Tag Archives: india

Organic food stores in Chennai – Part 1

In the last post I explained why you need to stay the hell away from pesticides. If you aren’t convinced or haven’t read it, do me yourself a favor and (re-)read the article… this time, read the studies/publications that are linked to it.

Now for some stores in Chennai that sell truly organic produce.

Green Shoppe, Annanagar, Chennai

No. 2, B-Block,  2nd Avenue,
Chinthamani,
Annanagar, Chennai 600102.

Website: n/a

Phone: 96262 78090

Contact: Hemalatha

  • Fresh produce is available on Fridays, Saturdays & (limited produce on) Tuesdays from 10am. Other items (grains, pulses, oil etc.) available all days.
  • You can pre-order via phone and just pick-up at the store.
  • Prices – Reasonable

ReStore, Adyar, Chennai

No. 27/ 10, 2nd Main Rd.,
Kasturba Nagar,
Adyar, Chennai 600020.

Website: www.restore.org.in

Phone: 98417 66299

Contact: Ms. Radhika

  • Fresh produce is available on Tuesdays & Saturdays from 4pm to 7pm. Other items (grains, pulses, oil etc.) available all days.
  • You can pre-order via phone or email. Contact the store for more details.
  • Prices – Very reasonable (Not for profit organization)

Annai Organic & Natural Foods, Adyar, Chennai

No. 8, 1st Avenue,
Shastri Nagar,
Adyar, Chennai 600041.

Website: www.annaiorganicfoods.com

Phone: 94432 06790

Contact: Mr. Rajendran

  • Fresh produce is available on Saturdays, Sundays & Wednesday from 3pm to 7pm. Other items (grains, pulses, oil etc.) available all days.
  • You can pre-order via phone and just pick-up at the store.
  • Prices – Reasonable

And yes, I did talk to the owners about where they get the produce from and how they are farmed and I am convinced that these are indeed truly organic produce. If you are skeptical (and you should be), please spend a few minutes talking to these guys. Ask them about why they are doing what they’re doing, how the crops are farmed, where they get it from, how they inspect the produce etc etc.

While these are the only three stores I got a chance to visit, interact with the owners and try out, there are plenty more such small stores that sell organic foods (fresh produce, honey, milk, eggs, grains, lentils, ghee, oils etc.) in Chennai especially in the RA Puram, Alwarpet and T. Nagar areas. I will be visiting more stores in the coming weeks and will be sure to share the knowledge. Until then, these three stores should be able to help you go completely organic with the spread they offer. Now if only I can find a place that sells organic meat…!

Seriously folks – its worth the drive and a few extra rupees. Make the change now!

Peace out.

 

 

Eating real food? In India?

After many grueling days of head spinning search, I finally found a house to live in Chennai. The house was perfect for the most part. The location was pretty awesome really. It was super close to the beach and within a 0.5 km (0.3 mile) radius, there were 10+ restaurants (including a bunch of places that sell unbelievably awesome desserts), 2 grocery stores, 1 specialty grocery store, 2 health store, an awesome bookstore, 3 banks with 24 hour ATMs, innumerable tender coconut and sugarcane juice stands and much more! The house, though, was, in my opinion, pretty great. It had 2 bedrooms, 1 living, 1 dining room, 1 study room, 3 full bathrooms, a spacious kitchen which will definitely be overused and a prayer room which will remain unused. Other than that, the bathrooms were fine, the flooring was granite and tile, enough lights and fans and other usual stuff.

So after I finalize the rental and pay the advance to the landlord, I take my then to-be wife to the apartment to check it out. She walks in with me, checks out the space and her face shrinks. You know, the typical ‘Well, I hate it like you hate Justin Bieber. But I’m going to try real hard to make it seem like I just hate it to a normal extent‘ look. It took me a while but I finally understood why she hated it.

All plug no play

She and I lived in the US for a good chunk of time and while she is Indian at heart, she is still (for good reason) used to the US standard of living. The thing in India is that you don’t have many things that you can just plug and play. Everything is available, but nothing is readily available. See the difference? Let me give you an example.

In a place like Chennai, an air-conditioner is pretty much a necessity. So, if you walk in to a store to buy one, the sales dude will tell you the price and features and sell you the unit saying their company will take care of everything. He will promise you that as soon as the payment is made, an engineer will call and schedule an appointment and will very promptly fit the unit for you. All charges included. No hassles.Plug and play right? Wait.

