Fit At Forty

“Eat those greens” was the regular admonition administered by my doctor mom.  But who pays heed in childhood to well-meaning nagging of parents?

A year ago I weighed 67 kg.

Fat Forty at Golconda fort

For a person who had not put on any extra weight even after pregnancy, I looked fat. My girth was not at all flattering, my face seemed puffed up and I wasn’t really feeling confident. I had become laid back, my clothes seemed ill fitted and I looked ‘old’ to myself.

I had turned forty… An age they say to be naughty and flirty! But I felt fat and fifty!!

That is when I pulled myself together. I did not want to enter on other side of middle age huffing and puffing with pills and pains. I joined a gym…

It isn’t that I was eating junk all the time, but the nutritionist pointed out that my carbohydrate intake was definitely much more than the proteins and iron. While proteins help in building muscle mass, iron too is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in many bodily functions. Lack of sufficient amount of iron may lead to anemia, headaches, hair fall, brittle nails, breathlessness and even irritability.

Iron is important

I had no clue that my headaches could have been due to insufficient iron.

Found in two forms in foods, heme in animal products and non-heme in plants, the average intake recommended is 18 mg per day which may vary depending on age and gender of a person.

We women often suffer from anemia. Anemic women may even have trouble during pregnancy with mother’s anemia adversely affecting the fetus. With menstruation being added burden on women, we need at least 27 mg during pregnancy.

Meat eaters have the advantage over vegetarians as the iron content from animal products is easily absorbed in our bodies. Hence the vegetarians need to have more iron rich food and more frequently.

So now at 63 kg, though  yet miles away from an hourglass figure, I know where I went wrong. Besides a daily exercise routine, I brought some changes in my eating habits especially the breakfast.

Reduced weight gives more mobility and fresh look

Now my breakfast menu looks something like this:

Monday:   2 boiled eggs, 1 bowl oats garnished with almonds, colorful tutti-fruity, raisins, walnuts and sometimes banana slices.
Tuesday:   1 generous bowl of spiced boiled sprouted black gram and 1 boiled egg
Wednesday:  2 boiled eggs, 1 khakra
Thursday:   1 generous bowl of steamed spiced sprouted Moth and Moong (brown and green lentils)
Friday and Saturday repeat either of these. Sunday is for either poha, upma, sabudana khichdi or bread-omelette.

I also changed my dinner habits by eating smaller portions and twice a week I eat only sautéed broccoli and mushrooms. Some may however not relish these exotic vegetables, not to forget the exorbitant price these days. Legumes work best for vegetarians, if I may say so, both in cost and iron content.

Now Livogen, aims to educate women on importance and benefits of iron intake for a healthy lifestyle by sharing iron rich food recipes. So here is an easy recipe for vegetarians with cooked lentils.

RECIPE OF USAL:

Ingredients:

  • Soaked sprouted whole moong (green lentil) 1 cup
  • Soaked sprouted whole moth (brown lentil)   1 cup
  • Ginger julienne 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds 2 tsp
  • Seasoning : Mustard seeds, Asafoetida, salt, sugar, green chilies, curry leaves, dry mango powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder
  • Oil

Method:

  • Soak overnight the two lentils. Drain excess water and let these sprout for a day. These can even be eaten as quick snack. (Quick snack recipe: mix raw sprouts with finely chopped onion, tomatoes, capsicum, spinach, chat masala, pepper powder, salt, pinch of sugar and juice of half a lemon).

    Sprouted lentils rich in iron

  • Pressure cook the lentils for just about one whistle to avoid over cooking. The cooked lentils should keep their shape.
  • In a pan heat 1 tbsp oil preferably mustard oil or olive oil for added advantage.
  • Add hing(asafoetida) and mustard seeds.
  • As the mustard seeds crackle, add curry leaves, green chilies, turmeric powder, pinch of red chili powder.

Season it away…less oil, just about spicy with sweet and sour taste to balance

  • If the spice in green chili is not very strong add red chili powder; aim is to prepare a breakfast which is easy for digestion and not that will burn your insides.
  • Add cooked lentils. Add a pinch of sugar or little more, salt and dry mango powder.
  • Add raw ginger julienne and raw cumin seed after the water is almost dried.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander(I did not have fresh coriander at home though) . Serve hot.

Usal, ready to eat

The best chefs also recommend cooking food in iron skillet for that iron content in food.

There are however some foods that reduce the absorption of sufficient iron which may not be totally avoidable but can be eaten in moderation. Similarly there are foods that facilitate the absorption of iron. White wine is one such thing.

So what are you waiting for?

Grab that bottle of bubbly, a bowl of sprouts or a roasted chicken and get your fill of the iron!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

I know I am very late for this post….the whole week is almost over! To be honest I had lost interest in weekly photo challenges because I observed that I was not writing any thing else and whole week went off waiting for a new photo challenge and the comments from fellow bloggers. Though it was fun…in fact some good bloggers boosted my spirits by nominating many awards  and that was soooooooo satisfying ! But I was not getting new visitors…..that was making me seriously doubt my writing ability. And so I stopped participating. However, a few months back a mail from eof737 asking about my well-being and the concern made me feel perked up (thank you so much “eof737”) . I realized that by not writing I was not only loosing out on some probably new visitors but also the ones who were reading my blog!! Now I am again trying to reach out to bloggers old and new with this weekly photo challenge.

