Make your own convenience store

A few days ago I had discouraged you from frozen foods and many of you have asked me you do not want to as the attractions are too many in the malls plus the convenience of cooking. We do expect a lot from frozen foods, don’t we? This is got me thinking and now as we turn more health conscious we can expect to see frozen foods that are low in calories, low in fat content and have less sodium. But one word of caution. You cannot always judge the frozen food by its cover. Not even by the delicious picture that goes on the cover or the catchy name on it.

Well, one simple rule while shopping. Read the label. Check the total calories. See the portion size. They may be smaller than what you expect them to be. This is a smart way used by the packagers to keep fat levels down. Look for the percentage of calories from fat, not on the number of calories. Often fewer calories mean less food, not necessarily less fat. This is what we mentioned earlier about smaller portion sizes. They might put in some type of sauce to make a mini meal look complete but you will have to rustle up a salad and finish off with a piece of fruit to satisfy the appetite. Some prepackaged preparations come with handy sachets of readymade sauces. Skip this product and skimp on the calories and sodium. We have to be more realistic about this.

Look out when shopping for frozen eats! Here’s the what and why:
Read the ingredients: Some cases meat might not be all meat. It might be mixed with soy or wheat products. This makes it lower in fat. The taste might not be different but the portions certainly become heartier. If the label says it is a cheese dish and the list of ingredients reads cheese way down on it then you know this is cheating hence forget picking it up. It is safer to buy a product with generous amount of low fat cheese than buy something that cheats.

Always supplement your frozen meal with lots of either frozen or steamed vegetables which are quick and convenient. Remember the recommendation is to have five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. As for desserts, you could indulge in fruit yogurt etc but remember they are still sweetened with sugar and can be high in calories.

Why not make your own freezer work wonders for you in the convenience department?

Happy cooking
Sanjeev Kapoor.

There are sweet smells and sour smells, and the smell of sugar syrup on the boil, and the smell of pungent raw mango….all from our kitchen where new pickles are being tried out for you! I am sure most homes have the same activity in these weeks.

Also happening is a lot of decluttering …time to pick up and throw out the culprits like the foods that can cause any diet to falter. No matter what diet you are following, these few foods I will list are the ones that anyone serious about losing weight should give a miss:

White bread is really tasty. Especially when there is a nice layer of butter one slice and jam on the other! There is a good reason to love white bread. Most of us grew up on it! Plus, it is easy to like the taste of it better than whole grain varieties. White bread digests much quicker than whole wheat and therefore leaves you feeling hungry much sooner.

Fizzy drinks – This ‘sugar water’ is full of empty calories that go down so easily. Just one serving of regular cola packs in more than a hundred calories. But how many of us stop at just one serving? Go back for refills at your favourite fast food eatery and you can easily consume thousands of liquid calories in one sitting.
Juice sounds healthy, but fruit juice can pack in as many — if not more — calories than sweet aerated drinks. Go for the freshly squeezed citrus juices and try to avoid the pre-packed tetra packs. They only offer a momentarily quenching of thirst at convenience but the price to pay for this is heavy!
Frozen foods – Fish sticks and chicken nuggets may be convenient as they are easy to cook in the microwave, absolutely ready in seconds but they always mean diet disaster. They have been deep fried long before they have made their way to your freezer. Stick with fish and chicken as your protein choices, they are great for a low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet. Ensure to choose broiled, grilled, steamed and roasted varieties instead. Dairy is good for us because of its nutrient-content, particularly for women, who need calcium to prevent osteoporosis. But full-fat dairy products like whole milk and regular cheese are very not waistline-friendly in the least.

Well, the fact is that no one can always avoid fattening foods all the time. Remember, when it comes to long-term weight management, small changes are the ones you will find it easier to stick with. Try these low fat foods but tasty foods: Chicken stew, Apple Slaw, Chutney Lassi.

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Yesterday, I made a trip to Vadodara. First halt was at Hotel Surya Palace where I was there especially to visit the hotel management school being run by a very dear friend and his wife. This Hotel School is affiliated to a university in Switzerland. I cam across some beautiful premises well executed, a practical kitchen, learned faculty and a very good bunch of smart and enthusiastic students. I spoke to the students and the faculty, wished them well, complimented the management and came out impressed.

The second halt was at a factory to make frozen food , mainly for exports belonging to the same group. I was amazed to this state of the art factory being run by this 27 year old lad with such a vision and clarity. We had to remove all our accessories before entering the production area and we were covered from head to toe with protective clothing’s including a mask.

It was the same scene inside with all the employees as if we were in a pharmaceutical company. This standard was as good as any other premium factory in a developed country or to match HACCAP or ISO standards. Food was being made by Chefs and then it was packaged and blast frozen in a very scientific and methodical way. Post that I shared my lunch with the owner and a colleague of mine in the factory itself, most efficiently served. The only speciality about the lunch was that it was made 5 months ago and everything was tasting fresh and tasty. Then we had a photo session with all the staff. From here also I came out very happy and impressed. Things are actually happening in towns other than metros.

Already late by 2 hours I proceeded to my next destination Ahmedabad. Here, I was to finalise a place for my restaurant brand ‘The Yellow Chilli’s‘ next outlet. Post doing that, by midnight I was back to my Karam bhoomi – Mumbai.

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor