Your health is in your hands. Make it or break it!
This is Ravneet Bhalla - a knowledge management professional, who is more into research and writing by profession, and a health freak by choice. I love to eat and drink healthy, for I believe "a healthy me is a happy me." With that said, my focus is not only on eating clean but also on staying active & kicking.
But there are several hurdles to staying healthy these days. Agree?
While we all talk of the polluted environment, with toxins floating around everywhere, the food we eat is no less adulterated either. Sigh!!
There is a serious lack of trust because we are living in a commercialized world. No matter what the brand, are you confident their product is 100% pure? When we say 100 percent pure, we mean it is
- devoid of chemical preservatives, refined sugar, refined flours
- free from fillers, additives, artificial colors, chemical flavors
True, we are living in an age where purity is a dream and the brands out there will not hesitate to turn your dream into a nightmare. Sigh!! No, I do not intend to intimidate you, but my goal is to send you into the thinking mode to help you make conscious choices.
Of course, I am not going to share any food adulteration statistics to send shivers down your spine because somewhere in our hearts, we know we are not getting 100% pure edible products. Since you are part of this healthy baking community, you are already aware of the evils of packaged stuff/ready-to-eat food.
So why let food manufacturers continue to entice us with their tall claims of purity when we know there is no guarantee of 100 percent purity. What is the way out then?
Well, making your own ingredients from scratch should be the right way forward. When you make something at home, you have a guarantee that your family is eating pure, unadulterated edibles.
What's more, when you make raw material at home, you add more nutrition to the food in addition to your love. For example, when you make a whole grain flour or millet atta at home, you can amplify its nutritional quotient by choosing to sprout the grains before milling them. Sprouting will add more fiber, protein, and nutrition to the food, making it nutritionally dense as compared to storebought atta, which is milled, refined, and often bleached. Remember, the coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced the need to strengthen your body defenses and immune system. By choosing to eat healthy, nutritionally dense food, you can strengthen your body's barriers to disease, viruses, and illness.
Again, there is literally no guarantee of hygiene too when you reach out to a product on the store shelves.
But homemade is mom made and as the queen/king of your family's health, you are the most trusted person at home, who takes care of hygiene, purity, and nutritional quotient.
True, making your baking stuff from scratch amounts to hard work, but remember, it is a labor of love that promises you good health. If you are a working woman, the topic to make your baking ingredients from scratch is out of the syllabus. Many of you cite time constraints as the major reason. So you do not hesitate to reach out to store-bought stuff.
But my dear friends, making your basic baking ingredients from scratch gives you the satisfaction of purity and quality. Okay so let me give you one example of why adulterated food is dangerous. The most common ingredient that we reach out to is flour, right? Would you believe reports that claim that flour might be adulterated with chalk powder, talc, weed seeds, and boric powder? (source: fssai)
Food for thought!!
Food is adulterated when it
- is mixed with something that depletes its value
- is combined with a low-quality substitute
- is colored to improve its visual appeal
- is mixed with a substandard alternative that lowers its nutritional value
Lethargy, negligence, lack of awareness, and indifference are some of the factors that have given food merchants the green signal to play with the lives of consumers. Of course, the poor enforcement of food safety measures is a major concern. But we can at least take steps to shun the habits that have been keeping us from taking that one step forward toward making all that we can at home from scratch.
Now if you say you do not have time to make these ingredients from scratch, you should look for organic brands that promise to sell natural foods. Though there is a guarantee of quality and chemical-free organic products, organic may not be easy to afford for a majority of us. Since it is natural, organic food producers work hard to keep their products as natural as possible. So for those who cannot afford organic stuff, making your baking ingredients from scratch is the best way out.
Now the major problem with making your ingredients at home is that homemade stuff has a short shelf life. I admit, it is tough to keep your homemade stuff free from pests, mold, and bad bacterial growth. I have tried various tricks to keep these unwanted guests from entering my homemade stuff. In my observation, the climate of a place has a lot to do with regard to pest infestation. For example, if you are in a coastal region (such as Odisha), you will find it extremely tough to preserve food, irrespective of the fact whether it is homemade or store-bought. In my 2-year-long stay in Odisha, I have experienced these problems closely. Back home in Delhi, the story was different. The speed with which mold or bad bacteria enter the food in Odisha has taken me by surprise. Either seal everything tight to leave no space for air infiltration or follow the tips below. But yes, not all of us have access to vacuum seal technology. But it works like a charm in food preservation.
