, but there were a few things that stood out and they made sense to me as well.  What I’m trying to say is that it wasn’t all mumbo jumbo.  Some of the ideas were logical.  And I’m going to try a few of the things they spoke about.  And in no particular order these principles were:

  1. Eat a whole plant based diet.  Vegetarian food is high in fibre.  Not only is animal based food high in fat, it is high in cholesterol as well.  Because only animals produce cholesterol.  So effectively cholesterol is a hormone made by animals.  And ghee happens to be 100% fat.
  2. Good sources of fat are nuts and seeds.
  3. Meat and milk are equal.  Both contain hormones, antibiotics and pesticides.  On top of this milk contains IGF – Insulin-like Growth Factor.
  4. It is a common misconception that we are a milk drinking nation.  We are consuming more milk now than ever before.  Historically in India, people used to have one cow and not feed it hormones to give more milk.  The milk that humans would consume would be the one left over after the calf had finished nursing.  So that would be very less, not gallons upon gallons that we consume today.  Krishna was stealing other people’s milk products because he wasn’t drowning in milk and ghee himself.  Even though he was quite wealthy and had no reason to steal anything.
  5. The body gets enough protein on a whole plant based diet.  Think about it, very few people report protein deficiency.
  6. Plants are better sources for Calcium than milk.  Only 30% of the calcium in milk is assimilated.  And anyways, you need Vitamin D to absorb Calcium into your bones.  So having only milk doesn’t mean that you will assimilate all the calcium in the milk.  What you should do is ensure that you have adequate Vitamin D so that all the calcium you provide to your body is assimilated.
  7. Eat whole foods because refined foods lose a lot of nutrients.
  8. Replace animal milk with soy, rice, almond peanut etc milk. (Basically plant based alternatives.)  Sesame seeds have more calcium than milk.
  9. Say no to sugar.  Have dates and raisins instead.  Fruits have plenty of natural sugars.  And jaggery and honey not allowed because they aren’t whole.
  10. Replace plain butter with peanut butter, cashew butter, sesame butter or almond butter.
  11. Replace paneer with tofu.
  12. Don’t have curd made of animal milk.  Make your curd out of soya, peanut milk etc.
  13. No meat.
  14. Replace white rice with unpolished rice.
  15. Replace maida with atta, jowar, bajra, nachni etc.
  16. White salt with Himalayan salt, rock salt or sea salt.
  17. Don’t fry your food because vegans don’t use oil.
  18. Have smoothies for breakfast.  So blend bananas, coriander and mint and have that for breakfast.
  19. Avoid tea/coffee because the increase blood sugar and stress.
  20. People tend to say that sugar causes diabetes, but it’s actually fat that causes diabetes.  so avoid fat in your diet.  The technique to eliminate fat is to eliminate all refined fats.  Refined fats are those without fibre.  Animal products don’t have fibre.  But coconuts do, so coconut fats are good.  After a fatty meal your blood thickens and fat cells get deposited in the arteries.  If you remove the fat, your blood will start flowing again.  Meat has free radicals which can damage the inner lining of muscles.  Plants on the other hand contain anti oxidants.
  21. People think that Diabetes and Hypertension are hereditary, but that’s false.  Both these conditions are lifestyle related and directly related to your diet.
  22. Honey and Jaggery are not ok.  Both are not whole.  However, you can eat sugar cane is good because it’s whole and unrefined and natural.
  23. Cheese is 70% fat.  Cheese is like Vaseline.  Your system can’t ingest cheese, it can’t ingest Vaseline.
  24. Have only 10 nuts a day.  However, peanuts are not nuts.  They are legumes.  So you can have more than 10 a day.
  25. Whole foods have complex carbs.  They take longer to digest and keep you full longer.  Hence you end up eating less.  Refined foods have simple carbs.  They digest immediately and you want to eat more.
  26. Don’t have two grains in one meal.  So don’t have rice and roti together.
  27. Broccoli has more protein than steak.  Excess protein causes osteoporosis and kidney disease.

So the two things you should ask yourself if you want to aim to eat vegan is whether what you are eating is plant based, and whether it is whole.

Lifestyle Recipes Yoga

How Things Change

March 13, 2015

20150313_160417[1]I’ve been lazing around a lot lately.  Most days the only workout I get is a brisk hour long walk in the mornings.  And the speed also depends on whether we have burning IMG-20150312-WA0024[1]issues to discuss or whether the topic of conversation is lukewarm.  The most memorable walk so far was the walk where we where our pace and the conversation was so invigorating that we realized we’d walked all the way to the supermarket (a considerable distance), and ended up picking up some things we needed.  Then we had coffee and walked back home.

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking as well.  My mousse au chocolat was a disaster.  But20150309_144747[1] my cupcakes were quite good!  I’ve been exploring the food options here and being vigilant about my food choices as well.  This doesn’t mean that I’m denying myself or following some kind of diet (those who know me know that I don’t diet).  What it means is that I’m listening to my cravings because cravings are a great way for you to understand what your body lacks.  And when you are travelling then you need to be extra vigilant because the weather changes, the food changes, your mind set changes and your days change!

So here are a few observations which I found interesting:

  • While my parents have their morning tea before our marathon walks, I prefer to 20150302_142606[1]down a couple of glasses of room temperature water.
  • I rarely feel like having a large dinner.  So usually I’ll have a bowl of home made soup.  And this is usually related to my level of activity.  So on Thursdays I’ll come home at 10 pm and eat after an intense AcroYoga session.  And I choose to eat after rather than before the session.
  • In the evenings I tend to reach for a fruit or juice or green tea rather than the chai my parents drink.

In India I remember I used to guzzle down loads and loads of water throughout the day.  I used to feel hungry more frequently and ate much much more.  However, even with this change, I still feel like I have loads of energy.

Do you also experience similar changes in terms of diet/cravings when on vacation?

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Lifestyle Recipes Yoga

3 Lessons Acro Yoga Taught Me About Life

February 21, 2015

Every Thursday this month I would catch a bus to a rather far away part of town to meet a group of about 10 people for a session of Acro Yoga.  The group consists of former yogis, graphic designers, sound artists, an acrobat…all coming together…for different reasons.  I would say its for our shared love of yoga, but there are many in the group who don’t practice yoga in the conventional sense.  But I digress.   You see, I wanted to use this vacation to explore and expand my personal practice.  So I decided to explore the yoga scene in Den Haag.  You can watch what I feel about Bikram Yoga here.

I’m actually enjoying the Acro Yoga meetings.  The first thing I noticed was that everyone was at different stages of flexibility and physical fitness.  We were all different as people as well.  Some were students, some were senior citizens etc.  However, all of us had to learn to adapt with each other and work together.  We did not choose our partners on the basis of skill or ability or weight.  In fact, we didn’t choose partners, we randomly divided ourselves into teams and made the most of it.  Lesson #1:  In life you don’t get to choose the cards you’re dealt.  But you can choose to make the most of the cards.

Next I noticed that regardless of how much you could balance or how strong you yourself are, you would only be able to do the poses only if the other person would also cooperate.  So me having strong legs doesn’t necessarily mean that the person I would push up would stay up.  Staying up would require the other person to understand the mechanics of the posture and trust you enough to relax into the pose.  Lesson #2:  In life you need to do your best and hope that your teammates also do their best.  That’s the winning formula.

And perhaps the most important lesson I learned is about balance.  Sthiram sukham asanam is the first Yoga Sutra I learned but I’ve finally understood it.  Patanjali basically says that a posture is a yogasana only when you find stability and peace in it.  In Acro Yoga, the final posture is difficult to hold if you are tense.  Being tense makes it difficult for your partner as well.  There is a perceptible ease in a posture the moment both partners relax, and that’s when the posture becomes easy, stable and peaceful.  Lesson #3:  Relax in the present moment and circumstances.  Only then you will find balance.

I’m off for a while next week so I will miss my Acro Yoga classes.  But I will get back to them as soon as I can.

And yes, I highly recommend Acro Yoga!  Below are a few snapshots from our last class.

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It’s all about working together. John has many many years as an acrobat and without his cooperation I won’t be able to hold him up.

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One of the first moves we learned. I’m getting more and more comfortable in this pose, yet I still need to be prompted to try and get my body in a straight line.

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We always had ‘safeties’. Like Lex here, there should always be people around to catch you in case you fall.

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John could actually feel my comfort level in this pose. When I was comfortable, he would have an easier time doing his bit.

