Coconut Oil for Stretch Marks: 5 Beauty Remedies That Work Wonders

In today’s day and age, everyone wants to be perfect with the ideal body structure, sharp features and flawless skin. Nothing much can be done about the first two as they depend on one’s genes, but the latter can be worked towards. Stretch marks

, also known as striae distensae, are long, depressed bands on the skin that appear as either red, purple or silvery white, depending on skin colour. They are dermal scars or disfiguring lesions that tend to occur near the hips, buttocks, thighs, armpits, stomach, chest, etc. They can be found in both men and women, but more commonly affect women, almost up to 40-90% of women.

According to Dr. Jangid, a senior dermatologist at SkinQure, New Delhi, “Stretch marks are formed due to the incapability of the lower skin (dermis) to stretch as much as the upper skin. During pregnancy or bodybuilding, the skin is stretched as the body grows. But after pregnancy or when an individual stops working out, the body regains its previous size. The skin isn’t able to go back to its original size and leaves stretch marks behind. It doesn’t just affect the superficial skin, but also the deeper dermis. To get rid of the scars, both the layers of the skin need to be treated.”

stretch marks

Causes of Stretch Marks

Stretch marks appear due to large amounts of cortisone present in the skin. The elastic fibres in the dermis are weakened by cortisone. Due to the constant stretching of the skin, the layer tears which causes a mark to form in the middle layer of the skin. There are a number of reasons for the stretching of the skin like pregnancy, dramatic weight loss

or gain, having a family history

of stretch marks, using corticosteroid medication, etc. During adolescence, teenagers undergo a growth spurt which may cause the marks. Genetic disorders

like Cushing’s Syndrome or Marfan Syndrome increase the likelihood of developing stretch marks.

Dr. Deepali Bhardwaj, a trained dermatologist and laser surgeon, states, “Stretch marks are formed due to the breaking of collagen fibres ,which happens when the body suddenly bloats with fat or with a child inside. Even steroids can be a cause for stretch marks; athletes and fitness freaks may misuse them and cause the formation of scars due to the sudden bulk up of muscles.”

skin 2 625

How to Prevent Stretch Marks

In recent times, several methods have been introduced to help fade away or completely remove these marks like medical procedures and prescriptions. But home remedies

are the safest and most effective. “The application of essential fatty acid oils and coconut oils

can be effective if they are applied at the time of the formation of the marks. Initially they are pink, then red, soon they become yellow and finally white. The trick is to catch them young, when they are pink or red, and prevent them for damaging the skin any further,” says Dr. Bhardwaj.

Coconut oil is used to dull the scars and has proven to be quite useful. It has great moisturising properties and improves the overall health of the skin. It’s anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory

, anti-viral and anti-microbial qualities get absorbed by the skin and heal it. The irritation caused during pregnancy can be reduced by the application of the oil. It nourishes the damaged skin and strengthens its cell walls. Coconut oil contains vitamins like Vitamin E, which heals the dermis, and Vitamin K that removes the damaged and dead cells.

coconut oil

Coconut Oil for Stretch Marks

Coconut oil can be used in the following ways:

1. Plain Coconut Oil

•    Take a few drops of coconut oil and massage it on the affected area.
•    Wait for a while for it to be assimilated by the skin.
•    Apply daily.

coconut superfoods

Photo Credit: twitter/CoconutHealth

2. Coconut Oil with Castor Oil

•    Take and blend equal amounts of coconut oil and castor oil.
•    Rub it on the affected area.
•    Wait for a while for it to be absorbed.
•    Apply daily.

castor oil

3. Coconut Oil with Turmeric

•    Take 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and blend it with 1 teaspoon of turmeric oil.
•    Rub the blend on top of the scars.
•    Wash it with water after 15 minutes.
•    Apply daily.
•    Add an extra teaspoon of lemon juice for additional benefits.

turmeric

4. Coconut Oil with Salt and Sugar

•    Take half a cup of coconut oil and blend it with one cup of salt and sugar each.
•    Rub the paste on the marks for 5 minutes and wait for 10 minutes for it to settle.
•    Wash it and dry it off soon after.
•    Apply daily.

sugar

5. Coconut Oil with Olive Oil

•    Blend a few drops of coconut oil and olive oil together.
•    Carefully rub it onto the affected area.
•    Wait for a little while until the skin absorbs it in.
•    Apply daily.

olive oil

 

Sev: The Crunchy Besan Snack That We Can't Do Without

The melting point of culture, heritage and history, Gujarat, impressed me the most with its lavish vegetarian spread. If India has earned global recognition for its rich range of vegetarian delicacies, Gujarat with its extravagant vegetarian fare has a lot to contribute to the fame. And one particular Gujarati dish has become my favourite. It is none other than their popular Sev-Tamatar Ki Sabzi. My love affair with sev didn’t end here. As I strolled down the streets, I spotted the crunchy delicacy in several snacks like Bhelpuris, Dabeli and Raj Kachoris.

