Ayurvedic vegetarian foods to lose weight
By Sheela Rani Chunkath
07th October 2012 12:00 AM
Since I have been getting many queries regarding the vegetarian way to lose weight, I thought I would write on it. With the low carb diet being quite effective, it is easy to lose weight if you are a non-vegetarian. Contrary to popular belief, it is the vegetarians who are struggling with weight problems and diabetes. This is because most of them eat a lot of rice or rice-based food and this being starchy can increase weight and lead to diabetes in those who are otherwise susceptible.
I recently got an email from a person who eats our typical South Indian fare and who has been putting on weight in spite of avoiding fats. This is very counter-intuitive but fats per se do not make you put on weight unless eaten with a lot of carbohydrates. The thing to do is to go easy on the rice, eat cooked vegetables and to take a little ghee. The ghee promotes satiety and therefore you will tend to eat less.
One of the familiar dishes which is healthy and not vayu-inducing is called poricha kuzhambu or more simply, koottu. Sometimes this dish is also called milakuttal. There are many variants to this dish. For those who want to keep their weight and vayu in check, this is an ideal dish.
Vegetables that can be used include chow-chow (Sechium edule or chayote in English) popularly called Bangalore katthrikkai in Tamil Nadu. This is a vegetable I use often because this grows almost wild in the hills. Cultivation is simple and as it is not attacked by pests, pesticides are not used by farmers. For a family of four, two medium-sized chow-chow will do nicely.
Peel and cut into 1 cm cubes. The simplest and fastest way to prepare this dish is to cook the vegetables and a tablespoon of green gram dhal either with or without skin in a pressure cooker in separate containers. The dhal requires water to be added whereas the vegetables require very little water. Once both are cooked, you could add the seasoning. These give the dish its flavour. Fry two red chillis and powder. Similarly sauté about a spoon of urad dhal and powder. Grind about a tablespoon of coconut in the grinder to a smooth paste.
Heat a little coconut oil, add a little mustard, urad dhal and maybe half a red chilly. Once the mustard has popped, add a few curry leaves and then the vegetables and dhal. Then to this add the urad dhal powder (after mixing it in a little water so as to not form lumps) and the chilly powder. If you have cumin powder, add a teaspoon. Add 1/4 teaspoon of pepper powder also. Add salt to taste. Add the ground coconut in the end, boil and remove from fire.
This dish can be prepared with bottle gourds, snakegourd, white pumpkins etc. These vegetables are recommended by ayurvedic vaidyars as it keeps vayu under control.
Incidentally, it will also keep weight under control. The dish should be eaten with just a tablespoon of cooked rice for those who are serious about the diet. In fact take a bowl of the koottu, add a tablespoon of rice (this is for person who can’t do without rice) and have it for lunch. Reducing the dhal and rice will help in faster weight loss. Pepper and chilly can be reduced to the bare minimum for those with digestive issues. If digestion and vayu are not a problem, chilly and pepper can be added as instructed above. This dish can also be prepared with beans, broad beans and carrots. As beans and broad beans are vayu-enhancing, it is better to avoid them if you have a vayu problem, otherwise these vegetables are good for a weight loss programme. Carrots, being sweet, are not recommended for weight loss or for those who are diabetic.
Koottus eaten with a little rice satisfies rice cravings and helps keep weight under control. A word of caution: dhals also add to your weight; so use only as much as is needed to give you the flavour. Do not lose weight by putting your health at risk.
The writer was earlier Health Secretary, Tamil Nadu, and is currently Additional Chief Secretary and Chairman & MD, Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation. She can be reached at Sheelarani.arogyamantra@gmail. com. Earlier articles can be accessed at www.arogyamantra.blogspot.com
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