Superfoods? What 'dadi' asked us to eat!

Superfoods? What 'dadi' asked us to eat!

INDIAN SUPERFOODS
Rujuta Diwekar
Juggernaut
2016, pp 174, Rs 250

Her popularity as a nutritionist/diet planner among celebrities or aam junta is evident. Her earlier books told us to eat, not to starve; to workout sensibly for a fit body.

In Indian Superfoods, Change the Way You Eat, Rujuta Diwekar dusts the cobwebs and wrong notions about our traditional food that has taken a beating in the world of diet-conscious and calorie-counting junta.

Our age-old concept of eating locally sourced and seasonal foods is the mainstream discussion, with the message: they have the required nutrition, are in tune with our genes, and can work wonders on the body.

The introduction carries her definition of a superfood, which is well justified: grown locally, rich in micronutrients and taste, every part of the plant can be useful in unique ways, encouraging diversity in the diet, leading to a sustainable lifestyle along with helping the economy with sound ecological sense.

She lists out 10 superfoods, and most of them hitherto shunned for being unhealthy — like ghee, rice, banana and sugar. Busting myths about them being unsuitable for weight loss, she emphasises that contrary to this belief, in moderation they aid in maintaining a healthy weight. The mantra is to consume them in conjunction with other foods, which in totality give a low glycaemic index and hence better calorie-burning.

Likewise, the chapter on sugar throws light on some surprising facts. In the West, the concept of sugar being harmful was based on experiments conducted on beet sugars and corn sugars, not cane sugars. Only recently is the West waking up to the benefits of cane sugar, she avers.

She discusses the biodiversity of Indian foods and the versatility of some of them being climate-resilient. A fact that she highlights, essential from the point of view of Ayurveda, is that it promotes foods to be eaten as per season and constitution.

This promotes not only sustenance and ecological balance, but also diversity to maintain the microbodies ecosystem in the gut with seasonal changes, building immunity.

You can’t miss her characteristic sarcasm as she tabulates facts and myths, or otherwise scoffs at our mentality to dump traditional wisdom and depend on Western, scientifically proven facts about what we already know: ‘the moringa powder that we mix in water for omega 3 and stamina is just the drumstick in the sambar’; or ‘everyone in India knows how much dal to add to rice to make khichdi, while someone in the West is studying its proportions to earn a PhD’; ‘we are copying the food habits of people who are copying us…’

Popular beliefs and myths are torn to shreds in comparative tables with sufficient technical details. There are tips to tell us the right way to use these superfoods and their benefits. So, use it as a manual for reference, in case you have forgotten what your dadi told you.

Overall, the book carries a chatty tone with a casual and colloquial language; the best way to enjoy it is with a cup of hot masala chai and a few ghee-smeared khakharas on the side.

Who said ghee was sinful, anyway?

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