Saturday, March 31, 2012

Is gluten a monster for all?


I have been getting many questions regarding the use of millets in my recipes most of the times. Some readers ask if gluten is bad for us and how and why to refrain from gluten in our daily food intake. Do millets give a dependable solution?

Millets in the form of multi grain breads and flat breads have been in my diet for ever and on this blog since it's conception. All my multi grain soups and khichdi recipes here have them, the pearl barley being my all time favorite and finds it's way into my pasta style meals and soups regularly. They really are a solution for me, someone who likes her chapatis and breads.

Interestingly, my choice for millets does not come from the fear of gluten as I am not allergic to it. The inclusion of millets in my overall meals is a conscious choice in order to include more micro nutrients from different sources and ensuring high fiber complex carbohydrates. Gluten has not been my  monster being brought up in a household where chapatis and parathas were a normal way of everyday food. We had our daily bread, grew well and all of us siblings have been doing well health wise. Am I claiming gluten is good?

Wait , I have something more to say.

Firstly, it was not all gluten that we had. We had a lot of green vegetables on a daily basis, lots of proteins from lentils and fish and meat and there was no store bought bread on our tables. Not even biscuits. No aerated drinks and no packets of chips and savories. Most of the stuff was freshly procured and homemade. Now when I look back. I know where are the roots of my healthy eating habits.
Gluten was minuscule compared to other food groups.

Habits are mostly independent of knowledge. Knowledge made me more aware but it was an easy choice for me as I was brought up that way.

Now if we see around, all the people who were eating store bought breads and even biscuits in those times, say a couple of decades back, were not sensitive to gluten apparently. Or not all the blame was stamped on gluten alone. Gluten allergies were very rare and mostly unheard.

We would analyse the things which changed during these two decades or so. It has happened in India and most definitely all around the world as we get to read things about nutrition and gluten sensitivity all the time.

I would suggest you to recall the breads we used to get in those days.
Were the breads this soft as they come now? Did those breads last this long even when stored in the fridge. Better preservatives I say, It's a long time I have seen a mouldy bread, or may be because I have stopped buying breads.

 Also, were there as many biscuits and cookies being sold and consumed? Each one claiming to be better than the other, they all use additives to make them suitable for sitting pretty on the shelves for about an year.

Even the whole wheat and multi grain breads are so soft these days you wonder how do they do it. You would know what I am talking about if you have baked bread at home.

There is added gluten in the bread dough made industrially and it would be a horror to know that added gluten is treated with Formaldehyde which is a potent carcinogenic. All the dough conditioners and caramel coloring makes it worse. Check out here how the humble looking bread can carry a lot of unwanted stuff .

Clearly, all those additives with the gluten containing food is making it worse. And more and more dependence on bread, bagels, biscuits, cakes and pastries is adding to it. Fast food and junk food is all loaded with gluten and wheat as it is a cheaper ingredient and gives good color, texture and taste when added with cheaper conditioners, emulsifiers and trans fats. All the baddies have come together in those attractively packaged, cleverly marketed, readily available food on the go. No wonder.

It would be better to know why gluten is a baddie for many of us.

Yes, even when we are not allergic or intolerant to it. Gluten is still inflammatory to each one of us. The extent of it's inflammatory nature depends upon how much gluten we consume and in what food combinations. In the company of preservatives, conditioners, emulsifiers it becomes worse with it's antics. The inflammatory impact of gluten is seen in people prone to chronic pains, Fibromyalgia, Heart disease, Multiple sclerosis. Macular degeneration, Diabetes and as common a problem as Gout and Arthritis. Gluten would make the pain and inflammation worse. Read some more details here.

It is relieving to know, eliminating gluten in many of these situations (as much as I have seen in my special followers) helps in pain and inflammation management. Reintroducing gluten, in a way when the person is tempted to eat a pastry or bread some days, brings back the pain in many chronic pain sufferers. So the implications are clearly marked.

One more very interesting aspect about Gluten is, that it has a molecular structure similar to the cartilage in joints. So when someone has an Autoimmune condition and has an allergic reaction to gluten, the body would react to eliminate gluten as a foreign invader and at the same time it would attack it's own cartilage cells too. Here it becomes more complicated. Be aware if you have an autoimmune problem.

