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Nothing gives more joy than sitting by the window on a rainy day, eating hot pakodas and sipping some adrak chai. But most of the time, instead of enjoying our deep fried goodies, we are scared eating them. Let’s get to know myths & facts about deep frying & whether its healthy or not.

Question 1 – Isn’t Deep fried food Fattening?

– The USFDA has reviewed its dietary guidelines in 2015 saying that there is no upper limit to one’s daily dietary fat intake. In simple words, the ban on total dietary fat has finally been lifted, and it’s none other than the USFDA asking you not to worry about the fat & indulge in your bhajjiyas guilt free 🙂

Second point is that Nutrition science tells us that addition of fat to a meal brings down its glycemic index. Presence of Fat in a meal delays the process of converting food to blood sugar. Hence, the more fat, the slower the sugars or carbs are digested, and lower is the glycemic index. Not difficult to understand why we have food combinations like aamras and puri. If the mangoes in aamras are infamously known to increase your sugar levels and make you fat, the deep fried puri along with it makes sure the GI of the overall meal stays in check.

Question 2 – What are the best oils for deep frying food?

– We need to consider two things to determine the best fat that will not break down at high temperature to create toxic compounds- one is the smoke point and other is the stability of the fat.

Ghee has the highest smoke point & being the most stable fat that undergoes very little oxidation when heated, it makes for the first best medium to fry food. Second to ghee are filtered oils from local oilseeds like mustard, coconut, sesame and groundnut.

And, What about olive oil? Well, olive oil because of its low smoke point is not suited for deep frying. To know more about oils, do watch my You tube video on Olive oil v/s Indian traditional oils.

Question 3- Can we reuse the oil?

– Oil that you are frying in should not be reused as reusing oil oxidises the fat, forming free radicals and compounds which are harmful to our health. The only exception to this is Ghee, and that’s because of its unusually high smoke point.

Question 4 – Is deep fried food healthy?

– The answer to this is both yes and no. It is certainly healthy when you are making your deep fried stuff at home. Why? Because at home, you can make sure you are using nutrients and antioxidants rich ghee or filtered oils, you can also make sure you do not reuse the oil and eat them fresh and hot.

While you eat them outside say at restaurants, most of the time, these parameters are beyond our control. Also, most of the time, at restaurants and hotels, the deep frying is done twice, one before and one again just before serving you.

Question 5- How much can we eat?

– The act of overeating the healthiest food in the world can also create toxicity in the body. So like with everything, do not go overboard, eat slow and eat mindful.

Keep calm, eat the fried, and eat it wise!

Image credit- Google images

Confused by the misinformation about potential health problems with traditional Indian foods? Get in touch with award-winning Mumbai dietitian and nutritionist, Munmun Ganeriwal, a strong advocate of the holistic, wellness benefits of fresh, local, and traditional Indian foods

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Expert diet tips for teenage boys and girls

Teenage is the age of change, growth, and transformation. It is the period when what you eat (or not eat) is vital and it sets the foundation of your physical and mental well-being for the rest of your life. A few diet guidelines for you to follow in your teenage years-

1. Count Nutrients, Not Calories-

For life to sustain, food needs to be nourishing, and for food that nourishes, it has to be high in nutrients. In an effort to lose weight, we are constantly avoiding calories and in the process, we lose out on nutrient-dense foods as well. Counting the number of calories that you are eating is really irrelevant, what matters is the nutrient to calorie ratio of your food- nutrients for each calorie consumed.

To Do – Cut down your consumption of “empty” calories from packaged/ processed food like biscuits, cereals, cupcakes, wafers etc. Instead, eat more of real foods like nuts, cheese, curd, peanuts, whole fruits etc.

2. Avoid Meal Gaps-

If all that you want to do is lose weight, then you really cannot afford to starve yourself. Eating frequently and avoiding meal gaps of more than 2-3 hours is crucial to fat burning. Ensure that you make time for breakfast and avoid skipping it. Similarly, if you do not want to be caught up in food crisis/ accidents (like gorging on a doughnut at 6pm when you had just decided to eat healthier in the morning), you need to plan ahead for your 4-6pm snack.

