Jul 14, 2016

Dietary Guidelines for Indians

I am a follower of the Chef at Home (CAL) blog/facebook group. I was checking out their server revamp and clicked on this link: http://www.chefatlarge.in/health/nutrition/how-should-indians-eat-64674

The page has a table (which I hope they revise soon) - (Table 1 in this blog, page 86 in the NIN Report pdf) that shows amount of calories and recommended portion sizes. Now, it is to be used in conjuction with another table.. (see Table 2 here, Page 117 in the NIN Report pdf)

Table 1: Shows portion sizes of balanced diet. There are multiplication factors to be used for adults. Typcally 4 for adult males and females. Can go up to 6x for moderate exercising folks, by 11x for heavy exercising people.  Don't starve yourseve on just 4 g of sugar per day. It it good to reduce it to that much though, if you can! :) 

Table 2: Balance diet for adults depending on activity levels (multiply the g/portion with numbers under the Men or Women). For e.g ~20 g of sugar for sedentary male, can be increased to 24 g sugar for moderately active male.

For the actual example of a guideline diet as a food  pyramid see:

I should definitely thank Sid and Sanchita for posting this at CAL. However, I thought the numbers were too low so I decided to go to the source document once these questions came up in my mind.. 1) Meat substitute: Now, did they also have an option/guidance for people on substituting the 50 g meat with anything else.. ie is it just more pulses or split half in leafy veg and pulses?

They actually discuss this as guideline with pulses first and then ask non-vegetarians to replace one serving of pulses (~30-50g with a serving of meat). Page 87 report pdf
2) Sugar and oils for daily basis are much higher in our diet so this is interesting. Sugar just 5 g per day?? See answer to Q 3 below.
3) Third.. was this for normal, office going, sedentary type person ? This is answered well in page 86 in the report pdf

For e.g ~ 15-20 g of sugar for sedentary, can be increased to 24 g sugar for moderately active ((my assumption) ie. 45 min exercise per day x 5 times a week) and 44 g for heavy exercise (athlete type people, or (my assumption) if you exercise over 75 mins X 5 times a week )

4) Any difference between male adult /female adult mentioned in guidelines? Covered in Table on page 86 in report pdf.

Ok, it is also interesting that in their detailed document they basically say "Abstain from alchohol" -- haha..no mention of moderation or anything.. Page 73.. (they actually say refrain from excessive drinking).

I might update more, but this is a quick post! http://ninindia.org/DietaryGuidelinesforNINwebsite.pdf

Jun 6, 2016

Avocado and Turmeric - what the heck!

Avocados are amazing seasonal fruits. The primary season is late winter/early spring but you can find them in markets year round. They are not too sweet, have useful fats and come with a large pits (seeds) that can be dried and used as coins in board games.

Some people may not like the texture of the avocado fruit but don't let that discourage you. If you love avocados, then game on and enjoy it in different ways. I like them raw as slices, or add them to smoothies (avocado, carrot, banana + milk - no sugar!) or use it in salads as small chunks. Avocados have many benefits and uses as detailed here and here.

Today I present a one of my favorite avocado recipes, blending some Indian spices (esp. the awesome turmeric) to make a colorful sandwich (read the facebook post here). This one uses the healthy fat present in the avocado as a carrier for increased bioabsorption of turmeric in our body. 

Final product, fully loaded gargantua avocado sandwich
Step 1: The ingredients: Avocado, spinach, onions, jeera seeds, whole black pepper, turmeric powder, cheddar cheese, lemon slice. Optional: carrots, red onions, red peppers
roasting the spices in butter, you can also use coconut oil etc. even just 2 drops will do.
melting the cheese on the bread
mashing the roasted spices and avocado together

Carrots on cheese, peppers on avocado
Cheese on ciabatta, avocado on other half

Enjoy! If you have a different take on this or suggestions, please comment below or on our facebook page!

