Fruity facts!

With so many lifestyle diseases being evident today it is time to incorporate more fruits in our daily diet because fruits are great sources of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (a group of compounds that may help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes) and soluble fibre. Except for a few varieties (coconut, olives, avocados) all fruits are low in fat and calories. Fruits also satisfy your sweet tooth without loading up on calories.

Eating a variety of fruits is vital because different fruits provide different nutrients. For example, oranges and kiwi fruit are good sources of vitamin C. Bananas are a good source of potassium and apricots are high in vitamin A. So if you rarely venture beyond a few of your favourites, you are missing out on the nutrients and benefits of other fruits.

Here are suggestions to help you select the highest quality fruits when you are shopping, ways to store them once you get home, and tips for preparing and serving fruits to enhance their flavour and retain their nutrients.

Selecting top quality fruits: Choose in-season fruits. Select fruits that feel heavy for their size as heaviness is a good sign of juiciness. Smell fruits for characteristic aromas. Fruits should generally have their characteristic ripe scent but not smell overly ripe. For example, muskmelon should not smell too musty, especially if you do not plan to eat it right away. Also test the texture. A kiwi that feels mushy to the touch is too ripe. However, an avocado with a somewhat spongy texture is ideal. Be sensitive to the correct texture for the specific fruit you are interested in.

Storing tips: Keep fruits at room temperature to ripen them. Store ripe fruits in your refrigerator. The cool temperature slows the ripening process, giving you longer storage times. The length of time you can store fruit depends on many factors, including how ripe the fruit is at the time of purchase and the type of fruit. Oranges keep well from one to two weeks in your refrigerator. Others, such as strawberries and grapes may ripen and spoil in less time, even in a couple of days.

Serving ideas:

  • Prepare fresh fruit within about an hour of serving to maximize flavour, texture and nutrients. Some salads benefit from a little chilling time (about 30-60 minutes) for the various flavours to mingle well together.
  • Wash all fruits thoroughly under cold running water before cutting or eating whole. This includes those fruits with hard shells or skins, such as melons. That is because the knife you use to cut the melon could transfer germs from the surface into the flesh. Wash your hands before and after handling fresh fruits.
  • Leave on edible peels whenever possible. The peels of apples, pears and most fruits with pits add interesting colour and texture to recipes and contain added nutrients and fibre.
  • Remove zest from citrus peels before discarding and save it for other recipes. The zest is the thin, brightly coloured, outermost layer of citrus fruit, such as lemons or oranges. Grated or shredded, it adds a bright spark of flavour and colour enhancement to both sweet and savoury dishes.
  • A healthy diet does not have to be monotonous. Be adventurous. Try all the new and unfamiliar fruits. You may be surprised to find that you like them, and they will add interest and more health benefits to your diet.

Try this recipe and find several more on http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com

FRESH FRUIT TART

FRESH FRUIT TART 

Ingredients

1 pear
1 small pineapple, peeled
1 medium mango
1 kiwi, peeled
2 plums
2-3 large red grapes
2½ cups refined flour + for dusting
1 cup butter + for greasing
½ cup castor sugar
1¼ cups chilled whipped cream

Method

1. Preheat oven at 180°C. Line a 7-inch tart mould by greasing with a little butter and dusting with little refined flour.

2. To make tart mould, combine refined flour, butter and castor sugar in a bowl. Rub well till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Add little water and mix into a soft dough. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

4. Dust dough with little flour and roll out into a large disc. Line the prepared tart mould and press from inside so that the dough set properly inside the mould. Discard the edges, press the sides with the thumb and prick the inside base with a knife. Fill the inside by keeping kidney beans on the base and put in the preheated oven. Blind bake for 12-15 minutes.

5. Remove mould from oven and demould.

6. Cut and deseed pear. Roughly chop pineapple. Peel, deseed and roughly chop mango. Slice kiwi. Deseed and roughly chop plums.

7. Spread whipped cream inside the tart mould and level it out. Place chopped fruits on it the way you want.

8. Deseed red grapes and halve them. Place them in the tart and serve immediately.

PS: This recipe is such that you can try out several different combinations of fruits and toppings, let me know if you put your own spin on it and how!

Till then
Happy cooking, happy eating! Stay healthy stay fit!