To do- Few breakfast and evening meal options are cheese sandwich/
roti- ghee-jaggery/ poha/ idli chutney/ upma etc. Carry your lunch from home and eat an early dinner at least 2 hours before you hit the bed.

sugarcane juice helps in getting flawless well hydrated skin

3. Stay Hydrated-

one of the most important things to do if you are looking out to have a glowing, flawless skin is to stay well hydrated. Sitting all day long at cafes and sipping on colas (even if it’s the diet version), coffee and other sugar loaded beverages, not only adds to empty calories but is also dehydrating and will hence, make you feel bloated and heavy all the time.

To do- Make sure you are carrying a bottle of water (no plastic bottles please) when you step out and sip on it throughout the day. Choose to have local & seasonal sherbets like aam panha/ bel sherbet/ nimbu sherbet/ kokum sherbet/ sugarcane juice that will not only hydrate you but will also promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and make your belly look thinner.

NOTE: This article was written by me for The Health Site.Com & was published on 12th September 2017.

Image credit: The Health Site.Com/ Google Images

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Several tips from this article were published by leading Indian Newspapers such as The Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Business Standard, Telangana Today, Millennium Post & many more on 26th-27th June, 2017. Read on…

These easy to make herbal drinks, using herbs & spices from your kitchen, will make sure you enjoy the monsoon rain while keeping infection & illness at bay!

1. GOLDEN MILK

Boil milk and water in 1:1 ratio. Add a pinch of turmeric, nutmeg, black pepper and ginger powder and few strands of saffron. Let it simmer till its reduces to half its quantity. Add jaggery to taste and sip on it hot or warm.

BENEFITS –

Along with the rains, monsoon brings along dengue, malaria and fever. This therapeutic drink is rich in antioxidants that will build up your immunity, bring down inflammation, reduce protein and fluid loss from the body & accelerate recovery.

2. KASHAYA

To make the Kashaya powder, dry roast coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in 4:2:1 ratio along with 1 tablespoon black peppercorn seeds. Next, grind these dry spices to a fine powder and store in an airtight jar. To make your brew, boil a glass of water and add 1 teaspoon Kashaya powder and 1 tsp grated jaggery to it. Strain and drink it hot.

BENEFITS –

Come monsoon and most of us are either down with throat infections or cough, cold and flu. Kashaya is an Ayurvedic drink that works as a decongestant and helps to clear the sinuses. It also has anti bacterial properties that boosts immunity.

3. FENNEL & CAROM POTION

Add one teaspoon each of fennel (saunf) and carom (ajwain) seeds to boiling water and let it simmer for some time. Remove from flame and add honey to it. Drink this hot after your meals.

BENEFITS –

According to Ayurveda, fennel seeds possess ‘Agnikrut’ qualities – that which improves digestive strength. Carom seeds are rich in essential oils, phytochemicals, minerals like copper that helps treat dysentery or diarrhoea, stomach infections, nausea that are typical of rainy season.

4. HIBISCUS TEA

Boil water and let the magenta coloured sepals of the Hibiscus flower infuse in it. Strain and add honey.

BENEFITS –

Hibiscus blooms generously in rainy season and is an easy plant to grow on your terrace or balcony. Rich in Vitamin C , anthocyanin and antioxidants, it will keep your skin and scalp healthy and prevent any infection or itchiness that comes along with the rains.

5. The quintessential KADHA

Boil water and add basil leaves (tulsi), ginger, cardamom and crushed pepper. Remove from flame and put ghee and honey. Drink it piping hot in a clay cup.

BENEFITS –

Kadha is an Ayurvedic medicine for sore throat, cough, nose congestion and flu. It has anti bacterial and anti viral properties. The SCFA (short chain fatty acids) in ghee strengthens the gut microbiota and promotes immunity of the body. The minerals in clay not only enhances the taste of the drink but also works as a natural ‘detox’ and will help fight infections.

