Health Tips
Stay healthy by reading wellness advice from our top specialists.

Remember how our mothers used to give us handful of soaked almonds every day before going to school? We know that these crunchy nuts are an excellent source of plant protein, essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and magnesium - all of which are known to improve our overall health. But did you know that almonds could also do wonders to your skin, if applied topically? Yes, that's right! As we know that almonds are packed with vitamin E - they help keep our skin hydrated and further make it soft and supple. Moreover, the presence of antioxidants in almonds keeps our skin wrinkle-free, young and glowing. But if you are still not convinced, then why don't you try these almond face masks and see the results yourself.

Here are some simple and easy DIY almond face masks that you can try this winter to keep your skin youthful and glowing:
1. Almond And Milk Face Mask For Tan Removal
Ingredients:

1 tablespoon almond powder
2 tablespoon raw milk

How to apply:

Take a bowl and mix both the ingredients in it. Mix it well till you get a thick paste-like consistency. Now, wash your face with lukewarm water and apply this mask on your face and neck. Keep this face mask for about 20 minutes. Rinse your face thoroughly with lukewarm water. You may apply this mask on your arms and legs too.

2. Almond, Milk And Grounded Oats Face Mask For Natural Glow
Ingredients:

2 tablespoon almond
1 tablespoon grounded oats
3 tablespoon raw milk

How to apply:

Take a bowl and mix all the ingredients in it. Make sure you have a thick paste without any lumps. Apply this face mask before going to bed. Clean your face with rose water with the help of a cotton ball. Once you are done with that, apply this mask on your face and let it stay there for 20 minutes, or keep it overnight. If you wash your face at night, use lukewarm water and apply your night cream after that.

3. Almond, Turmeric And Gram Flour Face Mask For Instant Glow
Ingredients:

1 tablespoon almond powder
2 tablespoon gram flour
1 tablespoon turmeric

How to apply:

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl to make a thick pasty-like consistency. You may add a little rose water, if you think your mixture is little dry. Apply the face mask all over your face and keep it for about 15 minutes. Rinse it with normal water.

Note: Some of the almond face masks can be a little messy, especially the almond, milk and grounded oats face mask; therefore, you may rinse the mask off before you sleep. Also, don't forget to check with your doctor for any allergies.

Tomato ketchup is one condiment that is found everywhere, from fast food restaurants to dhabas and even homes. A quintessential sauce that is drizzled on burger patties, sandwiches, French fries, parathas alike, the tomato ketchup is delicious and addictive and can add taste to almost any dish. There are indeed foodies who are notorious for using too much ketchup on everything, from pizzas and pastas to even fried rice and Chinese noodles (*shudder*). But most store-bought ketchups are incredibly unhealthy and contain too much salt, sugar and unhealthy fats. Store-bought tomato ketchups may also contain artificial flavours, added colours and preservatives, which may be harmful for the body in the long term.

Consuming too much tomato ketchup may lead to poor skin quality and frequent acne breakouts as well as weight gain. Given the popularity of the tangy condiment, people tend to ignore these harmful effects of tomato ketchup and it is often even used by mothers to make every day dishes tasty and more palatable for their kids who are picky eaters. If you love ketchup and feel like adding it to everything, then you must especially pay heed to these dangers of over-consumption of this high sodium condiment. However, you don't have to compromise on taste in the process of giving up store-bought tomato ketchup. We're here to help with a range of healthier (and tastier) homemade alternatives to store-bought ketchups that are sure to end up loving more than the unhealthy sauce.

Here Are Some Homemade Alternatives (With Recipes) To The Unhealthy Tomato Ketchup:
1. Tomato Salsa
Salsa sauce is a Mexican export that has found admirers around the world. The tomato-based sauce can be easily prepared at home and stored for long term use with chips/crisps, nachos, pakoras and parathas. It goes with pretty much anything and can be made using simple, easily available ingredients.

