Concerned about Protein?

Protein

A lot of vegetarians are hugely concerned about the lack of protein in their diet. Their concerns, however are misplaced, as they can get enough to meet their daily needs and more through a healthy wholesome vegan diet has.

What is protein ? It is a food for growth and repair.

The next question we need to ask is – how much protein do we really need?

Human milk contains 1.5 to 2.7% protein and this amount is sufficient to help a new born grow rather rapidly. It doubles its weight in 6 months and triples it in one year, after which the rate of growth slows down. As adults, we require only 3 – 8 % of our calories to come from protein to have a sufficient amount, and this is not at all difficult on a plant based diet as all plant foods have protein.

If you’re still not convinced, look to animals in nature for the conviction. Some of the strongest animals are herbivores, not carnivores. Elephants and horses don’t have any meat, and meet all their requirements from plants, and they are never deficient. Examine the human body and you will find it has more similarities to herbivores than carnivores.

Some excellent sources of protein from plant sources are – sprouts, nuts, seeds, peanuts, dark leafy greens, peas, whole grains, chickpeas, soya beans, tofu, beans and legumes.

So go ahead, include these in your diet in good measure and rest assured, you are not going to be lacking in protein 🙂 

Advertisements

Organic Foods

url

I had such a lovely Sunday morning at the farmer’s market. it was Sunday morning, and the market was buzzing with people trying to get a week’s worth of vegetables and fruits from the farmers themselves.

A thought came to my head – that till the 1950s all food was organic only. Inorganic farming only began in 1950s and 60s, and has now completely taken over. The way I look at it, organic food should be called  just ‘food’ and, inorganic food should be labelled ‘inorganic food’, because that came in later.

Also from the perspective of the body, our body is organic. It only understands and accepts what is organic. Anything inorganic – is regarded as a toxin, has no use in the body, and is in fact potentially harmful if it remains in the system. Various studies show the relation between increased intake of pesticides and cancer, reproductive dysfunction, autism, asthma and Alzheimer.

Despite this evidence, there is a resistance among some for going organic, cost and easy availability being two reasons for this. Here’s what I have to say about these reasons :

Cost of foods is a function of various factors. It is more expensive to grow organic as it is not as subsidized as inorganic. Secondly inorganic food may be monetarily cheaper, but a lot more expensive when you add social and environmental costs of growing it. If these were added to the costs, organic food would be the cheapest 🙂

Both of these are issues we can take up as a community and work to rectify with the Govt. agencies. But even if this remains so, we can look at eating organic as an investment, and pay the farmer now, instead of paying doctors later. Its also an investment towards a better, cleaner environment for ourselves and our future generations.

A superb cost saving tip would be – go for as much seasonal produce as possible, as it will be the cheapest in season, and the most nutritiously satisfying as well !

The other contention that organic is not easily available is also nothing that we cannot work around. Organic grain, cereal, pulses and spices are easily available off the shelf so those should not be an issue. For the rest, the transition could be done in phases. One could go for fruits and vegetables from markets as and when they are available, or look for good suppliers who do weekly doorstep deliveries. When these feel light, one can more to looking for organic household items, toiletries, cosmetics, clothing, and so on.. Even if you can’t source 100%, do as much as you can. And that is good enough too!

Another big contention against organic, that one often hears is – that if everyone goes organic, would there be enough food to feed everyone? This is pretty unfounded, because currently, there is a huge amount of overproduction of food, and yet everyone is not fed! Only 43% of the cereal grains grown world-wide becomes food for people; 35% becomes livestock feed, and 10% goes into making bio fuels, high-fructose corn syrup and other processed products. One-third of food produced for humans, in any case gets wasted. So the problem is not so much about quantity but usage, storage and distribution of food. If this can be rectified, then the quantity of food required itself is much lesser than what is produced currently.

How to balance health during the festive season

We’re already dancing to Dandiya tunes, and Dusshera and Diwali are around the corner. Its that time of the year, when one evening of slipping, can become a reason for letting ourselves just slip away. Lets get this straight, being ‘healthier than thou’, is a serious challenge during this time, and restricting ourselves can be quite a challenge.

Hence, here are a few simple tips to stick by, which may not seem so heavy, but really work wonders to keep you close to track!

  1. Eat enough of fresh fruit and raw salads – as they help to balance out the heavy food. They also keep you hydrated and energized, also because  your sleep hours may be erratic.
  2. The key is balance. A great practice would be to eat really light after a late night and heavy food. Eat fresh fruits, and sprout salad for breakfast. Let the body recover and detoxify.
  3. Drink lots of lemon infused water. Lemon is highly alkalizing.
  4. Always eat something healthy before stepping out.  Have a green smoothie, a hearty vegetable soup, or a sprout salad, so that when you reach the venue, you are not starving. This way you will not end up attacking anything that comes your way.
  5. Get exercise every day, even if it is only 10 -15 minutes. It could be two rounds of the 7 minute HIIT, 11 surya namaskars, or a 15 minute jog, doesn’t matter what. This helps our circulation, boosts our metabolism, and helps release toxins through breathing and skin too.  If exercize does not happen, do functional things like, take the stairs instead of lift, if you’re going somewhere close by, walk it instead of driving.

