7 Healthy Snacks
A recent discussion with Nupur (better known as “furrr furrr” to certain IMBBians) over the comments section brought the Pakoraaaa-Pakoraaaa fat kid from “Bombay To Goa” in mind. If I can relate to a fictional character, it would be him. Of course, there are several other characters who I can relate to (Spaceman Spiff aka Calvin for one), but in the context of this post, the Pakoraaa-Pakoraaa kid is our ideal guy, that’s me :dance: . Yes, minus all the flab and the mad obsession for Pakora, I’m just as greedy as him when it comes to food.
I can eat unhealthy food any time, any place and I don’t ever feel guilty about it because it does not really show too much on my body. I partly blame it on my fascist dad’s habit of plonking me on a tall kitchen stool and force feeding me carrots, peas and other scary food that still give me nightmares. My body is making up for all the childhood time that could have been spent guzzling down coke and stuffing my face with pizza.
For the past few years, I’ve eaten enough junk food to make me eligible for an American citizenship. Then, last year, I had an epiphany which made me resolve that I would cut down on my 1 o’ clock cheeseburgers or grilled sandwiches and have a plain sandwich or an apple instead. That is because I have a World History lecture at 1:15 pm and although the wonderful teacher is far from Professor Binns of the History of Magic fame, I used to spend half the lecture trying to keep my eyes open and the other half devising methods on how to smuggle coffee into class (hot coffee in thermos? cold coffee in bottle? get powdered coffee and snort it like cocaine? :secret2: ).
Anyhoo, the switch to healthy snacks was not easy. I may or may not have wailed for the loss of my beloved pizza slices at 11 am. I may or may not have been seen drooling around at the food corner of the college staring hungrily at cheeseburgers. I may or may not have gaped for an impolite amount of time at a girl stuffing her face with a large cheese and mushroom roll. This post is not about that. This post is about my battle against the torpor-inducing 24/7 unhealthy snacking that I was addicted to. This post is about my recovery and post-rehab status. This post is also a shout to fellow addicts. Don’t worry. I shall not yelp “No no no no no!” like Bipasha Basu and throw a bottle of blah-tasting Real Juice at you each time you reach for a pack of biscuits. I am here only to help you fight whatever your “pakoraaaa” might be.
I know that it is very hard to give up on unhealthy snacks, especially if the healthy alternatives are just about as tasty as a tuft of grass. That is why I chose alternatives which are like fairy tale princesses – good both from the outside (taste) and inside (health benefits).
Here is a list of the weapons in my arsenal that I employed to fight the “Ab-Kya-Khaaoon Syndrome.”
1) Fruit Chaat:
In this food-themed Star Wars where we battle against unhealthy junk, fruit chaat is our light sabre. Grab some seasonal fruit and chop them into pretty little pieces while yelling “Hai-yaah!”. (The Hai-yaah bit is optional, by the way and only for those days when you feel particularly vicious). Then, sprinkle some rock salt and pepper on it and gobble it down. I will not make tall claims that it will be as satisfactory as stuffing down a bowl full of cheesy nachos, but I guarantee you that it will not make you feel like a desperate zombie by late afternoon and of course, you’re all smart girls. You know what fruit does to the skin. 😀
If you are on the go, just carry an apple, orange, guava or a bunch of grapes along instead of ordering a hamburger or garlic bread or something similarly sinister.
I have been a Harry Potter fan since I was 12. (I actually bemoaned the fact that I was a year too late to get the Hogwarts letter). When I first saw my dad munching on some crazy-looking lentils that looked like they had spotted horns, I asked him what on earth was he doing and why. He told me that it was called “sprouts” and I remember grinning and clapping my hands in glee and screeching, “Green stuff and named after a Herbology Professor!” He didn’t get the excitement (my parents are un-cool that way), but I’ve always liked Professor Sprout(s) ever since. It was only last year that I began to eat them regularly though. They are among the best wonder foods ever. Clever nerds claim that they have minerals, protein, vitamin and lots of antioxidants. They also have enzymes which help in faster digestion and save your body from the usual lethargy that may occur if your intestines form a workers’ union and go on a strike for the rights of the digestive system proletariat. Sprouts get easily processed by the body and hence, will decrease the chances of you bloating up like Dolly Bindra.
I generally eat them in the morning by adding fresh tomatoes, cilantro, boiled potatoes and boiled eggs, and sprinkling them with salt, pepper and some chilly. They do not taste so “blah” then. You may skip the potatoes if you want. I put them in because I follow a religion which states that EVERYTHING tastes better with potatoes. Strict vegetarians are free to shun the egg too.
There are sprouters available in places like Big Bazaar and you do not need much effort to get the lentils to sprout. I generally use black chana and “green daal.” If anyone knows what it is called, please mention it in the comments section. You are not allowed to laugh at me for this. If you do, Professor Sprout will come and set Devil’s Snare on you.
