Fitness
Festive foods made healthy
Enjoy the festival season, eat, drink and be merry. Plan the food that you eat during this time to avoid unhealthy snacking

The festive season has begun and with it are also foods that are rich and heavy, making your cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar rise. Of course, we all want to enjoy the food. But letís rethink and plan the food that we eat during this time. During these days, various sweets are made and a lot of us fast. Our regular food is completely altered. Unfortunately we have forgotten that fasting is about eating light food which is easy to digest.

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

The most crucial seeming part of the celebrations is the mithais. Our Indian habit of "muh meetha karo" let everyone take liberty with their health. Of course, sugar is required by the body, but we need to find better options for mithais without depriving ourselves of either merriment or health.

Letís start thinking first about the basic sweet during the festive season óthe prasad. This offering to God is distributed to everyone for blessings. Eating something sweet is considered auspicious. Unfortunately, todayís sweets are high in sugar, and are also often deep fried. But we can always make them healthier without compromising on the taste.

Itís simple; letís go back to ancient Indian wisdom, where these rituals originated and where white sugar was rarely used. The sweets were sweetened with jaggery or dry fruits, such as dates and raisins. We, too, should sweeten our payasams, sheeras and sajiggas, with jaggery and raisins. We could even make sweets only with dry fruits like dates, apricots and figs. These are delicious and contain natural sugar as well as vitamins and minerals that can increase iron and calcium content. Dates, prunes, raisins, apricots and figs are zero in fat. To make khoobani ka meetha, take aloo bhukara or dried apricot), chop a few figs in it. Then soak and boil it. Hot or chilled, this mithai tastes delicious! Donít add white sugar or fat.

Have steamed snacks like dhokla
Have steamed snacks like dhokla
Idlis are a better choice than fried vadas
Idlis are a better choice than fried vadas

Opt for salted fresh lime or jaljeera. Avoid soft drinks and fruit juices
Rasgulla is healthier than gulab jamun
Rasgulla is healthier than gulab jamun
Avoid fried snacks like dahi vada
Avoid fried snacks like dahi vada
High in sugar, sweets are often deep fried
High in sugar, sweets are often deep fried

The best fat is the one that comes from nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts and coconut. Alternatively, thereís cowsí ghee. Sweets made from these nuts contain good quality fat sources like nuts and coconut which decrease cholesterol and maintain blood sugar levels. So replace unhealthy fat with healthy fat. Instead of fried sweets have sweets like payasam, mishti dahi, sandesh or even fruits with yoghurt.

Even during fast, replace sabudana wada with sabudana khichdi, fried potato with boiled potato with chili and salt puris with rajgira (amaranth) roti or singhada (water chestnut) flour. Combine with a cucumber salad and light vegetables like white gourd or pumpkin.

No need to avoid samosas or vadas. Because you can bake anything you can fry. Replace fried snacks with baked ones; fried chivda with roasted one, etc. Frankie rolls are a very good substitute for samosas. Chakris, puris and kachoris can be made with less fat and baked. Savories like patras, muthias, dhoklas or mini idlis can be steamed. Lots of vegetables can be added to these. Fried aloo tikkis can be replaced with the roasted aloo tikki either baked or on a non stick pan. One can roast potato bondas in an idiappam maker. Fried chats can be converted to simple boiled potato with curd with date chutney roasted cumin powder, chili and rock salt. A bowl of fried snacks is 500 calories where as 30 pistachios is only 100 calories and packed with vitamins.

Refresh yourself with a variety of healthy drinks, be it rejuvenating coconut water, or a sugarcane juice. Alternatively, there is also the chatpata jaljeera, or even refreshing masala buttermilk. While going out, opt for a salted fresh lime soda and avoid colas, soft drinks as well as fruit juices.

All in all, enjoy the festivities! Donít deprive yourself, and simply get healthy alternatives to the foods that will cause you harm.

Remember to take the time out to exercise. Whether itís a simple walk, swimming, or yoga, or cycling ó or even dancing! Make it a group activity, if you feel it motivates you more.

Keep in mind that a little bit of tasting food here and there ó throughout the day ó add up to a lot of calories. So, even when youíre cooking, avoid tasting too much.

Itís mandatory to remember that the whole point of celebrating is getting together, and not to eat. Be wary of using this as an excuse for binging on unhealthy foods. There is no need to miss out on fun and celebration, but youíre not bound to eat everything in sight.

When you consume the foods which have lesser calories, you gain less weight and the possibility of obesity, diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels is far lesser.

ó The writer is Mumbai-based obesity and lifestyle disease consultant. She also councils for diets online . Email Ė healthforyou@vsnl.net / healthforyou@nainisetalvad.com, www.nainisetalvad.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEALTH CAPSULES
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