Never mind, let's move forward.
My experience in Odisha has helped me understand food preservation techniques better. To me, refrigeration is the best way to prolong the shelf life of homemade ingredients. In fact, I keep everything in the fridge to prevent them from going bad. My refrigerator back home stocks nuts, nut flours, nut butters, spices, jaggery, seeds, lentils, legumes, sprouted flours, pseudocereals, millet flours, and what not. Here's a secret, just before traveling to Odisha on a 2-month holiday in 2019, I had filled my refrigerator with my stock of nuts and seeds, which are an integral part of my baking regime. That 2-month holiday had to be extended to 2 years, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and family pressure. Now that I plan to go back home after 2 years, I hope to see my refrigerator active and kicking because it is a stock house of my precious gems. If my fridge is still working fine, then my stuff should be good for use. No, I do not want any negative vibes!!!
So your refrigerator is your best preservation tool. Pack your homemade stuff in airtight containers or zip lock bags and nothing can spoil it.
However, I suggest sunbathing your homemade flours once a week if your refrigerator cannot stock it all. That means if you live in a humid climate, keeping your stuff in direct sunlight covered with a cloth is a good way to keep the moisture away. Remember, it's the moisture that breeds bacterial and mold growth.
Alternatively, you may even throw in a few cloves, bay leaves, or cinnamon barks to your sprouted flour, besides keeping them in the sun once a week or every 10 days. I have been following this trick in Odisha and dropping a handful of cloves and 1-2 cinnamon barks in my homemade flours to shun away bad bacteria. If you choose to refrigerate your stuff, then you do not need to follow the "clove, cinnamon mantra."
Another method to keep flours, homemade or storebought, from pests is to dry roast them slightly. I have done this with homemade cornmeal or makki ka atta. My MIL keeps semolina dry roasted always because it is prone to infestation really quickly since they source it from a local mill.
You know that junk food is unhealthy. But knowingly, you still reach out to that piece of junk and eat it to satisfaction. When you are struggling with your junk addiction, how to train your mind to hate junk?
it all begins with unraveling the reason why you love junk.
well, the reason is simple.
junk food manufacturers know how to tempt your taste buds with a good amount of fats, sugar, and salts, and additives.
do you know by not making your ingredients at home, you are helping commercial businesses make big money for the sake of your health? I prefer to make my own baking ingredients from scratch because the lack of trust keeps me from reaching out to packaged stuff. for example, I love vanilla. so instead of investing in vanilla essence (which is a chemical), I went ahead to get my hands on vanilla powder- organic, of course.
but gradually, I realized vanilla powder sitting on the store shelves is not the real thing. what prevented me from buying vanilla essence was the doubt on the quality of ingredients. vanilla essence is quite cheap compared with vanilla extract or vanilla bean/powder. but manufacturers know how to dupe you. they will not give you the real product even if you are giving them good bucks. even vanilla powder comes adulterated with - cornflour and sugar.
Does that give a reason to reject that stuff on the store shelves?
well, it does. it surely gives me a reason to dig deeper into the label of ingredients to ensure I am eating right.
So you have decided to make your baking ingredients from scratch. Sounds easy, right? But when you start to make these ingredients, you tend to find a number of reasons why you should not attempt doing so. There are 'n number of products that you can make from scratch at home and go gaga over it. You will be happy you did.
For example, you start making your flour at home. A millet flour, to be precise. Do you end up with fine powder that you get at the mill or do you end up with a gritty powder that does not please your inner self?
Of course, this was a reality with me too sometime back. Making your own ingredients at home is a labor of love that you want to spend time at for numerous health reasons.
Now you might ask: what is the need to make your own ingredients when the market is flooded with all types of stuff?
Quality, mistrust, disbelief, adulteration, and hygiene top the list of my reasons.
Look for the green tick mark, which symbolizes FSSAI certification
Organic represents holistic wellness, which we aim for in our lives.
In order to make nut butter at home, all you need to dry roast nuts and then pulse nuts to powder...continue to grind until you get a paste-like consistency...
Canola is genetically modified, hydrogenated, and refined -
extra virgin olive oil- high smoke point and does not change its natural state or chemical structure upon heating. the loss of nutrients is relatively less as compared with other types of refined oils..
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