Being an Epicurean

As a Wellness Coach, I hear a lot of people telling me ,”Oh, but I looove food! “. This post is in response..

Three things:

  1. That is actually lust for food, not love.
  2. Try being an Epicurean, not a ” foodie “.
  3. How about loving your Self?

 

When we actually love food, we take care to enjoy every bite with gratitude, so we eat a bit slowly….kind of like taking our time with it. When we actually love food, we do not feel guilty about it. When we actually love food, we eat only what is best.

 

An Epicurean comes in with that last statement, eating nourishing and satisfying food. Not fretting over a strict diet. The best is what will do. The definition of best solely depends upon getting in touch with our bodies and knowing what food is doing it’s best for us. That is the opposite of killing ourselves slowly.

 

Here, is where the loving ourselves point comes in. That is like taking care of ourselves and every aspect of our being…including the physical. We listen to our body, each time it is hungry…or not. Feeling happy about feeding ourselves… till much after we finish feeding ourselves.

 

Your body recognises Real food...

Our love for food needs to stem from loving ourselves, our lives. That makes us peaceful and happy and these are the only two purposes I know for our lives, be it from any walk of life…anywhere on the planet.

Found this great real food poster on the net...

 

So, here is the practical guide to being an Epicurean:

  1. Before putting anything in your mouth, ask yourself, ” Does my body really need this?”. (Fake foods is not what the body recognises. Try to use a Real food option just to see what the body really needs.)
  2. Whatever be the answer, after putting it in your mouth, imagine the nourishment it is giving you. Remember, ALL foods have some nourishment.
  3. After you swallow it down, be grateful for the nourishment and allow joy to rise. What we think and feel while eating could be crucial to our health. I really feel Gratitude is the best replacement for greed and guilt.

 

Mindful eating gets one to being an Epicurean. Wishing you well..:-)

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Awareness and Food

Humans are usually on a ‘self destruct’ mode … Unless they bring in an element of Awareness. Non judgemental, pure, blissful in nature – Awareness. It is time to awaken.
Practical step:  Today, before you eat anything, ask yourself -” Do I really need this?”  Don’t let the intellectual mind answer this one. Let the body talk and you listen. 
Then, when you are better at this,  before you eat-let the question be -” Are these my best choices?” …..and remember – this one the body may be asking.
What do you find? Have you been eating out of habits? Have you been eating for your mind? Have you been eating to nourish your body? How much quantity you eat- have you let the body decide that or the mind ?Have you truly enjoyed what you ate? At what point did pleasure turn to pain, if it did? Were you able to satisfy the body when you were hungry? With high nutrition food?
Don’t worry. Take each day as it comes. Be happy that you are bringing Awareness in….:-)
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Healthy Eating Vs Practical Life

Mostly everyone knows what is healthy eating and what is not. They are well aware of the basic differences in good healthy foods and fat inducing food. Maybe a few details are missing but in general there is almost an information overload.

