Category Archives: Healthy Living Tips

Calories In Indian food



Please read through before you go to an Indian restaurant buffet on the weekend!! Indians love to eat  traditional Indian dishes. India is a country with  diverse languages, dialect, cultures and cuisines. All the cuisines are mouth watering and have their own distinct  taste.One cannot even dare to compare one to the other.  As a Gujarati lady  I love my staple meals with sweets with ghee – high in fat content and savory snacks……..   But, do we know the calorie content of that food?

Here is a quick cheat sheet to get an idea so we can cut back on fried and sweet dishes. Personally I believe all food is good in if we can control the portions and frequency to consume that particular dishes or food preparations.Our basic meal components are vegetables.–Dals /lentils/legumes — curries beans base. Rice,roti,dosa,paratha–grain based meals with some carbohydrates.

Basic calorie counts are: 

Puri–150 calories whole wheat
Rotis— 85 calories of 6″ diameter fat content -0.5 gms  whole wheat flour
Dal urad /split matepa beans–154 calories per one bowl fat content –6gms
Rajama/chana–153 calories per 150 gms  fat content -5gms
mixed vegetables 142 calories per 150 gms .  Fat content- 15 gms  based on oil
Plain dosa – 125 calories meduim dosa . fat content 3gms
Idlis -132 calories for 2 pc. Fat content: 3 gms
yougurt rice-190 calories per 100 gms. Fat content- 7gms

Typical Gujarati Thali

coconut rice 368 calories per 100 gms fat content 15 gms
Fried rice-120 calories
Brown bread 1pc-70 calories
Naan bread 1pc-317 calories
Jalebi: 100 gm-1 pc 380 calories
Gulab Jamun 2pc -280 calories
Rasgullas 2pc- 110 calories
Sandesh 2pc- 60 calories
Gajar/ carrot halwa-150 gm-260 calories
Barfi 1pc-103 calories
Ras malai 2pc-250 calories
Potatowada  2small pc -170 calories
Indian tea with 2tsp skim milk and 2tsp sugar  200 calories
sweet lassi -150 calories
Milkshake -185 calories
coconut chutney-64 calories
Papad- 142 calories
one Traditional Samosa– 252 calories
Steamed one piece Dhokla– 150 calories
hand full of Chivda- 201 calories
4 pieces of Chakli/ Muruku- 140 Calories
2 pieces Pakora– 90 calories
1 piece of Chana dal vada– 100 pieces
1 piece of Aloo tikki- 275 calories
1 plate of Papri chat with 6 pieces- 712 calories
100 gms of Bhel Puri– 176 calories

This is just the estimate of numbers. Calorie counts in Indian food  may differ with the type oil used and other ingredients like cream in north Indian dishes. Staple foods such as roti, rice, beans, vegetables are very healthy and does not depend on processing. Indian meal is low fat and low in calories. It consist of  carbohydrates, natural proteins and healthy starch which is required for the human body.

Healthy Substitutes
Bake in oven  instead of frying
 Substitute with agave nectar for regular cane sugar
Controlling portions is also a good way to cut down calories.
steamed, boiled, stir fried, sauteed ,pressure-cooked rice can be an excellent.
Salt intake can be reduced watch for sodium content like papad
Use of fresh herbs and spices to flavor the dishes instead of oil and sugar
Use of whole grains
For tampering use healthy oil like 1tsp instead of 3tsp

Traditional way of grinding

My Dream Food Label

My Dream Food Label was just published in New York Times by Mark Bittman. Mark Bittman is an Op-Ed Lead Food columnist at the NY Times.

He has just proposed a new Food Label:

See a bigger version of this label here.

I totally agree with him on the subject of food labels. Food label NEEDs to be changed. Obesity in this wealthy country (USA) means we are doing something wrong.

I really applaud Mark Bittman on writing this article and suggesting a change in food labels.

