Healthyin' it up! What I have learnt so far from my medical journey...

As you all know I am a food blogger but I am also a physician. Initially, starting this blog I thought that I will bring some of my spontaneous and delicious recipe ideas to all of you. However giving it some deeper thought  health and food are greatly interdependent. My knowledge on metabolism has been helping many patients achieve their weight goals as well as improve their glycemic control.  However, this blog is also a great medium for me to help many who are always disappointed with their unhealthy lifestyle and weight management skills. I may not know all of you but I would love to help you towards your journey towards fitness. In general, the American population has a hard time managing weight including medical personnel such as physicians and nurses. With the large variety of cuisines and availability of food it has become fairly difficult to resist temptations. This article is not stop you from eating but to show your how to change certain habits in your life. 
 This article will give a few tips on how to improve general health and start working your way towards fitness. I am specializing in weight management and metabolism and would like to provide help to many of my blog viewers. Please pass along this article and try to help as many people as you can who struggle with this daily!

The less I eat the less I weigh. Incorrect!

It is true that in the short run you will lose weight. Many women do this for a big upcoming event such as weddings. It may work for your big day but the weight returns with revenge. Many dieters end up being a higher weight than they were before. Yes, you have to decrease caloric intake to lose weight. This will not be an easy route but big caloric deprivation will only make you return to your original weight or higher. Choose healthier options such as green vegetables and lean proteins. Key is limiting your portions not starving!

 Know your basal metabolic rate

Your body is involuntarily conducting many functions so that you remain alive. If you did not get out of bed all day, you would still be burning calories (a lot of them). If you do not have any idea of how much you burn daily (based on your height and weight), you will not know where to begin your weight loss journey. There are many online calculators which will tell your daily burn. However if you are a functioning human being you are burning a lot from from walking, working, singing, cleaning and all other activities of daily living. If you work out however your basal metabolic rate eventually will increase. The BMR calculator on myfitnesspal is especially useful. Know how much your body burns and then start either burning more or decrease your intake, or both!

Do not skip meals. Period. 

If I had to run miles on how many of my patients tell me they skip meals I would be running my entire life into my afterlife. Stop skipping meals! Your body needs calories every 4-5 hours. Not only do you slow down your metabolism by skipping meals, your following meal is likely to be larger.

Dinner is your enemy. 

I am not by any point telling you to skip dinner. However your metabolism is the slowest at the end of the day. Insulin resistance increase by the end of the day and even more at night. That means that you will likely not metabolize the glucose that you placed in your bloodstream as effectively. Night time workers especially suffer from this and gain a lot of weight from unhealthy eating during their shift. However, if they ate the same meal during the day their glycemic control and weight would be a lot better.
Bottom line: Eat an early dinner and make it your smallest meal of the day.

Everyone needs to exercise! Yes that includes your mom, dad and grandparents

To maintain a healthy body weight everyone needs to exercise. There is a stigma that only younger people go to the gym and mainly for aesthetics. However from a weight management perspective to maintain your weight for years to come, exercise should be a part of your daily life. Pick an exercise you enjoy and stick to it. Recent studies say to improve mortality you have to exercise 5 days a week for 1 hour daily. It seems a bit difficult for some. However if you get even 30 minutes of exercise 3 days a week you are on your way to health. Remember this is a long term goal so be consistent rather than sporadic. Eventually, almost everyone has a tendency to gain weight as they age but exercise can surely stop or slow down that process. My favorite outdoor activity is hiking (as seen in the picture above from Canyonlands National Park). Not only does it invigorate my senses but also causes me to be highly active. Fitbit, Apple Watch and Garmin are some great fitness help especially when you start to compete with others. Find something that you love!

Does fat make you fat?

If you answered yes to that question then you are incorrect. Fat is important and decreases rapid absorption of carbohydrates. What does make you fat? Simple carbohydrates that you find in form of junk food. That includes candies, pasta, white rice, potatoes, white bread, cakes, croissants. The list goes on and on. Our goal should be to minimize simple carbohydrates and increase complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are found in whole wheat bread, brown rice, sweet potatoes (surprisingly), whole wheat pasta and tortillas. Just remember brown is better. The reason behind that is that they are slow release carbohydrates so they do not raise your glucose levels right away. Make sure you limit the intake of even the slow release carbs because they are still calories and glucose.