In reality though, the engineer will call and set up an appointment for say Monday 10am and the guy might turn up as early as just 5 hours late or as late as ‘I’m on my way right now, I’ll be there in 3 days’! And only after this are you told that there needs to made a melon sized hole on your wall and that the power source is too far away from where you want the a/c and yada yada. So you battle it out for a few days and finally when you have the a/c installed and working, you feel like you’ve been blessed with the gift of temperature control. And this is just one example.

So in the case of moving into a new house, the house is EMPTY. There is literally not a thing in the house that you can use. You will need to buy and install your own a/c, fridge, washing machine, water filter, microwave and even change switch boards etc in many cases. All these things are available… but not readily available. This is the reason my US-trained wife hated the apartment at first glance and this is also the exact reason why people freak out when they consider moving to India.

The point here is to look a little deeper. What seems like an ugly empty house, could actually end up being your dream home if you spend some time and effort to set it up. The case with nutrition is the same… exactly the same! Pretty much everything you need is available… just not readily available. Let me break it down for you.

Moving on to nutrition

I think we will all agree that good health is a direct result of good nutrition and good nutrition is a direct result of eating real food rich in nutrients and avoiding foods containing anti-nutrients. That being the case, as I mentioned in the previous post, irrespective of whether it is paleo or primal or GAPS or WAPF or the sustainability focused Eat Real Food, the recipe for good nutrition calls for plenty of vegetables & fruit, seafood, meat, eggs, poultry, dairy and safe starches and limited amounts of soaked/sprouted nuts, lentils, beans and legumes.

So, the question then is, if you did move to India or live in India (or any other developing country) can you sustainably eat a diet that is focuses on food quality?

During the last couple of months, I have been on a search for real food. Unlike in the US, where you buy real food in a box or with a label, here I had an opportunity to look for ‘actual’ real food and not just food that is labeled as real food. Thanks to  the folks from the BootCamp and from my FaceBook group, my search moved on from branded grocery chains to local shops to street vendors to seemingly dirty but factually clean farms/home-stores where real food is really available. In other words, I had the chance to actually interact with the people who produce and/or source these foods and discuss specifics about the food.

Vegetables & fruits

Yes the commercially available vegetables in India are loaded with pesticides. But there are places that sell real organic vegetables and fruits (no pesticides) at extremely reasonable prices. One such store is ReStore in Adyar, Chennai. These guys are a not-for-profit organization who sell purely organic produce and groceries. Since it wouldn’t be fair to them if I even tried explaining their passion and service, I recommend you check out their website.

Seafood

Chennai is one of the few big cities in India that has a shoreline… and a big one at that. So finding fresh seafood caught from the ocean (i.e super fresh wild caught seafood) isn’t an issue at all! There seems to be plenty of stores that sell fish that was caught the very same day and if you’re not ready to trust the guys at the store (and you shouldn’t), you always have the option of buying fish from the beach itself!

Red meat

I have had very little experience eating red meat in India (cos of the taboo associated with eating the cow) and so I’ll share what one of my well-read readers, Vizeet Srivastava, who is very passionate about good nutrition and consumes mostly high quality real food, had to say.

I think lamb meat you get here is not labeled as grass fed but it is grass fed. Cows may be getting hormones and antibiotics injections to some extent but not large doses as being done in US (as many things are not very commercialized here).

Goat meat is generally safer for two reasons:
1. Goat is mostly domesticated by poor people.
2. Goat milk is not popular and not easily available so most of it will be consumed by the baby goat and will have better immune system and health.
I buy from local shop who keeps smaller breed which means there is lesser chance that it is farmed. Moreover I do not think goat factory farming is profitable given number of people who keep them at home.

Poultry

Free range chicken is definitely not easily available in India, but again there isn’t much nutrition in chicken anyways and hence I don’t see a need to invest any amount of time in finding a source of good quality poultry. That said, free range ducks seems to be available fairly easily.

Eggs

Country eggs (naatu kozhi muttai), quail eggs and duck eggs are available in most places. Since these are not farmed as commercially as regular chicken eggs, chances of finding free range eggs are fairly high. They surely wont be labeled ‘free range’ or ‘cage free’ or ‘blah blah certified’, but if you spend a couple of minutes and talk to the grocer/vendor and ask him where he gets his eggs from, you’ll be able to find good quality eggs.

