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Rice Vermicelli Tawa Pulav (Gluten Free)

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale and in some cases oats. Gluten is commonly blamed for gut symptoms experienced by people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, recent research suggests that the carbohydrate component in wheat, rye and barley is more likely to be the cause of the problem (part of a group of foods known as FODMAPS.A gluten-free diet allows bowel healing and symptom improvement in people with coeliac disease.

Tawa vermicelli pulav is a recipe using the rice noodles found in the Asian section of the grocery store and the pav bhaji masala. I prefer using rice vermicelli instead of the more commonly used  wheat vermicelli. It’s a tasty and unique dish to take in the lunch box too. The pav bhaji masala gives a very different flavour to the dish.

Rice Vermicelli Tawa Pulav

Ingredients for Rice Vermicelli Tawa Pulav:

  • Rice vermicelli: 500g
  • Mixed vegetables: 1 cup chopped (green beans, carrots, peas, capsicum, etc)
  • Onion: 1 medium(thinly sliced)
  • Cashew nuts: 10 nos.
  • Ginger garlic paste: 2tsp
  • Tomato: 2 big , finely chopped
  • Green chilies: 1 slit lengthwise (optional)
  • Pav bhaji masala: 3 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: 1/2-1 tsp (as per heat tolerance)
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Jeera: 1tsp
  • Cinnamon: 1″ stick
  • Cardamom: 2nos.
  • Coriander: 3 tbsp( finely chopped) for garnish
  • Lemon juice: 2 tsp
  • Oil/ Butter/Ghee: 1 tbsp
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  • Heat oil/butter in a kadai and add the cumin/jeera, cinnamon, cardamom, cashews ,slit chili(optional)
  • Then add the turmeric powder, sliced onions and the ginger garlic paste. Saute till the onions start turning brown.
  • Add, the mixed vegetables and stir fry till the vegetables are almost cooked.
  • In the meanwhile, boil some water with a tsp of oil in a saucepan. Once it boils switch off,add the rice noodles/vermicelli(broken into smaller pieces) and let it sit for 2 minutes and then drain and keep aside.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes ,salt and saute until the tomato turn soft and mushy then add the pav bhaji masala, chili powder.
  • Saute until the oil is released from the masala paste.
  • Add the rice noodles/vermicelli and mix well to coat every strand of the vermicelli with the masala.
  • Squeeze some lime juice, mix well and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve the Rice vermicelli tawa pulav with raita or as is.

Mixed Vegetable Pulav with Coconut Milk (Pressure/Rice Cooker)

Another Gluten free rice pulav recipe. The addition of coconut milk gives a different flavour to the pulav, You can add turmeric if you don’t like the white colour of the pulav-but I don’t add it as it makes the pulav look different.

This can be made in a pressure cooker or even in the rice cooker. I normally fry it in a kadai and then transfer it into the rice cooker and add water and let it steam. I know many who even do the frying of the onions and veggies in the rice cooker itself-but I prefer to do it separately.

Mixed Vegetable Pulav with Coconut Milk (Pressure/Rice Cooker)