None of what I am saying is anything new. We all know it, the thing then is to put it into practice. And the easiest way to start is to pick one thing. Make a habit of it, make it sing, conquer it completely, till it is not a effort to be doing it any longer. Then move to the next. And the one after. And on this note, here’s wishing you all a super fantastic festive season ahead!

What Creates Disease?

Any disease – be it constipation or cancer, arises from acidic environment in the body.

All of us require an environment in which we can thrive. There is life on earth, because it has an environment conducive to life (as opposed to other planets where there is no life. People living in unpolluted regions undoubtedly enjoy better health or thrive than those living in polluted metros! The more polluted it gets, the sicker we get.

Similarly the cells of our body also thrive in an environment, and that environment is an alkaline environment. The ph balance of all liquids in our cells as well our blood is alkaline. If this environment becomes acidic, is when disease becomes inevitable in our body. This happens in two ways.

  1. Our cells begin to function below their optimum, they degenerate, organs degenerate, our immunity becomes low and hence we end with degenerative disease. Healthy cells thrive in an alkaline environment, and cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment.
  2. In an alkaline environment, the germs and bacteria in our body remain in a balance that is just right for us. However when environment is acidic they grow, and create imbalances and this creates toxicity and conditions for illness in the body.

Now what are the factors that lead to the body’s environment becoming alkaline or acidic? The main factors are – our food, water, the air and our thoughts.

Every food has a ph balance, either alkaline or acidic. Water as we all know is neutral, but these days, the pollutants in the water make water acidic also, and hence we need to purify it. Air, the more oxygen it has, the more health promoting it is. And lastly, our thoughts also play a major role in our well being. We all know that our immunity goes low and we are susceptible to fall sick, when we are stressed, or under pressure. And this is because positive and happy thoughts create alkalinity, and negative thoughts create acidity.

It is a little difficult to control the air, and thoughts take time in changing, but the one thing that we can change immediately to change the environment in our body is food. So here are the top 5 alkaline foods: –

  1. Lemons
  2. Watermelon
  3. Parsley
  4. Cucumber
  5. Broccoli

As you can see, they are all either fruit or vegetable family, in fact most fruits, and vegetables are alkaline, and eating more can ensure we remain alkaline

And here are the top 5 acidic foods:-

  1.   Colas and soft drinks
  2. .  Dairy
  3.   Meat
  4.   White sugar and all refined and artificial sweetners
  5.   .All processed and packaged foods

So if you want to avoid disease, say no to these 5 foods, and say yes to the top 5 alkaline foods.

To learn more, you can sign up for my #UnLoveLoveHandles workshop right here: http://on.fb.me/1M5X26n

A superfood right in our backyard :)

Growing up in the hills, we always had ‘Chulai’ ladoos or chikki as a Navratri staple. But it was only in 2007 when I was roaming the Himalayas filming a group of organic farmers there, that I became aware, that Chulai, also known as Amaranth, Ramdana or Rajgira is nothing less than miracle food, that the paharis (mountain people) swear by.

More research revealed that this ancient seed is really high in protein (exactly the same amount as Quinoa) calcium and loads of other minerals. It is low in fat, and also gluten free !!! What is most amazing is that you’ll find it sitting on the corner grocery store shelf at a reasonable price. If you want to know how to use it, you don’t really have to even google. Just get hold of your grandmother and have a chat with her about it. There’s a good chance that she’ll give you a million awesome ways to include it in your diet.

The farmers are full of stories about their traditional foods, and one such story I was told is that amaranth is really very resilient. Along with millets, they are a group that can grow on rugged stony soil, can withstand extreme heat or cold, survive regardless of the amount of rainfall they receive. It provides Thus we see it growing happily in every part of the country, even though climatic conditions differ so dramatically.

Here are a few ideas to go by. The seeds can be heated on a high flame and made to pop. Popped amaranth can then used to make ladoos, chikkis, used for breakfast cereal, or to make high protein energy bars. The seeds can be ground into a flour, and then used to make flat breads, khakhras, or crackers.

It has got this amazing nutty sort of flavor. The best thing I find about using the flour is that unlike other gluten free grains, it is much easier to use. Chapatis roll out much easier and are softer than Jowar, Bajra and Nachni.

Amaranth leaves (the red leafy bundles available at vegetable vendors) too can be put to great use in cooking vegetables, or juicing. Gourmet chefs are now using the beautiful velvety red amaranth flowers in their salads. So truly, the world of possibilities with this humble plant are endless 🙂

Amaranth leaves

Amaranth leaves

Gluten Free Crackers, easily made with Amaranth!

Gluten Free Crackers, easily made with Amaranth!

does that inspire you to grow some of your own?

How not to fall sick as seasons change!

To many of us, changing seasons are synonymous with falling sick, be it cold, headaches, flu or viral fever. This is almost assumed to be a norm  as the changing season itself. But should we really consider this a norm? Other animals in nature don’t fall sick as seasons change.  then why us?