 

In the book, ‘The Historical Dictionary of Indian food’ by renowned food historian KT Acharya, he reveals that the term ‘sev’ was first mentioned in the ‘Manasollasa’ a 12th century book compiled by King Someshwara, but probably the origin of the snack is much older. He writes, “Sev is the term for crisp-fried noodles of besan flour, extruded either thick or thin from a batter.”

 Sev: The Crunchy Besan Snack That We Can't Do Without

 

Sev is a noodle-like crispy snack made of gram flour or chickpea flour typically seasoned with turmeric and ajwain (carom seeds) before being deep-fried. The thickness varies from preparation to preparation. Sev is used in several Indian dishes and snacks as a main ingredient or mostly as a crispy garnish. Ratlami Sev from Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, made from cloves and chickpea flour, is a renowned sev variety across the country.

 

Chef Sadaf Hussain, a contestant of Master Chef India in 2016, “Some say that the name ‘sev’ comes from ‘siv’ (thread) referring to sewing. Sev is one of India’s most popular munching snack. Some of these are spicy and thick, while others are very fine and unseasoned. Sev is quite famous in Indore, Ratlam, Bikaner and Gujarat.”

 

“Sev is very versatile. You can have it by itself or mix it on top of any street food or chaat and it will just elevate the flavour and texture of the dish. If you travel around Gujarat and Mumbai, you will find many different snacks that use sev. For instance, the Sev Puri, Ragda Patties, Dabeli Chaat and Katori Chaat. All of them will be incomplete without a sprinkling of sev. If you go up North towards Delhi and Jaipur, you’ll find chaat items like Raj Kachori, Pani Puri, Sev Puri and Aalo Chaat decorated with sev. In Madhya Pradesh, you will find locals relishing on Sev Poha or a snack of peanuts with sev,” he adds.

bhel puri

Chef Gurpreet Singh from Punjab Grill shares, “Different states like adding a their own twist to a the snack, say for instance, a Maharashtrian Sev Puri would use garlic chutney, while in North India people like to add potatoes to their Sev Puri while in Punjab, we add chickpeas.”

 

There are small manual machines available to make sev where you can feed the batter and it can help you extract uniformly fine sev. If you are making sev at home, make sure the oil is hot otherwise the sev won’t come out as crunchy. According to Chef Gurpreet, mustard oil are the best to fry your sev. Add a hint of spices like cloves, carom seeds and cayenne pepper to the batter to give it a spicy edge.

 

Here’s a lovely recipe of Sev ki Sabzi, you can try at home.

 

Sev ki Sabji
Recipe by Chef Aditya Bal

sev sabzi

Ingredients Of Sev Ki Sabji

  • 1/2 a cup of ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 medium onions, julienne
  • 1/2 inch ginger, chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 large potatoes, diced into cubes
  • 1 large daikon radish, diced into cubes
  • 4 tsp fresh yoghurt
  • 1 large cup of moti sev
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 lime
  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  •  Salt to taste

How to Make Sev ki Sabji

 

1. Crackle the cumin seeds in hot ghee, add in the onions and saute for two minutes.

 

2. Add in the ginger and the green chilies, fry together with the onions for 5-7 minutes on a medium flame.

 

3. Mix in the turmeric powder, the red chilli powder, and coriander powder.

 

4. Deglaze the pan with a little water, Add salt and let the masala cook uncovered, on medium heat, for 7-8 minutes.

 

5. Add in the diced potatoes and radish, mix well.

 

6. Add half a cup of water, cover and let cook on a low flame for 15 minutes or till the vegetables are tender.

 

7. Stir in the fresh yoghurt, and continue cooking on a medium flame for 2 minutes.

 

8. Add in the moti sev, stir well to coat the sev with the masala.

 

9. Add in 3/4th of a cup of water, and let the sev ki sabji cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes.

 

10. Garnish with fresh coriander, and the juice of a lime

Eat healthy this week: 5 studies that help you fix what’s wrong with your diet

While obesity and other weight-related troubles are mostly genetic, what you eat can determine the risk of health disasters in people. Your diet can be the defining factor in what diseases and disorders you are at risk of, and, by extension, ensure immunity to fatal health risks.

