Calorie conscious?

If you are health conscious the word calorie will mean the world to you! Yes, calorie is a unit of energy that can be measured by many methods. Here, we are focusing on foods that may help you lose weight as they, through the process of eating, chewing, digesting, metabolizing, actually make the body work harder to extract the calories.

This can be explained simply. You consume a generous wedge of Mocca Gateaux at the five star buffet. It is around 400 calories. To digest it your body may require only 150 calories…net gain of 250 calories which is added to your body fat! On the other hand, you munch on a stick of celery which is only 5 calories. Your body may require 150 calories to digest it, resulting in a net loss of 145 calories from the body fat! Here the common person may infer that the more you eat of such foods the more weight you lose! But anything in excess is harmful. Remember this – it is a guiding principle in healthy eating.

Any diet plan will focus not only on the total calorie intake for the day but also the break up in the meals and also the distribution in the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals and fibre. This write up here is not to design any diet for you but to give you a brief dekho into the world of foods that can help you lose weight in a safe and natural way.

Foods that help in fat burning have three essential features: they are high in moisture and fibre and low in carbohydrates and protein. It could be a safe and natural way to lose weight without starving. It is a well-established fact that the extra bulk that fibre contains will help you feel fuller for longer and thus help you stave off hunger pangs and lose weight. These foods should be incorporated in the daily meals because they will provide all essential nutrients. In fact, once you look it over it will strike you that fruits and vegetables in the raw form are the foods that we need to munch on seriously and that they provide the essential fibre, moisture, vitamins and minerals to our daily diet. In fact, vitamins stimulate the tissues to produce enzymes that break down the caloric nutrients of the foods.

Experts tell us that we need to include five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet for it to be termed healthy. Eating this suggested amount is difficult for many people. Fruits and vegetables have maximum benefits when eaten without any junk foods that are empty calorie foods. I suggest when in need of a snack reach out for celery sticks or an apple and forget the chips and cookies. When you make a sandwich ensure some lettuce and thick slices of tomato make the filling. Salads can help to supplement any meal even when you are on a diet that is being monitored for calories. At the dessert display at a buffet or party, look for the bowls of chopped fruits. And serve yourself some!

I should bring to your notice that I have not included any non vegetarian or even eggs in the category of foods that can help you burn calories while digesting them. For ready reference I have a short list of foods that can help you in weight loss:

Asparagus, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, capsicums, cucumber, garlic, green beans, gourds, lettuce, onion, radishes, spinach, turnip, zucchini, lemon, grapefruit, apple, papaya, orange, pineapple to name a few. You can also see how much calories some of our favourite foods cost us here. Given here are some easy recipes that can help you along.

Clear Vegetable Soup

Healthy Cornflakes Bhel

Warm Thai Noodle and Papaya Salad

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor
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Old traditions and New beginnings!

19th January 2014, me along with friends, family and associates, ran the 7 km dream run at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, for the Forum for autism. It is my 9th Year of being associated with this cause and we hope that our efforts are making a difference in educating and enlightening others about people with autism. You can read about us here http://forumforautism.org/about-us/

Post the marathon, we had a get together with my friend Mr Harsha Bhatkal, to celebrate the 15th year since my 1st cookbook was published! It is moments like these that keep you grounded to realities and take you back in time!

While we continue traditions that we have followed for years we also welcome some new changes into our lives! With the New Year having just begun, there are many people, in fact quite a few of my friends who have decided to give up meat. So I thought I’d share with you some great ways to help you stick to your resolution! Vegetarianism represents a positive move toward a cleaner and more compassionate world. If you are concerned about your own health, consider that vegetarians are generally at lower risk than non-vegetarians for heart disease, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer and obesity.

Turning Vegetarian…. ?

The thing is that once the decision to turn vegetarian has been made, action has to be taken accordingly. There are certain misgivings that creep in regarding the lack of nutrients in a vegetarian diet vis-a-vis a non vegetarian diet but read on for some clarifications:

For proper protein: Choose cow’s milk and low fat cheese. However, beans, breads, cereals, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, and soy milk are also some foods that are especially good sources of protein. Only fruits, fats and alcohol do not provide much protein. So a diet based only on these foods would have a good chance of being too low in protein. It is not necessary to plan combinations of foods to obtain enough protein or amino acids (components of protein). A mixture of plant proteins eaten throughout the day will provide enough essential amino acids.

Go for calcium: Calcium is used to build bones. Bone density is determined in adolescence and young adulthood; so it is important to include three or more good sources of calcium in your diet every day. Cow’s milk and dairy products contain calcium as also tofu, green leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice.

