Diwali 2023 special: Lip-smacking delights to keep cholesterol in check
Worried about excessive intake of sugary treats during Diwali? Here are low-fat desserts that will satiate your sweet tooth and safeguard your heart health.
Diwali is around the corner and considering the festival is synonymous with sweets, many of us end up adding excess calories to our diet and inches to the waistline. While Diwali binge cannot be always avoided, a healthy makeover of popular sweets can certainly provide relief to the over-worked digestive system. So, as you get set to prepare your shopping list for the festival of lights, do not forget to include millets, seasonal fruits, dry fruits, nuts, jaggery and honey. Making traditional Diwali sweets like laddoo, kheer, shrikhand at home with healthy ingredients is not only fun but also an amazing way to keep your blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check. (Also read | Nankhatai and Fulwadi to impress your guests this Diwali: Recipes inside)
"Diwali is back. We Indians are extremely fond of festivals and Diwali ranks number one. It is a time to rejoice and celebrate with our loved ones and also to exchange gifts and delicious food. This many a times can lead to over indulgence in calorie-rich sugary and fried treats. Foods high in sugar and fats don’t just increase the calories but also put our health at risk of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardio vascular disease (CVD), high blood pressure, obesity and cancers," says Dr Meghana Pasi, Nutrition Consultant, MyThali Program, ArogyaWorld.
How cholesterol levels can be managed during Diwali
A high fat diet, the one especially high in saturated fats can increase the total cholesterol levels in our body. It also increases LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) which can clog the arteries and lead to CVD.
"Instead of scheduling for a fat-free or sugar-free detox after the festivities and joining a yoga class or gym, let us be mindful before and during the festival of our eating choices. Maintaining a balanced diet is the key to stay fit, energetic and healthy throughout this festive season," says Dr Pasi.
"A person’s diet plays a crucial role in their cholesterol levels — some foods can increase cholesterol, while others lower it. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can help prevent several health issues. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that travels through the bloodstream as a part of two lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). People sometimes refer to LDL cholesterol as 'bad' cholesterol because it causes fatty deposits to build up in the blood vessels. These deposits can block trusted source blood flow and cause heart attacks or strokes. HDL, or 'good', cholesterol helps remove cholesterol from the body through the liver. High HDL cholesterol levels can reduce the risk of heart problems and strokes," says Chef Dheeraj Mathur from Radisson Blu Kaushambi.
What goes into a heart-healthy diet
A heart-healthy diet must include whole grains, fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, high-fibre food among other foods.
A heart-healthy low-cholesterol diet may include foods like plants with high water content, like spinach and other leafy greens, high-fibre foods including beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and a range of vegetables, whole grains or millets, fruits and berries such as blueberries, strawberries, apples, oranges, and grapes, nuts such as walnuts and almonds. Millets reduce cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular diseases. The magnesium content in millet reduces the frequency and effects of migraine and heart attacks. Studies show that consuming foods rich in dietary fibre prevents the incidence of obesity," adds Chef Dheeraj.
This Diwali try some of these recipes by Dr Meghana Pasi and Chef Dheeraj Mathur to reduce fat intake and in turn keep your cholesterol in check.
1. Avocado Shrikhand
Avocado pulp - 1 cup
Hung curds - 1 cup
Honey – ¾ cup
Dry fruits - ½ cup
- Take 1 cup of hung curd and 1/2 a cup of avocado pulp in a bowl and whisk it till it gets blended to a creamy texture.
- Add 3/4 cup of honey, some dry fruits if you like, give it a mix again, and you're almost done!
- Now repeat the same procedure without the avocado and make plain shrikhand with the remaining ingredients.
- Take a shot glass, dip the edge of the glass in honey, and coat it with finely chopped almonds.
- Now put 2 layers of avocado shrikhand and a layer of plain shrikhand on top of it. Lastly, add another layer of avocado shrikhand again.
- Top the shrikhand shots with dry fruits (your choice – could be apricots, raisins and almonds)
- Serve immediately or chill it for more taste!
- Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Studies have shown decrease in levels of LDL on consuming Avocados. Honey contains a diverse group of chemical components known as polyphenols. Many studies have found that natural honey reduces triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in our body.
2. Flaxseeds Til Dates Ladoo
Grated dates - 1 cup
Flaxseeds - 1/4 cup
Sesame seeds - 3 tbsp
Pealed cardamom - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Chopped almonds - 2 tbsp
- Add dates to a blender and make it into a coarse paste and keep it aside without adding any water.
- Pan roast flax seeds for 2-3 minutes at a low flame. Then transfer it to a plate and let it cool down.
- Roast sesame seeds in the same pan. When it cools, grind both roasted sesame and flax seeds in the dry grinder along with peeled cardamom to a semi-coarse mixture.
- Transfer it to a bowl along with the dates. Now in a large kadai heat 1 tbsp of ghee and add chopped almonds.
- Roast this on low flame for 2 minutes and add all the other ingredients.
- Give it a nice mix, turn off the stove, take the required quantity of mixture, and roll it into a round ladoos.
Benefits of the recipe
"Flaxseeds have 30% dietary fibre. Flaxseeds help in lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Ghee, also known as clarified butter, has been used as a restorative agent in Ayurveda for thousands of years. It improves the absorption and assimilation by increasing the digestive fire (agni). Research on Ghee reveal its beneficial effects on decreasing total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Also, dates are high in soluble fibre, which can help lower cholesterol when consumed as part of a healthy diet," says Dr Pasi.
3. Ragi Kheer
Ragi flour - 1 tbsp
Grated jaggery - 1 tbsp
Cardamom powder - ¼th tbsp
Milk (coconut milk is the vegan option) - 150 – 200 ml
Water (can replace with milk if a creamier texture is desirable) - 1 cup
Crushed dry fruits - 1 tbsp
- Dry roast the ragi flour. In 2-3 minutes it starts to change colour and you can smell the aroma. Set aside to cool.
- Once cool, make a ragi slurry, first using small quantity of water (2/3 tablespoons). Make sure there are no lumps. Then add additional water (100-150 ml) to slurry and mix.
- Start heating the milk. Add cardamom powder, and crushed dry fruits/nuts of your choice. Once the milk starts to boil, slowly pour ragi slurry into it while constantly stirring the mixture.
- In about 2-3 minutes of boiling, the mixture starts to thicken. Keep stirring until you achieve a creamy consistency (as thick as you like) and turn the flame off.
- Add grated jaggery and stir again.
- Serve hot and enjoy.
Benefits of the recipe
"Ragi is a very nutritious millet, high in dietary fibre and essential amino acids. It contains amino acids - lecithin and methionine, which help lower cholesterol by removing excess fat from the liver. Dry fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as monounsaturated fat, which can help decrease cholesterol," says Dr Pasi.
4. Ragi Laddoo
Step 1 : Gather the ingredients
1 cup ragi flour
3/4 cup jaggery grated or powdered)
1/4 cup ghee
1/4 cup chopped nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
A pinch of salt
Step 2: Dry roast the ragi flour
Heat a pan over medium heat and add the ragi flour. Dry roast the flour for about 5-7 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent burning.
The flour should turn slightly aromatic and light brown. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Step 3: Prepare the jaggery syrup
In a separate pan, add the jaggery and a little water (just enough to cover the jaggery). Heat the pan over low heat and stir until the jaggery completely dissolves. Strain the jaggery syrup to remove any impurities and set it aside.
Step 4: Combine the ingredients
In a mixing bowl, add the roasted ragi flour, cardamom powder, pinch of salt, and chopped nuts (if desired). Mix well to combine the ingredients evenly.
Step 5: Make the laddoos
Heat the ghee in a small pan until melted. Pour the melted ghee into the dry mixture and mix thoroughly. Gradually add the strained jaggery syrup to the mixture while continuously mixing. The mixture should be moist enough to form laddoos.
Step 6: Shape the laddoos
Take a small portion of the mixture and roll it between your palms to form a round laddoo.
Step 7: Allow to cool and set.