2. Homemade Tomato Sauce
Another way of adding the tang to your food while omitting out the unhealthy calories is by preparing this hot and sour tomato sauce at home. It's prepared from ripe tomatoes and garlic, along with salt and sugar, white vinegar and the star ingredient - garam masala! This is the closest alternative to the tomato ketchup that you can prepare at home.

3. Tomato Chutney
Another 'desi-fied' homemade alternative to store-bought ketchup is this tomato chutney, which is prepared by cooking tomatoes in a number of spices like mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger, garlic and red chillies. The flavours in this one are unmistakably desi and the taste of this chutney is sure to make you forget all about ketchup.

These recipes may not make you ditch the store-bought tomato ketchup completely, but it is sure to make your taste buds appreciate homemade sauces more.

Monsoon is here and along with it, comes dry and flaky skin. Dry skin can turn out to be quite annoying. If you have been looking for ways to get rid of that flaky dry skin; fret not, we're here to help. A lot of ingredients that are easily available in Indian kitchens can come quite handy in keeping dry skin at bay, especially in winters. Two such ingredients that can possibly do wonders for your skin health are milk and banana. Banana helps in peeling off the dead skin; whereas, milk acts as a clarifying agent. Both the ingredients complement each other quite well and are used in a variety of beauty rituals, including skin care and hair care rituals. Both the ingredients are all-natural, so you can easily use them without worrying about the side-effects. Here is a face mask using these two humble kitchen ingredients that you may bring to your rescue:

Ingredients Required:

1 Banana
1 tablespoon Milk

Method:

To begin with, take a bowl and add one whole mashed banana in it.

Then, add in one tablespoon of milk in the bowl and mix both the ingredients well.

Once you get a thick paste-like mixture, apply it on your face and neck.

Allow the banana-milk mixture to stay for around 15-20 minutes.

Once done, wash it off with warm water.

Note: In order to get amazing results, you can use this face mask twice a week. After washing your face, you can apply a mild moisturiser to make it look more supple and radiant.

As summer arrives, it comes with various skin related problems. As heat of the sun becomes very harsh on our skin and results into many skin related issues like sunburn, sun tan, acne, pimples, spots and other skin infections. It becomes very difficult for us to protect our skin from these problems. So here we are with an ingredient that you can easily find in your kitchens, which can do wonders to your skin. Apple cider vinegar is an ingredient, which has many health as well as skin benefits. It is rich in acetic, citric, malic and amino acid and also contains vitamins, enzymes and mineral salts, which is beneficial for your skin.

Here is how you can use apple cider vinegar for flawless skin:

1. Prevents Acne And Pimples

If you are struggling from stubborn acnes and pimples, then keep an apple cider vinegar bottle handy. Due to its antibacterial and antifungal substance, apple cider vinegar helps in keeping your skin pores bacteria, oil and dust free. How To Use:

- Mix raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar with filtered water in a bowl.
- Soak a cotton ball in the solution and apply it on the affected skin.
- Leave it for 10 minutes and then wash it off with warm water.
- Reapply a few times daily for few days to see the result.

2. Heals Sunburn

Apple cider vinegar is known to cure sunburns. It helps to soothe the pain and make the healing process fast.

How To Use:
- Mix half a cup apple cider vinegar with 4 cups of water.
- Douse a wash cloth with the solution and apply to sunburned skin.
- Massage it for a while.
- Repeat this several times daily for few days until your condition improves.

3. Soothe And Exfoliate Skin

Apple cider vinegar will soothe your skin and will leave it soft and supple. Its alpha hydroxyl acid removes the dead skin cells and reveals healthy new skin cells.

How To Use:
- Pour some apple cider vinegar in a bathtub of warm water.
- Be in there for 15-20 minutes.
- Allow the protective acid to soak into your skin.
- Follow this routine to maintain the pH levels of your skin.