Image Courtesy : Google Images

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HOSPITALS AND ITS UGLY FAST FOOD CULTURE

This picture is not from any shopping mall. This is from a renowned, multi-speciality hospital in Mumbai. Yes, hospitals in big cities, trying to be in sync with the global culture of coffee houses and its chains, have become a replica of food courts in malls housing big, domestic and international, fast food chains serving packaged, processed food.

The pre- packed food (puffs/ pastries) and fast food culture of pizzas and burgers, by the way, is one of the major reasons why someone would even need a doctor and therefore, land in a hospital!

I happened to be at this hospital last week. One could locate a franchise café at each floor whereas there is this SINGLE canteen in the entire multi-storied building serving healthier meals like poha, idli etc. To reach to this SINGLE canteen, one would have to spend half an hour minimum, through the elevator traffic (the staircase was kept locked, conveniently) and time constraints do not make this an affordable option at all times. Hence, they are either forced to eat this pathetically low quality, insanely priced food made easily available at each floor or simply starve – both being equally dangerous and unhealthy for the patients and visitors alike. Modern day hospitals, unlike earlier, do not allow outside food (homemade or otherwise) and it further adds to the agony.

On one hand, we as a nation, are talking about climate change issues and on the other hand, important institutions like hospitals are simply contributing to landfills & plastic pollution with these cafes serving bottled mineral water/ juices/ aerated drinks and fast food wrapped in plastic films, on plastic plates.

What institutions like hospitals with added health and social responsibilities should do –

1. Promote local food (healthier and more nutritious) and support local economy

2. Have minimum one canteen or its delivery counter (serving healthier meals) at each level/floor so as to make it more accessible and available

3. Get rid of all the plastic used in food/ beverages, both from the ecological and health point of view. Its well proved that plastic going into food is detrimental to our health

What we as patients and visitors should do –

1. Avoid taking food from these conveniently located cafes serving convenience food

2. Ask/demand the hospitals to ban these cafes, promote healthier food and reduce their plastic footprints

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The journey of ghee in India has very much been similar to that of yoga. From being thousand years old wisdom that originated in our land, to getting dismissed and disregarded by ‘modern day’ gurus and scientists only to be picked up by the West and reintroduced to us by a different name, both are India’s greatest export to the world.

Ghee or ‘clarified butter’ (as they call it in the West) has always been considered as the promotive of health, memory, intelligence, fertility, of vital essence and nourishment in Ayurveda. Food cooked in desi/ asli ghee used to be a status of prosperity and good health. Until, sometime in 1970s, nutritionists, doctors and pharma companies joined hands to poop that party. A low fat diet was pushed by U.S. Dietary Guidelines in 1977. “Saturated fat is bad for our heart, increases cholesterol and causes heart attacks”, they said. Back at home, we too listened to it and dropped our ghee. Ghee thus made an exit from our foods, our plates and our kitchens.

THE RE-EMERGENCE OF GHEE AS A SUPERFOOD

Now fast forward to today and here’s a new thought – what if research issued 40 years ago was not based on solid evidence? What if we were wrong about ghee?

In the latest review of studies that investigated the link between dietary fat and heart health, researchers say the guidelines in the 1970s got it all wrong. In fact, recommendations to reduce the amount of fat we eat every day should never have been made. In April 2015, USDA reviewed its guidelines and removed the dietary cholesterol upper limit declaring that fat/ cholesterol from food had little to do with the cholesterol circulating in the body. American supermarkets started stocking ‘Indian ghee’ and promoted it as ‘liquid gold’. In Nov 2015, Ghee made it to the list of “The 50 new healthiest foods of all time” by TIME magazine.

So amongst food companies, government policies and scientific bodies, a 5,000-year-old wisdom got erased to be reintroduced as the ‘new’ health food. But the question is –Will ladoos, halwas, parathas smothered with ghee regain its lost glory? Will we be able to overcome a fear that has lived with us for 40 years?

READ ALSO-

BENEFITS OF BUTTER– A day spent BETTER with BUTTER

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Puranpolis: Tuck it in, it’s Holi after all!

