If you stop eating junk, you’ll do yourself a favour

If you stop eating junk, you’ll do yourself a favour
By Anuradha Sawhney Jul 28 2016
Tags: Leisure Writing
Do you remember I had wri­tten some time ago on the Wo­rld Health Organization dec­laring the dangers from con­suming pro­cessed meats as dangerous as that of using asbestos? Well, recently in the United States, Susan Levin from PCRM.org reiterated that schools and hospitals should drop items like hot dogs and pepperoni from their menu. Last year, the same non-profit had filed a petition urging the US department of agriculture to stop distributing carcinogenic hot dogs and other processed meats to children through the national school lunch programme.

Here’s why they want this to happen… Eating just 50gm of processed meat a day increases colorectal cancer risk, according to one study. An ongoing analysis of nutrition and cancer by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research found in 2007 that that processed meat products are “convincing” as risk factors for colorectal cancer, increasing risk by up to 50 per cent for those who eat the most. Each 50gm portion of processed meat — the size of a typical hot dog — eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent. Studies have also linked processed meat to prostate cancer, bladder cancer, diabetes, heart disease and early death.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women, with one in 20 developing it in his or her lifetime. In India too, in just this year, I have personally met five people who have colon cancer. All in their mid-30s! And that is just in my friend’s circle. Can you imagine how many more there must be? And one of the reasons for this is because there is increasingly food being sold which uses processed meats like hot dogs, sausages and pepperoni. The youngsters of today just don’t realise the seriousness of eating the junk food from the western countries.

Nearly a quarter of the meat products Americans consume are processed meat, which also include bacon, pepperoni, deli slices, sausage and any other meat products that have been preserved with additives or otherwise manipulated to alter colour, taste and durability. The dietary guidelines for Americans recommend limiting processed meat products.

Neal Barnard, MD, says it’s easy to give good health to children, the sick and everyone. Just consuming delicious, disease-fighting plant-based meals help to create a healthier future for everyone. Replace deadly proc­essed meats with nutritious foods that kids don’t get enough of — like bananas and other fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. And see how they sail through their childhood and adulthood in good health.

Top actor Gulshan Grover, gave me this recipe for brown rice poha for my book. This poha tastes fabulous and you can substitute the brown rice flakes with even jowar or red rice flakes.

Brown rice poha

Ingredients: 1 cup beaten brown rice flakes; 1 medium-sized onion, chopped small; 2 green chillies; 1 tsp oil (optional) 8-10 curry leaves; ¾ tsp black mustard seeds; 1 tbsp roasted peanuts; salt to taste

Method: Put the rice flakes in a colander and rinse them under running water. Leave them in the colander to drain. Chop the onion fine and slit the green chillies lengthwise.

Put a non-stick pan over low to moderate heat. When hot, add the oil (optional), the curry leaves and mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter, add the onion and green chillies. Sauté for 2-3 minutes till the onions turn translucent. Mix in the peanuts and rice flakes. Stir for 1 minute. Taste and add salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Serve hot.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

http://www.mydigitalfc.com/leisure-writing/if-you-stop-eating-junk-you’ll-do-yourself-favour-152 Stop junkfood.jpg

Here’s to health

Here’s to health
By Anuradha Sawhney Jul 21 2016
Tags: Leisure Writing
And you thought all roads lead to tofu for vegans, eh? Listed here are a few healthy, and tasty, eating out options in hamara Bharat…
Who would have thought that veganism in India will find its way into obscure towns? I did not, for one, until a couple of weeks ago, when I had the good fortune of making a trip to Shirdi to get my longed for darshan of Sai Baba. That trip was life defining for me in two ways. One, it was the first trip to Shirdi where I did not see any dogs that had been run over en route (one of the reasons why I hate to travel on highways here) and very importantly, I visited a vegan restaurant in Shirdi.

Yes, you read it right. There is a vegan restaurant in Shirdi. Called Ahimsa The Vegan Café, it has a South African, Hein Adamson, as its chef. I entered and straightaway fell in love with the interiors. It’s a good mix of my favourite colours — purple, yellow and lime green, interspersed with white.

