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A cookbook ... to lose kilos

ALKA PANDE looks at a book that seems to have the answers leading to happy and healthy living.

Neeru Gupta

"India will be the diabetes capital of the world by 2025".


"Five per cent of the country's population that makes up urban India — consumes 40 per cent of the country's available fat".

The Times of India

LET'S face it. We don't need a compilation of horrifying statistics to tell us how terrible the situation is. We all know it. We all read about it. In fact we've been walking the tight rope between "fat and fit" ever since we reach puberty. Unfortunately, most of us haven't been too successful at crossing it, plunging ever so shamelessly into the corpulence of obesity ... .

"But where is the time?" True, today's fast paced life and high-strung lives leave us with little time to ourselves. Stress levels are rising. With the PC becoming our best friend, our lifestyles are progressively becoming sedentary. Fast lives command fast bites. Globalisation has led to the majority of the world's major fast food chains firmly establishing their outlets in our cities ... and in our diets. Taking care of our health has fallen low in our list of priorities. The result is that people are looking for a magic potion that will help them reach that seemingly impossible equilibrium between "fat and fit" and at the same time not radically upset their routine. Excessive westernisation has also narrowed our concept of what being slim really is, especially among the younger lot, who crave to be waifs, an ironically diametric opposite to the full-bodied, and curvy fertility figures of yesteryear.

Coriander chilled chicken salami cups

In this crazed scenario however, Niru Gupta, a popular cuisine writer and cook show hostess, along with Dr. Shikha Sharma, seems to have found the answer to happy and healthy living. Gupta, also a yoga and Tai chi practitioner, had in the past, tried several weight loss programmes herself. It was only when she followed Dr. Sharma's dietary programme that she lost seven kilos in six weeks. Exhilarated by the results of this effortless dieting when her publisher asked her to write a cookbook on weight loss, she got in touch with Dr. Sharma. Dr. Sharma, on the other hand, confesses that she herself was overweight (13 kg) until a few years ago. After experimentation with weight loss techniques, she evolved her own method based on what she calls "individual constitution".

"I evolved this pattern of eating which helped in losing weight, making it interesting and not torturous!" She wanted to share this achievement with other people who want to lose weight without feeling deprived or sorry for themselves. The collaborative effort resulted in The Weight Loss Cookbook — a practical handbook to guide you into a healthy and enjoyable way of losing weight. (The Weight Loss Cookbook, New Delhi, Value Books, 2002, p. 141, $15 — for more information contact:


It will make it easy for you to understand what you are doing before getting to the delicious part of it — the recipes. Right from understanding the reasons for past failures of weight loss attempts, to having successful diets and maintaining lost weight. Divided into various action plans and menus, both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, the book emphasises one salient principle — each diet plan is in tune with your metabolism, and proteins and carbohydrates are always kept separate. This is what provides an element of surprise, which triggers weight loss. To sustain continuous weight loss, the diets are changed very frequently, so that the body does not get used to them.

Further, this book targets sections of people with possible dietary disorders (frequent travellers, fast food addicts, those with a hectic social life and even those who have a tendency to binge at night) and details solutions for them. The key to right eating lies in the "right combination and right timing of food," says Gupta. The peak efficiency of the body metabolism is during certain times of the day.

Shikha Sharma

If you schedule your eating, then your body is likely to digest food more efficiently, and use energy derived from the foods better.

"It is all about careful selection and planning your food," says Gupta. It is not a calorie counting cookbook. Instead it is about selecting the right type of food. For example, in a basic recipe for making paneer, bread is usually added to make it firm. Niru recommends egg instead. "It may not bring in the same results, but it's the next best alternative, and besides it is less fatty." The book purposes a day-wise diet and teaches you just how to choose the right combination of food even if you're eating out.

Of course exercise is not completely ignored with the diet. A vigorous workout is given a thumbs down. Yoga or walking has been suggested as an alternative. "The book becomes a way of life," asserts Gupta. Dessert recipes are made with artificial sweeteners. "You don't feel deprived," she adds further.

* * *

Try this Orange Cooler


Skimmed milk 11/2 cups
Artificial sweetner 6 tbsps
Mixed together
Skimmed milk cup
Custard powder/corn
flour 4 tbsps
Orange liqueur 1 tbsp
Peeled orange segments,
for garnish


Bring the milk to a boil; add the custard mixture. Stirring continuously bring to a boil. Simmer for a minute and remove from the flame. Stir in the sweetener. Transfer on to a serving dish and leave to set in the refrigerator. Decorate with the orange segments and refrigerate till ready to serve.

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