Posted on 03/05/2012 at 10:31 PM by Madhu Gadia
National Nutrition Month
March is one of my favorite months as it is the beginning of a better weather and longer days. Sunny days and blooming flowers have an amazing uplifting effect on my mood. I had an early preview of this effect last month when I went for a sister’s weekend in the sunny Bahamas. My sisters and I have been getting together for a weekend every other year for the last 15 years. It is one of the best things we ever started since we live in four different states. As our get-togethers have increased from 3 to 5 days, my niece recently complained with a smile, “your sister’s weekends are getting out of control; you need to hone it in.” I hope you too get away with your siblings or friends for some invaluable one-on-one time. Well, back to reality, along with upcoming warmer days, March is also National Nutrition Month and the focus is on building a healthy plate. Have a great spring!
Build a Healthy Plate
National Nutrition Month is an annual education and information campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). The 2012 theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape,” which follows the new USDA food guide recommendations. Balancing your calories is the key to managing weight. Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate, or in your cup or bowl. The new food guide icon, MyPlate—www.MyPlate.gov--is a quick and simple visual of how to fill your plate for good health. Here are simple steps to control portion size and maximize your nutrition:
- Choose a smaller size plate
- Fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables
- Add some whole grains
- Add some lean protein
- Add fat free or low fat milk or milk products
- Drink water instead of sugary beverages
- Take time to eat and stop when you’re full
Salt to Taste
Cooks know that salt brings out the flavor of food. We also know that the medical community tells us that too much sodium is bad for our health (salt is sodium chloride). It’s a cooks’ dilemma, but it shouldn’t be. A little bit of salt will do the trick and make your dish healthy without compromising flavor. Salt is an acquired taste and as you gradually decrease the amount of salt in your diet, your taste buds will adjust. It is similar to when you first started drinking lower fat milk (most people drank whole milk in the 70s). Most people did it gradually, going from whole to 2%, and then to skim milk. And now most people can’t imagine drinking whole milk.
It’s easy to fill half your plate with vegetables when they taste good. A typical lettuce salad is nice but it gets old (same old, same old), plus all the good dressings are high in fat and sodium. Cooked vegetables are more versatile and satisfying. There are so many ways to cook and season vegetables making it easier to devour them. The books, The Indian Vegan Kitchen and New Indian Home Cooking have over 75 vegetable recipes. I am sure you’ll easily find at least a dozen you’ll want to make again and again. I have picked two simple ones Cauliflower and Pepper, Cabbage and Peas, and recipes, that cook in about 20 minutes. And I am also adding an Oven Roti (whole wheat flatbread) that you make in the oven for convenience. It’s made with whole grains and has no added salt and fat and taste absolutely divine with the vegetables. I know it takes time to make roti, but trust me this one is fast.
Cauliflower and Peppers (Ghobhi-Mirch Subji)
Eggplant with Tomatoes and Onions (Bengun)
Oven Roti (Tandoori Roti)
Happy and Healthy Cooking!