Chef Hein made me some vegan pizza with the most awesome vegan cheese (this cheese actually stretched, almost like dairy pizza cheese), a mushroom melt sandwich and an energising smoothie with cashew milk. It was the first time I was ever able to eat a proper meal on my travels in the country, especially in a small town. As he was putting together my meal, we got talking: chef Hein says he came to India as he considers this as his seva. His guru advocates veganism as the only way to stop the exploitation of animals and so when he got a chance to come to India, he jumped at the chance.

“Ahimsa means non-violence and this is our core value, but we also feel that half of healthy eating is enjoying your food. When you eat at an Ahimsa Vegan Café, you know you are getting pure, natural and vitalising food. I recommend you come here hungry, but even if you just feel like enjoying a cup of coffee with delicious non dairy milk and a good book, you know where to find us.”

The co-founders of the cafe are Sumit Partap Gupta and Phaneendar BV. I happened to meet Sumit who says that he and Phaneendar “consider vegan to be the diet of the future.”

“We believe that a vegan diet will fix all wrongs to one’s health, that it will reverse heart disease, reverse diabetes, reverse hypertension, reverse certain cancers and even help one to lose weight. Vegans tend to eat healthier than vegetarians. Just by not consuming any animal products they gain many points. And add to that the different super foods consumed by vegans like seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, melon, sesame, flax, hemp), berries (goji, cranberries, raisins, raspberries), nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashew, pecan, macadamia, hazel), whole grains (like the many different types of millets, brown, black, wild and red rice, amaranth, quinoa), beans (pinto, kidney, baked, chickpeas, black eyed beans, black beans, etc), all the vegetables and fruits possible. And it is these foods which form the core of our recipes,” says Sumeet.

So here I was, in Shirdi, actually able to eat black beans, red rice, amaranth and millets. Wonder, it seems, never cease.

Inspired, I started looking for vegan food services around the country as soon as I reached home and found a plethora of them. Mumbai has had a vegan catering service for the last four and a half years now. Aptly called Vegan Bites, it is run by Samir Pasad and Himani Gala. Samir is the CEO (chief eating officer, he tells me, tongue-in-cheek; apparently, a salsa dancer as well) and Himali is a gourmet raw food chef. They are the biggest proponents of vegan food in Mumbai, with their meals reaching 200 plus people daily. “Our menu is a mix of Indian and international cuisines. We use Nut Mylks to make dairy alternatives like curd, buttermilk, cheese and sweets. Instead of paneer, we use tofu, which is healthier and has more protein. We use whole nuts like peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut to replace oil as nuts automatically release their own oil while cooking. We follow the steam cooking method so that all the nutrients of vegetables are retained. We don’t cook anything directly on fire. Our food is oil free and gluten free. We don’t use wheat, white refined flour or sugar in our food. All our masalas and spices are organic and freshly ground. Nothing artificial.”

I was thinking that would be a hard act to follow when I came across The Philosophy Club in Ahmedabad. The owner, Gemma Ferre, moved to India from Spain to start her vegan dream project. “The Philosophy Club was one of the first completely vegan cafes in India. Nimi Hirani and I started this in September 2013. We believe that we are one with humans, animals and mother earth. That is our philosophy. We believe in the togetherness a vegan table brings. Kosher, halal, vegetarian — everybody can sit and enjoy a meal at the same table with their choices acknowledged and enjoy conversations without causing any harm to any other living beings. The pleasure of respecting the planet, while feeding your body and soul is one of the guiding forces behind my cafe. We don’t judge your food choices or preach. We acknowledge that each person is on their own journey and want simply to feed them good food in a warm, comfortable environment.”

Closer home, in Pune, there is The Real Green Café, a brainchild of Aishwarya Viswanath. I visited her café and while I ate a gluten free pizza, Aishwarya told me that “the main aim of starting a completely vegan cafe was to let the masses know that veganism is the future of food, not just in India but across the globe. Food plays a vital role in everybody’s life and getting people to change their food habits would never be an easy task due to their conditioning, hence it was important to start a vegan cafe to introduce the whole idea of cruelty free and healthy food.”

Their range of products include oil free burgers, vegan pizzas, sandwiches and wraps, beverages like fresh juices, smoothies and a variety of hot and cold coffee and not to forget the yummy vegan desserts by the vegan food service Back To The Basics which are sold at The Real Green café.