According to him “I want something that allows me to make a fast but enlightened choice.” I like his suggestions for food labels by numbers and colors. Our Nutrition facts are displayed in a way that are confusing and over informative at times. We need a simple system to cut down on confusion over the nutritional value of the food we eat.

What do you think – leave a comment below.

The Facts About Cereals

We all love the the sugary sweet crunch of cereal in the morning. It is what most of us would like to have for our morning breakfast. If we can not avoid sugary cereal totally, we can reduce the amount at least by half. According to The Environmental Working Group, there are ten sugary children’s cereals on the supermarket shelf.
These facts are based on percentage of sugar by weight:

Kellogg’s Honey Smacks 56%
Post Golden Crisp         52%
Kellogg’S Froot Loops Marshmallow   48%
Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s All Berries   47%
Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original   44%
Quaker Oats Oh!s       44%
Kellogg’s Apple Jacks             43%
Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original   41%
How much sugar is in a one cup of cereal?  It is interesting to find that at least 47 popular children’s cereals pack more sugar in one cup than three Chips Ahoy Cookies and a Twinkie.
Healthier cereals have a short ingredient list, lots of fiber, few or no added sugars and they are always placed higher on the shelf.  Mothers want to serve healthier cereals that also taste great to their children.  There are a lot of good options that many kids will like.
Better Cereal Choices:
Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats
General Mills Cheerios Original
General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios
Kix Original
Quaker Natural Granola
I’ve found that oatmeal is the best, but it, too, has lots of sugar.  It is better to have plain oatmeal where you can add your own ingredients like agave nectar, pitted dates, cranberries, walnuts and your choice of fruit like bananas and strawberries. McCann’s Irish oatmeal is great tasting. I love my oatmeal well done.  I cook it little more than recommended.

Health Benefits of Granola

Lower Blood Pressure

Granola may lower your blood pressure, which is a health benefit because hypertension increases your risk for heart disease, kidney disease and stroke, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Whole grains, such as oats, may lower your blood pressure because they are high in potassium and low in sodium, according to the Mayo Clinic. For some extra potassium, purchase or make your granola with dried fruit, and eat it with skim milk or yogurt and fresh fruit, such as bananas. Read the label when you purchase granola to make sure that it is not too high in sodium.

Prevent Anemia
A health benefit of granola is that it may reduce your risk for iron-deficiency anemia because oats are naturally high in iron. Iron is an essential mineral for healthy red blood cells, and children and women of child-bearing age are at higher risk for iron-deficiency anemia. Each cup of homemade granola may have more than 5 g iron, or nearly one-third of the daily value for iron. For extra iron, choose a ready-made granola that is enriched with iron.

Control Your Weight

Granola may help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, which can reduce your risk for obesity-related chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes. Oats supply dietary fiber, and a high-fiber diet may help you control your weight, according to the Mayo Clinic. Increase the fiber content of your granola by buying a high-fiber brand, or making your own with flax seed, nuts or dried fruit. Granola is high in sugars and calories, so only have a small portion as part of your reduced-calorie breakfast for weight control.

Lower Cholesterol

Granola may lower your cholesterol as part of a high-fiber diet. Soluble fiber, which is in fruit, beans and oats, lowers bad LDL cholesterol levels in your blood, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you are making your own granola, add some flax seed for extra fiber and heart-healthy omega-three fats. Read the ingredients list before you purchase a ready-made granola to make sure that it does not have partially hydrogenated oils. These oils supply trans fats, which not only raise your LDL cholesterol, but also lower your levels of good HDL cholesterol.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below! I love to hear from my readers!

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Seven Steps To Slim


There are seven “S’s” we can use to work toward becoming Simply Slim.

