Better Food Choices

food-selection

As a new mum and determined to make a healthy change to the foods we eat, I have jumped on to the “as less processed as possible” bandwagon since the last couple of years. There are still miles ahead of me when it comes to being healthy, however I feel grateful that at least I have taken the first step towards a long and ever going journey. Choosing natural and healthy foods didn’t come naturally to me ! It was, and still is a very conscious effort to make small and steady steps.

“I am trying to eat little to no processed foods.  However, I grew up on these foods. I am learning about whole foods and raw foods.  What is something you would keep on hand if you were cooking from scratch and what would be the most common use you would have for it be?” – Kat Evans

 

Just recently, my swapping partner Kat Evans put up this question to me which lead me to formalize and articulate my thoughts this subject.

Let me tell you – Transitioning from Processed to Whole, Fried to Baked, Refined to Raw is REALLY a big deal. For many it’s not even a choice – considering how fast paced their lives are and how little or no time they get for thinking and planning and executing their meals. Even if everything works for you, temptation mostly wins. I truly believe whatever measures we take must be really simple and practical so that they can be imbibed in our daily routine without much ado.

As a vegetarian , and also a big fan of dining out, staying on the nutritious track often becomes a challenge.  Yet, if I were to answer Kat’s question above along with adding some of the simple changes I made as the first step towards embarking on making better food choices, then here are a few things that come to my mind :

 

grainsAdding different grains to my diet. We usually just keep eating different forms of wheat and rice, whereas there is a plethora of grains that are available since mankind started agriculture. What makes me laugh these is that those grains are packaged these days and being sold as “ancient grains”. I mean these grains were always there and probably they are as ancient as wheat and rice ! So adding different kinds of millets , in addition to oats and quinoa has made a difference in my diet. There is a lot of added fiber and of course texture and taste !

spice-health-benefitsAnother thing I would keep at hand when cooking from scratch would be spice blends because they really benefit our metabolic activity and assist in maintaining loads of bodily functions. Usage of spices comes naturally to Indians. Not all spices are hot though. Here is an article on Healthiest Herbs And Spices And How They Improve Your Health

Water. Dehydration really slows down body’s ability to function well. It also diffuses false hunger alarms and hunger pangs. I have to pull up my socks on the water department. I really don’t drink as much water as I should.

c15b53f114a0f50544100def32bcdc50Nuts is something my mother keeps reminding me, however here too I’d like to include more than just the sunflower seeds that I have started. I do eat raisins and soaked almonds once in while but I must definitely get more regular in this department. One thing to note here is the portions – they are really very small. Overeating nuts (like my mum) is very common and it just boomerangs back on you.

Pulses and lentils is also very essential and is a fixed part of my cooking. This is one of the largest vegan source of protein. Although I am not a vegan, but limiting dairy is recommended by an increasing number of doctors and nutritionists each day. Eating better quality of food and choosing good ingredients also largely contributes towards a better health.

Having said that, I wanted to let you know that I still eat fried food, cheat at least once a week, do not exercise (I have 80% valid excuses for not exercising ) and do not sleep on time. My mind naturally gravitates towards cheese pizza’s… haha ! Nonetheless, I try. Keep trying. On the whole, improving and maintaining health is an ongoing process. I hope that I try and stick to the tiny moves that I have started if not more !

my Top 5 Restaurants

I am a big ‘foodie’ ! Being a pure vegetarian, and traveled globally, my restaurant and food ordering choices may have been limited, but given by what I have eaten so far, I have some clear favorites.

So here they are in no particular order :

Pizzeria Due – Chicago, USA

Uno_Due_Chicago.jpg
Pizzeria Due – Chicago , USA

They pride on being “A Chicago Legend”. Lemme tell you that aren’t at all lying. I have a VERY SPECIAL connection to this place. Having visited only five times, and eating almost the same menu, you can say that this is easily my amongst my top 3 restaurants !

PizDue1_54_990x660_201406010125.jpg
Deep  Dish Pizza’s by Pizzeria Due Chicago

The are famed for their deep dish pizzas. I usually order Spinoccoli and (0r) Spinach. The last time I also had their garlic bread (salivating) . The restaurant has always been busy whenever we visited, and almost always were were informed of a minimum 30 minute waiting period. The prices are more or less reasonable considering Chicago’s other restaurants.

——

Hotel Laxmi Next – Powai, Mumbai, India

This has been a “go to” place for our family (and pretty much 80% of Powai – Mumbai’s population). When in doubt – go to Laxmi !

 

laxminext
Laxmi Next Powai

This is a pure vegetarian restaurant and serves EVERYTHING from breakfast, lunch, snacks , dinner and everything in between. Their recipes are simple and very tasty. There is hardly anything from their menu that we haven’t eaten. However Pav Bhaji , South Indian and Indo – Chinese cuisine remain our top favorites. Batata wada too.

A top favorite with students, families and office goers. Budget friendly and quick service. Nothing left to compliant !

——

Captain’s Bar and Grill – Nantong, China

masters-table-bar-and.jpg
Captain’s Bar and Grill – Nantong China

One of the really few places who serve real vegetarian in Nantong. For most of the other restaurants, vegetarian includes eggs and fish and animal oils. Some people also include all sea food as veg ! However Captain’s Bar and Grill is the real deal for Indian vegetarians. You can see that this place is filled with expats. I visited here thrice and ordered salad , nachos and burger each time. I dont remember the cost, but it seemed a little on the higher end. The service was good and the English spoken was perfect ! This place serves as the only happy food memory I had during my long stay in China !

——

Maharaja Bhog – Powai , Mumbai, India

p7593-145830440656ebf59621b57-700x700-ido54caa48cc456c.jpg
Maharaja Bhog – Powai , Mumbai India

This restaurant was a very recent discovery. ‘Maharaja Bhog’ literally means feast for a king ! You really need to stop eating a day before you want to go and eat here ! I mean its so delicious and the variety never ends. It is an unlimited service of food till your mind and stomach can take no more.

fixedw_large_4x.jpg
Indian Thaali 

There are usually 3-4 starters, 4 types of Indian breads, 4-5 types of lentils and vegetables, 2-3 types of desserts, so many condiments and salads, buttermilk, 2-3 types of rice.. I may have missed something actually ! We have been to thaali restaurants before, but the ambiance and quality of every dish was outstanding here. The welcome drink was saffron and probably rose water which kind of set the stage for what sumptuousness is going to come next. They also serve paan in the end !

——

Artopolis – Chicago

The first time I had Artopita here – I dreamt about it 🙂  That is the effect it had on me. The cuisine has entered my sub -conscience ! This place has such a relaxed feel and serves such delicious European – Greek food – its almost like an upscale restaurant in a very relaxed setting.

artop.jpg
Artopita bread and bakery display

They serve a bread basket on the table – and you can tell that the bread must have been in the oven just 15 minutes ago. Its that fresh.

orig
Artopita and Salad from Artopolis

I always order spinach artopita and salad. The lemon and fresh fruit tarts are my favorite desserts from here too. My mother likes baklava ! The prices are reasonable and the service is warm and friendly.

So that sums up my list of top 5 restaurants 🙂

I hope you enjoyed looking and mentally tasting the delectable dishes