After various attempts at diets, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to be healthy is not to eat less, but to eat smart.  Although I’m no where near my ideal weight, I am sure that not because of my food choices, but more because of my lack of exercise. But that’s the subject for another day (another day – that’s what I keep telling myself, instead of getting out today!)

Here are some smart eating decisions we’ve made in the last few years.

More vegetables and fruit– We’ve started to include a lot more vegetables in our diet and have discovered the joys of bell peppers and zucchini – so much you can do with them and they add so much color to dish.  And of course, all the colorful fruit – pomegranates being a new add to our list. I’m sure you know that the colors in the fruit and vegetables are indicative of the special goodness they contain. For an excellent food color guide, read Vidya Sury’s 5 part series here,

Going meatless now and then – As you will see from Jose’s food memories, he grew up carnivorous! Making sure we include more vegetables in our diet, is a conscious decision – made easier by the fact that I cook vegetables rather well! 😉  Now, we actually go meatless on some days. When we tried a completely meatless diet one Lent, we found it hard to get back to eating meat for a few days. Fish, lentils, mushrooms, tofu are all good protein sources too. Read about Laurel Regan‘s experiments with going meatless on Mondays here.

Eating a healthy, hearty breakfast – Breakfast has always been in main meal for me – I can skip the other two meals, but without breakfast I can’t survive. In the ‘good’ old days we always had chappatis for  breakfast – never counting how many went down – since my Mom was making them. Now, we have a large various breakfast choices:  either idlis, dosas, pesaratu, poha, upma;  kinds of porridge  – oats, lapsi (broken wheat), sooji (semolina); eggs – more whites, less yellows, with mushrooms, zucchini and occasionally with bacon or chicken sausages and a few slices of toast;  oat pancakes.

Having five to six small meals – Instead of eating three big meals, we tend to eat smaller meals – for example, fruit between breakfast and lunch and a tea-time snack. Talking about snacks, I’ll be doing a short review of some smart snacks at the end of this post.

Including more fibre – We’ve chosen to eat whole-wheat bread, pasta and noodles, brown rice (from Mangalore or Kerala), nuts, oatmeal and when we do have potatoes, they’re usually in their jackets. Also, we make sure that our vegetables are not overcooked – crunchy vegetables retain fibre – stir fried vegetables are great. And as you know fibre is what helps in building bulk and aiding elimination.

Reducing the quantity of rice, bread and rotis –   We love our rice, bread and rotis – but they’re not very good to eat in large quantities. Instead, it helps to divide your plate into four parts – one part rice/ cereal (carbs), one part protein (meats/lentils) and the other two parts should be vegetables.The inclusion of more salads and vegetables to make sure we get that satisfied feeling after a meal. While we’re talking about carbs, it’s good to remember that with carbs, timing is everything

Reducing salt –  We cook almost entirely without salt. I can’t do without my pickles for lunch though. But since the food is without salt, it helps. One tip to do without salt is to add more herbs and spices to the food.

Cooking more, eating out less – We do indulge in ordering food, but we’re making a conscious effort to cut this out. Instead, we’re get more creative with our cooking and trying out a lot more healthy options. Just recently, Sangeeta Khanna shared a recipe on her blog and I discovered a wonderful substitute for eating rice/ pasta all the time – barley. Yes, easy to make and very delicious, we’re having it once a week. Do take a look at Sangeeta’s recipe of murgh kaali mirch (black pepper chicken) with lemon-pepper-parsley stir fried pearl barley. Absolutely yummy!  I must tell you that Sangeeta is my go-to for healthy food ideas. Thanks, Sangeeta!

Eating mindfully – I’ve talked about this at length earlier – and we’re still working on this aspect.

Here are some examples of our efforts – the pictures are not great – but I thought I’d provide proof  (the fact that we attempt to eat healthy is not obvious when you look at pictures of me! 😉 )

We have miles to go on our journey towards wellness – especially me – I truly need to go miles, literally. However, I refuse to get into feeling guilty – doesn’t get you anywhere.

Remember, deprivation is not the key to wellness, smart eating is!

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A Review of Smart Eats

When Sangeeta Khanna mentioned that she was the nutritionist for this company and when Smart Eats offered to send me a box in exchange for a review, I jumped at the offer. And so arrived the box of goodies – a neat box containing 6 sealed packets. Each of these packets could be zip-locked for subsequent servings.

Here’s what our box contained – I’m adding the descriptions and weight and prices mentioned on each packet:

Fruity Granola Bar – A crunchy chewy bar enriched with goodness of oats, honey & fruits –  100 gms – INR 80.  (This contained five bars).

Walnut brownie biscotti – a while wheat brownie with flavours of dark chocolate and walnuts –  100 gm – INR 80. (This contained 5 biscuits)

Honey Roasted Cinnamon Almonds – a heart healthy snack of almonds with real cinnamon flavour. Almond skin helps prevent cancer and is a great source of good fats and minerals –  100 g – INR 130.

Almond plum cookies – a healthy whole wheat cookie with crunchy bites of almonds, a great brain food and real fruits – 150 gms – INR 90.

Yummy Jaipuri Mixture – a roasted…not fried, mix of delicious and healthy lentils, seeds, grams and peanuts – 150 g – INR 50.

Very Berry Strawberry – specially dehydrated fruit with all the micro-nutrients intact. Great for having around the year

100 g – INR 130.

How does it work? You sign up at the Smart Eats website for a plan – and pay in advance using a credit/debit card. They have various options – one month/ 3 months, etc and you will get a box delivered to your doorstep. The items I received are just a sample – they have wider range and to a large extent you can dictate what you want in your box.

According to the company, their snacks have been designed keeping the following things in mind:

  • All natural
  • Healthy fats and ZERO Trans Fat
  • Low glycemic index
  • Natural Preservation
  • Natural antioxidant rich snacks

The box I received was a sample, but the it would cost about Rs.650/- if you bought it from them.

My views:  I found all the contents tasty and it certainly felt better to snack on these rather than call for that samosa! While Jose loved the Jaipuri Mixture and enjoyed the biscotti, I totally enjoyed the almond plum cookies – slightly sweet, slightly tart – and the strawberries too.We wanted to take a box along on our vacation, but the company is not yet delivering in Mumbai. Personally, I’m not sure I would get into ordering this on a regular basis as I find them a trifle overpriced. However,  I think this would make a great add in a busy household and good to carry to work/school for a pick-me-up.

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