Salt:  Sodium is used heavily in ready-made foods. Soups, canned beans and meat have a high salt content.  If we can avoid salt in excess amounts, it will ease water retention from the body and therefore reduce body weight. Consumption of salt also increases calcium excretion which can cause osteoporosis.  Salt cannot be digested or used in the body.  It has no vitamins and no nutritional value.  Salt actually interferes with digestion because the enzyme “pepsin” is needed to digest proteins and salt causes only 50% of the amount of pepsin needed to be secreted. 
Sugar:  With sugar, less is more. Like salt, sugar is hidden in almost every food.  The more we consume sugar, the more we feel like we want to eat. It also contributes to hyper-activity. We should avoid those foods that list sugar as one of the first three ingredients on their label. High Fructose Corn Syrup should be a no-no at all times. Sugar increases glucose levels which can cause mood changes, tiredness and headaches. It also increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  Sugar can even cause immune  system disorders, chromium deficiency, premature skin aging and dental decay and disease which can lead to heart disease.  There has even been research that sugar activates stress hormones which can cause anxiety and irritation.  
Starch:  We find starch in all of our foods. Starch turns into sugar and any unused calories are stored in the body as fat.  Some starches are digested very quickly, which causes a fast and large rise in blood sugar levels.  Other starches are digested more slowly, which also causes blood sugar levels to rise more slowly, as well. There are also “resistant” starches that are not digested in the small intestine so they cause little to no rise in blood sugar levels.  The best starches to eat are whole beans and lentils.  
Sitting:  If you sit for a prolonged period of time it can be harmful to your health.  It increases a person’s tendencies to be overweight, having a heart attack, and even dying. Whenever you can get up, you should take a random stroll to get your body moving. In the midst of watching television or working on a project on the computer, doing couple of sit-ups is helpful.  However, sitting meditatively for 10-15 minutes of quiet time and just watching your thoughts and emotions pass-by is a good thing.  In Yoga it is said that meditation increases metabolism and makes us feel refreshed.
Second Helpings:  Always avoid second helpings. “What does not go to waste, goes to waist.”  The hormone leptin is what is released when we eat to inhibit our appetite as we grow full as we eat.  Obesity can sometimes be attributed to low leptin levels.  General leptin levels tell the brain how much energy the body has stored so that it can regulate metabolism and appetite.  The fewer helpings you have, the lower the leptin levels. 
Snacks: Always avoid snacks as much as possible. Beware of those snacks which have “o’s” in their names like “Cheetos” and “Tostitos.” Though they are my favorites, they are very unhealthy.  However, if you graze on the right types of snacks throughout the day, you can actually increase your metabolism levels and even lose weight.   Most “bad” snacks are full of sugar and/or salt that can cause all of the health problems listed under those two headings.  But if you eat healthy snacks like fruits and nuts, you can encourage positive effects in your body.
Slippery Food:  Foods like butter, oil, and lard are not only unhealthy, but can create more problems, as well.  Butter contains two ingredients that can raise cholesterol: saturated fat and cholesterol itself. Vegetable oils are processed to the point that they contain mostly saturated fat which increases cholesterol levels, also.  Lard is actually slightly better, as it contains 30% less saturated fat than butter, more polyunsaturated fats than olive oil, more monounsaturated fats than sunflower and corn oil, and no trans fats at all.  But you should be wary of all of them as they all can increase cholesterol.

The Vegetarian Way

The Key to Health and Happiness
Growing up as a vegetarian, I consider myself lucky. Honestly, I had no idea what it was like to eat meat. My family followed the Jain Religion, so we believe in leaving less of a carbon foot print in the world.
For centuries religious and scientific theories have come and gone. But the necessity of a healthy diet has always remained a constant. Many people today still argue that meat has more protein value compared to a vegetarian diet. However, research shows that eating healthy is vital for all us.
We are surrounded by an abundance of food. Our supermarket culture is growing so we have plenty of food but we still find ourselves nutritionally poor. We have lost our way to healthy living. Even though vegetarian food sounds whole, healthy and fresh, one still needs to take care when making food choices. We should watch our eating habits. The body should be provided with healthy and wholesome foods, pure and untainted by blood or negative vibrations. We should feed our body with those foods which involves minimum violence.
There are three categories of vegetarian diet one can adopt:

