This food blog has influenced and changed me so much. Food to me was always important but the way I see everything now is new. It had impacted even my immediate family, my friends and all those people who are close to me. It’s going to make a big difference to my current pregnancy and the baby.
Even during my last pregnancy (and before that too) I felt like I was making wise decisions when it came to food. Only now when I look back I realize that I had (and still have) issues with my food habits. It became quite evident during my pregnancy.
I ate healthy before I got pregnant but I think I was eating well more to ‘loose weight’ or ‘stay in shape’. Now, what is wrong in that you might ask… the problem is not all the healthy food is ‘slimming’ and not all the ‘slimming’ food is healthy. So I would think a hundred times before I had so called ‘fattening food’ like nuts, ghee, butter, coconut oil, anything deep fried, cheese and even rice(!!). Whenever I ate anything from the above list I felt guilty. While I enjoyed eating fruits, veggies, greens etc, I deprived myself of simple pleasures like a Vada (deep-fried lentil dumplings eaten commonly for breakfast in South India), hot rice with ghee (clarified butter) or a big bowl of creamy yogurt (curd) made with full fat milk.
When I got pregnant with my daughter I was just recovering from my teenage ‘crash diet syndrome’ and struggling with my early twenties ‘body image issues’. After years of ‘eating healthy’ (which honestly felt like one never ending diet) when I finally found out I was expecting I felt like I had the license to eat whatever I wanted!! Every single person I came across would tell me that I was lucky and I could ‘indulge’ now that I was pregnant. That totally convinced me that this was the time of my life. I could now eat how many ever ice creams a day without having to feel guilty. My attitude was that I was anyway going to gain weight so how does it really matter how I gain it. Then there was the infamous ‘pregnancy cravings’ I could take advantage of. Lets be honest here… who wouldn’t like a big pack of chips in the middle of the night while sitting and watching your favorite movie? Or breakfast out on 4 days a week at your favorite restaurant?
Of course I do not regret gaining all that weight. I had a very healthy pregnancy and a beautiful baby girl after that. I lost all the pregnancy weight within a few months and then (thanks to sleepless nights) I was at my lowest weight since schooldays by the time my daughter was a year old. I only felt bad about the fact that the intention behind it was wrong. I reasons for eating was wrong. Isn’t it ironic that after all those years of struggle to eat better, when it was actually the time to be eating well, I gave least importance to nutrition? It’s the time when I was eating not just for myself but for my changing body and my growing baby. It was the time to eat mindfully and not just indulge in unhealthy processed food because I could.
It’s interesting to see how our emotional relationship with food is so important. I am not claiming that I have recovered from all this. I still carry a big baggage from my past when it comes to eating. But I feel like my overall attitude towards food is a lot better. I can now confidently say that I eat well to mainly stay healthy and not just to stay thin.
This small change in me is making a tremendous difference in the way I am looking at this pregnancy. I am not looking at this special time in my life as a license to eat whatever I want. Instead I am choosing to use this time to eat even better and more mindfully. The intention is not to avoid weight gain to make it easier to get back into shape after the baby instead it is to nourish your body well and feel good about yourself.
I really want to share my food journey during this pregnancy with you all. I am not sure how many posts I will manage, but I hope my recipes, notes and observations about eating well during pregnancy will interest/help/inspire other women. Of course my previous few posts were also designed keeping this in mind but this is my official first post of the pregnancy series. I chose to write about one of my favorite summer drinks, Majjige or Buttermilk.
Summers always meant never ending glasses of cold spicy mildly tangy buttermilk. I grew up enjoying them every single day of my life but summer was the time when I couldn’t live without it. First few years of my life was spent in our farm where we had our own cows. Every morning they were milked and the fresh milk was turned into delicious thick yogurt the same night. Because this is a very hot humid area without refrigeration, the only way to preserve leftover milk (which was plenty every day) was to turn it into yogurt. Then again every morning the thick creamy yogurt was churned into equally thick delicious buttermilk to extract all the butter out of it. This buttermilk would last a couple of days even without refrigeration and the butter would be turned into ghee (clarified butter) to preserve it further. So there was always a HUGE pot of buttermilk for everybody to drink.
Like most of the food, I am rediscovering the joys and beauty of this humble drink from my past. While probiotics are always very good for you, during pregnancy they are extremely important. Buttermilk is the simplest and easiest way to get your daily dose of probiotics.
I browsed through several articles online and put together a list of advantages of adding probiotics to your diet. Special thanks to my friend Santhy who has played a great role in educating me about this and sharing some very informative articles.
- Probiotics help to maintain healthy intestinal flora by greatly increasing the numbers of beneficial microorganisms
- Preserve nutrients and break them down into easily digestible form, increasing the nutritive value of foods due to improved bioavailability
- They can also stimulate the growth of the immune system and play a role in preventing asthma, eczema and allergies.
- Create new cultures that increase B vitamins such as folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, biotin, and B12 - Enhance the absorption of minerals, particularly calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and copper - Neutralize toxins, such as phytic acid, that block mineral absorption.
- Healthy intestinal functions are the key to good health and longevity. However, statistics show that one third of the urban Indian population is prey to digestive disorders or lifestyle ailments. Ever increasing stress, irregular eating habits, excessive travel, indiscriminate use of antibiotics, high alcohol consumption, high intake of packaged and processed food, and pollution are all factors that contribute to this alarming trend.
- Most pregnant women experience food cravings. In addition to these dietary changes, a pregnant woman undergoes alternations in her digestive system. Women may experience heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, nausea and vomiting. A lot of this may be due to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. By taking probiotics (good bacteria) during pregnancy, Mom can feel the benefits of a healthier digestive system as her good bacteria are replenished.
- If wellness and internal harmony are today’s health priority, probiotics is probably the answer we are looking for to address our lifestyle woes. By maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora, probiotics enable the body to improve its natural defenses.
Here are some facts about Buttermilk :
- Buttermilk is lower in fat than regular milk, because the fat has been removed to make butter.
- It is also high in potassium, vitamin B12, calcium, and riboflavin
- It’s a good source of phosphorus.
- Those with digestive problems are often advised to drink buttermilk rather than milk, as it is more quickly digested.
- Like regular milk, it is a good source of calcium.
- It provides 8 g of protein per cup or about 16 percent of your daily needs.
This is how we make buttermilk at home –
All you need is full fat natural homemade yogurt or curd (made from full fat milk). In India it’s always done first thing in the morning so that the weather is cooler which makes it easier to take out the butter from the buttermilk. Add a few cups of water and churn the yogurt/curd slowly for about 15 to 20 minutes. Traditionally a long wooden instrument was used for this but you can now do this even in your regular blender. The butter will separate from the buttermilk and start floating on top. Adding a few cubes of ice or a cup of ice cold water helps in this too. Continue to churn it till the butter slowly forms a firm ball on top. Now collect the butter with your hands and store it. Eat it plain or turn into Ghee (clarified butter)
To make Spiced Buttermilk
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 fresh green chili
- ½ tsp coconut oil
- ¼ tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 small dry red chili
Thin down the buttermilk to the consistency of your choice with enough water. I like it very watery in summer. Now add salt to taste. Crush some fresh green chili into it. I have used some very hot birdseye chili here. You can also finely chop your chili and add it to the buttermilk. For the tempering, heat coconut oil in a little pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to splutter add the dry red chili, turn off the heat and toss everything. Pour the tempering into the buttermilk. Serve immediately.