Articles on snack foods

Five Most Unhealthy South Indian Snacks

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
South Indian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in India. This cuisine is prepared from the most natural ingredients available with minimum use of processed goods. Unfortunately, it’s not the ingredients that can make south Indian food unhealthy but the way it is cooked it can negate its health benefits and add empty calories with almost no nutrition benefits to it.Read more about healthy south Indian snacks.Most South Indian snacks are deep fried and if you are consuming them every day then they can be causing your health some serious damage in the long run. We have picked up some of the unhealthiest South Indian snacks to show you what make them bad for your health.1. MurukkuPopularly known as chakli, it's a crispy snack eaten with evening tea in many Indian households. Urad dal is mixed with rice flour and a host of other spices. There are varieties of murukku made. They are circular coils, which are deep fried until golden brown in color. They are high in cholesterol which leads to obesity and heart problem.Picture credit:Flickr.com">Picture credit:Flickr.comNutrition Facts: 1 piece Murukku contains 78 calories, 4 gm fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 10 gm carbohydrates and 2 gm protein.2. PakorasPakoras are made by deep frying your preferred variety of vegetables/rice/potato - in a mixture of garlic, besan, and salt. They are served along with a sweet and spicy dip. Pakoras increase bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol from the body leading to obesity and coronary diseases.Nutrition Facts:1 serving (28 gm) contains 76 calories, 4 gm fat, 8 gm carbohydrate, and 2 gm protein.3. VadaVadas are crunchy and extremely flavorful due to the range of spices added. They are crispy lentil-based fritters. There are several versions of vada. They are deep fried until golden brown in color.Picture credit:pixabay.com">Picture credit:pixabay.comNutrition Facts: 1 piece (33 gm) can contain 80 calories, 3 gm fat, 25 gm carbohydrates and 5 gm protein.4. BondaThe bonda is fried and crisp outside and soft inside. This is very famous in Indian cuisine. In North, this is called as batata vada. The process of making a spicy bonda involves deep-frying potato (or other vegetables) filling dipped in gram flour batter.Get more information on Potato a true friend.Nutrition Facts: 1 piece (30 gm) contains about 70 calories, 1 gm fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 13 gm carbohydrates and 3 gm proteins.5. SevThey are a crispy snack made up of rice and besan flour. They are fried till they become crispy. They are very high in calories and fat.Read to know health benefits of brown rice.Nutrition Facts: 1 cup (35 gm) can contain about 200 calories, 14 gm fat, 14 gm carbohydrates, and 3 gm proteins.

The Yummiest Healthy Snack in Town - Trail Mix!

