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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Whiteness, Food Colors, and Food Culture

In How on 4 September 2015 at 8:00 am

Food Colors and Food Culture

“No race ever yet ate black bread when it could get white; nor even brown, yellow, or other mulatto tint.”

Dr. Woods Hutchinson in McClure’s magazine, 1906.

In the mass conversion towards refined and processed foods that has swept much of the world over the past few generations, many foods normally occurring in a wide variety of earth tones, became white, as if a formidable fairness cream had descended upon the food industry.   White flour, white sugar, white bread, white spaghetti, white rice, white upma ravva, white urad dal occupied the markets.  At first a status symbol for those who could afford them, refined foods later became a status symbol for those who need not eat the coarser grains because they lived a delicate life and could hire workers to do their heavy lifting for them.  Eventually they themselves became cheaper than their whole grain counterparts, while the nutritious polish and peels were diverted to the livestock industry.

Thirty years ago, Sidney Mintz unpacked the social, economic and political context of food in his seminal work, Sweetness and Power.  The history of whiteness and power with respect to food offers much to explore.   While evolutionary biology may account for our predilection towards the quick calories that processed foods offer, taste and food habits evolve under a variety of influences and cultural messages.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Black Gram Matters

In Recipes, When on 1 September 2015 at 2:04 am

Since when are idlis white?

Not more than a few generations.    And if you look at all things that have become white over the past century, one by one they are regaining their color.   White bread, white pasta, white flour, white sugar, white rice are now recognized as more or less empty calories and are being replaced by their whole counterparts, on the brown to black side of the color spectrum.  It is time for idlis to do the same.

Soaked Urad - bursting out of its skin!

Black Gram (Urad): Soaked and ready to burst out of its skin!  Urad or Black Gram attracts wild yeast from the air.  As it ferments, the yeast makes the batter rise.

What are idlis made of?  Black gram and rice.   Or black gram and millets. Read the rest of this entry »

Korra or Quinoa? Eat local and ensure food for all

In What on 4 August 2015 at 12:58 pm
Millet or Quinoa?

Millet or Quinoa?

Quinoa is a wonderful grain but does it make sense to grow and eat it far away from the Andes Mountains where it traditionally grows and where it has been a staple grain for the common people before the worldwide boom raised the price?  Rather than chasing after grains from around the world, we would do better for our own health, for the right to food for all, and for the earth if we explored the diversity of grains that grow well in the climate and soil wherever we live.  Readers in the United States and in India can find easy ways to get started using a variety of local millets in lieu of rice and wheat in standard preparations such as idli, dosa, pulao and pulihara, and from there get more adventurous with millets.

And now a word from our friends at the Millet Network of India. Read the rest of this entry »

What can we make with Millet in the United States?

In What on 4 July 2015 at 3:29 am

For amber waves of grain …

So I have waxed enthusiastically about sama, korra, kodoragi, and other millets grown in India.  Readers in the US have asked, how can we use local grains?  What can I do with the millet available in the grocery stores?  And:  what kind is the millet available in the grocery stores in the US?  And is it as wonderful for our people and planet as all the millets we hear about in India? Read the rest of this entry »

How do kids’ tastes change?

In How on 18 July 2014 at 7:07 pm

I have been trying to understand how toddler’s tastebuds change, but unable to find right sort of literature for it. My son used to love all fruits and green smoothie until he was 11 months old.  His appetite reduced a great deal and after sometimes his tastebuds too changed drastically. Slowly he stopped eating fruits and green smoothie. He only used to have some bits of watermelon until 10 days ago. He stopped that too now. He only eats occasional chickoo.

Yummy in my tummy!

Yummy in my tummy!

I had read in several places about how mother’s diet affects child’s liking to certain foods through breastfeeds. I have done everything by the book, consumed lots of greens, fruits, etc. I thought it was working too until quite recently.  I really want to understand how his mind works and chooses certain foods over others.  Will he ever get back to fruits now? Read the rest of this entry »

Sprouts Unlock Nutrients

In What on 15 July 2014 at 11:25 pm

Are sprouts a good source of probiotics?   How can we increase probiotics in our diet?

Amma of a 4-year old in Bangalore

Well, Chetana, thanks for asking.  Many of us know generally that soaking, sprouting and fermenting all have an important role to play in making nutrients more available.  Considering that the grains themselves do most of the work, it’s a wonder that in spite of knowing this we don’t always do it.  There could hardly be an easier way to multiply nutrients while doing nothing.  Now let us look at how and what.

mung2

Mung Beans Sprouting in a Colander

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Nothing can stop you!

In Field Notes on 21 June 2014 at 1:30 am

Dancer, Writer, Yogi and Mama, Mirabelle D’Cruz from Mumbai shares the secrets of her backpack, her sling, and getting back to “plurk” with baby in tow.

They tell you that once you have a decent job and get married, you will be “settled.”  Then they tell you you will only be really settled once you have kids. I was always critical of the settled business, though I can see value in the concern of those who talk about it. Even if you have a child, like my husband and I, when you truly feel ready, have been a party-holic, travel –holic and how can I forget work-a-holic and know you’ll have no regrets because you lived your life fully and don’t feel an ambitious desire for position, lifestyle or keeping up with the Joneses, the roller-coaster will only start after the LO arrives. This is not a complaint or judgment on parenting,  its an observation on learning, growing and most of all on integrating.

I’m sharing a little of my journey, as one of the possibilities to parenting, hoping it may provoke, inspire, help or just provide an interesting read.

Mirabelle

Mirabelle leads an energizing session on West African Dance

Read the rest of this entry »

Sankranti Zindabad!

In Field Notes on 15 January 2014 at 8:05 pm

And perhaps in the celebration of Sankranti itself are ways for us to be the change …

Signals in the Fog

We celebrated Sankranti yesterday.  We drew muggulu (rangolis) and topped them with gobbemmalu (decorated gobar balls).  We danced and sang traditional songs, including “Gobbiyello!” that details, verse by verse, every stage of the growth of a seed from the moment it sprouts, bears fruit to fruit till it ripens and we finish off by eating the fruit –  a జామకాయ (guava), as the song goes.  Each stage of growth is a cause for celebration and comment:

అవునాట అక్కలార?
 “Oh, really?  Is it so, sister?”

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Party Treats

In Recipes, What on 15 January 2014 at 2:30 pm

I’d have called this post “Healthy Party Treats” but in present company that goes without saying, doesn’t it?  When I was little, people used the word “healthy” pronounced hell-thee as a synonym for “fat.”  I would say “euphemism” except that it was actually kind of a compliment.  Pleasantly plump, with pleasantly understood.  Ah how times change.

Tender Coconut  - fun for all ages

Tender Coconut – fun for all ages

What makes a food a party food …?  Is it merely something you don’t eat every day, eaten in the company of people you don’t meet every day?  Which if you think about it, means almost anything counts!  A plate of carrot sticks will disappear in no time amidst a lively crowd and yet who would think of carrots as party food? Read the rest of this entry »

Pizza – Vegetarian and Vegan

In Recipes on 29 December 2013 at 4:11 am
Baked Pizza

Home-Baked Pizza

Recently I overheard a mother talk about having her children have one turn a week to plan the meals, as long as they were healthy.  As an example of what would not do, she stated,”It can’t be pizza!” Pizza is however, one of the healthiest dinners I know.    Using whole wheat dough to make the crust, and plenty of vegetables for the topping, I don’t see where you can go wrong! Read the rest of this entry »

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