Dairy

It is true that grass-fed dairy is unheard of in India. But why would I go ask for grass-fed dairy if I can walk into a dairy farm and ask the farmer what he feeds his cows? And will I have anymore questions if he points to green grass and hay and says I need to pick up the milk every day within 2 hours of milking? Granted, the cows feed on a mixture of grains in addition to grass and hay, but the fact that these cows have never been exposed to hormones of any sort and that the milk is ‘as milked’ and unadulterated makes it legit! How awesome is that? And how many skim milk/low fat milk/soy milk chugging ‘health advocates’ actually know how wonderful real milk tastes?

What is my diet like right now?

Still a work in progress but here is what I normally eat these days…

  • Scoop of whey in water while coaching.
  • Shake with 1/2 liter whole milk, 2 big bananas and 1 scoop whey right after working out.
  • 3-4 cups of avial (traditional south Indian dish made with mixed vegetables, coconut, yogurt and spices) or kootu (lentils + vegetables + coconut oil), 3-4 whole eggs, 1 cup cooked white rice and a cup of whole milk or yogurt for lunch.
  • 1 cup of whole milk, a bunch of almonds and a fruit or two in the evening.
  • Some fish, 3-4 cups of vegetables cooked in coconut oil or ghee for dinner.
  • 1 cup of whole milk and a fruit bout an hour before hitting the bed.

So what am I trying to say here?

Simple – If you are ready to go that extra mile and ‘hunt for real food’, you can rest assured that you will get food that is high in quality, exceptional in taste and easy on your wallet! But if you choose to be lazy and just accept what is readily available, I swear to God you will be stuck in a hot and humid room with an uninstalled air conditioner eating pesticide/anti-nutrient filled food!

Go the extra mile just once, do the foundational work well and eat real food for the most part ‘cos life is just better when you’re fit and healthy!

Peace out.

Making the south Indian diet super healthy!

In the first article in this series we saw what the real traditional south Indian looked like and how it differs from what we eat today and in the second article we saw how one can tweak the south Indian diet (or your traditional diet) to create his/her optimal diet.  Today, in the third article of the series, we’ll answer two questions –

– We have the concept and even the specifics figured out, but how do these come together as food on our plates?

– How can we tweak the traditional south Indian diet to make it healthy and sustainable in the long term?

Revisiting The Basics:

Irrespective of what your food habits and goals are, the first step towards creating the optimal diet is eliminating or at least reducing greatly anti-nutrients from all foods. Specifically…

– Oils – Avoid all vegetable oils. Cook everything in butter, ghee or coconut oil. Use olive oil for super low heat cooking or as dressing.

– Sugars – Avoid anything that is sweet (except fruit). This includes ALL sugar from table sugar to honey to maple syrup to sweeteners and flavored foods from nonfat vanilla yogurt to diet soda to all natural orange juice.

– Grains – Avoid all grains except white rice. This includes all grain containing foods from roti to poori to rava upma to biscuits.

– Beans/legumes – Soak raw beans, legumes and lentils for 18-24 hours before cooking.

Once the clean canvas has been created, we add nutrients. The goal here is, in each meal, to reduce the total calories consumed from foods that contain little nutrition (rice, lentils etc) by substituting with foods that contain plenty of nutrition. For example, instead of eating 3 cups of rice, rasam and potato, eat 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of fibrous vegetables, 1 whole egg, 1 cup meat or vegetable gravy and 1/2-1 cup yogurt.

Following are food groups that are rich in nutrients and lend themselves well to be paired easily with our anti-nutrient free base.

1. Vegetables – Any and all vegetables that are in season and available locally. Organic is of course preferred.

2. Fruit – Any and all fruits that are in season and available locally. Organic is of course preferred.

3. Meat – Any and all meat that is locally available and is free range or grass-fed as the case may be.

4. Dairy – Whole milk, whole milk yogurt, full fat cheese, ghee. Organic and grass-fed is recommended.

5. Eggs – Chicken or other bird eggs. Eggs from free range chickens are recommended.

6. Seafood -Any and all wild caught seafood that is locally available.

Reinventing Traditional Foods:

Now that we have brushed over the basics, I’m going to take 5 very typical and traditional vegetarian south Indian dishes which either lack nutrients or contain anti-nutrients and reinvent them to make them super nutritious and more importantly, nutritionally relevant to our sedentary lives today. Honestly, this is so ridiculously simple and intuitive that you’re either going to kill me for the hype or kick yourself for not coming up with this yourself!

