It’s a spicy affair – Indian spices and their uses

With friends belonging to different parts of India, my taste buds have been treated with all sorts of delicacies – dal pakwaan, handwa, thalipeeth, makkai roti with sarson ka saag, thepla, bisi bele bhaath, idiappam, gate ki sabji, dal bati, to name a few. And on the occasions, I have visited their homes; I have seen their kitchen shelves stacked with the same spices that my mother uses.

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Spices are a regular feature in every Indian kitchen. These spices not only add dollops of taste and a pop of colour but also bring in a host of health benefits.

Besides food enhancers, spices have been long recognized for their medicinal properties. No wonder my grandma always insists on a cup of ginger tea when I am down with a cold. Or a teaspoon of methi daana when I am constipated.

Without further ado, let’s explore the staple ingredients which lend Indian food their magic: Continue reading

4 packaged products you can cook at home easily

I come from a family where we make our own pickles; mango, red chilli, green chilli, chick pea, carrot, lime, lesava, kair, etc. We have never got a store-bought jar of pickle till date. Till a couple of decades ago, we even made papad, khakhra, ketchup, jams, potato and banana wafers, etc. at home. There was no McDonald’s then, and the only types we had seen or eaten were the homemade fries.

I remember there was a particular ketchup brand called ‘Volfarm’ which claimed it didn’t use pumpkin as was the case with other ketchup brands. And people believed it. In those days, Indians were a trusting lot. If a TV commercial showed a man wearing a white doctor’s coat lauding a particular toothpaste, oil or biscuit, we never thought that the brands would be lying to us. We fell for them, left, right and center. Continue reading

Aachar & chutney – Magic foods for good health

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My grandmother’s thali is incomplete without home-made chutney and aachar. And that is the secret of her well-being. Even at 75, she walks for 5 kilometers a day, has no wrinkles. And also, she has never spent a day lying in the bed.

She firmly believes that our ancient Indian food and practices are the ideal way to solve the health problems we – the processed and packaged food generation – face. And looking at her health, I couldn’t agree more!

Indian food is rich in variety owing to its cultural diversity. Whether its spices or side dishes, every constituent of traditional Indian cooking brings along a bevy of health benefits. And today we are going to explore the magic and goodness that lies within them. Continue reading

All Things Cholesterol: The good, the bad & the truth

“I will have a packet of cashews!“ I placed my order. My friend who had ordered a can of diet coke for herself was shocked.

“That thing is full of fat and cholesterol! Aren’t you supposed to know that?”

However, I don’t blame her. Over the years, we have been made to believe that nuts are highly loaded with fats and cholesterol.

Yes, all the nuts are naturally fat rich. But are nuts high in cholesterol? And is cholesterol really bad for us? Despite, the negative press cholesterol that this fatty substance often gets, it isn’t entirely bad for us.

Basics of cholesterol.

What is it?

Cholesterol is a substance made in the liver and it is vital to human life. Only animal bodies can produce cholesterol. Thus, you can find it ONLY in humans and animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy.

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Yes, that’s right! There is NO cholesterol in cashews, peanuts, cooking oils etc. So, the next time a cooking oil flashes the below punchline.

XYZ oil – Live healthier, live longer with our 0% cholesterol free oil

Know better to not let your eyeballs drop in the shopping mart aisle anymore.

The liver, other organs, and other cells in your body produce about 75% of the cholesterol in your blood. And, the other 25 % of cholesterol in your body is affected by the foods you eat.

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Since we eat more foods including cholesterol, our liver compensates by reducing its own production of cholesterol and removing excess cholesterol.

We have got natural processes to take care of cholesterol balance in the blood. And we totally disturb this balance and interrupt cholesterol functioning when we chose any “low fat” or “fat-free” products.

What does cholesterol do in our bodies?

Our body uses cholesterol to make a few essential hormones, including:

  • Sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone in women, and testosterone in men, which help the sex organs develop and are involved in reproduction.
  • Cortisol, which helps your body respond to stress.
  • Aldosterone, which balances the number of minerals in your body.
  • Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium to strengthen your bones.

So why exactly is cholesterol bad for us? One might think.

