Backed by research, Fix it with Food by Kavita Devgan has easy-to-follow advice as she explains how eating certain superfoods can improve your energy, help prevent the common ailments and kick-start weight loss. In her book, she offers not just nutritional information, but practical tips and easy recipes to help make these foods a part of your daily diet. An edited excerpt:
So what categorises food as a superfood? The whole idea of superfoods is a little vague. I have a simple definition/way for them. But first, we need to understand why we need to include them in our diet.
I believe and always have that when you begin putting the right food on the plate (by right food, I mean food that does something good for you), then calories take care of themselves, and your weight issues get tackled on their own.
So when you think nutrition and not weight loss — you get both. Whereas when you think just weight loss, then you know what happens right? You lose some and then gain that back and more! So no good comes out of it.
This is where superfoods come in. The truth is that we are in general overfed, but our diet is completely inadequate. Superfoods help fill that gap. Even though there is no agreed definition and very often it is simply used as a marketing term, and misused, but still, it is not that difficult to identify the actual superfoods. They must meet certain conditions.
So what are superfoods? These foods deliver concentrated — extra-large doses of vitamins and minerals — nutrients and antioxidant that are good for you. Now every food has some goodness inherent in it, but some foods deliver them en masse, in loads. They are so nutrient dense, that they are almost like a medication, a supplement. But of course far better. Once you have identified them, the next step is the draw the best out of them. This book is an attempt to help you do that easily. Sharing an excerpt from the chapter:
When my mother is staying with us, the menu automatically changes for the better. Suddenly, all the healthy, forgotten dishes start getting cooked. The regular dishes — dal chawal and those same two or three subzis cooked by rotation get replaced by interesting, super-healthy, and sometimes slightly unusual dishes. And the best news is that radish (mooli) makes an appearance on our plates more often. For example, mooli ka parantha wolfed down with dhania-amla-mint chutney and beaten curd, and my childhood favourite mooli bhurjee with the leaves, relished with missi roti… and more such dishes. I don’t know anyone else (like my mom) who can eat radishes with so much joy! She loves them! And thankfully that seems to have passed on to me too.
A winter staple, radish is very good for us. This slightly bitter root is amazingly low in calories (100 gm of radish gives less than 20 calories), is loaded with vitamin C, and is rich in folate, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin and minerals like iron, magnesium and copper.
A Weight Watcher’s Friend
Radish is high in roughage, contains a lot of water, and is low on the glycemic index too (keeps blood sugar stable), so it is a great food even for those who are watching their weight or sugar levels.
Radish is a great source of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that is great for our heart and displays anti-cance and anto-inflamatory properties. In fact, the folic acid, vitamin C and anthocyanins in radish make it a very effective cancer-fighting food.
Eating radishes regularly keeps cholesterol levels in check, and the potassium in it keeps blood pressure low.
Your Cold Weather Friend
Radish is fabulous for winter months as it naturally decreases the congestion of the respiratory system, cuts the irritation of the nose, throat and windpipe, and decongests the lungs — symptoms that accompany frequent colds, infections, allergies and other causes common during these months.
So, a mooli parantha or a radish salad, when in season, is undoubtedly a no-brainer to keep winter ailments in check.
Eat the Leaves too
Why radish leaves, you ask? That’s because the leaves are even more nutrient-dense than the radish. They deliver lots of iron, which helps cut fatigue, prevent anaemia and boost the haemoglobin level. They are a good source of vitamin C (as much as six times more per serving than the radish itself), which boosts immunity big time and delivers some vitamin A, thiamine (vitamin B1), pyridoxin (vitamin B6), folic acid (vitamin B9), calcium and the hard-to-find phosphorous. In fact, the high level of potassium, iron, vitamin C and dietary fabric found in radish greens help strengthen the heart and keep our cholesterol levels sorted.
Radish greens display an impressive antioxidant capacity too, ranking right up there with other big shots like broccoli and kale. This means they can help fight against oxidative stress and chronic diseases in the body. They, in fact, have some unique antioxidants called sulforaphane indoles and anthocyanins, which are known for their cancer-prevention abilities. Having enough antioxidants in the diet is actually great news for our skin too, as they help the skin to stay young and also reduce the appearance of blemishes and scars.
The best news though is that radish leaves are a natural diuretic — perfect for those who suffer from water retention and feel bloated all the time. The vitamin B6 in them even helps dissolve kidney stones and improves liver function.
These leaves also demonstrate strong laxative properties as they stimulate peristaltic motion and prevent a number of gastrointestinal problems. Thus, they naturally help ease constipation and a bloated stomach, and keep our gut smiling by improving its nutrient-absorption efficiency.
The Rad Root
The radish is high in fibre (100 gm radish gives a whopping 4 gm fibre), so it helps you feel-and-stay full for longer. This will help you keep a check on your cravings between meals and curb over-eating. It is high in fibre and has a low glycemic index, so it’s a fabulous food for diabetics too and helps keep blood sugar level under control.
Easy Tips to Eat Radishes
Make one radish part of your salad every day. In fact, if you need some crunch in your salads but want to keep it healthy, add radishes instead of croutons. Cook mooli subzi, or use radishes to make sambar and chutney like they do in the southern part of our country. You can even pickle and eat them with your regular meals, or roast them with garlic and add to pastas, sandwiches and salads.
Try this salad: In a salad bowl, combine sliced radishes and cucumbers, and chopped green onions. To make the dressing, whisk together equal parts yoghurt, sour cream, chopped garlic, a little bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl. Add the dressing to the salad; mix well, chill and enjoy.
Also never throw the leaves — cook them with some radish (or carrot) pieces in mustard oil with just salt, asafoetida, carom seeds, ginger and green chillies. You can also add them to salads, sandwiches and dals. You can even make a side dish by just wilting them and adding some butter and lemon juice, or mix them up with potatoes and onions and make a nice soup.
Or try a radish green pesto (my favourite): Mix some radish leaves with freshly grated parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, almonds and walnuts (or sunflower seeds). Spread over a cracker or a toast and have it.
The peppery, earthy taste of radish and its leaves takes a little getting used to, but it’s totally worth the benefits.
At a Glance
The benefits of eating radish include:
Acting as a natural detox
Keeping your blood pressure tamed
Easing constipation and a bloated stomach
Reducing blemishes and scars
Preventing winter congestion
Fun Fact: Radish was so highly regarded in ancient Greece that its gold replicas were presented to their god, Apollo!
Excerpted with permission from Fix it with Food by Kavita Devgan, Rupa, Rs 295