 Never eat a Carbohydrate alone

Always include a protein with your carbohydrate. If you eat  potatoes, toast, pasta alone without a protein the likelihood of rapid increase in your blood glucose levels is high. Making small changes such as melting cheese on your toast, eating meat with your potato or fish with your pasta will make you eat less carbohydrates. In the long run you will prevent diabetes which unfortunately knowingly or unknowingly 50 % of the American population already has.

Eliminate juice, soda and any other sugary beverages

Do you really want to drink all your calories? We give orange juice to patients with low sugars. How come? It causes a rapid rise in glucose levels and they go from confused from the hypoglycemia to all perked up. Imagine the effect of orange juice on your body. Make healthier choices such as crystal light (no calories, no sugar) and you can still have a delicious beverage without the detrimental effects.
Think of soda as a deathly sugar water. You can damage your entire metabolism by daily intake of soda. Remove this from your diet completely! Diet soda is better than regular soda. However can still cause glucose intolerance in the long run so should be kept to a minimum. Overall, nothing is better than water.

It takes one day to bring down your metabolism. Say NO to Cheat Days!

Yes and that literally means one day! You were going on a great streak, eating healthy and exercising. Today you decided that you are allowed one cheat day so you decided to binge on the TGI Fridays appetizers and boom you are on your way down again. If on your fitness journey you are craving something unhealthy, you are allowed to moderately indulge. However you are not allowed to go binging because all your weeks and months of hard work can be reversed in one day. Try to always stay in moderation no matter what! Cheat Days are not for you!

Hope all these points helped change your perspective on some of your habits. Feel free to email me on shuchie.jaggi@gmail.com for any personalized questions about weight management and metabolism.


Cilantro and Chipotle Pepper Cheddar Crisps

I am always in the look out for a snack that will satisfy my big appetite and be nutritious at the same time. Though snacking is not part of my daily routine, but when I do partake in it I like it to be a non-guilty pleasure. Cheese is a big part of our daily consumption. It is an absorbable protein and when low-fat can add good calories with extra protein. These cheddar crisps take about 10 minutes to make on the skillet or griddle. Since cheddar cheese is naturally oily the pan does not even need to be pre-oiled for this. At the same time, some excess fat from the cheese gets removed when cooked (Always a plus). By itself, cheddar crisps are great but an addition of  cilantro and chipotle pepper gives a southwestern feel. No additional salt needed since the cheese has its natural saltiness.
This is a great appetizer for a small get-together. It is sure to start up some conversations about how creative you are. Usually, if I am hungry and won't be having a meal for another couple of hours I know this will hold me over in the mean time. Instead of having potato chips as a side, my husband and I will have cheddar crisps. Its not hard to get creative with these. Parmesan is another great cheese to have in a crisp form (I do not think pepper and cilantro will pair well with the subtelty of parmesan). Regardless, make this quick snack and dont feel any guilt!

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 Sprigs of Cilantro (Removed from Stem)
A dash of Chipotle crushed pepper

1. Heat your griddle/skillet on low-medium heat on the stove.
2. Once heated, using a spoon place approximately 1/8th cup of shredded cheddar cheese (circle) slowly on the skillet.
3. You can make as many as 4-5 circles based on the size of your pan.
4. Once the cheese starts bubbling. Carefully, place cilantro and pepper on top of each cheese circle.
5. Once they start to appear golden brown from the bottom, remove from the skillet using a spatula. Set aside for 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Bon Appetite!


