Category Archives: Festival Tips

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4 Healthy Diwali Sweet Recipes

Diwali is near, and the festive season brings with it a lot of indulgence. The entire month turns into a wonderful occasion for meeting loved ones, fasting and later, feasting. During this time, it’s important not to over-indulge to avoid putting on unnecessary weight and spiking up blood sugar levels. Eating too many nuts and dry fruits can also strain your stomach. Here are a few great ideas for healthy Diwali sweet recipes:

  1. Oats Burfi:

This nutritious Diwali sweet makes for a healthy preparation too as it does not contain sugar or milk.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

40 ml water

¼ tsp green cardamom powder

1 tsp rose essence

1 tsp olive/almond/coconut oil

¾ cup powdered plain oats

Mix a cup of sugar with 40 ml of water and start boiling at a medium flame, while stirring constantly. Add ¼ teaspoon of green cardamom powder and a teaspoon of rose essence or any other essence you may like. Wait till the syrup becomes of a stringy consistency and then add ¾ cup of powdered plain oats to the mixture. Add a teaspoon of olive, almond or coconut oil and continue cooking on a medium flame while stirring constantly. After a while when the mixture becomes thick, dry and leaves the sides of the pan, turn off the stove. Check if it turns into a stiff ball when you take some into your hand and roll it. Finally put the mixture in a greased tray and cut into squares. Top the burfis with pumpkin seeds or dry fruits.

  1. Fruit Sandesh: Sandesh is a popular Diwali sweet and you can turn it into a healthier version by using fruits instead of sugar.

Ingredients:

1 litre low fat cow milk

30 ml vinegar

1 banana or apple, peach or fig

50 ground almonds

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp kewda water

Add vinegar to one litre of boiling low fat cow milk. Once the milk curdles, drain the whey with a muslin cloth and keep the paneer to cool. After it cools ensure that the paneer has no moisture left. Then gently rub it with the edge of your wrist to make it crumble. Take a ripe banana or even peach, fig or apple. Mash it with kewda water and honey. Add the paneer and mix it till it turns doughy and sticky. Now shape it into pieces. Wrap it in ground almonds and garnish finally with almond flakes.

  1. Dates payasam: This is a no sugar, no guilt traditional South Indian Diwali sweet with a twist.

Ingredients:

15 dates
2 ½ cups boiled milk

¼ cup Coconut milk
1 tbsp chopped dates – 1 tbsp
1 tbsp chopped cashew and almond

A pinch of cardamom powder

1 tsp ghee

Soak the dates for 15 minutes in ½ a cup of warm milk. Chop the dates and nuts and heat ghee in a pan, adding them to it till they become crisp. Transfer the milk-soaked dates into a mixer, and grind it to a fine paste after adding a little milk. Boil 2 and a half cups of mil, letting it cook on medium flame and add the dates paste to it. Mix it well and cook for 5-7 minutes on low flame till the mixture thickens. Add ghee, the roasted dates and nuts mixture, cardamom powder and coconut milk. Switch it off. Keep chilled and then serve.

  1. Wheat halwa: This is an easy twist on the Tirunelveli or Kerala halwa recipe by using wheat flour.

Ingredients:

½ cup wheat flour

1 cup sugar

1 and ¼ cups melted ghee

¼ tsp cardamom powder

1 tbsp broken cashews

1 cup warm water for soaking

1 pinch orange food colour (optional)

Add water gradually to the wheat flour to form stiff dough. Soak the dough for at least 5-7 hours in a cup of warm water and then mix it well to remove lumps. Strain the milk well, and fry the cashews in ghee and keep it aside. Now take a nonstick pan. Boil sugar with ¼ cup of water till it gets a stringy consistency. Add the wheat flour milk. Keep stirring till it gets a porridge-like consistency. Add ghee gradually and you will reach a consistency which will make it look like one mass. After it starts looking like halwa in the final stage add the remaining ghee, cashews and cardamom powder. Check if it forms firm balls and remove from the flame. Cool for a bit and serve.

These recipes will add a nutritious touch to your regular sugar-loaded Diwali sweet specials and taken in very limited quantity can be had by those who are monitoring their sugar levels. We hope you try these recipes for a happy, healthy and wonderful celebration with your family!

