Every food blogger I see on social media and every YouTube channel focused on food recipes nowadays is busy promoting healthy foods. But what is healthy, according to them, is so expensive and out-of-budget that only people belonging to high-income groups can access them.
Remember the old times when you ate your simple ‘Dal’, ‘Chawal’, ‘Roti’, and ‘Sabji’ and stayed healthy? So, what changed today? The problem is what people conceive as healthy today are the food items promoted by celebrities and social media influencers. What they fail to understand is it is all a marketing gimmick.
I am not saying that Avocados, Lettuce or blueberries are bad; they are definitely some of the healthiest food items, but so are apples, spinach and gooseberries. The only difference between them is that for a country like India, the first batch is overly priced, and the second is not.
I once encountered a dietician who suggested her clients have blueberries, yoghurt and almond milk smoothies. Again, I am not saying these ingredients are bad because they aren’t. In a country like India, where most of the population resides in two or three-tier cities and villages, blueberries, yoghurt, and almond milk are hard to find and way too expensive for middle class people.
People perceive that eating healthy and staying fit means eating what others promote. But the reality is far from that. Eating healthy no longer means expensive food items. In this article, we will explore ten food items that are healthy and inexpensive.
Native to India, Makhanas are an excellent source of protein, fibre and calcium.
Recipe: Roasted Makhanas are an excellent snack for those evening hunger pangs. All you need is some Ghee, one cup of makhanas, salt and spices of your liking. Take a heavy bottom pan and heat it. Once hot enough, lower the flame and add ghee and makhanas. Keep stirring on low flame to ensure even cooking.
Once the makhanas are crunchy, add salt and switch off the flame. Then add in your favourite spices like red chill powder and chaat masala. We add the spices at last to avoid burning them.
Once cooled, store the roasted makhanas in an airtight jar to munch on them later.
Filled with protein, fibre, and several vitamins and minerals, peanuts can be a great addition to your diet without spending a fortune.
Recipe: Peanuts can be used in several ways, in chutneys, pulao, curries and even sweets. However, roasted peanuts or peanut butter are the most healthy way to eat it. Yes, you read it correctly. You can make peanut butter at home with just two ingredients- Peanuts and Honey.
All you have to do is roast some peanuts in a heavy bottom pan without oil. Once the peanuts are roasted well, let them cool down and remove their peels by rubbing them between your palms. Add peeled peanuts into a grinder jar and grind it till it starts releasing oil. After about a minute, the peanuts will be ground to a paste. Add honey and grind once again for 15-20 seconds. Store in a glass jar for a longer shelf life.
A rich source of vitamin C, Amla has several health benefits, including increasing the metabolic rate.
Recipe: Although you can chop up amlas and eat them with plain salt, their bitter taste might be overpowering for some people. For those people, here is an easy peasy amla chutney recipe. Take a few amlas, chop them roughly and discard the seeds. Put the chopped amlas, a bunch of coriander leaves, half onion, 3-4 garlic cloves, 1-2 green chillies, salt, sugar, half cup curd and a handful of roasted peanuts in a blender and make a fine paste. Adjust the salt, sugar and chillies as per your taste preference.
Eaten raw or in dried form as flour, Singharas are one such food item with zero fat and thus lower in calories—an excellent treat for Weight Watchers.
Recipe: You can use Singhara flour to make cheela or halwa. While the halwa can be loaded with calories, you can incorporate healthy singhara recipes into your diet. Take half a cup of singhara flour, add finely chopped onion, coriander leaves, green chillies and salt and spices as you like. Add enough water to bring the mix to a semi-liquid consistency. Take a non-stick pan, add a few drops of ghee and pour the batter to make cheelas. Serve hot with the amla chutney you made.
Native to India and South Asia, Moringa is one such plant whose almost all parts are edible. From its flowers, seeds, fruits, roots and leaves, every part is edible. It is known to have several health benefits.
Recipe: You can add moringa leaves to your dal, sabji, saag and even chutney. One simple way to use moringa leaves is to add them to flour to make parathas. Take a handful of moringa leaves, chop them roughly, and add flour, salt, spices and water to make a soft dough. Make parathas and enjoy while hot.
One of the most overrated food items on our list is ‘sattu.’ Sattu is made by grinding roasted gram into fine powder. Most commonly eaten in Bihar, this ingredient is slowly getting the popularity it deserves.
Recipe: You can make sattu paratha, but if parathas are not your forte, it is not going to be the easiest recipe to make. Instead, what you can do is make a sattu drink, which is highly refreshing in summer and keeps you energetic and cool. Add a few tablespoons of sattu into a glass of cold water. Add black salt, finely chopped onions, coriander powder, mint leaves, red chillies powder and a dash of lemon juice. Apart from salt, all other ingredients are optional and depend solely on your taste.
You can also make a sweeter version of this drink by adding gud to the sharbat instead of salt and skipping all other ingredients.
Seeds like chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, melon seeds, and sesame seeds, among others, are super healthy and a must in daily diet.
Recipe: Roast the seeds lightly and grind to a fine powder. Add the powder to your chapatis and smoothies. You can also use the seeds to make healthy laddoos by grinding them into coarse powder and using dates to bind them.
Packed with vitamins, seasonal green leafy vegetables like spinach, amaranth, and fenugreek are a great way to incorporate healthy foods into your diet.
Recipe: Any Indian household is incomplete without the preparation of ‘saag’ in the winter season. A ‘saag’ can be made of any green leafy vegetable like spinach, mustard greens, amaranth or others. However, a mix of two or more types of seasonal green leafy vegetables is a treat.
Segregate the leaves to clean them of any grass or weeds. Wash thoroughly to remove dirt particles and chop them roughly. Take a heavy bottom pan. Once heated, add some oil, jeera, rai and green chillies. Once they splutter, add the chopped leaves and cover to cook. Once the water dries completely, add salt according to taste, and your saag is ready. You can also add a ‘tadka’ with onion, garlic and ginger to the ‘saag’. The tadka enhances the taste of the ‘saag’ even more.
Full of essential nutrients while being low in fat and carbs, eggs are a great source of protein.
Recipe: Eggs are versatile and tasty. You can eat them boiled or sunny sides up. You can also make a veggie-loaded omelette or egg bhurji. All you have to do is roast some vegetables in half a teaspoon of butter. Once the veggies are cooked, add in the eggs, salt, and spices of your choice. Cook for a few minutes, and your tasty egg bhurji is ready.
Another protein-rich food, paneer, is high in calcium and low in fats and carbs, a must-have in your diet.
Recipe: Similar to eggs, paneer is also a versatile ingredient. You can use them in pulao, curries and even make a simple paneer bhurji. Roast some onion, green chillies and tomatoes in half a teaspoon of oil with some spices and salt. Add grated paneer and cook for a few minutes. Serve with chapatis or paratha.