Sazon Chik'n Tacos

I am going to welcome myself back. It was surely a dreadful couple of months studying for the American Board of Internal Medicine. My happiness lies in cooking and exploring the outdoors. Surely both of them were taken away and misery levels were increased dramatically. I have to say I am feeling relaxed and could not be happier writing this newest blog post. Starting Endocrinology fellowship I have become  cognizant of what I am eating more than ever before. I would like to practice what I preach. I will definitely be creating healthier recipes and hopefully can help a lot of vegetarians with diabetes.
As a vegetarian without mindfulness we can surely have an increased carbohydrate load in our diet. This recipe is a quick bite easy to make after work and surely healthy. Took me 15 minutes to create this one. I believe all of us should have this much time right?
Sazon seasoning is fantastic and sticks on perfectly on Trader joe's chickenless chicken. Surely, given its highest protein content it is on the top of my list for imitation meat. A dollop of sriracha sour cream brought this into one delicious bite. Please do yourself a favor for authentic taste use corn tortillas (there is just no substitute!). I hope you love the recipe for a quick after-work dinner!

4 Corn Tortillas
1 Pack of Trader Joe's chickenless chicken
15-20 Greens Beans (With ends chopped)
Sazon Seasoning Packet
3 Teaspoons of Sriracha
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Cup of Kale
1/2 Cup of Sour Cream
1 Cup of Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

1. Heat a skillet on medium heat.
2. Pour in a tablespoon of olive oil.
3. Once the oil appears heated, add the green beans.
4. Saute the green beans for 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
5. In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of olive oil.
6. Add in the chickless chicken strips.
7. Sprinkle the sazon seasoning on top.
8. When it appears to be mixed well, add on the kale.
9. Stir together for 3-4 minutes.
10. In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream and sriracha.
11. Steam the tacos, carefully place the green beans and chik'n mixture.
12. Dollop sriracha sour cream on top.
13. Serve Immediately!

Serving Size:2

Bon Appetite!


Artisanal Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Chip Sandwich

(Photos by Shashank Jain)
6 Ingredients and one delicious sandwich! Why? Simple ingredients are treated right! The crunchy kale chips with the roasted (extra-virgin olive oil infused) cauliflower makes this recipe so delightful. One day I had a large head of cauliflower, I was not quite sure what to do with it. Of course, it sparked an idea of why not a sandwich? Almost anything goes really well in between two delicious slices of bread. I realized the subtle flavors will go well together.  I also had a nice batch of kale chips that I had made a day before. It is such a kid-friendly sandwich because its so difficult for kids to eat raw or sautéed kale (Adults alike). However, Kale chips are just fun and delicious and take away the fact that you are actually eating a super-food. Whynotspicy blog as I had mentioned earlier was not to create heat in your meals but to create a composed flavorful dish. Some of my previous dishes such paneer in béchamel sauce or sweet and savory stuffed biscuits were not spice heavy dishes. However, the flavors came together and created a whirlwind of happiness. This one is similar to that idea. I am quite tolerant of heat and I am also a collector of the world's hottest sauces and spices but that is not required everywhere. Especially not in this.
This was a great Sunday lunch for us and so easy to make. I know for sure that I impressed my sandwich-obsessed husband with this treat

1 Cup of Kale Chips (Follow recipe)
1/2 Head of Cauliflower (Chopped into small florets)
4 ounces of Parmesan Cheese (Thin slices peeled)
2 Artisinal Fresh Whole Wheat Bun
4 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2) In a baking sheet place the cauliflower florets.
3) Pour Olive oil over it and mix well.
4) Sprinkle some salt and pepper and place in the oven.
5) Will take 30-40 minutes to be tender, flip a couple of times in between.
6) Cut the artisanal bun and lather with mayonnaise on both sides.
7) Carefully place the roasted cauliflower and kale chips with the shredded parmesan.

Bon Appetite!


