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




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


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!

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