Salads – Food with benefits!
I was actually going to write about something else, but in the middle of upgrading my computer’s OS, power cuts and emergency work, I thought salads would be quickest to put together and in sync with the previous post about natural fast foods!
Salads are a valuable dish – sometimes they make up my entire meal because they’re so filling. They are a pleasure to make and I just love the texture and taste. It is also good to know that by eating salads at least twice a week, we can keep several health issues at bay. Our body gets vegetable salts and acids in their natural form – the best form. Salads are especially beneficial for those with gout, rheumatism, gallstones, kidney or bladder stones and they help by purifying the system.
So lets move on to the salad recipes. I’ll begin with my favorite:
Moong sprouts salad
You need: 2 cups Sprouted moong (green gram sprouts), one onion, one cucumber, two carrots, two large tomatoes, shredded cabbage, a little finely-chopped coriander, juice of half a lemon, 2 tsp olive oil, a little sugar and salt to taste.
Finely chop onions, cucumber, carrots, and tomatoes. Shred cabbage and add all these to a bowl. Add olive oil, sugar and salt, and lemon juice. Garnish with coriander. Enjoy. I usually don’t prefer to add a dressing to my salads. This salad tastes fab, crunchy and is very filling. Low calorie.
Cut a medium size, steamed cauliflower and three three boiled potatoes and mix with juice of half a lemon, and 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Some mayonnaise makes it yummy, but adds to those calories.
Shred some lettuce finely and place on a glass dish as a layer. Over this, arrange a layer of sliced onions, a layer of sliced tomatoes. Optional – slices of hard boiled eggs. Sprinkle salt and pepper over this. Grate some cheese on top. Optional: A dressing of cream, salad oil, vinegar and a little mustard, all mixed together.
Potato salad 1
Cut boiled potatoes in slices and soak in a layer of water. Grate a small onion and mix with the potatoes. Add salt, pepper, vinegar and oil to taste. 1 oil: 3 vinegar ratio.
Potato salad 2
You need boiled potatoes, one beetroot, spring onions, olives, vinegar, salad oil, salt, pepper, minced parsley. Cut potatoes in small pieces and place in a salad bowl. Cut onions and olives and add to potatoes. Mix vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and pour in salad bowl. Garnish with beetroot and parsley.
Mix shredded lettuce, spring onions, cucumber, tomatoes with pepper, salt, oil and vinegar.
Or cold green peas, French beans, carrots, turnips, lettuce with salt n pepper, oil and vinegar.
You can be flexible with the ingredients and the quantity, obviously. Possibilities are: chopped lettuce, sliced mushrooms, sliced olives, chopped tomatoes, cucumber and apple, grated carrot, grated cabbage, walnuts, cubed beetroots, chopped avocados, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, sprouts.
Mix all these and enjoy.
You need: Half a cup boiled peas, half a cup boiled and chopped carrots, half a cup boiled chopped potatoes, half cup chopped spring onions, chopped cucumber, half cup chopped apple, pineapple, half a tsp mustard seed powder, half cup castor sugar, mayonnaise to taste, salt and pepper to taste.
So basically you boil carrots, peas and potatoes and chop them. Chop cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions. Chop apple and pineapple. Can add cherries, salt, pepper and mustard seed powder and the castor sugar. Mix in the mayonnaise and toss. Serve cold.
Two desert apples, half a fresh pear, half an orange, 2 capsicums, two carrots, two sticks celery, half a cucumber, some raisins, five fresh strawberries (optional).
Cut all the fruits coarsely and grate the vegs. Mix in a bowl and chill. (the salad I mean).
The accompaniment is a curd dip that you can make with two cups curd to which you add half a cup chopped onions, a shredded green chili, half tsp mustard powder, 1 tsp sugar and salt to taste.
You can get creative with salad adding shredded cheese or paneer cubes and boiled pasta – goes well with salads and makes it more attractive for kids to eat.
The benefits of a fast food diet
If you’re like me, you probably hate the word “diet” because it conjures up visions of not being “allowed” to eat the stuff you like most (because most good things in life are illegal, immoral or fattening), or starvation. I hate the pressure of most restrictions that prevent me from doing (or not doing) something and diet is one of them. It somehow seems to imply deprivation. Why not call it something more friendly – like “healthy eating plan”?
