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
  •  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"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just Letting Go on a Wednesday...

This week has been more hectic than usual and that is saying a lot...I got back end of last week from a trip to Atlanta...the onset of a cold imminent (infuriates me how not immune my body is sometimes for all my purported healthy living)...K1 left on Saturday for London and K2 and I had the weekend and more to drive each other crazy...just getting through my day - lunch box, snack bag, work deliverables,  single threaded kid duties and To-Do Lists have been hard and  today was feeling just a wee bit dejected and morose... ready to throw myself a pity party (Hello! Glass of Wine)  I see this post from one of the wonderful moms at school...Thank You R !!! Sharing it so that it helps more folks than just me...

She let go. 
Without a thought or a word,
she let go. She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments. She
let go of the confluence of
opinions swarming around her

head. She let go of the committee

of indecision within her. She let
go of all the 'right' reasons.
Wholly and completely, without
hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn't ask anyone for advice .

She didn't read a book on how to
let go. She didn't search the
scriptures. She just let go. She let
go of all the memories that held
her back. She let go of all the
anxiety that kept her from moving
forward. She let go of the
planning and all of the
calculations about how to 
do it just right.
She didn't promise to let go. She
didn't journal about it. She didn't
write the projected date in her
Day-Timer. She made no public
announcement and put no ad in
the paper. She didn't check the
weather report or read her daily
horoscope. She just let go.
She didn't analyze whether she
should let go. She didn't call her
friends to discuss the matter. She
didn't do a five-step Spiritual
Mind Treatment. She didn't call
the prayer line. She didn't utter
one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it
happened. There was no
applause or congratulations. No
one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing. Like a
leaf falling from a tree, she just
let go. There was no effort. There
was no struggle. It wasn't good
and it wasn't bad. It was what it
was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let
it all be. A small smile came over
her face. A light breeze blew
through her. And the sun and the
moon shone forevermore....
~ Reverend Safire Rose

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tentative Parenting : What's Eating your Child?

Between tricky restaurant choices, finicky eaters, and the desire to provide healthy, nourishing food, taking the kids out to eat can drive any parent crazy!  Every restaurant that I go to gives me the choice of mac & cheese, some form of grilled cheese sandwich, cheese burger or chicken tenders for K2...YES! I am getting on a soap box son hangs on to the kid's menu for dear life and refuses to order from the grown-up menu and I refuse to let him order from the kid's menu...we were at impasse for a long time --- now it's a matter of negotiation and which one of us is more persistent than the whole premise is - A parent taking their child out to eat should not be put in such a predicament where they feel like the Kid's Meal is deficient in nutrients, unhealthy and quite plainly a rip-off. Here's a spotlight example of my son's kid's meal at Outback Steakhouse last week (white bread with fake yellow cheese)....even my son realized it was unhealthy -- he hid as I was taking this picture of the food :-)

I  always go back to Jamie Oliver's Ted Talk - Teach Every Kid about Food - he says we have blessed our children with shorter lives because we are not making them mindfully aware of real food. Over the weekend as an ode to the real food warriors I made my son a dinner chockful of vegetables and real food and was desi (indian) to the boot. It was Kid's Pav Bhaji.

If you want to try my recipe at home here's how -

You will need - I used up most of the veggies in my fridge ( 1 head of Cauliflower, 8 multi-colored Carrots, 2 Green Bell Peppers, 1 Large White Potato, 2 Red Onions,  3 Tomatoes, Cilantro, Ginger and Garlic ), Olive Oil, Everest Pav Bhaji Masala (found in the Indian Grocery Store), Amul Cheese (sent by my MIL all the way from India), Beckmann's California Black Bread ( my son's favorite bread which is whole-grained made with wheatberries and honey)

