Today, on this world health day, I would like to talk about the super food “quinoa”. Diabetics being the prime most concern; over 30 million Indians have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is time for us to wake up and spend some time thinking about what we consume. That eat as you wish attitude is costing us our health and financially, hospital bills too.
This locally grown ingredient (Yes, locally grown, no more importing) is a super seed which can be consumed as a grain. The first project of growing quinoa was started by a farmer in India with the aid of our Government as a testing ground to see if this seed can be grown in a similar way as millets are commonly grown. The success of one farmer encouraged forty others to grow quinoa in the same region. This is a big change and this new revolution will not only help to provide farming with less water belts or drought laden area with a new crop, but will also encourage consumers to include it in their diet. This is a great news for Indian market, however the high price is still catering to the urban market. It is believed that as the demand rises and more and more farmers believe in the product there will be a huge change in the diet of several health affected Indians. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
Quinoa is a seed, the size of a millet. On cooking, it becomes translucent and the germ of the seed uncoils to form a little tail. Its leaves are not only fit for human consumption like any other green leafy vegetable but the excess of it can also be used as a fodder for cattle.
i2cook Quinoa is close to amaranth (millet) in terms of nutritional value. Here is the comparison between i2cook quinoa and amaranth seeds. However, it is difficult to use amaranth seeds in salads or pulav due to its sticky or non fluffy nature. i2cook Quinoa works great in salads and in pulav!
i2cook Quinoa can be cooked in a similar way as rice 1:2 ration, 1 cup of quinoa : 2 cups of water with a dash of rock salt in a pressure cooker (cook until one whistle) or in a pot, cook for 13 minutes. Quinoa from i2cook can also be sprouted to enjoy maximum anti oxidants.
i2cook Quinoa can be used as a substitute to your rice dishes or salads or in pretty much everything. I enjoy one bowl meal during summer and like to use quinoa as a base accompanied by lots and lots of vegetables. We recently made a burrito bowl for lunch and it made a nice wholesome and a lite meal. We served only 2 tbs of quinoa per person which was enough to take care of our daily nutrient in take.
i2cook Quinoa is grown without pesticide, non GMO and the main advantage of our quinoa is that you don’t have to rinse it many times as it does not contain any saponin which imparts a bitter taste if not rinsed several times.
Organic is a growing sector and a lot of consumers are slowing converting their kitchen to organic. Most of the stores in India store both organic and natural products and sometimes due to insufficient information on the label, the consumer is often confused.
The term “organic” and “natural” are widely used and a lot of consumers are not sure what it means. Let me explain to you the difference between the two.
‘Natural’ means that the product has undergone minimal processing and does not contain any preservatives or additives, but the term is not protected in any way and there is no certification. However, “all natural” term is loosely used and doesn’t have any legal definition. Natural products can also be genetically modified organisms (GMO).
Organic products are those made entirely from natural substances, which in turn have been grown eschewing the use of artificial chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides. According to WHO, organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conversation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. Simply put, organic produce is grown without the use of any pesticide, synthetic fertilizer, genetically modified organisms (GMO) or sewage sludge. Animal products like meat, poultry, eggs and diary products don’t take any antibiotics or growth hormones. Animal products like meat, poultry, eggs are also termed as free-range, where the animals have outside access and is not couped up in a cell.
In India, the term “organic” is not legally protected for use in retail, and organic produce can also be sold without certification. FSSAI is currently in the process of notification of organic rules for the domestic market.
The retail chain Fabindia developed a three-tier labeling system that distinguishes between so-called natural products, products from farms in conversion to organic and fully certified organic products. ICCOA, also followed similar labeling system for vegetables sourced from Karnataka. Navdanya, the NGO gives the ‘navdanya gurantee’ for organically grown products, the credibility of which is based on the reputation of the NGO rather than on third party certification.