  1. Lacto-ova vegetarians eat milk, dairy and eggs
  2. Lacto vegetarians eat milk and dairy, but no eggs
  3. Vegans eat no milk or eggs and not even honey

Parshpar Graho Jivanam

This universe is made of two things: Living and Non-living. All life is bound together by mutual support and interdependence. One who neglects the existence of the elements, earth, air, fire, water and vegetation disregards his own existence. We should not harm and kill other living things for our own greed and possession. All lives are interconnected so if we harm ONE we harm All Living beings thus it creating an imbalance in the environment.

These are ancient statements from the Jain Religion, but they still influence the modern science of ecology and the concept of a green world. This philosophy is refreshing, contemporary, and promising.

Our industry has been so successful that today meat costs more than vegetable dishes in restaurants. According to PETA, one American over a lifetime consumes 21,000 animals.

I am happy to see changes around us. Celebrities are beginning to realize the implications of consuming so much meat and are trying to improve the numbers. Many are beginning to eat less meat and call themselves Flexitarians. Famous chefs Mario Batali is among them. He now offers more vegetarian portions and has started Meatless Mondays. He is also planning to open strictly vegetarian restaurants. More and more celebrities like Paul McCartney are going for green. PETA is a great example of an organization trying to get people to eat less meat.

You may ask why kill vegetables? A big argument always rises. A person has to kill so many vegetables to be well fed, but could feed many people with only one animal.
It is not only harmful to your health and the environment, but it is also pretty boring to cook meat alone. Veggies have more natural flavor plus healthy nutrients and anti-oxidants. For anyone who has seen animals suffer, this is a glimmer of hope to reduce their suffering.

Is Fish Oil Necessary For Health?

Is Fish Oil Necessary?


Editors Note: Guest Author Louise Infante writes for sample vegetarian menu blog, her personal hobby blog related to vegetarian food preparation tips to help people live better.
Give me 5 mins and I’ll provide you 1 great reason to become vegetarian.
While fish may serve as the most important dietary source of the long-chain omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, which have been shown to be important in supporting brain health, low intake of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in vegetarians doesn’t adversely affect mood, according to a new research (Nutr J. 2010;9:26. DOI:10.1186/1475-2891-9-26).
A research team from Arizona State University conducted a cross-sectional study to match the mood of vegetarians who never eat fish with the mood of healthy omnivorous adults.


An overall total of 138 healthy Seventh Day Adventist adults living in Arizona and California (64 vegetarians and 79 non-vegetarians) were enrolled in the study and completed a health history questionnaire, food frequency questionnaire and two psychometric tests, the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and also the Profile of Mood States..


Vegetarians had significantly lower mean intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and also the omega-6 arachidonic acid; they had higher intakes of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid and the omega-6 linoleic acid.


“Seed oils are the richest sources of α-linolenic acid, notably those of rapeseed (canola), soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed (Linseed oil), clary sage seeds, perilla, chia, and hemp.”


However, the vegetarians also reported significantly less negative emotion than omnivores in psychometric tests. Mean total psychometric scores were positively associated with the mean intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid , and inversely linked to alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid intake.


The study team noted there is also the chance that vegetarians may make smarter dietary choices and may generally be healthier and happier.
So no need for Fish Oil.
If you want to give it a try, this is a good example of vegetarian recipe according to Italian cuisine.


Italian Spaghetti with Zucchini

17 oz. Spaghetti
24 oz. Thin Sliced Zucchini
1/2 Cup Walnut Oil
Few Basil Leaves
2 TBsp Yeast Flakes
Salt & Pepper
How To Prepare:

  1. In a skillet or frying pan heat the oil and when hot, add garlic and zucchini.
  2. Raise heat and stir often to finish their cooking.
  3. They should be golden and crispy outside and tender inside.
  4. Cook the pasta, drain and sauté in pan with zucchini, basil and yeast.
  5. Serve immediately.