Apr 20, 2016

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Apr 19, 2016

Wildflowers of Spring and Garden Hacks

Springs brings a lot of wildflowers, along various hiking paths in the woods and even in your lawn.
If you don't spray your lawn with any weedicide chemicals, the stray wild dandelions are a useful and nutritious addition to diet. A quick google search for "what part of dandelion is edible" will provide you all the answers. You might also come across webpages indicating useful nutritional properties as well as side effects of dandelion leaves, flowers and roots (Source U.Maryland Medicine).

People use them as salad toppings. For advanced practioners (over 21), you can also be making wine.

I tried something else though.., which may not qualify as the most healthy food...

I present to you, the Dandelion Bhajiya (Hindi-English: Fritters) made with dandelion blooms as the primary ingredient. (Make a thin chickpea flour batter with some salt and spices, pan fry in shallow 1/2 in deep hot oil at medium heat, turning them over in 2-3 mins). Made some ramp leaf fritters too.

This snack pairs well with hot coffee or tea during rainy days.

A general bhajiya preparation method is shared here.

Garden Hack

Since I combined my evening picking dandelion flowers with some other gardening, I am also sharing low cost methods to gardening.

Seeds;  Early in the season (Jan-Mar) google Seed swaps and locate some in your area and take advantage of excess seeds.
Craigslist and Freecycle: Sometimes people are giving away pots, potting soil etc. Make sure to treat the potting soil to remove any potential pests. (Heat treatment under sun, esp covered with black trash bags is one of the best methods to decontaminate, deweed old soil).

Buy Cheap: Here's a tip that worked for me this season in Morgantown WV (confirm this with any employee before at your local stores): Lowe's and Home Depot both offer "open bags/ torn bags" of potting soil, mulch etc for a much lower $1 or 50c each. So go to the garden section..walk around and find any torn bags.. They also have large empty plastic bags that you can use to keep the torn bag in and scoop up any of the loose soil from the floor. I stumbled upon this when I asked a Lowe's associate about discounts on torn bags.

Once I found out that the garden soil bag (torn) was $1 I walked around and located a torn mulch bag and bought that. I actually found 2 mulch bags and other potting soil bags that were torn, but I didnt need a ton of mulch, so I bought only one bag of mulch and another bag of potting soil.

So for a price of $3, I had bought stuff that was worth $ 14-16 or so altogether!
garden soil and mulch bought for cheap


Feb 25, 2016

Quick Remedies with Herbs and Spices

These are some "grandma's remedies"
Cardamom is an herb. The seeds are used to make medicine.

Cardamom is used for digestion problems including heartburn, intestinal spasms,irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal gas, constipationliver and gallbladdercomplaints, and loss of appetite. It is also used for common coldcoughbronchitis, sore mouth and throat, and tendency toward infection. Some people use cardamom as a stimulant and for urinary problems.
Get Cooking  
In foods, cardamom is used as a spice in many parts of the world. It is added to flavor rice while cooking or while making Chai/ Hot tea.
How does it work?