Hmmm. The problem is even bigger when there are festivals, you enjoy the binge-ing part and then feel guilty! How to tackle this dilemma? Let’s ask Momma Nature.
Its so nice to hear the word “natural” because you instantly get the feeling of being cared for. Rightly so. Because Mother Nature is geared to make you feel good. For example – take warm weather, and what happens? You hardly feel like eating those heavy, greasy meals. You’d rather stick to lots of liquids to avoid getting dehydrated and eat light, right? Great! Because that’s also healthy. So what have you got in summer? Watermelons, musk melons, grapes, mangoes. Rather tough to say no to. (Far better than sweating it out in the kitchen in hot weather)
You also get carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicum and a variety of fresh lettuce – ideal for salads. Perfect for summer health.
Here’s what am getting at. The fruits and vegetables I just mentioned are Nature’s fast foods. Add water and you’re good to go, because sometimes nothing quenches your thirst like water. The best thing about these natural “fast foods” is that they taste good, and make you feel full, while automatically switching you to a healthy eating plan. Your body detoxes naturally, too.
Ha, ha, so what?
I find it hard to argue with the fact that these readily available veggies and fruits ensure that our immune system stocks up on vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy. You’ve got to hand it to Nature.
Okay – so it is not all that easy to stick to a fruit and veg diet, right? But that’s okay – because it is only human to crave all those yummy comfort foods once in a while. Thing is – even if you make sure that you get some fruits and veggies on a daily basis – you can banish that guilty feeling because you’ll feel quite energetic and full without actually going on a diet.
Point is – if you’ve got some excess baggage on your body that you carry around – rather than go for those slimming products, consider a natural fast food diet of fruits and veg. It is an effective long-term strategy to stay fit.
Years ago (I refuse to tell how long ago) – I was quite crazy about ice-creams. Those Arun Ice-Cream guys had a fab range and every night, after dinner, on the pretext of going for a walk – I’d stop at the ice-cream parlor (so considerate of them to stay open till 10.30 at night) and have a cassata. And lop off a vanilla. Nice generous helpings. Well – just a couple of months later, I was puzzled to find that some of my clothes became a little too well-fitting for comfort. Oh well, didn’t take rocket-science to figure out that the ice-creams were the culprits (not me, mind you!).
So – to compensate, I thought I’d skip lunch every day. And ended up consuming several cups of over-boiled yucky tea. Mom decided to take matters in her hands one day and together, we decided to make some changes. (She was my partner in crime over the ice-creams although she didn’t put on weight. Sigh). We stocked up on fruits and veg. Every morning, we made a veg-rich soup for breakfast. I stopped tea completely. (Not my morning coffee though – that would have been suicide! And I wouldn’t be here rambling on like this!).
I carried sliced, diced, shredded or whole carrots or radishes as a snack to work J, alternating with tomatoes, cucumbers, baked potatoes – and hey, just about anything that constituted as natural, oil-free and healthy. I refuse to confess that I drooled at potato wafers, sweets, er.. Never mind!
What I am getting at is this – I was amazed at how quickly I shed that extra weight. Oh, I also went for a brisk walk – right past the ice-cream guy. Am sure he hated me for abruptly withdrawing his steady income source – but that’s life! Anyway – it worked – the natural fast food diet, did.
Try it. And by the way – I found that when I munched on carrots – the very idea of drinking tea didn’t appeal at all.
Have a healthy 2011!
Shall I post some salad recipes?
(And oh, I haven’t forgotten the home remedies for mouth sores – will post them soon)
Know your nails
You nails can tell you how healthy you are.
Did you know that the color and texture of your nails are a fairly accurate indicator of your overall health status? Remember how the doc quickly glances at your nails? Well – a white spot, a pinkish tint, some ridges or bumps could all mean that something’s going on in your system. A quick inspection of nails can reveal existing problems with the liver, lungs and heart.
What you are about to read is not conclusive obviously, since several other factors play a role before any diagnosis is made. However, it does not hurt to gain some knowledge and watch out.