While it is nice to know that multi grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats are the way to go, living a life of rushing to work, stressful family conditions, going out for parties, sleeping late etc do create a sense of imbalance theoretically and practically.What one gets in return is guilt , stress and a host of acute and chronic diseases.
The single biggest factor in reigning in bad eating habits is probably planning. Once we can find time to sit and note down what all we eat and what all we ‘should’ eat, we can come up with what we ‘could’ eat – and how. Secondly, there is no need to rush.One or two habits per a couple of weeks is good enough to tackle. Healthy habits may be formed one after the other by taking one simple step at a time for eg. of maybe just drinking more water everyday till a couple of weeks- till it becomes a habit. Substituting foods like red meats and white breads with lean meats and multi grains can be the next small step….and so it can go on. Tweaking food habits to perfection can take years and yet can have more room for improvement. There are many things to learn and unlearn along the way.
The one thing to remember, which I never forget, with food is to ‘never say never’- it means that in case there is a slip up, it is not the end of the world and it is not fair to be harsh on oneself. Finally all food is good. Just not everyday. So get up, brush yourself and walk on the healthy eating path from the next meal onwards or simply as quickly as you realize.
We owe it to our health. A fit body may not necessarily be healthy. That usually comes from how we think and what we eat. It may be great to laugh over such fuss but for some its a question of life and death. Lest we forget, healthy eating can also mean tasty and delicious food.
Writing down one’s obstacles in the journey of health is also a good next option. For eg. ‘no time in the mornings’ can be tackled with ‘ preparing a wrap in the night ‘ or ‘ fruit smoothies for all in the mornings’. Waking up and going about your day without eating is probably the biggest illogical step one can take. That is because high activity levels demand higher food consumptions to be able to jumpstart the metabolic fire engine in the bodies. Somehow a lot of us are simply ‘jump’ starting….with a cup of coffee or tea. Chomping on comfort foods at low activity times such as evening tv time is hardly a way to good health, physical or mental. Other obstacles like ‘Busy at work’ ,’no time to cook or pack’, ‘ pressure from peers ‘ etc are all common excuses which , believe it or not, all have solutions. Simple solutions, if I may add. Many a times ,that is an opportunity to explore raw foods, nuts and fruits. Paying a nutritionist for meal plans is only worthwhile if he/she keeps in mind your likes/dislikes, your specific regional diet, timings and obstacles. Crossing over one hurdle a time is all it takes. Keep in mind -the finish line starts already at 80-90% clean eating.
A good excuse is usually when we don’t give much importance to what we want and are not really at the threshold to cross over. If that be the case, it’s a waste of time and energy to complain.

Health comes first.

 

It’s good to know what is good or bad , but unless we act upon it, its just a useless bit of information for a great guilt trip. Eating well and eating with gratitude is a choice that we need to take whenever we are ready because it is never too late for self improvement. Evolving oneself through time is an emotionally healing process as well. It is good to be uncomplicated and untangled before we start to feel connected to our Source. On the other hand, keeping track of one’s improvement in energy levels, guilt and gratitude meters and ailments, if any, are good accountability procedures to adopt to measure the success of a healthier lifestyle. The journey is definitely gratifying and there is much to learn on this journey. One will be surprised at how that learning is external in nature as well as internal. Self evolvement or improvement is a lifelong procedure, but first comes health.

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Herbal Teas

With the winters approaching, warm liquids are quite welcome and what better than to have herbal teas at this time. Herbal teas are not really teas but basically infusions of certain spices or herbs in boiled water. To extract the full flavour of a spice, one needs to boil it in water for a few minutes. Then, just strain and sip.

Herbal infusion or tea

The health benefits of spices and herbs range from anti oxidants, reducing inflammation, pain relief, lowering blood sugar levels to even certain analgesic and antiseptic properties etc. The various types of spices and herbs that can be used are cinnamon, basil, cumin, ginger, cardamom, fennel, fenugreek, turmeric, cloves, etc. A good herbal tea can be made with just one of these or a combination of two or more spices. Combinations like ginger, turmeric go well with lemon. Cinnamon and cloves go great together… various combinations based on one’s palette can be made and enjoyed at any time of the day.There is no fear of an addiction or low mineral absorption from food as is feared from teas or coffees. Have it before or after a meal, it really doesn’t matter. How liberating is that? But having said that, I do want to warn about the effects of certain herbal teas especially mint teas on hormone levels if had very regularly. While nature is good it can also be dangerous. So before starting out on a particular tea on a regular basis its a good idea to get aware of its health effects through a nutritionist or maybe even a book on natural herbal remedies. This is a must especially for pregnant women.
Holy basil tea is one of the most warm tasting lovely tea and every spice has a distinct flavour which can be chosen for its exclusive taste. Pairing up a health condition like cold/flu with ginger and turmeric tea with lemon or high uric acid levels with a cinnamon tea is an intelligent choice ( again with permission from a practising nutritionist/dietician).
Personally, I have been drinking herbal teas on and off, sometimes just cinnamon, sometimes fenugreek or holy basil. But for any health condition -I have found the ginger,turmeric tea with lemon as most effective to fight off these conditions. Its like a homemade power dose remedy concoction for any and every ailment. I make it with half an inch cube of ginger and half a tsp of turmeric boiled thoroughly for 3-5 minutes in water, strain and then add a little lemon juice. It tastes quite good actually and in case someone needs to add some sweetness to it, i would recommend honey.
Depending on tea or coffee everyday is definitely an addiction and that can’t be a good thing. Water is the first beverage of choice for an everyday drink. Intersperse it with herbal teas or have it with lemon or mint ( see post on “How do you drink your water“), and then maybe an occasional tea or coffee. Yes, even more rare can be that glass of red wine( read post ‘Alcohol‘). So my recipe for health is never say never to food and drink and yet maintain an everyday discipline. But if you think that your discipline goes for a toss with this ideal and going cold turkey on unhealthful drinks is the only way for you, then so be it. Meanwhile , enjoy the coming winter and herbal teas!

