In Mumbai Mom’s guide to an Ayurvedic diet, Writer and ‘Chief Eating Officer’ at Ayurveg, Nitin Sawant, takes us to the next level with glorious gourds, the gold standard of veggies. Now, you can no longer say that eating healthy is boring or difficult.
Last week we took on your unhealthy lunches and gave them an Ayurvedic spin. We also pondered the Clark Kent of superfoods which happens to be your humble, good ol’ millet, and looked at ways and means to use them in our daily meals. Now it’s time to go after the real McCoy aka Veggies…
So, let me illustrate their importance with an anecdote about a hefty Punju friend of mine, who prides on eating six rotis everyday, for both lunch and dinner. And is he blessed with a great constitution? Actually, no… He keeps cribbing about the usual weight issues but most importantly, he’s always fagged out and has barely enough energy to last him through a busy day. Mind you, with his active metabolism, he just can’t reduce his food intake, and all his experiments with morning jogs and evening gyms are barely helping.
Veggies – the real McCoy of energy foods
Fortunately, we had a simple solution. We asked him to switch the amount of rotis in his meal with that of the veggies, and vice versa. Yup, the idea’s to have more bowls of veggies, polished off with lesser number of rotis… Bingo! That did the trick, and though he’s still eating big, he’s at least eating right, digesting it all, and now he has ample stamina to bounce all over his busy schedule, day after day. Ergo, veggies are the real deal.
Wait, there’s more… They’re not just the real deal, but they’re also so benevolent that you don’t need to indulge in any fad diet or cut down heavily in your eating quantities to reduce weight and improve fitness. This might sound like a tall claim but you can actually eat your heart out with some veggies, as prescribed by Ayurveda, and still not push up the kilos on your scale or inches on your waist. The trick is in choosing the right veggies and cooking ‘em Ayurvedically.
So let me list out a few winners first. Generally speaking, you just can’t go wrong if your shopping basket is loaded with lauki (bottle gourd), padval (long gourd), shalgam (turnips), alive (watercress), carrots, methi greens, red amaranth, shepu (dill), karela (bitter gourd), drumsticks, moong beans, sprouts, okhra, and yams.
Hey, I saw what you just did there… You turned up your nose in disgust, right? Well, I do agree that all these healthy veggies are not exactly Instagram-worthy. But if y’all make some space for them in your plate for a month, they’ll indeed make your new persona look Instagram-worthy. And once you experience their health benefits, you’ll learn to love these unsung veggie-heroes.
Cooking the delicious superfood, lauki, the Ayurvedic way
So, let’s cook a simple dish with lauki, our way. Now if we’ve to stay in the Ayurveda ambit, we’re not gonna use any tomatoes, potatoes or red, green chillies here, as they’re part of the avoidable food group called Nightshades. Instead, we give it a full spice treatment to ensure that it’s flavourful and healthy. How? Heat a spoonful of sesame oil in a pan and give it your regular rai-jeera tadka. Add a few curry leaves and a bay leaf while the oil is still sputtering. Add two thinly sliced onions and stir them till they turn brown. Then add a couple of hefty pinches of black pepper, long pepper & clove powder, along with a pinch of turmeric and dhania-jeera powder. And don’t forget to add a small piece of ginger and four petals of garlic in crushed form.
Lauki prevents fatigue, and keeps your body cool and refreshed during summers.
Padval’s rich mineral and vitamin content, particularly its high level of carotenes, are great for your skin and hair.
Yes, the aroma of this heady mixture is already making mouths water… Now add a quarter kilo of chopped and cleaned lauki to this and stir it continuously on a low flame. Add a few pinches of Saindhav salt to taste and finally round it off with two teaspoons of unsweetened Kokam juice. Let it simmer for a while and then garnish it on the top with fresh coconut, lots of coriander and some dried pomegranate (anardana) seeds.
Now this might look and feel like the most plain-vanilla dish that you may have ever encountered, but do note that there can be nothing healthier than this fare.
Glorious gourds: the gold standard of veg
Lauki is rich in soluble as well as insoluble dietary fiber and helps in curing constipation, flatulence and even piles. It’s recommended by Vaidyas for balancing the liver function, when the liver is inflamed and unable to process food efficiently. It is simply the most perfect vegetable for those light, low-calorie diets for people with digestive issues, obesity and diabetes. And, by the way, lauki prevents fatigue, and keeps your body cool and refreshed during summers. So a big bowl of steaming lauki along with a jowar and/or a ragi roti should form a regular part of your meal for the next few sunny weeks.
I’ve said this before and I can’t stop harping on about Ayurveda’s emphasis on using natural food as medicine. For example, diabetics should also consume a lot of padval (snake gourd), cooked in a similar fashion. Besides, if you’ve any hair care issues, y’all better put padval your daily cooking menu, as it’s said to stimulate the growth of new hair and prevent hair loss. Padval’s rich mineral and vitamin content, particularly its high level of carotenes, are great for your skin and hair. It is also claimed that padval can reduce the frequency and intensity of dandruff. And these gourds are all easiest to cook; with some practice, you can rustle ‘em up faster than a Maggi or other such indigestible quick-fix.
Now, though these simple veggie meals will keep you fit and fine, I’m sure you’ll also want to know how to glam up these dishes further, so that they could become the talk of the party. Let’s up the ante still further and learn more about this Ayurvedic way of cooking, same time next week.
Read Nitin Sawant’s previous posts here.