Super-ness on a plate

Updated: May 31, 2020, 08:14 IST | Jane Borges | Mumbai

Nutritionist Kavita Devgan's new book is an A-Z dictionary on must-eat superfoods to fight disease and improve wellness

There's no problem in the world that food cannot fix. It's just a matter of what you choose to eat and how much, says nutritionist and holistic health consultant Kavita Devgan, whose new book on Kindle, Fix It With Food (Rupa Books), may just be what you need to read most right now.

A guide on 40 superfoods, Devgan supplements her food dictionary with easy-to-follow tips and nearly 50 recipes to improve energy and also, kick-start weight loss. That it's apple, banana, dates, cauliflower, ghee and palak, and not the fancy and expensive-to-procure foods that make the cut in this guidebook, comes as little surprise. Only earlier this week, a news report spoke of how the "green, spiky" jackfruit, often termed as a backyard nuisance, was generating interest among global consumers in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis, as people are now turning to more plant-based options over meat. Jackfruit is also a superfood that Devgan recommends, for its "anti-cancer and anti-ageing properties, thanks to the lignans, isoflavones and saponins—all the phytonutrients it is loaded with".

Kavita Devgan
Kavita Devgan

"Almost every week a new food is successfully branded as a superfood, whether or not it deserves to be branded, and we fall for the gimmick, ignoring local eats available to us at a fraction of the cost," says Devgan in an email interview.

Superfoods, she says, deliver concentrated—extra-large doses of vitamins and minerals—nutrients that are good for you. "They are so nutrient-dense, that they are almost like a supplement. But, of course, far better. Here it is important to understand that both nutrient density [lots of one nutrient] and diversity [lot many nutrients] are essential to a food being called "super." The richness of the nutrients in food and the number of different nutrients help us understand the super-ness of a particular food."

But superfoods don't stop here. "Besides regular nutrients like vitamins or calcium or protein, they also pack in antioxidants, phytonutrients and flavonoids. These healthy chemical compounds that exist in plants help build immunity, extend life and prevent diseases from occurring."

Devgan admits that these secrets to healthy eating, propounded even in Ayurveda, aren't ground-breaking in nature. But "our dependence on processed foods and fewer hours of cooking at home" has necessitated recall. "In fact, I am just trying to reiterate the age-old, common-sense eating that is steeped in ancient wisdom, told to children by mothers since the dawn of time: eat your veggies, and fruits and all foods natural."

What Devgan suggests is variety in one's diet. "All fruits bring with them some good, so ideally it is important to eat two to three servings daily of the rainbow [different coloured fruits]—to cover the entire spectrum of nutrients that our body needs."

Parippu payasam

Healthy dessert
Healthy dessert

100 gm parippu or yellow moong dal
150 gm jaggery
½ cup of water
1 tbsp ghee
125 ml coconut milk
Cashew nuts and coconut pieces for garnish

Roast parippu (yellow moong dal) without oil for 5-6 minutes. Then cook with boiled water. Melt jaggery by adding ½ cup of water. Now add the melted jaggery to the well-cooked parippu and stir well. Add 1 tbsp ghee and mix well. Add coconut milk and boil it. When the mix evaporates and reduces to half, remove from the stove. For the garnish, fry a few cashew nuts and coconut pieces in 1 tsp ghee and add to the payasam. Serve hot.

Top immunity boosting foods

Top immunity boosting foods

Tulsi leaves
Water (hydration)

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