From studies debunking the widespread usage of frozen foods and the necessity of including iron in your daily intake, to the now scientifically proven importance of coffee in day-today life, here are five facts about dietary norms.

  • Your diet can be the defining factor in what diseases and disorders you are at risk of.

1) A no-stress job: Turns out, you don’t always need a eating schedule and calorie charts to tell you what to eat when. Just a slight variation, and shift to a few healthier dietary habits can do the trick. From picking brown bread over a white one, or opting for fruits over a fried snack can go a long way.

Just a slight variation, and shift to a few healthier dietary habits can do the trick. (HT file photo )

2) Don’t take the cold shoulder: Wellness experts concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables lose their nutritional richness when they are exposed to extreme temperature change and moisture levels. In fact, fruits and vegetables are more prone to losses as compared to frozen meats and grains, because they are mostly rich in water soluble vitamins and minerals, which easily get oxidized in the process of freezing.

Wellness experts concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables lose their nutritional richness (Shutterstock )

3) Strong as iron: An iron-rich diet will not only boost your general immunity (courtesy higher haemoglobin content), it also helps keep cardiovascular diseases at bay. A new study has found a link between low levels of iron and a higher risk of heart disease. After analysing genetic data, a team of researchers have found that iron-rich foods could have a protective effect against coronary artery disease (CAD), a type of cardiovascular disease (CVD) where clogged arteries reduce the amount of blood reaching the heart.

An iron-rich diet can keep heart diseases at bay. (iStock)

4) The healthy oil: Sure, fried food or extra oily foods are not the best regarded eatables. In fact, any weight loss diet will ask you to stay off oil. However, there are four oils that do you good than harm. A moderate amount of fat is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Adding a little fat to your food, either through cooking or drizzling over salads, can help to fill you up and feel more satisfied after a meal, as well as boost health by helping the body absorb several fat-soluble vitamins.

Avocado oil is one of the healthy oils that can be used in everyday diet. (Shutterstock )

5) Coffee to the rescue: Drinking coffee is good for you. In fact, it can lead to a longer life, according to a new study. In a study found that people who drank regular or decaffeinated coffee experienced health benefits, such as increased longevity. Previous research had shown that coffee can lower the risk of several diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, liver cirrhosis and Parkinson’s and can reduce chemicals in the blood that can trigger heart disease.

Weekend without stress: Here’s our list of top studies that help you fight the blues

Stress is an inevitable part of modern life. Yet it can harm your physical and mental health and increase rate of mortality. Read on to find out what the harmful effects of stress and what to do about it.

Cycling lowers stress levels. (Shutterstock)

1) Cycling to work lowers stress levels in first 45 minutes of work.

A study suggests cycling to office can help reduce stress and improve your work performance. Results indicate that cycling to work is a good way to have a good day. “Employees who cycled to work showed significantly lower levels of stress within the first 45 minutes of work than those who travelled by car,” the lead researcher says.

 

Stress can increase chances of death from cardiovascular illnesses. (Shutterstock)

2) Mental stress ups risk of death in heart disease patients.

According to researchers, people with persistent mental distress, including depression and anxiety, were nearly four times as likely to have died of cardiovascular disease and nearly three times as likely to have died from any cause.

 

Being religious is beneficial to health. (Shutterstock)

3) Religiousness leads to less stress and enhanced longevity.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University in the US found that adults between the age group of 40 to 65 years who attend church or other houses of worship reduce their risk for mortality by 55%. “We have found that being in a place where you can flex those spiritual muscles is actually beneficial for your health,” said the lead researcher.

4) Your stress levels may up ADHD risk in your child.

Stressful situations over a long period during pregnancy increases stress hormone, which may raise the risk of babies’ developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

 

Stress can be contagious for children. (Shutterstock)

5) Your children can ‘catch’ stress from friends and teachers in school.

New research suggests that if students and teachers of a school appear to be stressed, the chances of the same feeling percolating to a new colleague are quite high. “If you are surrounded by people who are downcast or walking around under a pall of burnout, then it has a high chance of spilling over, even if you don’t have direct contact with these folks,” said Kenneth Frank, Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

Don’t take that X-ray lightly. Even low dose of radiation can harm your heart

Ex-rays are not really as harmless as we’ve been made to think. According to a study, exposure to even low doses of ionising radiation, such as X-rays, may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

It is known that populations exposed to ionising radiation in medical or environmental settings have symptoms suggesting an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the study suggests that low exposure to doses of around 0.5 gray (Gy) – the equivalent of repeated CT scans – is associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular damage, up to decades after exposure.

