Healthy Cooking and Diet : Options and Tips

As part of my 100 day cooking challenge, I started cooking healthy meals in the last month.

Healthy and Wholesome Diet
Healthy and Wholesome Diet

I wanted to include as many veggies as possible in our diet. I also wanted to reduce rice and wheat usage.To achieve this, I modified diet routine as follows
  • Breakfast: Veggies, fruits and grains/seeds like quinoa, oats, foxtail millets, finger millets/ragi, pearl millets/bajra. Sometimes I would make toasts using whole wheat bread with veggie toppings.
  • Lunch: Brown rice so that it fills tummy fast - so we get to eat less rice. Also brown rice retains the germ and bran, thus providing more nutrition than hand pound or white rice.
  • Dinner: 2-3 rotis with no oil and curry. 
  • Deep fries, white rice, white bread, refined sugar are all banned.
  • I tried to include egg occasionally.
  • More leafy veggies are used on everyday basis.
  • I switched to different oils - sesame oil that has high heating point so you would need less oil to cook, mustard oil, extra virgin olive oil for steaming and dressings and coconut oil. It is said that using different oils in cooking provides us with more variety of fatty acids. Moreover I only use a spoon of oil no matter what I am cooking, I try to sprinkle water to get it cooked.

This diet is only for weekdays and Saturday and Sunday -white rice and normal breakfasts are cooked. Reason: protesting family.

So how do we get variety of dishes when we want to eat healthy? Here are few things you can try:


  • Oatmeal - Add a vegetable puree or fruits or powder to get different combos. For example, pumpkin spice oatmeal(puree), cocoa oatmeal(powder), apple cinnamon oatmeal(fruit). Some options: pumpkin, apple, pomegranate, grated coconut, coconut milk, cocoa powder, flax seed powder, vanilla essence, spinach, mint, basil, coffee, chai, almond milk, soy milk, banana, berries,carrot.
  • Overnight oats: This is generally in combination with chia seeds and/or yogurt layered. You can try similar flavors as above.
  • Savory oats: With veggies(upma).
  • Many options in 1 & 2 can be used on other grains/seeds like quinoa and millets.
  • Smoothies - I generally make veggie smoothies only and use a fruit or a two just to balance out the veggie tastes. I prefer to consume fruits by eating.You can use lots of green leafies like Spinach, Basalle, Kale, Lettuce, Coriander, Brocoli etc + Mint for better taste + apple/cucumber to balance out the green taste + Lime/lemon juice instead of water. You can add powders like flax seed powder, protinex, nutritional yeast etc for more nutrition. I add chia seeds too. Add crunchy toppings and serve it chilled. It doesn't have to be a green smoothie and different veggies can be included.
  • Smoothie bowls - These are just more thicker than Smoothies.
  • Veggie salad - If you can't eat raw, then blanch/steam the veggies. Add dressing to make it tastier.
  • Fruit salad - Add a whole lot of fruits with different dressings.
  • Quinoa fruit salad - For people who get hungry fast with fruits, adding some quinoa will give that fulfilling meal.
  • Oats/Ragi : Dosa, Utappam/Pancake, Idli
  • Toasts : Couple of slices of bread with lot of veggie toppings. Options: Cottage cheese/Tofu bhurji, Hummus spread, fruits, etc can be used.
  • Sweet potato, Chickpeas, Kidney beans, Tofu are all tummy filling and healthy. These can be added to salads.
  • Baked oat cookies.
  • Soups with veggies and noodles. Like Thupka.
  • Oats smoothies : Oats with veggies - This again is good in the aspect that it's much more filling than a regular smoothie.
  • Yogurt parfait: Yogurt with berries or other fruit toppings.


  • For rice, soak brown rice overnight and cook it in the morning with 2.25:1 water to rice ratio for five whistles.
  • Personally, I felt that dry curry items don't taste so good with brown rice. Dal/sambar/rasam/gravy are better options.
  • More veggies and less rice.


  • Roti with no oil.
  • Curry/Dal with no masalas. Powders of Cumin and dry mango add a lot of flavor to curries without heavy masala.


  • Dry fruits energy bar. Check recipe Energy snack bar. 
  • Methi Khakra - can use Hummus spread or chickpea/black bean toppings.
  • Sprouts - be careful, few people face indigestion issues with these.
  • A whole fruit.
  • Ragi/Finger millets Malt - This is very filling and can be used as a breakfast too.


  • Adding pomegranates to any smoothie or a porridge gives that chunky taste.
  •  Use variety of toppings for different combos - flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews, gojiberry, chia seeds, berries, banana, apple, pomegranate, raisins etc.
  • Try different dressings - lemon, soy sauce, hummus, vinegar, lime, tahini,  etc.
  • Include leafy vegetables in different forms - puree can be mixed in almost anything like rotis dough, dal, curries. 
  • Go for steaming or stir fry instead of deep fry. Use water to get cooking done instead of oil.
  • Most important: Enjoy an occasional cheat meal - otherwise you will end up eating more junk food than ever. For us, this happens on weekends. 
Healthy eating doesn't have to be boring and bland. Try different options and combos until you get your own perfect tasting recipe. You will see changes in your own preferences after a while - I hated anything too oily or too sweet and fresh fruits seemed like a better option.

~ Happy Healthy Eating :)


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