5 healthy food tricks

5 healthy food  tricks

Most of us have this major misconception that healthy food translates to just raw veggies, low-carb, low-dairy food and overload of fruits.

But what we all don’t realise is that our dishes can be easily made healthy and high on the nutrition quotient with some simple tweaks. Healthy food doesn’t mean just eating salads and raw food. All you would need to make your meal wholesome are some nutritive additions and subtractions. So, here are some suggestions to help you get started.

Matter of protein

Indian meals are known to be very heavy on carbs with a poor ratio of protein that throws our belly and muscles off balance. This needs to be changed in a major fashion. You definitely need to add more protein, especially if you are aged 35 and above. One of the easiest ways to do this would be to toss in sprouts wherever possible. Usually, a small portion of sprout salad with dal and rice can work wonders for your health. Sprouts are rich sources of protein, antioxidants and minerals and are known to aid your digestion. Make it a habit to cook up meals where you are serving bigger bowls of beans and pulses or meats as the main dishes with rice and roti as sides. I generally see many lunch boxes that have one small bowl of dal or veggies or meat and four big rotis or a big pile of rice – this needs to be changed for good.

As good as fried

We all love our deep-fried goodies. Be it pakodas, fried chicken or samosas, we love everything that comes out of the deep fryer. But most of these foods can be grilled and baked in the oven with the same end result. Don’t be afraid of brushing a small layer of olive or coconut oil in two stages (mid and end) on the dish, while it’s baking. It not only adds good flavour, but also gives the dish that necessary fat to keep it soft and moist. When you brush this oil or butter towards the end, your palate won’t miss a thing on that first bite of the dish and that’s half the battle won. Do not shallow fry because shallow frying actually means your food will slowly absorb more oil. It is probably the worst of the lot.

Go back to your roots and use tandoor for cooking your meat and even vegetables. It not only seals your meat and veggies from the outside, but also retains all the nutrients and juices inside. At home, you can utilise electrical or gas tandoors and cook almost everything in them. If I had to put somebody on a diet at all, I’d call it a tandoori diet. Eat all things tandoori. They are delicious and healthy at the same time.

The right fuel

What kind of oil to use in our daily cooking has been a big question mark for all of us. Unlike many who think ghee is bad, I believe one spoon of ghee a day keeps you healthy and happy. So, you can cook your dals with zero oil to begin with and finish it with a tadka in minimal ghee.

As far as regular cooking is concerned, olive oil does work wonderfully well. Make sure not to overheat the oil as that will kill all the awesome properties this cold-pressed oil possesses. Also, let me break a myth here – olive oil does not spoil or totally change the taste of your dish; all it does is add another beautiful flavour. You can also experiment with other healthier oils like peanut, coconut, canola and sesame.
Nutritive proxies

We believe that lots of grease in our food means it’s a commendable dish. Be it butter or cream or ghee, we always use the larger tablespoons in order to add richness to the dish. As a chef, let me speak my heart out here – lots of cream and butter definitely make the food more addictive in taste, but then you miss out on all the good flavours that the dish has to offer. For instance, in butter chicken, if there is too much butter and cream, you can’t taste the tartness of tomatoes, or fully smell the smokiness of the chicken and aromas of cardamom and cinnamon. All you are doing here is bombarding your palate with oodles of fat.

One of the easiest alternatives is to use a puree of nuts. Almond, walnuts or even cashew nut puree make great substitutes for fat; they make the gravy thick and add that richness one craves for. In few curries or gravies even hung curd can offer similar results.In fact, hung curd is one of the best alternatives to mayonnaise. All you got to do is hang yoghurt overnight in a muslin cloth (minimum four hours) and the next day you have a thick end product that looks like paneer. It is creamy and soft and once whisked with small quantities of milk or water, it becomes a perfect mayo replacement. You can use it for dips, spreads, dressings, marinades and binding, too.

A lot of people will ask you to keep off sugar for a healthier life. But if you’re a sugar lover like me, you know that the option isn’t real enough. So, what do we do? Find sugar alternatives. Honey and jaggery are the easiest substitutes for sugar and also lend a new appeal to any drink or dish. If you want to take it a step further, use dates, especially for milk-based desserts. Make a puree of dates and you can add them to kheer, kulfi and rasmalai to indulge your sweet tooth, while cutting down on calories. For those afternoon or evening hunger pangs, keep a jar of almonds soaked in honey ready. It’s the perfect recipe for instant dessert.

Steam, not boil

For years, my mom has been trying to build this habit of not boiling the veggies, but steaming them. Any vegetable when cooked excessively, loses out on all the good nutrients. The best way to cook is by steaming them partially and then tossing them with spices or putting them in a curry. Even for cooked salads, I urge people to steam the veggies rather than boiling them. Employ these techniques the next time you are cooking up a meal and savour the fine taste minus those extra calories.

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