Real Indian food is very healthy and often spicy, which both help with weight management. Also many curries purchased in Indian restaurants are not particular healthy due to high fat and salt content, home cooked Indian style cuisine can form a basis for a healthy vegetarian diet.
Indian vegetarians generally consume a relatively large amount of dairy produce. This can actually help with weight loss, as dairy calcium binds to some dietary fat and prevents it from being digested, instead the fat is excreted, so less calories are consumed.
Indian Vegetarian Diet Balance
This is on suggestion of how an Indian diet should be balanced:
- 28% Vegetables
- 28% Cereals
- 28% Dairy products
- 9% Fruit
- 6% Pulses
- 2% Sugar
- 2% Fat
Most of the dairy products are in the form of clarified buter (ghee) which is used in a lot of cooking. It is acutally important not to use vegetable ghee alternatives as these are likely to be less healthy due to the presence of trans fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils. Pure ghee is the best option.
For the main food groups a varied diet is always best as this ensures that you receive a wide range of vitamins, minerals and soluble and insoluble fiber. If you eat eggs then these along with the pulses will be your main source of protein, which is essential for maintaining muscle mass and metabolism.
How Many Calories For Each Food Group?
For weight loss it is also essential that you restrict calories – healthy food still causes weight gain / fat accumulation. As a general rule of thumb, to lose 1 pound a week you need to consume 500 Calories less each day than you need to maintain your ideal weight. Review this calorie table to determine your requirements. Here is an example.
1500 Calorie Per Day Diet Plan
If you aim to consume just 1500 calories per day to reduce weight at a rate of just over 1 pound per week then your diet should be broken down like this;
- Vegetables – 420 Calories of Eggplant, Cucumber, Chilies, Peas, Carrot, Squash, Green Leafy Vegetables, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Onions
- Cereals – 420 Calories of Rice, Millet, Wheat based breads
- Dairy products – 420 Calories of Milk, Cheese, Cottage Cheese (Paneer), Yogurt
- Fruit – 135 Calories of Apricot, Orange, Apple, Papaya, Melons, Plums, Guava, Mango, Coconut
- Pulses – 90 Calories of Chickpeas, Bengal Gram, Black Gram, Vetch, Lentils, Mung Bean, Fermented Sprouts
- Sugar – 30 Calories of Honey, Rice Pudding (Kheer), Bread Pudding (shahi tukra), Ice Cream (Kulfi)
- Fat – 30 Calories of Oil, Ghee (clarified butter)
Ideally you should attempt to eat mostly low to medium GI foods too. The best cereals are oats as wheat is higher GI and therefore blood sugar is raised much quicker.
Water should be the main drink, with maybe some tea or black coffee.
Cooking Tips When Making Indian Food
- When cooking try to use non-stick pans with a small amount of oil / ghee, this helps to cut calories significantly.
- Use a variety of spices for flavor and avoid using salt whenever possible.
- Do not eat too much bread and eat wholegrain rice instead of bleached white rice.
Simply eating Indian style food is not going to cause you to shed your weight. A vegetarian diet can be very healthy and the vegetables do provide additional bulk to meals which helps you to feel full and avoid snacking in between meals.
It is still vital to exercise to help to increase your metabolism and burn more fat. Fitness and diet go hand in hand to aid weight loss, so if you are going to make a big change to your diet also make a change to your activity levels and exercise regimes.
Shilpa Shetty Cooks Up Some Healthy Indian Food
Shilpa Shetty, Bollywoods hottest star, is launching her own range of healthy Indian food. Since appearing on Celebrity Big Brother, and cooking one of her favorite dishes, Chicken Curry, she has been inundated with requests fpr the recipe. As a result she has decided to make her own range of delicious and healthy curries.
Shilpa Shetty has always been passionate about healthy eating, and so often curries are cooked with too much oil, salt and fatty meats. So her range should be focusing on more traditional vegetarian curries, poutry and seafood, plus wholesome breads.
Her range will be ready meals that can be quickly heated in an oven or microwave. These meals will provide all the essential nutrients, and hopefully provide a balanced diet. Ready meals have a bad reputation for being too high in salts, saturated fat, sugar and low grade meat. Hopefully Shilpa’s curries will change this.
The range is to be called Shilpa’s Gourmet Creations, and they should start appearing in supermarkets across the UK in 2010.
- 2 cups of chickpea flour
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) coarsely ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) ground cumin
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
- 1/4 cup (60ml) water
- Mix the chickpea flour, pepper, ground cumin and salt in a large bowl, then add the garlic, mix well
- Add most of the water and mix into a dough, ensure that the dough is firm and dry
- If the dough is too dry then keep adding a little more water until it if firm
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth
- Roll the dough into a log 5cm (2 inches) thick and 15cm (6 inches) long
- Cut the dough into 12 equal sized slices
- Brush some oil onto the end of each slice and roll out into a very thin circle of about 15-18 cm (6-7 inches) – the poppadom should be very thin
- Carefully put the poppadoms onto large baking sheets
- Bake the poppadoms for 15 to 25 minutes in a preheated oven at 150C (300F), until crisp and dry.
- Remove them from the oven and leave to cool
- Heat 3ml (1/8 inch) of oil in a large frying pan, or skillet
- Put a poppadom into the oil and turn it over when it begins to curl at the edges
- Remove the poppadom before it turns brown and put it onto kitchen paper to drain
- Cook all the poppadoms like this, and serve.
Poppadoms are great with mango chutney and lime pickle!
Curry photo credit: Pelican