Hello hello Lovely Readers. Yayyyy, it is Spring time. Well, almost. Spring is beautiful and it means more sunshine, brighter longer days and healthier bodies. Now do not crinkle your nose and say – healthier bodies, that too with Indian Cooking, huh!?! Yes, that is totally possible and can be achieved with few small tricks. Let’s glance at 5 Ways To Cook Healthier Indian Food.
5 Ways To Cook Healthier Indian Food
Indian cuisine is often under-rated for its nutrition value. I attribute that to all the Indian Mughlai Style Restaurants, Nanaks, Ashokas, Deeps and Haldiram’s out there. In today’s scenario, Naans, Dal Makhanis, Biryanis, Kebabs, Pakodas, Samosas, Tikkis, etc define the Indian cuisine to not only Non-Indians, but also to the new generation of Indians abroad. Well, there is nothing wrong with that, but that is NOT how you eat INDIAN FOOD every day.
The most important part is realizing the need for cooking and eating healthier. Begin with setting small goals at a time for healthier Indian Cooking approach. Most importantly do not forget to have fun with food. Boring food will lead you to impulse snacking and that does more harm than good.
1. Planning and Executing a Perfect Meal
There are a million ways that you can cook and eat Indian and maintain a healthy lifestyle with balanced eating. Refer to the Choose My Plate guide to see how a healthy plate should be created. A Balanced Meal requires 1/2 of your plate filled with vegetables and Fruits. 1/4th of that plate should have certain kind of grain and the rest 1/4th should be filled with protein. Keep that in mind and create your LUNCH BOWLS or DINNER PLATES accordingly. Eat seasonal vegetables and fruits.
When it comes to executing your meal, plan to use modern kitchen gadgets like Air-fryer, Grillers, Ovens, Steamers, Instant Pots and Toasters for more efficient and healthier Indian Cooking. You can also take a page from East Asian cooking and WOK IT UP!!
2. Bring Flavour & Fun into your Vegetables
To kill the boring in the vegetables, bring different seasoning flavors into cooking. Some recommended curry spices are – North Indian Curry Spice Mix, Madras Curry Spice Mix, Kadhai Masala, Tikka Masala, Kitchen King Masala, Sambhar Powder Mix etc. Rotating between these spice mixes and using less oil will create wonders for your food palette.Cook your vegetables al dente. Most traditional Indian cooking requires vegetables to be cooked till tender which kills their nutritional value. Adapt to healthier cooking and cook the vegetables until just cooked. This will use less oil as well. Win win!
3. Making your Protein Flavorful and Healthy
Skip deep frying the chicken or lamb koftas and kebabs. Use modern kitchen equipment like Steamer, Air-Fryer and Oven to create the healthier version of traditional food. It tastes just as delicious when cooked in the right combination with seasonings and fresh herbs. Choose Lean Protein or Low Fat/ Fat-Free Protein for cooking.
Sprout and steam your Beans like Mung, Rajma (kidney Beans), Lobiya (black eyed beans), Kala Chana (black gram), and more. Combine sprouted or boiled beans or grilled animal protein with salad vegetables and dressing to create filling salad meals. Go creative with mason jar meals or salad kits. Remember you can use the same spice mixes for proteins as for the veggies above!
Try avoiding the addition of cream and milk with beans. It is not only hard on digestion but makes the food rich in calories. Instead, try substituting with nut butter like cashew butter and almond butter. It will add richness, but with good calories.
4. Make your DAIRY more meaningful
Desi Yogurt or Lassi is a great source of probiotics to include in your meal plan. Use Low fat or Fat-free yogurt in combination with fruits and honey/agave syrup to create fun lassi. Mango Lassi and Strawberry Lassi is a fun way to eat Yogurt. Make it a breakfast or a mid day snack.
Paneer is another Dairy product that is very popular amongst Indians. You do not have to always eat Paneer Parantha, Paneer Bread Pakoda, Paneer Pakoda to satisfy your Paneer Craving. Bake Paneer, Marinate and Grill Paneer, Saute Paneer, Air-Fry Paneer to satisfy your cravings. Next time make Paneer Roti instead of Parantha and feel the magic. Cube and add it to salads. Think outside the box and unleash the fun.
Try including Plant-based milk in your cooking. This lightens up the food. Use skimmed milk or low fat milk for daily consumption. It fulfills your dairy requirements without piling on the calories.
5. Roti & Rice – The Grainy Love Story
Nobody can deny the love affair of Desis with their ROTI and RICE. There is no meal complete without it. That is excellent since we all need grains in our diet for complete nutrition. The problem is that most of the Indians prioritize Grains over the other food groups, which actually should be in reverse order.
Keep your grains on your plate, but make a difference in their portion and selection.
Ditch the refined flours and use enriched flours to make your rotis. Mixed grains flour is a good example. 1 roti made with mixed grains flour equals to 2 regular and you get more out of it.
Starchy white rice makes us happy but pick a change and slowly substitute it or mix it with other grains like brown rice, millets and quinoa. Half and Half of 2 varieties make a good choice to substitute 1 whole portion of rice.
Some More Actionable Tips for Eating Healthy Balanced Indian Meals are
- The regular Indian Style Thali of Dal, Vegetable, Yogurt, Salad and Roti or Rice. Keep only one kind of grain in your meal. Do not eat roti and rice together.
- Create Lunch Bowls – Take a Stew Bowl and fill 1/2 of it with stir fried mix vegetables seasoned with kadhai masala. Add chickpeas curry or any other beans curry cooked in less oil to the 1/4th of the bowl. Fill the remaining 1/4th of the bowl with mixed grains like a combination of Brown Rice and Quinoa.
- Eat Dinner in the Salad size plate. It is smaller than the Dinner plate and fills you up with lesser portion.
- Drink a glass of water 1/2 an hour before meal. It will make you eat lesser than required.
- Eat MINDFULLY. Focus on what you are eating and listen to your stomach and not heart.
We hope that this article on 5 Ways to Cook Healthier Indian Food will be handy for many of you and help make a transition to better and healthier Indian meals. Don’t forget to pin this post and check out our 6 Delicious and Nutritious Desi Dishes and How to Succeed at Eating Low Carb on a Desi Diet