What’s Diwali without loads of mithai – kaju katli, laddoos, gujiya, mohanthal, halwa, biscuits, cookies, and so much more. But these indulgences can wreck your digestion as well as your diet & healthy eating plans. Staying fit and healthy in the festive season with so many temptations wherever you look can be a challenge. But, no more. I am here to help you stay fit without breaking up your relationship with mithai. Now, that’s a deal you would be interested in, won’t you?
Here’s what you need to do then:
Stick to homemade sweets
Homemade sweets are healthier and promise to be adulteration-free. The quality of the ghee, sugar, khoya, jaggery, etc. used in homemade sweets is ‘mom-approved’ or ‘grandmother-approved’, and use the best seasonal ingredients that are good for the body. Indulge in sweets made using jaggery and honey instead of sugar, and you are on your way to healthy eating. Insist on making sweets using whole wheat flour instead of maida and you’re sorted!
Load your sweets with spices
Our Indian traditions have ensured that we can maintain our health throughout the year, taking into account the changing seasons and our body rhythms that keep up accordingly. This is why our traditional mithai use a lot of different spices and ingredients that are helpful and healthy. So, go on add some saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom to your mithai. Now, every bite you take, you are working towards being healthy.
Mind when you indulge
If healthy eating & staying fit is your goal, then avoid indulging in mithai post-meals. You should also avoid consuming mithai after sunset as much as possible. Our digestion progresses through the day in line with the Sun, it is the strongest in the morning and then begins weakening as the day passes. So, the best time to eat mithai is in the morning or as a mid-day snack. You can also eat it after a quick workout, say a walk or jog in the park or some pilates or skipping ropes, or whatever you prefer.
To keep it healthy, have a handful of nuts along with your mithai.
Steer clear of the trans-fats
Dalda or hydrogenated vegetable oil has been pretty infamous and rightly so. They are harmful for the body and contribute to harmful LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol to the body. Instead, insist on eating mithai made in shudh desi ghee – made from healthy cow or buffalo milk fat only. Ghee is super healthy for the body, especially for your heart. Ghee also helps keep your blood-sugar levels in control.
Drink more water
Water is a tasteless, colorless miracle drink. It is also a powerful appetite-suppressant. To make it more healthy, infuse it overnight with lemon, cucumber, berries, mint leaves, and/or any citrus fruit you like and then keep sipping it through the day. This will help you remove harmful toxins from your body and help you stay healthy & fit. To keep up with your unhealthy habits this festive season, drink even more water than you usually do.
Go back to your traditions
While cakes, cookies, and modern twists are all the rage in festive seasons now, there’s nothing like traditional Indian mithais. So, go talk to your dadis and nanis and aunts, and get together with them to recreate their age-old recipes. It is not only fun and makes for happy Instagram memories, but will also help you make & have healthy mithais.
Don’t be a couch potato
It can be as festive as you want it to be, but don’t bunk out on that morning jog. Continue being active through the day. Walk on your terrace or in the nearby park or wherever you feel comfortable for at least 30 minutes a day, jump ropes, and do some simple exercises at home. A lot of health and fitnesses coaches are sharing amazing tips and exercises on Instagram – Deepika Mehta, Malaika Arora, Yasmin Karachiwala, and many more. So, follow them and do what they say. Set reminders in your phone to get up and move around every hour.
Here’s a recipe for my favorite sooji ka halwa. This is my own recipe, that I use to make the halwa every time, so it is completely tried and tested.
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup desi ghee
1/2 cup sooji
Nuts of your choice (I use cashews, almonds, raisins, and some pistachios, roast them beforehand in desi ghee)
1/8 tsp cardamom powder (or more if you like)
- In a pan, take the ghee and allow it melt and warm up.
- Once the ghee is warm, add in the sooji and roast it till it turns pink & fragrant.
- Then add in the water and milk to it. Sometimes, I skip the water, and use about double the quantity of milk. Doing this gives me a richer and creamier halwa. So, you can choose what you like.
- Keep stirring to ensure the sooji doesn’t stick to the bottom and the liquids blend well. The sooji will absorb the liquid and the halwa will begin to thicken with time.
- Once the liquids and sooji have blended well, add the sugar and keep stirring.
- The sugar will dissolve and mix with the halwa.
- If you feel the halwa is a little dry, add a little milk. If required, add a small quantity of ghee, if required.
- Now, cook the halwa till the halwa begins leaving the pan.
- Once cooked, mix in the roasted dry fruits and fold it in
Halwa is ready!
Do try this recipe and tell me how you like it. Some people tend to cook the milk, water, and sugar first, and then add sooji to it. Some people like to make a chashni and then add it to a mixture. You can decide how you would like to do it, or you can experiment and figure out which halwa you like best. I like the one I make with this recipe.
This Diwali, stay healthy, stay fit. Wishing everyone a very happy Diwali and a prosperous new year!