The Summer Dip 

The Heat is on”,- lyrics apt for the current weather situation. Glenn Frey definitely knew what he was talking about, however profoundly missed the gravity of the situation here, in scorching Goa. Normally, I would be on meticulously planned travel to a pleasant destination, the mountains up north perhaps- however this was the first for me back home due to a multitude of commitments in and around. With temperatures soaring enough to just ‘dip’ into my well, this is literal and -yes I have one of those in my yard at home. Futile and cumbersome, though exhilarating from a daredevil perspective if I may say so, it wasn’t merely enough to combat the double whammy of humidity and heat.

 I read an article somewhere, about research in relation to how hydration affects our mind, our mood, memory and learning, thinking and reaction time. What we are unaware of is the drastic impact; the external temperatures are having on us internally. Call it more of a ‘mute syndrome’ if not looked into carefully. It’s played havoc and had some rather adverse reactions to my metabolism from rashes to heat boils physically to mood swings and mild cases of depressive surges mentally- all warning signs for a rapid change in diet and water consumption. A human being on average consumes 3-4 liters of water a day. While that is great, the weather around is not really conducive for an appetite and eating is becoming rather cumbersome, more of a force-fed chore.

 At the local grocer store, I decided to list down a few home made dips that have been added to my diet to combat the ‘water shortage’ within with outstanding immediate results. It is great for the in-between meal cravings. Here’s a list of 3 food dips to make your summer a breeze, no pun intended.

 Mango Salsa Dip– Yes, I can see a smile on your face. While this is a sweet caveat in the making and should be had in moderation, given how heat retentive the king of fruits is, a cup of mango slices will rehydrate ones body with half a cup of water!! Do try and consume it moderately. Also the Salsa dip made with Yellow and Red Bell Peppers is an added bonus with more vitamin C than oranges as well as retention of also 92 percent water- a delicious hydrating addition to your summer diet. 

Tzatziki Sauce (Yogurt and Cucumber Dip)- The good old fashioned cucumber and yogurt; commonly known as ‘raita’ to many households. This is spin on the Greek version of the same- for that extra zing. Very easy to make and goes famously well with pita breads, chips and toppings. While the cucumber does its part with 96 percent of water to ones body, the yogurt has multiple benefits ranging from cooling the body to good bacteria for the gut. The process is simple; Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth and place it over a medium bowl. Place the yogurt on the cheesecloth and cover the colander with plastic wrap. Allow the yogurt to drain overnight. Lay grated cucumber on a plate lined with paper towel; and drain it for 1 to 2 hours. Combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, parsley, mint, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

 The Pineapple Cream Cheese Dip- With a name as sultry as Ananans, this dip is sure to make your taste buds tingle. All you need is 100gms of softened cream cheese and 200gms of crushed pineapple drained with juice reserve with 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed. A ten-minute preparation will have the entire family licking their chops and asking for seconds instantly. Mix the cream cheese and crushed pineapple first and allow it to breathe for a few. Mix the reserve juice from the pineapple to open the consistency and get the desired texture needed. Add the garlic and chill in the refrigerator until serving. Not only will you have friends and family asking for more, the pineapple delivers the compound bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and this tropical plant packs in 87 percent water. Best served with a hot toasted baguette.

 So the next time someone asks you to take a Dip, make sure you have more than your swimming costume on. As for me, I’m heading back to the well.

 

 

Advertisements

The Easter Egg Hunt 

Nearing the end of the Holy period, my Instagram feed is cropping up temptations aplenty. From White & Dark Chocolate coated bunnies and decorated eggs to Minion shaped marzipan ones, each has me impatiently counting down the days till Easter Sunday. During this period of abstinence, many friends around gave up the consumption of eggs as part of the diet and it got me thinking about the historical significance of the Easter egg also known as Paschal eggs. Did you know? Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility and rebirth, in Christianity, for the celebration of Eastertide, Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus, from which Jesus resurrected. Quite fascinating. One ancient tradition was the staining of Easter eggs with the colour red “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed as at that time of his crucifixion. This custom of the Easter egg can be traced to early Christians of Mesopotamia, and from there it spread into Russia and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, and later into Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches.

 Speaking of history- I have my own history with eggs, not the Easter kind but the white ones with the ‘yucky yolk’ in the middle. I wouldn’t say a bad one but rather an unpleasant one. For the longest time I was harangued for leaving the yolk on my plate and at times subjected to be force-fed. Then as I grew older armed with half baked knowledge of the perpetual medical debate of cholesterol and how the ‘yolk’ was bad for you, had a bitter sweet remedial victory to the likes of “I told you so” to said authority. Memories are made of collective experiences and this had me stray far away from the goodness of protein found in them.  

 However eggs have been gradually shedding their bad reputation and gaining in popularity among health-minded eaters of all persuasions, from egetarians to protein-seeking athletes. Most experts now agree that eating eggs in moderation-up to one whole egg per day- doesn’t increase heart disease risk in healthy people.

