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Kadai vegetables curry with purple potatoes – Restaurant style recipe

How many of you will stop, stand and stare at the vegetables with their not so usual colors?
ME! ME! ME!
That’s what I do when I see purple potatoes, orange cauliflower and white or pink carrots. Yes every time I walk past the stalls of my farmer’s market, I will pick a bunch or two for dinner that night. These days, I am even more excited to bring different colors of fruits and vegetables home as my son is learning colors. But he gets confused with onions being in white and red, carrots in purple or orange and potatoes with red, brown and purple skin. That’s a different story. Ya, I cann’t teach him apple is red, as there is green apple lying next to it. I can’t blame a 16 month old for getting confused. But he is learning the names of fruits and vegetables and now he can say apple, orange and banana these days.
One such vegetable cooked often at my home is purple potatoes. As the name suggest they have purple color on their skin and flesh. They are rich in antioxidants and anthocyanin. The same chemicals present in blueberry, any berries and pomegranates. They are refereed to as flavonoids. The presence of polyphenol antioxidants helps to protect the body from free radical damage. This in turn can help to lower blood pressure. The phytochemicals in purple potatoes can also help to prevent cancer and boast the immune system. Purple potatoes comes from Andes region of South America. Yes, the same region where quinoa is grown and cultivated. They are native to Lake Titicaca region of Peru and Bolivia.Currently they are being grown all over US, South America and Europe. They are a great replacement for white potatoes. If you avoid deep frying them, purple potatoes eaten on regular basis can be good for your heart. Did you hear that? A variety of potato good for us. Isn’t that great? I have made purple potato mash, oven baked chips, potato curry over the few months.
If somebody mentioned white potatoes to me, I would think of it having high carbs, starch and empty calories. Though I love its taste, I stopped eating them once I started with South beach diet and even on other days I avoid eating potatoes. But my body craves for its taste. And when I came across purple potatoes and created dishes without butter or ghee or sour cream or mayonnaise, one small potato will have close to 100 calories and lots of phytochemicals and vitamins. That’s exciting for me.
Anyways, last weekend I hunted for purple potatoes in my farmer’s market but couldn’t find one. Luckily I found a bag of mixed potatoes in Costco and I made this curry with just the purple potatoes and reserved the red and white ones for some other day. This kadai vegetables is made with lots of vegetables like carrots, french beans, bell peppers, potatoes and peas. You can also add seared panner towards the end. I learned this recipe from R akka when I was doing my final year project in Hyderabad. The recipe for kadai paneer is here.That’s when I learned to use the most magical herb, kasuri meethi. A handful of that can go on a long way in a dish. This dish is quick and easy to prepare and make.

KADAI VEGETABLES WITH PURPLE POTATOES

Source: Rani akka
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 small onion – quartered
  • 1 teaspoon ginger – minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic – minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 2 large carrots – cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper – quartered
  • 1 green bell pepper – quartered
  • 10 French beans – cut into 1 inch size
  • 4 small purple potatoes (with the skin on) – quartered
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas – thawed
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 cup kasuri meethi / dried fenugreen leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
Note: Make sure all the vegetable are cut in same size.
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a large kadai (cooking pan). Once they are hot, throw in the fennel seeds, tear the chili into half and add to the tempered oil. Saute for 10 seconds.
  2. Then add the onions and little salt , about a 1/2 teaspoon and cook covered for 8 minutes on medium low flame. Saute to avoid sticking to the base. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for 60 seconds.
  3. Mix in the tomato paste, turmeric, chili and coriander powder and mix well to combine. The mixture will look dry, add a tablespoon or so water to avoid burning.
  4. Add the bell peppers, beans, carrots, potatoes (with the skin on) and mix well.
  5. Pour the water and cook covered for 20 minutes until the vegetables turn tender. Switch off the flame and sprinkle the thawed peas. Cover and let the steam cook them for 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle garam masala, salt and kasuri meethi. Mix and serve hot with roti/pulao/pilaf.

 

Additional notes
1. Since it has medium starch, they can be slowly introduced in phase 2 and 3 of South beach diet.
2. Can also be eaten by women with gestational diabetes when they have craving for a potato based dish like urulai kizhangu varuval (potato curry) or masala dosa (brown rice batter) with potato stuffing.
3. Can also be eaten on rare occasion by people with type 2 diabetes and those who are on a weightloss journey.

Chock full of veggie chili – My Southbeach favourite

Tiny mountains of dirty clothes here and there, empty suitcases, heaps of unopened letters, speckles of dust settled in every shelf – This is how my living room looked few days ago. I was away on couple of short vacations for the last two weeks and once back, I had tons of other stuff to sort and those things kept me busy for days together. Once done with laundry, house cleaning and fixing up my laptop, I have popped into say a big hi to all my readers. 
This is a quick post is say that I am alive and kicking and I will be back with lots of South beach friendly dishes ASAP. The post for today is Chock full of veggie chili. This is a hearty vegetarian soup which is delicious and also packed with nutritions. I found this recipe in the South beach diet book and it is a perfect dish for phase 1 dieters. This soup can cooked in large amount and can be stored in the refrigerator for couple of days.
 
