If there’s one lesson I learnt from my mother while growing up, it is that healthy food needs to be equal parts tasty! She’d feed us vegetables that we didn’t quite take a liking to – until we found a way that delighted us. Case in point? A beetroot paratha.
It’d be quite a success if we managed to feed our body nutrients while also making sure that the food item in question is appealing to our eye!
So here’s a snap course in prettifying 5 healthy foods that we otherwise avoid because they’re ‘boring’:
Why eat it? Starting your day with a blood sugar stabilising food such as oats may make it easier to keep blood sugar levels under control the rest of the day. Plus, the beta-glucan in it significantly enhances our immune system.
How? Try this dessert:
Mix 2 tbsp oats with 1 tbsp whole grain flour and 1/4th tsp. cinnamon. Add in 2 tbsp maple syrup. Mix in 2 tbsp. butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slice 3 Granny Smith apples into thin slices. Toss the apples with 2 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tbsp. flour, and 1/4th tsp cinnamon. Place the apples in a casserole dish and top with the oat mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until apples are tender and topping is crisp.
Why eat it? This low GI food provides instant energy, and is a brilliant vegetarian source of good quality protein (100 grams delivers close to 20 grams of protein). In addition, it is an effective antidote to sweltering summer time heat, as it is naturally cooling.
Try sattu sherbet with a twist: pair it with another super food – coconut water to boost its electrolytes content even more, or mix it with buttermilk to boost protein even further. Both taste super. You can, of course, eat it too: just mix sattu with jaggery and water, stuff in a roti and make yourself a fabulous breakfast.
Why eat it? This vegetable is straight out of a health fairy tale. For starters, it is extremely low calorie (just 26 calories per 100 gm), is loaded with fibre that keeps your gut happy, delivers a lot of vitamin A – a nutrient which keeps our eyes sharp – and has a role in cancer prevention. It also pumps up potassium, which is great news for our hearts!
How? Don’t like the ubiquitous pumpkin sabzi? Never mind. Try pumpkin halwa or, better still, make this pumpkin bread:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8” or 9” loaf pan. In a large bowl, blend 1/2 cup honey, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1/4th cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla and 2 eggs. Stir in 1 1/2 cup maida, 1/2 cup mixed nuts, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/4th tsp salt. Pour into a slightly greased loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes – or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool, loosen sides of loaf from pan and remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing.
Why eat it? Quinoa’s protein power is undeniable. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain; plus, it delivers complete protein containing all essential amino acids – which again is a rarity among grains. It also delivers two potent antioxidants: quercetin and kaempferol, which are anti inflammatory, anti depressant, anti cancer and anti viral.
How? Try this quinoa salad:
In a bowl, place 1 cup cooked quinoa, few parsley and mint leaves, quartered cherry tomatoes and 1/4th tsp grated lemon zest, and toss to combine. In a separate bowl, mix 2 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste; pour over salad and toss to combine. Top with 2 tbsp crumbled feta and dig in.
Why eat it? One medium sweet potato provides your body with the complete recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and then some. It also delivers good amount of vitamin C, which helps boost immunity, and two essential nutrients for heart health: potassium and magnesium.
How? Try this roasted sweet potato salad:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and cover a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Arrange peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (2) on the baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and roast until golden and tender, for about 25 minutes. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, sliced kale or baby spinach (a few leaves), and dried cranberries. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar with 1 tbsp olive oil. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad, tossing gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the some crumbled feta just before serving.
(Kavita Devgan is a weight management consultant, nutritionist, health columnist and author of ‘Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People’.)