The World of Avocado Toasts

What is this new hype? Avocado? Yes, a fruit that in the recent years has been well popularized in the United States. It has been incorporated in various menu items in franchised restaurants such as Panera Bread, Au Bon Pain etc.  I ask, why shouldn't it be? Its nutritious and delicious. Usually a combination that is not found together. Many times I have heard the saying that it is "nature's butter" and it surely deserves that title when being so creamy.
About 15 years ago it started as a rarely eaten fruit (yes its a fruit!) and now is part of the usual grocery list for east and west coast combined.
It is surely a crowd-pleaser...blah, blah, blah. We have all had it at many get togethers in the form of store-bought guacamole or in a salad. But do you dare to serve your guests an avocado toast? Of course we will fancy it up a bit and in this recipe it will be in four different forms but still different than our traditional appetizers. Place a name tag in front of each individual toast and voila you have a created a fancy appetizer. No one will know how easy it actually is to create. This recipe requires three ripened (not too mushy) avocados.
Please use artisinal bread it will surely elevate any average joe toast. The avocadoes will be cut 4 different ways as seen in the above picture. Cubed (1/2 inch x 1/2 inch), Horizontal 2 inch slices, mashed and two large (2inch x 3 inch) slices.
I am really writing this recipe for my friend Chryssa who asked ever so innocently how to use avocados. Surely her question invogorated my wild recipe side. Today, you are seeing a few examples of how to use fresh avocadoes however this will not be the last of it and you can blame my friend for it.
Now, being in Endocrinology I have to mention avocado is a great source of good fats but also is high in calories. Eating half a medium avocado can give you up to 200 calories. Therefore mindfully eat them!
I served up these appetizers when my parents came over for dinner. They were so pleased and it was such a dinner conversation starter on who will try which type of avocado toast. It was a great time and surely the chief guest was the avocado. Follow the recipes listed below and you are not going to be disappointed.

Greek-style Avocado Toast
1/4 red onion (Finely chopped)
1/4 cup low-fat crumbled feta cheese
Good quality 5-6 black olives (Chopped)
3 Sprigs of Parsley (Chopped)
1/2 Medium Avocado (Sliced in 1 inch horizontal slices)
1 Teaspoon Honey
1 Teaspoon Extra-virgin olive oil
4 Slices of Artisinal Bread (Your choice)

-In a separate bowl combine onion, olives and parsley.
-Whisk together honey and olive oil in a small bowl and mix into the above-mentioned combination.
-Place 3-4 slices of avocado on your bread slices neatly.
-Carefully place the above mix on top of the avocado.
-Top with some fresh feta cheese.

Dominican Style Avocado Toast
1 Plantain (Green) cut into thin slices
1 Dried Chipotle pepper (Chopped)
1/2 Avocado (Cubed)-1/2 inch x 1/2 inch
2 Teaspoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4 Slices of Sliced Artisinal Bread

-On a skillet on medium heat, pour in the extra-virgin olive oil.
-When oil appears to be heated, carefully place the plaintain slices.
-Cook 1-2 minutes on each side of the slices or until appearing golden-brown and then flip over.
-When both sides are cooked, remove from heat and placed in a plate with a paper towel covering the plate (This will soak up the excessive oil).
-On the sliced bread, place 3-4 slices of the cooked plaintain
-Top with avocado and sprinkle chipotle pepper and salt

Mango-Red Pepper Avocado Toast
-1 Unripened Mango (chopped into cubes)
-1/2 Avocado (Coarsely Mashed)
-1/2 Red Onion (Chopped)
-1 Teaspoon Cumin
-1 Teaspoon Honey
-1 Teaspoon of crushed red pepper
-2-3 Sprigs of Cilantro
-4 Slices of Artisinal Bread

-In a separate bowl, combine the unripened mangoes, onion, cumin, honey, crushed red pepper.
-On sliced bread, carefully  lather the mashed avocadoes.
-Top with the mango mixture and add some fresh cilantro on each toast.

Goat-Cheese Pistachio Avocado Toast
-Fresh Goat Cheese into 1inch round slices (4 ounces)
-1/8 cup of Dried Cranberries
-1/8 Chopped Pistachios
-4 slices of Artisinal Bread
-Avocado (Large slices)

-Place two large slices of avocado on each slice of bread.
-Place three slices of fresh goat cheese on top of the avocado.
-Carefully stick the cranberries and pistachios on the goat cheese (They stick well on top).

Bon Appetite!