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Stay cool, the desi way

Stay cool, the desi way
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Summer is a season that brings along with it many reasons to be happy - holidays, vacations, travel, etc to name a few.

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Summer is a season that brings along with it many reasons to be happy - holidays, vacations, travel, etc to name a few. However, with temperatures soaring by the day, our bodies start craving ways to cool down. Convenient over the counter options like packaged juices, artificially fruit flavoured drinks, squashes, aerated or fizzy drinks etc…

usually find their ways into our shopping carts and then into our refrigerators and lastly into our stomachs. Although we may feel cool for a while through these options, this cooling effect comes with unhealthy effects due to the added sugars, preservatives and artificial flavouring agents present in these drinks.We seem to have forgotten many traditional Indian options that help in quenching thirst and hydrating our bodies, without adding calories. Here are a few traditional examples that can cool you down without adding to your waistlines.

This is the liquid left after churning butter. One glass (200 ml) of buttermilk contains only about 30 Kilo Calories, but it has the added benefits of being a probiotic drink, which stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, preventing stomach infections which we are more prone to during the summer. Buttermilk can be made more interesting or flavourful through addition of rock salt, asafetida, chopped coriander leaves, mint leaves, ginger, etc. Traditional households especially in south India generally have buttermilk as an accompaniment to all meals. Storing buttermilk in earthen pots would keep it cool and refreshing while imparting a unique flavour profile.

Tender coconut water

Come summer and you see mounds of tender coconut on footpaths. Packed with electrolytes like potassium and sodium and containing very little natural sugar, each glass of coconut water provides just 40 calories. People who exercise regularly, instead of consuming commercial sport drinks, they can look at coconut water as a natural healthier low calorie way to replace electrolytes and fluids. You can make a twist to the flavour by adding mint, chunks of watermelon, etc.

The drink literally meaning cumin water is a spicy concoction of cumin, ginger, black pepper, mint and dry mango powder. It is also a good digestive, but is usually consumed pre-meal. Cumin is a medicinal ingredient providing good amount of fibre, vitamins and dietary minerals while aiding digestion, and reducing post-meal bloating. The mint has a cooling effect in the heat.

Made with tomatoes, tamarind extract, garlic, salt and pepper, the rasam is an accompaniment to meals throughout south India. However, it can also be bottled and chilled for drinking between meals. Rasam ingredients, particularly tamarind are high in antioxidants which neutralise free radicals that can cause ageing, cancer, etc.

All the options above have the common benefit of no added sugars, and are quite unique in their individual flavors, ensuring that you don’t get bored and tired of them through the summer. However, one should remember that no drink rivals good old water in thirst quenching and cooling down, so make sure that you drink adequate amounts of water apart from these drinks. -The writer is Senior Dietitian at Fortis Hospital

By Anushka Baindur

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