Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Waiting for Godot





I had the strangest conversation with someone I was mentoring last month. Here is how it went -
Friend: So, I have been in this role for 4 years and I am bored - there has been no promotion, interesting stretches in the job or monetary uplift
Working Mom : So what did you do about it?
Friend (surprised look) : Whaaaat? I am waiting for my manager to offer me the position of  Lead ?
Working Mom : Have you had a conversation with him letting him know of your interest?
Friend : Well I am working so hard , my work should speak for itself
Working Mom : So the reality is ...managers are not mind readers. You need to have a candid conversation with them around your career aspirations and interests. If  (a) the conversation does not yield a milestone map with them on your progress (b) status quo....it is your cue to stretch yourself and explore other opportunities. Yes it's hard and in situations inconceivable given the comfort level and security in your current job but the decision is yours to make.

How many times have you followed your dream....said damn the consequences this is what I want to do and I bloody well will do it come hell or high water

I was watching Shark Tank yesterday and one of things the Shark Robert Herjavec said was - the worst thing you can do is nothing. It resonated with me because ...It is very easy for  a person to get into a state of “Anomie”…a mindless state of just being …reminds me of a play I had read ages back in a literature class. The play was titled Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. It was about two sad men – Estragon and Vladimir and it follows two days in their lives while they wait expectantly and unsuccessfully for someone named Godot to arrive. They claim him as an acquaintance but in fact hardly know him, admitting that they would not recognize him were they to see him. To occupy themselves, they eat, sleep, converse, argue, sing, play games, exercise, swap hats, and contemplate suicide — yet they are afraid to even take that final step of suicide…what if the belt or the rope broke…they were plain afraid…still waiting for Godot. It was a simple play which our English teacher had us enact and dissect and yet what remained twenty five years later were memories of those two sad men…waiting, afraid and in limbo…

Action is better than inaction any day...you have to try, fail, learn and do it over in order to grow. By failing you are setting yourself up to savor the successes that come by small or big. The best advise I have ever received was from my father who is no longer with me - He definitely lived it...he transformed himself from a child who lived in an orphanage all through middle school and high school to a full scholarship student (oh!so hard) to passing the IAS Exams at age 22 and he ended up the Head of a State.

He said Get out there and do something, Take Action. Don't take action because your neighbor did it ....but take it because there is this fire in your belly (I read that as Passion) that is forcing you to take action. You have one life -- Live it -- GET OUT THERE & DO SOMETHING

Monday, April 13, 2015

Healthy Recipes : Coconut & Chickpeas Ishtew


Things were lazy and relaxed over the weekend. We had a wonderful trip to the Santa Cruz Natural Museum. I have been cooking a lot more at home the past month and have been experimenting with a lot of easy recipes. Sunday saw me heading out to the Farmer's Market where I picked up  the week's organic produce : 2 heads of cauliflower, sweet potatoes, cabbage, pink beets (so pretty!), mandarins, colored carrots. I have been obsessed with making a cauliflower and chickpeas curry, so looked at multiple sites before I settled on a merger of sorts between an Eating Well and Epicurious Recipe (what can I say - my recipe is one of it's kind)

                                                                                                                      Photo Credit : Epicurious
Serves: 4 servings
ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped Tomatoes
  • Finely chopped finger of ginger and 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder - I used Shaan's Chana Masala Powder
  • 4 cups largish  Organic cauliflower florets
  • 1 15 Oz can Organic  cooked garbanzo beans, drained & well washed
  • 1/2 cup of frozen green peas
  • 2-4 tablespoons Organic Coconut Milk (Whole Foods Brand)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

PREPARATION

 Heat oil in large pressure cooker over medium heat. Add  onions, garlic and ginger and sauté until golden brown. Now add the tomatoes and sauté till it's all mushy . Add cauliflower and garbanzo beans;  stir 1 minute. Add the Shaan Chana Masala  and  stir till it all melds together. Pressure Cook for 1 whistle and turn the heat off. When you can open the pressure cooker, turn your range to low and add in the frozen peas and the coconut milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in cilantro. Enjoy with a helping of cooked Quinoa.
Nutritional Insights : Calories per Serving - 200, Carbs - 26 g, Fat - 10 g, Protein - 10 g, Sodium - 200 mg, Fiber - 10 g

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tentative Parenting : 7 Habits for Healthy Living


All my life, I had eaten like there was no tomorrow - not thinking of consequences, just focused on the taste, textures and the feelings that eating brought me. Food was my refuge as a shy, overweight teenager and it was always with me even when I felt lonely and lost.I never did have a AHA! moment about healthy eating and yes! I still obsess about food, the inner critic is especially loud about my unseemly bulges and yet I have managed to bring some amount of balance into my life - I have managed to maintain a healthy weight without dieting and have developed a healthy appreciation for whole foods & exercise


My weight loss journey hasn't been a very dramatic one. It has been a slow, gradual progress of adding foods that fit into our life style easily. It was about tweaking my exercise regimen from being focused solely on Yoga for 10 years to gradually progressing to Zumba - 5 times a week for the past 2 years and now I am attempting to add in some resistance training too. 

