Seeds of health

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Time and again, I am bought into the idea of super foods that I diligently attempt to include in my family’s everyday diet. I make sure to stock my kitchen pantry with green tea, oatmeal, quinoa, walnuts etc. and my refrigerator with avocado, greens and berries, just to list a few. Off late, the bandwagon is joined by 2 newcomers in the form of seeds

  1. Flax seed
  2. Chia seed

The numerous health benefits that these two ingredients have is quite too often discussed with regard in the food world. Chia seeds, indigenous to South America, are loaded with fiber, protein and Omega -3 fatty acids. They are also high in vitamins and minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorous that are essential for bone health. They are usually grown organically and are naturally free of gluten. Due to high levels of fiber and protein content, these seeds are highly recommended in weight loss programs. They are believed to control high blood pressure as well as blood sugar given their antioxidant property. It is only befitting for ‘Chia’ to mean strength in ancient Mayan.

Flax seeds, believed to be native to Egypt, have omega 3 fatty acids that helps in healthy glowing skin. It is also high in fiber content which helps improve digestive health or remove constipation. Its high anti-oxidant qualities is supposed to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Consumption of flax seed also helps in moderate regulation of blood sugar level. It is believed to fight many types of cancer, including breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer. Its high fiber-low carbohydrate combination is an excellent recipe to combat weight gain. Flax seed is best absorbed in ground form as it is easier to digest.

I find ways to incorporate these ingredients in my everyday meal, by sprinkling a table spoon or two of these to most food items, be it salads, soups, side dishes, dosa batter, chapatti dough or rice dishes. They make for excellent ingredients in baked goodies too. The addition of small quantities of these seeds do not bring a noticeable variation to the taste or texture of food as they do not possess any peculiar smell or taste. These seeds find their way in smoothies, cereals and yogurt on a fairly regular basis. Chia seeds, when soaked, become tiny, slimy globules with interesting texture that qualifies for a perfect condiment in refreshing drinks.

Using these in moderation and discretion is a key reminder to maintain balance of nutrient intake. Anything, including super foods if consumed in excess is rather toxic to the body than beneficial. Add these ingredients in creative ways to your daily cooking to reap full benefits. There is no effort required or time wasted in finding unusual and complicated recipes.

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Chia seeds
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Flax seed powder

My husband’s bulging waistline continues to make a mockery of my culinary efforts. I don’t give up. Like an invincible warrior on a single-minded pursuit, I patiently wait for the day when my seedy adventures proudly stand testimony for a naturally flat belly, not sucked in as seen in photos 🙂

Quinoa

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I was skeptical about the super food, Quinoa when I first heard about it, not for its nutritive value but for its appeal to my South Indian palate. One of my first concerns was how I would make this relatively bland food more acceptable to my spice-addicted taste buds, but not for too long! I took to an instant liking to quinoa when a friend of mine once offered me simple home-made quinoa salad for lunch. The salad in fact, was quite filling, still light on stomach. The recipe for quinoa salad is simple and easy.

Quinoa              – 1 cup

Water                – 1 1/2 cup

Olive oil            – 1 tsp

Tomato             – 1 cup cubed

Cucumber         – 1/2 cup cubed

cilantro              – 1/4 cup chopped

green onion       – 1/2 cup chopped

mint leaves        – 2 tblsp chopped

salt                       – to taste

black pepper      – 1 tsp crushed

green chilli         – 1 chopped(optional)

lemon                  -1/2 juiced

Wash quinoa thoroughly and strain. In a pan, keep water to boil. Add quinoa and salt and let it cook. Switch off the stove and let the quinoa cool. Add in the chopped vegetables and other ingredients. Keep in the refrigerator to cool. Mix well and serve cold.

You can also do other healthy variations to this recipe by adding different combinations of vegetables like corn, bell pepper, onion, pomegranate, pickled olives, sun-dried tomatoes etc. You can add grated ginger for an extra zing or feta cheese for a twist. Use your creativity to bring a change in taste.

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I have also used quinoa as a substitute for a regular dish like upma(Indian semolina dish) or pulav. Still, the salad is my personal favorite. Quinoa’s status as a super ‘grain’ is in fact a misnomer. It is a ‘seed’ rich in protein that delivers almost all the amino acids required by our body. It is also gluten-free and wheat-free which makes it a hot commodity among consumers intolerant to these components. It is rich in phosphorous, magnesium and iron, and is a good source of dietary fiber. These are reasons enough to incorporate this healthy substitute in my family’s menu more often than before 🙂

To give a brief history, Quinoa got its name from Spanish and its origin is in the Andean regions of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and Columbia.

Aging gracefully

When I was approaching middle age, it was quite an unsettling feeling to deal with. It was like having a tug-of-war with time. After all, who is ready for the dreaded down hill ride?! They call it mid-life crisis for no reason.

It is with an air of convenient gullibility that we tend to deny the irrefutable truth of growing old. It is alarming to see, especially in the present generation the yearning to be in an immortal state of youthfulness. That brings us to the question: Isn’t there an existence for us beyond the superficial assurance of young/good looks through external means. Are we so rooted for the constant search of youngevity that so many of us would go to any extent to achieve it? If only the media and the proponents of  happy-healthy life, were not to put so much stress on the external looks or age as a detrimental factor in a person’s productivity or worth, things could be much different. What we need is more campaigns on staying young through right choice of healthy food, an active life-style through holistic workout and involvement in meaningful pursuits that eventually help aging gracefully.

Lets accept aging not as a bane, but as a boon and put our wisdom gained from the wealth of worldly experience to good use than spend our time whiling away in Botox clinics and facelift  centers. What do we lose if a fraction of that time is rather devoted in uplifting and enlightening the youth on life’s lessons learned?  When you see the silver lining in the cloud of hair and the wrinkly smile that is gifted by time alone, when you embrace age with all its graciousness, it is true liberation.

As for me, to my surprise, there is now a renewed sense of awareness and purpose, and a child-like curiosity like never before. It is true revelation, that you see life through a lens that only gets clearer with every passing decade. What you thought you knew before were only blurred images of what really is now! And for that I am happy to grow older and embrace the course of nature’s action.