Posted on 09/25/2011 at 06:19 PM by Madhu Gadia
April Showers Bring May Flowers!
April 22nd is designated as Earth Day, a day intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. My organization, Compass Group USA, as well as many other organizations, is promoting Earth Day’s message by celebrating April as Earth Month. Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in opportunity and was first held on April 22, 1970. It is now coordinated globally by Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 175 countries. This year Earth Day 2011: A Billion Acts of Green® encourages us to live and act sustainably. Here at Compass we are featuring locally grown foods, sustainable fish, and encouraging people to eat at least one meat-free meal per week—good for you and good for the earth.
It’s Okay to Skip the Meat
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to reap all the benefits of a plant-based diet. How about eating 1 to 2 meatless meals per week? The health benefits of eating plant-based meals are well recognized today but it did not happen overnight. As a dietitian, I have seen the traditional American diet change over the last couple of decades. Several health organizations and health professionals are now recommending people eat vegetarian meals at least once a week. To help Americans reduce consumption of saturated fat and to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer—four of the leading causes of death in America—a national public health campaign called Meatless Monday (a non-profit organization) is working in conjunction with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to make it easier for people to eat at least one vegetarian meal a week. Twenty-eight other public health schools also support the campaign. The program follows the nutrition guidelines of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the American Heart Association.
Eating Healthfully at Work
The fact America is facing a health care crisis is not news. The obesity epidemic is a major reason that health-care costs continue to rise. Approximately 70% of illness today is linked to increased weight and decreased physical activity.
People spend 8 to 10 hours at work every day. Tired and stressed out, they end up eating what is available in their cafeteria where the choices may not always be ideal. When employees eat 3 to 10 meals, breakfast and lunch, in the cafeteria, it is critical that the cafeteria offers healthful alternatives. I have the privilege of working with Flik International (Compass Group USA) as a Regional Wellness Director. Flik runs the cafeteria for Aetna insurance company. My responsibilities include assuring that the cafeteria offers a variety of healthful options, nutrition information on foods, and customer education. It’s an exciting job for me as I am working at the prevention level. I totally subscribe to the wise old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Do you eat 3 or more meals in your cafeteria? Is it easy to choose healthful meals? Are you getting your fruits and vegetables? When you eat out that often, it is important to make good choices and balance your meals.
The past couple of months, I have been busy providing a variety of presentations at different venues. I presented “Building a Healthy Cafeteria” to Aetna clients, “Eating Out Healthfully” at a community health education program and “The Bad 4 Letter Word, Diet” at the BryanLGH Diabetes Annual meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you have ever presented to a group, you know it is a lot of work. I am relieved only once I’m done, but it’s comments such as “You mesmerized the audience,” make me do it again. On April 16th I will be presenting “Curry, Dal, and Ghee—Meeting the Needs of Indian Patients” at the Colorado Dietetic Association.
With all this talk about busy lives and eating meatless meals, I am sharing a vegetarian meal with you that you can make in about 30 minutes. As you know the majority of Indian cooking is done on the stovetop, and with four burners, you can easily cook several dishes at once. To prepare the meal below efficiently, start by putting rice on to cook. Next start the Zucchini-Tomato Dal, and while the dal is cooking, chop the zucchini and tomatoes for the dal. While the rice and dal are cooking, make the Cucumber Tomato Salad and the Yogurt and Banana. And ta-da! All four dishes will be ready at about the same time. Enjoy.
Zucchini-Tomato Dal (Torai-Tamatar Dal)
Cucumber Tomato Salad (Kheera-Tamatar Salad)
Yogurt and Banana (Kele Ka Raita)
Happy and Healthy Cooking!