The levels of cholesterol in the blood are not the problem but the type of cholesterol is. Cholesterol travels in the blood in packages called lipoproteins, which consist of lipids (fats) and protein. Cholesterol packaged in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called “bad” cholesterol because too much LDL in the blood can lead to cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries. LDL carries most of the cholesterol in the blood.

The high-density lipoprotein (HDL), often called “good” cholesterol, is another type of cholesterol package. HDL helps transport cholesterol from other parts of the body to the liver, which helps remove it from the body, preventing it from piling up in the arteries.

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The third type of lipoprotein is very low density (VLDL). This package transports triglycerides in the blood; high levels of VLDL and triglycerides can consequently lead to the risk of heart disease.

Some people with normal cholesterol levels get heart attacks while others with high levels do not—  the difference is in the levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol, their ratio and chronic inflammation in their bodies.

Inflammation and oxidation are interrelated processes. Inflammation is the body’s healthy response to injury, irritation or infection. It neutralizes harmful micro-organisms, helps repair wounds and cleans up debris. However chronic inflammation is an unhealthy condition which generates a constant supply of harmful free radicals (also called as oxidation) that panics our anti-oxidant defences.

  • We fearfully remove the full-fat milk and egg yolks; replace them with egg whites and low-fat yoghurt or fat-free butter.
  • We don’t get enough antioxidants (to fight oxidation) because we conveniently ditch the bowl of salad and a portion of fruit out of the meal plan.
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  • A biscuit packet (full of white flour and sugar) has become our go-to snack.
  • We make all possible excuses to miss the gym session or the jog outside.
  • Pulling an “all nightery” has now become the trend.

Such diet habits and lifestyle adaptations are the major components which are consequently making the cholesterol bad for your body!

Making Cholesterol good by yourself for yourself!

Don’t drink the fruit – eat it!

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Drop “juices” (canned) from your grocery list today. Because the processing takes out all the antioxidant from any fruit. And there’s a risk of toxicity due to the high dose of sugar and loads of preservatives, left in the can.

Rather have fresh and whole fruit. Minimize its contact with air and metal to maintain the antioxidant profile.

Manage your type of cholesterol!

Make sure you take dietary measures to control the bad type of cholesterol build up and increase the good type to help your body. Exercise often, eat a heart-healthy diet by including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and oilseeds, etc., maintain a healthy body weight in order to keep your good cholesterol working in your body. Limit the intake of red meat, avoid smoking, choose leaner cuts while picking your meats, avoid organ meat and eliminate trans-fat to keep your LDL in check.

Beauty sleep!

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Sleep is the most powerful tool of our body to keep cholesterol from oxidizing. Sleep is the time when the body uses the antioxidant defence at its maximum to detoxify our body. Good sleep is a great stress manager too. So, don’t underestimate this in-built detoxification process and get your sleep cycle back on track. A good diet and enough exercise are going to be of great help to achieve your sleep goals.

Nuts: small packet of big energy!

Fun fact about cholesterol: plants cannot produce it. So naturally, any plant sources including nuts will not have any cholesterol contents. High time we shift fearlessly to our traditional snacking option- Nuts.

Peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios are in fact good sources of essential fats like MUFA and PUFA. They keep our body from exposing to chronic inflammation.

Get your heart racing!

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We all know that lack of exercise is one of the major factors contributing to illnesses. Now it’s the time to put this piece of knowledge to use. Walk, jog, run, swim, cycle, yoga, pilates anything you like – Just do it! Any exercise which gets your heart racing is going to keep your heart healthy!

So, don’t be a prey to “cholesterol free/ fat-free” media campaigns.

Welcome cholesterol in your meal plans and host it smartly!

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Akansha is the Founder and Consultant at Beyond the Weighing Scale. With a wide range of expertise and skills, she is adept to speak about nutrition, health, lifestyle management and physical activity. She is a popular food columnist, a passionate foodie, a health enthusiast, an avid traveller and a happy yogi.

Are fried foods really bad for you?

The title itself must have grabbed your attention. After all, who doesn’t love eating pakoda, chips, fries or samosa?

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But these delicious dishes are packed with fat, the most-calorie dense nutrient. So, what’s the solution? Learn to eat it the right way.

Frying has always been an integral part of Indian cooking. And not to forget, it can be healthy too.