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Eating fresh foods

Eating foods in season is a start to eating fresh. When we make foods in small quantities so they only last for one meal , it ensures optimum health and nutrition.

In today’s hectic and overstressed lifestyles especially in warmer climates, if we get organized and cook only one day out of a week and save it all in the refrigerator to be eaten for the rest of the week , we tend to lose out on various nutrients and end up eating stale food although it may not look so stale. It’s like juicing at home vs juice tetrapacks bought from the markets. I am yet to see anyone who does not show chronic signs of ill health due to such a negligence. Its almost normal these days to have an under or over active thyroid, PCOD( for women), high amounts of uric acid, constipation,bloating etc etc.

If we relish great taste and good health, it make a lot of sense to familiarize ourselves with quick and easy recipes and eat freshly made meals. There are various resources out there which teach about 7-10 minute dinners, quick breakfast smoothies and quick lunch salads with the right amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates. The trick is to make everything at home and fresh. In case our lifestyles do not permit us to cook and eat fresh, we must take care to do it as much as possible . Even restaurants re-chaufe certain dishes which are cleverly disguised.
A meal is grand not for its size but for its freshness and nutrient density. So a good idea is to take a second look at really what are we cooking or preparing that is taking so much time. Fruits, vegetables, leafy vegetables are great to have more in their raw or crunchy state than cooked on high temperatures. Multi grains, meats ,lentils can be pre-prepared but not fully cooked and heated and reheated. Dry fruits need no preparation and are best eaten unsalted and uncooked. Foods retain moisture and nutrition in the right balance for an optimally healthy body and anytime that we prepare and hold more than even an hour, certain foods lose what it takes to nourish us best.
All the professional photographs of food revolve around the human character of savoring fresh, wholesome, colorful and hot( depending on the dish) foods. Getting such foods in reality would keep all health parameters in check. Most of us know all the facts about food, want to also eat healthy but don’t know how. So, here is one pointer- eat fresh!

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Party Menus

It is the party season and more often than not we do get caught up in the rut of things to actually consider all the elements of a successful , nourishing party menu where people feel happy, light and energetic afterwards rather than run down, lethargic and almost sick.

The menu would depend on the occasion -that is the time of day, event, number of people, cuisine selected, location(indoor/outdoor) and the set of people attending ( old/ young /special diet etc). For more specifics one must ensure the various colours that is green, red , white , yellow and dark brown to be on the buffet. Snacks need to be finger based for most part but some sit downs may need heavy snacks with side plates for each individual. The buffet needs to be decorative with side dishes/accompaniments, salads (and yoghurt for Indian buffets), and breads. The main dishes should have texture in the form of rice, curries/sauces and dry dishes as well. A green dish needs to be almost mandatory apart from a green in the salad for eg. a spinach cannelloni/green okra etc and a great emphasis on green garnishes like parsley or coriander. This totally completes a buffet correctly. A blend of spices and the right balance of flavors contribute to a successful buffet. For eg. in an indian buffet if there are two curry dishes like a dal and a paneer gravy , then a dry crispy texture like kurmuri bhindi complements it well. In continental fare, a dry roast lamb is well complemented with a tangy wet side of beetroot and vegetables or even a jus. All gravies and sauces should be reduced and not flowy unless provided for with bowls. Salads need not be incapacitated with heavy dressings. Ideally dressings should be on the side. Too much sugar or salt in dishes is avoidable for the sake of health. An excellent chef is not dependant on butter, oil, salt or sugar to produce ‘A’ class dishes.