What I did - 

  • Clean and cut the vegetables - Cauliflower, Carrots, Bell Pepper and Potato. Pressure cook with a little bit of vegetable stock for 1 whistle (traditional pressure cooker). If you are cooking on open flame cook till you can mash all the vegetables together. Mash the vegetable and keep aside
  • Finely chop the onions, tomatoes, 5 cloves of garlic and a little ginger stick. Add 2 tsp Olive Oil to the pan and add (according to your taste) - cumin seeds and a little bit of hing. Now add in the chopped Onions, Ginger and Garlic. When the Onion starts browning  add in the tomatoes. Add the Everest Pav Bhaji Masala and cook till you see a little bit of the oil separating and it seems like a good cohesive mix (5-10 minutes)
  • Now add in the mashed vegetables and cook for a while (5-10 minutes). Add Salt & Chili Powder to taste (for my son's portion I added no chili powder). I then added some fresh lemon juice and cilantro.
  • Cut the Beckmann's Bread -- grated Amul Cheese on top and baked in my toaster over.
My son (the pizza and pasta loving kiddo) actually adored this meal. 

Notes to myself - My son will be mindful and aware about food only as much as I will encourage him to be mindful and aware of it - I take him to the Farmer's Market, I drag him grocery shopping, I teach him about Vegetables, Fruits, Spices....I also tell him about foods that are good for him and foods that are bad for him. Sometimes I let him make the wrong choices aware that he is making the wrong choice but with the hope that he will self-correct --- Do you have any thoughts on Kid's Meals and the meals you make for your Kids?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Healthy Eating : Beans Two Ways

"Beans...Beans...Healthy for the Heart,
The more you eat them...the more you fart..."
K2 sang this silly song as I was soaking a mix of  8 beans ( Adzuki, Cranberry, Pinto, Canellini, Navy, Lima, Black, Kidney) in the AM today. Yes, there was some vague notion in my mind to make something with the beans...only thing was I had soaked too much of it.

I  loved reading Dr. Fuhrman's  book - Eat to Live. It makes a lot of sense nutritionally -- I will be the first to admit that it wasn't Diet that made me lose the last stubborn 20 pounds but exercise. I love the idea of GBOMBS that Dr. Fuhrman talks about - an acronym you can use to remember the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods you should eat every day, and they should make up a significant proportion of your diet (these foods are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease and promoting health and longevity). I incorporate the GBOMBS pretty intensively in my everyday cooking.
In case you were wondering  GBOMBS are -
G = Greens (Kale, Spinach)
B = Beans
O= Onions (Garlic)
M = Mushrooms 
B = Berries
S = Seeds
This weekend was a little different - I was binge watching "The Good Wife" snuggled under my comforter with K1 thoughtfully supplying me with chai and take-out for almost 20 hours. I roused myself from one of the seven deadly sins (sloth just in case you were wondering...) and got around to cleaning, laundry and some cooking this PM. Of course, the soaked beans were staring at me (and there was too much of it) I ended up cooking 2 dishes with it.

Adai ( High Protein Beans Crepes)

  • 2 Cups Mixed Beans (soaked overnight)
  • 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats (soaked 1-2 hrs)
  • 1 Carrot Stick (large)
  • 1 Serrano Chilly
  • Handful of Cilantro
  • Pinch of Hing , 1 tsp whole Jeera and salt to taste
Blend the mix on Pulse till it reaches the desired consistency (I usually do this in less than a minute on my Blendtec ).

Bean and Sausage Stew

  • 6 Oz Greens (spinach)
  • Soaked Mixed Beans (2 Cups)
  • 2 Red Onions, 1/2 Head of Garlic
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes
  • 6 Oz Button Mushrooms
  • 3 Carrots (large)
  • Organic Chicken Stock
  • Worcestershire sauce
  •  Chicken Sausage (1 pack)
In the pressure cooker - sweat the  onions and garlic, when caramelized -add the Aidells Organic Chicken Sausage, cook for 3 minutes --- add the tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, carrots -- cook for 4 minutes. Now add the soaked beans, the Worcestershire sauce  and 24 Oz of Chicken Stock (more if you want it more soupy vs. stewy). Best eaten hot with toasted Beckmann's California Black bread.

