My Cooking Dilemma

A health bug bites me every few weeks. A friend and I usually take a brisk walk during lunch hour, but I inisist on dragging the husband out for another evening walk while its effects persist. And our fridge gets stocked with fruits and broccoli and carrots and salads and the choles and parathas make way for fresh veggies, sprouts and whole-wheat rotis for a while.

I also try and cook healthy, with less oil, ghee and masala in this phase. The concoctions I thus come up with are – how do I put it nicely – hardly lip-smackingly delicious, shall we say? I can see it on the husband’s face with the first bite he takes!

He’ll take his time chewing on his food, avoid eye contact for as long as possible and hastily rearrange his features into a somewhat less unpleasant expression when he catches me looking. A few more pointed looks and he’ll be forced to throw a seemingly casual ‘The sabzi is good, slightly different, but still good’ my way!

But sometimes, when I get tired of the routine myself or when we are having guests over, I cheat. Which means I sort of dip the oil bottle in the direction of the cooking pan and close my eyes for a while. The results are totally predictable of course.

‘The food was delicious today! Did you try something different?’

Oh, it was a new recipe I read on a blog the other day’, I airily reply.

Now, this strategy has two benefits, you’ll find. I have safely avoided revealing the ugly truth for now AND earned some brownie points for my otherwise much-maligned blog-surfing in the process. I know, I am so clever!

But my original problem remains. Do I cook tasty food or do I go the healthy route? I know it’s possible to cook wholesome food that tastes delicious as well, but my culinary skills haven’t reached that level yet. What about you? Have you faced the health versus taste dilemma in your cooking too? How do you handle it? Any tips for me?

P.S. If Baba’s reading this, of course I am exaggerating!

P.P.S. If the husband’s reading this, OF COURSE this story is NOT about us!


23 responses to “My Cooking Dilemma

  1. Why do something like this in the first place?

    Isn’t a better alternative – to manage an exercise routine which ensures you burn your calorie quota for the day/week and then eat “normal” food?

    At least in the maharashtrian style of cooking we don’t tend to use that much oil/ghee … this observation is on the basis of the fact that I always tend to lose weight when I come back home for the annual vacation … aai obviously knows how to cook better than I do 😛

  2. Hmmm… yes, exercise usually is the better solution but it is the tougher one too. 😀 Also, I am not sure how much you cook, but in my experience, most dishes (even Maharashtrian ones) taste a little better with that extra spoonful of oil or ghee!

  3. ok… how about this…. add some fruit/salad to go with your daily ‘normal food’ and try and finish that first? That ways, you’ll eat lesser of the high cal food…

    …or how about using low fat cooking spray and non stick utensils…???

  4. You are hilarious as usual. I love your honest account of such moments. Well, my opinion is that, as long as you are balancing such oil-dipping moments with the health food broccoli storing phases, you guys are going to be okay.
    Baki you have, in your PSs given disclaimers. Stay safe, heee heee.

  5. Eat fruit/salad first is a great idea TS! And do non-stick utensils actually help? I like them too then. But I am not sure about the low fat sprays and stuff – being a vegetarian. I have heard some horrendous stories of what goes into such ‘low fat’ items. 😦

    Hehe D, you too, huh? 😀

    Thank you Mampi-jee, but the disclaimers were not for you, you shouldn’t take them seriously!!! 😉

  6. I hear you, gurl 🙂 No wonder G loves his mamma’s food more than mine! She is very very generous with ghee/oil while I used to tell her to put a little lesser on mine (like in dosas). Her effort was to make us put on weight by making us eat all that greasy stuff (thinking we looked thin cos we starved ourselves!) whereas my effort was on staying healthy irrespective of whether we were fat or not. Obviously, I believe “looking” healthy is nothing compared to “being” healthy.