My son  on the other hand has been exposed to real foods from Day 1 of his existence - homemade Quinoa and Sweet Potato Porridge, Khichari made with seasonal organic vegetables, Kale, Kefir, Chia Seeds....in fact this 8 year old kid averages 25,000 Steps on his Fitbit -- motivating me to stretch beyond my meagre 10K to the 15K range. The words of advice that I offer to my son are the following ( though on second thoughts I should be the one taking the advise from him)  - 

#1 Sleep will not solve all of your problems, but not sleeping will create new ones
#2 Playing Sports will keep you happy and healthy. Keep Moving!
#3 Working Out signals to others that you are hard-working, focused and disciplined. Don't overdo it though -- you don't want to come across as swaggering, narcissistic and self-absorbed
#4 Nature Rocks - make nature a part of your fitness routine - be it long walks or hikes. Your mind, body & spirit will thank you for it one day
#5 Food is fuel - think about what you are putting into your body. If you eat crap you will feel like crap...if you eat well you will feel GREAT
#6 Strong = Self Sufficient - When you get stronger you don't have to ask me to open bottles for you - you will be opening bottles for me...ain't that an uplifting thought
#7 Endorphins help you cope - Remember your Ma and how she was sad two years back and every time she felt like crying -- you said Ma - go to your Zumba class you will feel better! At 6 years you were wise beyond words K2 -- now I offer you the same advice for life. When you are angry or sad- go run around the block, go for a walk and just breath, or go shoot the ball in the hoop for an hour...I guarantee it you will feel better.

And today for dinner just because I was obsessing over it - I have made K2 Dark Chocolate Dessert Waffles ( I couldn't make him waffles for Breakfast in the AM today)

You Need


Process
  •  Blend all the items on Pulse in your blender ( I use my Blendtec)
  •  In the meantime heat up your Waffle Griddle
  • Start making your Waffles – serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream
  • Serve for an extra decadent, guiltless dessert - my son asked for seconds and thirds and I had no issues giving it to him

Photo & Recipe Credit - Ellie Krieger
At the end of the day Food for the body is not quite enough, you need food for the soul to sustain yourself.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Color me Red...



This has been an odd kind of a week - work had been busy but the mind preoccupied. The husband was travelling so even with the preoccupation it was busy at home with an active 8 year old. I have been seeing flashes of red yesterday in the bird flying away quite suddenly, the beautiful red camellias and roses in the garden and the beautiful red beets and raspberries that I got in the farmer's market - they inspired poetry and some wonderful meals. I am sharing here with you the recipe for my super yummy and good for you Beets and Quinoa Khichdi.


Color me Red Beets & Quinoa Mush

You Need :

1/2 Cup Quinoa
1/2 Cup Mung Dal ( or whatever Dal grabs your fancy)
2 cups grated beets
2 Cups Organic Vegetable Broth
2 Tomatoes
Finely Chopped - Ginger, Garlic, Green Chilly to Taste

Wash and soak the Quinoa and the Mung Dal.

In a pressure cooker first add a spoon of ghee...add a pinch of Asafoetida (Hing). Let 1/4th tsp of Jeera sizzle and splutter. Then add a half a tsp of turmeric and then add your finely chopped ginger/garlic/green chilies  and fry for about a minute!  Now add in the chopped tomatoes and let it cook for 2 minutes. Then add in the grated Beets and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Now add in the washed Quinoa and Mung Dal. Add in the Vegetable Broth and turn on the pressure cooker. Let it go for 4 whistles (3 if you like it more Al dente).

When the mixture is cool, add more salt if required (I usually don't add more salt - the salt from the Vegetable Broth is enough), Fresh Lemon Juice (1/2-1 Lemon) and Chopped Cilantro (I didn't have the Cilantro today). Enjoy with a side of yogurt and pickle.

I also made a wonderful raspberry jam with the raspberries from the  farmer's market.

           

So life color me red, yellow, blue, pink or orange but most importantly Color me life and light , I have breathed a thousand breaths and still, I long to see tomorrow's sun.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tentative Parenting : Being You

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  
                                                                   -- Dr. Seuss

I was at the PBWC Conference today and it was a day of positive affirmations for me - absolutely essential - the last few days had been intense due to quarter end work.  Got to hear some inspiring speakers, spend time with friends (made new friends) and meet some larger than life personalities.


