Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Perfect Imperfect Curry...

                                                                                            -- A 13 Yr Old
In the spate of last week's suicides by two of whom I adored Anthony Bourdain, there was a lot of introspection going on in my head. I lost a 44 year old cousin  two years back to Suicide...she had the perfect job, the perfect house and the perfect two children...yet she couldn't find that elusive happiness and the strife to keeping it all "just right" got to her...
It was a huge wake-up call for me...I am this person who usually doesn't really care about what others think about me and focus on doing the things that nourish my mind, body and that selfish...I call that a necessity for my existence. However, in the past few years, there has been a little bit of...omigod! what would she say if I did this or post this or act like this...this pressure to try to tweak my "branding" get it just "right" and then when G (my cousin) passed on...there was an aha! moment for me, along with the empty feeling of loss and grief. It was the fact that what was driving me nuts...up the wall was this constant clamour for perfection....perfectly clean house, perfectly completed to-do-list, perfectly groomed kid (and puppy), a perfect husband and a perfect me with a perfect social media page....REALITY : all tomorrow if you see this really short-haired woman walking by the bay in her Jammies talking to her scruffy puppy...that is gift to myself is this "gift of imperfection" and with it comes the joy and freedom of living life on my own terms.

I didn't really feel like cooking today and that's where my wonderful Instant Pot came in super handy with this < 10 minutes noodles almost like a vegetarian Khao Soi (without the hard work).  The recipe is healthy too (because healthy makes me happy). Here's how I rolled :

What you need

  1. Thai Yellow Curry (click the link for what I used)
  2. Explore Cuisine ChickPea Spaghetti (click for link for what I used) - 1 packet for 4 servings ( 11gms of fiber per serving, 25 gms of protein)
  3. Some vegetables - any vegetables ( I used  onions, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower and white mushrooms)
  4.  5 cups of water or vegetable broth
  5. Liquid Aminos (for seasoning), Avocado Oil (or any other oil)
  6. Thai Taste - Light Coconut Milk
  7. Lime Juice, Cilantro  and Paprika for garnish
To Cook 
  1. Turn on your Instant Pot to Saute. Add your oil....add the onions and the thai yellow curry and saute till Onions are translucent and the raw smell of the curry paste has reduced.
  2. Add the veggies and the noodles and give it a stir.
  3. Now add the water (or broth)
  4. Put the IP on manual High Pressure for 3 minutes
  5. When done open and add in the coconut milk+ Liquid Aminos to taste
  6. Now add fresh lime juice, cut cilantro and paprika 
  7. Dig into your perfect "imperfect curry"
And I want you to  Promise Yourself - To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet. To make all your friends feel that there is something special in them. Give every living creature you meet a smile (so what if they don't smile back, think of all the endorphins your smile is generating!). To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world (so what if no one else is listening, you are!).To live in faith that the whole world is on your side and you can do whatever you wished today and everyday!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Intermittent Fasting and the Instant Pot

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” 
I have been struggling these past two weeks ( and if I am honest with myself, for a long time) with sugar cravings....around 9.00 PM in the night...the hankering for something sweet... a tub of Rocky Road, half a bear claw, a bowl of kheer or even a big piece of dark chocolate hits me and I am not able to resist it. On Tuesday, I made the decision to try Intermittent Fasting (IF) (16:8) 16 hours and eat 8 hours...this was mainly to nip this hankering for sugar this late in the night in the bud. I realized that 16:8 was too restricting and extreme for me in the first two days (as my husband said it I was hangry) and re-adjusted it to 12:12 which means fast 12 hours and eat 12 hours which has been working really well for me.

If you are wondering isn't IF too extreme and is it researched - the truth is I have been researching this trend for a year now. The reality is it works for some body types and definitely not others (eg. my husband and son need their AM breakfast while I have been skipping breakfast almost 15 years now) - so evaluate if this is something your body will benefit from!

Researched Benefits of IF
  • When we fast our body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible
  • Helps lose weight and body fat  (not so interested in losing weight but yes for Body Fat)
  • Reduces the Risk for Type 2 Diabetics
  • Reduces Oxidative Stress and inflammation of the body
  • Improves Heart Health
  • May help prevent some kinds of cancer
  • Good for your brain
  • May help prevent Alzheimer's
  • May extend lifespan & help live longer
I do want to emphasize that the  main reason I started with IF is  because it agrees with my body habits and it's a test of my self-control to see if I can stop eating at 8.00 PM in the night till 8.00 AM in the morning (and then slowly increase the duration of my fasting if my body allows for it).

