Nutrition beliefs and values!

This is a post I have been meaning to write for a while. As a nutritionist and a Mum with high school kids, I often get asked questions on my beliefs and practices on food. The most common one: “Do I eat and serve healthy meals at all times?”
To be honest, I don’t. I believe in a balance.

Here are some of my personal tips to enjoy eating while staying healthy.

Love plants, add plants and eat plants in as many ways as you can!
As Michael Pollan said, β€œEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I follow this everyday, for example, breakfast on a Monday morning will be a porridge of oats, mixed vegetables, seasoned with salt and pepper, served steaming hot. Warms the body on a cold Melbourne winter day and keeps us full for a good two-and-a-half hours.
I pack cucumber and carrot sticks in the lunch box, add cherry tomatoes for variety and sometimes will add mixed leafy greens. This routine seldom changes. What has this achieved? My kids eat veggies either raw or cooked without a fuss.

Recognise your hunger cues!
This is a big one and is put to test every school holidays. My kids do eat more when they are at home buuuut they do get veggie and fruit platters along with the chips, cookies and chocolates. We have conversations on hunger which go something like this, Are you bored or just hungry? Can you play for a little while longer? How about a glass of water? Would you like to make yourself a snack? Often, these questions makes you aware of your hunger and leads to being more aware of your choices. Just as an aside, please do not leave it too late to eat, this will make you binge on food, which defeats the purpose!

Shall we get takeaway tonight?
Yessss! I love Friday nights ’cause it is takeaway night. Could be anything, chicken and chips, curry or pizza. Can you make this healthier? Of course, add a salad! We generally skip the drinks offered and stick to water.
Takeaway is something that we all enjoy however adding salads and losing the sugary drinks can ensure it has a healthy kick to it too!

We eat food not nutrients!
I cannot emphasise this enough. This was THE take home message from my nutrition studies. I have never forgotten this. We often hear discussions between popular figures which labour on the benefits of saturated fat, draw comparison between diets low in carbs and high in fats…..and so forth. The result is we get confused! What should we eat? Is this okay to eat butter or extra virgin olive oil?
The truth is, we eat food not one single nutrient, so it is more important to look at our overall diet. A standard diet plan sourced from the Internet will not factor in your personal likes/dislikes, culture, goals, beliefs, and limitations. Only a qualified nutritionist will deliver a personalised plan that ensures your enjoyment while keeping you healthy.

See a qualified nutritionist who resonates with your goals and beliefs! Organise your personalised consult here πŸ™‚


Kosambri using bananas, another traditional food!

I have lovely memories of bananas growing near the washing stone in the backyard of our traditional house. We called the house ‘Mishin Mane’, a Kannada word for Machine House. My cousin would wash clothes in bucketloads and throw the water to the bananas, which grew profusely.
My mother makes Kosambri with ripe bananas, kosambri in Kannada is for salad, and in Marathi we call it Koshambir.
This is an easy snack and flavoured with lemon and salt. The seasoning of mustard, cumin seeds, black gram (urad dal), yellow split gram (chana dal), chopped green chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves adds the piquant flavour to the dish. Freshly grated coconut garnish is a must, evoking the taste of the tropics. In Melbourne, I buy frozen grated coconut from the Indian or Sri Lankan grocer.
Just chop the ripe bananas into rounds, mix with lemon juice and salt to taste. In a small saucepan or a kadai, heat a spoonful (up to 2 tsp) of oil (I use sesame oil), add mustard and cumin seeds to splutter, add the grams, chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves. Now add this seasoning to the bananas with chopped coriander and fresh coconut as a garnish.

Steamed rice dumplings

Steamed rice dumplings

Now that my Mum is here, we are revisiting traditional Indian recipes. Being plant-based, it is more fun to batch cook, saves us time and energy over the week. These are our version of Kolakattais or steamed rice dumplings. A great idea for school snacks.

You will need 2 cups of coarse rice flour; 1/2 red onion finely chopped; 1 green chilly finely chopped; 1/2 cup packed chopped coriander; 1/2 cup of grated fresh coconut; 2 tsp white sesame seeds; 1tsp cumin seeds and salt to taste. Now mix the flour with these seasonings and add 1/2 cup of buttermilk to resemble breadcrumbs. Add 1/2 cup of water (slowly, a tablespoon at a time) to gather into a ball. The dough must be moist but not wet. Now, make small oval dumplings, lay them on a steel plate and steam in the cooker for about 10-12 minutes.

In Melbourne, I use ‘Puttu Podi’ which is available in any Indian or Sri Lankan grocery. Steaming can be done in a bamboo basket or a vegetable steamer, just make sure no water touches the dumplings, while steaming.