Serves 4
 
Ingredients 
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bell peppers – any color (I used green ones)
1 1/2 cup mushrooms – chopped
1 large onion – chopped
2 celery stalks – chopped
3 garlic cloves – minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt added diced tomato, with juices
 
Method
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add  garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms and celery; cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften, about 7 minutes.
 
Add chili powder, oregano, cumin and salt; cook for another 5 minutes. Mix in the beans and tomatoes. Cook covered for 30 minutes on low flame. Serve hot.
 
 
Note:
1. Since the sauce was little thick for me, I added little hot water to the consistency of my choice.
2. For phase 1 dieters,serve them with a dollop of non-fat yogurt.
3. For phase 2 and 3 dieters, eat with  whole wheat pita chips toasted in little olive oil.
 

Warm quinoa salad with Indian spices

Quinoa and its benefits

 

 

I have spoken in brief about quinoa on my post about gestational diabetes.  After I wrote about brown rice, I wanted to explore in detail about quinoa. So here I am writing about a magical grain – QUINOA (pronounced as Keen-wa).

Most kitchens known to me doesn’t have quinoa in their shelves. Well, most supermarket known to be doesn’t even carry it. Then finding a store that would have quinoa all the time was by itself a challenge for me. Finally I have settled down with amazon or you can buy from direct retailers.


Where to find one?
1. Costco – very selected stores
2. Safeway – small packets 
3. Whole foods – small packets
4. Amazon – Best option

Quinoa is not a grain, its the seed of the goosefoot plant. They are staple food for the people of Andes Mountains for thousands of years. In a nutshell, its a healthy complex carbohydrate grain from South America. The warriors were nourished with quinoa to increase their stamina. Since it can be lightly toasted and ground to a flour, they are also referred to as pseudograin. Quinoa is a seed that becomes fluffy, creamy and gets a nutty flavour when cooked. Quinoa is a close cousin of beets, spinach and swiss chard.  I have personally not seen the leaves but relevant articles suggested that the leaves are very similar to that of beets, spinach and swiss chard and they are edible. 


Quinoa is rich protein and also its a complete protein (contains all the nine essential amino acids). It’s the best protein source for vegans/vegetarians. Lysine is one of the nine essential amino acid which the body cann’t produce by itself and must be obtained from dietary sources. Other grains like barley, brown rice, buck wheat has little lysine content in them but not enough to count. Quinoa had sufficient amount of lysine in it. Apart from quinoa, cheese, eggs, fish, lima beans, milk, potatoes, red meat, soy products, and yeast also contains lysine.

Did you know?
1. Quinoa cause no insulin spike
2. Will keep you full for longer
3. Reduced risk of heart diseases
4. Its rich in fiber and helps in better gastrointestinal health
5. Rich source of manganese, magnesium, folate and phosphorous.
HEADACHES AND DIABETES 

One of the literature said that the magnesium and riboflavin present in quinoa helps to relax blood vessels that constricts and rebounds to cause migraines. Since magnesium relaxes the blood vessels, a diet rich in quinoa can help to lower the chances of getting cardiovascular diseases. Magnesium acts a co-factor for so many enzymes in the body including the ones that are involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion. Now start including quinoa in your meals if you have a family member who are pre-diabetic or diabetic.
POST WORKOUT MAGIC
There is high levels of micronutrients in quinoa which are involved in muscle growth. Magnesium maintains the muscle growth and also helps in creating new muscles. The potassium acts like a pump by pulling out the fluid from the bloodstream in to muscle cells. Folate is required by the muscles to produce new cells. So if you eat a diet rich in quinoa, it will help in better recovery after a workout.


Quinoa had similar health benefits like brown rice. You can read about that here. On my personal taste preference and usage, I use brown rice for two purposes: one to make batter like idly, dosa, adai, idiyappam and other when made mushy like for pongal, bisi bela bath, bagala bath. I didn’t develop a liking for cooked brown rice but for all the other India inspired dishes I use quinoa. Quinoa complements the spices well and they taste delicious when cooked with right ingredients.
Today’s post is about a warm quinoa salad I made with lemon juice and toasted almonds. The recipe is similar to that of Indian lemon rice. Instead of the rice, I am using quinoa here. Mostly we use roasted cashews or peanuts to garnish but I made this dish with roasted almonds. Those were the two simple changes I made to the original recipe. But this bowl of my warm quinoa salad is packed with wholesome goodness. As I always say I would like to create recipe that are tasty and healthy. I take the old and carefully incorporate the global influences to create a new recipe.
WARM QUINOA SALAD WITH INDIAN SPICES
Serves: 4
Source: Self