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Eco-Friendly Festival Celebrations

The Navratri season just concluded recently, and so did Eid – soon the Diwali season will be upon us, bringing forth more cause for celebration and fun with friends and loved ones. It is a time for indulgence, but also for inner reflections. The essence of every one of these festivals is to thank the Creator for His abundance, and to spread joy and festivity to everyone. Our celebrations therefore, need to also be such that we do not promote wastage or harm to nature. Here are some of the best ways to have an eco-friendly celebration:

  1. Light up your home the natural way: While electrical lights do add colour and brightness to your home, one must ensure that they do not consume a huge amount of electricity. In this case, for Diwali, one can light up one’s home with lots of beautiful and ornate earthen lamps or diyas and put up just a few strings of coloured lights instead of many. In addition you could also use glass lanterns and hang them in your garden with a small candle or earthen lamp to brighten it up.
  2. Buy clothes made of organic fabrics: All festivals involve a lot of colourful outfits and dressing up, so one way to have a sustainable, eco-friendly celebration is to wear fabrics that are created by local artisans, or through organically grown natural fibres like silk.
  3. Use natural rangoli colours: Rangoli is a lovely form of art during festivals, created in so many striking colours. Traditionally, they were created using rice flour, and organic colours made from spices like turmeric, or crushed flowers. Today, organic colours are easily available and are a much better option than using chemical colours. You can also create beautiful rangolis using flower petals.
  4. Prepare sweets at home: It is common today to find that sweets bought from shops have a lot of additives in terms of colour, excessive sugar and sometimes harmful silver foil decorations. Preparing sweets at home is a much better option – there are lots of easy and healthy recipes to make festive sweets at home, and it’s a good opportunity to let the kids help and have fun in the process.
  5. Gifts with value: Gifting during festivals can sometimes get extravagant. Add a personal touch to your gifts by making candles, homemade chocolates or sweets, a decoupage gift box with dry fruits, potted plants decorated with paints and coloured paper and so on. In addition, generosity is a wonderful virtue. Donate to a charity that you believe in, or sponsor a Diwali celebration for an orphan child. It is these small deeds that really add great value to your celebrations, and it will be appreciated a whole lot more.

These are some ways in which your festive celebrations can be fun, while at the same time eco-friendly. Ayurveda always promotes respect towards nature and sustainable practices for healthy living. Make a difference to your festive celebrations today!

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Ayurvedic Tips for Navratri fasting for working professionals

Navratri is a time for spiritual reflection and physical and mental detoxification. However, for those who are working professionals, it can be very difficult to manage a proper schedule and work efficiently while fasting. Ayurveda focuses on a Sattvic diet consisting mainly of fruits, milk and preparations made from vegetables to cleanse and detoxify the body and focus the mind. Here are some great tips to keep your energy levels up at work while you fast during Navratri:

  1.       Don’t overwork yourself: Set a clear schedule for your work, and don’t let fatigue overcome you. Navratri fasts are supposed to help your body rest and detoxify, and burdening yourself too much will have a detrimental effect on your health over the 9 auspicious nights. Make sure that eating too little doesn’t affect your performance at work.
  2.       Make healthy food choices: Fasting is not an excuse to make up for not having your regular food by snacking on potato chips or other unhealthy snacks. Opt for fruits like bananas, apples, guavas and oranges that will keep your energy levels in check. Bananas provide instant energy so keep some handy at your desk.
  3.       Maintain fluid levels: Avoid getting dehydrated – drink lots of herbal teas, vegetable juices and fruit juices during Navratri fasting to replenish your body fluids and salt levels. During the fast, food devoid of spices and salt is usually taken, so you can replace salt with rock salt so that your body does not become weakened during the fast.
  4.       Prevent acidity: Not eating for extended periods of time can cause acidity. Keep acidity in check by always having a handful of fruits or nuts handy to snack on through the day when avoiding regular meals during the fast. It will provide you with energy and tide you through till the evening when you break the fast.
  5.       Keep energy levels in check: Your energy levels can experience a dip during the Navratri due to fasting and reducing your daily food intake. Always ensure that you take adequate measures to avoid sapping your energy levels. When you break your fast, take protein and whole carb-rich food so that you will have ample energy to begin work the next day.
  6.       Avoid stress: Stress can harm your health and weaken you further during the Navratri fast. Try not to stay hungry for hours together and drink lots of fluids to keep stress levels in check. You can take a breather for 5-10 minutes when work gets too overwhelming. In addition, make sure that you carry adequate Navratri fasting food with you when you are at work to reduce any stressful situations.

Navratri is a time for celebration, inner reflection and spiritual awakening, and fasting is one of the most common ways of channelizing one’s energies towards the divine, in most religions. In Ayurveda, fasting is seen as important to do periodically so that your body and mind keep getting rejuvenated. As working professionals, we often forget to take a break, and Navratri fasting reminds us of just that.

Happy Navratri from Team Pankajakasthuri!