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The SPICE of LIFE; It's the Indian diet that will keep you slim and healthy...

Byline: ZOE CHAMBERLAIN

HE'S the chef who wants people to spice up their lives - for a healthier future.

Gurpareet Bains, 32, has created a book of Indian Superfoods that shows how Asian spices can help reduce the pounds - and add years to life expectancy.

The Birmingham chef first hit national headlines after creating a chicken and blueberry curry, with goji berry pilau rice, which packed the same nutritional punch as 23 bunches of grapes!

Now Gurpareet has come up with dozens more healthy recipes to keep waistlines slim in his new book.

"I had people contacting me for ages after I published that curry recipe," he said.

"I had always been confident that if you brought together commonly-known superfoods, such as goji berries, blueberries, broccoli and so on, with super-spices you would have a powerful combination."

BBC DJ Chris Evans loved Gurpareet's signature dish so much that he professed it was the best curry he'd ever eaten.

Gurpareet smiles: "I went on his drivetime show on Radio 2. He loved my curry so much it was dripping down his shirt!" Whilst the health benefits of spices have been widely known in India for hundreds of years, Gurpareet believes supermarkets are the reason why they have remained a well-kept secret in the West.

"The supermarkets can put a 'superfood' label on foods like goji berries or blueberries and people buy them for a fair price,'' he said.

"But they can't really put up the prices of spices so easily and so that's why they've been sitting in the background.

"It doesn't make commercial sense to shout about how great they are, but I wanted to share that with everyone in my book."

Spices such as chilli are said to help lessen arthritis pain and can be effective against bronchitis and rhinitis. Cloves can be used as a digestive aid for flatulence, nausea and vomiting. And Turmeric has been linked with helping ease depression, joint pain and stomach problems, while ginger can help to beat the common cold.

New research by the United States Department of Agriculture shows nearly a quarter of the top antioxidant foods are spices, so adding a little extra flavour to your meals can make a big difference to your health.

"Comparatively, weight-for-weight, superspices are the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet,'' said Gurpareet.

"Take, for example, cumin - just under half a teaspoon is equivalent to a standard portion of grapes. And one teaspoon of cinnamon contains the equal amount of antioxidants found in two glasses of fresh pomegranate juice.

"In India, people have used spices to treat almost every ailment.

"I was so pleased when the US research was published as it was good to see the health benefits there in black and white.

"We can now prove what people in India have known for years."

Gurpareet first came up with the idea of Indian Superfoods when he returned from his travels abroad and had piled on the pounds.

"I went from 75kg to 103kg over a period of three to four years due to eating the wrong foods and drinking too much alcohol," he says.

"When I got home, I decided to lose weight by eating healthily, which inspired me to come up with Indian Superfoods.

''There was a lot of talk about superfoods from TV nutritionist Gillian McKeith, but I felt Indian foods could be even healthier because traditionally spices have been used as medicine in India.

"I got my weight back down to normal after about 18 months.

"These meals fill you up faster. When your body is telling you it's hungry, it's asking for nutrients, not doughnuts.

"The recipes are not complicated but simple to create in 10 minutes, allowing you to get on with something else whilst they are cooking.

"Nowadays we need to eat healthily and fast. We need to go bang, bang, bang and dinner is done because it needs to fit in around our busy lifestyles."

Indian Superfoods by Gurpareet Bains with photographs by Lara Holmes (Absolute Press pounds 12.99).

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HOT STUFF: Chef Gurpareet Bains at work on one of his superfoodpacked meals.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Sep 5, 2010
Words:687
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