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Lesser morsels

A momentary lapsi of reason, Lalita Iyer is grateful to this versatile grain.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2009 16:58 IST
Lalita Iyer
Lalita Iyer
Hindustan Times

Complex carbohydrates are useful to befriend when you are pregnant. All this eating for two business began to befuddle my mind, especially the ‘what to eat’ part.

More meals
“Eat every two hours!” were the doctor’s orders. Not that it takes too much intelligence to figure that out, since whatever you ate didn’t last beyond two hours anyway, the rate at which your body was metabolising.

The result? I was in grave danger of eating whatever came in one’s line of vision, a habit one has consciously avoided for years. The second fear was being stricken by gestational diabetes, a by-product of pregnancy for some women.

With diabetes running in the family, I was more in fear of the latter. I was pretty confident I had the discipline to deal with the former. More so after a rather intellectual discussion with Anju Venkat (of Dr Vijaya Venkat fame) on food and eating habits a few years ago, post which one thing stayed in the mind. “Eat for taste, never for hunger” One way to prevent cascading hunger pangs that cause one to go rabid and eat anything from chips to chaat, is the consumption of complex carbohydrates. These are, by definition, high-fibre foods, which improve your digestion, help stabilise the blood sugar, keep energy at an even level, and help you feel satisfied long after your meal.

Carbohydrates, simply
Simple carbohydrates are made up of one or two sugar molecules linked together. Examples of simple carbohydrates include table sugar, candy, cake, white bread, pasta made from white flour, and most packaged cereals, juices and aerated drinks. Complex carbohydrates have more than two molecules linked together and therefore, take longer to break. They are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. So while a simple carbohydrate is usually in a hurry to break down and release sugar into the blood, shooting up your sugar level, a complex carbohydrate takes far longer to do these, thus maintaining stable sugar levels.

So fruit instead of fruit juice, whole grain breads instead of white bread, whole grain oatmeal instead of packaged cold cereals is the way to go.

My theory is simple. Anything white is bad and must be avoided, and anything discoloured or brown is good and must be consumed. So off went rice, white bread, sugar (except for half a spoon for tea) and maida. On came lapsi, brown rice, multi-grain bread, jaggery, whole wheat atta (I use it even for baking cakes), sprouts and more grain. And that’s how my affair with lapsi (aka dalia, aka broken wheat) began, much after I saw my mother grudgingly substitute it for rice in her daily meal, almost in the manner of a prisoner.

Anything goes
I have no such complaints. I am happy eating lapsi, and I add it to anything. And I don’t mean to sound like one of those who don’t want to share their recipes with you, but still want to make it clear that they know more than you do. Let’s start with breakfast. I make a porridge out of it by cooking it, and adding milk (but no sugar), nuts, fruit or even seeds and having it by the mugful.

Sometimes, I turn it into a sheera or upma, and on really fun days, it becomes a kheer. I also add pre-soaked lapsi to dosa batter, along with sprouts, chopped onions, capsicum, paneer, whatever. What’s more, I even turn it into Tabouleh (use lapsi instead of cous cous or burghul, and voila, you can turn it into a Mediterranean delight)

I am fan enough to start a lapsi club by now. It’s helped moderate my hunger pangs considerably. And also given me a kick in the process too (pun unintended).

First Published: Mar 26, 2009 16:55 IST