Eighteen-year-olds may know very little about a balanced diet and may care even less. And yet, it’s quite crucial for them to know their way around the kitchen, especially if they’re planning to go overseas to pursue their degrees.
“Students and parents are often unaware of unhealthy food choices or preferences that are available overseas. So it’s important that they have a wider knowledge of food and nutrition to help them make healthy choices,” said nutritionist Mayanka Singhal, during her recent interactive workshop titled ‘Healthy Eating, Diet and Easy Recipes’, which shed light on healthy food patterns.
The workshop attempted to equip young adults with a better understanding of nutrition and help them inculcate a balanced food regime, so they don’t have to resort to canned goods or processed food when they are away from home.
Mayanka Singhal (left) in conversation with counsellor Payal ChitlangiaSoumyajit Dey
The 60-minute workshop held on July 19, in association with the Park Street gastropub OCTA, was moderated by Kolkata-based academic counsellor Payal Chitlangia.
“OCTA is known for its healthy offerings, so we were more than happy to host this workshop. Unhealthy eating is something that could become an issue for young people, so it’s good that awareness is being created around the subject,” said Abhishek Kajaria, owner of OCTA. Excerpts from the workshop…
Wok the talk
Payal Chitlangia: What should students eat as a post-dinner snack? It’s usually a slice of pizza! Is that a big no-no?
Mayanka Singhal: Whenever you’re in doubt about what to eat, look at the palm of your hand. The middle finger represents cereals, it’s the longest and that’s what you need the most. The two fingers on either side represent vegetables and proteins so add a good chunk of those into your diet and the shortest two fingers are your fats and sugars, keep those to a minimum. You’ll crave desserts, so you can never go without sugar but try your best to minimise it.
Raw Papaya salad at OctaSoumyajit Dey
When you want to eat a post-dinner snack, I would say no to pizza but there are a lot of delicious substitutes — a big bowl of fruits, hummus with salad sticks and any kind of nut butter spread on sourdough bread. If you choose to add Nutella to your bread then make sure to load it with fruits so you maintain the balance.
This sounds yummy to me. But as my son says ‘Your tastebuds die when you grow old!’ So what is something healthy that children would find tasty as well?
The word ‘tasty’ is subjective. Something that is appealing to one child may not be as appealing to another and vice versa. But as long as children maintain their food groups and portions of each food group, their diet will be healthy. So they should feel free to eat whatever they find tasty, as long as they are mindful of the portions. (Remember to look at your palm!)
Students often skip breakfast because of packed schedules. What can be a quick, hassle-free breakfast?
I would recommend a protein-rich breakfast. Choose two food groups, if possible, and make it a protein packed meal. It can be cereal with milk along with eggs or oats. If you have access to a blender, a smoothie is a very easy option — pop in fresh fruits along with some nuts and your breakfast is ready. For those who like bread, I would suggest sticking to sourdough. You can top this with nut butter and eat it along with a glass of milk. Remember to always keep protein powders, and an assortment of nuts and seeds on hand — these are rich in protein and can serve as a quick, healthy breakfast.
The 20-member audience was a mix of both students and parentsSoumyajit Dey
Indians usually lean towards packaged food when abroad. Is it advisable?
Whenever you eat anything that is packaged, read the ingredients at the back. If you read something complicated or something that you can’t pronounce, don’t eat it. Make sure you’re well-versed with everything that goes into your system. Dehydrated foods are a safer option than packaged foods. They’re homemade so there are never any added preservatives or chemicals — which can be very harmful.
Chef Ritabrata Biswas demonstrates some one-pot recipesSoumyajit Dey
What are a few ‘danger words’ to look out for on labels?
Anything that says ‘gluten-free’ or ‘sugar-free’! When a packaged item claims to be free of one item such as sugar or gluten it’s almost always substituted with something else that is equally harmful, like taste enhancers. So check the labels and see what the product is made of. Everything on the ingredient list should be healthy.
The workshop came to a close with chef Ritabrata Biswas demonstrating a few healthy, easy-to-cook, one-pot meals for students. “As long as you add good ingredients to your meals, they’ll always be healthy!” remarked Biswas, who’s a graduate of NIPS Hotel Management, Kolkata. Here are the recipes…
Rajma Bowl (with avocado and pickled cucumber)
For pickled cucumber
- Vinegar: 50ml
- Water: 200ml
- Red chilli fresh: 4pcs
- Sugar: 20gm
- Cucumber slice: 200gm
- Mix all the ingredients above except cucumber, and keep aside for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes add slices of cucumber and keep it in a chiller.
For steamed rice
Rice: 100 gm
Kaffir lime leaf: 3 pcs
- Par boil the rice and put it in a rice steamer with kaffir lime leaf for the aroma.
For the rajma
Boiled kidney beans: 100gm
Ginger garlic paste: 15gm
Homemade tomato puree: 100gm
Coriander powder: 3gm
Cumin powder: 5gm
Kashmiri chili powder: 2gm
Chopped coriander: 7gm
Chopped green chilli: 4gm
- In a frying pan add little clarified butter, warm it up, then add ginger garlic paste. Sautee for a few minutes, now add the powdered masalas and stir well with a splash of water.
- After another five minutes add tomato puree and cook till the raw smell of tomato goes away, then add Rajma into the gravy, followed by green chilli, coriander chop and lemon juice, add salt as per your taste.
- In a bowl on one side place rajma and rice on the other side, with some cubes of avocado, and pickled cucumber.
Raw Papaya Salad
- Raw papaya: 3 cups, grated long
- Coriander leaves: Small bunch, freshly chopped
- Red chillies: 1 sliced, seeds removed and finely chopped
- Green Chilli: 1 sliced, seeds removed, finely chopped
- Sprouts - 30gm
- Lemons: 2, juiced
- Salt to taste
- Peel the green skin off the raw papaya, then slice it in half. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Use the largest grater you have or a food processor and grate the papaya. Place it in a large bowl.
- Stir in the remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle the dressing over the salad mixture and toss well to combine.
- Adjust the sweetness, lemon and chillies to suit your taste and serve immediately to retain its freshness and nutrition.
- Chicken: 200gm
- Dijon mustard: 7gm
- Olive oil: 1tsp
- Crushed pepper: 2gm
- Carrot: 30gm
- Beans: 20gm
- Mushroom: 40gm
- Broccoli: 40gm
- Salt as per taste
- Marinate the chicken piece with dijon mustard, olive oil, crushed pepper and salt. Keep it aside for 15 minutes.
- In a saucepan boil water and blanch vegetables.
- Take a nonstick grill pan, drizzle some olive oil, put the chicken into that pan and cook for 7 minutes, after 7 minutes turn the chicken, splash some water and cover until it gets cooked properly.
- Saute vegetables with some crushed pepper and finely chopped garlic.
- On a plate place the cooked chicken along with sauteed vegetables and mushrooms and serve.