I made it home in time to pick K2 from his extended daycare and he was in a buoyant mood and  as usual we started talking.

K2: Ma - I think I have a 3 on Social Sciences (side note - his weak subject and a 3 means he is doing great!)
Working Mom : Great! How do you know?
K2: Ms. N showed me the progress report. BTW, Something happened today. 
Working Mom (slight heart rate going up) : Ummm...what?
K2:  There is a Cooking Club happening tomorrow and they are baking pies. None of my friends wanted to go (read : boys!). I told the teacher I wanted to go and she asked me what kind of pie I wanted to bake and I said Apple. Guess, what C and S changed their minds and want to bake pies too! 

I was ecstatic with this conversation for two reasons - (a) my son is learning to appreciate the priceless art that is cooking and not relegating it to "girl" territory...so I am getting thro' to him (b) "Being You" is a concept he is embracing with open arms...even when he has to do it alone

So when the monkey asked me for Quesadilla  (yet again!) -- I of course had to say Yes!  But my Quesadillas are actually GREAT for him...and he says they are the best tasting ones he has ever had (more power to me!)

Here's how I made it  (literally took me 15 minutes!) if you want to try them at home. I confess to eating them myself and feeling great about it -- the nutritional profile is amazing and the taste is to die for !!!
  1. Trader Joe's Whole Grain Flour Tortillas with Flax Seeds (really great ingredients with 5 gm of Fiber and 100% Whole Grain)
  2. Cheese of Choice was a variety of Organic Cheeses from Horizon
  3. Veggie Mix ( I dumped a can of Whole Foods Black beans, chopped onions (about 1/4), chopped cilantro (to taste), grated beets (1 medium sized) with salt, cumin powder and microwaved for 3 minutes. Mix and Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  4. Heat a flat skillet - I added  a touch of Olive Oil and cooked one side of the tortilla, flipped and then added the veggies and cheeses to the cooked side. Fold and let the cheese melting magic happen.




So to K2 and his friends I say in the words of Dr.Seuss - So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.

P.S - Tomorrow marks the 2nd Anniversary of my Bapa being gone - he is loved and remembered.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tentative Parenting : Seven Life Hacks for the Busy Mom !!!

To say I was perturbed when I saw this article shared on Facebook - Women are working more everywhere, except the US,   is an understatement. The truth of the matter is the working women that I know  in the US are stretched thin - trying to make the ends meet at both work and home -- driven by ambition and a need to excel at work and driven by love and in parts guilt (of not staying home and taking care of their babies) at home.  And at some point for a number of these women,  the balancing act of  walking a tight rope of career and family snaps...sometimes it mental exhaustion, others - the physical grind gets too much and is most cases - the cost of child care just makes it more of an economic business case for the woman to stay home) and they make a "choice"

For the others that choose to remain in the workforce - they get consumed by the relentless grind - barely taking some time to just breathe in peace and exhale out their worries. I had a mental AHA! moment about 23 months back and have been striving to get balanced- it doesn't have to be elaborate, in fact  my "me time" is really about "me" and my solitude - it's reading a book, taking a course on Coursera , taking a walk alone or with the boys, concocting a new recipe and exercising. This "me" time rejuvenates me and energizes me to perform better both at work and home.

Let me share with you some of my life hacks for surviving this relentless grind aka routine. Your list might be totally different - the key is finding your place of  Zen and peace. Some of it might seem very basic but these are the ones we find easy to forget and not follow

#1 Begin your day quietly - I begin my day with a cup of chai or Apple Cider Vinegar in Hot Water with Honey...sitting by myself contemplating my day and the things that need to get done. There is no angst just anticipation to begin the day and get stuff accomplished. If I get up early enough I spend half an hour with my Bhagvad Gita Course.

#2 Eat Well & Plan what you Eat -  I believe that what we put into our body does have an impact on who we are. I have taught my son about healthy eating and make very simple meal plans for the week on Sunday ( I plan it around my trip to the Farmer's Market). Depending on my workload, there are some days in the week when I order hot lunches for K2 ( I order hot lunches a month in advance). K1 eats lunch at work ( he prefers to ) and I brown bag it (normally Quinoa, Dal and a Bhaji)

#3 Have a well established routine & list - We have a few set meal plans that we work from - they are simple and because I do most of the cooking, grocery and prep. work (yeah so much for Women's Lib!) I prefer to keep it simple. My son and I go to the Farmer's Market on Sunday followed by a walk to make sure he isn't huddled in front of the computer. I have a weekly To-Do List (for work and home) and a daily To-Do List. I am pretty attached to my To-Do Lists and they have been a life-saver for me

#4 Outsource (when possible)- I had completely outsourced my cleaning the past 15 years but have in the past 2 months (to stop myself from unraveling!)  outsourced my laundry and food prep. The money spent bothered me for but one week -- I did see the huge difference it made to my equanimity and happiness -- so I actually consider this help priceless.