Organic labeling can be further categorized into 3 categories:
100% organic: made with 100% organic ingredients
Organic: made with 95% organic ingredients
Made with organic ingredients: made with organic ingredients without any certification
Since organic sector is an unorganized one in India, a lot of times you will see unbranded or non-labelled packets at stores. This may be due to several reasons, repackaging by the store (who doesn’t follow any labeling norms due to small supply), small production/supply, seasonal product, applied for certification and is in transition, cannot afford certification etc.
In Bangalore, it is common to see a lot of organic stores organizing twice a week sale of organic fruits and vegetables. These are mostly not certified and are sourced from farms on the outskirts. Organic in India, is mostly promoted on the basis of trust and the intent of the producer/seller. Since, certification cost is too high most of the small producers prefer to sell their goods through small retail outlets.
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Reference: Organic food marketing in urban centres of India
Sugar industry in India is one of the largest industry after textiles. Manufacture of sugar involves a series of processing and can be a little complicated as compared to jaggery. Jaggery, on the other hand can be produced in small batches and has simple production. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu are the leading manufacturing states in India. Jaggery follows 3 steps:
- Juice extraction
- Filtration & Boiling
- Molding, Cooling & Packing
Sugar and jaggery contain mainly sucrose, expect jaggery contains traces of mineral salts, iron & fiber. Most of the jaggery comes from remote rural places and reach the market through agents. There is one industrial use of jaggery, and that is in the manufacturing of rum. Karnataka is the only state which is set to become the first in the country to produce high quality rum from jaggery. Three cheers for rum drinkers 😉
Most of the processing house follow their set of proportions and heating technique and may differ from one another. The photo log should give you a clear picture of the jaggery production.
Jaggery is available in gold or dark brown shade. Gold jaggery uses some amount of chemical to showcase an attractive colour. A lot of commercial jaggery producers believe that the gold colour is what attracts the consumers.
Note: All pictures belong to this blog. Please consult admin before using it for any purpose.
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Coconut sugar production is a very simple one as compared to most other sugars. There is absolutely no additives and it is prepared in the most sustainable way. I’ve been talking about this wonder sugar for some time and its benefits. I recently visited one of the farm which produces the best coconut sugar ever!
Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut tree. This sap is collected once or twice a day and comes from the stem that would normally feed a group of coconuts. Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem and bending it into a collection vessel, an earthen pot lined with limestone powder or chunna to avoid fermentation. The collected liquid in the collection vessel is poured into the boiling vessel which is done first thing in the morning. This is usually done early mornings when the weather is relatively cooler within a span of four hours. This neera or palm toddy is boiled to a desired runny and sticky consistency. This is poured into molds and dried before packing.
i2cook’s coconut sugar goes into further breaking down into powder form and is sun-dried. Coconut palm sugar and palm sugar are two different types of sugar. Please refer my blog post for further clarification on different types of sugar (with GI comparison). I use coconut sugar in my tea/coffee or in my banana bread amost every other day. I use this sugar to make some coconut sugar cookies too!
A lot of you may be concerned about the sap being used only in sugar production and wondering about growing coconuts… To clear your doubt – only 10-15 trees depending on the production capacity of that particular farm is kept separate for coconut sugar production only. One of the farm would only produce 10kg per day during the first half of the day and would keep the rest of the day for other work like agriculture, cattle feed etc. The trees marked for coconut sugar production are kept closer to home for a simple reason being, closer to home means closer to production/boiling facility and also no tension of coconut falling on anyone’ head 😉
Using coconut sugar in your diet is relatively a new concept in India and I can proudly say that “i2cook” is one of the first company to launch coconut sugar as a retail product. Coconut sugar production helps farmers to gain an extra income apart from their other agricultural practices. Coconut sugar is not only good for you but also good for the environment!
An invite to an organic chocolate tasting and a 1 hour drive led me to a quaint cafe at Indiranagar where the tasting was held. A nice breezy evening and conversation over some tea and chocolate made me forget all about the horrid Bangalore traffic. We were all seated in a room and watched David and Angelika educate us about their passion – Earth Loaf.