    Out of sheer enthu and staying healthy, I went and got Olive Oil and the PAM cooking spray. I looked at the ingredients closely too (going by what I heard too). I mainly wanted to use it on the dosa tava more than anywhere cos that is where we use more oil/ghee, I felt. In my enthu, I missed noticing that it said it cannot be used on hot surfaces. So if you have to use it, you have to first spray it and then heat the surface. I’m not so sure it works fine on the dosa tava that way. I’m yet to try it out. I use olive oil in small quantities like for tadka etc. I learned from my friend that if you fry stuff in it, it will not taste as good.

    But as ThoughSafari mentioned, salads and fruits are great. These days, I’ve made it a point to eat one fruit every morning and night. If that is boring, I make a fruit salad and store it. That is going into our stomachs faster 🙂

  7. Yes, Yes,… been there…
    A few days back, hubby and I ate only salads for dinner. Oh the salads looked so pretty! After a week, I got tired of chopping the veggies and as a treat for dieting so hard we had hot chocolate fudge with ice cream that night…
    Now we are thinking of joining a gym!!! [:D]

  8. Ha..The tasty ya healthy debate…I take the latter option definitely. Esp for someone who is too lazy to exercise and too food loving to diet, I know this is the only way it can work. Whole grains, veggies, and olive oil on a daily basis is the only way I can offset the occasional sugar cravings I succumb to!
    And 4 yrs of hostel food just killed my taste buds I tell u. I am no longer picky about taste. So healthy chalega! With my husband, I play the healthy card and point to his ever growing belly and he takes the bait 😉

  9. Hi D,

    Healthy food does not have to be bland or uneatable. I don’t know what your eating habits are, but the following will help:

    1. If you make your own parathas / chapatis – buy whole wheat flour – the package should list “whole ground wheat” etc as the first ingredient. Kawaan is a ready made brand with whole wheat flour chapatis.

    2. Use fresh vegetables – I’ve found that cooking for the week is easier than cooking everyday. I make five vegetables and 50 chapattis on Sunday, you cook once, you clean the kitchen once – you’re done for the week. YMMV of course !! 🙂

    3. When you cook – use a spoon to measure oil. Don’t just pour it in using one of those fancy oil bottles. And you *need* healthy fats for good health. That means approx teaspoon per person per meal. More than enough for the usual tadka etc.

    4. Eat a fruit after each meal. Snack on fruits. drink smoothies with whole fruit. fruit is your friend.

    5. If you are into sandwiches and such like – use whole wheat bread/pasta – yes I know it tastes like cardboard – well, tough – stomach it. make your own sauce – once you make tomato sauce/ dressings/convenience foods at home, the store bought stuff will taste too salty. guaranteed.

    6. Follow the 25-25-50 rule. 25 percent lean protien (lean meat or daal), 25 percent carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta etc) 50 percent vegetables and fruit.

    7. So, add all that and you have a dinner meal of – chapattis, one vegetable, one yogurt based raw veggie salad (remember, three servings of dairy a day), daal, rice and fruit for dessert.
    lunch – whole wheat bread with some sort of lean protien (beans, deli meat or eggs), veggies (tomato, onion, veggie dip) and condiments. and fruit for dessert.

    8. Masalas are not bad for you. Only if you have acidity issues will too much spice bother you.

    9. READ NUTRITION INFO. Store bought stuff is good in moderation. BUT READ THE NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION. Ditto about eating out. I’m not passing judgement on lifestyles or anything (I love eating out and take out too) but that food is apt to be unhealthy in most cases.

    10. Last but not least – there is no short cut to healthy living. Repeat ten times. People expect to pop a pill and “melt” away fat. Not going to happen. Eat a healthy diet, exercise in moderation – and be happy. Don’t discount the importance of happiness !! 🙂

    Soory about the looooong comment, but I had borderline GD during my pregnancy with E. So I *had* to jump start good eating habits. It was hard to start off with, but now I’m so used to this, that I find it hard to eat any other way.

    Good Luck,

  10. Olive oil is something I’m think of too M. It’s too expensive to use for everything, but for small tadkas and all it should work. I hardly ever fry stuff anyhow. Thanks for the spray tip too!