4. Skin Toner

Apple cider vinegar has astringent properties, which helps in increasing the blood flow to the skin and minimise the pores, a great remedy for the ones with oily skin. It also regulates the pH level of your skin.

How To Use:
- Mix apple cider vinegar with filtered water. You may add few drops of essential oil also.
- Apply the solution on your skin using cotton ball.
- Leave it for few minutes, and then rinse it off with cool water.
- You can use it once or twice a day as per your need.

5. Remove Age Spots And Fights Wrinkles

Apple cider vinegar has alpha hydroxyl acids, which helps in removing dead skin and reveals healthy and glowing skin. Not just that, apple cider vinegar also helps in removing the age spots and minimises fine lines and wrinkles.

How To Use:
- Dab a little apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball and apply it directly on the age spot and wrinkles.
- Leave it for 30 minutes and then wash it off with cool water.
- Follow this routine twice daily for 6 weeks and you will see the difference.

So, now you know the benefits of apple cider vinegar. Don't wait and include this magical portion to your daily beauty regime.

This time of the year marks the transition in seasons and the human body tends to be more prone to viral attacks and bacterial infections. As per Ayurveda, this calls for an overhaul of our diet and lifestyle to stay healthy through the transition period. The diet during April days must also be changed to suit the changes in the climate. In Ayurveda, this time marks the transition from Shishir Ritu (extreme winter between mid-January to mid-March) to Vasant Ritu (spring from mid-March to mid-May).

According to Ayurveda, imbalance in the three bio-energies or doshas who get their identities from the five elements- vata, pitta and kapha over time lead to illnesses. The three doshas combine in differing proportions to make up an individual's constitution or prakriti. This includes all factors-- physical, mental and emotional-- that express an individual's uniqueness.

During Shishir or deep winters, the kapha dosha (earth element) tends to accumulate and then after the onset of spring, it tends to spiral into aggravation. So our diet must switch to kapha-balancing foods and recipes around this time.

Before the recipes, here are a few Ayurvedic diet tips for the season:

1. Reduce your sweet intake, especially, white sugar in this season and take plain, easily digestible foods like Jawari Pops (recipe explained below), baked gram and dates and coconuts to your heart's content. This diet has the ability to dry up kapha, as they are non-greasy and kapha-destroying.

2. Foods ideal for the season according to Ayurveda include barley wheat, honey, grains like jawar or sorghum, bajra, pulses like green gram, brown-skinned lentil, pigeon pea, carrot, (Daucus carota), snake gourd, mustard, fenugreek leaf, spinach, coriander and ginger-all in moderated amount.

3. Avoid: new grains, cold, unctuous, sour and salty food, curd, black gram, potato, onion, sugarcane, new jaggery, buffalo's milk.

4. Avoid consuming sweet, oily and heavy to digest food.

5. Do not give peppermint, chocolate or ice-cream cones to young children, as they produce kapha. The kapha dosha is known for maintaining body resistance. Kapha is primarily responsible for anabolism, the process of building the body, growth and creation of new cells as well as cell repair.

6. Do not sleep during the day. It aggravates kapha.

7. Get a pulse diagnosis done and if you find you have excessive kapha, stick to an alkaline diet. Alkaline diet dilutes and dissolves cough, and is subsequently discharged. Steamed or raw vegetables could also be effective.

Now that you have your diet sorted, we share some extremely simple and easy-to-make recipes along with diet tips keeping in mind the change of seasons, and how it affects our body:

1. Protein Balls

Preparing Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

-Roasted Chana - 1 cup
-Dates - 1/4 cup
-Desiccated coconut - 1 tbsp

Method:

-Rub the chana on a plate to get rid of the brown skin.
-De-seed the dates.
-Grind chana and dates in a grinder.
-Take the mixture out on a plate.
- Make small balls out of it by rolling them in between your palms.
-Coat the balls with the desiccated coconut.
-The dish is ready to be served.