How is my Instant Pot helping me with my endeavor?

  1. Clean Eating is made simple with the Instant Pot
  2. I am able to cook multiple meals without much fuss in a short period of time 
  3. Meal Planning is a breeze (see the dishes I made in less than 2 hrs on a Saturday morning - Rajma, Cauliflower Soup, Egg Curry)

Some of the Recipes I made this week  (click on the name for links to the recipe)

Yes! I have lost about 2 lbs in the first week  (but that wasn't the goal) and feel like this is a plan I can follow long-term without any issues. I don't feel any drop in energy levels in the first five days, don't feel hungry and am able to continue my exercise routine without any issues.

How is your weekend turning out?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It's raining Cauliflowers...

"When life gives you rainy days,
Wear Cute Boots and jump in the puddles"
If the shoes are UGGs,
Take them off, make yourself a cup of chai and enjoy from inside.

In my defense, I was rather poorly dressed, no jacket and wearing my  pair of non-water resistant UGGs, so I quickly beat a hasty retreat to the house and watched the downpour from the kitchen...this was Monday. Sunday however was a nice and warm day and I played Pokemon Go with my son and his friends (and their moms). In between the community day quest for pokemons (Mareeps if you are interested!) I walked up to the Sunday Farmer's market for 20 minutes (no bags, just my huge laptop bag which I had no idea why I was carrying...resisted Beckmann's pastries and went straight to the person who hooks me up with the best Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli - he had amazing Cauliflower and I picked out my veggies and got ready to pay him - he threw in two more cauliflowers to my pile of vegetables

So if you saw this weird woman carrying about 12 lbs of fruits and vegetables in a handbag trying unsuccessfully to play Pokemon Go while walking back to the park...yup that was me...

Once I got home, we  caught up playing with our new puppy (this included feeding, taking care of her "business and of course lots of cuddles) and watching TV and it was time for dinner!

And out came the Instant Pot to my rescue  and I made a Cauliflower Soup...honestly I was like this mad scientist throwing together ingredients and what came out was sheer magic !!!

Cauliflower Soup

What's in it?
  1. 2 heads of Cauliflower
  2. Better than Bouillon Chicken Stock (they have a veggie version too) - use about 2 large tablespoon
  3. Minced Garlic,  1  Medium Chopped Onion (Red)
  4. Water - 2 Quarts 
  5. Bragg's Liquid Amino
  6. Salt and Pepper to Taste, Avocado Oil, 1 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
  7. Labneh (Middle Eastern Probiotic Cheese) - I used the Greek Gods Brand...if you can't find Labneh, feel free to use low-fat plain Kefir ($2.99 at Trader Joe's)
  8. 1 handful mint (plus some for garnish)

How I made it?
  • Instant Pot on Saute - Add oil/ghee, when hot saute garlic and onions till onions are lightly brown, add turmeric powder and Cauliflower and Saute for 1 minute
  • Add the water, Liquid Amino and chicken bouillon (I buy mine from Costco!)
  • Put it in Rice Mode
  • When it's done, take your immersion blender (add Labneh, salt and pepper and Mint leaves) and give it a whir till it's smooth and creamy
  • Give it a taste for salt and pepper
  • Sit Back -  ENJOY!
  • We ate this with toasted Asiago Sour Dough (Beckmann's)
This is about 8 servings. 
Nutrition per servings - < 100 calories, 12 gms of Carb, 2 gms of Fat, 8 gms of protein, 7 gms of Fiber and 6 gms of Sugar

Saturday, April 14, 2018

To New Beginnings...

Life is but a stopping place,
A pause in what's to be,
We all have different journeys to take,
Different paths that merge along the way,

Our destination seemingly elusive, 
Reaches some of us faster,
while for others is an endless quest.

But I believe in New Beginnings...
In wiping the slate clean and starting all over,
Never giving up and creating our own destination...
To those new beginnings...

It's the Oriya and Tamil New Year and we celebrated this festival with a traditional Oriya Kheer called "Palua Khiri". Palua or Arrowroot is a medicinal root found in East India and I got my stock from the Adivasi Mela when I was down in India but you can find it on Amazon too. Palua is nutritive, and is used as an agreeable, non-irritating diet in certain chronic diseases, during convalescence from fevers, in irritations of the digestive and respiratory tract  and is well suited for infants - it's jelly has no peculiar taste, and is less liable to become acid in the stomach, and is generally preferred by young infants to all others. It helps with weight loss and heart health.