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Healthy cooking – our ready reckoner for low fat eating

Stir-frying, broiling and grilling are all excellent ways to prepare foods. Steaming vegetables with a touch of garlic for flavour makes a good side dish. Combine that with some brown rice. That is one good sample of healthy cooking.
When making desserts, substitute applesauce for fat, cut the amount of sugar called for in half and use egg whites instead of eggs. Reach for either dried fruit or fresh fruit instead of a candy bar. Why not have a Melon Scoop Salad for dessert? Eliminate sodas and increase your water intake instead. When buying juice, read the label. If it contains juice made from concentrate or lists sugar as an ingredient then know that it contains more sugar than juice. Aim for buying the ones that list only the fruit and water or that state it is not from concentrate. Use less sugar when making cookies or dessert.
One of the simplest ways to increase the nutrient-dense foods in your diet is to eat as much fruit and vegetables, preferably raw, as you would like. Carrots, bananas, and apples are very portable and provide you with energy, vitamins and minerals. Studies show that people who eat several servings of fruits and veggies daily benefit in numerous ways. Also, due to their high fiber content, many fruits and vegetables are more satisfying to our bodies, meaning we tend to need less of them in order to feel full. One recipe for you to try out Salad Greens with Strawberry vinaigrette. If you are looking to fill up without eating too many calories, try these foods: baked potatoes, fish, oatmeal (with no butter or cream), oranges, apples, whole-wheat pasta, grapes, bran cereal, bananas and popcorn.
Changing our high-fat, high-calorie diet for a low-fat one is not about depriving ourselves. Instead, when you crave a certain food, eat it in moderation. This also does not mean that you need to avoid eating at restaurants. Just remember, when you eat one high fat meal, you need to follow that with three low-fat meals. You can also decrease the amount of fat and calories you eat when you are at a restaurant. Ask for the salad dressing on the side so you can put a little instead of too much. Look for broiled, grilled, or stir-fried selections. Ask if you can substitute egg whites for the whole egg in omelettes and other egg selections. At home try having an Eggwhite Omelette for breakfast at least once a week. Eating pasta with a tomato-based sauce versus a cream-based sauce is always a lower-fat choice.
Here we have dwelt on healthy cooking and suggest a lifestyle change for the better. Not only will you become fit, but you will feel better as well.

Latest diet rules for us

All those who read must have come across the latest findings on the new diet rules for Asian Indians splashed in the national dailies today.

High time we got to read all the data, because what is measured then gets corrected! I am not sure how many of us are keen about following the suggested recommendations, but it pays in the long run to take some pointers from these studies. It is better to be careful about our diets so that we can live for longer with less disease.

First thing that strikes is that, Indians are recommended to stay off saturated fats – because the urban and semi-urban person is becoming more and more sedentary. That is why the expanding waistlines. Next, is to include complex carbohydrates like cereals and pulses in the daily diet. Also, fibre needs to be taken seriously and made a part of the diet. That means including more fruits (with peel!) and vegetables. Protein too has to come up so look at soya, whole grains and milk. Lastly, and the most important, salt intake is to come down.

All the lifestyle related diseases like diabetes, obesity and heart diseases have precipitated in the last decade. So if you were thirty then and now looking at the forties with some fear, take heart because if we pick ourselves now, the fifties will be fighting fit!

I have been a staunch supporter of homemade food. My recipes are brought across to you in such a way that even a novice cook gets the confidence of ‘I can cook’. Have one healthy homemade meal a day for your heart’s sake…and then increase the number to two and then three.

For some starters, here are some vegetables cooked the traditional way…

Aloo ka Bharta

Bhare Baghare Tamatar

Lauki Manpasand

Till I write again.