Eye appeal

Ideally, it also makes sense to tag the dishes displayed on a buffet or served around. Playing around with some fun tag ideas and decorations ( I personally prefer which are edible) adds to the party aesthetics.

Finger foods for standing buffets

Below are a couple of samples of an ideal party menu which include a balance of nutrition, texture, flavors and colours:
Occasion : Birthday-16 yr old, no. of pax : 40, location : residence, time : 7.00 pm, cuisine : continental.

Snacks :
Fruit puffs ( savory)
savory canapés -ham/cheese(parsley garnish) and cottage cheese/spinach canapés( cherry tomato slice garnish )
Buttered popcorn
Grilled Button mushrooms ( garnish with celery)

Dinner :
Spinach Cannelloni
Roast leg of lamb
Carrot Vichy with peas
Baked potatoes with tomato and cheese
Pineapple salad with smoked chicken

Dessert :
Birthday cake- fruit gateau
Chocolate chip sundae with strawberries

An Indian sampler:
Occasion : Get- together with friends, no. of pax : 40, location : residence, time : 7.00 pm, cuisine : Indian.

Snacks:
Tandoori Mushrooms( these days we get excellent gas/electric tandoors as well )
Tandoori Achari aloo ( with tandoori capsicum and tomatoes)
Murg tikka( garnished with lemon and coriander)
Mutton Seekh kebab

Dinner:
Kadhai Paneer( with red and green bell pepper)
Gosht roganjosh
Dal tarka ( yellow)
Kurmuri bhindi
Pudina raita
Green salad ( with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots…garnished with beetroot and green chilli)

Dessert:
Shahi Tukda
Pista Kulfi

Hope this Diwali season brings out the most creative and epicurean side of you all….! Happy Diwali!

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” I’ll just have a salad “

You may have heard that sometimes paving way for the belief that salads are meant for the super thin and people who just don’t know how to enjoy life!
Normally it is perceived to be not very satisfying and usually part of an extreme diet. So not true. If all the components of a salad are considered into making it, it is not only fully satisfying but is also a powerhouse of nourishment. Fruits and vegetables are not only calorie weak and nutrient dense but are considered to have major health benefits and have anti cancer properties. A refreshing salad can be a side to a main dish or even a complete meal by itself.

When planning a salad,the colours need to be a definite first based on which the nutrition comes in. Not all greens need to be leafy although they greatly enhance the texture. A protein source is also quite essential esp. if pursuing resistance training. Good sources being meats,low fat cheese such as mozzarella, feta , cottage cheese and legumes, pulses and beans. Added texture with nuts increases the protein and fat percentage of the salad. Adding a healthy fat source ( like nuts, avocado, e.v olive oil, olives, cheese, eggs, tuna etc) increases our chance of better absorption of nutrition from all other food sources in the salad.

Simple and nourishing

Some simple examples of a nourishing salad based on the above components are :
1. Pomegranate, cucumber and cottage cheese
2. Corn, tomato, lettuce with feta cheese and pistachios with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
3. Totally green salad: small cut green capsicum, cucumber,green olives and lettuce . Garnish with Gouda flakes. You can add pesto as a dressing with kiwis or avocado.
4. Totally red: Romaine( red) leaves, small cut beetroot, tomatoes garnished with some pomegranate. Add lemon juice.
5. Boiled potato, pineapple, sprouts bound with hung yoghurt and a dash of rock salt.
6. Fruit salad: Cut apple, banana slices, grapes,peaches with lemon and cinnamon powder.

Creativity juices get flowing when planning a nutritious and yummy salad with all the right textures, flavors and nutrient combinations. Salads can be fun and add an immunity boosting characteristic to our food intake especially when had as complete meals. But even so, a simple salad of at least 3 vegetables is quite a must at every meal to add fibre and balance out the nutrition. Simple fruits and vegetables which look deceptively plain are actually storehouses of minerals,vitamins, fibre and anti oxidants and they get a chance to become part of our daily food intakes. Just that when you go to a restaurant and order salad, make sure you order dressing on the side , so you have complete control on the added thousand calories (give or take) or so!

Add protein for a more filling salad

We do end up with too much cooked, processed or blended foods if we consciously do not clean up our eating with salads. Getting used to them is like a gateway to health and immunity not to mention clearer complexions, colorful cheeks, brighter hair and greater energy levels. So the next time you hear someone say , “I’ll just have a salad” , know that that person is healthy, strong, energetic and therefore- happy. Now, why not be that person!

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Daals (lentils, beans and pulses)

Every Indian household knows how important daals are in meal planning. They make them everyday. Its the western equivalent of meat in a meal and is their source of protein(it’s rich in carbs and calories as well though).Protein has always been an important part of a human diet. Plant proteins have lately been studied and much appreciated.

High in fiber,minerals and protein-mung beans

Theories of incomplete proteins balanced with food combinations has been banished and a new theory of eating a variety of proteins to complete all the nine essential amino acids has risen. In simple terms, if you are a vegetarian- do not fear. Just try and consume a wide variety of proteins . In case a person leads a sedentary lifestyle, I would say such over emphasis on proteins is not even justified. On the other hand, anyone pursuing resistance training with heavy weights would fare well in restoring damaged muscles through a high protein intake. But, even at such times, I would not recommend powders or supplements unless a ‘steroidal hulk’ look is desired. Natural foods are the best foods to consume. The body does not get stressed with undue pressure of digesting processed proteins.
Some people depend on eggs, fish, chicken, milk, yoghurt, cheese, daals, peanuts and nuts as their protein sources. But usually, a high emphasis goes on to animal proteins as most of us are not aware that vegetables, beans, grains and soy are also great sources of proteins.
Sometimes daals are not made the way people like them. Its the kids who have a problem usually. Daals don’t always have to be made in a curry form. Whole daals can be boiled and kept aside for salads and chaats( spicy concoctions with lemon and masalas) as well. Sprouts is another form of daals where the beans are sprouted and taste way different than a regular lentil curry. Kids who dislike daals can be served tomato based soupy daals with breads of choice. Hummus is made with garbanzo(white choley) beans and is another great way to have certain crunchy vegetables (like carrots and cucumbers) with.Try fresh pineapple with moong dal sprouts or choped fresh tomato with golden boiled chana dal and cucumber for salads in summers. In the winters, a steamy daal stew will have many takers.
The use of turmeric, tamarind and vegetables enhances not just the flavour but also the nutrition content. Accompany your daals with raw salads at dinner instead of rice and
welcome to the world of health. We certainly need to think of raw vegetable salads as a staple considering that having breads(wheat ) and rice at all three meals is not required by our bodies. Much like we don’t need added sugars and salt.A bowl of daal is high in carbohydrates and protein and would roughly have over 200 calories. Having said that, these are definitely good calories and something that we need. But do give it (daal) more importance by not always mixing it with rice or roti especially if about to hit the bed.
A nice warm bowl of your favorite daal with vegetables is enough for your body to thank you this winter. Don’t forget to eat with gratitude.:-)

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Raison d’être

Everyone and everything has a raison d’être ( french for reason of being/existing or purpose). Raison d’être is something that we all should reckon with. Mostly it’s about being happy. What makes you happy and gives a deep sense of satisfaction is your raison d’etre. Not too difficult to understand but the trick is how many of us have gone within ourselves to find out about our Raison d’être ?