This raises questions about the nature of long-term alterations in the heart’s vascular system caused by such doses. Soile Tapio and Omid Azimzadeh of Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen in Germany and colleagues studied how human coronary artery endothelial cells respond to a relatively low radiation dose of 0.5 Gy and found several permanent alterations in the cells that had the potential to adversely affect their essential functions.

Endothelial cells, which form the inner layer of blood vessels, were found to produce reduced amounts of nitric oxide, an essential molecule in several physiological processes including vascular contraction.

The study suggests that low exposure to doses of around 0.5 gray (Gy) - the equivalent of repeated CT scans - is associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular damage, up to decades after exposure.

Previously, high-dose radiation (16 Gy) has been shown to persistently reduce levels of nitric oxide in the serum of mice, but this is the first study to indicate impaired nitric oxide signalling at much lower doses. Cells damaged by low-dose radiation also produced increased amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are formed as a natural byproduct of normal oxygen metabolism and play an important role in cell signalling. Increased ROS can damage DNA and proteins.

In addition, exposed cardiac endothelial cells were found to have reduced capacity to degrade oxidised proteins and to be ageing prematurely. Such harmful changes did not occur immediately (that is, within a day) but first began in the longer term (one to two weeks). As these cells do not divide rapidly in the body, this observed time in the cell culture would correspond to several years in the living organism, researchers said. All these molecular changes are indicative of long-term premature dysfunction and suggest a mechanistic explanation to the epidemiological data showing increased risk of cardiovascular disease after low-dose radiation exposure, they said.

A desi gastro pub that offers authentic mix of East and West

Be it the original flavour of Bengal’s sought-after fish cutlet or the popular north Indian shammi kebab, at Monkey Bar — the Indian version of a gastro pub — you will be reminded of your roots while letting your hair down.

The pub has its outlets in three metros — Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata — and mini-metro Bengaluru, and each dish has its own flavour of the soil perfectly tucked in to the international palate.

food trail kolkata, monkey bar, monkey bar kolkata, shammi kebab, food kolkata, kung fu rolls, devilled fish baked brie, prawns pil pil, pizza, food, lifestyle, indian express, indian express news

Take the tikki of joy for example. Kolkata’s very own fish cutlet is lightly poached as opposed to boiling it, and coated with Japanese Panko-style breadcrumbs before it is fried.

Then, the mouth-watering shammi kebabs, which have been rechristened shammi sliders, with the big meat chunks wrapped in a slider-style bun.

Down west, there is Mumbai’s very own vada Pav which is cooked in fresh laadi pav with a dab of butter and ghaati masala from Bombay with salted chilli.

There is also the Goan chorizo pao — chunks of smoky Goan sausage sauteed with sliced onions, garlic and tomatoes and stuffed inside a toasted and buttered pav.

While choosing your poison, try mangaa, one of the most ordered cocktails here, that is made with aam panna, sweet lime, jeera, salt and vodka.

“The idea is to juxtapose good food in the pub space. We have not aped the Western idea of a gatro pub blindly. We have tried to make it unabashedly Indian,” chef and partner Manu Chandra said.

Gastro pub, the term coined in 1991, denotes a restaurant moulded in pub culture that became popular in the United Kingdom. However, the concept has drawn occasional flak for watering down the essence of a pub.

“We do specialise in food and in that way it is a departure from the stereotype concept of a gastro pub, but we do not allow children below the age of 18 in the evening across our four centres. They can come for lunch, but in the evening we have more people who consume liquor and the bar is more active,” Chandra said.

At the Kolkata outlet, you see the cult protagonists “Gupi” and “Bagha” of Satyajit Ray’s classic “Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen” painted on the wall that hits you on entering.

The bar has a miniature version of a British theatre-style canopy which illuminates this space. Also striking is a sculpturesque light installation strung from the high roof truss.

Drawing design inspiration from the colonial clubs of Kolkata, the tall arched windows allow you a panoramic view of the surroundings.

The joint, perched on the ninth floor of Knox building in Camac Street, a bustling South Central Kolkata avenue, also has breakfast spread with burgers ruling the roost.

Try the new breakfast burger — a hearty combo of grilled chicken, avocado, fried egg, cheddar and onion jam for those midday cravings.

