July 2015 By Naini Setalvad Surrender yourself to the melody of the monsoon once you learn to safeguard yourself from its maladies, says Naini Setalvad The onset of the monsoon spells a welcome relief from the sweltering summer. However, the monsoon brings along its own set of challenges, chief among which is a massive influx of germs and infections. With the amount of pollution in the city, rain water itself is not clean. In this fluctuating weather, our susceptibility to infections, colds and coughs increases tenfold. The best way to immunise ourselves is with the power of the food we eat, and our Indian diet is a powerhouse of immunising ingredients. The ancient injunction to eat according to the season is something we need to follow to keep ourselves healthy, fit and happy. Mangoes have gone but some wonderful fruits like peaches and plums have arrived. Sip on piping hot rasam, which has amazing spices that are anti-inflammatory, and help to prevent joint pains and stiffness due to the weather. It contains asafoetida, curry leaves, tomato, red chilli, coconut, mustard seeds, onions, garlic and ginger, and other such healthy ingredients. With regard to roadside food, there is one simple rule: stay away from it (!), especially food that needs high amounts of water, like chaat, golas, and kulfis. Make an exception in the case of bhutta (corn), since it is freshly roasted before your eyes, and before that was safely wrapped in its own pristine packaging. Besides this, follow the following guidelines and you will coast through the monsoon as snug as a bug in a rug. Monsoon diseases are mostly waterborne, and the first caution should be to be careful about the water you are consuming. Have boiled, bottled and purified water. Avoid water and ice that is not made from the above kind of water. Drink beverages made from treated boiled water and drink them without ice, even if they are not chilled to your liking. Avoid juices, buttermilk, sherbets, or lemon juice made outside. Refuse all dairy products unless they have been properly pasteurized. Eat only well-cooked and hot food. Throw out food which have strange odours. Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in purified water and peeled them yourself. Avoid mixed salads outside as raw chopped ingredients spoil easily. Avoid seafood in this season. Eggs – use clean eggs with intact shells. Absolutely avoid raw eggs. Avoid cheese unless it has been refrigerated. Discard foods that are discoloured, mouldy or decayed. Throw out foods from cans or packets that are leaking or bulging. Avoid fresh fruits which have been pre-cut or peeled, and kept in the open. Mangoes should certainly be avoided once the monsoons start. The Jains strongly recommend avoiding all leafy vegetables as it can easily get contaminated by mud, dirt and worms. Take special care with vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, or spinach. Fruits like pears, cherries, peaches, plums, papayas and bananas are available in plenty and are tasty too. Wash well before consuming. Nuts and seeds too can be had in small quantities When eating out in restaurants, opt for soup, or cooked meals instead of bhel puri, pani puri, or sandwich. A grilled sandwich is preferable to a plain sandwich as it is cooked. Even at home, we have to be careful that we do not breed any germs. Many a time, our kitchens may be a breeding ground for mosquitoes especially if water is collected. Make sure that: you separate raw and cooked food both when preparing and storing. meat is not stored in the fridge above other foods on to which it might drip blood. foods are not in the open without a lid, as bugs proliferate. worktops, especially chopping blocks, are kept scrupulously clean. all seeds and grains are washed thoroughly as they are covered with antibacterial and anti-fungalpowders that cause flatulence and discomfort during the monsoon. you wash your hands with soap and hot water before handling food and eating it. When it comes to beverages, prefer a delicious piping hot tulsi and ginger infusion with lemon juice. The ginger and the tulsi will keep diseases at bay. They are anti-bacterial and their health properties are amazing. Cook your food in mustard oil more often; it has high quality monounsaturated fat, which is a “good fat”. As much as you would love to indulge in oily, fried food during this season, just bake it. Fried food will make you feel lethargic, besides making you put on weight. If you do not like spice, opt for clear soups. Add cinnamon wherever you can – even to hot water infusions with honey. This is an antidote to keep away water-borne diseases. Stewed cherries with cinnamon or peaches with cinnamon are a delicious option Mysore Rasam Ingredients 1 cup tuvar dal (cooked) 1 lemon-sized ball of tamarind 1 tsp mustard seeds 1 tsp channa dal 2 tomatoes(chopped) 1/2 tsp asafoetida 2 tsps coriander seeds 4 tsps peppercorns 2 tbsps grated coconut 2-3 dry red chillies 2-3 cloves 1 tsp turmeric powder Coriander leaves for garnishing Curry leaves Oil Salt to taste Method Marinate tamarind in water and extract the juice. In a pan add tomatoes, tamarind extract, turmeric powder, salt and cook till the tomatoes are cooked and emanate a delicious aroma Heat 1 tsp oil, sauté the coriander seeds, pepper corns, chana dal, red chillies and cloves till pink. Grind them with coconut to form a soft paste Add the paste, tuvar dal and curry leaves to the tomato mixture. Add water to make liquid consistency and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes Heat oil, add mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves and season the rasam with this. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot. Peach stew Ingredients 2 peaches 4 cups water Cinnamon powder Walnut Method Chop the peach into four slices. Add peaches to boiling water. Boil the water till half quantity. Sprinkle cinnamon powder and walnuts to it. Serve it chilled or hot. Bio: Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist, specialising in lifestyle and immunity disorders. Her foundation, Health For You, throws light on healthy food habits.
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