If you have a Celiac problem , gluten is worse for you and this is not something new for you. Following an anti inflammatory diet is great for you which includes a lot of Omega--fatty acids from fish or from loads of flax seeds every day. This kind of anti inflammatory diet can be good for each one of us as Gluten is an antinutrient   which hampers the absorption of nutrients by the intestinal walls.

The good news is you can easily drop the gluten from your diet and use alternative flours for your daily bread and even cakes when you want to eat some. The world is still full of so many tasty yummy foods as nature has been bountiful. Why being blind or just to have an eye for flour,sugar and butter combinations.

Also, you can easily detox yourself from the bad effects of gluten caused already in your body. Increased amount of Histamines, chronic elevation of Cortisol to fight all the histamines as well as the inflammation are some of the bad impacts of gluten sensitivity your body would want to get relieved from. It really leads to adrenal fatigue Natural , whole food high on some anti inflammatory ingredients would make you easily kick off all the bad impacts of gluten. Gluten detoxing can help you getting relief from symptoms of Fibromyalgia . Read this experience shared by someone here.

Please do not get scared by all the inflammation Gluten can inflict on your system.

If you have been eating controlled amounts of wheat, smaller portions of carbs that have a good range of mixed grains, there is no need to worry. We normally eat enough nutrients and enough anti inflammatory food and antioxidants too in a balanced diet that a little amount of gluten inflammation can be taken care of. But if the gluten consumption is in safe limits. If your plate loads more vegetables, lesser proteins and fats and even lesser carbohydrates if you  compare visibly, there is no worry about how the gluten would be managed.

But if you do not count your chapatis and pastries and cakes during the day and all you eat is just breads and cakes and some more biscuits and crackers through the day, it's high time you analyse the reasons behind your pains and aches that bother you every day and the low energy level which makes you cranky. Yes, I know you have all this IF.....you are loading your plate with gluten enhanced breads and biscuits , cakes and pastries...and no vegetables and fruits.

Having said that, I personally do not worry much about gluten loaded food once in a while. Say if I have to eat a chocolate cake somewhere in gathering, I would like to enjoy it and may be I would have a Naan bread in the same meal too. But an overdose of gluten in one meal will definitely be countered in the next meal or the next day's detox meals. Being a little free while enjoying social gatherings and stricter when eating alone works fine with most of us.

On a day to day basis all my breads would have either alternative millet flours added to them or some greens pureed and added to make my parathas. My cakes would be made using millets many times.Works quite well for me.

Do you mind your gluten intake?

I am contributing to a wonderful blog called The Purple Pact which talks about awareness and possible cures for Fibromyalgia, Chronic pain, Pins and needles and Spine degeneration. All these ailments are interlinked to each other and some lifestyle changes can make the symptoms under control it seems. Gluten eliminations seems to be an effective way to manage the symptoms. Please go through the blog if you have someone known afflicted with such symptoms. And like the facebook page  if you want updates from us.

Check out my post on a checklist for the Dos and Don'ts for Fibromyalgia and related issues.

Please let me know if you find this article helpful for you. Thank you.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baba Ghanoush...Aubergine again, a dip or a bread spread....



Or just as something you would dig your fingers into.
Another yummy way to have Aubergines, or what we call Eggplant or Baingan.

Now that the season for my favorite soups is over, I am digging my fingers into some luscious dips.

This Baba Ghanoush is a very flavorful creamy dip that can be had cold or even chilled on your toast, Chapati or Tortilla chips. So if you have this Baba Ghanoush in your fridge it can be used for a starter as well and can well carry on to be a part of the main meal...

I had bought a huge Aubergine, very fresh and used half of it for a curry one day. This half of the Aubergine was decided for this Baba Ghanoush and I though of taking pictures to show how to roast a halved Aubergine (Eggplant or Brinjal) on gas flame.


Just tear off a suitably sized Aluminium foil and cover the open cut surface of the Aubergine like this. Keeping the skinned parts uncovered.


Now place it over the grill plate placed over direct gas flame.

Turning the Aubergine half in all directions, keeping the foil covered surface down to the flame too.

Poke a pointed knife or a skewer to check if the Aubergine is cooked through. Softer flesh indicates it is cooked.


Remove the foil, peel off the burnt skin and the Aubergine is ready to be used in the Baba Ghanoush.


Let's move on to see the ingredients and how precisely they are pureed to make a creamy smooth dip.

ingredients...