New small plates include dishes inspired by international favourites like the kung fu rolls, devilled fish baked brie, prawns pil pil and sticky Korean chicken.

There’s a new pizza platter as well which includes exciting toppings such as mushroom and truffle oil pizza, Iti aunty’s daab chingri pizza — a marriage of local cuisine and an Italian favourite — and pepperoni picante pizza.

Coming to the main course, the likes of a Soulful Bowl include a platter of gobindo bhog rice and pickled vegetables alongside egg, cucumber, scallions and fried onions, with a choice of chilly paneer, chicken katsu, beef bulgogi or barbeque pork. Also on the menu is thai curry and Kerala beef fry with the saag kebab — an interesting accompaniment to your favourite drink.

Chandraji’s mutton curry (a succulent mutton dish served with gobindo bhog rice), mustard grilled fish (seasonal fillet with garlic mashed potato, grilled vegetables and spiked mustard sauce, and hearty meals for meat lovers like the MoBar bork and chicken 65 are also on the menu for a filling lunch or dinner.

The desserts carry forward the same quirky tone, enticing you with a mishmash of flavours that melt in your mouth. A sundae is converted into a multi-layered sandwich with great skill in the Mobar sundae sandwich.

The signature, chocolate pot de creme with salted caramel topped with caramel popcorn and the gondhoraj lime tart with lebu, curd and torched meringue are sure to bring a perfect end to your meal.

There is a hookah space as well where customers can go for a smoke. On weekdays, there is live music with space kept for you to shake a leg as well.

Where: Monkey Bar,  9th floor, Knox Building, Camac Street
Cost: Meal for two without alcohol, excluding taxes: Rs 1,200+; Meal for two with alcohol, excluding taxes: Rs 1,800+
Phone: 033 40606446

Food that tastes so nice, you say it twice: Burma Burma

Myanmar, or erstwhile Burma, is a country shaped by many influences and Burmese food as opposed to its common perception of it being an ineligible straggler in the hierarchy of Asian cuisines is actually a beautiful medley of cultural mix. Influenced by rich flavours from countries such as India, China and Thailand, Burmese cuisine has its own unique qualities – it is richer than authentic Chinese food but less spicy than Indian and Thai cuisines.

Considering a country that was isolated for almost 50 years owing to a repressive military dictatorship, the tide is slowly turning in the golden land in terms of food culture and has even crossed borders. Now, more and more people are experimenting with the hidden glory of its diverse and interesting culinary traditions. In India, two friends, Ankit Gupta and Chirag Chhajer, are responsible for starting the Burmese food revolution. The duo who started out with the restaurant Burma Burma in Mumbai three years ago, followed by a lucrative franchise in Gurugram – the only dedicated Burmese eatery in Delhi NCR other than Burmese Kitchen which takes orders for home delivery – has got an overwhelming response over the years, even though they serve only vegetarian fare. Now, Burmese cuisine has a lot of seafood influence, especially in the coastal towns of Mawlamyine, Thandwe, Ngwesaung and in the villages of Inle Lake but the decision to serve veg food is purely from a business perspective.

Burmese cuisineBurmese cuisine is richer than authentic Chinese food but less spicy than Indian and Thai cuisines.

How did he come across this idea? Gupta decided to tap into the Indian market as he knew that the food is easily adaptable since it has a lot of similarities to Indian food. Also, his life has had a major Burmese influence as his mom is Burmese. She had come to Mumbai in the early 1960s, when regional insurgencies escalated in the country. To cut the long story short, it was to escape the military junta’s tyranny and their unendurable attitude towards pro-democracy movements.

So, what exactly do they have to offer? There are dishes from the state of Kachin like the Kachin Style Dried Mustard Soup which instantly wakes you up owing to its umami flavour, Khowsuey from the Shan State and other delicacies which trace its roots back to Bagan, Chin, Rakhine, Yangon, and Inle Lake. There is also the hot favourite Mohinga, a dish made of rice noodles in a rich broth of onions, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass, topped with deep-fried fritters of banana stem. Considered by many as a national dish, it is eaten at breakfast in Myanmar, or any other time during the day, really. We tried it out at Burma Burma and loved it. If you ask us, it can easily pass off as a breakfast of the champions as it’s really wholesome.

While we were enjoying sour and savoury dishes with the rest of the world trying to catch up with Burmese cuisine, we asked head chef Ansab Khan if the food is authentic or has it been modified to suit the Indian palate, to which he said, “80-90 per cent of the menu is very close to what you get in Burma; the core ingredients of the dishes are something we source from there.”