The traditional bhog/ naivedyam offered to Gods not only during Holi but on all special occasions : Puran poli and why you must eat it –

1. Weight loss – With a high Nutrient to calorie ratio, it increases satiety. Being full of good fat and with optimum fibre content and low GI, it accelerates fat burning

2. Diabetic – The maida poli when stuffed with pulses-jaggery mixture and eaten with generous amounts of ghee becomes low on glycaemic index and helps to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels

3. Cancer – Rich in phyto chemicals and antioxidants, pulses (chana dal/ arhar dal) contain anti cancer properties

4. Builds immunity- Ghee, hailed as the new “Superfood” has anti bacterial anti viral properties and increases your immunity against allergies and infections (much needed after long hours of colour -playing session J)

5. Blood pressure – The potassium and magnesium in jaggery regulates the blood pressure and the acid-base balance in the blood and tissues

6. Aids digestion – Ghee is a rich source of butyric acid, which helps maintain the integrity of intestinal wall

7. Osteoporosis – The calcium found in pulses contributes to promoting bone health and reducing the risk of osteoporotic fractures

8. PCOD – The many essential minerals found in jaggery makes it the traditional therapy for reducing PMS, cravings, cramps and mood swings

9. Thyroid – Ghee is crucial for assimilation of fat-soluble Vit D, the vitamin that helps support your thyroid gland

10. Anaemia – Because of the high iron content found in jaggery and pulses, it is good for preventing iron deficiency anaemia

Have a delicious and colourful Holi!

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Dear ‘Weight Loss’

“Kyun lena hai difficult option?” SRK, a.k.a Dr. Jag, asks Alia Bhat (Kaira) in the movie. He mentions that, often, the answer is that we unknowingly like to punish ourselves, because we believe that until we go through some suffering, there can be no rewards.

After watching Dear Zindagi, I came out of the theatre with a feeling that Mr. Khan has nailed it yet again (oh, yes! I am a SRK fan). After all, don’t we do this to ourselves on an everyday basis?

You visit a white-coat dietitian and she gives you a list of ‘DO NOT EAT’ foods which is invariably longer than the list of foods you are allowed to eat. After much struggle, you finally make it to your gym only to hear your big-bicep trainer say, “No pain, no gain.” The words we associate ‘weight loss’ with are deprivation/ suffering/ punishment. You eat your raw kale salad but in your mind, you are romancing with the hot gulab jamun soaked in its juices. And to make things worse, you end up feeling guilty just thinking about it, let alone eating it.

Like Dr. Jag in the movie, the point I am trying to make here is simple: Take the easy option. Because losing weight is not about choosing the difficult one!

To further elaborate my point, every time that you deny yourself of your favourite foods, you are deprived of Vitamin J (Joy). Now the short-term effect of Vitamin J deficiency is overeating and its long-term effect is weight gain!
Here’s how—

Dear Zindagi-their is no need to difficult path, when there is easy path available1. You eat more food than you would otherwise, in an attempt to get the necessary level of satisfaction.

Poha/ paratha/ thalipeeth for breakfast or oats: what is more satisfying?
Every time you try a tasteless and ‘guilt-free’ alternative to your favourite foods, you actually end up eating more than you would otherwise.

2. You deprive yourself of Vitamin J at one meal, only to overcompensate for it at the next.

Have you ever noticed yourself reaching for that late night chocolate treat after a ‘no carbs’ dinner of soup and salad/ chicken breast? When your dinner fails to hit the spot, you end up craving for more carbs and calories later.

3. You make it easier to ‘fall off’ and harder to ‘get back with your diet.

You are more likely to ‘fall off’ from a diet that is not inclusive of the foods that you like. The end result is that you see yourself yo-yoing from having lost some weight only to gain back double of the weight lost.

The alternative—

1. Let go of the idea of ‘on-plan’ foods and ‘off-plan’ foods.

There is no ‘diet’ food or ‘anti-diet’ food. Include foods that you like and that you have grown up eating as part of your diet. That way you are more likely to not fall off the wagon. The more sustainable it gets; the more weight you lose. That too in a sensible and reasonable manner.

2. Eat mindfully and savour the flavour.

Don’t let shame, guilt or fear take the joy out of your food. Allow yourself to fully experience every flavour and texture. When you do this, you won’t need as much to feel satisfied from the meal.

