building up the health quotient everyday | being featured on cover story of Good Housekeeping India

All of us are aware about the basic science behind the healthy food and beverages, hydration and maintaining a good basal metabolic rate through food and exercise. It is unfortunate that the science and the knowledge do not translate into practice most of the times in everyday life. We are caught up with so many hassles every single day from traffic snarls to delayed deadlines, from absentee maid to a sick child that we often fall prey to the most convenient plate of food available when hungry or a strong sugared cup of tea or coffee when stressed. We often skip a much required workout when there is a time crunch and feel guilty later.

How do we make provisions to follow small little things to keep ourselves fit and healthy?
To bring a little discipline into our routine so that we can follow what we know is not that difficult. A little planning, stocking up the desired foods and beverages, keeping them in strategic places and setting alarms if required works really well. Here is what all I try doing and recommend everyone to try for a fortnight and see how it brings change in the attitude towards healthy living.

All these tips were shared in the cover story "Health on a Platter" in Good Housekeeping India (July Issue) and I am glad that Manjira Dutta, the Editorial Director complemented me personally to have made such an exhaustive and practical list for GHI readers. 

Here is the un-edited version I sent to them.The cover story included 7 recipes from me excluding the recipe of the cover picture, whole wheat apple muffins.

Brew a large kettle of green tea infused with fresh herbs and fill in a flask that sits on your work desk. Have it hot or iced as required in between meals, along with meals or after meals. This is a great way to stay refreshed throughout the day. Grow your own herbs in pots if possible and see how tending to them even for 5 minutes a day keeps you sane.

     Stock fruits, salad greens and vegetables weekly, get the portions for the whole day peeled and chopped in the morning and pack them all in convenient containers or ziplock bags to be placed with different meal times and snacks. This is a great way to not forget having your fruit or salad for the day.

      Smoothies are a great way to eat your fruits conveniently combined with soaked nuts. This way the smoothies make a meal and these can replace your breakfast. You can freeze the fruits and soak the nuts overnight and liquidize all of them in the morning for a fresh and filling breakfast.

     Invest in some cast iron pans and skillets and get your food cooked in them so you get more iron available to the system. See how cast iron pans help get more mineral into your system.

      Buy and consume only seasonal and mostly local fresh produce. Although most vegetables and fruits are available throughout the year these days, it is better to choose seasonal as the fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients in their natural fruiting season. Buying local fruits and vegetables helps us get the freshest  produce that has not been treated with chemicals for longer shelf life, apart from reducing the carbon footprint.

      Include more and more colors in your food, all seasonal fruits and vegetables are nature’s way of telling us what we should eat in the season. The pigments in the plants are packed with antioxidants and minerals. Yellow papayas, oranges and tomatoes and carrots have Lycopene and Carotenoids, red amaranth leaves, beets and Swiss chard have Betalains, red cabbage, aubergines, black currants and grapes, cherries and plums, peaches, black berries and blueberries, cranberries etc have the pigment called Anthocyanins. These natural pigments help us incorporate a wider range of antioxidants along with Vitamin C in our daily diet.

      Fresh greens are essential in everyday diet. Be it leafy greens like spinach, fenugreek leaves or amaranth and purslane or herbs like coriander, mint and basil, all of these provide a wide range of minerals and vitamins. Fresh leafy greens feel like a lot of work but it can be managed well if one buys them weekly or fortnightly in bulk, gets them cleaned and chopped for the weeks to come. The chopped or steamed leafy greens and herbs can be packed in ziplock bags and frozen for 6 months or can be refrigerated for a week easily. Herbs keep well in paper bags for a week, if frozen they can last 6 months too. 

     Whole grains are not over rated. Look out for grains other than wheat and rice and include all of them for everyday meals, find more ways to bake breads and pancakes with them so you enjoy eating them. Dependence on one staple grain is not good, variety is the key for nourishment as well as taste. The grain portion should be small always, fill up your plate with greens and some protein for all meals.

     Eat grains in fermented form. Dosa, idli and sourdough breads are the best way to incorporate extra minerals and vitamins for the body. The yeast breaks down the nutrients found in the grains in most digestible form and supplements the batter or dough with more minerals and vitamins because of their own by products during fermentation.

    Allocate 3-4 water bottles of different colors for each family member and see to it that the water is consumed during the day. Everyone will slowly start noticing how less water they were drinking and will be tricked to drink more water. Add mint or lime slices to water bottles to make every sip enjoyable.
      Take care to include good protein source in every meal. Paneer, tofu, mature cheeses, nuts, seeds and beans are great for vegetarians and chicken and fish are great for non vegetarian everyday meals. Red meats and bacon etc can be had occasionally.

      Add flax seeds meal to your bread flour or chapatti flour so you get good quality fiber and some omega 3s in your meals regularly.

      Include yogurt and some fermented drink like carrot kanji or some fermented salads like sauerkraut in everyday meals. The probiotic bacteria found in them make the gut flora healthy and help better absorption of nutrients. Poha, puffed rice and fermented congee are other sources of healthy probiotic bacteria.

      Include more nuts and seeds in everyday diet. Omega 3s take care of the inflammations due to daily wear and tear in the body or due to stress.

      Be cautious when eating out. Strongly colored foods and MSG laden dishes should be avoided at any cost. Freshly cooked simpler foods are always better.
      Listen to some slow soothing music of your choice for at least 10 minutes every day and meditate while you are at it. You will be charged up for the next task of the day.
      Make a niche in your home or office with real green plants or herbs, include a tulsi plant too. Water them every day, pluck a few tulsi leaves and chew on them. It will refuel your spiritual energy, help you connect with yourself better.

      Last but not the least, get up from your work desk almost every hour, stretch your neck, shoulders and legs if possible, drink water or green tea, splash cold water on the eyes and blink several times to refresh the eyes. It helps you not get exhausted easily and enhances work efficiency apart from boosting your health.


  1. Brilliant !!!

    Many Congratulations and I know that many of them are coming in future :) ... Proud of you !

  2. Congratulations Sangeeta for such a lovely article in GH . It had some very useful and easily doable tips. It was interesting to read about cooking in cast iron pans. I have been using a locally made iron karahi for some time now and I find that it works much better than any non stick pan in terms of low oil usage.Can you point me towards any brand that is making good quality cast iron as well as steel utensils? I have been looking for grill and frying pans but haven't been able to find any .
    Keep up your good work...on my wish list ... an article on baking bread with alternate flours with information on good quality yeast !


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