We often hear our Grandparents and elders complaint, food no more tastes the same these days! The Methi/Fenugreek has lost its much desired smell and pleasant bitterness, the cauliflower has lost its flavour and the roti’s and whole grain “bhakri’s” or rotla’s just lack the fresh smoky appetising aroma as it used to be! The remarks make most of our fast food fed, pizza loving generation wondering, “How and why does it matter?” We still can make our cauliflowers and capsicums tasty with cheese and seasonings! What our elders miss is the base taste of vegetables. .the peculiar flavour of each vegetable, the aroma it released when they were fried, boiled or curried! What more? High in nutrient value, the vegetables and grains imparted lifelong health and longevity! That is something that our parents may have some faint memories of, but we have completely missed out! It’s the modern farming methods, that were once popular for producing bumper crops and vegetables, and double sized (genetically modified)cauliflowers and vegetables , that seemed to have taken a toll on the flavour and nutrient value of the farm produce apart from creating ecological imbalance. Our ancestors practiced traditional methods of farming (that we now tag “Organic”) However, with our growing population and economic independence, we switched to the then Western methods using synthetic fertilizers to boost the output. Decades later, we are realising our mistake and slowly migrating back to the traditional methods of agriculture, that our ancestors begun with. Substituting natural pesticides for synthetic ones, manure or compost for artificial fertilizers and ruling out all the artificial measures taken to modify the produce, and maintaining ecological balance are some of the key features of organic farming. However, the output using these methods might not suffice to feed the multiplying population and the booming restaurant industry. Besides, Organic farming needs more efforts and manpower; hence the products are precious and command a premium price. The best option is to maintain a balance of both. Eating fresh seasonal produce, opting for traditional substitutes (jaggery for sugar, whole wheat grains in breads),following Ayurveda principles(early to bed early to rise, yoga, warm water post meals, fresh natural juices like Aloe vera,Jamun for natural health, Prunes as natural laxatives, Dates instead of Iron supplements) can get us back some of the health and longevity that our ancestors so much enjoyed.
A modern urban Indian from emerging India is now battling lifestyle diseases owing to stressed life, busy routines, faulty eating habits and a diet lacking basic nutrients. With disposable income at hand, we now crave good health, at any cost! But change does not happen overnight. Minor lifestyle changes can make miracles happen. But Health Food has got a long way to go, here in India! Whereas it might be considered a fad (a concept of western import), with many businesses desperate to cash on them, there are some entrepreneurs who take their business very seriously. Browntree stores are amongst the few who are committed in delivering health in “Freshness and Goodness” of their products to their customers. Founded in July 2009, the enterprising duo, Dinesh Kumar and Abhinandan B., are set on a mission to provide healthy alternatives for modern urban Indians! With 11 stores in Chennai and 4 in Bangalore, they wish to expand in every major city in India. With a motive to deliver health to the rest of India, they now launch their fully functional e-commerce web portal Browntree.in. The online store has a selection of Dry Fruits, Nuts and Traditional Indian Spices, apart from Instant foods, pastas and noodles. The niche offerings include an array of health food options, be it Organic ingredients( Atta, honey etc.), Cereals, sugar free biscuits ,roasted snacks ,or their in house labelled products which include Aloe vera juice,Amla powder/juice,Jamun juice,Teas to name a few. Their premium product offering include fine branded chocolates, teas, coffees and assorted nut gift boxes. Its overwhelming to see flaxseeds, soy powder, diabetic Atta and all organic grocery offered under one roof! The pricing seems affordable especially after experiencing overpriced products with limited variety tagged organic foods, and health snacks at departmental stores. After all, it’s easier to trust a retailer specialising in the segment, a health food store that is sensitive about sourcing their ingredients, processing and packaging and a brand committed to providing food that is natural, wholesome and fresh!
We decided to share some of own traditional healthy recipes, that are made using at home ingredients
There’s nothing better than to start the day with Aloe vera juice. Coupled with fresh lime and ginger juice, the concoction makes for a refreshing drink, especially after the morning jogs!
Jamun Juice is a magical drink for diabetics. It’s also advised to consume Jamun fruit or juice when suffering from dysentery and diahorrea. Rich in nutrients, this fruit is a good source of calcium, potassium,iron,vitamin A and C.
A Jamun or Jawa Plum tastes best when had fresh and ripe. Its used in making a very popular Indian drink or Sherbert, the Kala Khatta!(we remember it more of a Gola or ice candy topping Syrup) My Grandmother used to make this juice for us when we were young, and looking at our stained tongues,we used to play vampire games.
Kala Khatta Sherbet/Juice:
Mix 1 Cup Jamun Juice with juice of half a lime, ½ tsp each of Black salt , black pepper and cumin powder, and Sugar or sugar substitute to taste.
Served over a chaat masala rimmed glass with ice , this drink is loved by adults and children alike!
Mid-morning snack or an energy bar is a good option, especially if you are a frequent breakfast skipper like me! This Healthy Nut and Prune Chikki comes handy. It makes for a healthy snack option for kids as well! Jaggery and sesame seeds used in the recipe make it nutritious and impart heat, especially during chilly winters.
Nut and Prune Chikki:
Heat 1 tbsp Ghee in a pan, Add 1/2 Cup grated Jaggery( The dark one, without sodium) and stir till the jaggery melts. Drop a ball of this in cold water. If it solidifies and gets hard, your jaggery is ready. Turn off heat and add a pinch of cardamom powder if desired. OR you can drop some vanilla essence for a more western taste.
Add the nut mixture to the jaggery and mix. Turn over a greased surface and flatten using base of a flat steel bowl. Cut them when warm and let cool. Break them at the cuts and store in an airtight jar.
Healthy lifestyle needs a healthy thinking. And that needs efforts, be it taming your mind to keep off unhealthy foods, or gathering the willpower for morning exercises. Similarly it takes efforts and practice and some creativity to include health in your daily diet. It might not be a good idea to completely rely on readymade packed Health Food..What’s important is to strike a balance between store bought health food and some fresh produce from your local market! So the next time you open your health snack pack, try blending it with a crunch of fresh cucumber and carrots and zing it up with a dash of fresh lime!