I am back to watching "The Good Wife" and getting mentally ready for the work week. How has your weekend been?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another Year Gone! Welcome 2015

 Life is what we make it...we can sit back and ponder a glass half-empty or rejoice that the glass is half-full...the perspective and state of mind is of our choosing. 2013 was a foggy year filled with pain and some of that pain and sadness of losing my father spilled into 2014...yet it is but a perspective and that perspective shifts gradually (the love remains, the pain slowly ebbs).  I have chosen to live most of 2014 with a few simple tenets :
  • Carpe Diem or Seize the Day - I am living each day as if it is the last one I have - Kungfu Panda  (yeah! a cartoon movie I know) was where I heard this saying - Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.Be present to enjoy the moment. I watched sunsets and sunrises (sometimes!), watched the playful seals in the bay, climbed mountains and trails and told my loved ones I loved them... (yes, I even climbed the little hill in the picture and have every intent of climbing the Mission Peak either today or tomorrow!)

  • Eat what you want Diet Plan - I will be the first to admit that I love food (just like my Bapa did)...for the first few months at the beginning of 2014, I tried to restrict what I ate and then reality sunk in - I was unhappy...I shucked that plan to oblivion and decided to live life queen what I want (not regret it later)...I followed it with a lot of didn't really lose weight and didn't really gain weight and felt great eating what I wanted to eat
  • Be Flexible - This applies to mind, body and spirit -- Accept change as a positive thing in life. At times, go with the flow that is before me vs. trying hard to change the outcome to something else. I have accepted myself as I am and have stopped devising ways to improve what already exists. I have rediscovered  balance and peace with Yoga and have been consistent with Zumba. I take long walks with the 2K's in my life. Everyday is not perfect...there are days when all we do is fight, squabble or whine...yet, accepting that  is the way it shall be for today is key to moving on and finding equilibrium.
  • Keep my To-Do List -  I chucked my to-do list for a while and really suffered mentally feeling like there was something missing. My to-do list is an integral part of making me feel positive, balanced and healthy and so I am back to my to-do list with a vengeance. Guess what - we purged for the new year. There are about 10 trash bags of un-necessaries that we have ruthlessly discarded and I feel great about it. I have cooked for the next couple days and everything seems planned and organized
 I am a little sad to see 2014 go and am excited about the upcoming year...let's make it count! Happy New Year !!!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tentative Parenting : It Don't Matter If You're Black Or...

I have been furious this week (and last week) after what happened in Ferguson I would imagine that the authorities would become "more" sensitive to treating human beings with humanity. Then two days back the Eric Garner jury decision not to indict was taken...I became a citizen here not so long ago (3 years to be precise) and even though I felt sad "renouncing my Indian Citizenship" I was proud being a part of a nation which gave me so much in terms of a feeling of Equality, Opportunities and Belonging.What stood out as I was preparing for my citizenship exam in 2011 was that in this country as a citizen everyone has a very basic personal right which is :

(1) Not to be killed.
(2) Not to be injured or abused.

So what happened to Michael and Eric....? What do I tell my 8 year old boy who is definitely not White or Black...just a different shade but born here in this nation and if you asked him what is his country he would say - USA. He eats Indian food sometimes, doesn't speak any Indian languages and loves Football, Pizza and Skylanders - my son has no sense that he is different because of the shade of his skin. 

Truth be told I will be the first one to confess that due to my late assimilation into the American Culture, stereotypes do hold - I did come into this country with personal biases and proclivities. I was always aware of my accent, my skin tone (I have been called a cookie to someone's milk), used to the underlying attitudes ( asked quite a few times when I will go back to my country, am I an Engineer) BUT in the same breath I have got friendship, acceptance and opportunities I am not using this as a soapbox to rant or vent. 

I am however convinced that I can't turn a blind eye to "colorblindness" -- at some point my son will realize that he is different ( the good news is in his public school - there are a lot of kids from different cultures, so they are learning early about the  differences) - I don't want race & ethnicity to be a taboo subject...he needs to understand, respect and accept these differences. Maybe race shouldn't be such a big deal in this country, but we know it is...too big a deal for me to ask an 8 year old to figure out by I will have the talk with K2 soon....what about you?