Ingredients
1 cup raw white quinoa ( I used Bob Red Mill oraganic quinoa)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
20-30 almonds (raw) or roasted
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dhal or black gram
12-15 curry leaves
1 teaspoon asafoetida
2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2-3 Thai green chillies – slit
1/2 tablespoon ginger – minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste, about 1-2 teaspoon
Directions
1. If using raw almonds, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a cooking pan. Once the oil ripples, add the almonds and roast them for 10- 15minutes, until they brown a bit. Remove and place over a kitchen towel.
2. In the mean while, pressure cook the quinoa with 2 cups water for 4 whistles or cook over the stove top with 2 cups water for 20-25 minutes (cook covered). Once done, use a fork to fluff them up. Set aside.
3. To the left over oil, add mustard seeds and let it crackle. Then add the curry leaves and let it crisp, about 30-45 seconds. Then add the urad dhal and saute for 60 seconds.
4.. Now add asafoetida, green chillies, ginger , turmeric powder and saute for 30-45 seconds. Finally add the lemon juice and salt. Stir.
5. Mix in the quinoa with this lemon vinaigrette. Garnish with roasted almonds. Serve hot with a oven baked bittergourd chips/ okra stirfry / egg curry / chicken cury
Additional notes:
1. My warm quinoa salad can be eaten during phase 2 and phase 3 of South beach diet.
2. An excellent source of protein for pregnant women and definitely a good replacement for rice for women with gestational diabetes and also for those who are diabetic and pre-diabetic.
3. Eating a serving of quinoa for a meal everyday can help in better recovery after a workout.
4. Quinoa had low glycemic index
5. They are gluten free, wheat free, cholesterol free
6. Quinoa had the highest content of unsaturated fats and a lower ratio of carbohydrates than any other grain

Easter special: Lamb with beets

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As a child I used to hate beets. My mom would never listen to me and pack a box full of steamed beets tempered with mustard seeds and coconuts for lunch to school. I would eat my lunch in the play area outside the classrooms where there will be piles of sand, twigs and mud around. There was this silly tradition to place a little amount of food to God before we ate followed by a little prayer to shower us with good grades. Some silly boy/girl who didn’t like what his mom gave for lunch must have started this tradition and it went viral in school. Anything and everything nutritious from greens to dhaals (lentils) would lie dumped in the corner like a waste pile while the deep fried puris (flat bread), samosas, dosas went inside the happy tummy. We would head back to class half starving but half happy that mom would not know about this secret and would think that we ate them all. And I took this little ritual bit seriously, I suppose. Instead of keeping a little to God, I used to offer my entire beets stir fry and many more healthy dishes to Him. I mean don’t you guys think it tastes like dirt. I never attempted to relish it until my high school days but slowly when I learned about its health benefits, I started with a simple stir fry with beets scented with coconut oil. That was one dish made by S chechi’s mom and I got addicted to her version of beets from there on.

Goodness about this blood red colored vegetable:

1. The reddish color of beets comes from betacyanin and it is this one which protects you from different types of cancer.

2. It is loaded with phytochemicals.

3. They are rich in certain vitamins like A, C and minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, copper, phosphorous and copper.

4. If you are constipating, try adding beets to your food as they have good amounts of fiber in them.

5. Beets can lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure and improve the immunity.

Getting beets into my husband’s food is a challenge for me. He will complain about the earthy taste it has. One cannot blame him for that? It tastes muddy because of a chemical called geosmin which is produced by microbes in soil and the beets for some reason absorbs them. So its the cooks like us who have to come up with tricky ideas to get beets in our loved one’s meals. I have tried several dishes with beets – first up was beets soup, phew! went straight to trash then I served our age old dish beets stir fry (poriyals) – again back to trash. Fed up and irritated with my husband’s cold shoulders to beets I came up with beets vathakozhambhu (beets simmered with tamarind and other spices) – was a success then it was beets chocolate cake – success again and now this lamb curry with beets – super success!

I saw this recipe in Kulsum’s beautiful blog. She had made lamb with chunks of beets, onions and tomatoes. I made a few variation based on my family’s liking for beets. Since my husband doesn’t like the gritty muddy taste of beets, I made a puree of it and went ahead making the curry just like Kulsum but without tomatoes and tamarind. My son loved this curry and kept licking his tiny cute over and over again. The mild sweetness from the beets blended beautifully with juicy meat and aromatic spices. Since they were pressure cooked, the flesh just knocked off the bone. The curry was balanced with amazing texture, pretty color and intense flavor.

Fresh crisp air, spring flowers at the dinner table, colorful easter eggs in a basket, bunny shaped chocolates everywhere, sunshine to brighten your day – Easter is here and it’s the time of the year to make new memories with family. If you are planning to serve lamb this season, try this recipe for sure. You are giving your family
the goodness of the beets 
along with the meats 
(wow! wonderful rhyming right?!?).

Generally people broil, grill or roast but today’s recipe calls for pressure cooking the lamb. Yes, it saves a lot of your cooking time and gas and the juicy lamb will just fall of the bone.