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I would wobble whenever I lost focus or became tense. And the safety was always there.

We became more adventurous:

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John and Lex showing us how its done.

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We cooled down with Iyengar moves!

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Lifestyle Recipes

Eat the Beet

February 19, 2015

20150218_135328[1]I posted a picture yesterday of a soup that I had at my mom’s friend’s house.  Everything she made was amazing.  Her ingredients were from the UK and the Netherlands, but the end products were Indian.  So, for instance, she made makki ki roti and sarson ka saag.  She had made dahi papdi and karela…and many many other things.  But I liked this soup best because it has beetroot and garlic.  The ingredients are easily available and loaded with nutrients.  And so easy to make.  Since most good cooks cook instinctively, she was unable to tell me the ratio or the quantity of the ingredients she used.  But here’s what she told me:

1.  Take some beets.  Grate them.

2.  Take some garlic.  Grate them.

You can modify the garlic to beet ratio depending upon how much you like the taste of garlic.

3.  Add lots of water and start to boil.  Boil until the garlic and beet are soft.  Add spices such as cinnamon and salt and black pepper.

4.  When you get the consistency you want then serve hot.

Let me know if you like it as much as I do!!!

Recipes

A Summer Drink

January 19, 2015

And now for the recipe of the drink my sister calls lemonade and which I’ve been imbibing by the bucket loads for the past couple of days.  It’s healthy, easy to make and refreshing.  So here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1.  Water (as many glasses as you want to drink)

2.  Sprigs of mint

3.  Ginger

4.  Loose tea

5.  Lemons (quantity depends on what kind of taste you want)

 

Method:

Grate some ginger into the water and bring to boil.  Add the tea leaves.  Allow to boil until you’re happy with the aroma.  I prefer strong tea.  Allow to cool.  Squeeze some lemons into a jug.  Put the mint in the jug too.  Strain your tea into the jug.  Add ice if you prefer the drink really cold.  Pour into a nice glass.  Drink.  Share with your friends.

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Recipes

Green Tea: Get the Most Out of a Cup

May 8, 2014
Daily dose of health.

Daily dose of health.

Finally, the rain Gods have heard us and sent down beautiful, calming and refreshing rain.  I have to admit that I’ve been missing my daily blend of south indian filter coffee for the past few days because it’s simply to hot to down it.  But today I brewed and enjoyed a cup.  However, I make it a point of not drinking coffee post 12 in the afternoon, which is when my go-to drink becomes Green Tea.  I had run out of Korakundah Green Tea (which I got hooked on while in Wellington), but a friend of mine went to Ooty on vacation and brought me back a box!  (I always say that people underestimate the power of thoughts.)

So how do I have my green tea?  With lemon, honey and cinnamon!  Turns out lemon brings out the antioxidants, which makes it easier for your body to access them.  The catechins (compounds present in green tea which have shown to help in reducing belly fat along with reducing the risk of many other diseases) are easily extracted by the body in the inceased acidic environment of the stomach which is provided by the lemon!  So add lemon to your green tea if you’re trying to lose stubborn belly fat and want every last bit of anti-oxidants from your tea leaves.

The goodness of honey goes beyond the taste.  Honey contains not only vitamins and minerals but also anti-oxidants.  And we’ve always been given honey for sore throats and colds (I mean, Dabur really didn’t have to come up with Honitis).  So a bit of honey is great for you, but having it every day standing in your kitchen with a spoon has a slightly ‘I’m taking medicine’ feel to it.  So just add it to your tea.  And if, like me, you’re using organic honey from Coorg, then your tea will extra good.

Cinnamon is a natural sweetner.  And adding it to your green tea helps in lowering cholestrol in your system, has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties (everything you need when the weather cools down a bit and your body naturally slows down).  I still have some cinnamon left over from the Nilgris :).

I love the way my view becomes so green and vibrant post the rains.

I love the way my view becomes so green and vibrant post the rains.

