JULY 2024
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


How Can I Eat my Traditional Foods and still Eat Healthy?


By Joanna Ayalloore

With the New Year upon us, now is the perfect time to make diet changes that can improve your overall health.

South Asian Indian cuisine is known for its rich flavors and diverse range of dishes. However sometimes depending on the type of dish, it can have an increased amount of saturated fat, salt and sugar, all of which can increase the risk of developing chronic ailments like diabetes, heart and kidney diseases. 

A few simple swaps to consider for improving your overall health:

1. White rice vs. brown or plain wild rice

Replacing white rice with whole grain rice provides more fiber and nutrients, which are heart protective.

2. Cream vs. Greek yogurt

Using Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream in curries or as a topping allows for the creamy texture but with less fat.

3. Paneer vs. tofu

Substituting tofu for whole fat paneer can help reduce your saturated fat intake. Tofu can be prepared as burji, which is an excellent breakfast option.

4. White flour roti vs. whole wheat roti/chapati

Whole wheat flour contains high fiber and high protein, which is especially important for people at risk for diabetes.

5. Whole eggs vs. egg substitutes

Whole eggs are an excellent protein source. However, they have some amount of cholesterol. Substituting with whites, especially in an omelet, can help lower your cholesterol levels.

6.  Whole grain cereals vs. sugary cereals

Choosing whole grain cereals like oatmeal, porridge, natural muesli, upma with fruit or helps cut down on your sugar intake that is in sweetened cereals. The natural sweetness in fruit helps give more flavor to the whole grain cereal.

7. Ghee vs. olive/avocado oil

Ghee, which is clarified butter, has been a traditional staple in Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Its nutritional profile and health impact is based on the source of the butter, the quality of the ghee, and an individual’s own health and dietary needs. Substituting ghee every so often with a product that is rich in monosaturated fats like olive and avocado oil can help lower your risk for heart disease. Like ghee, avocado oil has a high smoking point; so is a good cooking oil.

8. Full fat dairy vs. low fat

Opting for low fat or fat free yogurts, cheese, milk lowers your overall intake of saturated fat.

9. Fruit juices vs. whole fruits

Store-bought juices, especially mango and guava, have high amounts of added sugar. Instead, consume a whole fruit. Whole fruits have added antioxidants and fiber.

10. White potatoes vs. sweet potatoes

Although sweet potatoes have a sweet taste, they are an excellent source of fiber, Vitamin C and beta carotene.

11. Refine sugar vs. natural sugar

For individuals looking to reduce their intake of refined sugar, dates are a good alternative. They contain natural sugar, which is an excellent source of iron and fiber, can be added to various dishes and is helpful for individuals who have diabetes. Dates can be added into chutneys, milkshakes, modak.

12. Store-bought chips vs. homemade roasted Makhana

When made homemade, makhana provides a good source of fiber and protein vs. the high salt, high fat, store-bought chips

13. Deep frying vs. shallow or air frying

Traditionally, a lot of dishes have required deep frying. However, this results in not only adding more fat to your diet but also wastage of all the oil. Instead, using a small amount or air frying is a better alternative while still being able to enjoy your dishes.

14. Salt vs. traditional spices

Salt is an ingredient that when consumed in high amounts increases an individual’s risk for developing heart failure and high blood pressure. By substituting traditional spices like turmeric, fenugreek, ginger, garlic can improve one’s overall health.

Preference of food swaps may vary based on your personal palate and medical history, so choose the swaps that best fit your lifestyle. These swaps can help make South Asian dishes healthier while retaining their delicious flavors.

Tampa Bay-based Joanna Ayalloore, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, owner of Nutrition Kept Simple, (www.nutritionkeptsimple.com), can be reached at [email protected]


Mighty Microgreens



Riding the high wave of gastronomic trends are the microgreens! It is the new buzz word appearing in the world of health from menus of fancy restaurants, health articles and supermarkets. What are microgreens? It’s a term used for marketing. First true leaves emerge from young edible seedlings; they are harvested 7-14 days after germination. In 1990s, they were known as vegetable confetti. A variety of cultivars can be grown as microgreens. They are gaining popularity because of their high nutrient content, attractive color, delicate texture and distinctive flavor. Microgreens are more nutrient dense but may taste nothing like their mature counterpart. The flavor ranges from mild to spicy, sweet to bitter or peppery. Smaller microgreen quantity offer same nutrition as large quantity of its mature counterparts.

Microgreen varieties are limitless; you can grow microgreens from grains, leafy greens, herbs, legumes, grasses, edible flowers and root veggies. Basil, coriander, beet roots, carrots, sunflower, kale, arugula, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, radish, fenugreek, are some commonly grown microgreens.

A research study conducted by the University of Maryland on nutrient content in 25 various types of microgreens found that microgreens can give you four to 40 times the amount of vitamins, such as Vitamins C and E, as compared to mature plants.

This study also measured five Brassica (cabbage and mustard family) microgreens and found them to be excellent sources of polyphenols (compounds in plants that offer health benefits). These micronutrients confer potent antioxidant properties and offer exceptional benefits, including the potential to improve heart health, lower blood sugar and promote brain function.

There is evidence that red cabbage microgreens lowers circulating ldl (bad cholesterol), liver cholesterol and inflammatory cytokines when fed to mice on high-fat diet, according to a study published in J. Agric. Food Chem. Review study published in Journal of Future Foods, focused on evaluating the nutrient content of microgreens as compared to their matured counterparts, concluded that microgreens are good sources of nutrients and antioxidants, including Vitamin C, minerals (e.g., Cu and Zn), carotenoids and phenolic compounds. Due to the richness of vitamins and phytochemicals, microgreens have a strong antioxidant capacity and are effective in the regulation of plasma lipoprotein and cholesterol metabolism, showing a potential value in the prevention and/or treatment of chronic diseases. (Nutritional quality and health benefits of microgreens, a crop of modern agriculture, YanqiZhang, 2021)

Microgreens are easy to grow, pre-soaking the seeds help in faster germination, aluminum foil tray, pots, any shallow boxes with holes work fine, can be grown on germination paper, soil, etc. Usually, they are harvested when the plants are 1-2 inches high. I grow my microgreens in foil trays as follows:

Take two foil trays, one tray with the plastic lid. Poke holes for drainage in one foil tray, about 12 in a large tray, fill it with ¾ of the soil and compost mixture, put seeds about 1-1.5 inch apart, lightly cover with soil. Moisten the soil with spray bottle. Put three cups of water in the bottom tray and put the soil tray on top of it. Put a plastic top that comes with foil tray upside down with some weight to press the seeds in the soil, cover the tray with black plastic for about 2-3 days. The seeds should start to sprout, water the seeds, and cover the tray with plastic lid and remove the black plastic. This is called the blackout phase. After two days, once the leaves sprout, then put the tray in sunlight. Mist the greens regularly and the microgreens should be ready in about 5-6 days. Harvest the microgreens with scissors and use them in smoothies, salads, sushi as garnish on soups, enchiladas, pizza, rice, etc. Microgreens have a short shelf life; they can stay up to 10 days in refrigerator or 2-3 days at room temperature.

Microgreen Khamani 

Make one plate khaman from chana dal spiced with green chilies, ginger, grate the khaman coarse, add ½ cup of fenugreek, ½ cup of cilantro microgreens, ¾ cup pomegranate seeds and temper with ½ tsp mustard seeds, and garnish with 1 tbsp fresh coconut. 

To Our Health!

Bhavi Nirav is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher, Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., and can be reached at [email protected]

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