2. Jowar Chatpat

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 7 minutes

Ingredients:

-Jowar puffs (dhani) - 5 cups
-Oil - 2 tsp
-Mustard seeds (rai/sarson) - 1 tsp
-Curry leaves (kadi patta) - 6
-Asafoetida (hing) - 1/4 tsp
-Roasted chana dal (daria) - 2 tbsp
-Turmeric Powder (haldi) - 1/2 tsp
-Chili Powder -1 tsp
-Salt to taste
-Roasted chana - 1/4 cup

Method:

-Heat a deep non-stick pan, add the jowar puffs and saute them on medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes.
-Remove the puffs and keep them aside.
-Heat the oil in the same pan, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida and saute on a medium flame for 30 seconds.
-Add the roasted chana dal, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 minute.
-Add the turmeric powder, chili powder and salt, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 10 seconds.
-Add the roasted jowar puffs and roasted chana, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
-Cool completely and store in an air-tight container. Use as required.


3. Ratalu Balls

Preparation Time: 40 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

-Ratalu (Purple yam) - 500 gms
-Sweet Potatoes - 200 gms
-Fresh coriander leaves - 1 tbsp
-Green garlic (optional) - 1/2 tbsp
-Green chili Paste - 1/4 tsp
-Lemon Juice - 1 tbsp
-Ginger Paste - 1/2 tsp
-Sesame seeds - 1 tsp
-Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
-Salt - 1/2 tsp
-Raisins - about 15 pieces
-Oil - 1 tbsp

Method:

This is actually a Holi recipe and the the ultimate flavour of the dish comes from the traditional cooking process wherein the roots get cooked overnight on low heat in the Holi fire's burnt coal.

Alternatively, the other process could also be steaming the roots.

-Wash and cut the roots in big pieces.
-Steam ratalu for 25 to 30 minutes and sweet potatoes for 15 minutes.
-Peel and grate them.
-Obtain finely chopped green garlic and fresh coriander leaves.
-In a pan heat the oil, add mustard seeds and sesame seeds, then add green chilies and ginger. Cook for half a minute.
-Add raisins, mashed roots, green coriander leaves, green garlic and salt.
-Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.
-Turn off the gas and add lemon juice. Mix it well.
-Give round shape and serve.


4. Healthy Thandai

Preparation Time: 05 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

It is a fennel-fragrant concoction that has a natural cooling effect on the body. A mix of melon seeds, rose water and rose petals, this summer cooler is undeniably delicious!

Here is the recipe to make it:

Ingredients:

-Green cardamoms - 10 whole pieces
-Fennel seeds - 1 1/2 tsp
-Black peppercorns - 1/2 tsp
-Coriander seeds - 1/4 tsp
-Melon/sunflower seeds - 1 tsp
-Skinned almonds - 50 gms
-Brown Sugar - 5 Tbsp
-Rose petals - 3 Tbsp
-Rose water - 2 tbsp
-Milk - 750 ml
-Muslin cloth (optional)

Method:

-Roast spices lightly on a tawa.
-Soak all ingredients except milk in enough water to cover.
-Set aside for 2 hours. Grind it into a fine paste.
-Add milk to the paste and stir in a jar.
-Pour the liquid through muslin cloth in glasses.
-Decorate with rose petals and serve chilled.

So try these recipes to bring in good health and happy summers!

Dr. Amol Sonawane
Dr. Amol Sonawane
BHMS, Homeopath, 10 yrs, Pune
Dr. Nitin Shingare
Dr. Nitin Shingare
MS/MD - Ayurveda, Ayurveda Dermatologist, 9 yrs, Pune
Dr. Sheetal Jadhav
Dr. Sheetal Jadhav
BAMS, Ayurveda Family Physician, Pune
Dr. Yogesh  Gangurde
Dr. Yogesh Gangurde
BHMS, Family Physician, 10 yrs, Pune
Dr. Chetana  Mahajan
Dr. Chetana Mahajan
DHMS, Homeopath, 22 yrs, Pune
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