Sanjeev Kapoor

Healthy balanced diet : fruits play an essential role

With so many lifestyle diseases being evident today it is time to incorporate more fruits in our daily diet because fruits are great sources of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (a group of compounds that may help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes) and soluble fibre. Except for a few varieties (coconut, olives, avocados) all fruits are low in fat and calories. Fruits play an essential role in imbibing a healthy balanced diet. Fruits also satisfy your sweet tooth without loading up on calories. Try Sizzling fruits with mixed fruit sauce.
Eating a variety of fruits is vital because different fruits provide different nutrients. For example, oranges and kiwi fruit are good sources of vitamin C. Bananas are a good source of potassium and apricots are high in vitamin A. So if you rarely venture beyond a few of your favourites, you are missing out on the nutrients and benefits of other fruits.
Here are suggestions to help you select the highest quality fruits when you are shopping, ways to store them once you get home, and tips for preparing and serving fruits to enhance their flavour and retain their nutrients.
Selecting top quality fruits: Choose in-season fruits. Select fruits that feel heavy for their size as heaviness is a good sign of juiciness. Smell fruits for characteristic aromas. Fruits should generally have their characteristic ripe scent but not smell overly ripe. For example, muskmelon should not smell too musty, especially if you do not plan to eat it right away. Also test the texture. A kiwi that feels mushy to the touch is too ripe. However, an avocado with a somewhat spongy texture is ideal. Be sensitive to the correct texture for the specific fruit you are interested in. Enjoy a plate of Fruit Chaat and then read on…..
Storing tips: Keep fruits at room temperature to ripen them. Store ripe fruits in your refrigerator. The cool temperature slows the ripening process, giving you longer storage times. The length of time you can store fruit depends on many factors, including how ripe the fruit is at the time of purchase and the type of fruit. Oranges keep well from one to two weeks in your refrigerator. Others, such as strawberries and grapes may ripen and spoil in less time, even in a couple of days.
Serving ideas:
Prepare fresh fruit within about an hour of serving to maximize flavour, texture and nutrients. Some salads benefit from a little chilling time (about 30-60 minutes) for the various flavours to mingle well together.
Wash all fruits thoroughly under cold running water before cutting or eating whole. This includes those fruits with hard shells or skins, such as melons. That is because the knife you use to cut the melon could transfer germs from the surface into the flesh. Wash your hands before and after handling fresh fruits.
Leave on edible peels whenever possible. The peels of apples, pears and most fruits with pits add interesting colour and texture to recipes and contain added nutrients and fibre.
Remove zest from citrus peels before discarding and save it for other recipes. The zest is the thin, brightly coloured, outermost layer of citrus fruit, such as lemons or oranges. Grated or shredded, it adds a bright spark of flavour and colour enhancement to both sweet and savoury dishes.
A healthy diet does not have to be monotonous. Be adventurous. A dish like Mixed Fruit Kheer can brighten up your evening meal. Try all the new and unfamiliar fruits. You may be surprised to find that you like them, and they will add interest to your plans of following a healthy balanced diet.

Healthy balanced diet – understanding the ‘fat’ factor

People are facing a lot of health problems these days and unfortunately one gets to hear of high cholesterol levels even in teenagers. This is a direct consequence of having too many processed foods that are so tempting for the new generation. Fruits or wholesome homemade food have taken a backseat. But the time has come now to tighten our belts and get back into shape. It would also be perfectly correct to say that high cholesterol levels are also a fall out of lack of exercise. When one can walk, one prefers to take transport, be it private or public. Most of the evening hours are spent sitting in front of the television and that too with the dinner plate in hand!

Low fat options

We should now incorporate healthy eating habits into our daily plan. We can substitute high fat foods with low fat food, which is made without the addition of visible oil or with very little of it. One can always question the pros and cons of an oil-free diet. The main thing is that we cannot do without oil. But we can certainly do with less oil in our food. And the sooner we adopt this mode of cooking the better for our health in the long run. One samosa adds 369 calories to your day’s intake, a small 105 grams pack of French fries add 320 calories. Instead, why not have two idlis which are just as filling but allow only 60 calories? Some more ideas: switch over from buffalo milk to cow’s milk – will save you up to 50 calories and 2.4 grams of fat per 100 grams. The yogurt you make will have less fat and so will the paneer.

All foods have fat

It is also necessary to understand that even if no visible oil has been used in the cooking process, all foods do contain some trace of oil/fat. Seeds like poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorns, sesame seeds and turmeric powder do have some fat content. No food is ‘fat free’, it can only be labeled as ‘low fat’ and there are no great health hazards in having ‘low fat’ foods. Even a basic arhar/toovar dal preparation has a fat content that one can talk about – 100 grams has 1.5 grams as compared to 3.7 grams in a moong dal preparation. Dals are not eaten raw and once they are cooked they do have additions of seeds and spices.