The Dosa:

I love dosa like an anteater loves ants! Every time I came home for vacation from college, I would eat about 10-12 of my mom’s awesome dosas every single day! That’s how crazy I am about this crispy sheet of crack!

Traditionally a typical dosa meal is pretty much just dosa that is served along with some coconut chutney and/or chili powder and/or sambar. Though very skinny in anti-nutrients, the meal is heavily skewed towards carbohydrates and has little to no micronutrients. Here are some ideas to fix this.

– Top each dosa with 1-2 eggs, an ounce of cheese and some finely chopped vegetables. Serve this along with a side of vegetable-coconut gravy for a well rounded meal that is rich in protein, fat and carbs and filled with vitamins and minerals.

– Make the dosa a burrito of sorts and fill it with ghee sauteed vegetables and/or eggs and/or meat. Add in some yogurt to replace the sour cream if you care.

– Make any meat or egg or seafood gravy plump with Indian spices and have plenty of it as a side for the dosa. This is exceptionally delicious and ensures that you get your protein and reap the benefits Indian spices have to offer.

– Make a large dosa. Top generously with traditional tomato chutney, mixed vegetables and/or fruit (onions, mushrooms, peppers, pineapple etc.) and shredded cheese. Bake for 10-15 min or until the cheese melts to create a nutritious and very satiating dosa pizza.

– If you’re in a pinch, soak the dosa (or Idly) in a cup of yogurt along with some spices and have that with a side of fruit.

Sambar:

If you haven’t been the source of the greatly embarrassing but absolutely poetic iisssslllluuurrrrppppppp when eating sambar, you haven’t yet been south Indian completely! Sambar is very dear to south Indians and almost every single one of my client’s have asked me ways to include sambar in their diet!

While super delicious and very traditional, sambar generally has more oil that is required and is skinny on nutrients other than carbs. To fix this…

– Try making sambar with ghee and use just the right amount of ghee since the richness of the ghee will make make even a little seem like a lot.

– Load the sambar with plenty of micronutrient rich vegetables. And by plenty, I mean PLENTY! This will result in making the sambar super thick. Top this bowl of awesomeness with 1/2 cup of yogurt and make it a meal!

– Forget the concept of making sambar with a specific vegetable and make mixed vegetable sambar more often. Vary the vegetables you use and see how much variety that brings upon. Though you eat sambar everyday, mixing up the vegetables introduces variety in your diet which in turn nourishes you with a wide range of micronutrients.

– As weird as it sounds to the seasoned south Indian ears, trust me on this and try making the sambar with eggs and/or meat. You will be pleasantly surprised at how well the textures and flavors blend. Since sambar is a lentil and tamarind heavy dish, I’d recommend that you go with meats with a neutral taste like chicken to ensure you don’t have too many competing flavors and aromas.

Tamarind Rice:

There are few things that are better when made for a thousand people than when made at home for a small group and tamarind rice is one of them. Even as a little boy I was never big on temples. I constantly whined and complained and questioned everything from the rituals to the temple cow to the priest’s hairstyles and there was only one thing that could shut me up – the tamarind rice distributed at the temple!

From a nutritional standpoint, there are only two issues with a tamarind rice meal – it is made with vegetable oil and it has nothing more than rice in it. Solutions?

– Make it with ghee or coconut oil.

– Add vegetables and dairy to the meal. The vegetables can definitely be a side and so can a cup of whole milk yogurt which provides some protein and a much needed cooling effect on the tongue.

– If you dare, pan-fry some boneless skinless chicken thigh meat and add it to the other ingredients during the mixing step. The acidity from the tamarind and the heat from the chili powder keep the meat tender and flavorful resulting in some non-traditional awesomeness!

Curd Rice:

There is sushi and pizza and brownies and pot pies and fried chicken and monster burgers… but none of this will ever come close to good ‘ol stupid simple curd rice and pickle! I’m not exaggerating here – curd rice is so close to every south Indian’s soul that no amount of research can take it away him/her for more than a month. Curd rice is food in its entirety – soulful and simple.

That being the case, the only thing that is required on a plate of curd rice and pickle, is vegetables! A meal which has 3/4 cup cooked rice, 1 cup whole milk yogurt and 2 cup of vegetables cooked with ghee contains just the right amount of calories, carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, oooohs and aaahhhs!