Incidentally, my mother suffered from idiopathic lung fibrosis whose medications resulted in chronic kidney disease and fluctuating blood pressure. And every time we went for a check up at the doctor’s he would make it a point to check her nails.
Now for some nail gyaan:
When the nails are white or rather pale, it could be signs of aging. It can also indicate signs of anemia, congestive heart failure, liver disease or malnutrition. If the nail bed is thin and concave with raised ridges, it could indicate iron deficiency.
White nails with darkish rims show liver problems (hepatitis). If they are yellowish, it could mean jaundice.
Yellow nails could be because of a fungal infection. If it gets worse, the nail bed retracts, making the nails thicker and cause them to crumble. Yellow nails are also signs of thyroid problems, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.
Bluish nails could mean that the body is not getting enough oxygen or a lung infection. Pneumonia is often diagnosed like this. If the base of the nail is bluish, it could mean diabetes.
Rippled or pitted nails mean the beginning of psoriasis or arthritis. Discolored nails are quite common and could be for any number of reasons. However, psoriasis, the skin condition sometimes begins at the nails.
Dry and brittle nails
Nails that are brittle or dry often crack and split. This is an indicator of thyroid disease. Added to this, if there is a yellowish tint, it may be a fungal infection.
Puffy nail fold
When the skin around the nail seems red and puffy, it shows inflammation, connective tissue disorders or lupus.
If there are dark lines beneath the nail it means an immediate trip to the doctor as there is a possibility of melanoma, a skin cancer.
Okay, biting your nails is a bad habit. It also shows anxiety that needs to be treated or OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Can’t stop? Talk to your doc.
Hmmm… So these are just some of the signs nails can give you. Most nail abnormalities are fairly harmless – what am saying is white nails do not immediately mean hepatitis. Nails are just one aspect of any diagnosis. So before reaching any conclusions, make sure you go see your doctor if you see something odd.
Right. So here are tips to keep your nails healthy and looking great!
- Make sure your nails are always clean and dry
- Don’t bite your nails
- Massage your nails and cuticles with moisturizer everyday to prevent cracking
- Nail filing must be in one direction. Make the tip slightly rounded.
- Avoid removing the cuticles. Don’t clean too deep under the nails as it can open the way for infections
- Be careful with ingrown toenails. Don’t dig them out. If it hurts, see a dermatologist
- Don’t go for nail varnish removers that have acetone or formaldehyde
- If you are in the habit of visiting a salon for frequent manicures, invest in your own set of instruments
- Using artificial nails? Watch out for a greenish color which could mean bacterial infection
- Make sure you stick to a healthy and balanced diet.
Healthy nails are generally smooth and consistent in color and do not break easily. Make sure you maintain yours!
What does mood have to do with food?
What does mood have to do with food?
Or put it the other way, what does food have to do with mood? Quite a bit, it seems. You can actually beat the blues or get over a sulking fit by watching what you eat and when you eat it.
If you tend to snap at others rather often and feel irritable, and your family/friends/colleagues feel as though they must keep a safe distance from you, you probably just need a better eating plan.
What causes these sudden mood swings?
Sugar is the culprit. A sudden low in blood sugar can make you really touchy. But that does not mean that you can focus on eating sweets as a solution, because a rise in sugar can also play havoc with your mood, making you tired, restless and drained.
So how to ensure that your blood sugar levels are balanced?
Here’s what you can do:
Consistent and small meals every five to six hours can make sure that your body, and brain are properly fueled. This prevents any lows in your blood sugar levels which cause that bad mood. If you have been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, you may need to eat every 2-3 hours. Check with your doctor.
It is important consume less concentrated sugar such as soda, candy, jam, syrups, fruit juices, etc which can suddenly spike your blood sugar and just as suddenly cause drops in it. This makes you fatigued and puts you in a lousy mood. And oh, by the way, the same thing happens with refined starches – which means white bread, bagels, crackers, rice and so on. The reason is that these foods tend to break down quite fast in the digestive tract and converts into blood sugar.
What is the solution? Focus on the whole grain-based variety of foods that take longer to digest, thanks to their high fiber content which helps keeps your blood sugar levels balanced.