Cardamom contains chemicals that appear to treat stomach and intestinal spasms and gas, and increase the movement of food through the intestine
Health Boost: Can lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Aim for one-fourth to one-half teaspoon of cinnamon twice a day.
Get Cooking: Dip berries or bananas in low-fat sour cream, then in a mix of 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Add to smoothies, desserts or pancakes.
Health Boost: Contains curcumin, which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Try to have 500 to 800 milligrams a day, says Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, a professor of cancer medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Get Cooking: For an Indian flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric to water when cooking 1 cup rice. Add it vegetables while sauteing them.
Health Boost: Stops gene mutations that could lead to cancer and may help prevent damage to the blood vessels that raise heart attack risk.
Get Cooking: For a delicious chicken rub, combine 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves with 2 teaspoons seasoning salt and 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves. 
Fresh Rosemary stems can also be kept in a jug of cold water for an hour or two to get flavored water.
Health Boost: Destroys cancer cells and may disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells, says Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research. "Studies suggest that one or two cloves weekly provide cancer-protective benefits."
Get Cooking: "Let garlic sit for 10 to 15 minutes after chopping and before cooking so the active form of the protective phytochemicals develops," says Collins. Saute fresh garlic over low heat and mix with pasta, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese.
Health Boost: Contains capsaicin, whose anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may lower the risk of cancer (also found in cayenne and red chili peppers). There's no specific recommended dose, but moderation is probably the best way to go.
Get Cooking: Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme and 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper to liven up popcorn.
Health Boost: Can decrease motion sickness and nausea; may also relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Doses used in clinical trials range from 500 to 2,000 mg of powdered ginger. (A quarter-size piece of fresh root contains about 1,000 mg.) More than 6,000 mg can cause stomach irritation. Ginger can also hinder blood clotting, so if you're about to have surgery or are taking blood thinners or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor first.
Get Cooking: For motion sickness, try having one or two pieces of crystallized, or candied, ginger. Make sure ginger is listed as an ingredient; some candied products or ginger ales contain a small amount or a synthetic form. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger to vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as fresh fruit (especially peaches).
Whole Clove can also be lightly chewed to reduce motion sickness.
Health Boost: A USDA study found that, gram for gram, oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.
Get Cooking: To spice up tomato soup, add 3/4 teaspoon oregano to 1 can; add 1/2 teaspoon to 2 cups pasta or pizza sauce. Substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano for 2 teaspoons fresh.

Originally from: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/nutrition/health-benefits-of-spices-herbs/

Feb 12, 2016



spinach paneer indian

Representative Image courtesy flickr user: RachelHathaway

Spinach (palak) approx. 3 cups
TOFU 450 grams (~16 oz)
Oil ½ cup or 4 tablespoons
Turmeric 1.5 tablespoon
Re chili powder 2 teaspoons (or cayenne pepper)
Green chillies finely chopped 3 (optional)
Milk 3/4 cup or heavy cream 3 tbsp.
Garlic and (optional: ginger) finely chopped 2 tablespoon
Onion finely chopped 1 large or 1.5 medium
Salt to taste
Warm water – ½ cup
(Speed trick) Garam masala powder 2 teaspoons


1.    MARINATE THE PANEER or TOFU or POTATOES in spices and oil (Large bowl)
·         Turmeric, red chili powder (or cayenne pepper), salt (1 tsp) and oil
·         Blanching the spinach in a skillet or pan for 2 mins
Indian Delicacies w/ Delali & Jordan
·         Remove from pan, chop it up lightly or puree it OR puree it
3.    SAUTE lightly ground Cardamom, cinnamon and cloves for 1 min till light browning
4.    Add chopped onion, garlic and (optional) ginger and saute for 5-7 min
5.    SAUTE/FRY THE TOFU/POTATOES till light brown for 3-4 minutes
6.    ADD CHOPPED SPINACH and SIMMER in medium heat

Add the cream in final stages and simmer in low heat

1) http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Allrecipes/Ingredients/Paneer
2) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aarti-sequeira/saag-paneer-spinach-with-indian-cheese-recipe.html

Dec 9, 2015

Lentil Lunches

Raw lentils and rice to whip up a quick meal

Pulses, lentils, and rice

Rinse the lentils and rice and let soak for 10 mins.

Sometimes it is better to rinse them separately (lentils first) then add to pot or rice cooker.
Bring to boil with 2X water, then turn heat to simmer, cover with a lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes till it is well cooked. Check occasionally with a fork or spoon.

if using rice cooker add 2X water, add some 1 tbsp butter and pinch of salt.
Eat with Yoghurt for simplest of meals.

Cooked and ready to eat dish (only the brown dal and rice). You can eat this with another stir fry dish (link) or eat it with an Indian spice powder like Curry leaf powder or Groundnut powder.

Alternately, you can fire up a skillet, add a tbsp oil, add cumin seed - let it sizzle, then add some chopped onions, then chopped carrots after 2-3 minutes and once these vegetables cook, season further with garam masala powder (2-3 teaspoon) and little salt, finally topping off with some kasoori methi or cilantro. You can add the rice and mix it up. and serve immediately.

Lentils and rice

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