Lamb or goat or mutton – Whatever you call it, this meat is gaining a lot of attention in South beach diet or in any program that recommends lean loin chops or leg of lamb. It is both lean and tasty – a wonderful pack of two great things. If turkey is for Thanksgiving then Easter goes synonymous with lamb. Hence for this Easter why don’t you all team up the lean lamb/goat chunks with beets and flavorful Indian spices and turn the bland lamb to an exotic delicious curry.

Lamb curry with beets

 

Cooking Level: Easy
Time: 30 minutes
Serves 3-4
Source: Kulsum (with my variations)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 pounds lamb, lean meat – cubed, can be with bones
  • 1 medium sized beets or less , about 250 grams
  • 2 cups red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder ( I use Kashmiri hot)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste

Equipment

  • Pressure cooker with a whistle and gasket


Directions

  1. Wash and peel the beets. Cut them into inch size cubes. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in the base of the pressure cooker. Once hot enough, add the beets and let it brown a bit, about 5-8 minutes. It will turn soft and then increase the heat to high and let it roast for 2-3 minutes. Remove and let it cool. Once cooled grind them to a fine puree (without water).
  3. Add the onions with little salt to the same oil (that cooked the beets) and let it cook covered for 8 minutes, until they brown.
  4. Now add the ginger and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes, until the raw smell disappears. Add the meat and brown the meat. Add the turmeric, red chili,coriander powder and garam masala.Stir to combine.
  5. Pour the beets puree and two cups of water. Pressure cook till the meat is tender, about 10 whistles.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and adjust salt to taste. Serve hot with rice/naan/chapati or roti.

Additional notes

1. Since it is made with lean meat, it can be eaten in phase 2 and 3 of South beach diet. As it has beets in it, it cann’t be eaten in phase 1. But you can make the same curry without beets or make it with zucchini, bengal gram, egg plants.

2.An ideal side idea for those looking to lose weight. The entire dish has used only 1 tablespoon oil and the meat gets cooked in the juicy beets sauce and not the oil.

3. Can be eaten in moderation during gestational diabetes and also a great way to get beets to your kids.

 

A savoury cocktail with shrimp and bell peppers

Shrimp cocktail is a seafood dish made with a tomato dressing and generally they are served chilled in a martini glass. I tasted them for the first time in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and I am in love with it since then. When I saw a similar recipe in the South Beach diet book, I was more than excited to try it right away. Days are getting hotter and hotter in California. The hot weather makes us crave for any dish that is cold. Shrimp cocktail is one such perfect snack to munch on a hot summer day. The dipping sauce is creamy and the mild sweetness from the red bell pepper blends wonderfully with the spicy hot sauce. The juicy shrimp coated with the delicious sauce is a treat for the mouth. The addition of chilli flakes and lemon juice is my version of the dish. The original recipe doesn’t need them. Next time, I will try to add cilantro too as we are a big fan to it.
Serves 2
Ingredients
20-30 shrimp – I used frozen ones from Costco
1 large red bell pepper
2-3 tablespoon sour cream – I used the fat free ones
1 large garlic clove
1-2 teaspoon hot sauce or 1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil/ any oil of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste
Method
Heat oil in a large wok. Once the oil ripples, throw in the cleaned and de-veined shrimp. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat. Drain any water and let the shrimp cool.
Grind the bell pepper, sour cream, garlic, hot sauce/ chili flakes, salt and pepper to a fine paste. Don’t add water.
Chill the sauce and shrimp in the refrigerator until you serve.
Pour the sauce onto a martini glass and place the shrimp along the edges of the glass or you could serve them in a bowl as I did in the photograph.
TIP
1. Shrimp cocktail is an ideal snack for phase 1 of South beach diet.
2. You can definitely eat them in your phase 2 and 3 as well.

