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Seasonal changes

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Summer is the time for fresh fruits and salads after the long, cold winter, says Deepika Mital

All of Europe has undergone the yearly transformation from snow to barren twigs and earth to lush, vibrant green. There is probably no place on earth that is easier to mark the seasons of the year, than the northern reaches of Europe. The dramatic change from white to brown and now green is quite amazing as it is routine. Not the most hardened of cynics can fail to be wowed by the change that spring brings to the landscape. Once again, after a long time of sitting indoors it is enjoyable to just sit outside and soak up nature in all her glory. Most visitors from warmer countries do not understand the fervour and urgency that a European summer is imbued with—all regular activities like eating, drinking and sleeping have to be done outdoors as far as possible. The weather needs to be taken advantage of!

And what better pastime while doing this, eating! Eating the best that the markets have to offer of fresh produce that is no longer from a refrigerated container.

And why go so far as the market—why not just grow your own vegetables and fruits? The number of people who do so is growing year on year. I should know, being one of them! The joy of harvesting your own vegetables is countered only by the short growing season.

The change of seasons is also marked by the change in foods that are eaten or on the menu more often. The appearance of fresh fruits naturally makes for more salads and fruit-based desserts than at other times in the year. Berries and soft pitted fruits are the top picks for smoothies, salads and desserts—a strawberry smoothie or black currant dotted muesli anyone?

The focus shifts to cold food that is tempting and fresh, whether it is cold shrimps heaped on fresh bread with sparkling wine or even champagne, bruschetta; ice-cold chopped tomatoes on warm, crispy french bread or cold gazpacho. One personal favourite is a beetroot salad from Greece that can be served cold or warm, depending on preference. I have included the recipe for this as it is the easiest and most tasty version of anything beetroot I have ever tasted. Spoiler alert—I love beetroot.

But it isn’t just spring and summer that come with their own foods; autumn has its very own set of foods that are chosen for their heat and strength-building potential. It may be part of a primordial urge to eat things that will enhance nourishment and build your resistance to the looming harshness of winter, but comfort foods like pumpkin pie or a hearty soup, lamb stew dotted generously with pepper are all very welcome to a body that understands it is going toward a more difficult time of the year.

Winter naturally is all about maintaining this level of nutrition to cope with the depredations of the weather and hence food is a little heavier and more red meat dependent. There are more decadent bouts around Christmas with traditional favourites making the rounds, along with a fair bit of drinking. Mulled wine, cognac and brandy are all favourites during winter—hearty and warming, both to hands and soul! Even though in today’s modern day world with climate controlled homes, offices and cars, all of this seems just a bit unnecessary and exaggerated, there is a natural rhythm to the year and the human body that should not be ignored.

In India, of course, we have our own must-eats according to the weather, like a cooling mango panna for the summer or a heavily satisfying bajra khichadi in the winters.

Unfortunately, there is a certain standardisation entering food habits the world over; whatever the season, the focus on pizza, burgers and pasta seems to be unwavering. All of the delightful seasonal variations in food seem to be something rather for the older generation, than the whole family. Maybe we need to have a long hard look at our current food habits and try retrieving our soul connection to the rhythms and seasonal variations of nature. After all, it is basic common sense to eat according to the season.

Deepika Mital is an Indian cook in Europe, a writer, no-nonsense martinet at home and avid traveller.

Beetroot salad or side dish

2 large beetroots, boiled, peeled and diced.

1 tbsp virgin olive oil

1 tsp (or less) finely minced garlic

2 tbsp yogurt

Salt to taste (or omit altogether)

Add the garlic and olive oil to the beetroot. Mix well. Add the yogurt and toss well. Serve warm or cold. Tastes great on its own or with bread and can be quite a filling, healthy snack.

Have a fruitful day!

We all want to go on a diet and eat healthy. However, the struggle to keep up with the plan and 4 pm hunger pangs is difficult. While some pack tiffins every day for ourselves or family members, carrying an extra tiffin of a healthy snack could be a little troublesome. Therefore, to get something to eat delivered at your desk at the crucial time is important. Three youngsters have come with a solution for office-goers.

Juhi Trivedi, Amol Salke, and Mangesh Sarode, all from three different backgrounds, faced similar issues while they were working. That’s how they came up with this idea and formed GoodFood Vibes. Standing true to its name, GoodFood Vibes offers hand-picked and farm fresh fruit bowls to deal with the hunger pangs in the evening and avoid diet accidents by eating junk food.

The service is subscription-based on a monthly basis, and available for all working days from Monday-Friday during working hours.

“As of now we have one fruit box, but we are soon coming up with two more interesting custom-made varieties,” shares Amol, one of the partners. A recent start-up, the venture is soon expanding its wings in Mumbai; they are currently present in the commercially vibrant Lower Parel and South Mumbai.

GoodFood Vibes have also started at the right time during the Holy period of Ramadaan.

Benefits of eating Fruit as a snack

Naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories; zero cholesterol;

 Get ample energy without adding unnecessary calories;

 Promotes wellness and increases productivity;

 Detoxifies the system;

 Prevents health complications including lifestyle disorders to other issues such as cancer and heart concerns;

 Induces healthy weight gain;

 Promotes eye, teeth, and bone health;

 Improves skin health due to powerful antioxidants;

 Slows the aging process

 Is more value for money than synthetic snacks and protein bars.

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