Grandmom’s special zero oil cucumber chutney

This super tangy cucumber chutney is great as an appetiser before your actual meal. I simply love the myriad flavours that jump at me when i dig into this! It’s also a great use of cucumber instead of just chopping it up as a salad…

So here goes ..

Cooking time: max. 5 minutes

Ingredients

2-3 cucumbers – medium sized, peeled and grated

1 tb Sesame (Til) seeds

2 tb jaggery

1 tb chilli powder

1/4th cup tamarind soaked in water for atleast 15 minutes

1 tsp Mustard seeds (Rai)

1 tsp cumin (Jeera)

A pinch of asafoetida (Hing)

Salt to taste

Steps

Take the grated cucumber in a large bowl and add the jaggery, salt and chilli powder to it. Mix well.

Now mash the tamarind into a pulp and squeeze out the juice into the bowl as well.

Dry roast the sesame seeds (til) in a pan for 3-4 minutes

Grind the sesame seeds into a fine powder and add it to the bowl. Mix well.

Add salt to taste.

Now add mustard seeds and jeera to a pan and dry roast on a high flame till they pop

Add asafoetida to the pan as well

Now transfer the cucumber mixture from the bowl to the pan. Mix well.

Enjoy!

Quick carrot halwa recipe – no oil, ghee, sugar or milk/mylk

Ever since i became vegan and whole food plant-based, i have always wanted to try making carrot halwa but every recipe i looked online either used oil, ghee, sugar or milk – cow milk or other vegan alternatives. Moreover, i wanted a recipe that’s quick and easy yet is super tasty. So i made my own! Trust me, this tastes so fabulous, you will forget your traditional recipe…

Cooking time: max. 20 minutes.

Ingredients

4-5 carrots, medium sized – grated

10-12 dates soaked in a cup for atleast 1 hour

1 cup of cashews and almonds mixed

Steps

Directly put the grated carrots into the vessel and let it roast on low flame with a closed lid.

Cook the carrots till the raw taste goes away. You need to keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.

After 5-10 minutes of roasting the carrots, you should notice the sweet aroma.

At this point, grind the soaked dates (along with the water) into a smooth paste and add to the carrots. Mix well.

Now powder the cashew and almonds leaving some for garnishing.

Add it to the carrot and dates mix. Mix well and let it cook for 10 minutes more with a closed lid on low flame.

Garnish with cashews/ almonds and serve hot!

PS: You will actually be able to savour the sweetness of the carrots in this recipe instead of milk and sugar in the traditional one. The dates and cashew/almond paste adds thickness to the carrots and gives a consistency similar to the original recipe.

White Sugar – the sweet enemy you need to learn to live without

It’s been a while since I posted something. Apologies for that! Been busy doing a lot of other stuff lately. But I am back! This time with something we see around us everyday and choose to shove it down our throats, most often unknowingly. Yes! I am talking about white sugar!!!

We live in a world where every eatable you buy is designed to make you crave for it more and more, to the point where the producers want to make you an addict. One way to do that is to increase the amount of salt and white sugar in everything they make because these have been known to make people want another bite. That’s because we have evolved to crave highly saturated fatty foods as there was always food scarcity back in the early days and so our systems have evolved to choose foods that give quick and easy energy and that is how our tongue decides to go for a pizza or a pasta or a burger instead of a fruit or a veggie because we are programmed to crave unhealthy. Now that’s good for business, but is that good for you, especially in the long run?

Coming back to white sugar, the leading cause of obesity and diabetes, the two main causes of premature death in the world. Just how much do we consume on a daily basis and how much is actually recommended? Any guesses???

Okay so here goes.

1 tetra-pack of Tropicana or any packaged fruit juice for that matter has about 22 grams of sugar (artificial sweetener, as bad as white sugar in essence)

Add some white bread (5 g per slice) and jam (12 g per tablespoon) to it and that amounts to about 68 g, assuming you will have at least 4 slices and obviously lot more than 1 tablespoon of the jam.

Now that may be part of your breakfast, So, that’s just one meal of the day.

Imagine you crave a sweet right after your lunch, say a brownie or if in India, a gulab jamun (Indian sweet). Let’s see how they fare.

One piece of chocolate brownie traditionally has about 12.5 g of sugar

whereas one gulab jamun can have upto 15.7 g of sugar

(Again assuming you stop at just one)

So that was our lunch there.