- Go for the high quality carb + lean protein combination
When you consume proteins combined with high-fiber carbohydrates – particularly the sort that is rich in soluble fiber such as barley, oats, some fruits and vegetables, it slows down the absorption of sugar in your blood stream. This means fewer mood swings.
Research shows that while certain foods can make you irritable, there are foods that can actually improve your mood by having a positive effect on the chemical messengers in your brain.
Focus on foods with omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid
Our brain has the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids compared to other parts of the body. The great thing about Omega-3 is that it helps lift depression. You’ll find high concentrations of Omega-3 fats in fish such as wild salmon, sardines and mackerel. For vegetarians, the sources are flaxseeds, walnuts and omega-3 fortified eggs.
Folic acid or folate also plays a critical role in determining your mood. Research shows that when this vitamin B level is low in the blood, it correlates with depression. So – if you’re someone who feels low and depressed rather often, tell your doctor. If your feeling of depression is temporary, go for foods rich in folic acid like leafy greens, sunflower seeds, soybeans, beets, oranges, etc.
Have you noticed if some foods make you feel better/worse? Which are they? Do share your take on this!
Is coffee good for health?
After reading Sir Pumpkin Longshanks’ Moka pot coffee visual recipe it only seems fair to talk about the health benefits of coffee.
Did you know that coffee is believed to have been discovered around 850 A.D. in Ethiopia by a goatherd who found that his goats seemed unusually cheerful after eating some bright red berries? And so coffee was discovered! Coffee is the world’s most popular beverage and drives a big percentage of international trade.
Enough said. Most of us cannot survive without our morning cuppa to kickstart our day – and most of us drink several cups through the day. So it is hardly surprising that the researchers got down to it to do their bit. After all, coffee did have a bad reputation featuring alongside other social habits such as drinking and smoking. Caffeine was actually believed to be bad for health. But all that has changed. Here are some solid reasons to grab that morning cuppa – no – mugga!
- Good for your heart
- Coffee reduces your risk for heart diseases because it eliminates excess lipids in the blood.
- Controls asthma
- Coffee controls asthma – it has been found that it can even prevent or treat an asthma attack in an emergency
- Cuts your risk of diabetes by 50%
- Reduces your risk of gout in men over 40
- More than two cups of coffee each day can cut your risk of colon cancer by 25% and reduces your risk of other types of cancers as well.
- When you drink two cups of coffee a day, your chances of developing gallstones are down 50%
- Because of coffee’s caffeine content, the effect of painkillers is enhanced – particularly if you suffer from migraine.
- When you drink two cups of coffee a day, your chances of developing liver cirrhosis is down 80%
- Coffee drinkers have fewer chances of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease
- Coffee has a substance called Trigonelline that prevents cavities and reduces plaque formation in your teeth
- Coffee prevents constipation
Hmm. That’s the good news.
But when you overdose on coffee – like too much of anything that is good – coffee can also mess you up. Here’s what you can expect:
- Indigestion, skin rash, acidity
- Rise in cholesterol levels (which means cardiovascular problems)
- For women, Infertility, miscarriages and low birth weight for their babies
- Too much caffeine can stress your kidneys out and develop kidney stones
- Coffee can make you nervous, anxious and cause trembling because of its effect on the central nervous system. This tires out the adrenal glands, bringing down your ability to handle stress and affecting your health
- Interestingly, too much coffee can put you at risk for developing stretch marks.
- Finally, if you are addicted to coffee and decide to quit, you can suffer withdrawal symptoms similar to fatigue, severe headaches, an energy drain and lack of focus.
Thus – stick to a max of three cups a day. And am not talking about my kaapi “tumbler” which takes 3 cups of coffee. One cup = about 200 ml. No more.
And enjoy the health benefits it has to offer!
Do we really need fat in our diet?
Fats! Can we totally remove them from our diets? If we didn’t consume fats, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to maintain a healthy weight? If only it were that simple! The fact is – our body needs fats – to the extent that we cannot live without consuming fats. We need fats to survive.