300 gm Aubergine preferable a round variety (the half used here was this big)
3/4 cup of roasted sesame seeds
2-3 cloves of garlic
salt to taste
yogurt (dahi) 1/3 cup Or lemon juice to taste
extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp
red chilly powder to taste
chopped parsley or cilantro or celery leaves to garnish

I had fresh celery in the garden so that was the natural choice.



procedure...

Peel off the burnt skin from the grilled Aubergine, chop or mash lightly and keep aside.

Pulse the roasted sesame seeds in a smaller size mixie jar or whatever machine you use, till the sesame is powdered. Add the cloves and red chilly powder to the jar and pulse again to make the garlic minced finely along with the sesame powder. This step wise addition is to make sure the sesame gets powdered finely and there are no pungent bits of garlic in the final dish.

Add the grilled and chopped Aubergine, the yogurt or lemon juice if using and salt to taste to the blending mix and pulse one more time till it gets smooth and creamy.

Pour in a serving bowl, drizzle Extra virgin Olive oil over it, sprinkle red chilly powder as garnish and the chopped fresh herb. Whatever herb is the choice of the day. I used Celery leaves as these were the freshest available from the garden.


Having such bread spreads would be a fun way o eat healthy. And stick to it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fruit yogurt with fresh fruits, naturally sweet....


 Most of my desserts are naturally sweetened .

Yes, sugar is also natural if you consider the source but the 'natural' connection ends there.

My way of naturally sweet ingredients that are 'real' and 'whole' implies to all fruits and dried fruits. Almost all my dessertrs are sweetened by whole fruits or dried fruits like apricots, prunes or dates. These should not be mixed up with natural sweeteners like honey and Agave syrup. While honey is natural, Agave syrup is not natural as it is a processed product in modern day and not a great sweetener as popularised by the manufacturers and many health writers too.
Check the facts here to know how Agave syrup is as bad as refined sugar for any one who wants/needs to avoid sugar.

Honey is natural but packed with as much simple carbs as refined sugar, a few more minerals make it a little better but it's not a suitable sweeteners if you are counting your calories. Although I like honey as a small quantity used gives a lot of flavor and depth. So if a honey dessert or drink is not overpoweringly sweetened I would love it.

My fruit yogurt always has just the fruits, chopped, pureed or sometimes in a form of coulis. Sometimes with a light drizzle of honey too.

This yogurt dessert with Chikkoo and prunes is a favorite too.

A cup of chopped strawberries can be Microwaved or pan cooked with just 2 tsp of sugar till they get mushy and some syrup is extracted.


This makes 2 servings of a gorgeous looking fruit yogurt having 1 tsp sugar per serving. 


Mix most of the coulis into plain whipped yogurt and drizzle some of the syrupy coulis over the serving bowl or mug.


This fruit yogurt with Strawberry coulis is a great way to appease the eye as well as the palette.

Another fruit yogurt can be made without any cooking. This one is a frozen yogurt.

Liquidise one cup of fresh black grapes with a cup of thick hung curd and freeze the liquidised mix for two hours. Mix with a fork properly to break the ice crystals formed, and freeze again. It will be ready to be scooped out into serving bowls after an hour.


For a smoother frozen yogurt you might like to use an ice cream maker or breaking the ice crystals manually 3-4 times before it freezes into smooth texture.


Top it up with other chopped fruits like Kiwi and strawberries and serve to refresh everyone on the table.


I like it more as it goes on melting slowly, meddling with the chopped fruits...


This frozen fruit yogurt doesn't use any added sugar and is mildly sweet. With all the flavors that a fruit comes with , sweetness on different levels and many flavors added to maximum effect.

In my opinion the natural sweetness of such ingredients is much more enjoyable as there are many undertones of wonderful flavors to enjoy. Overpowering sweetness imparted by sugar kills all these flavors of fresh fruits.

Do you enjoy the sweetness in naturally sweet fruits? Which ones are your favorites with yogurt?

Many others go well with fresh cream. Mangoes and bananas are fresh cream friendly in my food world.

Mango makes a great ice cream without any added sugar too...

Oh did I kick start a mango craving now ?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grilled Eggplant salad...


This salad looks and sounds like a mediterranian influence. And it is.

Just that I used my own herbs. Fresh from the garden. Nothing beats the refreshing punch they dress up a dish with.