Earth loaf makes artisan raw chocolate and tea infusions. I was surprised to sip on a glass of pure raw cacao beans infused in hot water that tasted good to my liking. David explained that it is a good energizer and a perfect post lunch drink. Earth loaf also has a blend with Assam tea leaf and cacao beans. David and Angelika come from the background of cocktail mixing. Their true calling for raw organic food lead them to experiment with chocolates. Earth loaf is based out of Mysore and currently David is busy training two women who come to work with him from a nearby Village. It took about two years to source and make their own machinery to produce the finest quality of handmade chocolate, right from scratch. David believes that chocolate is addictive due to its sugar content and he wants his customers to experience the opposite in his product. He believes that by adding minimum amount of coconut sugar, he is giving a pure taste of cacao rather than a sugar overload. David believes that it is more sustainable to go local (Indian) rather than sourcing it from abroad even though he may be tempted to. The raw materials are all procured from South and the ingredients used are minimum.
After all this talk about raw chocolate and cacao beans, many of you must be wondering that what is cacao beans….
Cacao beans are a source of all things chocolate. Cacao beans contain phenylethylamine (PEA), an antidepressant that stimulates the body’s adrenaline and dopamine levels for a dose of happy feelings. So now you know the reason why chocolate makes us happy 😉
Cacao beans may look like an almond and comes with a thin skin covering. This skin can be removed by hand or soaked in warm water to discard the skin. Large processing house use machine to remove the skin covering, David built his own machinery to remove the skin. These beans are then crushed and are called cacao nibs, which is used as a garnish or are processed into making chocolates. Cacao beans is particularly found to be very healthy for its flavonoid content. The darker the chocolate the better flavonoid content is has, which helps to prevent diseases Cancer and Alzheimer.
How is earth loaf chocolate different from the conventional dark chocolate?
Earth loaf chocolate is made with minimum ingredients and doesn’t contain any milk solids. This chocolate is made from pure raw cacao and is also vegan. Most of the conventional chocolates are so highly processed that they tend to lose their nutrients and antioxidants. More on raw chocolate and coconut sugar.
David says that he is trying to set a trend as it is one of its kind in India. I liked the idea of tasting raw cacao and coconut sugar in my chocolate. Right now, I’m enjoying my chocolate with a glass of wine 🙂
Diabetics has been on a rise and it is essential that we start looking at what we eat in a more organized manner. Today’s lifestyle demands us to focus on our health and take pre-cautionary measures before its too late. I had spoken about GI with regards to natural sugars before and now I will be talking about it more in detail . GI is a term most often used by nutritionist but in today’s date and it has become important for a layman like us to understand the importance of it. Following a low GI diet for a healthy living will help you keep your glucose level in check.
Glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how quickly sugars from food enter your blood as glucose. High GI results in high levels of blood glucose and low GI results in slower absorption of glucose with fewer changes in blood glucose levels. The GI ranking is from 1-100.
Apart from regular exercise, food plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. Today’s post is about low GI foods that are beyond natural sugars. Everything that we eat contains some amount of sugar in them.
Why do I need a low-GI diet?
A low GI diet ensures that you are a more active person. The lifestyle that we have right now as compared to our ancestors is not the same. Our grandparents may seem active even at the age of 80 but there is no guarantee that the same genes will carry on to us. The reason is very simple – lifestyle and introduction of packaged products to make these products last long has become a part of our daily diet. The carbohydrates that our ancestors ate were to basic beans and rice which made it easier from farm to plate due to the lack of refrigeration or processes packaged products. As a result, most of the food that we eat like pizza, burgers, cakes contains the sorts of carbohydrates that break down quickly and release their sugars rapidly into the bloodstream. However, consuming low GI foods will help us keep fit and active.