3) Whole Wheat Sandwich:
Whole wheat bread is easily available and trumps white bread any day. When wheat is refined or milled, it loses most of its absolutely wonderful vitamins (like B1, B2, B3, E) and other nutrients such as iron, magnesium and zinc. Hence, white bread is essentially a baked piece of unhealthy junk. Whole wheat bread, on the other hand, is the real thing. It is bread baked from whole grain wheat and hence retains most of its healthy nutrients. Its health benefits range from cancer prevention to protection against diabetes, heart disease, and free radical damage to the structure of our cells. In simple terms, it’s the Superman of staple foods.
We never get white bread at home and I have only eaten it outside in the form of heart-attack-on-paper-plate kind of grilled sandwiches with three tons of extra cheese. In the evenings, I get hunger pangs when it’s too early for soup or dinner and too late for tea snacks. My mother generally confiscates my bag of chips and practically tells me to either drink a glass of milk or die of starvation. Also, she threatens me to get an x-ray of my stomach done to check if I have Pacman in it, what is a poor hungry tummy to do? The poor hungry tummy then coaxes the brain to invent something and the brain did. Whole wheat cucumber sandwich is a perfect in-between snack. I generally apply mayonnaise or peanut butter on the slices too and then wait patiently for dinner. For winter, when cucumbers are not so easily available, you can make a tomato and lettuce sandwich instead. Not too compromising on the taste buds and much better than that 6:30 pm packet of Kurkure.
I recently had an epiphany. Sometimes, we eat just because our stomach is sending us a signal. We are so preoccupied with the office cooler gossip about the new girl or discussion over shows like Saas Bina Sasural that we simply order a big hamburger and think our stomach will shut up. It does and it also makes you feel like sprawling on the floor like a lazy cat and dream about rats. I have realised that we do not HAVE to eat each time there is a Morse code message from the tummy. Sometimes, it just needs something lighter, like a glass of healthy juice. Whenever I feel like my tummy needs me, I look at the time. If it’s just about noon and only an hour since I had coffee and sandwiches, I head for a glass of orange juice and it usually satisfies my pangs. It’s much healthier than the pizza slice or the packet of chips that I’d have eaten had I been a little stupid. I hardly need to mention the benefits of juice. Choose the kind you like – orange, apple, grape, aloe vera, bitter gourd, pumpkin, anything. Everything is fine as long as it prevents you from shouting “Pakoraaa!” and attacking the nearest eatery.
5) Salad Olivier:
Better known as “Russian Salad,” this is my second love after coffee. If I ever get married, my husband will have to accept Russian salad as his rival. There is no other healthy snack that I would eat if I can get this. It’s healthy, easy to make and super tasty. I generally make it every couple of days and then put an “Access Restricted” sign (I have a greedy family) on it before placing it in the fridge for consumption over the next 3-4 days. Full of nutritious stuff such as boiled egg, boiled vegetables like carrots, peas, potatoes (they ARE healthy, judge sahib!) and fresh ones like onions and cucumbers, it one of the most wholesome foods that tastes equally good. You can easily get vegetarian mayonnaise from the market if you have qualms about the regular one and skip the egg too. Sprinkle it with cilantro, salt, chilly and pepper and add some mustard sauce if you like. It is so good that the paranoid part of you will suspect it to have a hidden unhealthy factor. 😛 Also, it needs to be hidden from the family because they WILL eat it all and grin at you if you whine. You have been warned.
My Nani’s street corner used to have this corn vendor who would sell boiled corn cooked in sand. I have no idea how it works but that was the best corn that I have ever eaten in my life. It also began my obsession with corn which continues to this day. After shunning my usual dose of junk snacks, I decided that boiled corn would be a good alternative. It is an excellent health food which contains a high amount of protein, dietary fibre, B-vitamins, vitamin A and potassium. Boiled corn is easily available at food joints and if you are at home, you can simply boil it yourself (takes about 20 minutes in a pressure cooker) and sprinkle it with salt and pepper before eating.
7) Dark Chocolate:
This is the mother of all healthy snacks. It is super delicious, irresistible and has a multitude of health benefits. Unlike the sugar-loaded regular chocolate, dark chocolate is healthy. It is loaded with antioxidants and helps beat the blues (that you may get from shunning junk food). It is excellent for the heart and regularises the blood pressure. For detailed information, see this brilliant post.
I hope that you will try to replace at least SOME of your daily unhealthy foods by these substitutes. For me, it has made a whole lot of difference. I do not feel like a turgid slug during my afternoon lectures and do not just sit there making plans of painting my eyelids to resemble cornea so that the teacher wouldn’t know if I went off to sleep. It has also made me a little more active during the evenings. Best of all, I am about 80% sure that I will NOT die of heart attack by the time I am 40, (I may be murdered for my smugness by jealous people though. Hmph. :smug: )
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