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Make peanut butter at home. Photo: iStock
Make peanut butter at home. Photo: iStock

The great Indian food swap

Try a healthy hack that is easy to execute. Take your cues from the Lounge team's swaps for the year

At the Magnetic Fields festival in Rajasthan last month, a fellow journalist introduced me to the joys of pickle juice (fermented vinegar, salt and minerals) as a whisky mixer. Its sour and tangy taste is a marked improvement over the fizzy blandness of soda. As a bonus, any leftover pickle juice can be had in the morning as a surprisingly effective hangover cure. —BK

In the wavering road to zero added sugar, this year, I switched to coconut sugar. It has a glycemic index of 35 and is a nutrient powerhouse. I get mine from Naturally Yours: minimally processed, unbleached and without preservatives. Its crunchy caramel texture is close to powdered jaggery but its flavour less overbearing in a cup of Darjeeling tea. You shouldn’t have to suffer stevia again. —AG

In my carb-fuelled life (think rice, rotis, white bread), I sometimes try to stick to an apple a day. The starch-rich potatoes in my aloo-baingan have been nudged out by crunchy green apples (use Granny Smith apples if you like). High in fibre and potassium, the sweet-sour apples complement the antioxidant-rich brinjals. There’s more: the whole dish is lifted by the flavour of cinnamon, yes that anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory superfood. —NC

The bad news is my caffeine intake has risen dramatically in the last couple of years. A silver lining of sorts is that, having moved from instant coffee to the French press camp, my addiction is more aromatic and better-tasting than before. I started off sharing a press with colleagues in office, then bought a small one for home. My new year’s resolution is to head further down the coffee-snob road and start grinding beans at home. —UB

I’ve benefited from my flatmate’s experiments with home-made peanut butter, which is surprisingly easy to make—just dry roast the peanuts and grind them in a mixer (add a few drops of olive oil for a smoother texture). You can also try introducing new ingredients in every batch, like dark chocolate, cinnamon or dried figs, or choose a different nut for cashew butter or walnut butter.—VC

My 4pm craving was usually fulfilled by a deep-fried snack. As I pled to be rescued from this daily indulgence of pakoras or banana chips, the guava came as a healthier substitute. The fruit is available for the most part of the year, and I like mine unripe, freshly cut, and sprinkled with some chat masala. —BF

I can never resist buying plums. After eating my way through five or six (usually a box of 10), some, slightly past their prime, remain. The easiest thing to rustle up is a plum preserve flavoured with star anise and grated ginger. This tangy-sweet preserve has replaced canned pickle relish in my savoury home-made sandwiches and sliders. —AS

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