Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Nutritious Cooking

So, the girl who spent the first two decades of her life eating pretty much rice, rasam and fried potatoes and absolutely, stubbornly refusing anything else at the dinner table, has finally started to pay attention to what she eats. And, she is amazed at how much she never knew and never bothered to find out until now. She first had her epiphany when she realized one day that she was no longer 20 and eating tubs of ice cream in bed would have it's consequences. But soon enough, she also understood that looking good was just a visible confirmation of the fact that eating right == being healthy.

However, much to her chagrin, she also learned that epiphanies do not have a ripple effect. Spouses, families, roommates will resist changing their eating habits, and while one can have a positive influence, it is a hard sell to get people to suddenly switch to soy and whole wheat. And she felt the frustration that her loving mother must have once felt when her daughter refused to eat her greens. So, she thought, what is one to do to help everyone at home eat healthy? And then it struck her. Sneak in the good, nutritious stuff, so that nobody notices! So here are a few tricks she found useful in making carb-loaded Indian food, or perhaps any cuisine for that matter, a little healthier.

Oatmeal Rava Dosa

Inspired from this blog, but adapted to my mother's recipe and tried and tested successfully on the experimental subject (a.k.a. unsuspecting husband).
For breakfast for two, you'll need:
1/2 cup sooji
2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup rice flour
Green chillis (around 4, finely chopped should be good)
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp red chilli powder

Dry roast the rolled oats for a 3-4 minutes. Then grind to a fine powder. Mix all the above ingredients together along with 3 cups of water and let sit for 15-30 minutes. After that make dosas using olive oil pam cooking spray (my new best friend). These turned out perfect - crisp, virtually oil-free, and with all the goodness of heart-healthy, soluble oat fiber no less.

One can substitute (at least partially) processed or wheat flour with oat flour in many recipes. Check out recipes for rolled oats rotis or oatmeal muffins. Tried these too. Tasted great.

Flaxseed ... in almost anything

Omega-3 rich flax seeds must be the easiest-to-hide healthy ingredient you can ever find. They really don't have any detectable flavor or taste (when ground; always grind for maximum absorption in your body) and you could sprinkle flaxseed meal in just about anything, curries, raita, roti dough, etc. without an iota of difference in taste. They are also a substitute for eggs in eggless baking. Here's a tried and tested recipe for flaxseed dosa podi (who would've thought?!)

The net is abound with many, many such healthy recipes, and the girl discovered that trying to adapt what she and her family enjoys eating into healthier versions will ensure that eating right does not feel like a punishment.

Note: Flaxseed must be consumed in moderation, not more than a teaspoon or two per day.


  1. Hey. Last time I went to India, seeing my health-conscious parents, I told myself I should start my day with a tbsp of flax-seed powder when I return back to the US. And totally forgot about that. Thanks to you.. I'll go to a drug store tomorrow and pick up a tin of flax-seed meal or whatever that's called.

  2. Hey Manjusha! Glad I could influence you to go flax :) You should be able to find flaxseed, both whole and meal, at your local wholefoods. Usually, it is recommended to refrigerate once you open the container.