When the doctor told Mayavi Khandelwal, the owner of the vegan food service, My Pure Path, to go straight to the hospital, as she had very high diabetes and high blood pressure, she didn’t. Instead, in consultation with diabetes reversal specialist Pramod Tripathi, she reversed her diabetes, hypothyroid and high blood pressure with the help of a vegan diet (so did I, for the record). Furthermore, she lost 22 kilos just by going vegan. And that’s how My Pure Path came about. Mayavi has a whole range of jowar, bajra, and methi crackers, a nondairy cheesy dip, feta cheese and gluten-free breads. Mayavi says her mission is to empower others in healthy living by empowering homemakers in healthy food.

Energy Home, a vegan raw food restaurant, has been operating in Pondicherry for over seven years now. And then up north, a store cum café called The Holy Tree has opened in the city of Ludhiana. Run by Vinu Kumar and her husband Vishal Kumar, it is doing brilliantly. Vinu, who is a raw food practitioner for some years now, gave in finally to her patients’ demand and opened the store.

She had advised them to follow a no-wheat-no-milk diet, as a result of which many got rid of arthritis, muscle dystrophy, hypertension, and diabetes, amongst other ailments.

“In the 15 years of my career, I have cured my patients completely only through nutrition, as I feel that we can cure or harm our body through nutrition. And the healthiest way to cure our body and to keep it pure and healthy is by following a complete vegan diet. Our body has healing codes and if we create a support for our body, we enhance our body’s healing power. So if we make sure that all the proper nutritional requirements are given through our food then we help in enhancing the power of our body’s healing codes and our body’s immunity also increases. It is a misconception that vegans have a very limited choice in eating. We at The Holy Tree have proved this wrong. We have broken the wall between dairy products and vegan products. We have more than 250 recipes which are much tastier than the non vegan versions.”

So there you have it. Vegan is growing and this trend will only increase, there is no stopping it now. What is the biggest benefit of being vegan? The chance to eat healthy and be fitter. zz

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)


Think beyond milk for calcium requirements

Think beyond milk for calcium requirements
By Anuradha Sawhney Jul 07 2016
Tags: Foods and Drinks
Everyone knows the importance of calcium for our bodies. Calcium not only helps the heart muscles beat properly it also helps to build healthy bones. By healthy bones I mean bones that will not break easily, that are strong and can withstand sudden blows. Brittle bones is a condition when bones break easily. I know most people who drink dairy do so because they believe it gives them their calcium. But the opposite is true in fact. It is a myth that dairy milk provides calcium for humans.

Most Indians consume substantial amounts of dairy products — and government policies still promote them — despite scientific evidence that questions their health benefits and indicates their potential health risks. Over 75 per cent of Americans are deficient in calcium. The number of Indians who are deficient in calcium is not readily available but it is sure to be high.

Calcium is an important mineral that helps to keep bones strong. Our bones are constantly remodelling, meaning the body takes small amounts of calcium from the bones and replaces it with new calcium. Therefore, it is essential to have enough calcium so that the body doesn’t decrease bone density in this remodelling process. Though calcium is necessary for ensuring bone health, the actual benefits of calcium intake do not exist after consumption passes a certain threshold. Consum-ing more calcium than that needed by our body does not improve bone integrity.

It is possible to decrease the risk of osteoporosis by reducing sodium intake in the diet, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables and ensuring adequate calcium intake from plant foods such as kale, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables and beans. You can also use calcium-fortified products such as breakfast cereals and juices. Soy milk and fortified orange juice are two examples of products which provide about the same amount of calcium per serving as milk or other dairy products.

Because of heavy promotion by the dairy industry, the public often believes that cow’s milk is the sole source of calcium. However, other excellent sources of calcium exist. Unlike milk, plant-based calcium sources contain vitamins C and K and the minerals potassium and magnesium, which are all important for bone health. Sources of well-absorbed calcium for vegans include calcium-fortified soy milk and juice, calcium-set tofu, soybeans and soynuts, bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard greens and okra. Grains, beans (other than soybeans), fruits, and vegetables can contribute to calcium intake but cannot replace these key foods.