When the season is changing from say, summer to the monsoon, our body is trying to adjust/cope with changes in the atmosphere. This is the body’s nature or intuitive wisdom, very much a part of our DNA.  to do this, it borrows energy that would otherwise be used for our normal functioning such as digestion, repair work and elimination. As a result, immunity goes a little low and digestion becomes a bit sluggish. At such a point, we need to help the body by making appropriate changes in diet /lifestyle, else we run the risk of falling sick.

What are some of these changes we can look at making ?

1. Slow down, make the time to relax and rest more. If possible sleep more. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel more sleepy than usual at seasonal cusps. This is our body’s wisdom showing us the way, and if we just listen, we’ll sail through. In any case if we fall sick, we are forced to pull the brakes, so is it not better to slow down before that, and prevent from falling sick ? If we just listen to the body, we’ll realize its not asking for much. A 20 minute power nap, or just a half an hour extra in the night can in fact work wonders.

2. Eat light. which basically translates to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially seasonal ones. These take up less energy to digest, and energize the body to be able to adapt to change.

3. Cleanse the system.  Our body uses the maximum energy to digest food, and if we give it a break from that by fasting, we can actually free up that energy for many other useful functions. And if we simultaneously replace food with pure fruit and vegetable juices, flooding our system with essential nutrients, the effects for the rest of the season can be quite amazing! We can choose to go on a juice fast for a day, 3 days or 5 days, depending on various factors such as – age, health history and current lifestyle. If juice fasting is too extreme, one can at least support the system with one green juice a day, consuming cleansing foods such as Sweet basil seeds and Aloe Vera, or having warm herbal teas in the morning or during the day.

4. Consume anti bacterial foods. Some really common anti bacterials that already exist in our diet are ginger, turmeric, onion and garlic. Add these in generous quantities. A great immunity booster shot that you can have each morning is drinking a shot of Ginger -Turmeric Tea. Boil raw turmeric powder and fresh ginger in water, add jaggery syrup to it and your shot is ready.

That said, nourishment takes place over a period of time and immunity cannot be built overnight. Immunity building needs to take place throughout the year, along with changes in lifestyle that are more in rhythm with nature, so that we can be ready for change at any time:)

Salads that replace summer Lunches

I just find that the idea of lunch in summer to be unappetizing! And there’s a good reason why not just me, but many don’t feel up to eating Roti, sabzi and dal kind of food in the summer.

The first I figured is that we are receiving a lot of more of direct sun energy in the summer. Sun energy being the most primary and original energy source satiates us without us even realizing.

I first noticed this on a trip to the Himalayas, while staying with a group of organic farmers. These farmers would leave their home early in the morning to work in the field, do manual labour for hours before they got home and put even a morsel of food in their mouths. They would not even feel hungry. Where were they getting so much energy from? It had got to be energy from the summer sun that they were soaking in through their skin.

Of course summer is also a time when our bodies are willing to work out the most. In prehistoric times, people were busy gathering food for the lean periods in summer. They would also indulge in as much of the fresh available food (fruits, vegetables, sprouts, green leafies), which would give them the ready energy to gather more. Scientists believe that though times have changed, our bodies have not. Though we have all varieties of foods available to us year round, and we definitely have no need to gather, we still crave and relish light fresh food in the summer. This is what gave me the idea to come up with meal ideas that I could enjoy for summer lunches. I ended up creating Meal Replacer Salads, full of fresh goodness. Below are just some of the elements to go if you would like to create your own salads meal that will be renergising, flavorful, balanced and filling 🙂

Base – pick your leafy greens, lots of them. Good to rotate them on a weekly basis, and have a variety to get an entire gamut of nutrients. Micro greens ( if available)are a super idea too!

High water content vegetables – cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers are a must in a summer salad. They are full of live enzymes and keep you hydrated as well as make you full.

Sprouts in the summer are a great addition. They are again full of live enzymes and simple amino acids, super satiating and energizing. Lentils, grains, seeds, nuts, can all be sprouted.

Do you think fats make you fat ? Not the healthy variety like raw nuts and seeds, just a handful. They can be thrown in, sprinkled on top or soaked and ground to make lovely dressings. Also they can be activated by soaking overnight and then using. In coastal areas, coconut is amazing to add too.

The filler – these we cannot do without, as they are what will give our tummy the filling feeling and keep us going for more than just an hour. The fillers can be starchy vegetables like potato and sweet potato, carrots, avacado or some whole millets like foxtail or quinoa.

And finally, whats a salad without a good flavor ? I am a big fan of natural flavour enhancers like lemon, herbs like parsley and celery, ginger, tamarind, as opposed to preserved bottled dressings. Look around your kitchen and you’ll find a world out there.

The last secret ingredient ? a sweet enhancer like fruit/ dry fruit pieces or jaggery can take your salad to another level.

So go ahead, experiment, try out some new stuff. Share your ideas. Look out for upcoming recipes on the Healthnut Recipes Blog 🙂 Happy Summer Lunches! 11145072_836753656404050_1041101988193534961_n