Poriyal and Kootu:

Ever heard of a world where vegetables are as tasty as comfort foods? Welcome to India!

But sadly today’s south Indian (vegetarian) diet has little to no vegetables! Vegetarians seem to care only about not eating meat and don’t seem to care much about eating vegetables really! Traditionally, vegetables in the south Indian diet basically meant poriyal and kootu. Poriyal is shredded or diced vegetables that are shallow fried or sauteed along with spices to produce a dry dish and Kootu is vegetables (and coconut) added to lentils to produce a semi-solid dish.

I’m sure every cuisine has a way of including vegetables in the diet, but there are two things unique about the south Indian diet – one, literally any vegetable, from bitter gourd to broccoli, can be made as poriyal or kootu with ease and two, vegetables (in the form of poriyal or kootu) are unbelievably delectable and are loved as much as the other dishes listed above!

So, today, what is wrong with south Indian vegetables? They are cooked using plenty of vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fats and they are consumed in small quantities. And what is the fix? Cook ’em using reasonable amounts of ghee or coconut oil and consume them, not by the spoonfuls but, by the bowlfuls! Done!

Summary:

– Rid your diet of all anti-nutrients like lectins, gluten, vegetable oils and sugars and prepare your beans and legumes very well prior to cooking.

– Eat less of foods that don’t have much to offer like rice, dosa, idly, oils etc. and eat plenty of nutrient rich foods like vegetables, eggs, wild seafood and good quality meat.

– If general health is your goal – eat per hunger, eat modified traditional foods to satiety to ensure you get enough mirconutrients and stay active.

– If fat loss is your goal – eat less, eat enough protein, eat starchy carbs only post training, get 80% of your calories from the nutrient rich foods and only supplement with nutritionally skinny traditional foods until you reach your goal.

– If sport performance is your goal – eat enough to recover well, eat plenty of nutrient rich foods, eat enough (modified) traditional foods to satisfy caloric needs, eat plenty of protein and carbs on training days and protein and fat on rest days.

Peace.

Note: None of the pictures used in this article were clicked by me. If you are looking for the recipe or want to compliment someone for such awesome pictures, the websites/blogs from which these pictures were taken are on the pictures themselves.

Tweaking Traditional Diets – The Template

Let me start off by saying no real traditional diet needs any tweaking. Traditional diets are already a result of thousands of years of tweaking and they are perfectly healthy (and more importantly non-unhealthy) for you if done right. If that is the case, then why is a random fitness-crazy-not-old-enough-to-tell-you-what-to-do dude attempting to tweak an already perfect diet? Because…

– What you eat today is NOT the traditional diet the way it was meant to be. What you are fed today, in the name of traditional food, is some weird mutant form of the real traditional diet and unfortunately, this mutant version, is not helping on bit!

– Most traditional diets were developed during a time of food scarcity (hence the grain domination and elaborate methods of anti-nutrient reduction). The main goal then was to avoid ingesting anything dangerous. Only after this was achieved did people even look to add in nutrients.

– Though most traditional diets were healthy, they were healthy in combination with high activity levels, long sleep hours, low stress levels and clean air. People ingested way more calories and carbohydrates than we do today and still maintained low levels of body fat and high levels of energy throughout the day. Just the excess food (and hence excess calories and nutrients) provides protection against many deficiencies and it is something we cannot afford to eat today considering our sedentary lives.

The Concept of Tweaking:

Since I have readers from around the world, of different origins and with drastically different traditional diets, I’m going to first explain the concept of tweaking and then provide you with ‘template for tweaking’. Once you understand the concept properly, you can thenuse the template to tweak your own traditional diet and make it work for you by customizing it to suit your very own individual goals. This is precisely how I determined my optimal diet and will post an article tomorrow that shows some results.

I like to approach this in three broad steps.

Step 1: Create a base – with anti-nutrient free foods that were prevalent in your traditional diet.

Step 2: Add nutrients – by eating varied nutrient-rich real foods that have proven health benefits.

Step 3: Customize – by adjusting calories, macro and micro-nutrients based on current goals, activity levels and physical conditions.