The whole fad of non –fried samosa is actually bad as it increases the glycemic index of the food as compared to the fried version. You could easily gobble down 2-3 baked samosas thinking the baked versions are good for your health. However, in reality, one fried samosa is far better than 2-3 baked ones.

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Yeah, that’s the bitter truth.

But worry not! Help is at hand. Without much ado, let’s learn the smart way to eat fried.

Pairing and timing:

These two concepts of our PPTF approach should become your best friends if you want to relish fatty foods without worrying about the weighing scale. Once you learn to implement these two concepts, you’ll be able to make every day a cheat day!

Instead of the evening, savour your fatty food early in the morning, when you’re more active and your BMR is at its peak. As a result, fewer calories will get converted into fat.

Let’s say, you are in the mood for a samosa. Our advice is to skip the pav and instead get a protein-rich egg-white omelette or a besan chilla for breakfast along with the samosa. This way, you’ll get all your three pillars of nutrition – proteins, fats, and carbohydrates – in one meal. And btw, restrict yourself to one samosa.

Similarly, you can eat fries made from a medium-sized potato along with grilled paneer and veggies or grilled chicken for lunch or breakfast.

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If you are craving for everyone’s favourite street food – pani puri, go ahead and treat yourself. Just remember, skip the potato and opt for sprouts, chana or ragda filling to balance the nutrients.

Choosing the right oil and cooking style:

Choose the right oil and frying method and the battle is half-won. Groundnut oil is your best bet. With its high smoking point and goodness of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, it is the ideal oil for frying.

Cooking fried at home is a trick that always works. You can monitor the quality and quantity of oil. Since frying is a tedious process, this way you’ll only use the frying pan once or twice a month. And yeah, deep frying at a high flame is much better than deep frying at a slow flame since lesser oil will be absorbed.

PS: Shallow frying may seem a healthier alternative, but sometimes, it absorbs more oil than deep frying. So, keep an eye on the oil you use while you shallow fry.

Some frying secrets:

Now, we are sharing some super tricks that will allow you to eat fried foods without any guilt attached:

Control the moisture

If the moisture of a particular food is high, the fat absorption goes double or even triple. So, keep the moisture content in check to ensure that fried foods do not absorb excess oil.

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Let’s say you are preparing batata wada at home. The besan batter has to be of pouring consistency. If you add a lot of water, then the wada will absorb more oil and in turn, make it greasier and fatty. The same rule applies for pakodas.

The ‘magic’ ingredient

A soya-fortified batter is an excellent way to increase the protein content and lower oil absorption. Adding 10% soy flour with wheat flour or 20% soy flour to gram flour batter reduces oil absorption by nearly 20%. Now, that is a smart trick to ‘have your pakoda and eat it too’.

Avoid using fried oil repeatedly for frying

When we reuse oils, its smoking point decreases. This, in turn, leads to higher fat absorption.

Simple steps such as avoiding sodium bicarbonate in the batter or removing your favourite munchie on an absorbent paper will keep the fat in fried foods in check.

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And if you are looking to get some smart recommendations on making nutritionally balanced meal plans then head right to bon happetee app and try the “build my meal” feature in meal suggestions section. Just tell us what you feel like eating and let the app build a complete meal around it. Say no to diet plans, say yes to smart meal plans and lose weight naturally.

Happy eating fried foods from team bon happetee 🙂

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Vishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.

Eating at night & weight gain

You are doing everything that you ought to. You stock your kitchen and fridge with greens and vegetables, you supervise the tiniest morsel that goes into your mouth and it’s been months that you have tasted your favourite ice cream or dessert. But, when you weigh yourself at the end of the month, you realize that nothing is working. You have gained weight, yet again! In spite of so many sacrifices.

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Certain night time eating habits sneak into your lifestyle without your knowledge that might play a big spoilsport in your weight loss journey.

Munching in the night. Surely, you wouldn’t have thought of this practice as the reason for your weighty woes, right? But, night time munching is keeping you away from attaining your fitness goals. Let’s understand how this habit is creating havoc with your weight loss.

Ask yourself – Does my dinner look heavier than lunch?

If the answer is a yes, then you need to reduce your portion size at dinner.

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The reason is simple:

We are more active in the morning versus the evening. As our activity levels decrease, your body requires fewer calories. With a heavy dinner, you overload the digestive system, which is winding for the day. It will convert all those extra calories into fat.

