One of the most popular New Year resolutions — alongside exercising more, saving more, and reading more — is eating healthy. The first week of January is, generally, the time when we think of this seriously, but often, without any idea of how to go about it. Pune-based food expert and influencer Neelima Nitin shares a few tips and recipes to get you started.
“One of the first steps in eating healthy is to detox. Do you know what detox is? Does it really work? For how many days should one detox? What’s the right way? Detox mainly includes fasting, eating specific foods and avoiding high-calorie foods,” she says.
But does detox really help with weight loss? “To an extent. When you do it for a week or longer, you see a certain weight loss but it’s mostly the fluid loss from the body and, as soon as you get back to your routine diet, you tend to get back to your weight with many times extra cravings,” she says. Neelima advises adding fibrous food and drinking more water and liquids. “Having a bowl of salad at lunch and a bowl of soup at dinner helps keep you full, and you don’t end up overeating. Something light for dinner and having early dinner are great ideas,” she says.
For delicious and healthy options, here are some ideas from her:
Nachni chi ukad
Nachni, also known as ragi, is gluten-free grain. Rich in fiber, it helps with weight loss and diabetes. It’s packed with calcium, good carbs, amino acids, vitamin D and iron, which helps in fighting weak bones and anaemia, apart from weight loss. It’s good for children as it’s easy to digest.
Ragi flour: 1 cup
Buttermilk, a little sour: 1 big bowl
Cumin+ green chillies+ garlic cloves crushed roughly
Curry leaves 3-4
Ghee: 2 tbsp
Salt and water
* Mix the ragi flour in buttermilk.
* Heat a pan, add ghee and saute the crushed garlic, cumin, and green chillies.
* Add curry leaves saute again.
* Pour the batter in the pan. Check the consistency, it should be thinner than upma when cooked. So add water, if needed.
* Add seasoning. Cover and let it cook.
* Serve in a bowl/dish topped with some fresh coriander and little ghee on top
Ash gourd, a vegan recipe
While I was doing a series called #fitanddelicious during the pandemic, I observed a very important role of ash gourd in many religious rituals. In Maharashtra, during wedding ceremonies, sandge, made by ash gourd, is almost a compulsory offering to God. It’s, unfortunately, rarely used in most homes, apart from in South Indian cuisine. Ash gourd is low in calories, fat, carbs and protein but rich in fiber and antioxidants that promote health and help protect your body from diseases.
Ash gourd/kohla – peeled and roughly chopped 1 bowl
A few celery ribs
Freshly ground black pepper – 1 tsp
Coconut milk/ extract – 1cup or as needed
Water or vegetable stock – to cook.
* Cook the ash gourd and chopped celery ribs in water or vegetable stock.
* To this, add black pepper and salt.
* Grind it in to puree with the help of hand blender.
* Add the coconut milk and mix and let it cook for a minute.
* Garnish it with little coconut milk, black pepper and serve.
A hot bowl of soup in winter is a made-for-each-other pairing. Making soup that needs lots of time in the kitchen is something no one wants. What if I tell you that there’s a soup which can be ready in no time? And it is delicious and healthy. Kulith is a neglected bean, which is very healthy. It has antioxidants folic acid and phenolic acid.
Kulith / horse gram – 3 to 4 tbsp
Fennel seeds -1 tsp
Dry ginger – 1 tsp
Vegetable stock or water
Ghee /clarified butter
Minced garlic— two cloves
Green chillies – 1 or two
Curry leaves and fresh coriander
Asafoetida a pinch
* Roast the kulith nicely on low heat.
* Add fennel seeds to it and switch off the flame.
* Grind the kulith, fennel seeds and dry ginger to fine powder.
* This is the base of the soup, which you can keep as powder and make soup whenever you want.
* To make the soup, heat ghee in a pan, add cumin and let it splutter.
* Add garlic, chilies and curry leaves. Add a pinch of asafoetida. Add vegetable stock or water.
* Mix the grounded flour in a little water and add to the pan.
* Let the soup boil for few minutes.
* Add coriander and before serving squeeze some lemon juice.
Tip: This soup has thin consistency but you may add some roasted rice and grind it with kulith to get some thickness.
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