A dear friend of ours, and a fellow food lover, was recently detected with having a weak heart and severe diabetes. He had to be operated upon and is now thankfully on his way to recovery. A new phase of life has begun for him. His wife, who was not really into cooking earlier, goes to the local markets resolutely every day, comes back and makes him something new with what she has bought. “He loves food, I can’t give him the same dal bhaat every day.” So, there are egg whites set in yellow capsicum rings and strawberries for breakfast one day. Water poached eggs on another, with dahi crowned with pomegranates on the side. Surmai or kingfish, made on a grill pan with minimal oil, for lunch. Chicken grilled in the oven and placed delicately on a bed of extra virgin olive oil drizzled whole-wheat spaghetti for dinner. I could see my friend slowly but surely get back his zest for life as he feasted on these treats and he Instagrammed their stories too which gave me inspiration on what to cook. He has now begun to help in the kitchen with the strength coming back into his body. He told me one day, “Yes, I am eating differently than before. But am eating very well!”
I smiled. I knew exactly what he meant. In September 2018, I’d been detected as being pre-diabetic. Would this be the end of food as I knew it, I wondered. How can I be a food writer if I cannot eat!?
I refused to give in. I told my doctors, tell me what I am allowed and I will ensure that I will eat very well within that. And that’s what I did. I began cooking with a renewed vigour at home. I began to relish vegetables and fruits such as lauki, karela and apples that I refused to eat earlier, grains that I had never tried before either. I cut down on eating out. I took out what seemed like simple, every day meals, on pretty plates to make them look special. I felt good about myself for making a fresh start and even created the hashtag #LittleJackHornerMeals, after the nursery rhyme character of the same name, when I shared pictures of these meals on social media.
My wife told me that she enjoyed what was coming out of the kitchen. She would get me interesting herbs and oils and condiments when she travelled across the world on work and these added magic to my meals. Many of my readers wrote in saying that my meals had inspired them to making their own innovations as they started their journeys to a healthier self. In the process, I reached closer to the health goals that the doctors had urged me to strived towards. I plan to continue with this journey in the new year.
Here are some tips from me on what to do if you want to make a fresh start in the kitchen to being a healthier and happier you this year.
- Portion control. Take food according to what fits on your plate, thali style. Don’t take seconds!
- Balance is key. If you love your meat or fish like I do, eat the way our forefathers did. Balance your meat or fish with lots of vegetables, soup/ curries, a spot of grains
- Think local. Look at introducing millets such as jowar, bajra and ragi in your diet through rotis, dosas, breads or even pastas. As well as unpolished rice varieties such as the red rice of Kerala/ Mangalore/ Goa and the black rice of the north east. They have a lower GI and fill you up with smaller portions
- Try my secret sauce. Hung/ thick card dip. Strain out curd overnight, and then add different herbs/ spices/ nuts to it make a variety of dips which you can add to sandwiches, salads or have as a side with grills. You will not miss cheese/ butter/ mayonnaise again
- Think smart. Use cookware such as air-fryers, grill pans, ovens, cast iron skillet pans, granite pans to reduce the oil used in cooking
Here’s wishing you all a happy new year from us at the Time Kitchen Tales. If you have tips like these, which can help us lead a better life by making small changes in the kitchen, then please go to www.timeskitchentales.com and share them with us.