Fats are an essential component of the healthy diet. It is through them that we get the necessary fatty acids that our body cannot make on its own, fat-soluble vitamins and fuel that energizes our body. Fats keep our skin supple and soft.
All that is fine. Then why is fat associated with weight gain and health problems? How much fat should we actually consume? Can dietary fat make you fat?
To get the answer to this, let’s understand fats. Sit back and read.
Our body needs macronutrients, which are basically nutrients that bring us calories and energy. We need these for growth, metabolism and other basic body functions. Our body needs three major macronutrients and these are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each of these varies in its amount of calories.
Carbohydrates and proteins give 4 calories each per gram, while fat provides 9 calories per gram.
So why do we need fat to survive?
Regardless of the fact that fats have a bad reputation for their ability to add extra weight, some essential fats are necessary for survival. This means, we need about 30% calories from fat for:
- Our normal growth and development
- Our energy
- Improving Vitamin A, D, E K and carotenoid absorption
- Protecting the organs with a layer of fat around them
- Maintenance of cell membranes
- Making food tasty, consistent and stable
The fat we eat usually comes from milk products, butter, margarine, nuts, oils, grain products, salad dressings, fish, meat and poultry.
Fat is of three types: saturated, unsaturated and trans fat.
Saturated fat is usually found in foods like meat, butter, lard, and cream. Trans fat comes from baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, and margarines. Thus, saturated and trans fat raise our risk for heart disease.
When we replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats from foods such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and canola oil we lower our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
So, it’s a fight between good fats and bad fats. The bad fats are villains. Dietary fat has a role to play in obesity because fat is rich in calories. It is quite easy to overeat – think French fries, cakes, chocolate, ice cream, cheese and other processed foods. (Slurrrp!) When you eat too much, it is not just our waistlines that go to waste. It also leads to type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
So whose side am I on, anyway? Ah, I am just the devil’s advocate. I love my ghee and butter.
Ok….jokes aside, the important thing is to do with choosing the right type of dietary fats to eat. It is only when we eat excess fat that we get more energy than we need, and this gets stored in the body – and converts into excess weight, which leads to health problems.
Here are some fat facts for you to ponder on:
- Healthy oils like canola and olive oil are monosaturated fats that help reduce cholesterol, reduce high BP and minimize the risk for type 2 diabetes. These same oil also have the antioxidant Vitamin E that protects our eyes and keeps our skin supple and healthy.
- Omega-3 fatty acids contained in canola oil, walnut and flaxseed oils has been proven to reduce pain from arthritis, decrease triglycerides and improve cholesterol.
- Trans fat is probably the worst kind of fat. So watch that vegetable oil you are using. They raise your bad cholesterol while bringing down the good cholesterol.
So if you’re keen on reaching a good balance, here are some tips that will help you reduce overall fat and also consume the right ones:
- Opt for a diet that’s rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Go vegetarian with lots of beans at least once a week.
- Choose low fat dairy products
- Enjoy salad dressings low in fat
- Substitute fatty sauces with vinegars, mustards, and lemon juice.
- Go east on fats. Use unsaturated liquid oils, (canola or olive) rather than butter
- Reduce intake of high-fat foods, processed foods, fried foods, sweets, and desserts.
- When cooking, choose the lower-fat alternative whenever possible
So “fats” is not a four-letter word.
What do you think? Write in with your views!
How to stay healthy in 2011
As I begin this post with warm wishes for a healthy and happy New Year, I am thinking of ways to make 2011 a wonderful one. One of my major goals is to stay healthy – and am sure you are looking at ways to be fitter - hopefully without too much effort. Yes! And that’s why the following strategies should work – they are easy to fit into our regular routine.
Here we go!
Walk the walk
This is the easiest way to get some physical activity. Just going for a walk every day means literally walking farther away from scary illnesses such as dementia, cancer and stroke, apart from the added benefit of keeping your cholesterol levels balanced and your heart healthy.
Include garlic in your food
Garlic has the ability to fight cancer – oh, forget the bad breath (there’s toothpaste and mouth fresheners to counter that!) If you can’t get garlic, think of garlic supplements. Garlic also brings a host of other health benefits as a disease fighter. But don’t overdo it!
