Thursday, 30 November 2017

The Iron Story via Salad Bypass

"First get a  complete CBC ( Complete Blood Count) test ". Dr. Parihar was looking irritated.

"Is that all ??? I am having chest pain, gastritis trouble  has reached new levels and as I have already mentioned about my short breathing problem and dizziness and nausea .." I was also irritated.

"look madam, first get me the result of blood test and then I will prescribe any medicine or further tests." the Dr. raised his hand and turned his head towards another patient who was waiting at the door of doctor's cabin. 

I came out of the clinic and was still not convinced. How a simple CBC test will solve my problems ?? I scratched my head and a few strands of hair get tangled in fingers and reminded me that hair fall is only one of many troubles I am going through. 

"Your eyes are turning white Bhavana... look at your skin, it seems all the glow and color has been drained out. what is wrong ? are you alright ??" somebody in my office, asked me while glaring at my face.

"umm, don't know . just feeling low and maybe there is something wrong with my hemoglobin."

after two days.

"As I was suspecting,  you are severely anemic. Start this iron capsule and vitamin tablets from today and yes add more greens  in your daily diet."  The Dr. wrote the prescription and  then smiled at me.

" don't worry, it is a very common problem with ladies and all these symptoms are due to your low hemoglobin. hemoglobin is low because there is a serious deficiency of iron in your body. So start eating  green veggies, salad, fruits... Daily !!! (he emphasized).

"that's it ?"

"Iron deficiency is a lifestyle related problem. You might love to stuff your stomach with pizza, brownie, pastas but you don't shower the same love for green veggies and fruits. Do you ??" the doctor asked.

"You are absolutely normal and don't need any further tests but treat this iron deficiency seriously.  Eat healthy iron rich food and don't be careless, low hemoglobin is not a very good health situation."

After this short conversation with doctor, I again started scratching my head. what could be that one possible short cut for the Road to Iron Valley.  something that I can eat everyday and yet it should not be Boring !!!, It should be healthy and full of Iron. 

What about fruits ??? or just a bowl of salad ??? raw cabbage !!!  Spinach soup !!!! Methi ka saag !!! Beetroot juice !!!! .... so many ideas were floating in my fertile and intelligent brain. However, my lazy yet a health conscious soul was asking for a wholesome approach for Iron consumption. 

Eureka !!!! I found my that One Unique Recipe ... that wholesome Goodness of Iron in one dish ...a direct route to the Iron Valley was just a few minutes away. 

Here is my secret recipe to fight Iron deficiency with the powerful weapons of Mother Nature : Mix veggie and Fruit Salad

1. One medium size beetroot

2. One tomato medium size

3. Half Apple chopped in cubes one cup

4. A small bowl full of pomegranate seeds (arils)

5. thinly chopped cabbage one cup ( instructions : wash the cabbage properly and place it in warm water for ten minutes then bring it out and allow it to cool down before chopping. warming cabbage is necessary to remove all micro worms)

6. carrot fingers one cup

7. one cup plum pieces

8. half cup sweet corn

9.  broccoli one cup ( boil  the florets of broccoli  in an open deep pan)

10. one cup sliced cucumber 

For Seasoning :

10. black pepper powder as per taste

11.   Salt as per taste

12.  lemon juice two tea spoons

13. roasted cumin powder half tea spoon

14. freshly grated ginger half tea spoon

15. One tea spoon of desi ghee.

How to Prepare :

1. Boil the beetroot in a presure cooker ( it will take approx. 4-5 whistle to become soft).

2.  peel the outer skin of beetroot with your hands and cut it in to halves. make thin semi round slices of it.

3. cut the tomato in long pieces and dry roast them in a shallow pan for a minute. It will give them a flavor and the lycopene will do it's work in more better ways. in the same pan, roast the broccoli and seat corns with a tea spoon of  desi ghee.

4. Put all veggies and fruits (beetroot, pomegranate seeds, plum cubes, sweat corns, apple cubes, carrot fingers, cabbage, broccoli and tomatoes in a large bowl).

5. sprinkle the salt, black pepper powder,  cumin powder, grated ginger  and lemon juice over it.

6. mix all ingredients properly.  keep them in the bowl covered with the lid for five to seven minutes. allow all the juices and flavors to get mix with each other.  you will see that the beetroot juice is giving a rich pink color to all ingredients. 

