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Eat healthy: Go low-cal

Anoothi Vishal | September 13, 2005

Now that going low-cal is in fashion and not just for lettuce-nibbling anorexics, all the society heavyweights and lunching ladies are scurrying to instruct their kitchen staff for the next do: No more deep-fried paneer aloo airline-type croquets (thankfully); no more melt-in-the-mouth galoutis (wistfully) either, the kebabs whose tenderness is owed to more animal fat than secrets of papaya enzyme... But that's another story.

image Like we said, it is not just the 'spa parties' that are espousing the cause of healthy eating. Instead, any evening out is incomplete with its own array of low-cal eats. If you are wondering what to serve at your own, here are some ideas: paneer may be healthy but it is definitely passé and all meat -- except fish -- is better avoided.

Instead, what is definitely hot are tofu and nutri-nugget sizzlers.

Strict carnivores may scoff but another healthy veggie snack our lunching ladies are currently espousing is, believe it or not, the idli! Only, this time, these are cocktail idlis (special moulds are available) to be served with an assortment of dips, including the Thai nam pla.

Then, again, there are roasted papads brushed with just a wee bit of olive oil, topped with sautéed onions and tomatoes doing the rounds as desi nachos. Or atta mathris instead of refined-flour tacos with home cut salsa.

But the biggest success story of this party season, affirms weight-management diva Shikha Sharma, is hung curd. "Hung curd instead of cheese dips with blanched vegetables are here, there and everywhere," she says.

Actually, Sharma has a whole sheet devoted to how you can make believe you are eating truly appetising khana instead of enforced low-cal stuff. In winter, soups would naturally be on every weight-watcher's diet. But homemade soups often don't taste as good, do they?

Sharma recommends you make a simple broth with a lot of veggies and then add a bit of packet soup to it for flavour. Don't fry the croutons. Instead, toast bread and spray a little oil. Olive oil sprays are available at fancy stores and are particularly handy since even paranthas can be 'sprayed' over.

For make-believe biscuits, use sugar-free rusks over which you have drizzled just a little butter to give you that buttery satisfaction. "If oil is not used in the cooking but only sprayed on, you can cut down a dish's fat content by almost 80-90 percent," Sharma says.

If pizza is your sin, on the other hand, use hung curd (yes, again) mixed with a little cheese spread instead of mozzarella. Or use it to line your sandwiches or even roti stuffed with greens (what else?).

Non-vegetarians need not despair, there are options even if both nutritionists and fashionistas are unanimous in their choice of meat: Fish.

If you can't stand it raw, despite current sushi-sashimi fixations, go for steamed, the Goan/ Malyalee or Bengali/ Parsee way. Marinate fish in yoghurt, sprinkle spices of your choice and steam rolled up in a banana leaf.

Fancy an ice-cream shake? Make a regular cold coffee (Equal is more than equal) and add one teaspoon of ice cream.

In fact, you can make yourself believe anything, if experts are to be believed. If you want to eat fruit cream, just take a big bowl of healthy fruit and once again mix in one teaspoon ice-cream.

Finally, the most basic of khana. Rice may be a no-no but what do you do if you just can't do without it? Load your plate with veggies and yoghurt and just one tablespoon and think this is, well, biryani -- it's all in the mind.

If that one doesn't work, remember, many of the other suggestions do!

Do you have low-cal recipes of your own? Would you like to share it with our readers?

Write to us.

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