According to an article from the Harvard School of Public Health, one cup of collard greens contains 357mg of calcium, but a cup of milk has 306. Collard greens also are one of the leafy greens with calcium that is more absorbable. (Some greens like spinach contain oxalic acid, which interferes with the absorption of calcium). The humble turnip or shalgam greens have an awesome amount of calcium (1 cup of turnip greens contains 249mg so start eating that shalgum saag right away), cooked kale is a calcium powerhouse (1 cup contains 179 mg of calcium), cooked sarson ka saag is awesome for its calcium content(1 cup contains 152mg), and even 1 cup cooked bhindi contains 135mg of calcium.

No matter what your diet, you just need to make sure to include two or three servings of calcium-rich foods and/or calcium-fortified foods in each meal, and you’ll be able to hit that target for bone health. And remember exercise is one of the most effective ways to increase bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis, and its benefits have been observed in studies of both children and adults.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)



You can beat stress at work with nutritious food

Adults in the United States spend more than half of their waking hours at work, giving employers a unique opportunity to impact the health and wellness of their employees. Similar working hour statistics can be found in urban India.

Staff working in corporates and multinationals in particular, by the very nature of their jobs and the fierce competition, often tend to suffer from work stress. According to a survey conducted across 10 corporate companies in New Delhi, 52 per cent of the corporate city population indicated mild to moderate stress levels, 39 per cent showed signs and symptoms of minimum to mild stress and 9 per cent manifested severe stress.

Workers who are stressed are also more likely to be unhealthy, poorly motivated, less productive and less safe at work. Stress management can be a powerful tool for wellness. People who are under constant stress are more vulnerable to everything from colds to high blood pressure and heart disease.

One strategy to cope with stress is to eat stress-fighting nutritious foods. The health advantages of a vegan diet have been confirmed by numerous doctors and nutritionists. A vegan diet strengthens the immune system and promotes longevity, health, intelligence and balance. It has a preventative affect against cancer, as well as coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and diabetes. A wholegrain plant based diet helps people manage work stress and related conditions like diabetes, hyper tension and heart disease.

People in offices should eat organic, nutritious, wholegrain, oil free lunches as well as snacks for the afternoon time munchies, when people typically tend to eat anything at hand, with no thought to how unhealthy it may be.

Companies can play a big role here. Many forward thinking companies, seeing the rising rate of ill health and stress amongst their employees have invested in providing some modicum of good food, even if it is in the form of daily snacks. With chronic disease rates rising and health care costs mounting, it’s more important than ever that workplaces adopt programmes and policies to encourage employees to eat more healthfully.

A physicians committee study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, American Journal of Health Promotion, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism and Public Health Nutrition found that companies that offer employees a low-fat plant-based diet in the office can help their workers lose weight and improve diabetes.

Helping employees achieve optimal health is not only the right thing to do, but can impact a company’s bottomline. Healthy employees reduce the cost of health insurance premiums and other health related expenses, are more productive during the workday and take off less work time for illness and doctor’s visits. Making the right food choices is key to the prevention and survival of chronic diseases and health conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Companies who want to help their employees improve their health have many options available to them. Companies can hold weekly sessions for workers consisting of nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, food samples and supportive group discussions.

Companies can also provide support for their food service caterer to incorporate healthful food options into the menu that is served to the employees. And in case the company does not provide food to its employees, it can provide guidance on healthy eating out choices to its employees. Staffers should be encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle within their working environ by eating nutritious, diet, low oil, wholegrain, vegan snacks and foods. Not only will they start to feel fitter, their energy levels will increase and so will their productivity. Companies owe it to their employees.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

Vegan diet is the best medicine for your body

Vegan diet is the best medicine for your body
By Anuradha Sawhney Jun 23 2016
Tags: Foods and Drinks
Last week, I read an article on John McDougall, an American physician and best-selling author, who claims that degenerative disease can be prevented and treated with a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based/vegan diet — especially the one based on starches such as potatoes, rice and corn — which excludes animal foods and added vegetable oils.

The McDougall Program uses a pure vegetarian diet, based on starchy vegetables, plus fresh/frozen fruits and other vegetables. McDougall says that our bodies are meant to be healthy; we shouldn’t need drugs or surgery except in times of emergency. Why, then, have we become so dependent on these interventions? The answer is this: all too often it’s the food we eat that is making us sick.