Why do we need oil

Our bodily functions do need oil to operate at the optimum as they need to be lubricated well and for this all naturally present oils are good. All are aware that oil not only enhances the taste but also makes the cooked food look good. Yes, even some salads taste better with a dash of salad oil or olive oil. Oil is an integral part of most recipes because it removes the unpalatability of the dish, it adds the needed softness as also flavour and nutrients. We have seen that we do need fat for lubrication, the fat-soluble precious vitamins and for energy.

To sum up, it is recommended to follow a diet that is low in fat but healthy in essential proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A good diet is primarily what we should be looking at. And also eating sensibly, exercising regularly will ensure a long and healthy life to all! For some ideas refer to Khumb Hara Pyaaz.

Healthy balanced diet: be alert about your body weight

There are many notions regarding body weight and its control and somehow there is never enough information to satisfy weight watchers. A few interesting contributions to the facts file of weight control follow:
One in every four persons believes that eating breakfast is not such a good idea simply because breakfast opens up the gates of appetite and then one feels hungry all day long. The fact is that if breakfast is not composed of complex and simple carbohydrates, some protein and a little fat it is not a filling meal. The choice of wrong foods leads to faster digestion hence hunger. Breakfast is a must source of energy needed to get through the morning. Try recipes like Hot and Sour Idlis.
Vegetarians generally have a view that being non-meat eaters they have the healthiest option in diet. It is not so. Certain foods like cheese and nuts favoured by vegetarians are very high in fat and cholesterol. Also the strict vegans who choose not to consume dairy products need to be careful about appropriate intake of nutrients. Vegetarianism, speaking strictly, is not the healthiest diet, but with sensible planning can be a very healthy diet.
And then there are those who starve for a few days to drop kilos quickly! What happens is that it is mainly loss of water and muscle. When one does not eat with a view to fasting leading to cleansing of the body the reverse is happening as unwanted body chemicals like ketones build up in the time the body does not have nourishment. The kidneys feel the strain and the general health suffers.
We often reach out for food that claims to be fat free thinking that one could skimp on calories. Fat free foods generally will have some other ingredients like sugar to replace the taste and texture of fat. Consequently, fat free does not really satisfy the taste buds or provide the essential vitamins that protect vital organs.
A small but important point in conclusion: Learn to identify hunger cues and try not to be tempted by larger portions. Overeating is detrimental to health and healthy eating comes from conscious effort to know your body’s requirement.

Ushering into the New Year…

My Canada and US tour is somewhat over and while I wait here to get back to my country in anticipation, the humongous amount of snow everywhere just does not seem to go down in quantity. The flights are already delayed (and some of them cancelled as well!). I am stuck here because of the snow and God only knows when this is going to get over (I really am eager to get back home now!)

Leaving my departure hassles aside, let me just talk about New Year which is around the corner. With Christmas just before the New Year, we see homes, markets and other places already lit up and dazzling with the festive and celebration mood. Trust me, it is one of my favourite times of the year with so much of happiness and joy around. And what better than food to enjoy this mood with. Try out some of my choices for this Christmas and the year end on www.sanjeevkapoor.com.

Bailey’s Irish Crème Mousse

With New Year, come resolutions because we all feel the need to change and what day is better than the beginning of the year, January 1. Resolutions help us to start afresh habits than to break an old one. This year, make sure to fulfil the goals that you set by planning them well before. Share your resolutions with family and friends and I’m sure they will help you to achieve it by encouraging and supporting you at every step. I know for sure the satisfaction that you can gain when you see yourself completing something which you’ve decided to. So, I would say just go ahead and throw up a challenge for yourself and aim to complete it!

Sticky Date Pudding

Take a pledge to maintain a healthy lifestyle by including fruits and vegetables in your diet, drinking lots of water, exercising, be good to humans as well as the flora and fauna, spread happiness around…all in all, just build a more positive behaviour! Just plan to work on such things and leave the rest to God. I’m sure He’s always there to bless and help everybody!

Apple Crumble

Till I get back home.
Sanjeev Kapoor