The raison d’être of food is simply to nourish our bodies. What about pleasure of the palette, you may be thinking. Well, that is totally up to you , isn’t it? Because some like it hot, some cold, some juicy and some overcooked. For example there are various ways to have tea but which one you like is totally dependent upon how you have developed your palette in turn depending upon experiences, circumstances and the amount of time you have been exposed to a particular tea.

Therefore the cause of all food is the need of our bodies for nutrition.Not that I am saying we should eat bland and unpalatable food for the sake of health( well sometimes that too) because the pleasures of eating good food lead the way to loving our bodies and ultimately ourselves. That cannot be underestimated for the wellbeing of the whole society I must say. Pure pleasure and happiness are quite distinct from each other. One being an emotion and the other rather a state of being. Temporary pleasures are quite the work of our senses and the more control we have over them, the better the chances of our being happy.

Food is meant to nourish us.

Food is meant to nourish us, not kill us ( the way we eat sometimes and the food that we get these days). It needs to make us healthy. Exercise can make us fit by building on strength , flexibility, balance , endurance and stamina. But food is the fuel that we put in our bodies, its role to nourish it whether in health or sickness. The types of food we intake need to vary according to sickness, activity, weather and time of day. That’s it. No emotional eating , which means not eating for pleasure or pain. So what do we eat for? Just hunger?Well, yes and no. Yes because that is our body’s natural signal to eat and no because that sense of hunger has been damaged….most of us are not in tune with it anymore. Also,we can’t get clinical about this as we are humans and not animals. Although, there is a catch here. By using our better sense of judgement we need to strike a balance between emotions and getting too clinical. The only way to do that is to eat good, real whole some food instead of insulin spiking food. Nature did not intend for abundance of simple carbohydrates, fats , alcohol or sugar. Once we end this vicious circle , we balance our needs and our wants to a state of natural beauty and free ourselves of emotional eating. Yes, it also means no one can stop us from enjoying what we eat. A spiritual connect to our food has been known to reduce food cravings and unwarranted binge moments. If we care to remember faces of hungry human beings existing in the same world as ours, without food and compare that to us when we devour feasts for no particular reason of hunger (just desire) we may need to hang our heads in shame.
Half of this world is obese and the other half is hungry. Thus, we need to understand that sense of balance, harmony with nature and faith in our Creator. This Source where we have all come from and where we are all going to go is the guiding force towards this great fuel for our bodies with no scope whatsoever of linking its consumption to any form of desire, be it for reasons of pleasure or pain. But, yes, always enjoying what you eat with a sense of gratitude gives far more satisfaction than repeated cravings which have a characteristic of being endless in nature.
Food is our need but our raison d’être is probably deeper than just to eat it.

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Do Fats make you fat?

Fear them all you may but the fact is that our bodies need fats. Food satiety depends a lot on this. Also, if we do not intake fats we may jeopardise the health of our vital organs like the heart , brain and liver, interfere with hormone levels and immunity,and end up having dry skin, bad hair, brittle nails etc. The source of these fats is all we need to pay attention to.

Many times I have heard these remarks- “Peanuts are so fattening”, ” Mangoes are a big No-No”, “Bananas make me fat” , ” Tuna is the fattiest of all fish”, “Cheese! Oh my God!”…etc etc. Guess what? It’s the junk food which is fattening, it is the overeating which is fattening,it is the sugar that aids in dis-ease, it is the lack of healthy variety in food which can end up in obesity. It is better to consume a 100 calories from peanuts than a 100 from biscuits which have additives, flavorings and preservatives instead of real food. Phew! Healthy fats are not only great but a must for our bodies.

Some common healthy fat sources which must be incorporated in our daily food intake are as under:
1.Cheese/ Cottage Cheese
2. Peanuts (which is actually from the beans family and not a real nut)
3. Avocado
4. Tuna, salmon
5. Milk
6. Nuts and seeds
7. Olives
8. Ghee/Clarified butter
9. Home made white butter
10. Eggs
11. Yoghurt
12. Nut Butter

I would like to add here that there is no need to fear bananas, mangoes or any high calorie fruits that are misunderstood-they are actually not high on fat percentage.