According to drmcdougall.com, when looked at from the perspective of human evolution, the current diet we are eating is a bizarre anomaly, unlike anything we ate over the last four million years. Our blood, arteries, and cells are not designed to function under so much fat and cholesterol. Our intestines are not designed to function in the absence of fibre.

Our immune system is not designed to function without an abundant supply of plant-based nutrients and phytochemicals.

He goes on to say, with our cells drowning in fat, cholesterol, animal proteins and artificial chemicals, and our immune system deprived of what it needs to maintain itself, it’s no wonder so many of us get cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and other age-related illnesses.

Even poly and monounsaturated fats – found in large amounts in vegetable oils and fish – have been shown to depress the immune system, increase bleeding and promote cancers, especially those of the colon, prostate and breast. Because all fats are easily stored by the body, too much dietary fat makes people overweight and lays the foundation for a host of other problems like heart disease, cancer and adult-onset diabetes. The body produces all the cholesterol it needs. As for fat, plants already contain adequate amounts, and only plants make the essential fatty acids your body needs to function. What’s more, plant foods never contain cholesterol.

But here’s the best part. Dr McDougall says that given the right diet and lifestyle, the body will recover. When we remove the poisons from our lives and replace them with health-promoting food, the body can heal itself, even from illnesses deemed “incurable.”

This same hypothesis of homeostasis (that our body is always trying to heal itself) is followed by top nutritionist Shveta Sanghani, founder of Wellness and Homeostasis, Mumbai. Sanghani told me that she agrees with the concept of a high-starch diet, accompanied with plant protein acquired from beans, lentils and nuts. Starch like peas, potato (with skin, a better choice), corn, sweet potato and yam are rich in phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals as well as a good source of energy for augmenting performance and efficiency. Starch sources, when accompanied by plant protein, make a complete protein and can be safely consumed when symptoms of high sugar, triglycerides, hormonal imbalance and metabolic syndrome. She said it is a myth that one needs to stop starch to cure metabolic syndromes.

So what Sanghani and McDougall are saying is that if we follow the right diet, we can relax in the innate mechanism of self-regulation, which can be the most potent medicine for our bodies. So, instead of stressing about our illnesses, ensure you eat right and let your body fix itself. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” said Hippocrates, father of medicine. Eat Food. Not Too much. Mostly Plants.

Please note: if you’re seriously ill or on medication, please consult your physician who knows about nutrition and its effects on health. Never change medications without professional advice. I am not a doctor.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)


Supercharge the gut bacteria for good health

Supercharge the gut bacteria for good health
By Anuradha Sawhney Jun 16 2016
Tags: Leisure Writing
I recently received an email from thetruthaboutcancer.com, which spoke about something that I have long maintained…the importance of good gut health for a person’s overall health. The article reiterated it by showing the connection between good bowel condition (known as the microbiome) and cancer prevention. Good gut flora will help you prevent and fight cancer. That’s a fact.

Cultivating beneficial gut bacteria is your first line of defence against cancer and many other serious diseases. They do this by boosting your immune system at the places you are almost always hit first with toxins, heavy metals, parasites, fungi and harmful bacteria. We should all learn to nurture the system that protects us from so many layers of possible invasion of foreign contaminants.

A research conducted by the University of Chicago found that boosting gut bacteria (specifically with the probiotic bifidobacterium) equalled the results of immunotherapy (using our body’s immune system to attack cancer) in slowing the growth of melanoma cancer cells! The researchers then combined the two (gut bacteria and immunotherapy) modalities and achieved success that was comparable to anti-cancer drugs.

Another study conducted in France noted that some healthy gut flora was activated when immunotherapy was administered.

According to thetruthab­outc­ancer.com, the human micro­biome is an incredible network of 100 trillion organisms that live in and on the body. They are made up of beneficial bacteria as well as fungi, viruses and bacteria that aren’t so beneficial. We need this microcosm to survive. The relationship between them and the humans who carry them is symbiotic in nature. Antibiotics disrupt this relationship in a similar way that chemotherapy affects the human body.

Chemotherapy wipes out perfectly healthy, non-cancerous cells, along with the cancerous cells, from one’s body. Similarly, antibiotics wipe out all bacteria (the bad kind as well as the good kind that you can’t live without). Destroying what keeps you healthy simply isn’t a good method of treatment.