Turkey roll ups – My favourite snack

Cricket is a game loved by everyone in India. Gali cricket is part of every one’s childhood. It will be played in every street in India, all we need are a bat, a ball and few enthusiastic players. After watching the world cup 1996 (I was in Grade 6 then), my friends and I were so passionate for the game that we even formed a girls team in our housing complex. My uncle who was a football coach got us new stumps and wickets and we used to play like mad people breaking bike lights, window panes, hitting aunties and pleading them to give the ball back. It brings a lot of laughter and memories when I think about them.For a nation that is divided by different religions, sects, cultures and languages, if there is one thing that would bring us together will be CRICKET. Cricket is more a religion than a game to Indians. In that religion, Sachin Tendulkar is considered the GOD. We are fanatic fans who go wild whether our Men in Blue lose or win. We cry, we laugh, we cheer, we scream – This is how a typical Indian would be while watching a cricket game. Emotions keep rolling for every stroke played, for every ball bowled and for every run taken.The semi final between India-Pakistan (30th March) was a real treat to watch and I was up from 1.30 am (Pacific time) to watch who won the toss. S & I stayed all along the game to watch our Indian team go to finals. The game between India-Pakistan was more like a political event where the prime minister’s of both the countries, political leaders and movie personalities were present to watch the game live. The pressure was not on the players alone but also on us, we were quite tensed how the game is going to turn out. Cricket world cup is like the American Superbowl. The advertisement were also a fun to watch.
The big game, the World Cup finals between Srilanka and India was on 2nd April. The last couple of days had been busy for me. I participated in a bake sale for Japan on Saturday morning and had a lovely time meeting R & S, my fellow food bloggers. I baked in intervals on Friday and Saturday early morning, also did some test baking on Thursday. While watching the game, I was also paralleling doing some prep work for my checker board cookies. I will write a separate post about Bake sale – Japan and about the goodies I baked for it. I left home at 9.00 am on Saturday, about the time when the game became crucial and got really interesting. I desperately wanted to watch the last 10 or so overs but I had to attend the bake sale at 10.00 am.Later at 11.00am my husband called up to share the news that WE won. Wow! OMG! Great! were the words thought popped out of my mouth. I kept thinking how would have Dhoni, our captain would have reacted, how loud the crowd would have screamed, what would have Sachin said? Who was the Man of the Match? With all those thoughts and missing our victory dance at home , I drove back to watch the highlights. I kept watching the highlights over and over again. India is the world number 1 in 20-20 game, 50-50 game and also in Test cricket. I cann’t get more proud than this. Chak de!!! Chack de India!
Keeping in mind our never dieing cricket spirit, Ria posted in her FB profile asking fellow Indian Food Bloggers to join her cook something to add to the spirit of cricket as we watch the World Cup Cricket 2011. ‘WE’ cooked together on the game night with the recipes of our choice and planned to post it the following day.I made a very simple turkey roll up with cilantro-mayonnaise spread at 3.00 am. This is a perfect snack for a game night (rather early morning), so simple to prepare as you need not more than 5 minutes to assemble and serve. The key thing for me on a game day is to serve something that will not take much of my time in the kitchen, so that I could head back to the living room to watch the fun with others This recipe is inspired from the South Beach Diet Book.Enjoy! Jai ho!!!!


These roll ups are ideal for Phase 1, 2 and 3 of South beach diet. Stick with maximum 2 rolls for a snack. You could add any veggies of your choice for the stuffing (For phase 1 avoid carrots, beets, peas, potatoes and corns for stuffing) and this roll up is a perfect snack for women with gestational diabetes.

Ingredients
Turkey Roll-Up
4 slices turkey breast
4 medium Boston lettuce leaves – diced
4 scallions – diced
4 red bell pepper – diced
4 baby cucumber – diced

Cilantro Mayonnaise
3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves – finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 small clove garlic – minced

Method
Cilantro Mayonnaise

Place the mayonnaise, cilantro, lime juice, soy sauce, and garlic in a bowl and mix well.

Turkey Roll-Up
Place 1 slice of turkey and spread with 1 tablespoon Cilantro Mayonnaise. Then layer them with little lettuce, scallions, cucumber and peppers. Drizzle some more spread on top and fold into a tight, cigar-like roll. Serve cold.

 

Mint Rasam to Cleanse the Holiday Tummy Hangovers

Holidays are done. January 1st has arrived. New resolutions are made.

No more chocolates. No more candies. No more cookies and cakes.

Back to routine. 5.30 AM Alarm. Work.  Cleanse and Detox.Workout. Eat Right.

 

I am sure everyone’s New year started with fresh plans and resolutions. My first plan was to cleanse and detox my body. That means eating the right stuff that would help me get rid of all the toxins and residual fat inside my intestine.

Imagine your digestive system to be a long rope. One end of the rope is your mouth and other end is rectum. When food travels from mouth to rectum, it gets digested and absorbed along the way. The solid material that is left is excreted via the large intestine and rectum.

Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits ( Yes, you heard me right! Vegetables go first as they contain less fructose than fruits) is key as they are stuffed with living enzymes, vitamins, fibre and trace minerals.

Let me tell you what happens when we eat processed food.

When a person consumes a diet high in over processed, refined, high fat and sugar, low fibre diet, the muscles that help to propogate food in the intestines become weak and ineffective. The food will get stuck in small pockets along the way and get stored in the walls of colon. These substances can ferment and become toxic. This provides optimal conditions for pathogenic bacteria to proliferate. Constipation will be the first symtom to show up. Colon is responsible for storing waste, maintaining water balance and absorbing vitamins. When colon becomes toxic, poisons are circulated and blood doesn’t absorb the required nutrients. That’s when you begin to feel hungry all the time and eat more. It’s a vicious circle. Cleansing helps with weightloss too.

I found a list of foods that help to cleanse and detox your body. There are lot of  online articles on “clean food”, “green smoothies”. You can google and read about them. One food that I love to eat often is MUNG BEANS.  It is higly recommended in Ayurvedic cooking as it helps to pull out the waste clinging around the colon wall. I started my first day with Mung Bean Salad and with its broth I made rasam.

This rasam is unique as I have used mung bean broth instead of yellow lentils. I reserved the water I used to cook the mung bean. I flavored them with mint leaves and didnot use the typical “rasam podi”. You can make it with few key spices you have in your kitchen. It’s spicy, flavorful and totally South Indian in taste. I like to eat healthy food with my desi twists to it.

