Indian food Bonanza!

10 Nov
delicious indian cuisine

provided via creative commons by flickr user "artfulblogger"

I know, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to post. Life interrupts, sometimes.

BUT, I have still been cooking and continuing my dairy-free lifestyle. I have entirely eliminated dairy products from my diet. No dairy-based seasonings, no nonfat dry milk in my breads. My digestion has stabilized and my allergies have diminished significantly. Moreover, when I occasionally indulge in a cheesy hors d’oeuvre, I pay the price immediately. Done. No dairy.

It’s harder than one might think to live without eating dairy products. I don’t eat out much, and have explored new cooking options at home. My current preoccupation: Indian food.

You might be thinking, Indian food? Don’t they use all sorts of yoghurt and ghee (butter) and cream? And the short answer is yes. But the longer and more rewarding answer is that there are MANY delicious Indian recipes without dairy, or that can be prepared using dairy alternatives. I will share a few of them with you in following posts. First, however, I’d like to address the various benefits of Indian cuisine.

Everyone knows that Indian cooking utilizes a lot of spices: curry, cumin, turmeric, anise, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander… the list goes on. Indian dishes are usually robust, with bold spicy flavors. Traditional cooking in India has been using these spices for thousands of years. Many people in Western cultures, however, do not understand the health benefits of such bold flavors. Here, I’ll take a look at a few of the key elements of Indian cuisine, and explain how they can benefit your health.

1. Turmeric. A relative of the ginger root, turmeric is one of the key spices used in Indian cuisine, giving curry its distinctive yellow color and a fragrant flavor. According to a study conducted by UCLA researchers, turmeric can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and provides powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

A relative of ginger, turmeric is a powder ground from the root of a large-leafed Asian plant. Researchers believe the curcumin it contains fights disease partly by shutting down a powerful protein that promotes an abnormal inflammatory response in the body. The spice also has potent antioxidant properties (and may even lower cholesterol).

Curcumin is medically promising because inflammation and oxidative damage are contributors to so many diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, arthritis and various cancers, said Gregory Cole, a professor of medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA who has conducted numerous studies on the spice

According to the reference book “Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing” 4th edition, 2006, (my nutritional Bible), the following attributes can be linked to turmeric:

  • Fights free radicals
  • Protects the liver from toxins
  • Inhibits platelet aggression
  • aids circulation
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Improves blood vessel health
  • Has antibiotic, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Helps arthritis.
  • Has inhibited the spread of HIV in lab tests.

2. Hot chilies. Capsaicin (the element of chilies that makes them so spicy) has long been revered as a nutritional healing tool. Yes, it’s true. The same spices that make your mouth burn, your salivary glands work overtime, and beads of sweat pour down your brow, also have quite a few proven health benefits. An article from the George Mateljan Foundation conveniently condenses many of the benefits of eating hot chilies:

  • Capsaicin is a powerful anti-inflammatory
  • Lowers blood cholesterol
  • Improves circulation
  • Fights free-radical injury to stored fats
  • Aids in blood clotting
  • Clears congestion (that’s for sure!)
  • Boosts immune system
  • Prevents stomach ulcers
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Chilies can even fight cancer. According to the above article, and a 2006 BBC article, studies have shown that hot chilies can help to fight prostate cancer.

3. Cinnamon. Cinnamon bark is good for much more than baking flair and yule tide aromas. According to “Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing”, cinnamon contains the following health benefits:

  • Relieves congestion
  • Aids digestion
  • Relieves nausea
  • Aids peripheral circulation
  • Aids in the metabolism of fats
  • Fights fungal infection
  • Useful for diabetes and weight loss

4. Vegetables. This seems obvious. It is a well-established fact that higher intake of vegetables reduces your risk of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc. Indian food is chalk full of vegetables, from eggplant to cauliflower, onions to tomatoes. Many times the vegetables constitute the main course, instead of being consumed as a smaller “side dish” as in American cooking. The best part for non-veggie-eaters: you won’t even notice they are there. Indian vegetable dishes are usually very saucy, very aromatic, and very flavorful.

Furthermore, Indian cuisine uses copious amounts of onions, which have been shown to combat several kinds of cancer. Garlic is also heavily used, which has been shown to have powerful antibiotic and antioxidant properties.

There you have it. Indian cuisine isn’t just delicious… it’s good for your health! I’ll share some recipes soon. Tonight’s meal: Punjab Eggplant, Masoor Daal, and coconut rice. Yum!


2 Responses to “Indian food Bonanza!”

  1. Kathi Owens November 10, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    My brother is a buddhist monk and an arevedic doctor and tradition chinese medicien doc He used to be a computer guru go figure so he has talked alot about all this with me and he used to live in New Mexico

  2. mvtiani November 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    I love love love cinnamon! It is one of my favorite flavors in the world. Indian food in general has such a bouquet of aromas–I just love it!

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