Building up your gut microbiome is the way to prevent cancer, fight cancer and live a longer, healthier life overall. Diet is everything.

So, much of our poor gut health is linked to what we eat and drink. It is likely the primary reason native peoples have a non-existent rate of cancer. They have a far lower exposure to toxins, are not inundated with stress and consume a diet of natural, raw foods (definitely more of a hunter-gatherer way of life) that aren’t processed. They also don’t fill their bodies with antibiotics at every turn.

Incorporate into your diet the food source that healthy gut bacteria eat to survive, in the form of pre-biotics like artichokes, chicory, garlic, onions, leek, shallots, asparagus, beetroot, dandelion greens, fennel, peas, cabbage, nuts and seeds. Also, incorporate a variety of probiotic foods to diversify the healthy bacteria in your gut. Water kefir, kombucha tea, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut and pickled veggies are some examples of this.

According to nourishingplot.com, cabbage is high in anti-inflammatory properties, vitamins A and C. Cabbage also reduces lipids in the bloodstream. When cabbage is fermented into sauerkraut, the fermentation process opens up walls of its cells, thus, accessing a higher ratio of vitamins. It has been said that sauerkraut has 200 times more vitamin C than the head of cabbage before fermentation.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)


Word of caution before rains whet your appetite

Word of caution before rains whet your appetite
By Anuradha Sawhney Jun 09 2016
Tags: The Monsoon Magic, Foods and Drinks
Word of caution before rains whet your appetite
Hooray! The monsoon is around the corner, finally! Maybe the farmers around the country will be able to get a good harvest, and the groundwater, which has been badly depleted by industries, will be replenished. The looming water crisis will, thus, abate for a little more time. Let’s hope acche din aa gaye hai, anyway.


Rainy season is the time of the year when everything gets rejuvenated, including our spirits. Perhaps, the best thing one can think of when it is pouring outside, is to enjoy a cup of hot tea and freshly fried pakodas.

However, be careful. Pakodas, or anything deep-fried, can potentially decrease the digestive efficiency of the body and, hence, must be avoided. Heavy oils (extracted from mustard, peanut or sesame seed) used for frying increase pitta (a body element according to ayurveda), and moisturise and oil the internal digestive system, therefore inviting infection. Light oils like rice bran oil and olive oil are better substitutes.In monsoon, we also need to be extra-careful about the water we drink. A study by Christina Tang on river water collected during the monsoon in Kerala found that the samples contained 1,600 E coli bacteria per 100 ml of water on an average, far exceeding the WHO standards on drinking water, which call for zero E coli per 100ml. If this nonpotable water is used to wash utensils, it could enter our bodies through these utensils.

Anushree Sahai, a food specialist, says, “While cooking, wash all leafy vegetables and cauliflower carefully, as these can often contain worms and dirt from the streets. Have fresh, well-cleaned and steamed foods during the rainy season.”

During monsoon, viruses cause infection, cold and flu. So, eat lots of food with vitamin C to build your immunity. Infections like cold and swine flu, among others, spread through unclean hands, so use a proper hand sanitizer. Drink lots of hot soup, full of as many vegetables as you like.

Besides the soup recipe explained in the box, here is another one by Suchitra Pillai, theatre artist, actor, singer and VJ.

Take a carrot, a handful of french beans, three to four garlic cloves, one green chilli, one teaspoon sesame oil, one cup fresh corn kernels, straight off the cob if possible, three to four cups of vegetable stock, and salt and pepper to taste.

Chop the carrot and beans. Crush the garlic and chop the chilli fine. Heat some oil and sauté the carrot, green chilli and garlic. Add the beans and corns and sauté for another minute. Add some water and boil till the vegetables are tender. Cool then grind to a purée. Return the purée to the pan, add the hot vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Garnish with coriander leaf sprigs.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)


Meal replacement bar is not a permanent solution

Meal replacement bar is not a permanent solution

By Anuradha Sawhney Apr 21 2016

Tags: Leisure Writing

Who likes Alec Baldwin? I do, I do, I do! And I like him even more because he is advocating health in a public service announcement (PSA) for Pcrm.org. This is so cool, because so often celebrities will endorse anything, with no regard to the negative connotations of that product on people’s health. But not so Alec.