So, a king-sized dinner results in a ‘fat hangover’, which makes it far worse than the alcohol one.

However, it’s not just the quantity, but also the food choices at night which cause weight gain.

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Cream-based gravies or soups, fried food, and desserts are difficult to digest. And as the day progresses, digesting these foods becomes tougher.

With nine calories per gram, fat is the most fattening nutrient, whereas sugar in dessert quadruples the calories.

So, the super-healthy chole bhature, paneer paratha or dal makhni and jeera rice which is otherwise nutritionally balanced meals do not make for an ideal dinner. Eating high-calorie meals at night stands among one of the top reasons you’re struggling with the extra pounds.

Now, do you eat dinner late at night, say around 10:30 -11 pm?

If it’s an affirmative, then you’ll have to change your dinner timing.

The earlier you dine, the better it is because you would be less active late in the night. And less activity with a late dinner is a double whammy for your weight gain.

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Staying up late at night increases your chances of munching. It also increases the levels of ghrelin hormone which increases appetite and decreases the levels of leptin hormone aka the satiety hormone.

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Late-night television or internet browsing is often associated with snacking on salty, fried or sugary foods. You wouldn’t even possibly realize you’ve finished a packet of chips or an entire brownie while surfing these gadgets. What’s more is that this habit will create havoc with your sleep pattern. And puff goes your weight loss goal.

So, late dinners and sleeping late at night slim down your chances of getting slim. Fixing a regular sleep and early dinner time is the key to a healthier and lighter you.

  • Some tips that’ll help you break free of these incorrect night-time eating habits:
  • A long interval between lunch and dinner often results in heavy dinner. Grab a wholesome evening snack – grilled sandwich, frankie or idli, sambhar and chutney – to bridge the gap.
  • Don’t watch television while eating dinner. Any distraction during meals increases the chance of overeating.
  • Drinking alcohol is associated with overeating and bad sleep. So, it’s advisable to stay away from booze if you want a good night’s snooze.
  • Try to eat dinner before 9 pm. If that’s not possible, eat a khakhra, roasted makhana or kurmura before you leave from work. Once you reach home, restrict yourself to one chapati/ half a bowl of rice, dal and some vegetable. A light snack before heading back home will keep the portion size in check.
  • Most importantly, don’t skip dinner or only eat soups, salads and fruits. Eat a balanced but light dinner. You’ll wake up happy and fresh the next day. It will clear your bowels and possibly help you shed some kilos along the way!

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  • Stay away from the low-carb and high-protein dinners. As proteins are super difficult to digest, you’ll end up sleeping with a bloated tummy.
  • It’s important to keep the frequency of desserts and fried foods in check. Savour them only on special occasions. And if you can’t control the craving, relish it as a mid-morning snack.
  • Try to walk 1000 steps or sit in vajrasan for five minutes after dinner instead of immediately lying down on the couch or hitting the bed.

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  • Skip the night-time craving for tea, hot chocolate or coffee since their caffeine content affects sleep. A cup of warm milk with cardamom or chamomile tea will induce good sleep.
  • Small habits after you are done with dinner like brushing your teeth immediately or chewing fennel seeds go a long way to keep your weight in check. Read more about this here.

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With a tab on these sneaky habits, we are sure there’s nothing that can keep you away from attaining your weight loss goal.

So, here’s hoping to happy and healthy night-time habits along with a healthier and happier you. ?

 

content writer - bon happetee diet plan appVishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.

Let’s bash the Monday morning blues

Weekends! Such a delightful word. Adult life is all about living for the weekends… We start the countdown from Wednesday itself (and some we know impatiently wait for it since Monday morning ?)! Dinner, movie, shopping, clubbing, socializing… you name it and the plans are already on for Friday-Sunday! But, as soon as it’s Sunday evening, the happiness bubble bursts. The Monday blues start attacking you. The fun times are over and you have to get back to the harsh reality.

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We, at bon happetee, understand your phobia for Monday mornings, after all, who would want to get up early and face the world after partying wildly throughout the weekend? But, for how long are we going to let Monday blues ruin our happiness of the previous day? Therefore, we have a plan for you to beat them with our super tips.