Burmese Food, MohingaConsidered by many as a national dish, Mohinga is eaten at breakfast in Myanmar, or any other time during the day.

Gupta’s mother and her relatives who trained the staff since its inception keep a check on the flavours every couple of months. The team at Burma Burma also does regular checks to make sure the authenticity of flavours is maintained, even if it means going back to Myanmar and training there with the locals. We still had our doubts so we approached a few customers who revealed that they visit the restaurant often and it’s pretty close to what food tastes like back in Myanmar.

One of them who goes by the name of Shreekant Amdoskar said, “I had Burmese food while I was travelling with my wife within the country in 2015. Since both of us are big time foodies, we tried almost everything that was edible. From restaurants to street food, we had an amazing time exploring the local cuisines. Mohinga is my all-time favourite. It’s good to see what Burma Burma is offering to its customers here in India has an incredible touch of authenticity to it, even though they try new things from time to time. The curated menu for the Thingyan Festival which took place in May this year had some new elements at play like Laphet Hatmin Kyaw (Fried Rice with Pickled Tea Leaf) but it still had a strong Burmese touch to it.”

For their menu, both à la carte and special ones, the owners and chef take inspiration from the different regions and even follow street food culture where you find everything from staple Banana Pancakes to Burmese Samosas. Khan says, “Back in Myanmar, the food culture has apparently been changing with modern influences coming in.” But even today, a typical meal consists of a soup, salad, a non-veg main dish, with side dishes of vegetables and a generous helping of boiled rice. Since Myanmar sits on the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean and its north lies wedged between India and China, many dishes carry the flavours and scents of both. At some point, you might even find okra and turmeric of Bengal in a stew. There’s also the popular samosa!

Khowsuey, Burmese foodNo Burmese meal is complete without Khowsuey.

For those who aren’t aware, Burmese cuisine has strong, pungent flavours and uses a lot of fresh ingredients, tropical fruits and peanuts. They are also big on spicy, sour and crunchy thoke (salads) and can prepare one with almost anything under the sun. The Le Thok Son/Rainbow Salad that we had at the restaurant was a delightful mix of four type of noodles – glass noodles, flat rice noodles, wheat noodles and regular noodles – which came beautifully garnished with raw papaya, cucumber, bean sprouts, potato and carrots with a dollop of jasmine rice.

While we were at it, we also decided to go for Khowsuey as a Burmese meal cannot be complete without it. The Dry Khowsuey and Oh No! Khowsuey soon arrived at our table with a generous helping of peanuts sprinkled on top! Let’s remind you that peanuts are an important part of their cuisine and so are tea and rice. While rice is consumed in the form of glutenous rice cakes or noodles, teahouse culture is an integral part of the country. You can usually find tea shops all over the place with just a few stools set up around a street stand. Chinese tea is popular but another one on the list is the black tea served over a layer of sweetened condensed milk, just like the Vietnamese Ca phe sua da. There’s also the bitter and tart pickled tea leaves called lahpet which is used extensively in dishes, starting from salad to rice. It can also be eaten on their own as a snack or at the end of a meal.

We decided to opt for Laphet Hatmin Kyaw/Fried Rice with Pickled Tea Leaf. The first thing which hit us is the strong flavour of the dish – it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. In this case, the tea leaves added a bitter taste but you can easily get around it by pairing it with an accompaniment. Tofu with Roselle leaf was our first choice owing to its tangy taste. Usually, in Myanmar, people add bamboo shoot to it but the chef decided against it. Nevertheless, it made for an interesting tasting session. We ended our meal with the delicious Coconut Ice Cream and Black Sticky Rice made with mandarin and brown sugar – it was a match made in heaven.

 

Burmese food, burmese cuisineBurmese people are big on spicy, sour and crunchy thoke (salads) and can prepare one with almost anything under the sun.

After all the indulgence, we would say that we are a true fan of veg Burmese cuisine but the one thing we are on the look out for is non-vegetarian food from the country. We would definitely like to try the Htamin Jin – a specialty of the Tibeto-Burman ethnic group Intha which is made of fermented rice and boiled fish coupled with a few other ingredients. After all, Myanmar cuisine is marked by extensive use of fish sauce and ngapi (a paste made from salted, fermented fish or shrimp). If veg food tastes so good, it’s hard to imagine how delectable the cuisine that hinges on mildly hot and tangy flavours would taste coupled with some meat.

