Wellness on a plate

Wellness on a plate

The New Year started with a resolution, of course, and three months into 2018, I decided it was time for a wellness getaway to keep my resolve on track. While I had made the effort to skip salt, sugar, and oil in my home food, I struggled with variety to keep the taste buds happy. Because let's admit it, isn't it easy when someone is preparing the food for you.

I signed up for a wellness programme at Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa in Shilimb village, Lonavala, a 300-acre of green property, bracing myself for the bland food. But, that wasn't the case. At their restaurant, I realised one could have fun with clean food, even if it was low in salt and free of sugar. I came home with the knowledge that wellness food should be therapeutic. If you treat food as medicine, you don't need to pop pills often. But, the challenge was once I entered my own kitchen. Here are some kitchen hacks to begin your wellness sojourn in the comfort of your home:

Say no to three white devils

Anything that begins with the word refined doesn't deserve a place on your kitchen shelf. Say no to refined sugar, refined flour, and refined salt. Let Himalayan rock salt replace the table salt, substitute sugar with, reduction of juices, jaggery, and coconut nectar. Another trick to lower your salt intake is to squeeze some lime, that masks the absence of salt.

Use whole flour and pick from a wide variety of bajra (pearl millet), jowar (sorghum), and nacchni (ragi). While all three are a rich source of fibre, ragi helps lower cholesterol levels, jowar is a high-end source of phosphorus, calcium, and bajra is a great source of protein, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. This will solve 50% of your problems.

Remeasure portions

When you are cooking clean, and incorporating superfoods into your meals, the richness of the food reduces the intake. Use pure ingredients that are packed with enough nutrients, to keep you going through the day. So even if you eat less, you still get that the required intake of nutrients. Remember, the key is a high intake of nutrients and reduced quantity. Within two days, your stomach begins to shrink, and your portion becomes smaller.

Drizzle, not pour

While oil is a touchy topic, with various diets recommending different oil. According to purists, pure cow ghee is better than vegetable oil for Indian foods. For western foods, butter can be replaced with olive oil. Though, many recommend against cooking with extra virgin olive oil. Try baking, roasting, sauting and stir frying, instead of deep frying. Coconut, sesame and nut oils are great options for vegan diets.

Play with colours

Every colour represents vital phytonutrients, which are plant-based nutrients. When using vegetables, use as many colours as possible. The visual appeal not only tempts your palate, it fills you with required nutrients.

Many chefs call it a rainbow diet. Red foods for overall DNA and a healthy-functioning heart; purple and blue foods protect against ageing; greens protect the eyes, liver and promote healing; whites for the bones; and orange for growth and well-being.

Binge over breakfast

Make it large, without guilt. As the day progresses, let your meal size taper. For women, it is 1,500 calories per day and for men, it is 1,800. The first meal of the day should be as high as 600-650 calories. Change from having three meals a day to five small meals. Never be hungry that you start craving food. This is a warning for overeating.

Avoid food with high GI content

Any food that has a high glycemic index will release sugar faster into your bloodstream. Think potatoes, replace them with sweet potatoes. Food low on GI are oats, muesli, barley, bulgur wheat, corn, yam, beans, peas, legumes, lentils, and most fruits and non-starchy veggies. Munch on those carrots, like Bugs Bunny!

Trust that recipe book

Most of us end up consuming more calories than planned when we cook without a plan. Following healthy recipes allows you not to add that extra dollop of butter. Plan your meals for three days, and stock the kitchen accordingly. Also, never cook while you are hungry!

Five senses

The one thing that commercial chefs take extra effort in, is to plate the food well. If it smells and looks good, it will taste good, and do good for your body. Did you know cutting your veggies into different shapes also plays on your palate? Adding textures also elevates a dish. Everything from crunchy veggies to peanuts and seeds will uplift that mushy khichdi.

Balcony gardens

Why buy from the market what can be grown in your backyard? Microgreens, herbs like basil, rosemary, sage, lemongrass, even lemon, chillies, and tomatoes can thrive on your windowsill. Pluck them fresh and add them to your salads.

 

 

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