A vacation is no time to diet
I have been fortunate to have globe trotted my whole life, and slow travel is our jam. We enjoy learning about unique locations around the globe. Like that hip little cafe you stumble upon, hidden in the candy-colored alleys of Antigua, serving the best olive oil orange cake and coffee. Or the street food in Mexico City with some of the most amazing vegan swaps like green chicharron and soy-free hot seitan on sizzling tacos. If discovering some of the best local flavors is at the heart of your itinerary, then the pounds are sure to pile on too!
So, after three back-to-back trips, I noticed that my “fat” pants were now very snug; well, to be precise, they didn’t come up past my hips. I’m sure most of you will empathize when I say I lapsed into full panic I-need-to-diet mode! No eating fried foods and carbs. Oh, and dairy, let’s not forget that.
That lasted all of one day, so I started telling everyone who cared to listen, what a cow I had become and that I needed to lose weight. What should I do? Dieting, I lamented, makes me very, very hungry and drives me straight into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s.
Replace, don’t remove
During one such weight rant, my friend Ruchi Saran said, “Replace, don’t remove.” Profound. She had recently discovered that a sattvik diet helped jumpstart her journey to a healthier lifestyle. “I learned that we should not remove anything from our diet as cravings will kick in. It’s best to replace and not remove. Instead of milk, I now make my own almond and coconut milk. Instead of sugar, I use dates or jaggery. Instead of having chips and namkeen, I have veggies with a homemade dip, coconut slices, or nuts. I have stopped using oil in my cooking. I use green chilies instead of red pepper. Instead of store-bought salad dressings, I make my own with lemon and some seasoning.”
A sattvic lifestyle is plant-based, and stresses wholesome food that should be consumed within three hours of cooking, she explained. “Food should not be fried or cooked for too long as it destroys its natural composition. Nuts, for example, should always be soaked in water overnight before consuming. Eat one fruit at a time,” advises Ruchi.
Stacking on healthy habits
Ruchi’s day begins with green juice in the morning as a detox, lunch at noon, and dinner at 5 pm. “I have cut down on carbs and focus more on vegetables, fruits, and lentils,” says Ruchi. “And I removed white rice, white sugar, and white and wheat flour, from my diet. Instead of atta I use jowar (sorghum) or bajra (pearl millet) flour and add 1 cup of grated carrots, or beetroots or spinach to it).”
I have decided to try it, using the stacking technique that James Clear uses in Atomic Habits. To ensure success, our new habits must be small and attached to our current daily habits, making these new behaviors simpler to adopt and maintain. So, tell yourself that you will have your detox juice after your morning walk, no time attached. Whatever time you walk or do yoga, you can have your juice right after, and so on.
Ruchi has shared her detox green juice recipe and a couple of other yummy swaps she has adopted that we can relish guilt-free.
Detox Green Juice
Start your morning with juice. One can either take a detox juice of ash gourd or celery+apple+lemon+ginger or my favorite Green Juice. If you want to lose weight, detox juice is great but if you want to maintain or gain weight a nourishing juice works better. (Any fresh fruit – orange, pineapple or watermelon juice with water will suffice.)
- 1 cucumber
- ½ apple
- few leaves of spinach
- few mint leaves
- 1 coin ginger
- few drops of lemon juice
Blend it all together, strain and enjoy
- Drink the juice 2 hours before breakfast.
- There should be a gap of 2 hours between your juice and a meal.
- Juice should be made fresh and consumed within 20 minutes.
- One should squish the juice in the mouth and not gulp it.
Do not throw the pulp. You can use it in your lentils, dosa batter, or roti dough. If you are still not sure what to do with it, feed it to the plants.
Gajar Ka Halwa with healthy swaps
- 4 cups finely shredded carrots
- 20 strands of saffron
- ⅓ cup powdered jaggery
- 1 teaspoon green cardamom powder
- ¼ teaspoon rock salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped dates, seedless
- ¼ cup warm water
Thick Coconut Milk
- ½ cup desiccated coconut
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup chopped almonds and cashews (soaked)
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
- Put the grated carrots and saffron in a pan and gently stir on medium flame for 20-30 minutes or till the carrots become tender, and water is reduced.
- Prepare date paste by blending dates and warm water together until smooth. Keep aside.
- Blend the coconut & water together to make coconut milk. Sieve the mixture through a muslin cloth & keep the milk aside.
- Once the carrots are done, reduce flame to low. Add jaggery and date paste and stir together for 30 seconds.
- Switch off the stove. Add the thick coconut milk, stir, and immediately cover with the lid. Allow the coconut milk to cook from the heat inside the pan, not directly on the flame.
- Add cardamom, lemon, and salt. Stir. Add almonds, cashews, and pistachios.
- Keep the halwa in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving, so that the flavors can bloom.
Enjoy with cut cucumber, carrots or homemade millet chips. I even used it on baked Cauliflower and it was absolutely yummy.
- 16-20 soaked cashews
- ⅓ cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1-2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp Himalayan salt
- Soak cashews overnight.
- Blend all the ingredients together until it is smooth.