Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Which is healthier - Pani Puri or Bhel Puri

Fast food comprises snacks that are eaten once in a while. However, most of us have made these foods a staple part of our diet. No matter how many news items we come across about the unhygienic conditions under which some of them are made, our palates don't seem to allow us to cut down on our intake

Check out the calorie count and nutritional content of two popular snacks.

Pani Puri 1 plate (6 pieces, 475 calories) (12.5 gm fat) = Gardening for 84 minutes.

Most people are surprised to know that Pani Puri can be a source of high fat calories, after all the main ingredient is just "meetha/ teekha pani"? Pani Puri is usually made with a mixture of boiled and mashed potato, boondi, boiled moong or chana, a spicy/ tangy chutney and a sweet chutney usually made of tamarind and jaggery and, of course, the puris. No points for guessing that the puris are deepfried and so is the boondi, the main contributors to the high fat content of this meal. Apart from this, the other main ingredients are primarily starchy.

Only the moong and the chana contribute to some amount of protein, though we do not really end up eating them in sufficient quantities to contribute to enough protein intake. What's more, this is not a food of high satiety value; you generally tend to overeat, without realising you may end up consuming 1,000 calories and still not feel full!

Bhel Puri 1 plate (320 calories, 6 gm fat) = Gardening for 57 minutes.
Another 'light' snack that seems harmless enough until you look at the above figures! It usually is made of kurmura or puffed rice, sev, puri and two kinds of chutneys -- spicy and sweet. The main culprit that contributes to the calories is the sev that is mixed into the bhel and generously sprinkled as garnishing and the fried puri. Sev absorbs a lot of oil while being made; the oil that is used for frying it may also be the kind that is not too heart-friendly ie saturated fat. Some restaurants also make it a practice to add peanuts to bhel, which will further add to the fat calories. Health tips If you are one of the fitness-minded people who really think before eating high fat food, here are some alterations you could make to include your favourite fast food in your diet once in a while without going overboard with the calories:

~ For Pani Puri, skip the boondi and potato and take more of the boiled moong and chana instead.
~ Take the above in a bowl and add the sweet and spicy chutney to it in measured quantities.
~ Crush one or two puris and add to this mixture and have it.
~ If you are having bhel outside or even making it at home, skip the sev completely and make the bhel with just kurmura and chutneys. Add one or two broken puris to this mix for crispness. Believe me, you won't even notice there is no sev once the chutneys are added. Homemade bhel can be made interesting and healthy by using boiled or sprouted moong as the main ingredient and adding the same chutneys and a little kurmura. If you do not like making these alterations, indulge yourself once in a while but keep exercising regularly and see that your diet is a balanced one on five to six days out of seven.

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