How can we incorporate milk in our diets especially vegetarians and which milk is supposed to be best for us?

Yes, you are right that vegetarians need milk and milk products because these are the main source of protein in their diet. Milk can be taken as it is or mixed with porridges, with cereals or in the form of milk products such as curd, paneer, buttermilk, lassi or milkshakes. Toned milk contains around 3 per cent fat but contains the same protein and calcium as full cream. So it is good for adults. For children up to the age of two years, full cream milk is recommended. However most flavoured milks available in the market should be avoided as most varieties contain a lot of sugar.

How can we make braided bread or buns at home?

Prepare normal dough as you would for bread. Divide dough into three equal parts. Roll each piece into a 16-inch- long, 3/4-inch-wide rope. Braid the three ropes together on a prepared sheet. Pinch ends to seal; tuck under loaf. Brush with beaten egg. Drape loosely with buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk and bake.

Please tell us if the alcohol we use in some of our dishes burn off in cooking.

Whether it’s adding a glass or two of wine to a pasta sauce or pouring brandy over pancakes before flaming them, the common belief is that all the alcohol in these drinks burns off in the cooking process. However, research has found this is not actually true. When they tested the alcohol content of meals prepared in different ways, they found it took about 2.5 hours of simmering to remove all but 5 per cent of the alcohol. Even if you light the alcohol, as in flambe dishes, 75 per cent will remain.

What is the best way to make the tastiest roasted vegetables at home?

Toss chopped vegetables (about half kilogram) with one tablespoon oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly coat the veggies with oil and spices. Spread on a baking sheet, making sure they aren’t crowded. Then roast 15-30 minutes in a 475 degrees F oven. Sprinkle one tablespoon citrus juice, one tablespoon chopped herbs and 1/2 -1 teaspoon each minced garlic and citrus zest over roasted veggies. Sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped roasted nuts, toasted bread crumbs or grated or crumbled cheese over veggies for extra flavour and texture. Keep toppings small so that they do not overpower the tender- firm texture of your roasted veggies.

Why do fresh strawberries often taste so thin and sour without added sugar?

This is true, however much we may like the strawberry flavour, we are less keen on fresh, whole strawberries. The truth is that Indian strawberries look right, have lots of that distinctive strawberry flavour, but still are hard to eat on their own. When you bite into them they have a thin sour taste and they do not fill your mouth with that gorgeous fruity sweetness.

There are several reasons for this: the high-yielding varieties of strawberries are never sweet, it seems that if a plant makes too many berries then it doesn’t have enough sugar to put into all of them. So each strawberry has much less sugar; then there are practical difficulties like when farmers concentrate on yield, flavour takes a back seat.; strawberries are a winter fruit and taste best when the weather is cold- and you don’t need to add cream or sugar. Science can put a man on the moon, but only God can create a real strawberry.

Many people believe that milk is only for children not for adults. Please clarify.

Yes we do meet many people who believe that after a certain age our body doesn’t need milk and that we are better off without it. But this is not true. Nutritionists claim that milk is quite important for every age group and should be ditched only if you are lactose intolerant or are advised a low protein diet by the doctor. Milk forms an integral part of a healthy diet. It is the first food an infant tastes on birth and is an healthy option for all. Milk is the only source of calcium that is readily absorbed and hence essential to one’s diet to keep one’s bones strong. It is also a high source of protein, fat, carbohydrates and various vitamins and minerals.

Every now and then we get to hear about new grains- such is “spelt”. Please tell us something about it.

“Spelt”, is an ancient grain also known as dinkel wheat or hulled wheat, is a species of wheat, wheat in many ways. It is rich in protein and these proteins contain all of the nine essential amino acids needed by the human body. Spelt and wheat are similar in appearance, but spelt has a stronger husk which helps protect the nutrients inside the grain, and slightly different nutritional content ie it is high in gluten.

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