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Give in to the big, irresistible weekend breakfast smartly!

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Living healthy does not mean cutting out your favorite foods, especially not on lazy weekends. Staying at home with the family or going out to happy brunches with friends over the weekend, makes it impossible to stick to just a soup and salad. Weekend breakfasts all over the world, especially on Sundays, are all about gluttony in excess! Idlis, Aloo Parathas, Waffles, Pancakes, Eggs, Hash Browns, French Toast, Milkshakes, Cold Cuts, Danish pastries, Donuts, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, Muffins et al are all the foods we try and avoid all week in a bid to live healthier, but when the weekend rolls around, it is really hard not to give in and live a little.

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Just making small changes in your toppings, add-ons, cooking oils and portions can make your weekend indulgences feel lighter on your body, your inner health and your mind. Try these tricks on your next big weekend breakfast, at home or at a brunch.

MAPLE SYRUP V/S HONEY – Drizzling raw, organic honey on your blueberry buttermilk pancake stack is a healthier option than the staple maple syrup. Also, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be made with organic peanut butter and raw honey.

CINNAMON V/S ICING SUGAR – Sprinkling ground, organic cinnamon over your French toasts instead of icing sugar will help increase your metabolism and whittle down your waist. You can add cinnamon to hot coffees and teas too.

UNSALTED COLD CUTS – Eating cold cuts that are not pre-salted will not only taste better, but also not make you feel bloated with unnecessary water retention after your meal.

MILKSHAKES V/S FRESH JUICES – Milkshakes are awesome undeniably, but so are slow-pressed fresh fruit juices. Slow pressed juices retain a high percentage of the fruit’s nutritive values and are as good as eating the fruit itself. And whilst milkshakes fill you up with added sugar and milk, fruit juices don’t.

HALVING DONUTS / MUFFINS / DANISHES – Eating donuts, muffins and Danish pastries is heavenly, but halving all these delights will give you as much joy and satisfaction as having all of them whole. Isn’t that smarter?

COOKING MEDIUMS – If you are cooking at home, switch to healthier oils like Olive Oil, Organic Desi Ghee and Mustard Oil to minimizer the cholesterol level of the foods in the cooking process itself. Not only will your Parathas, Hash Browns and Idlis taste better, but will feel lighter on your digestive system too.

ORGANIC BUTTER V/S SALTED BUTTER – The main difference between organic butter and salted butter is shelf life – organic butter has a short shelf life and salted butter can stay in your fridge for weeks on. Organic butter is a smarter choice when making Waffles and Pancakes at home.

COOKING METHODS – Whenever possible, eating poached or boiled eggs is definitely healthier, but if you like your eggs sunny side up and scrambled, then organically farmed eggs is the way to go.

So it is quite simple really to shake off some of the bad calories with some organic, natural good on your plate. What’s life really without foods that taste so good, right? So, go on indulge yourself without any regrets!


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Healthy mornings with a cup of perfect green tea!

Sundays are usually when I give myself a break and wake up late. This Sunday, I woke up at the crack of dawn. Just one of those days when one doesn’t know why one wakes up refreshed and can’t go back to sleep. There is nothing quite as relaxing as having a cup of hot chai early in the morning and gazing outside from my little haven.

Adrak chai, ginger-lemon tea, black tea, Earl Grey,green tea, lemon tea, mint tea or the good old masala cutting – tea in any of its forms gives a warm fuzzy feeling of total comfort. Sitting at the French window and watching the streets stir to life with my green tea brewed to perfection (mixed with a teaspoon of Himalayan flora honey from Under the Mango Tree – Thank you Emily for helping me procure a natural dark honey) was a great start to my idyllic Sunday. Opting for a healthy Sunday, I chose to drink green tea this week.

I’ve had some pretty disastrous attempts at brewing green tea. It’s something that needs to be worked at a few times before one call yell “Eureka!” It’s tough to get it just right enough for ones taste buds. Here’s why –

Water temperature needs to be perfect. If it’s too hot, the flavonoids (the healthy stuff in the tea) make it bitter. Too cold, the tea stays insipid since the flavours are not released.

  • The flavour and sweetness comes from the amino-acids and natural sugars in the leaves while the bitterness comes from tannins or polyphenols. The former bunch dissolves at 60 degrees Celsius while the tannins dissolve at 80 degrees Celsius. So finding the right temperature is crucial.
  • (I don’t use a thermometer. It’s too cumbersome. I turn off the gas the moment the water comes to a boil and then let it sit for a minute or so to cool it down to a 70-75. That’s an approximation. And no, I don’t guarantee that it’s even remotely around the prescribed temperature. But my tea does turn out perfect if I follow that process. Try it and let me know if it worked for you too. And yes, sceptics, do check with a kitchen thermometer and inform me whether I am making a right assumption of the temperature. I would really appreciate any more tips to make my tea better.)

Duration of the brewing: Ideally between 1-3 minutes.

  • The reason this is important is because the bitterness from the tannins will seep into your tea if you leave it for longer than a couple of minutes.

Usage of tea bag and tea leaves makes a difference.

  • I used to use tea bags. But they have to be dipped continually so as to aid in the release of fragrances and not just dipped once and left in. But with tea leaves, you can just pour the water over them and then strain after steeping.

So, here’s my recommendation for brewing a perfect cuppa:

  1. Bring the water to the boil. Turn off the gas. If you use a microwave, I’d say about a minute on high micro-power should do it.
  2. Wait for a minute. Day-dream. Look out the kitchen window. Place the tea bag or the leaves in a cup.
  3. Pour the warm water over the bag or leaves. Leave it for a minute or two.
  4. Strain it. (Don’t throw the leaves or bag away! They’re a good fertilizer for your garden plants and also a good home-based remedy to dark circles.)
  5. Mix one flat teaspoon of natural or organic honey into your tea. (This sweetens the tea a bit and also adds to the health quotient of it.)
  6. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your cuppa.

Steeping time should be balanced with water temperature: the lower the temperature, the longer the tea can be steeped. But remember, it has to be steeped at a minimum of 60 degrees Celsius for proper release of the amino-acids and sugars.

Enjoy your cuppa as you contemplate how you helped improve yourself today by taking a step towards living a healthier lifestyle.

You can check out a wide range of healthy natural teas at http://www.naturalmantra.com/categories/Organic-Natural-Health-Remedies/cid-CU00029130.aspx

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