7 Powerful Home Remedies for Sinus That Bring Relief Naturally

Sinuses are air filled cavities located on either side of the nose. Due to allergies, cold, or bacterial infections, these may sometimes get clogged or infected. This can create various complications like headache, snoring or difficulty in breathing. In serious cases, a sinus infection may even lead to brain fever or meningitis. There are four types of sinus problems which are common. Acute sinus usually lasts for 4 weeks or less. Sub acute lasts for 4 to 8 weeks, chronic sinus lasts 8 weeks or longer while a recurrent inflammation symptom is followed with several attacks within a year. The good news is that there are certain home remedies for sinus that can provide instant relief. Read on to know more.

Certain foods that can trigger sinus symptoms should be avoided, like fried and starchy foods, rice, meat and strong spices. Regular intake of foods rich in Vitamin A can help you build a strong defense against the sinus infection. Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager, Baidyanath, suggests the some dietary precautions that you must take. “Dairy products

 7 Powerful Home Remedies for Sinus That Bring Relief Naturally

, especially cheese, yogurt and ice cream should be avoided. Also, stay away from chocolate, sugar and yeast containing foods as they trigger excess mucus production in the sinuses. Cold drinks are a big no-no. The intake of cold liquids will stall cilia movement within the nose, making it difficult for nasal mucus to flow through the nasal passages,” he says.

Along with these, here are seven effective home remedies for sinus that can help you tackle the problem naturally.

1.Stay Hydrated

Drinking water, tea or juices without sugar are good ways to keep your system hydrated. These fluids help in thinning out the mucus and bring relief to the irritated sinuses. One should avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking, which lead to dehydration.

mango juice

2. Pungent Spices

Spices such as cayenne pepper

with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, help in breaking up and draining out congested mucus. Similarly, horseradish can be mixed with apple cider vinegar andlemon juice to create a mucus dissolving elixir. As an alternative, 1/4 teaspoon of the freshly grated horseradish root can be held in the mouth for a few minutes, once the taste has evaporated, it can be swallowed.

spices

3.Steam

This one works like magic and doctors prescribe it too. Add 3 drops of pine or rosemary oil with 3 drops of peppermint, and 2 drops of eucalyptus oil to a steaming hot bowl of water or add 3 drops of rosemary with 1 drop of thyme and peppermint oil. With your face down over the water, drape a towel over the back of your head and inhale the steam, this will help in clearing a blocked nasal passage.

steam

4. Turmeric (haldi) and Ginger Root

Turmeric root is a wonderful, fragrant spice commonly found in Indian. Not only does turmeric contain natural anti-inflammatory properties, it is also rich in antioxidants.  When combined with spicy ginger root and brewed in hot tea, this combination can help loosen mucus from clogged nasal passages, relax sinus pressure, and make you feel instantly better. In his book, ‘The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies’, Vasant Lad suggests that a mixture of fresh ginger juice with 1 tsp honey taken 2 to 3 times a day can be helpful.

turmeric

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a wonderful natural ingredient with many health benefits. A cup of hot water or tea, taken three times daily with two or three tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

will help thin out excessive mucus relieving congestion and sinus pressure.  Mix with lemon and honey to taste. You can also simply take 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar 3 times a day for better results.

apple cider vinegar

6. Soup

A number of studies support the benefits of having soup in helping ease congestion. From chicken soup to vegetable soup with fresh herbs, you can choose from a range of recipes and pick your favourite. It is the steam combined with a bunch of healthy ingredients which help clear the sinuses.

soup

7. Nasal irrigation

Nasal irrigation is very effective for relieving nasal congestion and irritation. Also known as saline irrigation, it simply means gently flushing out your nasal passages with a saline solution. According to author and Ayurvedic expert, Vasant Lad, you can dissolve ½ teaspoon salt into ½ cup lukewarm water. Pour the mixture in a squeeze bottle; instill 5 drops of the solution into one nostril while tilting your head so it flows out of the other nostril. Do this with each nostril. This will soothe your sinuses and also flush away bacteria and irritants.

nasal irrigation

6 Tips That Will Help You Take The Best Food Photographs

Do you wonder how some people always manage to ace their food pictures and the ones you click, in contrast, look all dull and boring? Social media platforms are now overloaded with pictures of food that are beautiful, tasteful, enticing and sometime just plain gorgeous. Food photography is a skill that can be developed over a course time with the right knowledge and know-how. Because, if you are not tempted while looking at your own food pictures, then something must be wrong, right?