Give me some sunshine…
Just get fifteen minutes of sun everyday. The miracle that is our body produces its own Vitamin D with the help of sunshine. No other equipment required. Preferably, catch that early morning sun. Enjoy it. If your sun is hiding behind a cloud, look at vitamin D rich foods such as eggs, milk, dairy products, cod liver oil etc.
If only for a few minutes, meditate every day. There are several physical and mental health benefits from meditation. Did you know cholesterol levels can be reduced with meditation?
Work in at least ONE juice into your daily diet
Replace at least one beverage every day with a natural juice. It cleans your cells while tasting good! Either veg or fruit is fine.
Exercise – four out of seven
Exercise – at least three quarters of an hour every day. Grrrr. At least 5 days a week. Do-able? Of course it is! Motivate yourself – getting fitter and keeping most diseases at bay – is worth it. Side effects are a great sense of well-being, happier attitude, balanced blood pressure and of course, overall fitness!
Drink more water every day
Drink water when you’re thirsty – and also when you are not. Do your body a favor – keep it hydrated. Just plain water, easily available.
Probably one of the best no-cost ways to fight illnesses and diseases. Be optimistic. Kick negativity out of your life. Be patient and tolerant. Rose colored spectacles do work.
Talk to your doc about taking a multivitamin
You know we all need vitamins – and most of us probably do not get enough. Vitamin deficiency can lead to diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and so on. Getting enough vitamins can keep you healthy.
R & R
Rest and relaxation – get at least seven to eight hours sleep per night. If not, you pay for it by suffering miserable health consequences. Ah, sleep helps lose weight, and prevents diabetes, memory loss and obesity.
Well, it can’t get easier – and better – than this. Start slow – and stick to the above consistently. You’ve got everything to gain.
Healthy eating – Soups
Soups are nourishing, filling, and easy to make – especially if you have a pressure cooker. So they make for easy meals – and I am a big fan of the one-dish meal!
Remember to wash the vegetables well before you cut them – never wash veg after cutting.
Personally, I think just about any soup-able veg that’s pressure cooked with onion and then pureed with salt and pepper and a wee dollop of butter makes pretty good soup.
Another easy idea for soup is pressure cooking veg like beans, cauliflower, carrots, peas, tomatoes, pumpkin, etc. and then simmering them in vegetable stock – adding your favorite flavor – and enjoying them.
Accompanied with bread, soups make a happy sumptuous meal.
So, here we go with some really simple soups. Most make 2-3 servings, sometimes for the same person, if you reeee-ally love soups.
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tsp. chopped onions
1 tbs. ghee
1/2 tsp. black pepper powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup soya milk (optional)
Wash the spinach leaves and boil them in a cup of water. Blend this. Heat ghee. Sauté the onions. Add blended spinach and salt and pepper. You can add a little soya milk, but that’s optional.
Mixed Vegetable Soup (Serves 4)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 large potato, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 cup green beans, chopped
1/2 cup green peas
1 large turnip, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cauliflower pieces
1/4 cup shredded cabbage
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. sweet basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper powder
1 small piece ginger, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cups water
salt and butter to taste
1/2 cup fresh coconut milk (optional, for creamy soup)
Run the tomatoes with two cups water in a blender. And strain it. Pressure cook the remaining ingredients with the blended tomato and cook for say, three min. Dress with a bit of butter and enjoy, hot.
My Mom preferred to pressure cook all the ingredients and then blend the whole thing for a creamy kind of texture – but that’s diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. Here’s where you add the optional coconut milk for it to turn out creamy.
I could go on to talk about carrot soup, etc. but having read the above, am sure you get the idea. Let me tell you about one of my personal favorites – The exotic Gazpacho. Yummy Spanish. My best friend would often arrive with a huge bowl of this at my place, whenever she made it. She also used to bring a lovely birthday cake about two months before my birthday and insist I got the date wrong, but that’s another nostalgically wonderful story.
What you need – Serves 4-6 (yep – it is worth it to make this and enjoy it over two days)
450g large ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2 slices whole wheat bread
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp wine vinegar
1 ¼ cups tomato juice
1 ¼ cups water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Skin tomatoes, discard seeds and juice and chop the flesh. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Remove pith and seeds from peppers and dice.