The presence of iron: Our requirements of iron are relatively high. To increase the amount of iron absorbed from a meal, eat food containing vitamin C as part of the meal. Citrus fruits and juices (for example, orange juice), tomatoes and broccoli are all good sources of vitamin C. Foods, which are high in iron, include broccoli, raisins, watermelon, spinach, black-eyed peas and chickpeas, to name a few.

How to tackle the everyday cravings

  • It is not easy to go off meat. Besides the taste and texture it sure becomes an essential ingredient in everyday food. It is time to explore new foods and do some serious grocery shopping. You would be surprised at the options and variety available for vegetarians.
  • Incase you did try out something new and hated that particular food at the first, try it again later, preparing it differently with different seasonings and spices. Browse health food stores. There is always something new to try, and the staff can help you find what you are looking for or give advice on which products are best.
  • Another idea is to allow yourself one day a week to eat meat. If you’re finding it difficult to stick to a vegetarian diet, you’re much more likely to pass something up, knowing you can indulge on Saturday or Sunday.
  • Learn and read as much as possible about vegetarian health and foods. Knowledge is power! If you know any other vegetarians, ask them for their tips or advice. Everyone will have something different to share, but most people are more than willing to provide a bit of advice!
  • Browse your local bookstore for a great vegetarian cookbook Look for one that not only appeals to you, but has a variety of recipes that are simple enough for everyday use. My book – No oil vegetarian cooking, is one that should greatly benefit you, as it contains healthy tasty vegetarian recipes!
  • Try new restaurants. Seek out Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and Thai restaurants and taste the many dishes and foods they have to offer.

Also try out these vegetarian recipes that will ensure you don’t get too many non-vegetarian food cravings!

Rajma ki Galauti

Roasted Pumpkin with Quinoa

Soya Baingan Keema

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

The great garlic!

It’s raining hard and you are having a freshly made vada pao with its dry red lasun chutney. This dry lasun chutney is the clincher. Remove it and you can actually start feeling bereft of the authentic taste of Mumbai’s soul food.

Lasun, lehsun, lasan, garlic…give it your name and it remains the same, good old herb that has tonnes of health benefits. It is anti-social because it has an odour but it is possible to go out with teeth properly cleansed even if you have just snacked on fried garlic pods.

Homely recipes
Fried garlic pods? Don’t I just love them when done in ghee. In Punjab, when the days are too cold, people still fry whole garlic pods on a tawa with pure ghee…the pods should turn a nice brown and once off the heat, sprinkle with a little salt. Have one with every bit of roti. Okay, have half or a quarter but do have it! It’s a blood warmer, it’s a heart strengthener and it makes brushing necessary! The same way, green garlic stalks are something Gujaratis simply love to use in the undhiyo in the winter season. Can also chop the greens and sautĂ© them lightly in ghee and have as an accompaniment with dal and bajra rotla.

The strength of the clove
I recommend that this cousin of the onion, shallot and leek be treated with a sharp knife and you would know that the finer you chop the clove stronger will be the flavour in the recipe. In fact I love to rub a bowl with garlic and then mix my salad in it. The taste is just perfect: something between there and not there! Believe it or not, one raw garlic clove, finely minced or pressed releases more flavour than a dozen cooked whole cloves.

Oh for the love of it!
Talk about garlic and the word breath follows! What can be done for garlic breath? Some say chew parsley, some say stick around with people who eat garlic! In fact, I read somewhere that even today no one in the British Royal Family eats garlic (so as not to have breath that might offend), and as a result no one who works for them is a garlic-eater either. And in the other extreme there is a Stinking Rose Restaurant in San Francisco that serves only garlic dishes. Garlic Ice cream included. The proportion is three cups milk to quarter teaspoon crushed garlic and a lot of cream and sugar and egg yolks. But garlic flavour gets to it for sure! There is a restaurant older than this in Helsinki. This restaurant serves garlic cheesecake and garlic everything, even garlic beer. The restaurant was founded in 1987 and has been open every single day since then – they do not close even for Christmas Eve, which is most unusual in Finland!

The right choice
Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian. Wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian and lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese and garlic makes all food good! It’s hard to cook with garlic without getting some on your hands. After exposure, scrub your hands with salt and lemon juice, using cold water. Then rinse off with soapy warm water. And while shopping, choose garlic heads that are firm to the touch, with no nicks or soft cloves. If you notice dark, powdery patches under the skin, pass it up because this is an indication of a common mould, which will eventually spoil the flesh.

As garlic ages, it will begin to produce green sprouts in the centre of each clove. These infant green sprouts can be bitter, so discard them before chopping the garlic for your recipe. However, if you plant the cloves and let them sprout to a height of about six inches, you can use the greens in other recipes.

