Fried pakoras or French fries? Here’s how to enjoy comfort foods the healthy way during the COVID-19 lockdown
Are you oscillating between stress and boredom? At this time, when each one of us is forced to stay indoors for the sake of social distancing, it is easy to run the risk of eating the wrong foods and eating too much. Making the wrong food choices in times of stress, restlessness or boredom is something we all do at one time or the other.
The first things we reach out for when we are lonely, are comfort foods. Most of the time, these comfort foods lack nutritional value and are very high in calories and poor-quality ingredients, besides being high in starch and sugar.
However, did you know that comfort food is also necessary sometimes.
Is there a way that you can still enjoy comfort foods by tweaking the ingredients or preparation styles a little? Read on…
Deep fried and delicious
What are some of your best food memories?
Perhaps you enjoyed hot onion pakoras, fried by your grandmother? Do you recall that taste even today? Does your mouth water at the thought of those piping hot pakoras?
Did you know that allowing your mouth to water increases the digestive enzymes which can actually help you digest those foods? Further, your grandmother probably made the pakoras in fresh oil and never reused that oil again.
So, taking an afternoon to make yourself fresh onion pakoras fried in a little fresh oil might be a great way to soothe yourself. Enjoy it completely, and follow it up with some boiled ginger and cumin water to help your digestion.
Savour it to the fullest and eat it with the intention that you are giving your mind a break from all the stress that you are dealing with at the moment.
For the love of sweets
Kheer is a perennial favourite in Indian homes
If you have a sweet tooth and are craving comfort foods like pastries and sweets, how about a mental reframe? Try to think of sweets that are not full of white flour, food colour and cream.
The best Indian sweets are usually freshly made delicacies, full of wonderful proteins, unrefined natural sugars, healthy fats, vitamin and mineral rich nuts and efficient fibre such as coconut.
To strike a balance between over-indulgence and health, here are some ideas…
Make yourself a peanut laddu with ghee and jaggery. Make a coconut burfi with freshly grated coconut and coconut oil. Or how about a kheer with tender coconut, homemade coconut milk, cardamom and raw sugar?
Are high calorie foods unhealthy?
High calorie foods need not necessarily be unhealthy. What matters is the nutrient density within those calories.
For instance, if you enjoy potato wedges or French fries, remember that they can impact your blood sugar negatively, causing a ripple effect on your adrenal function and stress response where you could feel less resilient to stress.
Instead, if you choose to eat sweet potato fries or sweet potato wedges made with fresh coconut oil, it would not only satiate the feeling for comfort food, but it would also have much more fibre and excellent quality fats to lower the glycemic index of that meal. Sprinkle some chili powder, salt or chaat masala, and it will be a meal that is deeply satisfying.
Healthy summer drinks can be made at home
When it comes to healthy and tasty drinks, there are so many options!
Make a glass of Jaljeera with lemon and some honey. Try a sherbet with almond milk, honey, cardamom and basil seeds. Try blending coconut milk with any berries or kokum if you have some at home.
Remember that you have to get creative and use what is easily available to you. Look through your kitchen, and you will definitely find something that you have forgotten about.
Enjoy comfort food in moderation
What matters is that you enjoy comfort foods and the sentimental memories they bring, without negatively impacting your blood sugar, reducing your resilience to stress or affecting your health.
You must remember not to go overboard. Use the healthiest ingredients and make them at home. These foods cannot be eaten every day but at least keep one day in every five to six days to enjoy these indulgences, and when you do so, enjoy them fully!