#5 Teach your kid to Fish - My son bathed himself from age 5 and now at 8 - folds his clothes, puts his dishes in the dish washer, helps me in the kitchen and makes his bed every morning. In a year's time I intend to teach him to be able to cook basic dishes and fend for himself in the kitchen. I want to bring up a child who takes on responsibility.

#6 Exercise Daily - In my life this is non-negotiable. I try to walk, do yoga or go to a Zumba Class every day. I am trying to incorporate the same discipline in my son. I make him take a 1/2 hr walk with me everyday. We both wear a FitBit  and motivate the other to move a little bit more - I have progressed from 5K steps daily to 10K to now 16K steps daily. It's not easy  but once it is a part of your routine, it is not something you will let go of.

#7 Get 7-8 hours of Shut Eye - I used to work really late in the past and get about 4-5 Hours of sleep. I wore my sleeplessness like a proud badge..."look at how awesomely productive and hard working I am"...Bull Shit :)...I was a grouch, I was not working at 100% of my capacity. In the past few years I have slowly added in at least 7 hours of sleep to my routine and it has had a huge positive impact to my health, productivity at work and as a mom.My AHA moment here was thanks to Arianna Huffington's Ted Talk on - Sleep your Way to the Top.

How has your Sunday been? We have a set routine for Sunday where I make these amazingly delicious Waffles for my two boys. It is a winner routine at our place and the nutritional profile of my Waffles are AMAZING. What you don't believe me - the analyst in me built a spreadsheet for you ;-)

115 Calories for each Waffle - 6 gms of protien and 6 gms of fiber!

What you want the recipe now?  Here you go -

Krish's Waffle for Legendary Skylander Trap Masters
  • 1 1/2 Cups Waffle mix (I use the Trade Joe’s Multigrain Pancake & Waffle Mix)
  • ½ Cup of  Wheat Bran (Organic)
  • 3 Tsp Chia Seeds (Organic)
  • 1 Cup of Dream's Blend Cashew Nut/Hazel Nut Milk (Unsweetened)
  • Egg Whites (2 Eggs - preferably cage free & Organic)
  • 1⁄4cup nuts  and dry fruits (I use walnuts and cranberries)
  • 1 Banana
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey or 2 tsp Coconut Sugar
  • 1 tsp  vanilla
  • Spectrum High Heat - Oil Spray for the Waffle Maker
Process
  •  Blend all the items on Pulse in your blender ( I use my Blendtec)
  •  In the meantime heat up your Waffle Griddle
  • Start making your Waffles – serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup
Here's how my son's breakfast waffle looked  (picture taken by K2)

With Fresh Strawberries from the Farmer's Market and Maple Syrup

I still have to get to my Farmer's Market and then a long walk with K1 and K2. I am so excited about the Lead On Conference  and I can't wait to listen to Hilary Clinton's Key Note (did I mention my boss is a speaker at this conference too, yes I am totally rad by association :)) and definitely look forward to hanging out with all my peeps. How is your weekend playing out?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Let me just state that culturally we don't celebrate Valentine's Day ergo no flowers for my girlfriend" 
                                             A Young Single Indian Dude

This expansive statement was made in a business meeting this week and amidst the eye rolling from most of the others in the room and an understanding nod from me - we let the sleeping dogs lie. However, the honest truth is I never got red roses or wine on Valentine's Day -- and I didn't really expect it - it was just another day.

This valentine's has been wonderful though...K2 and I walked a mile enjoying the sights and smells of early morning...the whizzing humming birds, the graceful egret and the yipping puppy that was trying to protect it's mistress...we admired the first cherry blossom blooms...

We walked home and I made the 2K's a healthy Waffle breakfast from scratch (Multigrain Flour, Wheat Bran, Coconut Flour, Almonds, Walnuts, Cranberries,  Chia Seeds, a Banana, Egg Whites, Almond Milk & Oil) followed by a fun zumba class at the gym


Walked in an Open Farmer's Market for half an hour picking up some melons, grapefruit, strawberries and dry fruits. Came back home and gave the boys a healthy lunch : Khichidi with Lauki, Lobia Dal Subzi, Red Beets Raita and Roasted Cauliflower



We have another leisurely walk planned, chai with a friend and the dinner will be either a quiet affair at home or we might head out...who is planning that far ahead anyway ;-)



"There's a long life ahead of you and it's going to be beautiful, as long as you keep laughing, loving and hugging each other"