Managing cholesterol, diabetes, thyroids...naturally!

Adding Omega 3, MUFA food sources is the right way to choose.The medicinal value of food is unequal(superior) to the drugs that are available. If we consume nutritionally high foods everyday, we build up an immunity level which certain people have built already and do not fall prey to common colds, stomach flus, acidity and indigestion issues and other such ailments for years. Chronic diseases like sinusitis, high cholesterol, diabetes and even cancer have been known to be dealt positively with a proper diet.
So, what are the mistakes that we make in our daily lives that lead to such issues in the first place? Quite simply, it’s the fact that we have stopped listening to our stomachs and instead, we fear foods that are fried or fattening even if from a natural, unprocessed source of fat (as listed above). Even such fried foods are OK as long as they are made by fresh ingredients and the oil that is used is not stale or reused and that we eat them to a point of satiety and not discomfort. Eating slowly can enable us to know exactly when we are full. Our stomach has the ability to talk to us as long as we keep an ear out! The moment you eat a little more than required, you know it…be sure that is going to lead to obesity and other diseases.
Do remember healthy fats are a must and should not be avoided at all. Good meal plans will certainly have the recommended daily intake of healthy fats and not fats from processed or unnatural food sources. Depriving oneself and having to eat insipid food will only lead to more food cravings ending with bad food choices. Many a times we see cartoons on weight loss with a dieter eating a single piece of lettuce for lunch….how abnormal and misleading is that? So, go ahead and enjoy a bit of ghee, real white butter, peanuts or any such natural healthy fats :-)

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Meal Experience

God has gifted us our senses so we can feel certain pleasures in life. Of course, we also feel pain through them but then it’s the experience of pleasure that keeps us going even through these tough times.
Eating great food is such an experience. It is not about the quantity but the quality here…I know that’s a cliche but it works a 100% here. Infact, when you do not have such a qualitative meal experience, you simply want more and more.  Certain meal experiences have been embedded in my memory so well that I have tick-marked them like some people would mark the ’1000 places to see before you die’. Once I tick-mark them , I have no longer a need to have that food item simply because I have satiated my desire so well.

A little.......but the Best!

My list of sumptuous, gratifying and surreal Meal Experiences are :

1. Masala Tea – on a high cliff just after sunrise in Kathmandu, Nepal at a tea and breakfast local shop- the air was cold and the tea was so hot and spicy .
2. Gujarati fare – authentic and fresh ingredients- made by my gujarati friends at their lovely house.
3. Momos – at a yellow doored house restaurant in a village in Nepal- just me and my husband sitting on the ground with the table 6 inches high and juicy momos right out of the steamer.
4. Grilled Cheese – in Greece ,after an exhausting shopping spree, at a local restaurant with street kids playing music on the side. The cheese was large slices grill marked perfectly-lovely texture to it with a bed of lettuce and a side of peppered lime tomatoes and olives.
5. Rajasthani Fare – in Rajasthan wearing a turban and tikka with a ladle of pure ghee on my thali.
6. Grilled Pepper Chicken – by one of Epicurean’s cooks after a hectic event where we catered. The chicken was tender and the pepper sauce had whole black peppercorns.
7. Makhni Dal and Naan -made by the founder commis of Bukhara- the dal was so bukhara original and the naan was ‘creamy biscuit’ textured.
8. Biryani – in Delhi at a greasy local hole in the wall biryani shop under a cinema hall- surprisingly no delhi belly after that , just a wholesome very chilli mutton biryani experience. The rice grains were very long , cooked just right, and aromatic with the right amount of spices and too hot to handle red chillies.
9. Shami Kebab – the most creamy and soft shami that I’ve ever had at a sweet shop in central Delhi.
10. Pizza – just a simple cheese and tomato fresh pizza in a local restaurant in Italy where the waiter asked me ‘Finito?’ right when i was licking my fingers.
11. Kakori Kebab – at ‘chore bizarre’ in Gurgaon – the most soft and melting in my mouth flavour of kakori.
12. Chicken breast in lemon butter sauce – the tangy lemon in pure butter made my day and I just had to mark this off my list as it left me feeling ‘ there is just no better than this’ .
13. Fresh French Bread – in Libya( my birthplace,yes, that’s right!), off a small natural oven for ‘khubzas”.
14. Tuna and Macaroni – as my mom made it when I was a kid- the tuna in a curry form with turmeric and the macaroni was fat and just right.
15. Raw Mango Pickle – a traditional at home recipe of a friend, the mango was cut tiny and the masala was red chili paste- awesome for its freshness and texture.

