So you’ve turned vegan. If you listen to Seima Jindal Jajodia, the woman behind Nourish Organics, then that’s a great start – she’s been practising healthy eating for years and says that when it comes to nutrients, nothing beats raw organic food.
“Who ordered the pizzas?” She asks incredulously as her son and his friends shuffle nervously. After eliciting no response Seima goes on to offer the youngsters an entire menu – from home-made pizza, a mezze platter to apple pie. “I’m happy to fix a meal for you boys anytime,” she says.
Fast food is, predictably, anathema to the lady who prides herself on healthy eating (and makes a living out of selling ready-to- eat ‘super-foods.’) In her typical active fashion, Seima has suggested to me that instead of conducting a formal interview indoors, we walk about and chat at Nehru Park.
Swayed by the veritable feast which she’s just offered the boys I make another attempt to ditch the park and stay indoors: a suggestion which is immediately vetoed. For Seima, wellness is a lifestyle.
Vegetarianism – fad or fact Fads come and fads go.
When yoga became popular, then everyone in America went crazy about it. At the time they said it’s a fad. But it is still there. It has been there for more than a decade and a half. A fad, if it works for people, becomes a way of life. Hardcore non -vegetarians who have adopted the vegetarian way, like it now. They’ve crossed over because it suits their systems and they’re happier this way.
Vegetarianism vs. raw food
Once you turn vegetarian you start experimenting within that and start exploring the healthier options within it. Along the way you realise that cooking food destroys a lot of enzymes and totally takes away vitamin C, for example. And then you discover that there are ways by which you can enhance the goodness of food: by fermenting it or by preparing it in certain ways, by combining different things in an innovative fashion…that’s where raw food comes in.
What about the carnivores?
In moderation, non-vegetarian food is fine if it suits you. Where you get your meat or eggs from is paramount. But then it’s common knowledge that commercial rearing of animals for food is ecologically very bad for the planet. It produces all these greenhouse gases. Also you really can’t tell what these animals are being fed, and the meat you’re eating could be laced with all kinds of nasty antibiotics.
Organic food is the way forward?
Yes, organic, pesticide-free, chemical-free, the least processed kind of food is beneficial for you. But that can be a bit of a luxury and the best way is to only eat seasonal and local produce and forget about organic food. A vendor selling seasonal food is not concerned with shelf life.
On Nourish Organics
At Nourish Organics we started with ‘super -foods,’ foods which when added to one’s diet have multiple benefits. These are foods which have more than one nutrient and include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and the like. These are easily available in India and we decided to package them so they would be easy to carry and consume. A health bar, which is made with dates, nuts and seeds is convenient to carry around and makes for a perfect mid -meal snack and has enough energy to last you for two three hours. So even if your meal gets delayed your blood sugar won’t drop drastically. Once you begin to watch what you eat and have something at regular intervals then all these foods can be beneficial for your body.
Our focus is not on counting calories. A bag of chips and an energy bar might have the same number of calories, but you have to see the quality of calories. It’s about what it is adding to your system. A bag of potato chips is actually not adding anything nutrition-wise to your system, whereas an energy bar filled with dates, nuts and flax seeds gives you so many nutrients. That’s beneficial on different levels.
Busting food myths
People feel that nuts and bananas are fattening but these are all misconceptions. Also it matters where you are in your life at that point of time. And everybody’s weight and body composition is different. So there will be people who will eat just two almonds and it will add to their weight. But you could be a person who can eat 10 almonds and cashews and other things and still not put on weight. But if you are to compare a barfi which is laden with sugar and just 10 almonds or 10 cashews, then the latter are better choices any day. But again it depends on where you are in your life. If you are on a maintenance diet, then you can safely consume nuts and kishmish (raisins), but if you are trying to lose weight then it is better to go with what your dietician or someone who is guiding you tells you. And we offer that service at Nourish Organics too.
On her preoccupation with eating healthy
It all started with me trying to lose weight and then I lost two very dear members of our family to cancer. During their treatment we researched on the kind of foods we should be giving them. It had to be tasty and yet nutritious. That’s the first time I got to know about ‘super-foods.’ I have always been a foodie, and come from a home where food is relished. Food which is freshly cooked tastes better.
On innovating in the home kitchen
I substitute wheat. Instead of a wheat roti I will make you a missi roti which is made with besan or I will make it with sorghum flour or buckwheat, I recently made buckwheat dosas and they were really appreciated by my family. And instead of a lot of very saturated fats I have always used olive oil. But I don’t stick just to that. I use sarso ka tel (mustard oil), coconut oil and ghee for cooking. A lot of focus that I used to give to fruits earlier, I give to vegetables. A lot of foods can be cooked lightly. I also experiment with different types of salads.