I’m in the course of redesigning my diet. For one, I’ve started tilting the scales upwards again, having “recovered” half of the 20 kilos I rather shockingly lost in the second half of 2009. Given that I aspire to be “party types”, it is important that I look fit, so I need to let go of that paunch. More importantly, traditional South Indian food (rice with sambar/rasam) doesn’t impress my tastebuds any more. Neither does it impress my stomach – I feel hungry soon after I eat that.
The problem with rice (rather, the polished white rice that most of us consume) is that it is extremely low-density. In order to get a certain amount of nutrition (that makes you feel “full”) you need to eat a lot of rice. Consequently, you are full up to the esophagus after your meal, and some rather uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing belching follows. Of late, thanks to a “natural experiment” (due to travel, etc. I ate a highly rice-heavy diet for a while, then a highly wheat-heavy diet, and then back to rice-heavy diet) I’ve figured (I know the textbooks told me this) that rice lacks fibre, and a rice-sambar-rasam based diet can lead to scatological issues that can be rather embarrassing.
As the more perceptive of you would have noticed, we have moved house recently, and as a consequence “lost” our cook (she finds this house too far for her to come). As we look for a new cook (we’re still not 100% convinced we need a cook, given what you’re going to read), it is up to the wife and me to prepare our own food. We are both rather busy professionals, and seek to have good lives outside of work, so neither of us wants to spend too much time cooking.
So the challenge that lies ahead of us now is to redesign our diet, such that it gives us balanced nutrition (while not fattening me up), and consists of easy to make yet tasty foods (if it isn’t tasty it isn’t sustainable). We’ve been doing some experiments over the last 2-3 weeks to see what works. We both like phulka, but it takes way too long to make (more importantly economies of scale are not there in making phulkas). We occasionally have salad with bread, but the wife doesn’t find that filling. We occasionally make pasta, I’ve made Thai curries a couple of times and today I made a (rather tasty) coconut-milk based tofu-and-egg curry to go with brown rice.
With respect to breakfast we’ve achieved the transition. On most days for the last 3 weeks, we’ve eaten boiled egg and muesli/oatmeal porridge for breakfast (occasionally Priyanka has eaten some “traditional breakfast” though, mostly when she hasn’t had the time to eat breakfast before catching her bus). We try and supplement that with some fresh fruit/fruit juice though that hasn’t particularly worked out.
Coming back to the problem at hand, we need to redesign our menu/diet so that we get adequate and balanced nutrition while not spending too much time in the kitchen. No meat is cooked at home (we are a traditional Brohmin family, you see), but we consume eggs regularly. I expect most of my protein intake to come from there – since dals are rather tough to make. We need to eat sufficient greens, and vegetables, and in a form where they’re not overcooked, so that they provide good nutrition. We should probably start using sprouts, and maybe more tofu and mushroom. And we need to find a cereal substitute for white rice that’s easy to cook – brown rice takes way too long to cook (and doesn’t cook in the pressure cooker); chapatis take too long to make.
It seems like a rather hard problem, but I hope to do some good research in this direction and redesign my menu. I’ll write about this as and when I get some interesting ideas, and might even share with you some recipes. In the meantime, if you can think of tasty, easy-to-cook vegetarian food items that provide balanced nutrition, do let me know. If we like that enough, we might call you home and cook for you!