Step 1 – Creating a Base:

As mentioned earlier, the first step is to not ingest anything that is potentially harmful. So the goal, in this step, is to find foods that both belong to your traditional diet and have no anti-nutrients in them. In my case, since I come from a vegetarian south Indian family, this would be cooked white rice, grass-fed organic dairy (milk, yogurt and ghee only), organic vegetables (specifically onions, tomatoes, carrots, gourds, plantains, potatoes and various greens), organic tropical fruits and coconut.

As you can see, though they are a part of my traditional diet, I have not included the different kinds of lentils and sesame oil since they, in my opinion, do contain some anti-nutrients that cause discomfort.

Step 2 – Adding Nutrients:

Now let’s look at the base I created from a nutritional standpoint. It contains rice, selected dairy, vegetables, fruits and coconuts and it has the potential to provide me with…

  • more than enough calories,
  • more than enough carbs/starch (from rice, tubers and fruits),
  • more than enough fiber (from vegetables and fruits),
  • enough minerals and water soluble vitamins (from vegetables and fruits),
  • enough healthy fats (from dairy and coconut), and
  • possibly enough fat soluble vitamins (from dairy).

Honestly, this is pretty darn good base to start off with! If you are unaware of the specifics of your traditional diet or don’t have the time or capability or patience to research and find out more, I’d most certainly suggest that you start with this as a base. The only exception might be dairy. I have experimented with and without dairy and it seems to do me more good than bad. You might want to start off without dairy and then see how you feel when you add it in.

Back to tweaking.

If you look into the nutritional profile of all these foods you’ll see that the only nutrients I’m possibly not getting enough of are…

  • protein
  • omega 3 fatty acids
  • choline
  • vitamin B12
  • selenium

In order to fill in these nutritional gaps, I either need to take supplements or add other nutrient rich real food. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I don’t recommend supplements unless absolutely required and hence would obviously prefer eating more real food to fix the issue. That being the case this is how I would approach the situation.

– What foods are rich in protein? Meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, cheese

– What foods are rich in omega 3 fatty acids? Seafood

– What food is rich in choline? Eggs, spinach and cod

– What foods are rich in vitamin B 12? Seafood, meat, poultry, eggs

– What foods are rich in selenium? Nuts (especially Brazil nuts), mushroom and seafood (especially tuna, crab and lobster)

Clearly, I’ll be best served if I add seafood, minimal poultry, eggs, mushrooms and nuts to my base diet and together these are MY optimal foods. And why MY optimal foods? Because these are the foods that

  • don’t bother ME,
  • MY ancestors have eaten for generations,
  • nourish me with the nutrients MY body needs in order to reach MY goals.

You see my point? Pretty simple isn’t it? Now to make this suit my goals.

Step 3 – Customizing:

The one main difference between our ancestors and us is that they didn’t really have the goals that we have today. Nutrition wasn’t something they monitored and they only cared about getting enough to eat. They lived in an era when food and nutrient scarcity was common while we live in an era of food abundance (at least to people who can afford it). And since food is available in plenty, we have the luxury of having goals. That said, let’s look at my goals and how I customize this diet to fit them.

What are my current goals?

  • Maintain body weight – which means eat just enough to not gain or lose any.
  • Improve fitness – which means get stronger, faster, more resilient and more mobile and that mean more muscle, less fat and well-lubricated joints.
  • Good health – which means no nutrient should be high enough to cause toxicity or low enough to cause deficiency.

In order to reach these goals, I would need to

  • Eat enough to fuel activity. Eat slightly more on training days and slightly less on rest days.
  • Eat only vegetables, tropical fruits, coconut, rice, dairy, seafood, eggs and nuts.
  • Eat isolated starch (rice and tubers) mostly post workout.
  • Eat a complete protein in every meal.
  • Eat fat in all meals except the post workout meal.

Done! This is it! The above 5 points form MY optimal diet! And why MY OPTIMAL diet? Because there exists no such thing as a perfect diet and there has never ever been one diet that suits everybody.

Now keep in mind that this optimal diet will dictate how I eat “most of the time“. On weekends or when I feel like I need something different, I will eat whatever the hell I want ‘cos, well, it isn’t 1900 AD anymore. Being 28 in 2011 and not eating pizza? I can never be that guy! This is a template you can use to come up a solid set of dietary rules to live by for the most part. Deviations are obviously acceptable and how frequently you deviate will depend on your goals and will dictate the quality and timing of results.