Any roasted Aubergine recipe is welcomed at our table. Without conflict of any sort. This one uses grilled slices of Baingan, call it Aubergine, Egg plant or Brinjal, the best of this dark beauty comes when it is charred a little bit.

Then go on dressing the pulpy buttery flesh with just about anything you fancy at the time. Works for me. The roasted pulp of an eggplant is like a blank canvas and you can add your flavor of the day to it.

My flavor of the day this time was some yogurt, some nuts and a rich infusion of Dill and Thai Basil.

Pan grilled slices of Egg plant. Bite sized slices would help. I used larger round Brinjals from local markets as I find these the best flavored. Those smaller Japanese ones are just not enough buttery when grilled.

Arranged the grilled slices in a deep dish. I grilled the slices in a greased pan. If making a larger quantity grilling them in an oven will be more convenient.


And then one by one the thick whisked yogurt, chopped nuts, Pomegranate seeds, torn Basil and Dill greens. 

The Dill in my garden has gone for flowering so the flowers also adorn this salad. Yummy they are, and the most fragrant.



ingredient list...

Brinjal sliced approximately 250 gm 
(I used half of a huge brinjal, sliced, salted and grilled with a brushing of oil in a pan )
a cup of thick creamy yogurt , whisked
3-4 tbsp or pomegranate seeds
3-4 tbsp of freshly toasted chopped mixed nuts ( I used sunflower seeds, almonds and pine nuts)
salt and pepper to taste
Dill greens and Thai Basil torn to pieces about 1/2 cup
a sprinkling of red chilly powder




Yes, my spice of the day turned out to be the red chilly powder at the last moment.

It is a well loved salad for us and has entertained many guests too with applauds.

Those who abhor Brinjals hesitate first, as if it is mandatory for them to not look at Brinjals, and then follow others in getting second and third servings.

I love this salad as a meal too. As a side dish, this will be the first dish to be polished off. Serve any which way you like. In a sandwich if you make it using Greek yogurt or hung curd.

I want to try this with grilled Zucchini too. Any one who has tried such a salad with Zucchini?

Or any other grilled to squishy vegetable? Please do let me know.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pearl barley in a comforting bowl...made easy..



What if a verdant bowl is your's for lunch? And that pretty shade of green is yummy. To top it if the textures are as great. Bliss.

I like pearl barley more in summers because of it's cooling properties. Often I boil 3-4 portions of pearl barley and refridgerate it for my lunches on week days. It is very convenient to mix a few precooked ingredients together and reheat in the microwave, chop a few tomatoes on the side and get going with your yummy healthy meal.

And this meal can perk you up in the small break you take from your desk as these greens have the mood uplifting Tryptophan.


Wouldn't you be glad to pour these three colors in your lunch bowl. A huge bowl to say so.

I keep some boiled green peas and some chickpeas too most of the times. Both are used normally for making a quick hummus or are used to toss a salad in a hurry.

Sometimes they get dunked into the Bathue ka saag (the dip I posted long back made with Chenopodium greens) for a yummy meal.


You can make the Bathue ka saag too in advance and use it for many different things. It works great as a dip for crackers too or  bread spread with some slaw. Normally I use mustard oil with this saag dip, you can go ahead and use Extra virgin olive oil if you wish. Or toasted sesame oil.

The boiled pearl barley can be used either for pasta like meals, mixed up with regular pasta for a better food valueflavorful soup in a cocnut broth or lentil soups with a vegetable thrown in.

Even a normal Indian Daal chawal meal can be replaced by barley and daal. Some curry on the side makes it complete.


Would you start eating barley to replace rice or wheat?

Having variety in grains is a good idea as depending on just one single grain everyday is boring for the body too, not just for the taste buds.

Would it be a satisfying meal for you?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mushrooms and Potato soup....comforting and versatile...



Finding new combinations of vegetables that work great with soups is a constant thing for me to observe and improvise. I need to be watchful about what flavors are enjoyed better and are asked for second helpings. The husband likes creamy and cheesy kind of soups only and I want to strike a balance.

This one was well enjoyed for dinner with a few sticks of flavorful sourdough bread. The soup is filling yet light and very very flavorful owing to the mushrooms and spring onion bulbs used in it.

