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March 2016, Issue"Chanting the Health Mantra"

Geetu Amarnani Nutritionist & Lifestyle Management Consultant Diabetic Educator & Bariatric Nutritionist

With more and more enterprising women leading the way for you and me, Geetu Amarnani is a shining example of someone who is carving her own niche. She is a trained Diabetic Educator & Bariatric Nutritionist, presently in Mumbai, practising as a Nutritionist & Lifestyle Management Consultant. She has over 24 years of experience in the field of Clinical Nutrition, Nutrition Counseling, Nutrition Management of Hospital and Diet Training. She is Associated with International Food Commissions like California Walnut Commission, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) / Foreign Agriculture Services (FAS) California Prune Board, New Zealand Avocado & Zespri Kiwifruit, Washington Apple Commission USA Pears, Consortium of European Extra Virgin Olive Oil. She is also associated with Walnut Commission for compilation of a book on Health Benefits of California Walnuts. She conducts Nutrition Training Programs, Interactive sessions, and compiles health benefit researches and creates awareness about the International food products available in the Indian Market. She was also attached to various hospitals in Delhi and worked as Chief Dietitian (HOD, Dietetics) with B.L. Kapur Memorial Hospital and Kolmet Hospital. The enterprising lady has organized many Health Melas & diet exhibitions. She has also participated & contributed in many National Conferences & Symposiums. Her articles have been published in leading magazines & newspapers and she has also participated in many talk shows on radio & TV.

Tell us about your journey. What was the turning point that made you select this profession?
The turning point came when I started taking interest in my own personal nutrition. It was exciting to experience, how the right nutrition and fitness practices can control how your body looks and feels. I was also drawn to teaching aspect of nutrition, as well as constant learning. Nutrition is a dynamic field of study and is ever evolving. I knew, I would enjoy learning and growing in this field.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word KITCHEN?
It's a “Centre of Health”.

Recall the first time, you made something alone in the Kitchen and how your family reacted after having the dish.
While in school, I made “Aloo Ka Parantha” for my younger brother and I saw him eating it with an unpleasant facial expressions. It was a brave attempt, but definitely not my best one.

Share your fun moments in the Kitchen.
Whenever I cook something for the family like “butter chicken” or “paobhaji”, they always complain that I don't put enough butter. I'm just used to using butter with “kanjoosi” because it's healthier that way. My family definitely doesn't agree with this! They want to taste the butter in their “Butter Chicken”!

How do you balance your professional and personal life?
I try to plan my days with enough time for both. I try to finish most of my professional work at the work place so that I don't have to spend any time doing it once I'm home with the family. With a little bit of time management, determination and family support, it is definitely possible.

In a busy schedule how often do you cook for your family?
I believe in merits of fresh home cooked food, so I cook fresh food everyday. I try to plan my days with enough time to prepare fresh healthy food for my family and me. If there is something in the recipe that I can prepare beforehand, I sometimes do that on the weekend so I can cut down my cooking time during the weekday.

Do you get any help from your better half when you are in the kitchen?
Surely, as constructive critique! He doesn't really help with the cooking but sort of gives his “running commentary of suggestions” while I am at it. I sometimes call him my “mom-in-law”.

How do you prove your culinary skills while hosting guests at very short notice? Any secret ingredients you use?
Every woman knows what she cooks best in a jiffy. My secret is to cook it fresh and to keep it simple.

Do you prepare your own ingredients or do you go for the ready to use ones?
I try to make as much as I can at home. All the fresh ingredients I use are made at home. For example, I do not use store bought ginger-garlic paste and almond milk. I try to make these at home. But as for dry ingredients, I try to make sure I buy organic ones.

If and when you cook do you experiment or do you cook traditionally following your mother's recipes?
During the week, due to time constraints, I use time-tested traditional recipes. On the weekend, I love to try out new recipes. I look for youtube videos of new recipes from various cuisines. Watching someone cook and following directions via youtube makes it much easier to cook and experiment with ingredients.

What's your role in planning & designing of your Kitchen?
“Everything in place and a place for everything” is the first principle of my design. Health, safety and efficiency are my second principle in choice of equipment.

Does it matter to have a modern well equipped kitchen or simply convenient kitchen? How does it make a difference?
I keep updating my kitchen to keep up with new equipment. I feel a modern, well-equipped kitchen is extremely important for efficient cooking. Using new modern technology really helps in cutting down cooking time. This makes it easy for me to cook efficiently and spend more time with my family.

Where do you go when you feel like eating out?
My first choice would be to go to a restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine and a pleasant ambience.

Do you snack while at work --- if so what do you prefer?
I either carry a handful of nuts or some fruit with me to snack on at work. Some yogurt and fruit would also be a good snack. It's important to keep eating small healthy snacks throughout the day to keep up your metabolism. I also drink plenty of water to keep myself hydrated.

How do you maintain your health through diet? Are you conscious about calories while eating?
I keep fit by eating healthy and being active. Conscious, calorie controlled & home cooked food coupled with daily physical activity is my mantra for maintaining good health. It's really a simple, age old, tried and tested mantra. There's no other way to go about it.

Who is your role model?
My mother who could multitask in any situation with selfless love and a smile.

What's next?
I intend to continue my journey in this field as nutritionist as it is an extremely dynamic field. It is important to stay up with new information as there are new things coming up in this field everyday. I want to continue to learn and help people achieve their fitness goals.