3. Let your Vitamin J come from the right place.

Choose your homemade delicacy over a packaged food product. A homemade laddoo over a cookie not only gives you the much needed Vitamin J in abundance, it is rich in all other nutrients too.

If all this sounds well and good, I hope you will approach ‘weight loss’ as something that supports your life rather than becomes your life, because life is all about joy and love. Love you, Zindagi!

Trying to lose weight without going on an extreme diet? Let dietitian Munmun Ganeriwal who specialises in Indian food help you with a holistic weight loss program. Contact us now to know more or set up a consultation!

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Diwali – “Yuktahaar” styleThings to do during and post-Diwali:

1. Start your day with a teaspoon of ghee, ajwain and kaala namak

2. Eat small meals frequently throughout the day
In the middle of all the preparations, cooking, shopping and socialising, make time to eat. Starving during the day and binging at dinner represents the classical fasting and feasting behaviour. Eating every 2-3 hours will make sure you don’t end up feeling bloated, acidic, dull or tired. In short, you don’t end up needing a post- Diwali detox 🙂

3. Make sure you are well hydrated
The fumes and smoke from burning of crackers, pollutants and dust leads to dehydration. Keep bottle of water within your sight and sip on it throughout the day. Water from a copper vessel is especially good not only to up your immunity but also to keep a check on constipation and other gastric issues.

P.S. – Have a glass of fresh sugarcane juice for a radiant and youthful skin tonight 🙂

4. Do have the Diwali sweets and savory goodies
It’s the time to enjoy the festivities and indulge in your favorite food. Only make sure that-

a. You have them homemade – Made at home the traditional way (with ghee/dry fruits/ nuts/ milk/ sugar), they are nutrient dense and regulate our blood sugars. Result of which is that you don’t crave and reach out for a bar of chocolate loaded with harmful preservatives and commercial sugars
b. You pick only one item at a time

5. Eat from home when going out for a late night party
A small and wholesome snack just before you step out is a great idea to prevent late night overeating. And if you are the kinds who is too pressed for time, even a quick bite into a banana will do the trick 🙂

6. If drinking till the crack of dawn makes your Diwali night come alive, ensure-
a. You sip on it slow
b. Have a glass of water for every glass of drink
c. You are not on an empty stomach. Either eat a good wholesome meal before drinking or have it along with your drinks

 

7. Practice Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) with a full array of blankets and bolsters (Iyengar yoga style)
A powerful antidote to the state of stress, it turns up the parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes called the “rest and digest” response and supports digestion, relaxes muscles and promotes a good night’s sleep. No wonder, it is often called the ‘queen of restorative poses’.

Wish you and your family a very happy Diwali!!

Image Credit: Google images

Read more on diet tips for Indian festivals & special occasions-

1. Diwali survival guide: Here’s how to party hard and not gain weight

2. Modak – ‘A different perspective’

3. Home is where the detox is

4. The ‘Shakti’ is within – Strong is beautiful

5. The story of the fish on your plate: From “food” to “omega3”

6. The ‘scientific’ view on ‘Maa ke haath kaa khana’ on Mother’s day

7. Puranpolis: Tuck it in, it’s Holi after all!

8. Mahalaya Amavasya

9. EATING RIGHT DURING RAMADAN

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For people like us who have been attached to our land where we come from for thousands of years, food is more than just a sum total of calories and nutrients. Our traditional meals define our identity and represent our relationship with the earth, wind and the sky.

This point, so often lost in an age when processed foods and foods traveling long distances are commonplace, is driven home by special days like today. Mahalaya Amavasya is a special day when we make an offering to express our gratitude and respect to all the generation of our ancestors who have contributed to our life in some way or the other. We not only owe to them our existence but without their contribution we would not even have the most ordinary things in our life, those that we often forget to cherish in the everyday routine and hustle bustle. The language that we speak, the way we dress, much less the food we grew up eating – almost everything that we know today has come to us from generations before us.

Also, during this time, farmers will just begin to harvest their produce and offer the first produce to the ancestors as a mark of respect and thankfulness, before the whole country breaks into festivities of Dusshera and Diwali.