Lunchtime is one such event at our home when the three of us are seldom together….my daughter does not come back from school till around 2:30 p.m, my husband has no fixed time of returning home from work. All of us eat at our own convenient times. Today was one of the rare times when all of us sat down at dining table and had lunch together. Even our dog “Buddy” stretched down near the table content  that all were at home and safe!

The lunch menu was simple regular home-made food : dal (lentil gravy), paneer-simla mirch(capsicum and cottage cheese), bathua raita (plain home-made curd or yoghurt with white-goosefoot/pigweed leaves), chapati/roti (indian wheat bread) and basmati rice. Though  there was nothing out of the ordinary in the menu but it became special because we all were at home!

I am fairly good cook and quite proud that I can cook not only Indian food but can manage a few of the Chinese, Italian, Mexican and Thai recipes too! I like watching all food channels ( and I am myself surprised because a decade back I loathed kitchen and all chopping and cutting and forever upset my mom!). But taking advantage of the photo challenge today I am posting not only the photos but also the recipe..

1. Capsicum and Cottage cheese:

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Ingredients:

1 large onion(  finely chopped)

2 large ripe tomatoes (finely chopped)

2 medium capsicum (cut into big chunks)

150 gm cottage cheese (bite sized squares)

1 tsp garam masala (1/4 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp cardamom, 1/2 tsp black pepper ground to a powder)

Heat 2tbsp oil in a wok. Cook onion till transparent. Add tomatoes, 1/2 tsp turmeric and ground red pepper powder and one slit green chilly. When the oil starts separating add capsicum.  Once the capsicum softens add cottage cheese, salt and garam masala. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve!

2. Dal :

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp of each split black gram (urad chika), kidney beans (rajma), split and skinned bengal gram ( chana dal), pink lentil (masoor) soaked overnight and cooked till soft

3 tbsp paste of 2onions,2 tomatoes, 3cloves of garlic, a small piece of ginger

1tsp garam masala

Heat oil and fry the paste till oil separates. Add the cooked lentils salt, garam masala and 1 cup water( or more) Bring to boil. The dal should not be very watery nor like a paste…. more like a thick soup. Heat a little butter and add 1 tsp of cumin seeds till they splutter. Garnish with this butter and cumin  and chopped fresh coriander.

3. Bathua Raita:

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Ingredients:

2 cup curd/plain yoghurt

2 tbsp blanched and pureed  pig weed leaves

rock-salt, powdered sugar, salt, black pepper powder roasted cumin powder (to taste)

Mix all and chill. Serve with rice or naan or any Indian bread.

4. Chapati/Roti:

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Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1tsp oil

water

Knead the flour to make soft pliable dough with water and apply oil. Make small rounds and with the help of a rolling-pin make a 6 inch flat  thin disc . Roast on hot plate. Serve hot with clarified butter.

Today’s lunch was quite satisfying and I look forward to more such lunches with the family…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Indulge

Once upon a time there was a little princess. She was the most obedient child her parents could ask for. Her teachers, neighbors, friends all adored her. Then one day she came up with a wish to visit an amusement park. Her doting parents made arrangements for the trip to “Essel World” in Mumbai. She was eagerly waiting for the weekend.

At last, the glorious Sun heralded the beginning of Saturday. The princess’s parents were usually careful about their daughter’s safety and food but they decided to keep their worries aside and really indulge her that day… And what a day it was!

First was the toy train. Sitting there on a slow-moving train with other kids, she was elated and kept waving every time she crossed the spot where parents were waiting to collect their kids. It was a small circular track and the train went around thrice on it. As a grown up it was difficult to imagine the fun, but the faces of children mirrored their joy…

Another similar ride which had small cars and jeeps mounted on a track was the next in order and again she went round and round on the track thrice, thoroughly enjoying the ride!

All kids’ ride happen to have only circular motion and kids tend to ride all similar ones one after another! Now this one had space ships attached to the giant arm which  lifted up in air. Round and round and round again….

A traditional Merry-go-round…

The sun blazed but she was all for more rides and fun. She tried her hand at the ” Go-Kart” and found it a bit difficult to maneuver but yet enjoyable…And little respite from the continuous circular motion. Just watching her go round and round made me….the mother of princess go dizzy!

Another car ride….the electric cars. She banged away happily, getting stuck in corner at times and driving well sometimes. She felt all grown up driving a car…

And the day ended with a big bear hug to the hatted guy who displayed a come again sign!

Indulge her, that we did and in the process learned a few things too!

  • It’s absolutely satisfying to see the kids smile and laugh….that is what parents aim for any ways.
  • Their joy is infectious and you just forget all your worries of the day!
  • The child within each adult gets to be free and relish childhood again.
  • Money spent doesn’t seem like a wastage!!

So go ahead and indulge yourself through your child. It’s worth it….