Salad daze

Hello friends,

Hope all is well and you had a good weekend. Sorry I was not able to send you mail for the last couple of weeks. My mailing list got all scrambled up! Those of you, who are taking my lunch did get the print out of the weekly menu every Monday.

Over the last few decades, there have been a lot of fad diets that have scared people off including all kinds of fats in their diet. Despite their bad reputation, not all fats are bad. There is such a thing called good fat 🙂

OilsThe fact is that we need to consume fats in our diet to feel satiated, so we don’t reach for other unhealthier, calorie-rich food to satisfy our cravings. Fats are also important to facilitate the absorption of a variety of other nutrients. Anybody who cooks knows that you need fats to create delicious food. We need to use the right fats in the right way to ensure that we get the taste, satisfaction and health without harming our bodies. It is understandable why many diets advice people to shun fats – they have about 3 times the calories per gram when compared to proteins and carbohydrates. It is easy to assume, therefore, that eating fats will make you fat. But now, we know that fats alone do not cause weight gain; rather it is the imbalance of the wrong kind of carbohydrates and fats in our diet.

While our body needs the good fats, bad fats can do a lot worse than just causing weight gain. Over time, they cause cellular damage and produce free radicals in the body, leading to long-term health problems.There are 3 kinds of fats: saturated fats, unsaturated fats and hydrogenated fatsSaturated fats are solid at room temperature. Coconut oil, cacao butter, palm oil and all animal fats are saturated fats. Earlier considered unhealthy, we are now discovering that saturated fats help create structure within our cells. For optimal health, one needs a good balance of saturated and unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated) oils are liquid at room temperature. Most vegetable oils are unsaturated. The most common mono-unsaturated fats are olive oil and the fats found in avocado. These should not be exposed to heat. They are helpful in reducing our bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and raising our good cholesterol levels (HDL).

Poly-unsaturated fats include sesame oil, sunflower oil and flax oil. Their sensitivity to heat varies – while sesame oil is fairly heat resistant, flax oil should never be put on the heat and is best stored in the refrigerator.
All oils, both saturated and unsaturated, should be bought cold-pressed as much as possible. Heat, light and air are the three enemies of these oils and they should be stored in airtight, dark containers in cool, dry places. They should ideally not be exposed to heat, especially the heat-sensitive ones.

Now, on to the bad fats. Hydrogenated oils are liquid oils that are chemically altered to become solid at room temperaure by pumping in hydrogen at high pressures. These oils are known to cause free radical damage to cells, thereby creating a predisposition to diseases. Margarine and dalda are commonly available hydrogenated oils. Avoid using these oils at all costs!

Watch this space for more on dietary sources of good fats.

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Monday 16th September
Pesto salad Pesto Genovese on steamed string beans, young potatoes and carrots. Served with a side of basil and double bean salad. This is a version of one of the most famous Italian dishes, pasta al pesto. Here I am using starchy potatoes in place of pasta! Please forget the common myth about potatoes – they are actually a diet food since 1 full potato is only 110 calories yet very filling and can therefore actually lead to weight loss and/or weight maintenance rather than weight gain. It’s so nutritious, one could almost live on potatoes alone as they provide you with almost every nutri¬ent you need. Really! This includes protein, fiber, and most of the major vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, pasta is made of white flour and has very low nutritive value and unnecessary calories.

Tuesday 17th September
Apple, carrot and beet root salad. Apple, carrot and beets and fresh sprouts are nicely combined with raw vegan creamy cashew sauce along with raw, soaked, dried crunchy walnuts and juicy golden raisins. It is served with a side of fresh crispy sunflower sprouts which add a nice crunch to the grated salad. Please don’t be turned off by the color, it is just delicious! This salad is my take on the classic Eastern European beetroot salad. Served on the side with a malted ragi roti and a hot sauce.

Wednesday 18h September
Hummus and baba ghanoush lunch.  . Served with jowar roti in place of pita bread (generally made with wheat which is far inferior to Jowar in its nutritive value), crunchy vegetables and hot sauce for that extra kick. Hummus, as most of you already know, is made with chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste), while baba ghanoush is made with roasted brinjal pureed with herbs and spices. My version of this dish, not only has tahini to make it more nutritious (it’s loaded with calcium and protein) but also sumac, which has the highest amount of antioxidants on the planet (sharing the top spot along with cloves). This is my take on the mezze platter which is typically served in Middle Eastern restaurants.

Thursday 19thSeptember

Crunchy Asian sesame cabbage salad with creamy mashed root vegetables. Green cabbage, orange carrots, sunflower sprouts, green onions, soaked, dried and chopped almonds, crispy ginger, lime and sesame dressing. Served with a side of creamy mashed mixed roots and a hot sauce for those who need their meals spicier. Cabbage is another proven cancer-preventing cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli, cauliflower and kale). Eat the mashed roots together with the salad, it makes a nice and satisfying combination.

Friday 20th September

Indian Jewel Salad.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, pomegranate, semi-ripe papaya and coconut together with
Yummy fresh sprouts– Mung bean, moth beans, chickpeas, micro greens of sunflower and coriander. This will be served with a tangy mint and coriander sauce. Sprouts are considered superfoods because of their high nutritional qualities. Loaded with protein, fiber, iron, calcium and other nutrients, sprouts are also high in bone-friendly and heart-healthy vitamin K. I am hoping you feel symphony of flavors while you chew on this salad, enjoy! As always, please chew well. Served with a side of green hot sauce and jowar roti.

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