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Originally invented as a hiking snack, the Trail mix has become a popular healthy snack worldwide. Not only is it easy to make but also easy to carry. Just pack away the desired quantity in a zip-pouch and be on your way with your pocketful of healthy snack.A personalized bowl of Trail mix can be prepared to please a sweet craving or a savoury yearning. The best part of the Trail mix besides eating it is, MAKING IT!Listed below are the individual ingredients and their health benefits that go into a Trail Mix. All you need to do is mix and match as per your taste and create a customized bowl for yourself.Nuts: Nuts are full of unsaturated fats, protein, fibre, antioxidants, vitamin E, and other essential vitamins and minerals. One thing to keep in mind is to have the nuts unsalted and unsweetened to ward off the excess sugar and sodium. The nutty flavour can be extracted from these nuts:1. Almonds2. Cashews3. Pinenuts4. Pistachios5. Peanuts6. Walnuts7. Hazelnuts8. Pecans9. Macademia nutsSeeds: Another source of healthy nutrients which provides us with omega-3 fatty acids, gamma linolenic acid, protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Also those of us with nut allergies can use seeds as a nut substitute to reap similar health benefits. The list of healthy seeds that can be used is:1. Flaxseeds2. Sunflower seeds3. Hemp seeds4. Pumpkinseeds5. Sesame seedsDried Fruits: Although a little more on the sugary side, dried fruits provide fibre, antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. Control your serving size to control the excess sugar. Too much dried fruit might promote fat storage in your body. Preferred dried fruit options are1. Figs2. Cherries3. Apricots4. Banana chips5. Apples6. Mango7. Dates8. Strawberries9. Blueberries10. Pineapple chunksGrains: The addition of grains to your high fibre mix will ensure a balance of complex carbohydrates in your bowl and will make it crunchier. Grains also act as an energy booster. To keep the mix healthy, avoid processed cereals which add unnecessary sugar and sodium to your diet. The grains that can be used are:1. Wheat cereals2. Bran cereals 3. Whole grain cereals 4. Toasted oats5. Puffed rice 6. Granola 7. Air-popped pop 8. Corn PretzelsSweets: Sprinkling a little sweet to your mix will keep the whole mix fun and more palatable. Just ensure you don’t go overboard with the quantity as then you will just end up with a bowl of fat instead of a balanced mix of nutrients. The yummy sweets which can be used are:1. Gems2. Chocolate chips- preferably dark3.Chocolate covered nuts4. Mini marshmallows5. Butterscotch chips6. Peanut butter chipsSeasoning: Once the stage is set, all is lifeless without the sound and lights. So just add some seasoning to create a twist of flavours with added health benefits and enjoy your awesome snack. Some seasoning which can be added is:1. Salt2. Sea salt3.White pepper4. Black pepper5. Cinnamon6. Nutmeg7. Cardamom8. Ground ginger9. Onion powder10. Coconut powder/flakesYou can start experimenting on your own but just to get you started on the trail mix, we have written down the combination of three different types of trail mix.Ingredients for a Savoury nibble:1. GarlicPowder2. Onion Powder3. PepperSalt4. Flaxseeds5. Almonds6. PeanutsTo make just put together the whole bunch of above mentioned ingredients in a bowl, mix with the mentioned seasoning and enjoy!Ingredients for a Spicy mix:1. Almonds2. Cashews3. Sesame seeds4. Dried peas5. Corn flakes6. Sea salt7. Chilli powderAdd the quantities as per taste and requirement and munch away.Ingredients for a Sweet craving:1. Air-popped pop corn 2. Raisins 3. Puffed rice 4. Dark chocolate chipsThe sweet version does contain sugar. For a healthier version, skip the dark chocolate chips.But wait! Before you start chomping on the delicious mix you made, remember that a healthy portion is a quarter of a cup and not more. Avoid over consumption in order to ward off those unnecessary calories. Happy Snacking!

Healthy Mid Day Snacks

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Aiming to get fit or a new year resolution of weight loss. To lose weight, you must consume less than what your body burns. If you eat more than what your body needs, the excess is stored as fat. Counting calories is not easy, so to make it easier for you, we have a list of 100 calorie snacks!But 100 calories itself is a dicey number. One can get 100 calories by having either one small scoop of ice-cream or half a cup of plain yogurt. So, here is a small list of healthy snacks between 100-200 calories that will be useful for dieters:Yogurt and Fruit: Top 1/4 c fat-free casino spiele vanilla yogurt with 1 tsp ground flaxseed and 1/2 c diced peach or pear.Fruit: One medium banana or one medium pear, or 1 cup strawberries.Nuts: 8 walnut halves, 12 raw or roasted almonds.Eggs: One hard-boiled egg. Its the perfect source of protein. Or  1 scrambled egg, or a poached eggDairy: 1 cup of skim milk or 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk.Unhealthy Option: 1 slice of regular cheese/ One-third cup baked custard/half cup frozen yogurtChocolate: (Unhealthy Option) Two chocolate or vanilla sandwich cookies/ Two piece dairy milk/ half bar snickers.Meats: Healthy Option: one pc skinless roasted chicken breast or lean turkeyCereal: 1 slice of whole grain bread, ½ cup of streamed brown rice, 5 tablespoons of dried oatmeal, or 1 cup of air-popped popcorn.Make smarter and healthier snack choices and control those junk food cravings.