2 Peel and dice the cucumber. Cut the crusts from the bread and dice. Put vegetables and bread in a large bowl, pour over the remaining ingredients, stir and season. Chill well – overnight is best for a good tasty soup.
3 You can partly blend the soup if you wish, or blend all of it, in which case offer small bowls of chopped onions, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and croutons (side eats, fried eats) as a garnish.
The thing about soups is that you can make just about any soup when you have what the French called “Mirepoix” a combination of onions, carrots, and celery. The Wikipedia description is: “Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces. The three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics.”
So – there’s your easy base for making a soup. Never throw away the water you drain from pressure cooking your veg. That is nutrient-rich. I cheat by just adding some buttermilk and storing it in a huge mug and drinking it through the morning. Too lazy to make the soup just for myself.
Do send in your comments – and additions – and questions. Would be great. I was thinking I’d add some “salads” next week. What do you think?
How to pamper your skin at home
If this post sounds slightly haphazard, forgive me. I was quite excited about putting it together – and here you go – Anney and Always Happy and everyone else!
Looking good is always a welcome way to feel – and facepacks are a convenient way to get into the skin, clean it up and keep your skin looking great without sagging. Homemade beauty tips are even better, because all the ingredients are sitting right there on your kitchen shelf – and are free from chemicals or unknown stuff! Especially handy, if, you, like me, are too lazy to take yourself to a beauty parlor. My grandma and Mom wouldn’t have approved, and anyway, they were so full of home remedies that were enjoyable and worked – that I wouldn’t bother with external help!
In fact, my mother would make special oil which was a mix of three different oils and eighteen-odd ingredients. Yes, I have the recipe and know how to make it.
So here are the face-packs:
Oats (powdered and mixed in milk) makes a great face-pack
Fruits – the over ripe kind – are great for use as a face-pack. Think papaya, banana. They nourish your skin, especially if you suffer from dry skin. Just mash them and apply them.
Mashed apples + honey, work well for oily skin.
Honey, sandalwood and ripe banana are a good mix for glowing skin. Some people claim red sandalwood is more effective. But the regular one smells better. Sandalwood cures acne.
An aunt of mine, had five daughters – beauties, all, with gorgeous long silky hair and fab skin. The skincare and hair care regime they followed was awesome. Loads and patience and the will to keep looking great. Every night, before they went to bed, they’d have this ritual of grinding sandalwood (the round stone and the broad slab of sandalwood). Then they would all apply it on their faces in turn and sleep as it dried. They’d wash it off in the morning. On Thursdays, they’d all make this special hair paste with henna, etc, etc. and apply it in their hair, and wash it off. On Fridays, the traditional “oil-bath” when they’d apply gingelly (til or sesame) oil and wash it after two hours with special shikakai (that had lime powder, hibiscus and whatnot). Well – they were all breathtakingly beautiful with swishing jet black hair past their knees. Sigh.
On with our face packs:
To get rid of wrinkles, soak almonds in milk overnight and grind them into a paste in the morning. Rich in vitamin A and pampers your skin when you use this paste as a face pack, while cleaning your skin.
If you’ve got marks on your skin, massage honey on your face and wash it off after ten minutes. Wash your face with cold water to close the pores. Did you know honey heals the skin and gets rid of scars? Honey is used on wounds. The sugar helps in the healing.
Mix Orange plus lemon juice and apply on your face. Good for closing pores.
You already know the benefit of cucumber slices on your eyes. Cooling. While getting rid of those black circles.
Want to get rid of a tan? Use curd on your skin. Or honey+lemon+turmeric powder. A ripe tomato is great for tanned skin. Just cut it and apply on your skin.
A natural scrub for your face can be made from Curd + besan (Gram flour) + turmeric.
I grew up bathing with moong dal flour, by the way, until my skin was introduced to soap at the ripe old age of ten.
Here’s a big secret (not any more though) a Shahnaz Husain trainee told me – camphor (used in puja) is a great skincare item. Take one piece of camphor, pinch it hard to powder it – mix with a few drops of water and massage your face with it. Apart from the lovely feeling on your skin, it clears blemishes and makes the skin glow.