Perfect .......means I don't want no more!

 

What’s your ideal experience of a dish that left you feeling so happy that you don’t want any more of it as it would be injustice to what you have just had? A meal experience that you cherish through the years and if someone so as mentions the name of that dish, it takes you right where you had it , reliving the whole experience of the ambience , the place, the sounds and then the taste in your mouth? A feast for your senses. Tell me, have you been so lucky as to have had a Meal Experience?

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How Much is Too Much?

Vacation, holiday time, family get togethers and the pressure of friends sends us into a binge mode sometimes. In case somebody has a great tuning in to their bodies and on an average are good clean eaters and understand when they are hungry, satisfied or stuffed with food, I would think it is difficult to lose track of the same……but…that’s not always so.
Even the best of us give in to the senses and zone out from our bodies sometimes. What is the limit to how much can we eat really?
It’s amazing how well adjusted our bodies become to what we put in it. Considering what the long term effects are of bad eating habits, it’s a wonder how it just doesn’t show up in any dramatic way early on….although there could be signs…such as bloating, acidity, gas, generally feeling sick. Sometimes the toxins from bad eating and even just eating cooked food can result in certain chronic dis-eases. It’s just sad that we can’t see it earlier. That’s what tuning in to our bodies is all about. A mind body connection cannot be underrated in any way. It’s just simpler to be that way. How many times would you have not really been hungry but eating because it seems there is just nothing better to do- pressure from friends and family or simply on a holiday.
Drinking alcohol and stuffing up because there is great food around or just what we think is great food is an insecurity of food, would you think? According to some , great food is heavy, rich and simply tasty food. Whereas, great food is supposed to be light on the stomach , nutritious , fuel for the body, almost medicinal in nature making us feel rather rejuvenated and not sleepy after downing it. From what I have learnt, eating linked to emotions is typically a pattern and can be reversed.
A lot of people ask me ‘ how much to eat? ‘ . Really, that depends on ones’s own body weight and hunger levels. That’s all. There is no connection to social or emotional eating to the amount of food we intake. More than usual, it is just a small amount, smaller than what we all are used to and as we age more, smaller amounts (calorie restriction) works wonders on anti aging effects.
It’s a good idea to check out the quantity of food on our plates before we start eating….gives us a reference point and more often than not…it is going to surprise us! Second serves are not a good idea…..and then we wonder about (not) being in shape! Gratitude towards our Source and ‘checking out’ the quantity of our foods before we dig in our plates is therefore a great way to understand and be in touch with our bodies. Usually, to have a great appetite works well with clean eating but eating in moderation is important if we are indulging for taste. Doing so ( eating junk in moderation) regularly may not give us the nutrition we need, so it’s just simpler to eat (small portions) junk only occasionally.
The size of our stomachs is about the size of our palms but how many of us eat just that much? To eat nutritionally dense foods is a necessity. Worthless calories will lead to not just obesity but dis-eases as well.
Abundance of foods these days and more importantly, abundance of refined flours, sugar and alcohol have led to imbalanced diets. It’s best to use our judgements on the quantities we consume with careful considerations till it becomes a habit. In a nut shell, eat good food well, eat junk less or not at all. Use your eyes to check the quantity and quality of food that you serve yourself. It is a very physical exercise towards awareness and works well to keep things in check. Last but not the least, knowing when we are full is a start. :-)

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