It is essential to note that some of the most appetizing photographs of food across social media haven’t been captured using a high-tech, expensive camera equipment. Thus, while DSLR cameras may give you a slight edge over others, getting an aesthetic food photograph needs more than just hi-end gadgetry. You humble smartphone can deliver good pictures too if you follow a few important points. To begin with, a well-captured food photograph possesses the capability to reflect the inherent taste of the food item that is clicked. That is how powerful the photograph must be.

6 simple, and important, things to keep in mind to get the best food photographs.

 6 Tips That Will Help You Take The Best Food Photographs

1. Light will guide you: 

For any photograph, whether it’s a portrait of a person, a landscape view or a food picture, adequate light is the most important aspect that must be taken into consideration. Natural light beats any other source of artificial lighting. It helps capture the nitty-gritties of the dish thus making it more appealing. Light must always come from the front or the side and make sure never to shoot in excess light as it defeats the purpose of the photograph. Avoid using the flash mode while clicking pictures of food, as the flash tends to create reflections giving the food a different orientation.

2. Angle: Depending on the food item, the most suitable angle helps enhance the photograph. While certain items will look best when shot directly from top, others will stand out when shot from the side, for instance, a multi-layered cake.  Some items like a burger will look best when shot at eye level. The angle is a subjective yet an essential characteristic in food photography. Try framing the shot using a few different angles before you zero-in on your preferred choice.

3. Pick a point of focus:

Here, we mean the ‘hero’ of the shot and the part you want people to pay attention to most. This is especially helpful when shooting in crowded or cluttered spaces. You should be able to pick the dish/platter and make that the hero of your photo. If one is shooting on a dining table, for example, make sure you include only the essential items on the table in the photograph. Otherwise, the attention is diverted away from the dish. Decide what is significant for the composition of the picture and what is not. Focus on what will make the photo look complete and avoid over crowding the shot.

4. Close up or not?


How ‘close’ do you want to see the food in your picture? A lot of people like taking only close-up shots of food and ingredients, and in most cases this works. Plated dishes, with a play of colours could look good in a wider view too. Try a few and see what does justice to the dish you are taking pictures of.

5. Interaction is the key: 

Food photographs look a hundred times more appealing by adding a human element. It increases the level of engagement for the viewer, making it appear more real. Thus, while shooting, make it a point to hold the item in your hand, for instance. Compose the picture in a manner that incorporates some human element.

6. Props make all the difference: 

Even the most palatable dish can look unappealing if not presented well. Thus, props make all the difference. It is of paramount importance that the correct cutlery, utensils, mats etc be used in food photography. Use clean plates and try and make use of white cutlery, which enables the food colors to stand out.

Ansel Adams once said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”, and with the essential steps mentioned above, you are sure to make the best photograph possible. Happy clicking!

 

10 Really Scary Ingredients That Might Be in Your Vitamins

A lot of people take vitamins, and there’s been a lot of news hitting the waves recently that have some people wondering, “What the heck is in these things?”

Katerina Schneider, founder/CEO of Ritual, a soon-to-launch “vitamin revolution” is pretty much on a mission to change that (the site is taking reservations now and is planning to launch later this fall). Her light-bulb idea: Create a vitamin that eliminates all the unnecessary ingredients and provides only what we need, while giving consumers all the research on what kind of vitamin does what. In a nutshell, be clean and transparent.

“There are weird ingredients in some vitamins that you probably wouldn’t ingest in your food or even put ON your body,” Schneider says. Even scarier? She says one in two Americans takes a vitamin/supplement daily and yet 90 percent of vitamins contain one or more of the following ingredients:

Petroleum byproducts (source for most vitamins)

Coal tar derivatives (intermediates in vitamin production)

Polyethylene glycol (industrial antifreeze)

Titanium dioxide (indigestible colorant)

Mineral oil (causes vitamin deficiencies)

Carrageenan (gastrointestinal inflammation)

Parabens (hormone disruptors)

Ion-exchange resins (plastics)

Gelatin (cow skin and bones)

Artificial colorants (carcinogens)

So what is someone to do who is still keen to take vitamins yet wants to stay away from all this less-than-appealing list? Schneider says a good start is to look for vegan-friendly, allergen-free and non-GMO where applicable. “Know your source and learn which forms to look for. Many vitamin brands use the cheapest possible form of each nutrient that doesn’t do a lot of good in the body, and could actually beharmful.”