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  Life   Food  22 Jan 2017  ‘Find a rhythm and a diet that works for you’

‘Find a rhythm and a diet that works for you’

Published : Jan 22, 2017, 2:43 am IST
Updated : Jan 22, 2017, 6:40 am IST

To look your best you should feel good first and that comes from right food, thoughts and exercise. Not from stress and denial.

Shvetha Jaishankar
 Shvetha Jaishankar

In today’s fast-pace world, we are continuously trying to look and feel good and healthy despite the pulls and pressures of our everyday lives.

Shvetha Jaishankar, former model and Miss India International, has come up with a collection of recipes which she discovered herself and during her interactions with India’s 25 top models. Each celebrity featured in Gorgeous: Eat Well, Look Great (HarperCollins, Rs 799) has a dedicated page that not only talks about the food they eat and what they cook but also gives us a peek into their fitness regime and the need to stay disciplined. From Milind Soman’s love for running to Lakshmi Rana taking to ashtanga yoga, from Malaika Arora’s craving for Mutton biryani to Priyanka Chopra’s very own scrambled eggs recipe, this book is a sure shot way to get inspired and take a step towards being healthy.

Here, Jaishankar talks about the need to understand one’s own body as it ages while not giving into fads and diets.

What inspired you to share not only your journey as a supermodel to entrepreneur and to a healthy you but also of other celebrities?
As a model it was important to look one’s best, but once I stopped modelling it was easy to give up on this goal. Real life caught up and I had less and less time to be fit, eat right etc. Plus, I married a foodie and it was harder to resist food that I truly enjoyed! So I wanted to restore my own balance while still eating what I liked and through this journey I realised that it is possible to regain one’s rhythm. I also started learning about foods as a way to heal yourself — learning to listen to my body on what suits me, what keeps me calm, what makes my skin look better and this is another aspect I talk about in the book — foods that make you happy and foods that heal or soothe you. I felt this urge to share this journey because it was a struggle that I feel people will relate to.

I featured the voices of many other models and celebrities because each of them faced challenges as they aged, as they took on other roles and each had tackled it differently and were happy with the results. This to me in important — finding your own path based on experimenting. No fads or diets.

How difficult it was for you to maintain a balance between being happy and looking healthy. The introduction says that you read a lot, met a lot of nutritionist.
Yes, and this is an ongoing interest of mine. There is a lot to learn but I am also careful not to overthink and get confused with the info that’s out there. It isn’t easy to strike a balance but you have to keep trying and once you work it out, you can maintain in while making tweaks as you age or your circumstances change.

In India, healthy is often associated with being thin and slim. What do you have to say about young girls who watch supermodels and want to be like them. They often don’t realise the hardwork a model goes through.
One of the key reasons I wrote the book is that it pains me that there is a strong association between looking good and denying yourself food. To look your best you should feel good first and that comes from right food, thoughts and exercise. Not from stress and denial.

Food is something associated with emotions — someone binges when s/he is depressed or people gorge on cakes and chocolates when they are happy.
It’s ok. Diving into a citrus meringue tart or gorging on caramel ice cream while watching a movie are some of my favourite things to do! But it is really about finding a balance. Enjoy these things guilt free but not often.

I do not think there is anything wrong with moderation but binging is something that is hurtful to your body. When people are overtaken with their emotions, they should try to find some other method to disperse their feelings- talking to a friend, going for a run. I have been there and I know what it feels like. I have overeaten the wrong things and learnt from them.

Paani Puri with sprouts filling, pulao with red rice, lobster phulka pockets… what’s your favourite “gorgeous” twist to traditional recipes?
Rather than twists, Gorgeous is about finding ways to stay with foods you enjoy by going back, in some cases, to tradition — red rice isn’t something new — and in other cases to adding something new.

I used phulka instead of pita because phulka you can make at home easily. This way you are enhancing your home cooking experience with small changes.

Malaika’s “battle scars”, Madhu Sapre’s childhood memories... you have taken the readers a step closer into the kitchen and lives of the celebrities. How was your experience in catching up with old friends, making new ones and knowing others?
Fabulous. In many cases I was speaking to them for the first time. I learnt a lot and felt inspired. I am touched that they opened up to me.

Your favourite recipe from the book that you tried out?
The red pepper soup is a favourite as is the blueberry chocolate mousse.

What’s “comfort food” for you? Any particular cuisine you like? Or dish that you like the way it is. Payasam?
South Indian Tam-Brahm cuisine is my favourite. I also enjoy simple Punjabi food and Italian cooking.

Who of all the celebs you have featured inspired you?
Each of them had a story and left me with an indelible memory.

What next? What projects are you busy with currently?
I am involved in LEAP foundation which runs creative and music programmes in schools and colleges. We run programmes in Chennai through the year and we are mentored by A.R. Rahman who is an amazing person. I also have another NGO called A Lot of Dreams that provides college fees, counselling for talented girls so that they can get a good education and become truly employable. I also will continue to write and spend quality time with my two kids. It’s a full plate!

Micro mini cupcakes
You will need a mini-cupcake pan with 12 or 24 cupcake slots with liners or individual mini cupcake tins. This recipe does not have cocoa, like some modern red velvet recipes have.

For the cupcake
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup fine white sugar
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup unsweetened plain yogurt
1 large egg
A few drops of red food colour

For the cream cheese frosting
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup cream cheese, softened
4 cups icing sugar, sifted

Sift the first four ingredients together and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the unsalted butter and sugar until both have blended well into each other. Add the apple cider vinegar, yogurt, egg and food colouring and beat until smooth and even.
Add the sifted flour and beat only till the entire flour has been incorporated in to the mixture completely. Do not overbeat.
Spoon the batter into the lined cavities of the mini-cupcake pan, filling not more that the three fourths mark for each cavity.
Bake at 175°C/350°F for 10 minutes. Halfway through the baking, when the cupcakes have just about risen, turn the pan around if you can for the remaining baking time. When the top of the cupcakes are nicely set and firm, they are done.
These cupcakes rise up and bake very quickly, so keep a watch. Insert a toothpick in the middle of a cupcake to check whether it is done or not. When pulled out it should come out clean.

For the frosting
Blend the butter and cream cheese together. Beat in the icing sugar, one cup at a time, until smooth and spreadable.
If you feel the frosting is too thin, you could add a little more icing sugar. Use a blunt knife to spread generously over the velvets.

Tags: shvetha jaishankar, priyanka chopra, recipes, mutton biryani