Seems to be the season of Farmers Markets. I went to a Farmers Market last Sunday at The Yoga House in Indiranagar, Bangalore. Stalls showcasing delicious organic honey (monofloral and regular) by Honey Day, pomegranate tea, chocolates and toffees by Maduban, a variety of organic foods by the organic store i2cook, whole wheat goodies by Lluvia bakery, organic millet cookies by Belly & Soul, and the ever popular organic dairy foods by Akshayakalpa and much-in-demand organic fresh vegetables & grains by Buffalo Back. Although it was a small initiative, I picked up some nice items in this market which was put together by Vishalakshi Padmanabhan of Buffalo Back.
And there’s another Farmers Market organised by the well known food expert, Karen Anand, on Sunday, March 2nd at the Royal Orchid Hotel (off old airport road) from 11 am to 7 pm. Participants vary from restaurants and home bakers to wineries and foodies. One can expect organic vegetables, fruits, cheeses, bakery foods and gourmet foods in this market. Culinary demonstrations are also planned.
I received an email that talks about some top diet & nutrition trends in the US for 2014. Some of the listed trends are anti-wheat sentiment, reviving ancient grains, fading of low-fat diets, keeping health in mind while shopping, increase in misinformation about nutrition from unqualified persons, and so on.
To draw a parallel in India, I think that the following will be popular in our country –
On another note, tomorrow (10th January) is being observed as Dietetics Day in India. This is in recognition of the science of nutrition & dietetics, and also to promote the qualified professionals.
A research study recently published in the West says that organic milk is more beneficial than non-organic version. Although all varieties of milk contain protein, calcium, riboflavin and other nutrients, organic milk was found to have a better balance of essential fatty acids – omega 3 and omega 6. More of omega 3 fats and less of omega 6 fats is known to be heart healthy. Omega 6 fats (which come thru some of the high PUFA oils, fried snacks, etc) in excess can be one of the causes for many illnesses. Organic milk with its greater proportion of omega 3 fats can become an addition in the list of omega 3 foods like fish and flaxseed. Additionally, organic foods are always good for the earth!
Here’s a piece that I wrote on Foxtail Millet which was published in Sunday Chronicle, across India on December 01, 2013. If you haven’t yet eaten foxtail millet, you might want to try it.
Foxtail millet (aka kangni, kand, navane) might not be on our regular shopping list but has been a part of traditional Indian cuisine. With organic and locally grown foods becoming more popular in some countries, it’s time we look at our backyards for healthy foods. Foxtail millet as the name suggests, belongs to the millet family and is a whole grain. Millets are supposed to be one of the oldest cultivated foods known to humans. Millets have been popular in Africa, China and India for many centuries. Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness they are not widely consumed.
Nutritionally speaking, the calorie value of foxtail millet is similar to other millets and cereals. The advantage with this millet is that it contains almost 3 times more fiber than rice and wheat. This would be a great food on the meal plan of weight watchers and diabetics. It also contains more minerals than rice and wheat. Foxtail millet does not contain gluten and therefore can be used by persons with celiac disease.
Foxtail millet is tolerant to drought and adapts to various soils and temperatures. Organically grown foxtail millet is available in India. An organic millet mix that is available in Bangalore has 8 varieties of millets in it. You might find foxtail millet in online stores too.
Foxtail millet can be cooked along with rice or all by itself. Food bloggers have written about using this millet to make khichdi, idli, dosa, upma, as a salad ingredient, and so on. Make this healthy whole grain a part of your diet.
We received a gift box of dark chocolates and the label said ‘no added sugar, made with organic jaggery’. I was happy to try this new product till I read the ingredients list. At the top of the list was maltitol (a sugar alcohol) which is a sugar substitute. Maltitol has about half the calories of white sugar and not as sweet as sugar. Large quantities of maltitol can have a laxative effect. The second ingredient listed was hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hydrogenated oils contain trans fat which are not heart-friendly. So, the 2 ingredients used in highest quantities in this new chocolate were not condusive to health! Then came the better ingredients like cocoa solids and organic jaggery! They seemed more like a consolation to health!! So the sweetness in this chocolate was from maltitol and jaggery, and hence the claim ‘no added sugar’.
‘No added sugar’ does not necessarily mean that there’s no other sweetening agent in a product. Sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, honey, jaggery, high fructose corn syrup are some of the ingredients that taste sweet but are not sucrose (white sugar). So, beware of food products that make claims on labels.