Happy New Year
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? The most common New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, and eating healthier. Although studies show that we are not very good at sticking to the resolutions, I still believe that it is important to have a vision, some goals, and resolutions, as they set the preamble for change. If weight loss and eating healthier are your goals this year, see the meals plans below.
But before we get to the meal plans and recipes I want to share my “curry bar” story. At one time I wanted to open my own restaurant, a vision that never materialized; instead my dreams took their own turn and what I got is so much better.
For the past year I have been working as a Wellness Director with FLIK International. FLIK runs the cafeteria for Aetna in Hartford, Connecticut. The cafeteria has several stations—salad bar, deli, grill, stir-fry, etc. We also have a station called Nibbles Bar, where we feature variety of ethnic cuisines. At that station we have also featured a “curry bar” once a week. Back in August, the chef decided to feature my recipes at the “curry bar,” and he also asked me to help cook in the kitchen. I was thrilled to see the line at the “curry bar” was so long that it went out the door. Since then I cooked about once a month with similar exhilarating results. Although cooking is beyond my job and call of duty, I did not care; I love working with the chefs and watching my food disappear. In November, the company made plans to open a daily “curry station.” The week before its unveiling I was taken by surprise to see a poster in the cafeteria announcing—Indian Curry Bar, Grand Opening; come join us on December 19th, featuring recipes by Madhu Gadia MS, RD, CDE, FLIK Wellness Director and cookbook author, the realization of my dream in another dimension. So now I plan the menu, provide the recipes and teach the chefs how to make and serve authentic Indian food. See pictures on cuisineofindia.com.
At the moment, I am just basking in the glow and not projecting the next step. Again, I have learned it is important to have a vision, to set a goal, and be open to the ways in which it will unfold. Now let’s let get back to the task at hand—recipes and menus.
“Diet” is a 4-letter word
No one likes to go on a “diet.” Yet each New Year, people flock to the latest and greatest diet that promises the quickest weight loss with the least effort. There is no doubt that losing excess body weight is important for your physical and emotional health. The question is, what works? Although there are hundreds of diets on the market, do you know that they all fall into these categories—low carb, high protein, low fat, or low calorie. The bottom line; all diets are lower in total calories. The good news is that most diets will work as long as you follow them. So find the “diet” that works for you, but make sure it’s safe, effective and healthful in the long run. Choose a diet that is balanced in nutrients and consists of all food groups—vegetables, fruits, grains, meat (protein foods), and dairy. After all, you want to lose weight for good. Choose foods that are lower in fat and calories and monitor your portion size.
Planning meals is one of the most important and yet difficult jobs of maintaining healthful eating. For your convenience I have planned 2 weeks of 500-calorie meal plans. The recipes are from my two books, The Indian Vegan Kitchen and New Indian Home Cooking. These plans will help you get started and guide you as you create your own variety of menus.
Although, the most important thing when trying to lose weight is to reduce calories, it is also important that the food is filling and satisfying. Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of Volumetrics Weight Control and professor at Pennsylvania State University, has done many studies on the concept of energy density. Rolls suggests that eating low-energy-dense foods, like soup or salad, before a meal is an effective strategy for weight control. Although, many Indian dishes have a sauce (curry liquid), but they are not soups per se. Personally, I love soups and thus have modified these Indian favorites to more soup like. Enjoy them in a cup as an appetizer or with a whole grain, hard, crusty bread or a roti (Indian flatbread) as a meal. They are low in calories, flavorful, filling, and are sure to leave you satisfied.
Lentil-Vegetable Soup (Masoor Subji Soup)
Lemon-Pepper Soup (Neembu Rasam)
Curried Potato Soup (Aloo-Tamatar Soup)
Happy and Healthy Cooking!