Indian spiced roasted sweet potatoes are a healthy treat. Punched up with coriander, cinnamon and rose, they get all of their sweetness from the sweet potatoes. No need to add extra sugar. They are great as an afternoon snack, appetizer, or even featured entree.
Happy New Year everyone!
What are your designs for 2015? Puja and I are jumping into the weight loss thing. It seems like every year we gain a few more pounds over the previous year, lose it, then over the course of the year gain it back with a couple of extra pounds to boot.
We have finally become motivated to do something about it (again). This time we are (loosely) basing our diet on the whole30 diet, but with a lot of our own personalizations. Over the years, the diet that has always worked best for me can sound a little extreme. But I find it really easy to follow because I get to eat a lot, whenever I’m hungry.
Why? Because no matter how many vegetables you eat, you will get full before you consume too many calories. But that’s an oversimplification. I eat a lot of fruits and nuts too. Eating constantly (and avoiding sugar) staves of hunger and cravings.
But here’s the problem. Puja’s will not eat a meal that she doesn’t enjoy, or that she has just had recently. She just won’t. And if she doesn’t eat, she gets cranky. This means a poorly thought out meal can quickly become ruinous. And she won’t let me get away with just my simple foods, breakfast and dinner are an everyday challenge.
According to the whole30 diets, yogurt is okay even though most dairy is out. That’s a good thing. Eggs are also okay. Wonderful. I consider eggs one of natures most perfect foods. But Puja finds it nearly impossible to eat eggs without bread and bread is out. Anything with flour is out. Anything white is pretty suspect– meaning starches and high carb foods.
We mostly avoid potatoes, but not completely. Rice is mostly out. Anything with sugar added is a definite no go. Butter is supposed to be out, but ghee is okay, and I’ve come to appreciate butter so much lately that I let it sneak in here and there.
Then there is the tough part, alcohol is out. I don’t think I’ve blogged enough here about how much I appreciate beer. A good beer makes every meal better, whether as a palate cleanser or for its complementary flavors.
Puja and I live in San Diego, a city that prides itself on its microbrew culture. We live in walking distance of a dozen microbreweries and gastropubs. And we have got to forego all of this for at least a month!
As far as dieting goes, the biggest problem with drinking alcoholic beverages is the sugar. Alcohol itself is basically a sugar, and alcoholic beverages contain additional sugars, remnants left over after fermentation. Between the alcohol and the residual sugar, drinking a beer is a lot like drinking a can of cola.
Aside from the many calories you consume with the beverage itself, it also spikes your blood sugar and leads to hunger and cravings, which means wanting more beer or at least snacking.
Negatives aside, the best thing about this diet is I already know it works. I’ve done it before. And I’m a serious geek when it comes to dieting. I make spreadsheets. Very elaborate ones, tracking mine and Puja’s weight loss. I analyze correlations between the foods, the calories, the macro-nutrients.
I track running averages. I scatter-plot. This is one place where my view differs from conventional which says not to weigh yourself every day. I think it’s important to weigh yourself once each morning, when you first wake up. And to log it somewhere. It puts you in the right mindset for the day.
Just be careful not to obsess over the day to day fluctuations that are natural. It’s the trend that matters, what is your average weight over the last few days? We started this diet 5 days ago, today I am already down 3.8 pounds and Puja and I have so much energy at night we have trouble going to bed.
The other thing I enjoy about dieting is that it gives us a chance to approach food from a new angle. Restrictions create opportunity. So what do we eat?
Chicken is okay, although we mostly avoid it. We’re mostly eating fresh vegetables now, greens, cauliflower, squash. We’re looking closely at what vegetables are in season and exploring ideas on what we can do with them.
This is where the true strength of Indian food lies. Indian cooking has a long history of vegetarianism. In fact, the radical idea of vegetarianism probably originated in India, around 500 BCE. That’s 2,500 years of vegetarian culinary tradition.
No wonder after twenty some years of my mother trying to get me to eat vegetables, it was Puja who finally succeeded at it.
I’m excited to bring you some recipes that go along with this diet. Even if you aren’t inclined to jump in with us on this one, I’m sure you will find them to be great additions to your families meals.
To kick this off, we’d like to share with you Puja’s very simple recipe for spiced sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a bit starchy, but not enough to have to worry about. They have a lot more fiber than regular potatoes, are more rich in vitamins like beta carotene which gives them that orange hue.
- 6 sweet potatoes
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp dried rose petals
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- Fleur de sel or any salt you have on hand to taste
- 3 tsp ghee or butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Rinse and scrub sweet potatoes
- poke with a fork 3-4 times
- bake 30 to 40 minutes
- While the sweet potatoes are roasting, toast all the spices except the rose petals in a dry pan ( do not use a non-stick pan)until fragrant. p
- Transfer the toasted spices to a mortar and pestle and grind coarsely (or as finely as desired).
- When the potatoes are roasted and soft all the way through, remove from the oven. Allow to cool slightly. Cut in half.
- Sprinkle each half with salt and seasoning, then add a dab of butter or ghee (about 1/4 tsp per half).