The PSA by Alec is about meal replacement bars. What are these bars? According to webMD.com, these bars were initially invented with the serious athlete in mind, one who needed extra fuel for workouts. But today, everyone wants them. People in a hurry look for food they can eat on the go rather than take time to sit down and eat a proper meal. And seriously, in this fast paced world, its perfectly understandable that we won’t always have time to eat a meal at a table. So these products have gone mainstream, being consumed by anyone needing a nutritional boost. The range is dizzying, with more and more bars being conceived all the time. These bars fill huge amounts of shelf space in the gym, grocery, and health food stores and there are literally hundreds of bars and even meal replacement drinks to choose from.


Choosing a so called healthy meal replacement is a perfectly acceptable substitution, as long as it’s only once in a while. But people tend to consume bars more and more often because of its convenience and ease of use.


Alec Baldwin is giving radical nutrition advice to the millions who subsist on these mundane meal replacement bars. Alec tells them to eat actual meals. And the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has actually come out with a meal replacement bar replacement meal plan which not only saves time and money — it’s actually more nutritious than meal replacement bars! This plan has all the nutrition of a meal replacement bar — and you can make it right at home! Cool isn’t it!


Alec’s PSA follows a new scientific study highlighting the many benefits of the meal replacement bar replacement meal which is based on the fact that eating more fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes could save millions of lives and trillions of dollars, says the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.


According to this research published online, vegetarian and vegan diets are best for the environment and human health. Why? The researchers assessed environmental, economic, and health impacts associated with a dietary change in the future. The diets compared included proportional reduction in animal products, reduced or meat-free diets and diets based on present health standards. A shift to a plant-based diet projected reductions in global mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10 per cent and 70 per cent respectively, compared with a control scenario set in 2050.


According to the results, a global dietary shift would save an estimated 79 million human lives and avoid 5.1 million deaths per year. Estimates for a completely vegan diet project closer to 129 million lives saved and 8.1 million deaths avoided. These projections also saw trillions of dollars saved in health care costs by 2050!


Fascinating! The benefits of a shift in diet to a vegetarian and vegan diet by Indians would also result in longevity, a saving of crores of rupees in healthcare cost, not to mention just a better quality of life. Today, almost all the adult population of India is suffering from lifestyle induced health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even cancers. Imagine a population free of such diseases. And its all in our hands. A simple diet shift is all we need.


(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)



Colour your taste buds in every shade of purple

Colour your taste buds in every shade of purple

By Anuradha Sawhney Apr 28 2016

Tags: Leisure Writing

A friend of mine recently gifted me a whole lot of baingans, aka aubergine aka eggplant. All organic, all fresh. I did not want to waste them and so used them up in many different ways, including pickling them. I made pickle, salad, mousse and many more dishes. To learn how, read on.


To use aubergine in a salad, all you got to do is roast the aubergine in an oven, place in the fridge overnight so they firm up, then slice them thin and add into the salad along with tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli and lettuce. Toss the salad in some virgin avocado or walnut oil along with some fresh herbs, lemon juice and serve right away.


To make aubergine pickle, first wash and dry the aubergine. Slice them and keep aside. Boil some water, add vinegar into it with a dash of gur and then add the aubergine slices into the boiling water. Turn off the gas, let it cool, squeeze the excess liquid from the aubergine and place in a jar with extra virgin olive oil, herbs and some salt. Cover the lid tightly and let it stand for a few days. Store in the fridge if not consumed within a week.


Eggplant mousse is even simpler. Roast and mash some eggplant. Keep aside. Drain some tofu and place in a blender. Blend till smooth, then add the eggplant, some maple syrup and some vegan cream. Blend well and place in small molds in the fridge to set. Garnish with chopped walnuts and pine nuts before serving.


Here’s a tip I learnt the hard way. The best way to roast aubergines are to coat them with some oil and then place them in the oven, air fryer or even on the gas flame. The skin peels off smoothly and leaves no charred black bits. And to remove their bitter flavour, sprinkle some salt on them, place in a colander for a while, then squeeze out the excess liquid.


This recipe is by Talat Aziz, the famous ghazal maestro, from my book

The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!