Ingredients for Mixed vegetable pulav with coconut milk

  • Basmati rice: 1 cup
  • Mixed vegetables(Green beans, carrots, peas): 1 cup
  • Onion: 1 medium (thinly sliced)
  • Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tsp
  • Green Chilis: 1-2 (slit length wise)
  • Cashew nuts: 10-12nos.
  • Jeera: 1 tsp
  • Cardamom: 4nos.
  • Cinnamon: 1″
  • Peppercorns: 8nos.
  • Cloves: 4nos.
  • Bay leaf: 1 no.
  • Coriander leaves: 2-3 tbsp (chopped)
  • Coconut milk: 2 cups
  • Ghee: 2tbsp
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1.  Wash and soak the rice for 20 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile , heat 2 tsp of ghee in a kadai /pressure pan and add the whole spices (cumin seeds, pepper, cinnamon, etc) and saute for a few seconds.Then add the green chilies and cashews.
  • Add the sliced onions and saute till the onions start turning golden.
  • Add the mixed veggies and saute for a 1-2 minutes(if using the rice cooker, then make sure to saute it for a little longer till the veggies are half cooked)) .
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away.
  • Drain the water from the soaked rice and add it to the kadai and fry for a few minutes (if making in a rice cooker, now would be the step to transfer from the kadai to the rice cooker).
  • Add the coconut milk, salt to taste add 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and mix well.
  • Pressure cook for one whistle(if using rice cooker, just switch on and it’ll be ready in 15-20mins)
  • Once the pressure drops, open the lid and gently fluff the pulav.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with a spicy side dish(as this pulav is mostly bland, it’s best served with something spicy)

Paneer Mushroom Mattar Masala

Who doesn’t love paneer? Besides being a good source of protein, paneer also contains calcium and phosphorus. Since paneer is high in protein and low in calories, it is often recommended for weight loss as several studies indicate that eating high protein foods tends to increase feelings of fullness and help decrease overall calorie intake, which in turn may lead to weight loss.

Try out this yummy recipe with mushrooms and red bell peppers. Mushrooms are high in antioxidants, selenium and low in fat, and calories while the red peppers(red capsicum) is optional, they do add loads of flavour to the dish while also adding antioxidants and Vitamin A to the dish.

Paneer Mushroom Mattar Masala

Ingredients for Paneer Mushroom Mattar Masala:

  • Mushrooms: 1 packet (sliced)
  • Capsicum(optional): 1 big (cubed)
  • Peas: 100g
  • Paneer: 250g (cut into cubes)
  • Tomatoes: 3 big
  • Onions: 1 big (2 medium)
  • Cashew nut: 8-10 nos.
  • Ginger Garlic paste: 1 tbsp
  • Green chili: 1-2 nos. according to spice tolerance( slit lengthwise)
  • Red Chili Powder: 1 -1.5 tbsp(as per spice tolerance)
  • Garam Masala: 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander powder: 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Cardamom: 3nos.
  • Cinnamon: 1″
  • Jeera: 1 tsp
  • Coriander leaves: 2 tbsp – finely chopped
  • Oil/ghee: 2tbsp
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil/ ghee in a kadai and add the cubed capsicum and saute for 5-8mins. Keep aside.
  2. In the same kadai, add the onions and saute till translucent. Then add the chopped tomatoes and cashews and saute for about 5 mins till the tomatoes look cooked. Switch off and let this cool.Then puree this in a blender.
  3. In the same kadai add a little more oil, then add the turmeric powder,green chili, jeera, bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon stick and saute for a few seconds.
  4. Add the puree, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala and stir fry till the oil separates.
  5. Add the peas and mushrooms and saute for a few seconds. Add a cup of water and mix well.
  6. After it starts to boil,let it simmer till the gravy has thickened.
  7. Add the paneer and the sauteed paneer and mix well.
  8. Switch off and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.
  9. Serve hot with rotis or even with jeera rice.

Cabbage Zunka/ Junka (Cabbage and Besan/Chickpea flour stir-fry)

Zunka/Junka is a common Maharashtrian dish which is also known as pitle/pitla in some places. The basic dish is made with besan/chickpea flour and water with a tempering of onions, ginger and garlic. This simple and quick dish is mostly eaten with bakhri made from either rice or jowar.

Kobiachi(Cabbage) Zunka is a variation of this dish by first adding cabbage and then the rest of the Zunka ingredients.