6 Not So Healthy Foods

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
If you look out for healthy snacks in the grocery store, you need to read this to know which healthy snacks are really healthy, and which are not.Unfortunately some of the not so healthy products are being commercially sold to people  as “Healthy/Diet Foods”. Here are a few examples that will tell you how and why they are not so healthy:Diet:Snacks (Namkeens): The original snacks foods (namkeens) have been forced to share the shelf space with the "diet namkeens" that are baked or roasted as opposed to being fried. Now, is the cooking method sufficient enough to transform them from being unhealthy to being healthy? Not exactly! Let's show you how - what has been conveniently overlooked is the ingredients that make these healthy namkeens that still remain unchanged. These namkeens might still be high in sodium, sugar, oil & other ingredients like unhealthy flour, and are only relatively healthier than the original namkeens.Granola Bar: Granola bars are being promoted as a quick energy snack. Most of the granola bar varieties being sold commercially are full of sugar, corn syrup, and saturated fat. In reality these bars are almost equivalent to the cookies in their health contentEnergy Drinks: Popularity of energy drinks has been mostly contributed by sportsmen/women and athletes endorsing it as an instant energy source. However keep in mind that the people endorsing these need quick resources of energy to keep them going. This is not always applicable source is not applicable to the average person with a sedentary or a mildly active lifestyle, which in comparison are not as physically demanding as playing a sport! These energy drinks are high on sugar content, which as you know .. excess sugar in the body promotes fat storage.Low Fat Salad Dressing: Summers are approaching and salads will be the most popular meal option once again.  With the increasing health awareness “low-fat” has found its way to the salad dressings arranged on the shelves of the grocery stores. While these new low fat salad dressings offer a reduced amount of fat, the taste is often salvaged by adding sugar. If you want low-fat salad dressing you can create them at home with simple ingredients like lime juice, olive oil, vinegar & home-made yogurt.Fruit juices: Most packaged fruit juice is not 100% fruit juice. Packaged fruit juices use added sugar and sweeteners to enhance the taste. Besides this, the main fiber of the natural fruit pulp is missing from the packaged fruit juices. If you are feeling thirsty hydrate yourself with plain water. As for nutrition there is no substitute for fruits in their natural form.Diet Sodas: There are multiple studies around this, to know if diet soda is bad for your health.Also studies have shown, people consume higher portions of 'healthy snacks'. While the calorie density might not be much lower, people might actually land up consuming more calories than when snacking on the 'original snacks'.

Best Metabolism Boosting Foods

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Boosting your metabolism means burning more calories, and who wouldn't want that? You can positively affect your metabolism with what you eat. Food can stoke your metabolism, making it more efficient, which ultimately means a healthier you. Here’s how you can boost your metabolism.1. Eat Whole GrainsWhole grains are metabolism boosting foods with packed fiber. They also take more work to chew, literally making your mouth work harder. This increases the thermic effect of food — the calorie-burn bump we get from eating and digesting any given type of food. So, be sure to include brown rice, barley, oats, and millet in your diet.2. Sprinkle ChilliesIt has a pungent flavor and healthy healing powers, but the spice can also boost your metabolism by kicking up your body's temperature so just a small amount goes a long way. It is one of the metabolism boosting food groups.3. Go for NutsNuts, like almonds, cashews, and walnuts are excellent sources of magnesium - the nutrient is not only good for a healthy heart but it is also marked as a metabolism boosting foods.4. Use GingerGinger is another warming food that can add heat to your meals, temporarily revving up your metabolism. Add fresh minced ginger to stir-fries, soups, grains, and other Indian dishes.5. Eat YogurtCalcium along with other substances in dairy may actually increase your metabolism, telling your body to burn excess fat faster. The best results come from dairy products such as low-fat cheese, yogurt, and milk .Try to include these metabolism boosting dairy products in your daily routine.6. Drink Green TeaGreen tea contains catechins, an antioxidant that raises resting metabolism by four percent (about 80 calories a day). It is also one of the best metabolism boosting foods.7. Eat More Fruits and VeggiesChewing foods takes energy, which is why eating fruits and veggies is one way to boost your metabolism.Taking more time to chew means your brain has more time to register that it's full, so you consume fewer calories. Aside from raw fruits and veggies, these filing veggie meals will boost your metabolism.