So there you go – an easily understandable concept that YOU can use to determine what foods suit YOU and a customizable template YOU can use to create YOUR optimal diet to help YOU reach YOUR goals and suit YOUR lifestyle. What do you think? What is your traditional diet? How can you tweak it to make it your optimal diet? What are your goals? How do you plan on mapping one to the other?

I really like the way this sounds! Maybe I should name this thing before some white guy (pissed off because Indians took his techie job in the bay area and taxi driver job in New York) names it after himself! 😉 What do you guys think? Any suggestions?

But honestly, this is just the start guys. I’ve been doing a lot of brain squeezing recently trying to fully formulate a concept and an easily workable template and I really think I might have something solid at the end of it all! I’ll be sure to share it with you guys as I get closer to the end product, but for now, please share this post with friends and family and help get the word out  .

In the next few days I will discuss my results from following my optimal diet and share some recipes that you can use to make traditional south Indian dishes much more nutrient dense and goal specific.

Peace.

Being Vegetarian: Got vegetables?

Sure looks awesome... but is it really that awesome?

Most of you probably know that India is the most vegetarian country in the world and that it houses more vegetarians than the rest of the world combined. Considering we Indians don’t eat meat and we have multiple reasons, ranging from moral to religious to health, to stay the hell away from meat, one would assume that we eat a very nutritious diet comprising mostly of vegetables and fruit. I mean, if meat is out of the plate and whole dairy is to be consumed in moderation, one would imagine that our plates be filled with vegetables! After all we are proud “vegetarians” aren’t we?

But is this really the case?

I was born and brought up in South India and from my experience, a typical south Indian diet contains…

  • White rice
  • Dosa (Rice, lentils)
  • Idly (Rice, lentils)
  • Chutney (Chili, coconut)
  • Molaga podi (Chili powder, vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Vada (Lentils deep fried in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Chapathi (Wheat)
  • Poori (Wheat deep fried in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Sambar (Lentils, tamarind, vegetable/sesame oil, negligible vegetables)
  • Daal (Lentils)
  • Rasam (Tomato, tamarind, spices, water)
  • Vegetable poriyal (Vegetables, vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Vegetable kootu (Vegetables, vegetable/sesame oil, coconut)
  • Avial (Starchy vegetables, coconut, coconut oil)
  • Yogurt
  • Coffee (Coffee, milk, sugar)
  • Tea (Tea, milk, sugar)
  • Biscuits (Wheat, sugar and other junk)
  • Muruku, thattai, cheedai (Flour or lentils deep fried in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Lemon Rice (White rice, lemon juice, vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Tamarind Rice (White rice, vegetable/sesame oil, tamarind extract)
  • Potato subzi (Potato, onions, vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Papad (Lentils deep fried in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Pickle (Vegetable/fruit pickled in vegetable/sesame oil)
  • Pongal (Rice, lentils, ghee)
  • Idiyappam (Rice)

Ummm… maybe its just me, but I didn’t see too many “vegetables” in the “vegetarian” diet! I’m sure I’ve missed out of a bunch of other things south Indian people normally eat and I know I haven’t listed what vegetarians from other parts of India eat. But what is obvious here?

  • Clearly 90% of one’s calories come from grains, vegetable/sesame oil, lentils and potatoes!
  • A negligible amount of calories come from vegetables and fruit.
  • Though junk food consumption is less, little to no nutrition exists in the entire cuisine.
  • The majority of one’s calories come from carbohydrates and that too from grains and lentils.
  • Most of the fat consumed is from vegetable and sesame oil which are both super high in the very easily oxidizable polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Protein is almost non-existent

Why is this wrong with this?

Honestly… tooooooo many things! While I don’t have the time to get into great detail, here is what you need to know in a nutshell.

If this is wrong, then what is right?

  • Control the carb intake and include more good fats.

I guarantee you that making just these four changes will cause a very significant improvement to your health and quality of life. Try it for a month! Seriously, whats there to lose? Worst case, you’ll end up not eating your favorite foods for 4 weeks. But best case, you could better you health and possibly cure everything from asthma to diabetes to eczema or chronic fatigue to high blood pressure to high cholesterol to joint aches to sleep issues!

In the next few weeks, I will write about how to modify the current traditional Indian diet to make it more nutritious while still keeping its very own unique flavors and taste. While I do that, why don’t you folks spread the good word around? Sharing buttons below!

Peace out.

Image credit – http://www.tamilspider.com

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