We live to eat. We live to hog, when the food is free. And we will consume anything unhealthy in great quantities, as long as it’s both free and dipped in ghee. Before the medical emergencies step in, step out of a meaty existence and refresh your plate with some greens and more. Give it a try, it’s worth it. 6 healthy veggie things to put on your plate and into the mouth can be:
Dear old kaddu is a guy oft ignored. We do cook it, but usually as an accompaniment with more glamorous dishes which steal the show at the end of the day, leaving the pumpkin feeling big with sorrow. You know why you should cook it more often? Pumpkins are rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. They are one of the first food items recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs. They are also a good source of B-complex group of vitamins, like folates. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. What are you waiting for? Get a kilo instantly and yes, pumpkin cheesecake is a delightful dish. Try it!
Tofu can never be paneer. But tofu can act as a much healthier alternative for those widening vegetarian waistlines. Tofu is known to absorb flavours through spices and marinades really well. Start your day with an easy tofu scramble or stir fry it for a nice Chinese evening. You can even use it as a substitute for heavy creams in desserts of your choice. Why tofu? Again, for vegetarians who give meats a pass, tofu is packed with proteins and is low on calories. It lowers cholesterol and is a great source of calcium and vitamin E. All soy-products help with these benefits. I promise you, if you manage to find the right (soft/firm) tofu and cook it right, you will get converted to a tofu lover and forget how much paneer meant to you once!
I have either met mushroom lovers or those who gawk at their very mention. Ones who go, ‘Yeah, I can eat them!’ are few and far between. Bake them with lasagna or make a special mushroom-peas curry, or simply make a bowl of mushroom soup seasoned with pepper – these little ‘toad-stools’ can make your meals just so tasty. No matter which variety you pick from the grocers, they are all low in calories and loaded with multi-nutrients. Did you know, mushrooms are the only source of Vitamin D in the whole range of fruit and vegetable kinds (Which does not mean you need not sun-bathe on your roof top anymore!). They boost immunity and kick up your metabolism, thanks to vitamin B2 and B3 contained in them. And even though they look like meat and taste like meat, they are nothing close to being non-vegetarian. Also, you will not be taking the fairy’s shelter away when you pick a packet.
Poor potato, available a dime-a-dozen, underestimated in healthy circles and misunderstood by those trying to lose weight. I don’t need to tell you what all you can do with your basket-full of potatoes. But I can tell you to respect these humble figures. Far from making us gain weight, potatoes are very low on calories and with surprising health benefits. They keep us full longer and thus help in reducing weight. They are a rich source of immune boosting Vitamin C, Vitamin B, folate and some minerals. Kukoamines (that’s not an abuse) are molecules contained in potatoes which help in lowering blood pressure. The flavonoids help protect against cardiovascular-disease by lowering levels of bad LDL-cholesterol and keeping arteries fat-free. On top of that, they even help with a healthy nervous system and a balanced mood. (Balanced mood? We need some potatoes on Delhi roads, please!)
Yes, I do mean choley but I do not mean the ones selling at your favourite fast-food restaurant or road-side dhaba. I mean ones which you can cook at home, in a healthy and delicious way. This humble legume’s sweet, nutty flavor can be used in a range of concoctions – salads, soups, main dishes and even pakoras made of chickpea flour. Apart from being high on protein for vegetarians, these little wonders do wonders when it comes to weight-loss, thanks to their fiber advantage. Regular intake can even lower LDL, the risk of breast cancer in women and even osteoporosis. And yes, the protein they provide is comparable to meat but without the saturated fats or high calories. (Trivia – they do not necessarily have to be eaten with oily bhaturey!)
I do not need to say this. Your mother must have told you why green is the healthiest colour, if not your teacher, principal, grandmother, professor, doctor and neighbor before that! Spinach has found presence in cuisines ranging from Italian to Mexican, very Punjabi to pure Chinese – and no, this is not because someone misunderstood the motto ‘Go Green’. Spinach is like God’s own food when it comes to being a nutrient-packed, readily available vegetable. As an outstanding source of Vitamin C and A, the folate in spinach is good for the heart. It is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, proteins and dietary fibers. Some nutrients found in spinach are believed to carry anti-inflammatory properties too – helping with arthritis, migraines and asthmas. And best of all? Studies have shown that spinach consumption keeps your brain young and kicking. Have a bunch, and go enter the latest Sudoku competition, now!