First up, we want you to have a scrumptious Sunday dinner; it could be a restaurant or a takeaway at home. The only criteria here is to eat a dish you relish with a person you love. That way, you’ll whip up some wonderful memories over good food that will make you forget that tomorrow is Monday. And yes, don’t forget to share a dessert before calling it a night ?

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Do catch up on a good night’s slumber. Hitting the bed before midnight is a good idea to avoid the maddening morning rush. Obviously, you don’t want to reach office late on a Monday morning and face the music.

And finally, comes the Monday morning. And you aren’t ready to welcome it, so you keep on snoozing the alarm. But, you also know that a minute more in bed would make you late for work. So, muster all the courage you can and drag yourself out of bed. We guarantee you – a treat is coming up. 😉

So, time to wake up, dress up and see the sunny side up!

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We know that you are pressed for time and may skip breakfast, but it’s something we don’t want.

Skipping breakfast on a Monday morning, no matter how late you get, is a complete no-no. Without this super important meal, you are going to crave for the wrong foods and possibly rub someone the wrong way at home or office.

Start your week on a lip-smacking note – that’s our advice.

The sunny side up is an excellent choice for eggetarians; vegetarians can relish a peanut butter or cheese toast.

Now, you’ve got your breakfast in place. But what about lunch?

We have some delicious recipes you can whip up in a jiffy:

A pizza roll – Spread some pizza sauce on a chappati along with your favorite veggies and some cheese. It’s a lunch which packs the five pillars of nutrition in a one-dish meal.

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Bhaji sandwich –We recommend you to boil a potato and chop the veggies on Sunday itself. Mash the veggies, add in some pav bhaji masala and coriander leaves. Place the mixture and grated cheese between two bread slices. Toast it. And lo! A wholesome lunch.

Paneer and vegetable pulao – Again, we advise you to do all the pre-prep on Sunday. While you are preparing breakfast, add in the chopped vegetables, diced paneer, spices and soaked rice in a pressure cooker. By the time you are done with breakfast, your lunch will be ready.

Now with your laptop, files and dabba packed, you are off to work. Listening to music, on the way, would keep you in good spirits.

You can park your vehicle at some distance from work or get off the bus/auto a kilometer before the office. Walking to work would make you feel good with the release of endorphins.

And before you step inside your office building, nibble a small dark chocolate bar or muffin. It will allow you to face your boss and the mountain of work he has already assigned for the week. With the chocolate high, you will start work on a sweet note.

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Moving on, when it’s time for lunch, we suggest having a team lunch. Here you can discuss how you spent your weekend or the latest office rumors. Don’t get work discussions on your lunch table, if you don’t want to drive your colleagues away!

In case you haven’t been able to prepare a tiffin, pick up something tasty from the office canteen. And while you are waiting for your order to arrive, call your mom, friend or spouse. The phone conversation will nail the Monday blues in the coffin.

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With our suggestions, we are confident that by the time it’s Monday evening the weekend would not seem that far. You would sail smoothly through the week and make exciting plans for the weekend.

Happy weekend and a happier Monday morning from team bon happetee ?

content writerVishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.

 

Top Healthy Foods at Social

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Hello my fellow Foodies! It’s the weekend & we all have plans. Dinner at your favorite restaurant will surely feature in your weekend routine. Dining out equals to eating high calories that will throw your weight loss diet plan off track. But now you can eat right while you socialize with these top healthy foods at Social.

Bon happetee wants you to have a super weekend. This includes guilt-free eating at one of the popular restaurants today in Mumbai, Bangalore & Delhi – Social.

We have listed Diwali special healthy options from the Social Menu, that you can indulge in without piling the pounds Continue reading

Why should you eat little but often?

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“Eating a proper breakfast is a challenge. Forget that mid-morning meal at 11!”
“I don’t feel like eating anything with my evening chai, but when I sit for dinner, I can’t resist that extra roti/helping of rice/ dessert.”
If you are someone who gets caught in similar situations on a regular basis, you are inviting acidity, bloating, deranged sugar levels and weight gain!
Surprised? It’s the long gaps between meals that are the root cause of this problem.
Just make a small tweak to your lifestyle by eating a small meal between your main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and you will reap innumerable benefits!

Chalo, let’s talk about the benefits that these mid-meals have to offer: Continue reading