Cabbage Zunka/Junka

Ingredients for Cabbage Zunka:

  • Cabbage- 2 cups (finely chopped)
  • Onion- 1 cup (finely chopped)
  • Besan(chickpea flour)- 1/2 to 3/4 cup
  • Garlic pods: 3-4
  • Turmeric- 1/4 tsp
  • Hing/Asafoetida: a pinch (optional)
  • Chili powder- 1-2 tsp(as per your spice tolerance)
  • Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander leaves : 3 -4 tbsp (finely chopped)
  • Oil- 2-3 tbsp

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a kadai and add the smashed garlic and hing(optional). When it turns slightly brown, add the onions and saute till the onions turn translucent.
  2.  Then add turmeric, chili powder, salt and stir fry for a few seconds.
  3. Add the cabbage and mix well such that the spices coat the cabbage evenly.
  4. Cover and cook. The cabbage will go soft and release its own juices after about 7-10 minutes.
  5. Now quickly stir in the besan/chickpea flour and saute gently on medium heat. Make sure there are no lumps of the flour. The besan will absorb the juices and cook.
  6. Cover and cook on low heat for another 4-5 minutes.
  7. Now open the cover, check that everything has been cooked well and mixed. The besan should give out a wonderful cooked aroma.
  8. Garnish with lots of chopped coriander and serve hot with rotis or even hot rice, dal and pickle.

 


Calories: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Everybody wants to ‘go on a diet’. Everyone knows that ‘you have to watch your calories when you diet’, but not everyone understands what exactly ‘calories’ are/mean! Most people associate calories with only junk food/ sweets/chocolates as they know that they are ‘high calorie’ stuff. But what many don’t know is that almost all foods have calories and that the body needs calories for energy purposes.
So why are calories getting a bad reputation? Well, that’s because we live in a world of abundance and we choose to feed our bodies with foods that have too many calories and too little nutrition.
To understand calories better, let us start with the some FAQ’s:
What are calories? Calories are the units used to measure energy.
Where do we get calories from? From the food we eat (fruits, vegetables, grains, pizzas, pooris, cake, chocolates, etc.) and from the beverages we drink (milk, juices, coffee, alcohol, etc.). The energy is stored in these foods in the form of ‘macronutrients’ namely carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each of these macronutrients gives us ‘energy’ in varying numbers:
Carbohydrates= 4 calories per gram
Protein=4 calories per gram
Fat= 9 calories per gram
Since all foods have calories and since our bodies need calories-how does one know what to eat and what to avoid?
Good question! To make things simple-let’s divide calories into three groups:

Good; Bad and the last……UGLY!!
1. Good calories: are those which come from ‘nutrient dense foods’. These are foods that are loaded with other nutrients like minerals, vitamins, fiber, essential fatty acids which the body needs, in contrast to the number of calories the food contains.

Good Calories

These can be found in regular foods that are familiar to most people like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains like brown/parboiled/semi-polished rice, whole wheat atta, jowar, bajra, barley, ragi/nachni, nuts and seeds, lean meats like chicken/turkey (skinned out), fish, soy and other dry beans/pulses. Healthy and natural fats are an important component of a balanced diet. Include natural fats like butter, ghee, olive oil , traditional Indian oils like coconut, til, mustard, peanut oil. Healthy fats can also be found in free-range poultry, wild caught oily fish, full-fat dairy products and eggs. Try to get the maximum calories through these foods and you will end up getting most of the nutrients that the body requires including the calories needed for the body to function normally.

2. Bad calories: These would be foods that man has changed from its natural format-like polished/white rice, white bread, refined flour/maida, juices, milkshakes, etc.

Polished rice

The trick is to ‘go slow’ with this group. Try to avoid or limit these foods as these have been stripped off their nutrients.

3. Ugly calories: or ‘empty calories’ are those foods that provide no other nutrients other than calories. These are usually foods that are either loaded with sugar or fat/oil/ transfat (vanaspathi, margarine).

Candy

Best examples of these would be cola/aerated drinks, alcohol, sweets (candies, cakes, pastries, donuts) fried foods like chips, fries, namkeens, pakodas, pooris, etc. Avoid eating these on a regular basis as these will provide you with only calories that you don’t need!