7.  your iron rich ready to eat salad is all set to work on your exhausted body.

This Salad Bowl  is sufficient for three people

Note : you may replace sweet corn with green beans or any other veggie/fruits. sweet corn are full of natural sugar therefore, it could be a good substitute for satiating the sugar craving. 

I chose this simple and not so fancy dish because salad is one of the those food items that we can eat daily either in lunch, brunch, mid day snack or even for breakfast. It  doesn't need much time or extra efforts to prepare this salad so it is a quick fix meal for working women. The veggies ( broccoli, cabbage and beetroot itself does not have any specific taste, so using the fruits like pomegranate and apple etc, gives it a flavour )

one may say there are too many ingredients in this salad and the quantity is too much for a salad dish, but remember that raw veggies and fruits are full of water and fiber; therefore, they are easy to digest and does not bloat your stomach and keep the digestion intact.

I added this salad in my daily diet for one year and now my hemoglobin is stable and yes no more breathlessness and such troubles.

An extra tip... keep yourself stress free, stay active and add some light exercises in your daily routine. A proper iron rich healthy diet along with healthy habits are the Road to Iron Valley . See you There Soon !!!!  

Here I am posting the pics of salad making process and the final dish as well as :

dry roasted tomatoes

in same pan roast the broccoli and sweet corn with desi ghee
place them in another bowl to let cool

arrange all the ingredients at one place
let's begin the show

start mixing veggies (beetroot and cabbage, broccoli, sweet corn and tomatoes)
mix all fruits and veggies and sprinkle the seasoning ingredients of salt, black pepper, cumin powder, lemon juice and ginger shreds  

cover the bowl and keep it for five to seven minutes

ahh, please ignore my bad drawing and enjoy the salad 

So !! what are you waiting for ?? devour it !!!

This post has been written for the Livogen Iron Chef Contest.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Sindhi Sai Bhaji with Methi Parantha : An Iron Saga

The color of blood, the color of life, the color of energy... Red. 

How iron deficiency can create troubles for us ?  Ever thought about it or faced it ? Most people think that it is just a matter of malnutrition and not eating properly. Is that all fuzz ??? No, the answer is a clear No. It is not that simple. 

If our body is going through an iron deficiency problem, then first we need to find out the exact reason for that. Are we not eating iron rich food or our daily diet does not contain enough natural iron resources like green leafy vegetables, fruits like apple and pomegranate, beetroots, grains like oats, etc. ?  or the body is losing blood!!!  in case of women, losing blood is one of the major cause for Iron deficiency.  It could be heavy menstrual bleeding and Fibroid that drain blood from our body almost every month.

I myself is a victim of this problem; not just iron deficiency but low hemoglobin problem as well as. It has been two three years since I was diagnosed with a fibroid. Fibroid is like an open wound that can keep flowing for 24 to 48 hours during your menstrual cycle and will also create severe cramps, bloating, weakness and what not. I have faced it for a long time.  Initially, my doctor gave me some iron rich capsules and syrup but around an year ago when this fibroid reached to 5mm size and hemoglobin fall to 7 then the warning clock ticked. 

"This medicine will reduce the size of fibroid but for hemoglobin I want you to eat more iron rich food and less junk. however, I am prescribing an iron tablet , take one everyday."

"How do you start your day ?" The doctor asked.

"With a cup of tea." I replied instantly.

"No, start day with  a glass of milk and  a handful of nuts like almonds, walnuts and cashews.  Go for a walk every day, do some light exercises like, stretching, warm ups and breathing exercises."

"Are you a non vegetarian ?"

"Yes ."

"Then, do include eggs and fishes in your diet twice or thrice in a week. Medicines will do their work but a healthy  daily routine and nutritious diet are the best treatment. because fibroid is not a serious disease rather it is lifestyle related problem; treat it with this perspective."

This was the piece of advise doctor Chetna gave me. 

Iron rich food... !!!!!! Spinach was the first name that came in to my mind, but I needed something simple yet a quick effective recipe. something that can easily gel up with my daily cooking schedule and should be  delicious as well as. and then I thought, ohh!!! it's our very own "Sai Bhaji".