I have seen some people take garlic oil rather casually. If you have to store garlic cloves in oil do so under refrigeration to avoid potentially-deadly botulism bacteria growth. This garlic flavoured oil can be used as and when you need it. Other ready forms available are garlic salt and garlic paste. This saves you from peeling and preparing the cloves but if you have a good garlic press, you don’t even need to peel garlic cloves before pressing. Just place the unpeeled clove in the tool cavity, press and discard the skins left in the cavity.

Cook for health
Indian medicine has been using garlic as a remedy for many ills for more than 2000 years. Modern science also recognizes these qualities and garlic is suggested as an antioxidant. For the cook, garlic has many journeys to embark upon. A burnt garlic and mint chutney can make a kabab more heavenly just the same way garlic bread with lasagna is a veritable feast. And what about the teekhi teekhi red lasun chutney that puts life into the vada pao? Khao to jaano! Meanwhile try out these gorgeous recipes with the robustness of garlic!

 Chilli Garlic Fish Rice
Chilli Garlic Fish Rice

Lehsuni Paneer Tikka

Red Chilli and Garlic Chutney

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Fusion is here to stay…

Fusion dining is in! At my home, we have a mix of Punjabi preparations and Gujarati food at one meal…something like bharwan bhindi with thin rotlis and Gujarati Kadhi with pyaaz ke chawal. Fusion cuisine is a mix of two or more regional or international cuisines or it can also mean a perfect blend of variety of ingredients and cooking techniques to create a delicious fusion of tastes and flavours.

Fusion cooking is a delight! It creates magic and is fairly easy to do. When we combine a number of cuisines in one meal, we cater to the new generation of food choices and this is what the hospitality industry is capitalizing on right now. We have five star hotels giving a multi-cuisine buffet with a choice of fresh Italian pastas, Indian kababs and main courses, Chinese noodles and a mind boggling range of cakes, mithais and puddings. Take a look at Indian wedding menus – there is everything from live pastas and live Chinese stations to freshly made roomali rotis. These fusion meals are perfect for those who love to taste new foods and relish the different foods of the world. Well, it could also be a fusion menu taking different dishes from different states of India, giving the traditional foods a chance to be enjoyed in one single sitting.

Creating new tastes is the single most aim of fusion cuisine. There are immense number of possible combinations between culinary styles in terms of spices, sauces, fillings and recipe ingredients. Soy sauce is always linked to Chinese food, oregano to Italian food and tortillas to Mexican food. But now, all thanks to fusion cooking, there are no specific boundaries to typical recipes and there are holds barred for creating new sensational tastes. The best example is the Chinese food that is prepared in our country. The food is spicy, with sauces and vegetables that are not heard of in China. The final presentation is certainly not what authentic Chinese food looks like. But this Indo-Chinese cuisine is very popular simply because the fusion of ingredients caters perfectly to the Indian palate. Around the world, our Chicken Tikka is entering the European eateries and as you travel you could come across Chinese dimsums filled with a very English meat filling or even an Italian risotto strongly flavoured with ginger. Or cooking styles can be adapted: the French poaching method to cook a very Southeast Asian tofu.

The classic traditional recipes are being considered as ordinary by a big chunk of the hospitality industry hence the widespread choices of mixed cuisine. In order for the chefs to keep creating something novel and exciting for the patrons, it is essential to mix and match ingredients and come up with culinary wonders. A successful fusion is the one that can discover unheard of combinations and that can please most palates. Chefs who want to experiment with fusion cuisine need to research their ingredients carefully and think about how flavour and textures will combine for the patrons. Well, one could aim for novelty, but practicing a little restraint is also important because people’s likes and dislikes vary so widely.

Personally I enjoy making fusion foods. I have made a Gulab Jamun Cheesecake, Rasgulla Amrakhand, Chocolate Paan Rolls, Idli Satay, Uttappam Pizza, Shrimp Idli, Sichuan Parantha, Corn and Cheese Dosa, Tiramisu Ice-cream, Gajar Halwa and Sponge Cake Sizzler, Paan Kulfi, to name just a few. These are creative attempts to combine two textures, two flavours and present something new and exciting. When it comes to main courses, I have here for you some recipes to enjoy.

I strongly feel that fusion of two or more cuisines is New World Cuisine and it has encouraged culinary globalization and has increased cultural interaction through media and travel. Fusion cuisine has encouraged adaptation and has helped to expand the cookbook industry too. Furthermore, as people are becoming increasingly alert of healthier lifestyles, the idea of mixing the healthiest elements from a variety of cuisines has become appealing. I have authored a book on Indian cooking using olive oil as the medium.

Fusion food is on the rise and this is just the beginning and why not because combining the best elements of different food cultures would most likely produce a great dish, unless of course you decide to push the experimenting too far! Try some of these tried and tested fusion food recipes that should help you get into the flow of things.

Black Grape Pani Puri

 

Aloo Kulcha Pizza

 

Black Forest Rasmalai Cake

 

Happy fusion cooking!