    Hot choco fudge with icecream… Mmmmm…!! You are one mean girl POJB, tempting me with that! 😉 Hey, just kidding! Wish you luck with the gym plans.

    I unforunately never lived in a hostel Jira, so the taste buds are alive and kicking and a big nuisance I tell you! And you are lucky your husband swallows the bait so easily. Whenever I suggest we go on a salad/fruit diet, the husband is quick to wash his hands off it all. Just give me my usual rice-dal-roti-sabzi please, and then I’ll have fruits with you, he’ll say! 🙂

    Wow Priya, your comment will be like my Bible from now on. No seriously, these are all great tips, thanks so much! And I am getting such wonderful free dietician advice here, what are you apologizing for? 🙂

    Now you are talking Ritu! I am exactly like that, not the first hour perhaps, but the first week definitely!

  11. I loved all of Priya’s advice! (I think I’ll be using it too. Hehehe.)

    You’re so right – there is a tradeoff when cooking healthy food and compromising some taste for it, because most of the “delicious-ness” of cooking – especially Indian cooking – comes from the ghee and oil and masalas used to spice it up! When we cut back on that, the food doesn’t taste quite as great on the tongue as it could have. But, of course, it is probably healthier. I don’t know how my mom does it, but she cuts back on these fatty items AND everything still tastes damn good. I think it’s because she realizes she can’t only cut back a little bit on the ghee and oil but still use a minimal amount from time to time (after all, the body does need some fats and some fats are actually good!). The key is to really balance out our calorie intake with exercising. That way, even if you add a little bit of extra ghee in something, it’s fine, you can just go work it out later on. 🙂

    Btw, this post was amusing to read. You have a real nice writing style!

  12. I second Priya’s suggestions – we haven’t noticed any change in taste in the food. I would avoid Pam though…the thing has so many additives, and for dosas, left a wierd smelling residue on the dosa for us. I use the old fashioned iron dosa tava (weighs a good 3 Kgs, as my poor luggage will attest), and well tempered iron needs very little oil.

    Have also thrown out all my non-stick pans, after the last scare on additives/fumes etc.

    Back to the basics, cook in the weekends (both of us work) – we make a batch of dosa/idly batter, plus chappaties, a few curries, sambar etc. I keep veggies cut and ready, so mid-week, I can make a quick curry, as needed. Rice and plain dal is made everyday (for the kids)

    Like everything else, practice helps 🙂


  13. Yes, I go through this same thing every single week! I guess if we eat healthy 5 out of 7 days, its enough 😀

    Im with M on the nonstick, and cooking spray… ick.

  14. You got the heavy tava from India? Wow M! You know, when I was setting up home, I was so sure I didn’t want the old style cooking pans and all in my kitchen. And now I am slowly realizing old style is best in many cases after all – steel dabbas better than plastic, iron better than non-stick… We are so foolish in rejecting the old blindly na? Oh, and I honestly don’t remember, have you commented here before? If not, welcome! 🙂

    You mean I can pig out on 2 days Mirchi?!! 😀 Sounds good to me!

  15. I never compromise on tasty food. Good food is the one thing I really enjoy. Instead, i have been trying to exercise more regularly, to keep the fat off. In any case, as long as you don’t over-indulge on high-cholesterol or fat items, you should be fine. I try to manage the portions/serving sizes, and my best trick, i try to eat a fruit after dinner. Makes me feel less guilty!! 🙂

  16. You know Chakli, that’s a philosophy I tend to follow most of the times too. But the ‘trying to exercise’ part only happens in fits and bursts which is my main problem!

  17. 😀

    i obviosuly have absolutely no tips on this one! :p

    it was good to get some though!!

    and we have once again re-started excercise thingummie! lets see how long it lasts this time!

    LOVED the post!


  18. oh – I so identify with you dilema. Its almost the same story at my place 🙂 But you know what – Now finally after 8 yrs of marriage , my husband has finally got used to low fat food – though he still likes some things oily 😦

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