I hope I feel like having soup dinners even in the warmer days approaching. The cooling vegetables of the summers will be explored more now as the husband has decided he likes some soups now. Not just the Sweet corn and Cream of mushrooms being the only favorites anymore....other flavors are welcome too...

Guess who is happy?



The soup is not a lovely color, owing to the freshly milled pepper corns and the spring onion bulbs used, the said ingredients bring more flavor so we wouldn't crib about the soup not looking perfectly creamy.

ingredients...
chopped spring onion bulbs 1 cup (include some of the light colored stalk too)
chopped mushrooms 1.5 cups
cubed freshly boiled potato 1/3 cup ( I cooked one small potato in MW)
garlic chopped 1 tsp
salt and freshly milled pepper as per taste
butter and olive oil or any one of them 1 tbsp total
fresh cream 1 heaped tbsp or more as a topping if you wish

procedure...

heat the mix of butter and olive oil and tip in the chopped garlic first and then the chopped spring onion bulbs. Add salt and toss to mix. Add the cubed boiled potatoes too. Toss and mix well together and cook till all get translucent.

Add the chopped mushrooms and keep tossing a cooking for about 5 more minutes till the mushrooms get softer and moist. Take the pan off heat and cool the mixture a bit before pureeing it.

Puree in a blender, transfer to the same pan and rinse the blender with a cup of water. Pour this water to the pan too. Mix the soup well, add some more water or milk if you wish to thin the consistency to your liking.

Adjust seasoning. Sprinkle the freshly milled peppercorns and let it come to a soft boil.

Add the cream, mix well and serve immediately.


It is a creamy soup without much cream going into it. The mushroom lends a wonderful twist when cooked with spring onions.

With any choice of bread or even chapatis, this soup is a comfort meal at the end of the day. I like some boiled pearl barley into this soup too, that's my way of having a leftover bowl of this soup for breakfast the next day.

Halves of hard boiled eggs also taste great dunked into this soup for dinner. That's what we had just tonight. Someone is definitely liking more soups here :-)

 How would you like this soup?

Do summers keep you away from comforting soups?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to make a rice meal more balanced and a salad more appealing | making meals low glycemic



Many times I get queries regarding the use of rice as a daily staple. Especially after a new found fear of gluten, and a consciousnesses about lowering carbs, many people are realising they can neither depend on wheat nor on rice as a daily staple.

Indian subcontinent is basically divided in two parts if you consider the staple carbohydrate source of the people.

Rice and roti (wheat).

Rice eating people have always been in dilemma with low carb diets and weight loss targets. Rice being the only grain that brings satiety on a platter.

The Roti (wheat) eating too have started looking for alternatives as Gluten seems to be the new evil. Eating any amount of other carbs doesn't give as much satiety as that particular food we grew up with. The food that has comforted us all our lives.

A comfort platter is still affordable. Just start thinking about the accompaniments of your 'food'.

Food is almost synonymous with either rice or roti in my part of the world and I know many of you would agree with this. A bowl of daal can never be a food but a bowl of rice with just some ghee and salt or sugar is food to many people I know, I recently am realising seeing many blogs that a tomato rice, tamarind rice, coconut rice or a plateful of plain boiled rice with just a chutney for accompaniment can be a complete meal.

Just like a bowl of instant noodles.

And I am not joking. I have seen many people who help themselves with just 2 tablespoons of daal for a whole mound of rice, they say they love rice. This is like saying I have a sweet tooth. Quite clearly it is addictive and you don't even enjoy the real taste of it.

Just think whether you enjoy the sugar or the lemon in a lemon tart. The chocolate or the sugar in a deep dark crumbly brownie. If it really was a sweet tooth it would have satiated with just sugar. It is the sugar spike in the blood, and the momentary happy feeling following that makes you have the sugar with different flavorings each time.

Rice is way better than sugar.

But if you want to enjoy the taste of rice , just get out of the 'spiked up sugar in the blood' addiction and taste the real grain. Less is more in that case.


This platter includes half cup of loosely packed cooked rice and it is quite filling and satiating as a complete meal. A side dish of boiled green peas with a green chutney gravy, a spring onion and potato subzi and a flavorful tangy salad.

Would it make a filling meal for you?

Here is the green peas in green gravy decoded for you...


The green peas are just boiled with a little water and salt , in the microwave. Can be pressure cooked if they are mature and tough. A green chutney made with lots of coriander greens, a little garlic, little cumin seeds and green chillies and salt to taste. 