3-4 servings



1 medium-sized, round, purple aubergine

½ a small onion

5-6 garlic cloves

1-2 green chillies (optional)

1 tbsp olive oil

A pinch or up to ½ tsp sugar, as per taste

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

½ cup cleaned and chopped coriander


To serve

12-15 bruschettas

Fresh basil leaves, finely chopped



Wash the aubergine and pat dry.

Using tongs, roast the aubergine over an open gas flame, turning it around, till the skin is charred all over and the flesh is cooked through.

Let it cool, then peel off the skin. Mash the flesh well and put it in a bowl.

Chop the onion, garlic and green chillies (optional) fine.

Put a non-stick pan over moderate heat. When hot, add the oil (optional).

Lightly sauté the onions, till they turn translucent. Remove from heat and add them to the mashed aubergine.

Add the garlic, green chillies and sugar. Mix, till all the ingredients are well distributed.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour in the balsamic vinegar and stir, till the vinegar is absorbed into the mixture. Add the chopped coriander and mix it all well.

Cover the bowl with cling film and place it in the refrigerator for the flavours to blend for about 4 hours.

When ready to serve, put the bruschettas into a moderately hot oven (180⁰C) to crisp them.

Arrange the bruschettas on a serving platter and spoon the aubergine over them.

Sprinkle the basil leaves over each bruchetta and serve immediately.


Note: If you don’t have bruschettas, you can cut brown bread slices into 4 and crisp them.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)



No way, vegan is not a short form for vegetarian

No way, vegan is not a short form for vegetarian

By Anuradha Sawhney        May 05 2016

Tags: Leisure Writing

Today I thought I would write about the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan diet. I realise there are many people who don’t necessarily know the difference between the two when actually there is an entire world of a difference. There was a recent news report with glaring headlines, which said a vegan woman committed suicide because her husband forced her to eat meat. I immediately clicked on the article, only to realise that the reporter interchanged between vegan and vegetarian. The lady who killed herself was actually vegetarian but because not everyone knows the difference, she was labelled as vegan.


And this is not the only instance. A restaurant that opened near my house last week said it was a satvik and vegan restaurant. Of course, I went there lickety split only to discover they did not know what vegan meant! The manager told me it was a vegetarian restaurant. And I can never forget that moment, 10 years back, when I was at a restaurant in Mumbai, tired after a long PETA shoot and my heart leaped with joy when I saw a vegan burger listed on the menu only to realise that it was served with a slice of cheese!


The main difference is that vegans will not consume any foods of animal origin, not even honey, while a vegetarian might consume eggs (ovo-vegetarian), or dairy (lacto-vegetarian).


Being vegan is definitely more of a lifestyle choice and a philosophy than a diet. A vegan does not eat anything that is of animal origin. Vegans will not use animal based products for clothing or any other purpose. A person can become vegan because of ethical reasons involving animal rights, for environmental factors, or for better health. According to The Vegetarian Resource Group, vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics and soaps derived from animal products.


The latest statistics show that approximately 2.5 per cent of people in the US are vegans. And this number is growing daily. India, too, is seeing a huge rise in the number of vegans around. While many of them are vegan for ethical reasons (because of the cruelty involved in animal farming and slaughter), a vast majority is vegan today because of health. Items eaten freely by the world population, namely bakery products, pizzas, burgers, milk and its derivatives, meat, chicken, fish, seafood, pork, beef etc, sugar and fat have led to a crisis in health which no amount of medicines can fix. A drastic shift in diet is needed and this is where vegan comes in.


Vegan is considered as the diet of the future, one that will fix all wrongs to one’s health, one that will reverse heart disease, reverse diabetes, reverse hyper tension, reverse certain cancers and even help one to lose weight. The reason for this is simple. Vegans tend to eat healthier than vegetarians. Just by not consuming any animal products they gain many points. And add to that the different super foods consumed by vegans like seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, melon, sesame, flax, hemp), berries (goji, cranberries, raisins, rasberries), nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashew, pecan, macadamia, hazel), whole grains (like the many different types of millets, brown, black, wild and red rice, amaranth, quinoa), beans (pinto, kidney, baked, chickpeas, black eyed beans, black beans, etc), all the vegetables and fruits possible.


It just makes good sense doesn’t it to turn vegan? If you have the choice of choosing what to eat, know that by following the vegan path, one can gain better health. Choose well.


(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)