‘Health is wealth’ is an age-old saying. In this fast-paced world, where we all are in a rat race, we tend to neglect our health. We often indulge ourselves in comfort foods or junk foods because we mostly get bored with home-cooked healthy meals. The result being obesity, lifestyle diseases, hypertension, and the list goes on. During the current scenario, when the coronavirus, an invisible foe, has taken on and we lock ourselves up in our homes, it is time to pause and de-stress, to learn and unlearn, and to set our priorities. Now we all know that the only thing that will save us from this pandemic and many such diseases is immunity and a healthy lifestyle. So let us try to inculcate healthy eating habits that are sustainable and eventually help us in becoming the best version of ourselves.
A few years ago, I came across a book authored by Rujuta Diwekar, the celebrity nutritionist. The book was, “Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight”. This book was an absolute revelation for me. I discovered that the key to losing weight or leading a healthy lifestyle is eating right. Nutritious meals in the right amount are what will help us to lose those extra kilos and eventually help us in attaining a healthy mind and body.
What are healthy meals?
Ideally, as per the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) guidelines, one should create a healthy foundation for every meal by filling half of the plate with fruits and vegetables. Divide the other half between a serving of grains and a serving of lean protein.
- To make the vegetables enjoyable, instead of boiling or eating them raw, roast, or grill them with olive oil and herbs like rosemary, oregano, sage, or thyme.
- Also, add a squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar to improve the flavor.
- Cook vegetables with onion, garlic, vinegar, and garnish with toasted nuts.
Increase whole grains
- Reduce the intake of refined flours
- Go for whole-grain bread
- Include a variety of grains in your diet; whole wheat, corn, and brown rice. You may also explore quinoa, millet, and more.
Reduce salt and sugar
- Snack on unsalted nuts instead of chips
- Reduce the amount of salt in recipes by ¼ at first. Then after four weeks, reduce it by another ¼, so that you are using only half as much salt.
- For morning coffee or tea, use low-fat dairy alternatives instead of flavored creamies.
- Replace regular soda with fresh fruit.
- When cooking, use healthy fats like olive oil, avocado oil, or canola oil instead of butter.
- Roast foods in the oven you might normally fry.
What we eat must go a long way towards changing our attitude about food, and that makes it more sustainable in the long run.
What are some healthy meal ideas?
Healthy recipes need not be tasteless or bland. Here’s one example for you.
A traditional Indian protein-rich superfood, khichdi is an easy to prepare wholesome dish. This dish has enough proteins and carbohydrates and will leave you content. The recipe is as follows
- Rice-1/2 cup
- Moong dal-1/4 cup
- Masoor dal-1/4 cup
- Toor dal- ¼ cup
- Cooking oil-2 tbsp
- Cumin seed1 tsp
- Green chilly-2
- Ginger -2 inch
- Garlic-4-5 cloves
- Onion-1 chopped
- Tomato-1 chopped
- Turmeric-1 tsp
- Red chilly powder-1tsp
- Coriander powder-1/2 tsp
- Asafetida-1/2 tsp
- Salt to taste
Cook the rice, and lentils with enough water in a pressure cooker. It will take 4-5 whistles on high flame. Meanwhile, saute the chopped onions. When it changes color, add in the garlic and ginger and green chillies. Let it cook for five minutes. Then add the tomatoes. Let the mixture get cooked well.
At this point, you may even add vegetables of your choice, like green peas, beans, carrot or cauliflower. Cook everything till done.
For tempering, onto a pan, add ghee and when it heats add some asafetida, the masala powders, and sugar. Finally, add the sauteed mixture into the rice mixture and give a mix. Also, add the tempering. Mouthwatering and nutritious khichdi is ready!
Healthy meals for kids
Getting kids to eat right can be tricky. You want your child to eat nutritious foods and not junk. However, inculcating healthy eating should be started early. As discussed earlier, a healthy meal should include enough carbohydrates, proteins, fats and, vegetable, or fruits. The trick is in giving the right meals while the kids are hungry, which also means they should not be allowed to snack endlessly. All junk and snacks should be put away because when it is out of sight, it is out of mind. It is also advisable not to store too many snacks.
Sugary drinks or unhealthy snacks should be replaced by fruits or fruit juices (without sugar). Fruits have the right amount of sucrose, fructose, and glucose which is brain energy. It also has the right amount of antioxidants and fiber. This will help to enhance energy levels as well.
Nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, boosts memory and concentration.
Seeds like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax, and sesame seeds give the right amount of protein for development.
Best cooking methods to preserve nutrients
The way we cook food has a significant effect on the number of nutrients it contains.
Steaming is the gentlest and healthiest way to cook food. It preserves the valuable vitamins and minerals.
Grilling is also a very effective method of cooking in which we can retain the nutrients and flavor. Just be careful not to overheat the food while cooking. Place the veggies on a grilling tray and brush some olive oil. It will enhance the taste.
Baking or roasting
Baking also retains the flavor in food. For great taste, bake the vegetables with olive oil and garlic paste.
This method involves cooking with a dash of oil in a relatively high flame.
This method saves time and also brings out the best flavor from foods
It’s not hard to lead a healthy lifestyle. We don’t need any superfoods to keep us healthy. We just need to go back to basics and reinvent. Never follow any diet fads. Being obsessed with health is also not right.
Hence, let us strive to cook healthy meals at home, minimize comfort foods, always stay hydrated, and stay active.