Cucumber + oatmeal + curd to make a paste for oily skin
Substitute curd with the cream off milk for dry skin.
Turmeric + gram flour + sandalwood powder + almond oil (or ghee) + a little water to make a paste. This can be used on your face and your body for a great makeover. Think brides and grooms J
After you remove these face masks, rinse your face with warm water, then alternate with cold water for tightening the skin.
Multani miththi (Fuller’s earth) available as weird looking lumps makes a great facepack mixed with rosewater to form a paste. Gets rid of dirt and cleans up your skin. I used to do this regularly.
Neem powder also makes a great face mask.
By the way, neem powder, orange powder, hibiscus powder – are all available in super markets as sachets.
I am a big fan of Aloe Vera gel – this feels just fabulous on the skin. Apply it and leave it on your skin. Then wash it off after about half an hour. You can buy aloe vera leaves and cut them to squeeze out the gel, or buy jars of gel. This is great for healing burns, wounds, etc.
The best time to apply these packs is about half an hour before you bathe…so you can just wash it off without setting aside specific time.
A real quickie face care regime: take five drops of gingelly (til – sesame) oil in your palm, add four drops of water to it. Rub your palms together to work it into froth and apply on your face. Gently massage. Wash off after ten minutes.
Your feedback is welcome. I’ve tried all these through my life (yes, I am a fossil. Really) and they all feel great. There’s nothing to equal the feeling of having pampered yourself. Even if you end up eating most of the ingredients, that’s perfectly fine, too!
So go make that skin glow.
Juice it up!
Like many people I know, every once in a while, I too get a little obsessed about wanting to lose weight. Not that I do anything seriously about that – except try a tip or two, usually half-heartedly. I do like to think that I only need to tone up – and this has been endorsed by a few friends, God bless them and keep them healthy!
But jokes apart, there is something I’d really like to share on this front, that I think is at least a wee bit responsible for keeping me in shape. (I have a friend who argues that “round” is a shape – but we don’t want to get technical here!). I am talking about a shape that has a distinct waist
Okay – so a nutritious breakfast helps tremendously. Also, eating smaller meals four or five times a day rather than the big three (breakfast/lunch/dinner) makes a lot of sense with the metabolism. One of my favorite ways to stave off hunger is through juice. (Yes, sometimes I yearn for an extra cup of coffee – but that’s another story!)
I want to share with you a few healthy juices that have some terrific benefits. Try at least a few – you won’t regret it. These are combos – and all the individual ingredients are easily available. The only effort it takes – is to make them – although some brands do sell the No Sugar combinations, if you like those. Nothing like the natural stuff, though. Here we go:
- Carrot + Ginger + Apple = This energizes your system while cleansing it.
- Apple + Cucumber + Celery = This reduces cholesterol, gets rid of a tummy upset and headache and prevents cancer.
- Tomato + Carrot + Apple = Good for getting rid of bad breath and promotes healthy complexion.
- Bitter gourd + Apple + Milk = Drives away bad breath and brings down body heat.
- Orange + Ginger + Cucumber = Great for better skin texture and reducing body heat.
- Pineapple + Apple + Watermelon = Gets rid of excess body salts, keeps your bladder and kidney healthy.
- Apple + Cucumber + Kiwi = improves complexion
- Pear + Banana = brings down body sugar levels
- Carrot + Apple + Pear + Mango = Reduce body heat, fight toxicity, lower blood pressure.
- Honeydew + Grape + Watermelon + Milk = Improve cell function with their rich vitamin C and vitamin B2 content, building the immune system
- Papaya + Pineapple + Milk = Promotes great skin and metabolism with the rich vitamin C, E and Iron content.
- Banana + Pineapple + Milk = Prevents constipation, is rich in vitamins
Quite some unusual combination’s, eh? Apparently they work. I cheat by going only for carrot or apple or pear or banana – as fruits, simply because it is too much work to extract the juice out of them. But I guess that’s okay too J
Let me know how it goes for you.
(Yes, am working on those “easy” facials and will post them on Tuesday! Works for men and women – so don’t call me biased!)