By Dr. Megan Bassi
People choose to eat different types of foods for various reasons such as religious differences, health conditions, food allergies, environmental reasons or simply based on what they like and dislike. Also, with such a diverse culture, every state in India has a different cuisine. However, dishes cooked by Nanis and Dadis are always special to us, and they top the charts.
But how many of us now with a so-called modern lifestyle prefer to cook our meals at home when choosing to eat out or order food. Most of us feel, “We don’t have time to cook, cooking takes too much effort or we can’t cook like our mothers, and eating out is more convenient.”
Thinking about it deeply, there are many benefits of cooking at home-
- Restaurant foods are often loaded with fat, salt, sugar, and other additives. While the same dishes prepared at home tend to be more nutritious and contain fewer calories. Home-cooked meals can help you ward off chronic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disorders, cancer and diabetes.
- It strengthens your immune system, keeps you calm and happy
- Preparing meals at home can help you control ingredients and portion sizes
- You can deal with hygiene, food quality and avoid allergies and food-borne diseases
- Even cooking simple meals can be very satisfying and stress-relieving.
One may still wonder, what should I cook every day that is healthy for me and my family as well as suits our tastes.
Well, so be it
a north indian meal – Chul/rajma, raita, sarson ka sag, paingan ka bharta, roti, lassi, kheer, sweet, chicken tikka, paneer rain;
a south indian meal – rice, sago, palia, sambar, rasam, kochimbir, laban, payasam, vangehai, polyogiri;
a west indian meal – Chapati, dal, butter, behendi sabji, dukla, msal, wadi, shrekhand, godbully, rice, khichadi, rutla
or a east indian meal – rice, momos, thukpa, fish curry, dolma, mischit doi, rasugula;
a thali From any area prepared with a mix of different food groups in the right portion sizes can turn out to be a delicious healthy meal. a thali It holds a lot of importance and is an ingrained part in the food culture of all regions of India.
While preparing any regional thali, just be aware of the following:
- Including all four food groups on the plate in the correct portion sizes. Remember that one food group cannot provide us with all the nutrients,
- Grain/grain: For example rice, chapati, pulao, paratha, rutaba, clay, pasta, noodles. All of these are good sources of carbohydrates and fiber.
- Pulses/dals/meat/eggs/fish: For example rajma, chul, tor dal, odad dal, mung, sprouts, soybeans, chicken, eggs, fish. These are rich sources of protein.
- vegetables: sagu, palya, bhaji, sabji, salad, koshimbir, saag, curries, gravies, kormas etc. A seasonal vegetable from any region, it will provide all the needed vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Dairy / Dairy Products: Raita, curd, mishti doi, laban, paneer. These give us proteins, calcium, and probiotics and work as a great digestive system.
- Using fresh and healthy ingredients And keep your meals simple
- Simple cooking can be delicious and fast. Pairing khichdi rice, pulao or rajma with yoghurt or curd, paneer rolls with boiled chana and lassi or pasta with paneer and curd salad are all great meals for a healthy, hearty lunch. Non-vegetarians can opt for items like fish curry with rice and yoghurt.
- Light dinner for example. The best options to end your day are Bisbeel rice with curds, dal rice and vegetables or pulao soup.
- Steaming, frying and grilling instead of deep frying can help reduce nutrient loss.
- Replace salt with lemon and herbs to reduce sodium intake.
- Reduce sugar by using substitutes such as fruit pulp, dried fruits, figs, and dates.
- Choose wholegrain versions of pasta and bread instead of refined wheat options.
One cannot choose all this when we order food or buy canned food, but while cooking at home we tend to make conscious efforts to choose healthy food.
- Incorporating our ancient food tricks
- Add 1 teaspoon of ghee over the chapati in dal/rice. This is an excellent source of phytate. A and antioxidants.
- Have a glass of Golden Latte (turmeric milk and black pepper). When both of these spices are consumed together, their immune-boosting properties increase.
- Traditional Idli pickles, dosa, dokla, appam, yogurt, kanji, contain a good amount of probiotics that help in maintaining a healthy gut. Hence, include it in your daily meals.
- Add spices like pepper, ginger, garlic, green pepper, cumin, cloves, fenugreek seeds, and turmeric to your daily food. This spice contains chemical compounds that have antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties that help fight several types of infections.
- Keep healthy, ready-to-eat foods on your dining table.
- Keep a stock of roasted chana, peanuts, fruits, tender coconut, nuts, seeds, chicory, makhana, peanut butter, and dates. These foods require no cooking and are highly nutritious.
(The writer is Nutritionist, Arogya World, MyThali ProgramI. The opinions expressed are subjective and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)
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