Now that things are hopefully a lot clearer, there are two more things to keep in mind-PORTION SIZES and regular EXERCISE!
Too much of even ‘good’ things can be bad for you. Eating balanced diets and exercising regularly is the key to staying healthy!


It’s Time to Spring Clean…. your diet!!!

This article of mine was published in INDUS Age a local Indian Newspaper in Syndey. You can read the article here: Spring Clean your Diet

Spring Clean your Diet

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time to clean up…your diet!! That’s right,

it’s high time you took charge of your health and got it back on the right track by

making little changes in the way you eat and of course by being more active.

Eating according to the season is as popular among Indians as it is in the rest of the

world. Not many can resist sinking their teeth into hot parathas or makki di rotti

with dollops of butter along with the traditional sarson da saag and rounding it off

with some delicious carrot halwa made with oodles of desi ghee. Traditionally,

Indian foods eaten during winter make use of the seasonal vegetables available

around that time. The liberal use of ghee or butter, nuts, milk and milk products is

also associated with winter as the extra fat is believed to keep the body warm. Add

to this the fact that the cold weather restricts a lot of outdoor activities while on the

other hand it brings on a lot more of get-togethers and parties and before you know

it; you are packing in the pounds!

If you just stepped on the scales and noticed that you have indeed gained weight

through the winter, take heart in the fact that you are not alone. Researchers feel

that the cravings for high-calorie foods are a natural response of the body to the

cold so that the body can get extra layer of fat as a protection to the cold. While

times have changed and humans now live in a world where we can control the

temperature indoors, the body has yet to change its ways! Nevertheless, it’s never

too late to change your diet and spring is the perfect time to make all the changes.

So this year along with spring cleaning your houses, do yourself a favour by spring

cleaning your diet too!!

While most people wish that they could just sit and use a magic wand and wish the

extra kilos to disappear into thin air, getting rid of those ‘love handles’ is going to

take a lot of will power and a little more of moving about! A healthy outlook, a

sense of portion control and at least half an hour (if not more) of physical activity

can result in the extra body fat melting by the time it is summer.

For spring cleaning your diet we need to start with literally cleaning your fridge,

kitchen pantry, recipe books and your grocery cart of all the high calorie foods and

snacks like:

  • chivdas, farsans, bhujias, chips,
  • samosas, pakodas, bajji’s, vadas, fafdas, pizzas, burgers,
  • halwas,gulabjamoons, jalebis,
  • butter chicken, Paneer butter masala, malaikoftas, dal makhani and creamy soups or curries,
  • pooris, oily parathas, oily dosas

Once you’ve made space by weeding out all the unhealthy stuff, you can replace

them with all the healthy foods. If you have not already experimented with whole

grains, now would be a great time to do so. Eating all those halwas, bhaturas and

pooris made of maida and soaked in oil can make the digestive system sluggish

due to the lack of fibre in refined flours. Rather than buying ready-made multi-

grain atta (which may not necessarily be made from whole grains) make your own

multi-grain attas (mix whole wheat atta with other whole grain flours like

ragi/nacchini, bajra or jowar or even soy) for your roti’s or chapathis .This will not

only give you the much needed fibre but also extra nutrients like B vitamins and

minerals. If rice is a part of your staple diet, then you can experiment using brown

rice or red rice (rose matta) or even boiled rice as this is more nutritious than

polished white rice. Brown rice has a wonderful nutty flavour that goes well with

gravies or curries. Later on you could start including other whole grains like oats,

barley, quinoa and even dalia (broken wheat).