A cup of chutney for a cup of boiled green peas. 


The potatoes and spring onion subzi is a quick one too. 

Two medium sized potatoes, boiled , peeled and cubed(1 cup) are stir fried first in hot oil (1 tbsp) with a pinch of whole cumin seeds. 


A little turmeric, red chilly powder and my everyday curry powder(2 tsp) is added and bhunoed till fragrant.  


Chopped tomatoes(1 cup) added with salt to taste and mixed and cooked till mushy.


Chopped green parts of spring onion(2 cups packed) added and mixed and tossed just till they wilt. That's it.


Now the colorful salad....

Ripened pineapples, cubed in convenient size(1 cup) , Chopped tomatoes (1 cup) and chopped red onions(1/4 cup) are tossed with some chaat masala to taste.


A salad is more appealing if it is easy to assemble too.

I know pineapple may be a chore to peel and chop.

My trick is to let it ripe fully, so it is softer to work with. Then I slice the pineapple in one inch thickness, place the slices on my chopping board and just remove the peel by cutting them away. These slices keep well in the fridge for couple of days and make nice and convenient smoothies for me too.

And this salad makes a meal by itself when accompanied with some khakhras or crackers.

I know many people who can eat salads like this for a meal. The only grudge for them is chopping. Working a little to get healthier meals can save you from running a few miles to shed the wrong kind of meal gone into the adipose..

Though running or strength training is a pleasure in itself , a healthy body progresses to become fit by any standards.

So no compromises on health. Fitness would follow.

Do you still dread rice?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Khichdi when you are famished...



Yes, I was famished when I returned from the Krishi Mela (Farmer's fair) at IARI . It was painfully sunny in the first week of March and my first exposure to harsh sun after a pleasant winter. Hunger and sun make a painful concoction to give me headaches. I just gulped some water, popped in a few almonds to chew on and mixed some lentils and rice in the pressure cooker almost in the same breath. Ten minutes of plucking some Bok choy fresh from the garden, and chopping some more greens ... sauteing for another 5 minutes and my meal was ready.

A satisfying , tasty meal. Gorgeous to look at, I had a new Cherie red ceramic plate and wanted to click this picture when I started out to eat this. Never mind the plate is all covered with more gorgeous food. I am happy. Khichdi does that to me and I have many versions of this Indian staple risotto on my blogs. And they bring me lots of complements.

ingredients...

To be pressure cooked or cooked ...
red lentils 50 gm or 2 heaped tbsp
basmati rice  25 gm or 1 heaped tbsp
salt to taste
turmeric powder 1 tsp
water 2 cups

To be sauteed...
broccoli florets 2 cups
chopped greens of spring onion 1 cup
chopped garlic 2 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp
ghee 2 tsp

preparation...

Mix everything in the pressure cooking list and place on the stove. Pressure cook till the first whistle and then minimise flame and another 5 minutes. Take off the flame and let it cool while you arrange the other remaining things..

If you are not using a pressure cooker, cooking this mixture in a heavy base pan , covered with lid is a good way to cook it , stirring in between till the lentil and rice are cooked.

Heat ghee in a pan and tip in the cumin seeds, followed by garlic. let them brown a little. Tip in the broccoli florets and toss and turn till the broccoli florets are a little braised.


Add the chopped green parts of spring onion and let them wilt. Add the red chilly powder too.

This sauteeing takes about 5 minutes total.






Still some time left till the khichdi is cooked in the pressure cooker, so you can chop and grate a few vegetables to make a raita...

My vegetables for the raita this time were garden fresh Bok choy and a red Asian carrot. Chopped and grated.

Five minutes total.



Mixed with a cup of whipped plain yogurt, seasoned with salt n pepper and a dash of roasted cumin powder if you like. The raita is as refreshing as it can be. Summers will be more raita less soups.

I find meals like this the most satiating and easy to concoct in my routine. I believe one needs to know basic cooking in order to follow a healthy eating routine. I get many queries regarding simpler ways to incorporate healthy ingredients and simply cooked meals. Why not buy and store lots of fresh vegetables in the fridge all the time, buy precut if you don't have time to chop and wash. Cooking can be made really quick using a pressure cooker or a microwave or both when you have to cook a couple of dishes in a limited time.

