Everyone has their own traditional cuisine they’ve grown up eating. For my desi folks, we DO NOT have to ditch our ethnic food to be healthy and reach our health and fitness goals! We just need to plan our meals wisely.
Don’t just be eating meat with a little masala and rice/bread! That’s not balanced. Where’s the veggies ? 1/2 cup cooked veggies is a serving and 1 cup raw veggies is a serving. Have at least 3 servings in a day! So, time to get more color on that plate!
So, My top tips for having a well-balanced desi food plate are:
- Have a veggie dish with every meal (and not just aloo (potato) based!) Aim for 1/2 cup!
- Have a salad or just cut up fresh cucumbers, radish, carrot, onion etc on the side as much as you can ! For the times you don’t get to add the above-mentioned veggie dish, have at least 1 cup of this salad!
- Have daal often especially if you’re keeping it vegetarian for the meal. Aim for 1/2 cup.
- Eat up to 1 cup cooked rice or 1 medium size whole grain roti (flat-bread).
So, here’s what I have on my plate:
- 1/2 cup cooked okra (bhindi) masala (recipe can be found here – I just used okra instead of asparagus!)
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils (daal) with “hidden” veggies. I added zucchini and carrots to it. The recipe for this daal is saved under highlights titled “desi food” on my IG account – @healthwithafrina (Lentils actually fall under the starchy vegetable category AND protein category since they’re rich in both!)
- 1 cup rice (I’m mostly active and also don’t have any weight loss goals, so this amount is good for me. You can reduce to 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup if you’re looking to lose weight or have blood sugar issues. You can do brown rice as well of course).
- 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers
- 2 oz Cooked salmon (this is to add more protein. Protein helps us feel fuller, reduces our reliance on eating more empty carbs like the rice or roti while replacing them with more nutrient-dense, muscle building, metabolism boosting goodness. Of course salmon has its own host of benefits! You can do chicken/beef/goat etc instead) if you’re leaning toward having more vegetarian meals and cutting down meat intake, then for the added protein part you can have 1/2 cup of yogurt raita instead! (Yogurt raita is a traditional desi side made in a variety of ways like with fresh mint/cilantro, green chillis, garlic, spices like cumin seeds/chaat masala , yogurt and a little water mixed or blended all up) **we’re all individual and our lifestyles are different. Check your hunger level and activity level like if you were pretty active or plan to be active for the rest of the day, then make sure to add that extra protein especially then! Because sometimes the reason why we get late night cravings is because we didn’t eat enough satiating protein and fat filled meals earlier on and instead relied only carb-heavy meals.**
- For my good fats, I cooked this all in some ghee and some in avocado oil. Do NOT be afraid to add that flavorful oil (tarka/baghaar whatever you call it) to your daal once it’s fully cooked. Just make sure it’s a high quality oil! The fat helps you absorb certain vitamins and minerals better from the lentils and veggies, along with keeping you fuller and keeping your blood sugar stable!! Keeping your blood sugar stable, can help protect you from many chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity etc