Warmer weather brings loads of vegetables and fruits that are less dense and

contain more water like grapefruits, oranges and later the berries, cherries,

cucumbers and watermelons which help in keeping the body hydrated. Eating

seasonally and locally grown vegetables and fruits is not only cheaper but also

more nutritious, not to mention tastier! In Australia, spring is the season for

vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, beetroot, silverbeet, palak, peas, cabbage,

cauliflower and mushroom most of which can easily be incorporated into desi

subzi’sor curries. Warmer weather is also a signal for cooking lighter meals and

including more salads, fruits, curd and chaas (buttermilk) in the diet. To keep the

meals light, keep a tight control on the quantity of oil used for every dish and

remember that where oil is concerned “less is more”!! Include foods in the menu

that are made by healthier cooking methods like steaming, stir-frying, grilling or

sautéing. Keeping hunger pangs at bay by eating three balanced meals and two

healthy snacks in between the meals will go a long way in avoiding food cravings.

Some ideas for healthy snacks that can be eaten in between meals are:

 Fruits

 Fruit chaat or fruit bowl (without added sugar/honey)

 Grilled tofu/paneer kebabs

 Baked falafel with hummus

 Sautéed asparagus with mint raita

 Steamed corn

 Sprouts/channachaat or boiled pulses shoondal/ usal

 Dhoklas or khandvi

Keep in mind that portion control is a very important part of eating healthy.

Overeating even on the healthiest of foods can still make the calories add up easily.

To give you a general idea of how easy it is to get your diet back on track have a

look at a day’s diet that is great for spring:

Early Morning: Warm water or Tea/coffee

Breakfast:Idli with sambar and chutney + Papaya

Mid-morning: Buttermilk and Orange

Lunch: Brown rice + Dal palak + Cabbage and peas sabzi

Tomato and cucumber salad +curd

Teatime: Tea/ coffee + steamed corn (no butter)

Dinner:Phulkas + broccoli sabzi

Moong dal + carrot raita+ Strawberries

Note:

try to use as little oil and sugar as possible for the whole day)

Once the diet is taken care of, you need to take care of the other important factor

for healthy living-physical activity. If joining a gym to workout is not your cup of

tea, you can keep yourself active by simple activities like brisk walking, jogging,

cycling or even swimming. For those who aren’t averse to sweating it out at the

gym, the best way to make sure that you get there would be to take a full years’

membership. Whatever means of physical activity you choose, do make sure that

you get your doctors approval before starting.

After you’ve made the effort of ‘spring cleaning your diet and lifestyle’, make sure

you stick to it to see the many long-term benefits of incorporating a healthy

lifestyle.


Does an Apple a day REALLY keep the doctor away????

According to the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in Australia, it may be true!!

An Apple a day….

The CSIRO reviewed the abstracts of about a 122 reviews published on apples and found that the saying does hold some weight.  Scientific evidence does actually show that regularly eating apples can help:

  • Keep your heart healthy:  by helping to lower total and LDL cholesterol. New research from the University of Western Australia show that eating apples may improve blood pressure and elasticity of blood vessels.
  • Maintain a healthier gut bacteria: by bringing positive changes to gut bacteria
  • Assist in weight loss: by helping you feel fuller for longer. Studies have shown that both adults and children who eat apples regularly are more likely to have a lower BMI which could be attributed due to the pectin (fibre) and polyphenols present in apples.

Apples are known to be subject to a host of pesticides and since most of the nutrition is in the skin, the best thing to do is either buy organic apples or do the next best thing – soak the apples in a baking soda solution for 12 to 15 minutes and then scrub it well.


Spring Allergies??Asthma??Include this fruit in your diet…

Pears

Traditional Chinese medicine has for years used pears to help those suffering from lung infections. Just like in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine uses foods to heal certain internal organs and pears are used to dissolve mucus, detoxify, relieve constipation, lubricate the throat in hot weather, regenerate body fluids and relieve coughs.

Researchers in Netherlands conducted a study and found that fruits like pears and apples are rich in a plant compound catechin, which may help protect the lungs from chronic diseases.