How to make Palua Khiri in your Instant Pot?


  • 4.5 cups of 1% Organic Milk + 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 can of Trader Joe's Organic Condensed Milk
  • Crushed Elaichi (Cardamom)
  • Almonds
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of Palua or Arrowroot Powder (this thickens the kheer, so add based on how thick you like your kheer)
How To?
  1. Mix the 1/2 Cup milk with the 1/2 cup of Arrowroot
  2. Add 4.5 Cups of Milk+ the condensed milk+ Crushed Elaichi plus the slush from step 1 to your Instant Pot
  3. Set the Instant Pot for Manual 5 minutes (NR)
  4. Once the pressure has naturally release, open, stir and taste 
  5. If you are happy with the sweetness, go ahead and keep in glass/earthen container for it to set ((if not please add either sugar, jaggery, stevia to your taste)
  6. Once it cools down, you can keep it in the fridge. Garnish with almonds and savor this wonderful dessert which is actually very good for you!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Tis the season for Cold & Coffee : Sukku Kaapi

"Every food is comfort food for me at some point, maybe I just like to chew"
It's been bracingly chilly and the cold seems to have frozen my brains rock solid - I have been lying in the bed listless with a pounding headache... the hacking cough makes my ribs hurt and the sniffling cold is irritating to say the least....and then add in the cold from outside...but then I realize it's just my body that wants to kick back and hibernate for a week, no exercise, no socializing...yet this is the week when the husband has his busy schedule, the boy has his 3 basket ball games and his science fair project over the weekend and work has it's umpteen deliverables and I haven't really eased up on the working out in the gym to be honest. So I drag myself out of bed at 6.00 AM and start getting "the boy's lunch box ready".

I seem to be on auto-pilot as I take out the Sukku Kaapi mix from the bottle and put it into the IP...this was a simple mix that I had made last month to help with this incessant congestion, that has been plaguing  me this year. One sip of my cuppa and I am in a happy  throat feels soothed and I feel ready to take on the world...

What is it you ask me? 

This is a drink that originated in the South - anytime I had a cold/cough, indigestion or even stomach cramps (the monthly kind) - my mother would give me a cup of this elixir. It's made with a simple few kitchen staples and it almost feels like you are drinking a cup of coffee (heavily laced with ginger). Here's how I made my Sukku Kaapi powder (there are more complex versions that you can try but I have found that simplicity brings out tastes that take you back to the past).

You will need: 

  • 1/2 Cup Whole Coriander
  • 4 Cloves
  • 4 pods of Cardamom
  • 2 tbsp Whole Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Dry Ginger Powder
  • Palm Jaggery - to taste ( you can add this later too)
Dry Roast the first 4 ingredients till golden brown. I usually grind in the coffee grinder  with the dry ginger powder and jaggery. This mixture can be stored for anywhere from 2-6 months. I try and use it up quickly because it tastes better when fresh.

How to make Sukku Kaapi?

Add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to your IP with two cups of water. Set on manual for 4 minutes. I usually strain (though there is little residue) and enjoy a cup once a day or whenever you feel like it.

Benefits of Sukku Kaapi
I think I would need two blog posts to cover why Sukku Kaapi is so awesome
  1. Lowers Blood Sugar
  2. Lowers Cholestrol
  3. Eases Digestive discomfort
  4. Decreases Blood Pressure
  5. Helps with Urinary Tract Infections
  6. Treats Cough, Cold and Sore Throat problems
  7. Helps with regulating the menstruation cycle and with reducing the pain from cramps
So how is your Monday Morning turning out?

Friday, February 16, 2018

新年快乐 - With a Chicken Curry Bowl

“May this New Year bring your way all that is the very best for you and your dear ones. “

In Santa Barbara, my husband and I had this hole in the wall curry shop  where we used to get our lunch almost everyday and our order was Chicken Curry over rice. We would walk over to the beach sit there for a few minutes and eat while we got a couple minutes breather from customer escalations and roadmap meetings. 

We were addicted to this dish and when we moved to the Bay Area we discovered yet another hole in the wall place near our house that made the dish the exact same way and the magic continued....about 4-5 years back I discovered that the secret to this curry were these  curry cubes. Honestly, there has been no looking back for me - I have made this recipe very successfully in my slow cooker in the past but for the past two years I have been making it in my Instant Pot (in about 25 minutes).

