Stack up your pantry with spices and stay slim and healthy

Who doesn’t want to be slim and healthy? We are forever looking out for ways to shed that extra fat, by exercise, pills or a ‘perfect’ diet for weight loss. We follow certain diets, skip meals, eat less and many more ways to get in perfect shape. But then there are so many side effects of these diets.

There is no need to do all this, instead just go through the food and spices stored in your kitchen pantry. You have your slimming aids right there. Never skip a meal and have healthy eating habits.

Foods and spices that help to stay slim and healthy

Cinnamon

It is one of the most efficient natural food item which helps to loose weight. It is an anti-oxidant, reduces inflammation and also lessens oxidative stress. Stress produces ‘cortisol’ in the body which leads to weight gain. Consuming cinnamon regularly reduces stress, so cortisol is reduced in the body and there is weight loss.
Cinnamon increases the rate of metabolism, which leads to burning more calories as well as the extra fat from the body. It helps to break down carbohydrates and reduce the LDL levels of cholesterol.

Turmeric

Turmeric is used in almost all dishes in India. Curcumin, a component in turmeric, reduces weight gain, accumulation of fat is reduced, metabolic rate increases and you lose weight. It burns fat and the increase in fat tissue is reduced.

Chilli Peppers

Capsaicin found in chilli pepper suppresses appetite. If you add chillies to your breakfast you tend to eat less for lunch. Dihydrocapsiate   a compound found in hot peppers increases the capability of the body to burn fat. It increases body temperature, boosts metabolism and perks up digestion.

Ginger

Fresh or in powder form, ginger is known to help decrease your appetite. It increases metabolic rate so the process of burning calories also increases. It is also called a thermogenic food.

Cardamom

It is a thermogenic herb. The spice helps to lower the blood sugar, regulate insulin and lowers the level of LDL cholesterol. It improves digestive system and prevents the formation of gas in the stomach, so your stomach doesn’t bloat up. It increases the rate of metabolism and helps to burn fat in the body.

Cloves

Cloves speed up the metabolic rate and help to burn more calories and in turn burn body fat. It reduces sugar levels in the body and regulates the insulin in the body.

Mustard

Mustard contains isothiocyanates, a chemical that dilates blood vessels and increases the levels of ‘ephedrine’, the fat burning hormone. As more fat is burnt, it results in weight loss. Due to its thermogenic property more calories are burnt during digestion.

Black Pepper

Piperine, the substance that gives it the peppery flavor, is thermogenic and helps to burn more calories. It also aids the body to absorb nutrients more proficiently.

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Conclusion

These spices and herbs are commonly used in Indian cuisine but we are not aware of their properties. Now make proper use of these spices for more health benefits. When spices are used as a blend a potent weight loss mixture is created.

Flavours of East India gourmet with Indian spices

India is a country with diverse cultures and different food habits. Due to the variation in climate, the vegetables, fruits, meat and spices available locally also vary.

Indian cuisine has been influenced greatly by historical events like invasions by foreigners and trade with other countries. This has led to a range of flavours in the cuisine of different regions. Mughals, Britishers and Portuguese have all influenced the Indian cuisine.

Cuisine of East India

The cuisine of East India is greatly influenced by the geographical location of the region and the culture. A lot of rice is grown in this region and green vegetables and fruits are also found in abundance. Due to its geographical location the food is influenced to a great extent by Chinese and Mongolian cuisine.

The food here is simple and it is mostly steamed and fried. In the coastal regions fish is a popular food. People here are very fond of sweets, Bengal is known for its sweets like ‘Roshogolla’, ‘Cham-Cham’, ‘Sandesh’ and ‘Kheer’. Their food is rich, spicy and sweet as well. Some of the popular dishes are ‘machcher jhol, jhaal-muri and tomato achar’. In Sikkim momos and thukpa are popular dishes.

People eat a great deal of rice, rice based dishes, meat and fish. Popular spices used are cumin, onion seeds, mustard, fennel and fenugreek. Coconut, yoghurt, maize and gram flour, milk and milk products are commonly used.

The different spices used in the food in East India, spice up the cuisine and add flavor to the gourmet.

Mustard seeds and paste

The seeds when used for tempering food leave a warm, crunchy taste and have no smell. When crushed into a paste and used in a dish it gives off a pungent smell. The seeds are rich in omega -3 fatty acids and help in digestion of the food. Mustard oil is used for deep frying and cooking food in Eastern states of  India.

Chillies

Red chilli peppers are used in dishes to spice up the food. The bland flavor of the staple foods is enhanced and it also adds colour to food. These are used as whole, as flakes or as powder. They are rich in vitamin A, C, iron and potassium. They enhance the immune system of the body.

Cumin seeds

It adds a nutty, peppery and a little citrus flavor to the food. These are rich in iron, manganese and are known as a cooling spice. They aid in digestion and remove toxins from the body.

Onion seeds

It is a very popular spice in Bengali food and is part of the ‘panchphoron’ the five spice mixture used in Bengal cuisine.

Fennel seeds

All parts of this herb are edible, the seeds have a sweet flavor and when added to a curry it imparts warm and sweet taste to the dish. It is rich in minerals and fibre.

Fenugreek

The plant has a very strong aroma. The seeds are used for adding flavor to meat dishes.

Turmeric

An underground rhizome, it has a warm, peppery and bitter flavor with mild fragrance. Used in powder form in almost all dishes, it adds a beautiful, appetizing colour to the dish.

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Conclusion

The food of East India has distinctive taste which sets it apart from the food of other parts of India. They use less spices as fresh ingredients are easily available here and there is plenty of sea food in the coastal areas.