Pears are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium and  vitamin C. The fiber found in pear is insoluble, which along with the fructose and sorbitol, makes it an excellent addition for those who are constipated. Pears are considered beneficial in treating inflammation of mucous membranes, lowering high blood pressure, controlling blood cholesterol levels. , and alleviating arthritis and gout symptoms.

 

 

 

 


Sukha Bhel (Gluten-free vegan snack)

Healthy (and Tasty) Snack-Sukha Bhel

It’s 5pm and i feel like having something ‘chatpata’. Hmmm,so what is quick,tasty and chatpata-Sukha bhel!!
If you are wondering why I’ve added “and tasty” in the title,it’s because my husband strongly feels that if I just put it as ‘Healthy Snack’ nobody will want to try it as everyone assumes that anything healthy is not tasty. Not true. You don’t have to pour oodles of ghee/oil/butter to make something tasty. Try out this simple and easy snack,and you’ll know!!
Sukha Bhel-Tossed puffed rice salad (Serves 2)
Ingredients:

  • Puffed rice-2 cups
  • Tomato-1 chopped
  • Onion-1 small (finely chopped)
  • Carrot-1/2 (Grated)
  • Cucumber-1/2(finely chopped)
  • Coriander(cilantro) leaves-a handful,finely chopped
  • Green Chilly-1 finely chopped or 1tsp red chilly powder
  • Chaat masala-1/2 teaspoon
  • Raw mango(optional)-1/2(finely chopped)
  • Salt-to taste

Method:

  1. Put all the ingredients into a big bowl.
  2. Toss well and serve immediately.

How to Choose the Right Indian Diet Plan for Healthy Weight Loss?

Have you made your New Year’s resolution to lose weight and are looking for the right Indian Diet plan for healthy weight loss? Then here is the checklist of what you should look for before signing up for it.

Desi Diet Plans

  1. Do they plan Indian Diet Plans for Healthy weight loss? This is most important especially if you are living outside India. If you sign up without finding this out you will be stuck with a fantastic diet plan or package but which is of no use for you since the foods are all Western! Let’s face it-we may live abroad, love the Western lifestyle and the amenities that is offered there, but at the end of the day, we still want to eat our ‘desi khaana”. Akhir dil hain Hindustani!!
  2. Is there a real dietitian or are you expected to interact with a computer? No really-think about it!! Why pay for a computer generated diet chart?
  3. Check the credentials of the person: With every Tom,Dick and Harry giving out diet advice these days, you need to be careful about who you sign up with. Look for a qualified dietitian who has worked at least a couple of years in a hospital. Most dietitians who have worked in a hospital know the dangers of crash dieting and are vary about prescribing the same to clients.
  4. Do they recommend fad diets? Some websites push fad diets (fruit diet, juice diet, GM diet,Cabbage diet ) to show immediate results. But remember-these results don’t last. Not only that, there is a danger of nutritional deficiencies and severe hair loss after sometime. Do you really want that? Or would do you want something that helps you keep the weight off forever? It’s your choice-but it’s your body that will pay for what you choose!
  5. Are the Indian Diets planned for you or are they chosen from previously printed plans? Diets need to be planned, not printed off the internet. It’s like going to the doctor and getting a check-up and by google. Would you really do that? You want something that is specific to you-one size does not fit all in the case of diets!! So don’t be fooled by websites who take money to dole out pre-planned diet charts.
  6. Will the weight loss Indian diet be planned according to your eating habits? Again what’s the point of eating something which you are not used to eating? For example-if you are a South Indian and the diet planned is a typically North Indian diet. It’s just not right for you.
  7. Will there be follow-ups? You need to have your diet reviewed basically to see how you are doing on it and if any changes are required.
If this is exactly what you want, then do get in touch with me to schedule an appointment as the first step to a new, healthy, YOU!!
To know more about Sweta Uchil Purohit : CLICK HERE: Online Indian DIETITIAN Sweta Uchil
 Click to go to choose the right Indian Diet Plan for Healthy weight loss: Online Diet Consultation Packages