More often than not, Vitamin E is overlooked in terms of our daily diet planning. Many of us try to include iron-, calcium- and protein-rich foods in our daily meals, but often ignore Vitamin E, which is so very beneficial to our bodies. Vitamin E supplements like Evion help in ensuring we get an adequate amount of the nutrient, but I wouldn’t recommend consuming the same without a doctor’s advice. Another way to use Vitamin E is topically, applied on skin or hair. And then, there are various natural sources that help you get an adequate amount of Vitamin E into your systems.
What are the natural sources of Vitamin E?
There are quite a few natural sources of Vitamin E, including leafy greens, avocado, sweet potatoes, whole wheat, almonds, hazelnuts, tofu, apricots, wheatgerm, broccoli, palm oil, sunflower seeds, Swiss chard, peanuts, safflower oil and pumpkins. Did you know that moringa leaves, (Scientific name: Moringa Oleifera, Tamil: murunga elai), are very rich in Vitamin E? Among green leafy veggies like spinach, mustard greens, beetroot greens and Swiss chard, moringa greens rank right up there in terms of Vitamin E content. In fact, the quantity of Vitamin E in moringa has been found to be 20 times that in tofu!
The daily recommended dose of Vitamin E is 20 mg or 22.4 International Units.
The many health benefits of moringa leaves
The use of moringa leaves is not uncommon in South Indian cuisine, and I try to ensure my family gets enough of this essential nutrient by including the greens in my day-to-day cooking as much as I can. And, of course, I try to use the other natural sources of Vitamin E as best as I can, too.
It’s no wonder that moringa leaves are being touted as a superfood in recent times, being the powerhouse of nutrients that they are! They are high in protein and calcium, iron and beta carotene, magnesium and chlorogenic acid. They possess high amounts of Vitamin A, B6, B12 and C, apart from Vitamin E.
Thanks to being rich in Vitamin E, moringa aids in hair care and skin care, preventing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, helps in alleviating pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), lowering cholesterol levels, improving one’s vision, aids slow ageing, lowers the risk of cancer, and helps the body in fighting against toxins that air pollution throws at us. Apart from this, moringa also helps in fighting inflammation, promotes bone and cardiovascular health, protects the liver, aids in wound healing, helps in keeping anxiety and depression at bay, and also aids one in combating diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and asthma.
Here’s how I incorporate moringa leaves in our daily diet
1. Use them in uttappams
One of my favourite ways to use moringa leaves aka murunga keerai is to add them in while making uttappams, along with other vegetables.
~ You will need dosa batter that has turned slightly sour (not overly so). Add to it some grated carrots, chopped capsicum and baby corn, a handful of roughly chopped moringa leaves, some finely chopped coriander and green chillies, and salt to taste, and you are all set!
~ Get a dosa pan nice and hot, till droplets of water dance on it. Then turn the heat down to low-medium, and pour a ladleful of the batter in the centre.
~ Cook, covered, till the uttappam gets browned from the bottom. Then, flip over and cook, covered, on the other side for a couple of minutes.
~ Serve piping hot with dosa milagai podi drizzled on top. If you want to, you can add crumbled paneer and a dash of chaat masala, or a sprinkling of grated cheese, on top.
2. Use them in parathas
I often add moringa leaves to my parathas, which adds to their nutritive value and taste. On our recent trip to Ahmedabad, I got hold of some green garlic (which, sadly, you don’t get in Bangalore), and it made for a wonderful addition to my moringa leaf parathas.
~ Take multi-grain atta in a large mixing bowl. Add to it salt to taste, a dash of sesame seeds, ginger-green chilli paste, a bit of jaggery, some thick curd and oil, roughly chopped moringa leaves, some finely chopped coriander, and some green garlic + stalks that have been finely chopped.
~ Mix well, and make a soft dough using water as required. Then, make parathas out of the dough as usual.
3. Make a South Indian poriyal
Moringa leaf poriyal tastes absolutely scrumptious. With some hot, hot steamed rice, sambar and a bit of ghee, this poriyal is a heaven-sent accompaniment.
~ Chop moringa leaves finely and keep them handy.
~ Heat some oil in a pan and add mustard. Allow it to splutter. Add in some cumin (jeera), dry red chillies and asafoetida (hing), and allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds.
~ Add in the chopped moringa leaves and a splash of water. Turn the heat to medium and cook, covered, till most of the water is absorbed.
~ Now, add salt to taste, a bit of turmeric and a dash of jaggery. Cook, covered, till the leaves are done. Add a bit more water if needed.
~Mix in some freshly grated coconut, and let cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes more. Done!
4. Add them to moong dosas/adai
Moong dosas are powerhouses of nutrition in themselves. Add some moringa leaves to them (along with some finely chopped onions), and they become even more nutritious and delectable. You’ve got to try this out!
~ Here is how I make moong dosas. Prepare the batter as mentioned in the recipe, and keep it at room temperature overnight to make it a little sour.
~ Then, add roughly chopped moringa leaves and finely chopped onions. Mix well.
~ Get a dosa pan nice and hot, then lower the flame to medium. Prepare dosas out of the batter. Serve piping hot.
If you have got some adai batter handy, moringa leaves and onions would make a great addition to it as well.
5. Add them to sambar or daal
Another simple way to incorporate moringa leaves in our daily diets is to add a handful of them to sambar or daal.
~ This is how I make a one-pot moong daal tadka. If using moringa leaves, I would add them, roughly chopped, to the pan after the mustard seeds, cumin and asafoetida. I would saute them till they are cooked, and then add them to the pressure-cooked moong daal. Serve piping hot with steamed rice or rotis.
~ Want to use moringa leaves in your sambar? Just saute some moringa leaves along with the other vegetables you are using, and then proceed to prepare sambar the way you usually do! Serve with steamed rice and a curry of your choice.
Precautions in using moringa leaves
Moringa leaves can be quite tough to digest themselves unless cooked really well. So, while using these greens, you must ensure that they are well cooked, even pressure cooked if necessary. This is especially so when you are planning to serve a moringa leaf-based dish to children.
Also, make sure all stems are removed from the leaves, as they are not edible. Wash the greens well, to remove any traces of mud from them.
I hope this post is of help to you! Be Vitamin E-healthy – stock up on these natural sources!
This is my entry for the Vitamin E Mantra contest on Indiblogger, presented in association with Evion.