Sai Bhaji the traditional Sindhi dish made with spinach, split chickpeas lentil, onion, garlic and tomatos. a simple, basic yet an effective nutritional food that goes very well with rice and chapati. Usually we Sindhis like to eat sai bhaji at night with plain rice , rice pulao or with chapatis. but, here it is about Iron consumption, so I came up with an idea of eating this sai bhaji with methi parantha in lunch and to make it  extra iron rich, I decided to cook it in an iron wok  rather than cooking it in pressure cooker.  Cooking food in iron wok  is an age old tasted formula to increase iron level in blood;  the fastest and easiest way, our elders swear by this...

Sai Bhaji with Methi Parantha or plain chapatti has been included in  my regular diet since then

Here goes the recipe of sai bhaji, the traditional sindhi style...

Ingredients :

1. 200gm spinach, fresh and small leaves

2. Two medium size onions ( thinly chopped)

3. 50gm yellow petite lentils ( I replaced split chickpeas lentil with this more easy to digest dal as I was eating sai bhaji almost thrice n a week)

4. Two medium size tomatos ( chopped in small pieces)

5. 7-8 cloves of garlic ( chopped)

6. Salt to taste

7. Two pinch turmeric powder

8. Two tea spoons of red chilli powder

9. One large green chilli

10.  Two tea spoon of coriander powder

11.  Two table spoon oil for frying garlic cloves and onions

12.  crushed ginger half tea spoon

Preparation :

Wash spinach  4-5 times in sufficient water and finely chop them . Soak lentils in water for 10-15 minutes, later on wash them thrice. 

Cooking method :

1.  Heat oil in iron wok and add garlic clove pieces. let the garlic pieces become light brown.

2. Add chopped onions and fry them till brown.

3. Add lentils  and green chili.

4. Add spinach and salt, red chilli powder, crushed ginger, turmeric and coriander powder. 

5. Add  one cup of water and cover the wok with a plate or lid.

6. Put a heavy utensil or ladle on the wok lid and let the dish simmer for 15-20 minutes. keep the flame of gas stove at medium. and keep checking the dish after 5-7 minutes, so it will not get burned.

7.  The lentils may take more time to become soft and fully cooked, therefore, if you wish to save the time then boil the lentils in pressure cooker before adding it to spinach. in that case, do not add lentils at early stage rather add them later in last 10 minutes.

( I have added tomato puree at the final stage when the whole preparation got cooked, because the tomatoes are acidic and I wasn't much sure how this acidic thing will react in an iron utencill on flame.)

8. Once cooked, remove it from stove and let it be cool for ten minutes and then mash the whole  preparation 
for a couple of minutes.

9. Iron rich spinach loaded with goodness of protein and lycopene is ready to eat.

 Methi paranthas gave an extra zing to this dish and makes it a wholesome meal. Serve it hot with sliced onion rings and sprinkle some lemon juice in sai bhaji before eating... and Voila !!!!

The iron wok gives a nice texture and thickness to the dish.

The Recipe for Methi parantha is below :

1. Wheat Flour two cups

2. 25 grams fresh methi leaves ( in summers when fresh methi is not available, you can opt for kasoori methi  that is dry methi leaves)

3.  one small onion thinly chopped

4. one small green chilli thinly chopped

5. salt to taste, one pinch turmeric powder, one tea spoon red chili powder.

cooking method :

1. wash methi leaves 4-5 times in fresh water.

2. mix all ingridients in flour  ( methi leaves, salt, turmeric, red chilli, green chili)

3. knead a soft dough and make  medium size balls.

4. roll out each ball with help of dry flour and prepare paranthas on a ladle. roast each parantha with one tea spoon of oil so the outer crust will become crispy and brown.

As I said, The color of Blood, the color of  Life... Red.

Here I am posting the pics of whole cooking process :



I have followed this diet for more than a year  ( thrice in a week) and now the fibroid size has been reduced to 3mm and the hemoglobin level  has become stable on 10 point.
This Post is written for the Livogen Iron chef Contest .  

The Iron Chef Contest is an initiative by livogen to spread the awareness about the importance of Iron in the diet and crowd sourced iron rich recipes. Simple lifestyle and dietary changes can help one go a long way in fighting iron deficiency. 

Images Courtesy : My mobile camera :)

This entry has won the Runners up award in the above said contest.