Zucchini contain fewer calories and also have no fat. However they are an excellent source of potassium, e vitamin, ascorbic acid, folate, lutein and zeaxanthin.


Most of these nutrients are extremely sensitive to heat and to enjoy their full benefits you need to look for a quick method to cook or even eat raw in salads.


From the therapeutic point of view, zucchini have a laxative, they are refreshing, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and have detoxifying action.

Healthy Snacks By The Numbers

This is to our health!  Today in the supermarket there are so many different varieties of snacks that one will definitely get confused. I am more interested in our young people who are on their own and often get lost in what is a healthy or unhealthy snack. I ran across an article in National Geographic that had the following cheat sheet. This rating was developed by Yale University.  The Overall Nutritional Quality Index is based on nutrients, vitamins, sugar and salt as well as the impact on blood pressure and other health concerns.  I hope this guideline will make it very easy to snack on healthy snacks.  I know my readers will definitely enjoy this!

Broccoli 100  Apple Chips 24
Blueberries 100 Bagel 23
Orange 100 Canned Tomato Soup 23
Green Beans 100 Reduced Fat Sour Cream 22
Pineapple 99 Instant Chocolate Pudding 20
Radish 99 Swiss Cheese 17
Squash 98 Bacon 13
Apple 96 Dark Chocolate 10
Cabbage 96 Hot Dog 5
Tomato 96 Milk Chocolate 3
Clementine 94 Saltine Crackers 2
Watermelon 94 Milk 1%    81
Mango 93 Couscous 72
Nonfat Milk 91 Oatmeal 61
Fresh Eggs 91 White Rice 60
Grapes 91 Milk 2% 55
Banana 91 Whole Milk 52
Avocado 89 Canned Peas 49
Oatmeal 88 NY Strip Steak 44
Blackberries 83 Orange Juice 39
Salmon 82 Canned Peaches 37
Almonds 82 Dried Apples 34
Pecans 82 White Bread 32
Brown Rice 82 Hamburger 25
Snapper    82 Green Olives 24
Shrimp      75 Peanut Butter 23
Pistachios 70 Sherbert 23
Canned Pineapple 60 Roasted Salted Peanuts 21
Club Soda 56 Fried Egg 18
Canned Kidney Beans 53 Diet Soda 15
Pasta 50 Pretzel Sticks 11
Prunes 45 Salami 7
Vanilla Yogurt 43 Cheese Puffs 4
Chicken 39 Apple Pie 2
Lobster 36 Popsicle 1
Tomato Juice 32 Soda 1
Raisins 26

I found few handy snacks that are a “must” to buy:
  1. Blue Diamond Natural Almonds, Oven-Roasted, No Salt: High in omega 3 fatty acids.
  2. Sun Sweet California Prunes, Individually Wrapped:  Easy to take along.  Good fiber and fruit count, they are surprisingly good.
  3. I keep mix of dried cranberries, almonds, cashews, raisins, roasted soy beans and walnuts.  This makes an instant handy snack in a Ziploc bag that travels well and is easy to carry.
  4. I buy blueberries and then wash and drain them in their plastic container. They’re easy to put in cereals or to munch on as a snack.
  5. I buy fresh bananas and different kind of berries, apples, and grapes.  Then I wash, cut and mix them together, sprinkle on chat masala and WOW! Instant fresh food.  Impress your date without much effort.
  6. Left over fresh fruit that’s about to go bad: Wash, cut and freeze them.  Make a smoothie by adding milk and blending.  Bingo.
  7. I’ve found that yogurt is a great snack with high protein values.  Greek yogurt has double the protein.  It is available without gelatin also.
  8. A Pear provides one full day’s source of fiber which keeps your digestive system healthy.
  9. An apple a day keeps doctor away.
  10. Carrot and celery sticks with peanut butter is another popular snack.