Now let’s assume you have coffee at least twice a day, ofcourse with milk and two teaspoons of sugar in it, if you are Indian 😀 .How much does that amount to?

Well it amounts to about 16 g of white sugar.

Then of course who can resist a few cookies here and there? Let’s add that up as well.

One oreo cookie has about 4 g of sugar.

Let’s assume you have a healthy dinner and do not consume any white sugar :):) i can already imagine people smirking!!

So let’s total up our consumption of sugar on a daily basis and see how we add up to the recommended levels.

According to the american heart association, the maximum sugar you can consume per day is 37.5 g for men and 25 g for women.This the upper limit mind you!

Our total for the day (Assuming we had a home cooked meal for dinner…ahem) comes out to ……yes….about 112 g of sugar per day!!!

That’s more than double the maximum recommended levels and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Every time you eat out and reach for you favorite pizza or any packaged food without reading the label, you are basically consuming salt and sugar beyond your capacity.

Think about it.

Is it really worth risking your heart and your life when you already know something is wrong and is avoidable? All you  need to do is turn around a packaged product and see the ingredients. It takes a few minutes but it is the difference between having a heart attack one day and running a marathon.

The best part is, you can actually live a life without white sugar in the first place. Trust me, it’s not that easy. Start small.

  1. Substitute fruits for every unhealthy sweet dish you want to feast on.
  2. You don’t have to give up on your sweet tooth completely. Opt for unrefined dark brown jaggery whenever you make sweets.
  3. Avoid eating packaged or outside food as much as possible.
  4. If required, read the labels thoroughly. Even something as innocuous as cane sugar or fructose is actually sugar and nothing else. Avoid such products.

Yes, there will be days when your cravings will get better of you and you will give in, but know that it shouldn’t side-track you from your goal of a healthy you!

PS: The sugar in fruits is not harmful in anyway. There is no limit on how many fruits you can consume. For more on fruits, visit my first post on fruits. You can read it here.

 

Hope you are having a great day! feel free to share your comments and feedback! would love to know what you think 🙂

Why I’m Not Just Vegan

Yes, you read that right.

But before I get into details, let me make it clear that I am on no fad diet. What I eat is a way of life. It’s a lifestyle I chose keeping in mind my health and I have achieved the best health possible while following it diligently.

So here’s what I avoid (apart from meat and dairy of course)

1) Processed food – By processed food, I mean food that has been mixed with chemicals or created artificially using synthetic derivatives. For e.g. Chips, biscuits or any packed item that has ingredients I am not aware of. In fact I have made it a point to read the ingredients list of every item I put in my mouth. That way I know what it can or cannot do to my body.

What’s the harm, you may ask?

Well, you see, I have long lost the habit of eating food only for taste or only for hunger. What I eat must give me health, is my motto. If it disturbs my gut or my piece of mind, it is not worth it, whether in the short or in the long run.

2) White flour – The highly refined, white flour (maida), which is present in almost everything labelled ‘fast food’ these days, has lost the bran from the original wheat flour and therefore has no nutritive value. In fact, it uses up nutrients from the body to aid its digestion. It also causes a massive sugar spike which can cause diabetes in the long run. Not only that, it clogs your arteries by increasing LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and affects digestion adversely.

3) Wheat – The wheat we get in the market today is a hybrid variety and has very little nutritive value. Apart from gluten, which is a gut irritant, the wheat protein itself can cause a host of gastrointestinal problems.

4) Refined sugar – Sweet poison as it is often called, refined sugar not only causes a sugar spike, it can lead to type 2 diabetes and if left untreated, can also lead to cancer.

What do I eat then?

Well, what I love to eat is what is called as the ‘Whole-food Plant-based diet’ which includes eating lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, essentially ensuring all your nutrition requirements are met only from plant sources and eating mostly whole foods while at that. My sweet cravings are satiated by sweets made from unrefined jaggery, or plain sugarcane juice.

Now this may sound highly restrictive to some people, considering you have to let go of fried food and cook all your meals without oil, but in the long run, I have realised, it is easier to know that you would never die of these so called lifestyle diseases than live in the constant fear of when you would be struck with a diagnosis.

PS: I am a cancer survivor. I would know.

Look out for an infographic on the difference between being vegan and being on a whole food plant-based diet in my next post.