Grating some extra cheese over pasta or deep frying the chicken legs to make them more crispy are some classic ways through which we turn our food more delicious. Besides, no Indian household can do without ghee. Therefore, you might have been habituated to an excessive layer of oil or ghee floating on any of the home-cooked dishes.
But what’s wrong with having food made in vegetable oil or pure ghee? Truth be told, ghee is not just for enhancing the taste of dishes; it also has nutritional value. However, it would be best to remember that overdoing anything can negatively impact your health. For instance, putting too many spices in the food to elevate the taste or overcooking a dish leads to nutrient loss.
At the same time, who can forget the midnight munching habits or sudden hunger pangs when we rush to the refrigerator or kitchen cabinets to help ourselves with whatever we can get? As a result, we mostly gravitate towards tasty and sweet snacks like biscuits, ice creams, chocolates, chips, etc. Hence, it is high time that you make some minor changes in your life when it comes to food habits; let us take a look at a few food swaps that your health will thank you for:
Olive oil over seed and vegetable oil
What is the most common oil that we use to cook vegetables? Of course, the mustard seed oil is the most preferred oil that we tend to use while cooking our everyday meals, such as curries or parathas. But have you ever considered using olive oil? If not, you must try it once as it has multiple health benefits and enhances the nutritional value of the food.
You must have heard people using the oil for most of their dishes; Why is it so popular and the most sought-after cooking oil? The answer lies in the fruit from which producers procure the oil; olives are a rich source of high-quality monosaturated fats (oleic acid 50-70%) and saturated fats (SFAs 12-18%). Moreover, it contains essential polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs – linoleic acid (omega-6, 11-26%) and linolenic acid (omega-3, approx. 1%)
Besides, olive and olive products contain antioxidants called polyphenols and are a rich source of Vitamin E and carotenoids. In addition, polyphenols help manage blood pressure levels and promote good blood circulation, so drizzle some olive oil the next time you cook parathas.
Organic Butter over spreadable butter and Margarine Spreads
While making a sandwich, one of the main ingredients you may inadvertently go for is spreadable Butter or margarine spreads because it is convenient and easy to get. However, spreadable Butter accounts for 65 percent of Butter, and some quantity of canola oil, water, and salt. Besides, regularly consuming them causes a spike in blood cholesterol levels and increases the risk of heart disease.
Therefore, high-quality, grass-fed organic Butter is always a better choice because it contains organic cream, salt, and no other preservatives. Furthermore, it is naturally rich in dietary fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K; when you choose Butter that farmers procure from superior and natural diet-fed cows, the milk product’s quality is equally high quality.
On the other hand, manufacturers produce margarine products after a lot of processing and contain a lot of preservatives. Also, they have to artificially add a lot of the nutrients you might typically get in organic Butter. So, when you are out shopping for kitchen essentials, don’t forget to get some organic butter from the farmer’s market.
P.S, If you want to make homemade spreadable Butter, try blending the organic Butter with two to three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Add protein and vegetables for breakfast.
When you have a busy day scheduled ahead, you hardly get the time to make breakfast for yourself, so before you go out the door, you either grab some coffee or juggle down a milkshake. But, of course, if you stay with family, your mother won’t let you off without eating at least something; on other days when you have time, what do you eat?
Aloo and other types of parathas with some dahi (curd) or roti and sabzi (sauteed vegetables) are usually the most commonly made morning meals. Simultaneously, others prefer to have some quick and easy fixes in the form of milk, cereal, or donuts. Even though we grew up having these as essential breakfast choices, it would be good to add some other elements.
Add protein to your breakfast and prevent a blood sugar spike, making you feel satisfied for much longer and curtailing the need for snacking until your next meal. Some great ideas are as follows :
- You can spread nuts or seeds like sunflower, pumpkin seeds, and almonds on a whole-grain bread toast.
- Avoid sugary jams and apply nuts-based Butter like peanut butter.
- Have boiled or scrambled eggs with toast.
- Spreading avocado mixture on toast with sprouts and tomatoes is a good breakfast option.
- Blend some protein powder in milk as a fast and easy breakfast on-the-go option.
In case you have time in the morning, consider making a healthy breakfast, such as an omelet made of diced cut vegetables, including onions, capsicum, and green chilies.
Avoid soft drinks
Getting cola from the vending machine while outside on a warm summer day might seem like a great idea but drinking heavy sugar, and carbonated drinks regularly can lead to weight gain and cardiovascular issues. Also, when you have hoards of advertisements plastered all around you and popping up now and then on tv, you can hardly resist yourself.
Moreover, when a bottle of chilled soft drink goes so perfectly with a plate of biryani, it becomes tough to ditch them for good. So, what can you do? For starters, you can consume them in moderation or switch alternatives.
What could be a worthy alternative to something as cool as a chilled coke? Unfortunately, sparkling water does not match its taste, so go for coconut water or iced lemonade.
Reduce the Coffee intake
If you cannot live without coffee and need it to function efficiently, it might be challenging to ditch it altogether, and neither am I suggesting you do so. However, drinking too much coffee can significantly alter your sleeping habits and cause headaches; some studies have showcased that people who drink four to five cups of coffee in a day have trouble sleeping at night and irritability.
So, if you start your day with a cup of coffee, the healthy change would be to postpone it till breakfast; have some toast and eggs, after which you can have your coffee. Besides, altering beverage consumption balances the mood throughout the day and helps to subdue cravings.
Three vegetables per meal
Most often than not, we tend to rely on a quick-fix meal like a sandwich or burger due to preoccupation with work, etc. Therefore, it becomes difficult to have a nutritious meal at regular intervals; however, when you realize that health is wealth, you make food choices accordingly. For instance, you can arrange three vegetable meals, wherein you must choose three specific vegetables that can be the critical ingredient for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Also, pick various colored vegetables like carrots, capsicum, beetroot, radish, etc., which are rich sources of vitamins and minerals.
Swap white rice and pasta
White rice is a staple in most of our houses; chicken or any other curries goes brilliantly with white rice, and we wouldn’t have them any other way. We can say the same about pasta; be it penne or spaghetti, we love cooking it the traditional al dente way with a special homemade sauce to pour all over it.
But if you are attempting to cut back on carbs, you might want to change how you have rice or pasta. For example, you can opt for wholewheat pasta and brown rice instead of flour-based pasta or white rice.
Curb the unhealthy snack-eating habit
Fast food may satiate your hunger momentarily, but in the long run, it affects your blood sugar and blood pressure. Additionally, it increases your body’s inflammation and causes digestion issues, obesity, heart health issues, and more. So, plan ahead to prevent sugary eating snacks; you can do the following:
- Make a batch of yogurt/dark chocolate/nut/berries and store them in the freezer.
- Make a pre-made batch of greek yogurt, berries, and chia seeds pots.
- You can air fry carrot and beetroot slices to make healthy vegetable chips.
Moderate spicy foods
Spices are integral to Indian cuisine, and our households cannot do without a spoonful of garam masala, degi mirch, or turmeric powder. However, you might have noticed that overeating spicy food in continuation causes digestive issues. Hence, enjoy your biryanis, Matar paneer, chicken dishes, etc., but make sure you follow and alternate eating habits. For instance, if you are having a heavy lunch filled with oily and fried items, strive to have a light meal the next time.
If you are thinking, what could a light meal include? You can have plain roti sabzi made with minimum oil and some cucumber and onion salad.