MINT RASAM

Source: Self
Serves: A party of 10

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 dry red chily
  • 2 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves – chopped
  • 1 large tomato – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper powder (made freshly)
  • 2 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 2 cups Mung bean broth (or use yellow lentils broth – cook 2 tablespoon yellow lentils in 2 cups water for 30 minutes or pressure cook for 5 whistles)
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp ( make a fresh concentrate with tamarind flesh in warm water)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves , crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 teaspoon salt , add more if needed

Directions

  1. Heat oil and once they are hot, add mustard seeds and let it pop. Throw in the cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and dry red chilly.
  2. Add garlic and tomatoes. Saute for 3-5 minutes. Add turmeric, chili, cumin and coriander powder. Mix in with the tomatoes.
  3. Pour the mung bean or yellow lentil broth, tamarind pulp and water. Bring it to a boil, takes about 15 minutes. Add freshly crushed mint leaves.  Simmer for another 5 minutes. Cover and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Additional Notes:

  1. Since it has mung bean, this soup can be eaten in phase of South Beach Diet.
  2. It is also an ideal soup during gestational diabetes and weightloss.
  3. Mint rasam is perfect drink to cleanse and detox your body.

Roasted cauliflower popcorns

Every time my mother would come up with an advise, as a kid I used to make faces, imitate her, close my ears or do something that would annoy anyone on earth. She followed the same old techniques which every mom in India did. Their level of patience was only till the time it takes to count the number 3. Yes, every mom would say this “I will count 1,2 and 3. By the time I am done saying 3 , you should stop being mischievous and stay in one place calm and quiet”. One issue which every mother-kid argue for will be TV session especially the rules that follow with it. I have always believed that all mom’s talk non-stop. They have opinion about everything under the sky and they have a long list of do’s and don’ts.
“When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”  
                                                                      Erma Bombeck.
 
Today as  I saw my son watch television standing right next to TV stand, for a moment I thought he would fall into it and meet Curious George in person. I patiently asked him to get back to the couch and warned not to stay infront of the TV all the time. I told him for the third time and switched off the TV. He looked around and went back to play with his bike. I am in a way glad that he didn’t create tantrums. Moments later I realized that I did exactly what my mom did to me. My mom’s famous statement echoed in my ears and that is, “You will realize the importance of my concern only when you become a mother”. As I write this I could even remember the tone of her voice. Yes I can see a lot of changes in me since the arrival of my son. I am becoming more like my mother. Now I understand the reason behind my mom’s concerns.
Do share with our readers about the common statement your mom would warn/ scold you during your childhood?
As a couple, my husband and I were a huge TV buffs. Actually I can blame my husband for that. He watches every English movie in the list and every game in the planet. By the time we will be done watching one, there will the next movie or game in the list. There had been movie marathons in our house during most weekends.  We watch movies on weekdays too. Holy cow! Yes.  I used to find that crazy because I grew up in a household where movies/games were a weekend affair but post-wedding, I feel as if I moved in to a new planet. Slowly I have refrained myself from this cycle as we had a new baby at home. My trying to fit my sleeping schedules with him. My little one is 18 months now, I just introduced him to shows like “Curious George”, ” Marvin – The Tap dancing horse”. The one thing which goes hand in hand with television watching is snacking. We eat M&M, greasy popcorns, toffee cakes, Indian savories like sev, murukku. Imagine munching in small amount during the entire movie and staying at the same spot almost all the time. My god! that looks so suicidal to me now. It’s Ok to enjoy deep fried, empty calorie foods once a while. I wouldn’t mind eating 10 chips rarely but eating a packet full is utter stupidity. That’s what we did couple of years back.
Since my son loves to snack as well. I try to buy stuffs that are little bit healthy. These days we munch on grapes, blueberries, roasted sweet potato/ zucchini/ carrot chips and our most favorite movie snack is my simple roasted cauliflower. Dr. Oz called it cauliflower popcorn, even I am sticking to that name. The cauliflower florets are cut in to cute little bulbs that resemble a popcorn. Just roasting with little olive oil and dusting with simple spices, turns the dull cauliflower into an addictive, finger licking snack.
Did you know?
1. Cauliflower is very low in calorie. 250 grams of fresh cauliflower has close to 50 calories only.
2. The meaty florets are rich in fiber and cauliflower is very low in fat and has absolutely no cholesterol.
3. It is also a good source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium and phosphorus
4. They are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese.
5. A large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars. So it is important to include them in your diet in moderation.
6. Has low glycemic index.
I love cauliflower. I like them in my soup, in my curry or in simple roasted form. Offlate we have been eating a lot of cauliflower and this version of eating it as a snack was saving me a lot of calories.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH INDIAN SPICES
 Source: Self
Serves 4
Ingredient
2 large cauliflower heads – cleaned, cut into tiny florets
Olive oil cooking spray
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon pepper corns, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
Direction
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F (conventional mode).
2. Pat dry the cauliflower with a kitchen towel. Cover the baking sheet with aluminium foil. Spray a little of the cooking spray over the foil.
3. In a separate pan, mix the cauliflower florets with the spices and oil. Mix with hand and set aside.
4. Line them over the baking sheet. Don’t over crowd the baking tray. I did the entire roasting in 3 batches.
5. Roast it for 30 minutes. You can roast for further few minutes to crisp up the surface but keep an eye to avoid burning.
6. Serve hot.
Additional notes
1. Roasted cauliflower was my most eaten snack during gestational diabetes.
2. This is an ideal snack during phase 1 of south beach diet.
3. Can be eaten as side in South beach diet
4. Can also be eaten by individuals who are diabetic and pre-diabetic.

