Cooking healthy this festive season

crop7_240x240_10thoct14Post rains, begins the festive months for all of us. Festivals means happiness, colours, lights; and a basic feel good factor. We begin with Gokulashtami, followed by Ganapati, then Navratri, Diwali and Christmas. Food plays a very important role during all the festive days. Sweets and desserts always rule the menu. Different cultures follow different norms for cooking sweets. Most of the sweets are homemade or procured from specialty stores. We all love to eat and many of us, also love to experiment. If we could
keep a few things in mind, while planning the menu and meals, it will help us achieve better health in the long run.

Given below are few tips for healthier cooking and meal planning:

  • Always remember to opt for healthier cooking methods like baking or grilling or steaming, instead of deep frying. One can make beautiful karanjis or chaklis by baking, instead of deep frying. The method remains the same just the cooking technique is healthier.
  • Always balance your meals, with one serving of each food group. Which is a carbohydrate; through roti/ bhakri/ rice, proteins through dal/ sprouts/ non veg, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients through curd, salad and vegetables. Not to forget a portion of sweets to complete the meal.
  • Hydrate enough especially during the festive months.
  • Plan for healthier sweet options, like dudhi or gajar halwa, atta or rawa halwa, puran poli, gulpoli, rasgulla, sandesh or any Bengali mithai, jellies, sorbets, falooda etc. These sweets or desserts don’t increase much of the caloric value but definitely add a lovely sweet touch to your meal. Most of these are nutrient dense as they are milk or dal or vegetable based.
  • Try and sweeten the dish naturally, by adding dry fruits like dates, anjeer/ figs, jardaloo/ apricots,
    raisins etc or fruits like banana, chikoo, mango, custard apple etc. This will make the dish healthier and lesser on fat calories.
  • Do make combination desserts like soufflés, custards, puddings made with bread or egg and milk, fruit trifles, kheer made with dudhi or palak, pedas made at home with condensed milk and fruits or dry fruits, barfis made with khoa or paneer or coconut or nuts, shrikhand made with curd andfruits for a different twist, rasgullas made at home with flavorings, fruit yogurts or smoothies etc.
  • Make some changes into the routine sweets like oats kheer or corn kheer or beetroot halwa or dry fruit milkshake. All these are healthier options and sweet too. Also not to forget they add a different twist to the menu.

Finally enjoy the festivities and keep your portions under control. Be happy and merry but stay fit andhealthy as well!!

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Malavika Athavale
Consulting Nutritionist
Eatrite – The Nutrition Clinic

Malavika Athavale has a PG Diploma in Dietetics from SNDT University (Mumbai) and industry experience in clinical and pediatric nutrition. She founded Eatrite – The Nutrition Clinic where she provides her consultancy services in individual diet counseling and corporate well-being initiatives.

Image: Getty Images

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