Healthy meals are unfairly associated with hard work, boring, tasteless stuff !
Fruits : These should be eaten raw. At any age our body is able to absorb the nutrients from these natural power packed foods. They can be added to salads, in a wide variety of combinations, thereby enhance the nutritional value of the dish. Citrus fruits loose their sourness when a pinch of salt & pepper is sprinkled on them. Apples & guava become interesting when salt, chili powder & lemon juice is mixed into them.Raw avocado becomes a delicious spread with a little imagination !
Vegetables: Seniors can derive the nutrients only from cooked vegetables. There is a standard way of cooking vegetables in Indian cuisine. Ingredients: 1 cup of clean, finely chopped vegetable, 1 tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, few grains of black mustard seeds, few grains of fenugreek seeds, 1/4 onion chopped, 1 green chili chopped, 2 pods of garlic chopped, 5 curry leaves, some coriander & mint leaves chopped, mixture made with 1/2 tomato chopped, 1/8 tsp turmeric, pinch of pepper, 1/2 tsp coriander powder & 2 tbsp water. Salt to taste.
Method: In hot oil add cumin, mustard, & fenugreek seeds, when these crackle, add onion, chili, garlic, & curry leaves. Fry for a minute then add the mixture made with tomato & all the last few ingredients. The important point to remember is to keep a lid ready to cover the pan when you put the liquid mixture in the hot oil. This will keep the flavor of the spices in the pan & in the vegetable you put in next. Cook for 5 minutes & garnish with coriander & mint leaves. Every vegetable has a unique taste & flavor. Although the method is the same, taste will differ. Spinach must be cooked with any dairy product (curds, cheese etc) to derive maximum absorption of the iron in it. Tomato & lemon also enhances its nutritive value.
Soups: A quick & easy way to stay healthy,& satisfied. Again there is lots of room to be creative & add variety to the meal. The pressure cooker comes in handy where by you can throw in a bunch of items of your choice, like carrots, potatoes, leeks, celery , beans, peas, onion, corn, cook, with chicken/turkey stock, add a few choice herbs/spices & it is done ! Feet of goat, chicken or cow are very rich in gelatin. It must be cut into very small pieces by the butcher & cooked in a pressure cooker with corn or barley & lots of onion, garlic, ginger & whole spices (garam masala). After cooking remove the surface fat into a cup & freeze it. Next day discard the frozen layer of fat & put the gelatin back into soup. Garnish & enjoy. This is excellent for strengthening bones, joints & ligaments.
Meats: I strongly recommend marinating all meats before cooking, perhaps even before freezing it to cook another day ! For 1 lb meat: Wash, clean, remove all visible fat, add 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste (this reduces the acidity in the meats), 1/8 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp ‘garam masala’— that is, pepper, cinnamon, big black cardamom, & cloves, all ground together, any 1 sour ingredient like curds, tomato, lemon, tamarind, soy sauce (these with turmeric act as natural preservatives) & salt. Marinade helps the salt & spices penetrate into the meat, tenderizes it, enhances the flavor, & preserves it from deteriorating if there is a delay in cooking after it is thawed & cooks faster !
Ingredients: 1 full chicken, (marinated with 1/2 cup curds/yogurt, 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste, 1/8 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp salt.), 4 chopped tomatoes, 3 large potatoes, 6 finely chopped onions, 1/2 cup oil, 2 red bell peppers, 1 tsp red hot chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 cup ground almonds, handful of mint & coriander leaves, oil to deep fry potatoes, & salt to taste. Rice: 3 cups Basmati rice, 1 stick of cinnamon, 8 cloves, 8 peppercorns, 2 large black cardamon, in 1/4 cup milk add 1 pinch of saffron & a pinch of yellow food color. Method: Cut & marinate chicken. Keep aside. Cut & fry potatoes with a dash of salt & turmeric till cooked. Keep aside. Fry onions golden brown. Put all the dry spices, red chili, turmeric & cumin powders, almonds, with the finely chopped tomatoes & bell peppers. Now put this into the hot frying onions & oil & quickly cover with lid to retain flavor. Stir till the “masala”seems to fry. Add in all the chicken pieces with marinade. Cook for 20 minutes till dry. Mix in the potatoes. The chicken must seem to have absorbed all the gravy. In a large pan boil water to cook rice that has been soaked for 15 minutes. Add 3 tbsp salt. When almost cooked drain all the water & put all the rice on top of the chicken. In warm milk add saffron & yellow color. Add this to the rice along with fried whole spices. Garnish with chopped coriander & mint leaves. Cover with tight fitting lid & let it be on very low heat for 20 minutes. Serve hot !