But we, the ‘educated’ are so busy trying to look ‘thin’, ‘cool’ and lose weight that we have taken the food wisdom passed on to us through generations (of course, along with various other teachings of our ancestors) simply for granted and belittled it into some “calorie counting science”. B.M.Popkin, American food science researcher, even coined a term for it – ‘Nutrition Transition’ – The transition of developing countries from their traditional diets to more Western pattern diets of packaged & processed foods, that in turn is causing increased rates of adverse health and obesity.

Hope this Pitru Paksh, we find an opportunity to not only offer gratitude but also go back to our roots where we come from, not only to lose weight but also to leave behind a legacy of health and well being for all generations to come.

 

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Modak– A different perspective

The Ganpati festival has begun and as we prepare to welcome home the God of good luck, the WhatsApp and Facebook timelines of all Mumbaikars get filled with adverts of ‘sugar free’, ‘low fat’, and ‘zero cholesterol’ modaks.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MODAK

The first reference to this traditional sweet made of rice dumplings filled with a coconut and jaggery mixture and sealed with ghee is found in the Padma Purana that dates as far back as 4th century AD.

Sage Patanjali (the sage behind Yoga Sutras) would had never thought that thousands of years later, biscuits and noodles would be sold in his name. Similarly, Ganpati while winning the modak from his mother Parvati, would have never guessed that his favourite delicacy, years later, would be transformed into various versions of the low sugar/ low fat variety by the weight loss industry, looking out for people ready to consume products in the name of health or weight loss.

But as they say, the truth has a way of catching up, and rightly so, now the Modern Science is also in sync with the age old Padma Purana. In their 2015-2020 dietary guidelines, they recommend that we must eat traditional foods that are also a part of our culture.

So ladies and gentlemen, as we get ready to welcome the pot-bellied elephant-headed God, here are few frequently asked questions (FAQS) on his most loved sweet, the Modak:

  • I am diabetic. Can I really eat the modak?
    Nutrition science tells us that addition of fat to a meal brings down its glycemic index. Fat slows stomach emptying, delaying the process of converting food to blood sugar. Hence, the more fat, the slower the sugars (‘carbohydrates’) are digested, and the lower the glycemic index. Voila! You now know why your grandmother always added good amount of ghee while rolling those modaks for you! (By the way, if you are a diabetic, here are some basic tips to change your lifestyle)

 

  • What’s really wrong with the sugar-free variety?
    Ok, I give you that you only know about the sweeteners through TV commercials with celebs swearing by them but if you are taking them in place of sugar; then you better know that the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) discourages the mindless use of sweeteners in place of sugar for weight loss or even diabetes.

 

  • Isnt it ‘fattening’?
    The rice flour in modak boasts of an essential amino acid called lysine, that accelerates fat burning. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid, that not only promotes a healthy gut environment but is also fat burning in nature!

 

  • My doctor has put me on cholesterol lowering drugs. What do I do?
    If you are worried about coconut and ghee and hence cholesterol, know that in April 2015, the USFDA said that “cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption”. Basically, they believe that dietary guidelines were pointing in the wrong direction and cholesterol and fat is now making a huge comeback.

 

  • Come on, after all, I am on a diet!
    Modak could easily qualify as a ‘superfood’—rich in minerals and B vitamins, gluten-free, source of protein, increases insulin sensitivity and full of good fat. So if being on a ‘diet’ is what you like, you should definitely not miss the modaks

“Ganpati Bappa Moriya, Pudcha varshi loukar ya!”

Read more on diet tips for Indian festivals & special occasions-

1. Diwali survival guide: Here’s how to party hard and not gain weight

2. 7 Diet & Exercise Tips for Diwali – The “Yuktahaar” style

3. Home is where the detox is

4. The ‘Shakti’ is within – Strong is beautiful

5. The story of the fish on your plate: From “food” to “omega3”

6. The ‘scientific’ view on ‘Maa ke haath kaa khana’ on Mother’s day

7. Puranpolis: Tuck it in, it’s Holi after all!

8. Mahalaya Amavasya

9. EATING RIGHT DURING RAMADAN

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