The complicated life of health, food and relationships.
Author Archives: Hema Malini
I am a trained sociologist and an archival researcher. I am the principal investigator for an archival research project on the Brahma Kshatriyas of Hyderabad and also founder of choosingwellness.org. I also go by my other name Malini.
I am a translator of notes that remain in the margins to bring the user of technologies into sharper focus. I use the term community researcher, immersive researcher to talk about the work I do.
In the past, as a Director and user experience lead at Code for Princeton I worked with non-profits, community groups, users, and subject matter experts to identify areas of need. I translated this into conversations with brigade members, developers, potential users, and other stakeholders.
The applied ethnography and social research skills got me to meet with a diverse set of people across the broad middle class spectrum in Urban India. Living and working in New Jersey for the past several years has given me a breadth and width of understanding and engaging with people adding critical diversity to my bracket of "users" and experience all rolled in one.
Target Numbers for Asian Indians to Prevent Heart Disease
Non HDL Cholesterol less than 130 mg/dl 
(Total Cholesterol-HDL= Non HDL Cholesterol)
LDL-Cholesterol less than 100 mg/dl 
HDL-Cholesterol greater than 40 mg/dl for males and greater than 50 mg/dl for females 
Blood pressure: less than 140/80 mm
Waist Circumference: less than 35″ for men and less than 31″ for women
What is HDL cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein is a part of the total cholesterol measurement. It is often referred to as “good” cholesterol. The recommended level for men with diabetes is greater than 40mg/dl and for women with diabetes is greater than 50 mg/dl.
What is LDL cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein is a part of the total cholesterol in the blood. It is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. LDL should be less than 70mg/dl for those with diabetes and/or heart disease.
Dietary Recommendations to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol level
The National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III recommends:
1. Adjust caloric intake to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Weight gain raises LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
2. Choose a diet low in saturated fat (less than 7% of caloric intake), trans-fat (less than 1 % of caloric intake) and dietary cholesterol (less than 200 mg/day) by consuming a diet high in fish (especially fatty fish), non-fat dairy products, small amounts of lean meat and/or lean meat alternatives e.g. dry beans e.g. rajma, channa, soybeans (like edamame), lentils (daal) and tofu.
3. Include food sources of plant sterols & stanols. At the recommended dosage of 2 gm per day, plant sterols reduce cholesterol absorption in the intestine by up to 30% and reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol by 10%. Plant sterols have the same chemical structure as animal cholesterol which blocks the absorption of cholesterol eaten in the diet as well as
cholesterol manufactured by the liver.
4. Increase intake of viscous (soluble) fiber to 7-13g daily e.g. oats, fruits such as strawberries, apples, vegetables such as okra, eggplant, brussel sprouts and legumes such as lentils. Soluble fiber can lower LDL cholesterol 3-5%. It is recommended that adults eat 21 to 38 grams of total fiber daily.
Source: Indian Foods: AAPI’s Guide to Nutrition, Health and Diabetes
Edited by RANJITA MISRA Professor & Research Director, Texas A&M University
As one sits through the day at a screen without movement (like I have for the last two hours, looking at the clock) and wonder at the amazing technology- I also lock up the circulatory system in a set route and obstruct energy movement. A physical movement keeps the body fluids in motion and at the same time registers the food energy to the remotest parts of the body if one were to think of the gut as the center.
The idea of movement, be it with yoga or with cardio, strength training or zumba, the rhythm of the body changes and takes on the form of the activity. The lymphatic fluid or blood- need to circulate and that is of essence.
Sometimes I jot down a recipe in any form and place and use it aplenty later. It becomes a staple because someone loved it a lot. And that’s how I roll when I look for favorites- I ask my family or friends for a recipe and they share it or I write it down. This tawa masala recipe survived my two iPhone notes-app and lived through a toilet bowl flush- almost. Then I salvaged it into an email folder that still survives- technology!Continue reading “Tawa Masala”
I make cauliflower in the old fashioned way with potatoes sauteed in oil and zeera. Slightly crunchy, slightly caramelized with a sprinkling of turmeric, salt and pepper. It is an amazing dish that over a period of time I changed to make without potatoes altogether and it still tastes great.
Slightly crunchy and slightly caramelized sounds oxymoron-ish since if you let it caramelize, it also becomes soft and looses the crunch. The way I do it is over high heat as I put the veggies in the oil and cover it. As soon as I see the steam escape from the sides I know to take off the lid and let the vegetables stick to the bottom of the pan and in essence, caramelize it. Toss it a few times if they are not done and repeat for a couple of minutes with the lid shut.
Salads in India are a summer solution to extreme heat. The fruits and vegetables are the juiciest during summer. The reason being that there is ample sunshine to hasten the growth and along with enough water- they reach a full growth potential.
Salads when added to the plate take on the burden of providing roughage as well as the cooling quality to the spicy food. We see a lot of salads have curds and buttermilk added to add to the cooling element. This salad is a standard one of chopped variety that uses firm vegetables most of the time. Continue reading “An Indian salad”
I went around the mandi for my vegetables and was chased by young boys looking to sell their wares: small clips, rubber bands, candles, nadas, agarbathis. It is an incessant force at the mandi to get your work done and not be distracted by the small kids who try to make a living. They are like guides to the mandi but at the same time we are short-term visitors who lug back our goods and disappear like tourists, like onlookers.
The phool mandi in Hyderabad, Jam Bagh as the old timers know it, is one such place that has changed faces. Now we also have flower markets in Gudimalkapur one of the largest flower markets in Hyderabad that gets the flowers from Shankarpally, Chevella, Vikarabad. Things change and not remain the same and it makes for the case of wabi-sabi, the way imperfections last.