Aditi Rastogi, Woman’s Era, April 19, 2016
“The Cauliflower diet is the new rice, new potato, the new thin” says Chef and author Radha Thomas.
Cauliflower is the answer to the prayer of every person on the planet who wants to lose weight, wants to stay healthy. Radha Thomas, the author of ‘The Cauliflower diet’ says, “it is one of the best –kept secrets in the dieting community. It is an extremely versatile veggie that can blend into any kind of cuisine in the world. Cauliflower is both gluten-free and high in nutrients and also low in carbs”.
The author has created her own recipes using the cauliflower and has also experimented cauliflower with all types of cuisines.
Aditi Rastogi from Woman’s era interviewed Ms. Radha Thomas to know more about ‘The Cauliflower Diet and her experiences while penning down this book.
Tell us something about your literary journey? At what age, did you discover your love for writing?
I’ve been a singer and songwriter for well, – as long as I can remember. Songs and poems are hard to write because the form is restrictive. Rhythm, meter, story telling is all in one place. Song writing is very disciplined so I guess it is a good place to begin one’s journey into writing.
I used to be a travel writer in my 20s, working for a tour operator in New York where I wrote their travel brochures, making up stuff about places I’d never been to. I’ve also been a journalist and columnist for several years and produced newspapers, magazines, books and so on for other people. I suppose you could say I’ve written a lot. I enjoy writing… almost as much as singing.
Tell us something about your book ‘the cauliflower diet’ and why you chose this topic? Are you a dietician by profession?
‘Necessity is the mother of invention. It so happened, as I grew older, I grew chubbier. I hated being a fatso more than anything and it was very hard for me. I guess my genes are to blame, not my natural affinity for chocolate and strawberry shortcake.
So naturally, I began exploring all sorts of diets. I settled on the Atkins Diet (very low carb and high protein and fat) several years ago and stuck to it religiously. It is easy to lose weight on it, but it’s also hugely tiresome. All that meat. All that fat.
I missed veggies. I missed salads. I missed the cool Thayir Shaadam my mom used to make for me as a child. The Atkins Diet doesn’t allow any rice at all.
I’m not sure how I chanced upon the cauliflower in a starring role in my diet, but I did. And that was about 5 or 6 years ago. From then on, I have been experimenting, researching and creating all sorts of recipes.
FYI, in the book I’ve only included recipes that I’ve tried and tested on other people. No failures or disasters in the book, I promise. The first thing I made was ‘Cauliflower Rice’ and then no prizes for guessing… Thaiyir Saadam (curd rice)
As a journalist, I used to specialize in writing about alternative medicine, a subject I’m deeply interested in, and it sort of set the stage to share all the medical benefits of ‘The Cauliflower Diet.’ Researching the subject was inspiring and it continues to be an ongoing process. Creating new recipes is also never ending.
Why should one add cauliflower in their diet? What is so special in this food?
The cauliflower is one of the world’s most perfect vegetables. High in fibre, lots of water, no gluten, no cholesterol, no starch or sugar, very low in fat and very rich in several nutrients such as calcium, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K. The best part is that half the carb content of a cauliflower is fibre, making it very attractive on a low carb diet.
Fibre is key to ‘regularity’ and metabolism and that’s so important not only for weight-loss, but for general well-being too. By using it as a substitute for rice, wheat, potatoes and flour, the dieter doesn’t have to change his or her food habits. So if it’s dal and rice you’re used to eating… it can now be dal and Cauliflower Rice. Or if it’s Chicken Curry and Rice, it can now be Chicken Curry and Cauliflower Rice.
You get the picture.
Consider this: 500 gms of cooked Cauliflower Rice, that can feed 4 to 6 people comfortably contains only 12.5 gms in carbohydrate and all the nutritional benefits mentioned above. In comparison, 500 gms of white rice contains 143 gms of carbohydrate and almost no fibre. The simple premise is that since the cauliflower is so low in carbs, it is perfect for any dieter who is cutting back on either carbohydrates or calories. It doesn’t matter if you’re a vegetarian, a vegan or a meat eater. This diet will work for everyone.
The book is about taste. About recipes that can help people lose weight while not struggling too much.
As so many kids hate cauliflower, how can parents add cauliflower in their diet?
Ha! It’s the perfect veggie to food your kids with. You can disguise it as a potato. You can make meatless meatballs with it. It’s amazing. And I promise you solemnly that any child I’ve ever fed ‘Cauliflower Pizza’ to has become an instant fan. In fact, some kids prefer it to Dominos
Tell us something about yourself and your career? What are your upcoming projects?
I was born in Tamil Nadu, grew up in a boarding school, joined a rock-and-roll band in my teens and then left for the USA to become a jazz singer. Jazz is one of my passions but it never earned me enough money to keep body and soul together. So I had a variety of day-jobs while singing in clubs at night. I’ve been a tour guide in Fiji, organized trade shows in China, owned a fashion boutique on Long Island and worked for an art publisher in New York.
I’ve sort of had three distinct careers. As Director and Editor of Explocity.com, a media company. I created and produced a series of food guides in the six major metros in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bangalore. These books, called, ‘The Kingfisher Explocity Great Food Guide,’ were very popular and sold all over India regularly from around 2009 to around 2012, by which time the internet had seriously made a dent in the book publishing industry.
I also conceived and produced a newspaper for Café Coffee Day, called ‘Café Beat’ which addressed people between the ages of 15 and 25, dealing with issues of concern to that target audience.
I’ve written for many publications such as The Times of India, Midday, The Hindu, Man’s World, Men’s Health and others.
As an author, Before ‘The Cauliflower Diet’ I wrote ‘Men On My Mind’ (2012) and ‘More Men on My Mind (2014), published by Rupa. It’s a trilogy, a story featuring a young woman’s quest for good sex. The third in the series will be released in 2017.
As a musician. I was trained in Dhrupad, by Ustad Farid Ud Din Dagar and my jazz style hints at my Indian classical training. I’ve worked with renowned jazz musicians in the world such as Ryo Kawasaki, Frank Tusa, John Scofield, Michael Brecker, Alex Blake, Badal Roy, Buddy Williams, Joe Farrell and performed at popular venues.
In India I’ve worked with leading Indian jazz musicians such as Louiz Banks, Amit Heri, Sanjay Divecha, Keith Peters. But these days, I lead my own band, UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble. I’m thrilled to be #1 nationally on Reverbnation. Our album ‘I Only Have Eyes For You,’ has received excellent reviews and airplay all over America. We’ve played all major festivals in India and continue to so so. I used to host a jazz show on Radio Indigo in Bangalore. When I’m not busy writing or singing (which is most of the time) I like painting, playing guitar, watching cop shows on TV and playing with my doggie Brownie. I have one son who lives in New York.
What message do you want to give today’s kids and woman’s era readers about maintaining a diet in the age of junk foods?
It’s hard to go on a rigid diet. You can pull it off for a while, but it it goes against the grain of what you’re normally used to, then there are chances of falling off the wagon. Harsh and drastic diet regimens that make you give up the things you love, at least for me, have been doomed. Juicing was the worst. The Cauliflower Diet doesn’t call for giving up anything. Just substituting. And once you get used to making Cauliflower Rice, you won’t even know the difference. And it’s very good for you too.