Ayurvedic drink with ginger, lemon and honey

Everyone wants to lose weight. Even the thinnest, tiniest friends of mine would talk about losing their teeny-tiny flab around their tummy. The most common topic I hear in dinner parties is about what to eat and what not to eat to lose weight. Imagine talking about dieting with delicious food on the table. I have friends who fall on both the extreme category of eating – the ones who eat everything and enjoy the gastronomic indulgence and others who talk about fiber, protein and carbs in a serving. I have been there and have heard them share their gyan for the entire evening. I can call myself the chameleon, well just with regard to food. If I hang out with girls who love deep fried, high sugar rush food, I wouldn’t mind sharing their meal and infact I would eat to my heart’s content and if I happen to dine with the “health conscious” bunch, I munch on salad, grilled salmon or brown rice with them. Either way I enjoy their company and for the reputation I have with my husband, I jump on and off the diet plan. With my rules, its OK to fall off the band wagon and it’s totally OK to indulge.

I am not complaining or cribbing but all I am saying is that “how to lose weight” is such a frequent topic at any party. If everyone knew the “magic mantra”, we would all be as chic and sleek like a model and the bitter fact is nobody knows what really works to get the weight loss going in the right direction.

Ayurvedic Drink_5
But one thing which seems to work for me is our good old Ayurvedic drink made with ginger,lemon and honey. It was my mom who got me into the habit of drinking it. She would crush and simmer ginger with water and mix honey and lemon juice with it and that’s my health drink to treat cold and flu. When I became plump and chubby like pumpkin at teenage, my mom gave this drink every morning. She read in some Ayurvedic magazine that this concoction helps to lose weight as the ginger will rev-up your metabolism. There are no scientific papers to support this finding but over the years, I have seen “living” examples of people whose health has improved because of this drink.  Like in any dietary approach, it might work for few and may not for many.

That’s the new me after losing a total of 26 pounds in the last 1 yearTo those of you who are new to my blog, I have been blogging about my journey with South beach diet. I reached a plateau and scale wasn’t going down after I lost close to 22 pounds. Then I started drinking  ginger-honey-lemon concoction everyday and did a 4 mile hike three Saturdays and watched not to eat deep fried or high sugar foods. And VOILA! I lost 4 pounds in 6 weeks. I feel that the drink and little workout helped me kick start the weightloss.

Ayurvedic Drink_6

When we had stomach upset, my grandmother would make us chew ginger with rock salt. Traditionally, ginger was used to treat gastrointestinal problems. The volatile oil in ginger can help to normalize the fat metabolism, helps in toxic disposal, treats cold & flu and also prevents cancer. Regular use of ginger can help to speed up your metabolism. Apart from improving metabolism, ginger inhibits bad cholesterol buildup in the heart and liver. It directs the body to slow down the cholesterol absorption by stimulating the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids.

Honey is an excellent natural sugar source. Yes! there is sugar in it but it also contains minerals and vitamins. Let me tell you what happens when we consume raw table sugar. Imagine you ate a piece of cake with tons of sugar in it. To digest the sugar, the vitamins and minerals present in the body are used to get the digestion going. Inturn, the body runs out of sufficient vitamins and minerals. These nutrients play a key role to dissolve fat and cholesterol. If they are absent, the fats and cholesterol are going to stay back in your body and hence we gain weight when we consume sugary food (ofcourse their calorie content also accounts for the weight gain). On the contrary, honey supplies your body with sufficient vitamins and minerals and helps to lose weight. Honey helps to purify blood and helps to get rid of the fat deposited in the body. Honey with lemon juice and ginger is the most sought after treatment method for obesity. According to Ayurveda, it sets the process  going without the loss of energy and appetite. You can drink this concoction after a elaborate oily meal, it helps to detox your body.
This drink was even mentioned in one of Dr.Oz’s episode that covered solutions for weigthloss. As I have mentioned it earlier, this drink might work for some and may not work for some. I am glad it did wonders for me. I have been drinking this for the last 8 weeks and on a general note, I feel so light and I don’t feel too bulky after a greasy meal.I am sharing my story here and I am not promoting this drink as a weightloss miracle remedy. Apart from helping to lose weight, this Ayurvedic drink is good for overall well being. You can try and test the drink for yourself.