Risk of consuming high-GI foods
- Weight gain – high GI foods will make you hungry and more likely that you will want to eat again. It also causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise and fall, which in turn results in craving for sugary and fatty foods. In both cases insulin’s main role is to promote fat storage, which means that the more insulin you have in your body, you are storing excess calories in your body.
- Food cravings and lethargy
- Lack of concentration
- Heart disease
A low GI diet can help
- Obtain a high fibre diet by consuming rolled oats, leafy vegetables, fruits.
- It is naturally more filling and makes you feel full for a longer period of time. Consuming nut butters like peanut butter or cashew butter keeps you full for long.
- Vegetables and fruits are rich source of nutrients and can help fight diseases.
- Higher in essential vitamins,minerals and antioxidants will help your immune system stay strong and healthy.
How to follow a simple low GI diet?
A low GI diet is not that difficult to follow. In India, it is much easier to achieve this as we cook our own food (most of the time).
- Eat different types of fruits and vegetables about 6-7 servings per day as per your liking. Although, some fruits and vegetables may contain high GI, in relaity when eaten in normal quantities they contain small amount of carbohydrate that they have little or no measurable effect on blood sugar levels.
- Eating whole grain foods and cereals with low GI like whole wheat or ragi breads or cookies
- Unpolished rice pulses or lentils
- Nuts and seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids. If you think that nut butters are fatty, think again.
- Eating fish or seafood 2-3 times a week is a good source of omega 3.
- Eating lean meat or chicken, minus the fat and following healthy cooking styles like grilling or barbecuing is best way to enjoy meat and control your GI.
- Snack on low GI foods like fruits, ragi/millet chips or crackers, coconut sugar biscuits or low fat yogurt.
- Replace sugary, packaged drinks with fresh fruit juices or tender coconut water
Following simple steps and taking tab of what you eat can help you a long way. GI-diet is not a fad but a scientifically proven theory. Taking smaller steps and planning your meal by swamping basmati rice with millets or white bread with whole wheat bread will help. Pasta also has a low GI if made from wheat and also depends on the shape, thicker the pasta, lower the GI. Al-dente is the best way to eat pasta and maintains its low GI. The longer you cook the higher the GI it has.
|GI and GL for Common Foods|
|Food||GI||Serving Size||Net Carbs||GL|
|Peanuts||14||4 oz (113g)||15||2|
|Bean sprouts||25||1 cup (104g)||4||1|
|Grapefruit||25||1/2 large (166g)||11||3|
|Pizza||30||2 slices (260g)||42||13|
|Lowfat yogurt||33||1 cup (245g)||47||16|
|Apples||38||1 medium (138g)||16||6|
|Spaghetti||42||1 cup (140g)||38||16|
|Carrots||47||1 large (72g)||5||2|
|Oranges||48||1 medium (131g)||12||6|
|Bananas||52||1 large (136g)||27||14|
|Potato chips||54||4 oz (114g)||55||30|
|Snickers Bar||55||1 bar (113g)||64||35|
|Brown rice||55||1 cup (195g)||42||23|
|Honey||55||1 tbsp (21g)||17||9|
|Oatmeal||58||1 cup (234g)||21||12|
|Ice cream||61||1 cup (72g)||16||10|
|Macaroni and cheese||64||1 serving (166g)||47||30|
|Raisins||64||1 small box (43g)||32||20|
|White rice||64||1 cup (186g)||52||33|
|Sugar (sucrose)||68||1 tbsp (12g)||12||8|
|White bread||70||1 slice (30g)||14||10|
|Watermelon||72||1 cup (154g)||11||8|
|Popcorn||72||2 cups (16g)||10||7|
|Baked potato||85||1 medium (173g)||33||28|
The table shows values of the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) for a few common foods. GI’s of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. GL’s of 10 or below are considered low, and 20 or above are considered high
GI ratings for some of the popular foods.
Disclaimer: the above research has been done some through personal experimentation and online research. If you are diabetic, I suggest you consult your doctor for low GI diet.