Tiny Mustard Seeds loaded with Health Benefits

Mustard plants grow in temperate regions in cold atmosphere. Different varieties of mustard are black mustard, brown Indian mustard and white mustard. Mustard seeds are referred to in the New Testaments, and in ancient Sanskrit scriptures. These were even used in olden Greece and Rome for its flavor and medicinal values.

All parts of the mustard plant, the stem, leaves and seeds are eaten in India. Black mustard seeds have the strongest taste and flavor, brown seeds are a little less pungent as compared to black seeds while the white ( light yellow) are the mildest ones.

Culinary uses of Mustard

The seeds are used for making pickles.

These are added to hot oil before cooking a dish for ‘tempering’, this brings out the sweeter side of the seeds.

They are used as salad dressing, in vegetables and dishes.

The taste of meat, fish etc. is enhanced by adding mustard seeds.

It is used for making mayonnaise, marinades, and barbecue sauce.

It is combined with vinegar or olive oil to make salad dressing.

Use Mustard seeds and stay Healthy

The seeds are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, manganese, zinc, iron, copper, proteins, and fibre which help to improve the immunity of the body.

Mustard seeds contain B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folates, thiamine, and riboflavin which increase the metabolic rate of the body so they are good for digestion and also help you to loose weight.

Black mustard seeds when taken with milk 15 to 20 minutes before food improve the appetite.

The seeds are rich in magnesium which help to reduce the severity of asthma attacks, lowers blood pressure, and keeps cold and chest infection away. Selenium present in the seeds has anti inflammatory and heat producing properties.

A paste made from mustard seeds and applied on the body can relieve you from the pain caused by rheumatoid, arthritis and muscular pain.

As mustard seeds are rich in carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthins, vitamins A, C, and K, so it is a good source of anti oxidants which slow down the process of ageing.

Mustard oil kindles hair growth as it contains high percentage of beta carotene. When oil is extracted from the seeds beta carotene is changed into vitamin A, which is very good for hair growth. An oil message, once a week, relieves stress, reduces dandruff and encourages hair growth.

Mustard has good amount of niacin (vitamin B3) which helps to reduce the level of cholesterol. It also regulates the flow of blood and prevents hypertension.

The seeds are rich in fibre and contain a substance known as mucilage which helps to relieve constipation. They stimulate the production of saliva which in turn leads to improved digestion. One tea spoon of mustard seeds taken two to three times a day relieves constipation.

A rich source of sulphur, mustard seeds help to check skin infections and skin ailments. Sulphur has anti fungal and anti bacterial properties. Read more in detail for mustard seeds loaded with health benefits.

Conclusion

Mustard is used as seeds, oil, powder or as sauce to spice up the food. It not only adds flavor to your food but it has many medicinal properties as well. Make it a part of your daily food and improve your health.

Ragi the Natural Wonder and its Health Benefits

Widely grown in the arid regions of Asia and Africa, ragi or finger millet, is a monocot plant and can be grown during the whole year. It is a cereal crop and is widely grown in Karnataka and in Kumaon region of Himalayas. It is generally used in South India and also by the low income group of people.

The seeds are easy to store as they are not easily infested by insects and moulds. The plant is hardy and can grow even in areas with scanty rainfall or in drought conditions.

Food Preparations

A number of dishes are prepared with this wonder cereal.

Ragi flour – Ragi flour is used to make roti and dosa. It is also eaten in the form of ragi balls.
Ragi grain – The grains of ragi are malted and then ground. This flour is  mixed with boiled water, milk or curd and devoured.
Ragi kanji is a wonderful drink that cools the body and at the same time it gives strength to your body. Fermented ragi is used for making beer.

Include Ragi in your diet and get Health Benefits

Rich source of calcium

Ragi is a rich source of calcium needed for good bones. So when you include ragi in your diet you can do away with that calcium pill you take every day. For people suffering from milk allergies, ragi is a good supplement. It also contains phosphorus, minerals, thiamin, and riboflavin vitamins.

The dietary calcium provided by ragi prevents osteoporosis in women and help growing children as well.

Rich in Iron

It is a good source of iron, in fact the content of iron and calcium in ragi is higher than in milk. It is a good food for weaning children after the age of 6 months.

Essential amino acid –Methonine

Poor people who survive on starchy foods like rice, cassava etc. methonine is lacking in their diet. Ragi is a very rich source of this amino acid as well as other amino acids.

Weight loss

Ragi is very good for reducing weight. Substitute rice with balls of ragi and you will feel the difference soon. As it digests slowly it gives a feeling of fullness in the stomach. It contains the amino acid tryptophan which reduces your appetite so you eat less.

Rich in fibre

Ragi is a coarse grain rich in fibre. It prevents constipation and is a good laxative. Since its Glycemic index is low, it is very good for obese people and people suffering from diabetes. It takes a long time to digest so blood sugar remains under control.

Lowers cholesterol levels

As it is a good source of fibre, it helps to lower the level of cholesterol.

Antioxidants

Ragi is a good source of antioxidants. When seeds are soaked and sprouted the nutrient contents of vitamins, proteins, and minerals increases considerably.

Alternative to milk

Since ragi is rich in calcium and proteins it is a cheap alternative to milk.

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Conclusion

Ragi is a wonder cereal more nutritious than rice and wheat and is cheaper in cost. It can be given to people suffering from malnutrition. So many delicious dishes can be prepared with ragi so make it a part of your diet and get all the wonderful benefits of this natural wonder.