And I believe simplicity in the meals is useful in many ways. One you don't have to slave the stove and feel disgusted before you set out to eat your meal. secondly, if you can pack in as much taste and nutrition in a simple meal, isn't it a great way to follow healthy eating routine all your life?

After all we all want to make it workable, something that doesn't take all your time in the kitchen and saves you from unnecessary cravings. Now you know how your untimely cravings lead you to mad eating when you have skipped a meal or have compromised on fixing a decent meal for yourself.


Fix it yourself I say. Make it simple when in a hurry and plan a culinary storm when you are in a creative mood. Cooking up a storm needs to start with a happy mind and should  culminate with a happy mind. Let it be occasional if it can't be affordable more frequently, and fix up simpler tasty meals till then.

What say?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pineapple smoothies... anti inflammatory, detoxifying and nourishing..


Pineapples are a pain for many to include in the daily servings of fruit. Peeling the tough skin which might prick a few splinters in your palms is no fun.

But once you peel the fruit with a sharp knife or using  a smart instrument , the fruit is a delight to have around. The peeled and cubed or sliced fruit freezes well for a couple of days and makes sense to include in salsa, salad or a smoothie.

It's not a fruit to have everyday for me, just because of the chaos it brings with it. I must admit I love this fruit so much I have indulged in buying it from vendors who sell cut fruits in the market places. Otherwise the cut fruits are a strict no for me. I remember once I bought a packet of cut slices of pineapple in a local train in Chennai and gobbled them up quickly, imagine someone doing that while struggling for a foothold in a crowded train.

My logic for pineapple , to be enjoyed even as a cut fruit is the enzyme Bromelaine, which would kill any contamination. Yes the enzyme is an Anthelmintic , bacteria and fungal spores would not survive on such a meat tenderiser. It is a great meat tenderiser too did I mention?

The Bromelain helps in digesting proteins in the digestive system and is touted as a slimming agent too.

I don't believe in the slimming agent theory, but it surely mobilises the nutrients to the right places and acts as a great anti inflammatory food. 

So if you feel muscle fatigue, any kind of muscular pain after heavy sessions of strength training, Pineapple might be the answer for you. Being packed with antioxidants like Vitamins A and C is another added benefit. Soluble and insoluble fiber, Magnesium and Copper make this fruit even more valuable.
Read more about the health benefits here.

The smoothie is a great way to include one or even two serving of daily fruit in one go. And you can include a few of those ingredients which you wouldn't eat otherwise. Think Aloe vera and Celery being eaten raw. I love raw celery too in salads but liquidising is easier than chopping and assembling sometimes.

Aloe vera is rarely eaten by anyone on their own, though it's a neutral flavor when consumed fresh. Exposed to air, the pulp or gel becomes slightly bitter but is still safe to eat or drink..
It has many heath benefits, discussed in detail here.

All three ingredients of this smoothie are anti inflammatory and act as good toners and conditioners of the digestive tract. Very refreshing at the same time.

A cup of small pineapple cubes or 2 slices, one large rib of celery (I used 2 as my garden celery is thin) with all the leaves and a one foot long leaf of Aloe (about 1/2 cup of freshly peeled gel)...all liquidised in a blender and consumed fresh.


The smoothie is so refreshing I felt like clicking another picture when I emptied half the mug. There is no trace of Aloe vera, taste wise . It definitely adds to the texture , the Celery gives the smoothie a really refreshing kick.

I replaced Celery with another anti inflammatory herb, ginger root. Added about an inch piece of peeled Ginger root to the same proportions of Pineapple and Aloe vera as above ( 1 C Pineapple and 1/2 C Aloe vera) And this smoothie is great too. Aiding digestion and easing out muscular pain.

Taste wise you would like this Ginger version if you love Ginger otherwise too. If you like the refreshing taste of Celery more, you can always add Celery. Or may be some Mint or even some fresh Coriander leaves and stems. Anyways a refreshing drink it will be.

Pineapple smoothies are a part of every kind of detox regimes and I rely on it a lot too. Many people think of it just as a flushing tool to undo overeating the whole week. It is a lot more than that believe me. If taken twice a week it would keep the digestive tract right on track. 


It would mobilise all the good nutrients you eat and would also ease the pain in your muscles after heavy workouts.

Isn't that worth? Would you still mind peeling a pineapple?