Chicken Curry Bowl

What you need?
  1. 1 tablespoon oil
  2. 1 tablespoon garlic
  3. 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  4. 1.25 pounds frozen skinless chicken thighs (boneless)
  5. 1.5 cups onion sliced thick
  6. red potatoes halved
  7. 3  Large carrots chopped thick
  8. 1.5 cups water
  9. Frozen Peas
  10. 1/2 Package Vemont Curry Cubes (6-7 squares)
Optional (but highly recommended)
How to make it?
  1. Turn the Saute function on in your IP
  2. Add the oil - when it is hot, add the ginger, garlic and onions
  3. Cook till the Onions are lightly brown
  4. Add in the frozen chicken (if the chicken is fresh, then you can use the poultry setting, I added 5 minutes more to allow for thawing the frozen chicken)
  5. Now add the carrots, potatoes , water and the Curry Cubes
  6. Set the IP on Poultry mode, no release (+ 5 minutes if it's frozen chicken)
  7. When all the pressure has released naturally, put the curry on Saute and add the peas (this step is totally optional but my two boys love peas) and the liquid aminos or soy sauce and ketchup.
  8. Taste for Salt (usually it should taste great by now or mine does πŸ˜‹) - if not feel free to add salt to taste
Enjoy with rice, quinoa (not recommended) or Noodles and wish your friends and family a happy lunar new year! Any plans for the long weekend - I don't have any other than helping my son a bit with his science project, read a couple books, cook a bit and watch black panther....bliss!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Ande Ka Funda...

A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg.
                                                                                                  --Samuel Butler

My son detested eggs till age 3 and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why...then I started taking him to the farmer's market and he warmed up to Ron our local poultry farmer and who has been my source of eggs for almost a decade and some years...he expanded Krish's egg horizon from chicken eggs to quail, duck, goose and once even age 4, he loved eggs and I was a happy mama. Why wouldn't I be - Eggs are an extremely nutritious food - high in protein, vitamin b12, vitamin A, folate, phosphorous, selenium - and yes! eggs got a bad rap for high cholestrol but there are studies which show that eggs do not adversely affect blood cholestrol - this was confirmed by my husband's primary care physician who has written the book - The South Asian Health Solution ( I would highly recommend this book to anyone trying to reduce or control cholestrol, diabetes or just trying to get healthy!)

So Eggs are a staple part of our diet, we don't overdo it but try to add 5-7 cage free organic eggs in a week to our diet. I remember singing the song - Ande ka Funda to my son when he was 5 years old, he would stare at me like I had lost it...I showed him the video (below) of Govinda and Sunjay Dutt in Jodi No.1 singing the song...and he found folks who seemed more crazy than his mumma 😜

My favorite way to eat Eggs are Indian Style Anda Bhurji, I am sure I have that recipe on my blog some place...a cup of adrak chai, a whole wheat English muffin and Anda Bhurji with an interesting chick-lit is honestly my idea of heaven...but I digress...I had to share with you this easy recipe for Anda Curry.

Anda Curry

What you need?
  1. 4 tablespoons Mother Sauce
  2.  1 table spoon Punjabi Garam Masala ( I use Roopak, but go with your favorite brand)
  3. 8 Eggs ( I boiled them in the IP with the potatoes)
  4. 1/2 Lb of boiled, peeled and quartered potatoes 
  5. Ketchup, Cinnamon  (optional but makes a difference in taste)
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Chopped Cilantro to drizzle on later
How to make it?
  1. Boil the Eggs and Potatoes in the IP ( I put it on manual for 4 minutes - people have mentioned 5 minutes, but 5 minutes gave me exploding eggs and mushy you have to see what works for you) - you can do this step in the morning and assemble the curry in the evening  which is what I did 😁
  2. Turn your instant pot to Saute
  3. Add 1 through 4 and mix well ( about 1/2 minute)
  4. Add about 1/2 cup of water
  5. Turn on the pressure on manual 3 minutes, no release
  6. Open and now add Salt, Ketchup and Cinnamon to taste
  7. Add the chopped cilantro
  8. Enjoy with Rotis/Brown Rice/ quinoa.
When I was about my son's age the TV always played this Anda you remember it πŸ˜‚

Would love to hear how this recipe turned out for you....