 I am of the firm belief that mixing things up and eating a variety of foods is the best way to ensure you’re getting enough of all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function optimally. So it pays to alternate egg dishes with other healthy options, like fiber-packed oatmeal or yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts. Eggs are high in protein, which appeals to people looking for morning meals that have staying power. But there are plenty of other breakfast-friendly foods that accomplish the same end: Yogurt, soy and cow’s milk, beans, nuts, seeds, and certain whole grains like quinoa all deliver a nice hit of protein in a naturally nutrient-dense package. Here are a few egg free breakfast hacks for the busy bee in you.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal- This is my all time favourite, just for the peanut butter that adds dimension to the meal. Cook 1/2-cup oats with 1-cup soymilk, and stir in up to 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter. This serving gives you for 21 grams of protein!!!!

White Bean-Avocado Toast- Mash 1/4 of a ripe avocado with 1/2-cup white beans plus fresh herbs if you so desire, and spread over a hearty slice of toasted whole-grain bread. Prep time- 5 minutes and throws in 14 grams of protein.

Banana Bread Smoothie- A simple blending of 2 cups Soy Milk ¼ cup Walnuts, 2 large, very ripe Bananas, 1 tsp pure Vanilla Essence, 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon, 3-4 seedless Dates, a dash of Sea Salt and 2 handfuls of Ice and voila that’s 35 grams of protein in ten minutes.

As for self, I know what the near future holds in the form of sweets and meats galore. Here is the big question plaguing me- What size of the egg shall I buy? Will it be Chocolate- the way it was in 1873 when J.S.Fry & Sons introduced the first chocolate Easter egg in Britain or would it be the Minion shaped Marzipan eggs with semblance to the ones I tasted in the Philippines ‘mazapan de pili’, all those years ago from ‘pili’ nuts? 

Heres wishing you all a Happy & Joyous Easter ahead!!

For more follow me on @nolansatwit on Instagram and Twitter. 

 

 

Holi Jam 

 

Holi Hai; It is such a vibrant feeling when there is a mix of colour and celebration right in the midst of Lent. A blend of religion and beliefs between different faiths is something to marvel at in a country as diverse as ours. Hope you all had a fun filled wonderful celebration. While Lent has come to be known as more of a ‘detox’ to abstain from sweets by abstaining from the same as something given up in penance, not that I believe that food is the answer, (rather more a societal adherence these days), my first reality check with this deadly substance happened a few years ago when my sugar levels were alarmingly high.

 We, in Goa, love our sweet. Lets face it. Goa poses a high number of diabetic cases due to either hereditary or lifestyle choices and no one is safe from this deadly condition. With many family members and loved ones battling this, I am susceptible to it myself. However, I was given my warning bells that tolled a lot earlier to take drastic steps in regards to monitoring the same. Prevention and observation is the only way one can keep a check. My blood sugar count every month, periodic blood tests every 6 months and trying to maintain a stress free lifestyle by eating healthy are some of the remedies undertaken. It’s a tall order but something’s got to give, right?

 Speaking of which, my routine breakfast habit has a high calorie impact, where I normally splurge on a sweet product. Raw Honey has substituted processed sugars and at times the urge for a bit of Oreo Cadbury diary milk. Tea is boiled with readily available Stevia leaves for that added sweetness, though most folk prefer my lemon cardamom tea sans dairy.

The one thing that posed a challenge with was ‘Jam’ for my poi. I love Jam especially the Mixed fruit ones and they are one of the biggest processed harmful sugar contributors to ones blood count irrespective of what the label tells you. While in a conundrum over this I happened to meet a travelling Yogi from California. She happened to enlighten me on the simple process of making a homemade jam that got me addicted to the point of Dr.Victor Frankenstein where no fruit was spared. Experiment after another with many trials and errors had me select a few favorites and processes, which are rather simple to make. I’m assured of your gratitude a little later.

 The concept is RAW. Raw jams hold all the nutrients intact especially the good sugars and what’s more the process is really simple. To make a raw jam, one simply needs to puree your fresh fruits with ground chia seeds and freeze until ready to use. The chia seeds are what cause the fruity concoction to gel, completely natural. The general recommendation is 1 tablespoon of chia seeds per cup of fruit. I happened to receive this lovely packet of juicy strawberries that deserved some overall share.

 Here’s how I went about making compote in less than 15 minutes for all to savor on the dining table. 8 strawberries, 2 tsp of chia seeds, ½ cup of water. Chop up the strawberries. Add the Chia seeds and blend to a pulp. Do taste to see if the sweet quotient is apt. If not add a bit of raw honey, though try and avoid it. Refrigerate it for 30-40 minutes for the seeds and fruit to work their magic. If the kids wish it sweeter, a great PBJ- Peanut Butter and Jelly combination over toasted bread loaves would hit the spot and add the nutrition calorie count required in the process. It is one of my favourite combinations. Note, the chunky peanut butter jams. For those not convinced there is a cooked version as well. You simply cook the fruit down until it is a thick jam-like consistency. Freeze, and only thaw enough to use within a week or so. Do note that the less sugar there is in your finished product, the shorter your end product’s keeping time. Also since this would be a first time you try it, use common sense when you open up your containers of jam or jelly. If it doesn’t look, smell, or taste right, don’t take your chances!

 May you keep experimenting and whisking up a vibrancy of colours for months on end this year.