How to Control In-Between Meal Snacking

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
We ensure that most of our meals are healthy. The problem comes when we crave food in between meals. If you feel hungry so often then you certainly need to watch out as eating more food whether healthy or junk leads to weight gain.The biggest trouble with in between snacking is that one craves something that is satisfying and ready to eat. Unfortunately we don't find having salads or fruits as snacks satisfying enough. While junk food or fattening foods manage to hit the spot, instantly satisfying the hunger pang. Gradually these small food breaks stop having the same satiating effect. After sometime the portion size increases  giving way to more food cravings and constant need to eat something Most of the times this snacking is psychological, as in we condition ourselves to feeling hungry even after having proper meals. Here are some reasons and tips to keep the hunger pangs in control, making you eat less.Untimely Meals: Not having meals on time is a big factor in making you feel hungry at odd times . The body follows no patterns and gets used to giving a call at random times which pushes us to eat more than a usual meal. Time your meals and eat food with high fiber and protein to keep you feeling fullerBreakfast: People who don't have a balanced and satisfying breakfast often find themselves binging at odd time. The dissatisfaction of the previous meal  makes the mind want for more and eating unhealthy. Have a good nutritious breakfast with satisfying foodPsychological Factor: Sometimes its a psychological hunger and not real hunger. Read here to know how your brain might be making you fat. Next time you feel hungry right after eating a meal try drinking two glasses of water. The water will work just as well in taking care of your hunger just like any snackWater: Often the lack of water in the body sends the message of hunger to the brain making us want to eat more. Drink some water and see if you are still feeling hungry or  notLoneliness: Sometimes people look at food as a substitute for boredom or loneliness. Maybe instead of turning to food you can look at various activities or hobbies to get you involved and keep you busyUnderstand your body and know when it is actually hungry or just craving food for comfort. This will help you binge less. Also sometimes not having a set routine  pushes you to consume more calories. Get some exercise and ensure you are getting enough sleep.  Consume less of junk food and sweetened soda as it also makes you crave for more food and increases appetite.

Healthy Late Night Snacking

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Do you feel hungrier in night as compared to the day? Did you know that overeating at night can disrupt your sleep, leading to imbalances of hunger and satiety hormones? But choosing right and healthy snack foods can protect you from several adverse effects. Here are some healthy snack options you can opt in night whenever you feel hungry -Handful of Nuts: Whenever you feel hungry in night you can opt for handful of nuts of your choice. Nuts are full of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) which are considered to be good fat, fiber, vitamin and minerals. They will provide you right nutrition and also help you in keeping full for longer. Avoid adding salt or sugar to nuts; you can enjoy nuts with their natural flavor. In fact, 14 raw almonds contain approx 98 kcal whereas 10 raw cashew nuts contain approx 98 kcal. So, it’s not about high content of nuts it about how much you consume.Salad: A salad made of seasonal fruits and vegetables is one of the best night time snacking foods. You can add lettuce, celery, carrots and seasonal fruits to make the salad with a lemon dressing. You can also add almonds to your salad and make it more nutritious.Popcorn: Many people find it comfortable to eat potato chips in night but instead of that try to opt for stove-top popcorn. 1 cup of air-popped popcorn without any fat contains approximately 31 kcal calories. Once popped, sprinkle any of your favorite low-calorie toppings like a dash of chili pepper flakes or dried spices adds lots of flavor without extra calories.Fruits: Fruits are loaded with benefits of antioxidants and fiber. Whenever you feel hungry in night just go and grab a fruit from your refrigerator. Fruits do not add up to too many calories but keep you full for longer. You can go for a cup of mixed seasonal fruits.Jasmine Tea: Jasmine tea is believed to have a tranquilizing effect on body as it calms your nerves which in turn promote sound sleep. A 2005 study conducted by Kyoto University found that the smell of jasmine reduced study participant's heart rates and produced "calm and vigorous mood states". After further experimentation, the researchers attributed this effect to one of the aromatic components of jasmine: (R)-(-)-linalool.Water: According to experts, the human brain sometimes misinterprets signals of thirst as a sign of hunger, so one ends up eating extra calories instead of drinking zero calorie water. So the next time you feel those late night hunger pangs grab a glass of water instead of something to munch on.Late night snacking can be a result of erratic sleep pattern. Try to have a sound sleep of at least 8 hours to avoid such cravings.

Healthy Snack Ideas for the Movies!