 

Recipes

The Joys of Fenugreek

January 20, 2014

I guess we’ve come a full circle in terms of appreciating the health benefits of traditional Indian cooking and spices.  From mindlessly eating spicy food, to eschewing spice in favor of bland food to the present when we know that moderation is the key.  Lately we’ve started re-discovering the numerous health benefits of the spices that we’ve been using and consuming for years.  One such spice is methi or fenugreek.  Below are five reasons why methi is good for you and why you should use it in your cooking:

  1. Women need a lot of iron during their period, pregnancy and while they breastfeed. Including methi in your diet ensures that your body constantly has a ready supply of iron.  Chop up methi leaves and use it to make paranthas or chapattis or just make aloo-methi sabji.  Make sure that you cook it using tomatoes or potatoes to enable iron absorption.  Many people have reported that the aches and pains in their joints diminished after regular consumption of methi seeds/leaves.
  2. Methi helps to reduce cholestrol levels so is great for weight management.
  3. The potassium content of methi counteracts the effects of sodium in your body which helps in stabilizing heart rate and blood pressure.  This can lower the risk of heart attacks.
  4. Methi is great for digestion.  It helps to flush out toxins from your system.  It’s great to cure indigestion and constipation.  Try this home remedy for smooth digestion: Leave some methi seeds overnight in a glass of water.  Drink the water the next morning.  Do this consistently for a week and notice the difference.
  5. Methi is great for skin and hair.  Try this:  Grind fresh methi leaves into a paste and use apply on your face.  Do this regularly and your skin will become more clear and supple.  Grind methi seeds and mix them in your mehendi (henna) paste.  This helps keep dandruff at bay and stops the thinning and falling of hair.

These are just a few of the numerous benefits of methi seeds.  If you incorporate methi in your diet, you’re bound to see many more benefits.

If you have any tips about how to use methi seeds, leave me a comment!

Recipes

Why You MUST Have Yogurt

October 30, 2013

In my morning class we’ve started a Health Tip Tuesdays where a student brings in a health tip every Tuesday.  Yesterday’s health tip was about yogurt but I found out new stuff about yogurt and wanted to share it with everyone.  A few of these facts are comonly known, others are not so well known.

1,  Yogurt promotes healthy bones.  It is loaded with Calcium and Vitamin D.  Both are essential in maintaining healthy bones.  Calcium helps in maintaining bone density and this helps in preventing osteoporosis.

2.  Yogurt is easy to digest than milk.  So people who are lactose intolerant can benefit from all the nutrients of this milk-based product.

3.  It contains good bacteria.  It has live and active culture of probiotics.  These ‘bugs’ live in your intestinal tracts and help remove micro organisms that can cause intestinal damage.  Probiotics help regulate digestion and strengthens the immune system.

4.  Yogurt helps in lowering high blood pressure.  It’s not only rich in Calcium but also in Vitamin K.  Vitamin K helps in lowering high blood pressure because it helps in flushing out Sodium.

5.  Yogurt is good for skin.  It gives you a clear and smooth complexion.  The lactic acid in curd acts as an exfoliator and helps get rid of dead skin cells.

6.  Yogurt boosts immunity.  The presence of probiotics helps in stimulating white blood cells which fight infection.

7.  It reduces the occurence of yeast infections.

8.  It reduces gut health.  Yogurt helps in relieving gastrointestinal conditions like lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrheoa, and bowel disease.

9.  Yogurt helps to lose weight.  The Calcium in it helps the body in utlizing the stored fats.  The fat around the waist produces cortisol, a stress hormone which tells your body to accumulate more fat.  The Calcium tells your fat cells to pump out less cortisol making it easier to lose fat.

10.  Yogurt helps keep the cold away.  People who consume 4 ounces every day don’t catch a cold that often.  They have active T cells which hlep in fighting the infection.  People who suffer from allergies  have low levels of T cells.

11.  Curd helps in easing migraines.

12.  Curd prevents wrinkles.

13.  If applied on hair it helps in treating dandruff and is an excellent conditioner for hair.

However, not all yogurt is equal.  Next time you go shopping for your yogurt read the labels.  Some things to keep in mind:

1.  Fruit yogurt has less Calcium as compared to plain yogurt because the sugar and fruit make up most of it.

2.  Yogurt is a high protein food.  Traditional yogurt has 5 grams of protein.  Greek yogurt has 20 grams.  Go for a yogurt that provides at least 10 grams of protein per serving.   Also your yogurt should have at least 20% calcium.  It should containt 20% vit D.  Sugar should be 20 grams or less.  The fat content should be 3.5 grams or less.