Ayurvedic Drink_2

 

  AYURVEDIC DRINK RECIPE FOR WEIGHTLOSS

Serves : 1

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger – crushed / minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (large ones)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 oz water

 Directions:

  1. Bring ginger and water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes. Switch off the flame and let it cool down a bit.
  2.  Mix in lemon juice and honey. Stir and drink on a empty stomach.Additional notes
  3. Remember you cann’t take honey when following South beach diet. This drink is something you can add to your low-glycemic diet plan.
  4. Weightloss will happen if you couple this drink with healthy eating habit and regular exercise.

UPDATE:
Since few of my friends have reached out asking whether we can store this drink in fridge and use it for the entire week. The answers is NO. You can store just the ginger extract and warm it in microwave for 30-60 seconds and squeeze fresh lemon juice and honey before you drink. I read somewhere that honey shouldn’t be warmed. I follow that rule.

 

Indian Dhaal / Warm lentil stew

Lentils are the primary source of proteins for vegetarian. Indians use lentils in all the preparations – be it soup, entree, sides, starter or dessert. Lentils are commonly used in a dish called dhaal. Dhaals can be made from lentils and legumes. Also remember that it isn’t necessary that all dhaals be prepared with lentils alone. A thick, mushy stew can be called as dhaal. Some dhaals can be heavily seasoned while some will be mildly spiced.
I come from Southern part of India and most people known to me cook with yellow split peas called toor dhal / thuvaram paruppu. South Indians make sambar and rasam with it. In most homes back home, lentils are cooked in a pressure cooker to save time and gas. My mom typically adds couple of garlics, a pinch of asafoetida and a teaspoon of turmeric powder to the lentils while cooking. Since lentils can cause bloating, she adds garlic and asafoetida to reduce flatulence and turmeric powder acts as an antiseptic. With the influence of various cooking shows on TV (like Khanna Khazanna, Mirch masala) , my mom over the years started to make Northern Indian dishes like dhaal with red lentils, rajma masala and dhaal makani (red kidney beans and black grams). Once I started to live alone, the easiest thing to fix for singles/students are stews with lentils and vegetables. It may be eaten with rice and a pickle by its side or with roti or can be drank as soup. Since I cook it in a pressure cooker, I dump on the ingredients and cook for few whistles. The process even more simpler and easy that even novice can whip it no time.
Years ago I saw pretty looking red lentils (orange colored lentils) in the grocery store. I brought home a packet with a hope to cook a dhaal that will have this beautiful sunset color but to my dismay, the dhaal looked yellow like any other dhaal dish. Lesson learned: Red lentils doesn’t make your dhaal look red or orange. I know many of my friends who had the same doubt.Lentils are rich in fiber. Fiber rich foods can lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. High fiber foods are also refereed to as diabetic foods. Any whole grains will have low glycemic index (GI of 26-30) than refined/processed grains.I have exploring on bringing Indian inspired vegetarian meals for South beach dieters. This lentil preparation is one such dish which I have been serving for breakfast. They are hearty, filling and definitely a power packed start for the day. I have used red lentils in this preparation.Good news is that I had made this dhaal with zero oil.
Masoor dhal – A stew with red lentils
Recipe: Self
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 cups red lentils
2 Thai green chiles – slit
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1 cup red onions- finely chopped
1 tomato – finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger- minced
2 garlic cloves – minced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
6 cups water
Salt to taste, about 1 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 cup fresh cilantro – chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
Juice of one lemon
Special equipment
Pressure cooker with a whistle
Garnish 
1/4 cup avocados – cubed
or
1/4 cup cucumbers – cubed
Directions
1. Rinse and clean the red lentils in running tap water. Drain the water and set aside.
2. Switch on the stove. Place the base of the pressure cooker and add the red lentils, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, green chillies, red chili flakes, spice powders (turmeric, chili and coriander powder) and water. Mix well to combine and pressure cook them for 8-10 whistles. If you are cooking on a regular cooking pan, cook for 45-55 minutes until they are cooked through.
3. Switch off the flame and let the pressure settle down. After about 15-20 minutes, remove the whistle and open the pan. Add garam masala, cilantro, salt, lemon juice and stir well. Serve hot in warm bowls. Garnish with cubes of avocado or cucumbers or even a dollop of fat free sour cream or yogurt will do wonders.
Tips:
1. You can drink how much ever soup you want. That’s the great thing about South beach diet. This soup is my breakfast during phase 1.
2. Phase 2 & 3 dieters, the dhaal can be served with brown rice/ quinoa/ barley/ buckwheat. Make it a hearty meals by adding lots of veggies as a side.
3. For women with gestational diabetes, this stew with red lentils (masoor dhal) can be eaten with quinoa or barley. It is not a good idea to avoid carbohydrates during pregnancy as the growing baby needs carbs for his/her brain development. So please remember to eat every meal with healthy/good carbs.
4. Lentils are good for weight management and importantly they can be digested easily.
5. You could also add vegetables like beans, cauliflower, carrots and peas