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
You can't help but eat something at the movie theatre. It's like a ritual. You just have to! There are plenty of options, but if you're trying to eat healthy, its like a calorie mine field. Here are some tips to eat healthy at the theatre-We recommend grabbing a bite before a movie so you aren't stuck with the limited healthy options at the movies. If you just need to get something even though you are not hungry, get a bottle of water, or a diet soda. You know water can help you lose weight?But, if you really just need to eat something, carry a packet of nuts- they have protein, heart-friendly fats and plenty of antioxidants. If not that, then go for the un-buttered popcorn. It is not the healthiest option but definitely better than that a sugar filled bag of candy, the super-calorie nachos with cheese sauce or the mammoth servings of soda. Some movie theatres have whole wheat sandwiches, so that's a healthy option.And remember that your mom taught you to share- that'll help you get slim. Sharing what you eat is a smart way of cutting those calories. But no digging into your buddy's food!It's not easy to skip all that calorie laden deliciousness at the movies, but just think about how tough it is to burn off those extra calories! You know, it's not worth it. If you still prefer to eat the other options available, just make sure to eat controlled portions! 

7 Best Foods for Your Brain

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Brain is the most complex organ of the human body, so it's essential that we take great care of it for long term brain health. This requires proper nutrition for healthy functioning just like is the case for the heart and other organs. Here are the 7 best foods for your brain that can help you in keeping your brain functioning optimally for a long time.Nuts: Vitamin E is one of the major nutrients required by the brain as it protects your brain from free radical damage which is associated with memory loss with old age. Vitamin E even delays progression of Alzheimer's disease. Nuts are not only a good source of vitamin E, they even have high magnesium content, which delays age-related memory loss.Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids are major nutrients that manage the oxidative stress in older people with mild cognitive decline. Fish and fish oil are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acid.Dark Green Leafy Vegetable: These vegetables are filled with magnesium and folate. Getting adequate folate makes you more alert and it also improves your memory and focus. It helps in lowering blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine that is known to damage brain cells. Also, Magnesium delays age-related memory loss.Berries: Research suggests that flavonoids in berries may cut your risk for Parkinson’s disease because of their anti-inflammatory powers. Berries also help in protecting the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia.Whole Grains: Whole grains like oatmeal or brown rice are rich sources of dietary fiber which reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and other vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure - all of which might affect the brain.Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is rich in powerful antioxidant properties. It also contains several natural stimulants including caffeine, which enhance focus and concentration and stimulates the production of endorphins which helps in improving your mood. However, in spite of these benefits, it is also high in calories, so its advisable to consume them in moderation.Oils: Olive oil, nuts oils, fish oils, flaxseed oil, etc. contain heart-healthy mono-unsaturated omega-3 and omega-9 fats. These fatty acids and polyphenols help to reduce inflammation in your joints and cells. Oils are also a rich source of vitamin E which protects neurons or nerve cells.Include these foods in your diet to makes your more alert, increases immunity to fight age related brain diseases and helps in improving your focus and concentration.

Foods for a Healthy Heart

Ms. Nisha Singh, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Today the world over we are celebrating the "World Heart Day". Indians are fast reaching a point where we are going to be at the number one spot for having most heart disease patients. It's the number one killer for us Indians.So, what are we doing to take care of this most precious organ in our body which works tirelessly for us? The organ which keeps us alive, literally!!Here are a few steps and foods to having a healthy heart.Oats: An excellent source of good fiber, oats contain the kind of fiber that helps to bind the cholesterol in the body and throw it out of the system. Have one bowl of this goodness daily either in the form of savory oats upma or chilla or as a porridge. Wheat Bran: Easily available in the market, wheat bran when added to either your roti flour or used to thicken soups, helps to lower cholesterol and also to lose weight.Almonds: Having 6 to 8 almonds daily helps to improve the good cholesterol in your body. It has the good omega fatty acids and is also a good source of protein and calcium. Even though they are good for the heart, be careful how much you eat because they are calorie dense.Fish: Make sure that you have fish 3 times a week to get the good fatty acids which will help to keep your cholesterol numbers in check.Flax seeds: A spoonful of flax seed powder sprinkled over your salad, mixed in your curd or buttermilk or added to the chutney will help in getting your need for not only fiber but also good fatty acids. Apart from adding these foods listed above in your diet regularly, make sure that you are drinking plenty of water - 8 to 10 glasses daily if you do moderate activity, have 2 to 3 servings of fruit daily and be physical activity - chose any exercise or workout activity you like - Zumba, aerobics, pilates, brisk walk, swimming - whatever you enjoy and make it a regular affair.So, be good to your heart and take care of it!