Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Got a Date?

The alarm goes off noisily at 6.30 AM. I wake up grumpy (do you know anyone who is happy and chirpy in the morning…I don’t)…I stumble out of the bed and soon hear a “rumble in the tummy”…I make my way to the kitchen and go to the fruit box in the refrigerator. The past month has been an experiment in breakfast smoothies – Avocado Shake, Pear/Apple in Orange Juice, Pear/Apple/Orange in Almond Milk, Pear/Apple/Kiwi, Banana/Apple/Almond Milk, Mango/ Fat free Yogurt – I have worked at least 20 of these combinations – some of them hits, others near misses. I usually try and get my son’s breakfast done before I get my own breakfast started. I am posting the recipe for a smoothie that makes me smile in the morning (and you betcha that’s a hard thing to do!)…reason for my smiles is it puts enough calories in the morning in my little guy to keep the “little Energizer Battery” going for a couple hours.

Coincidentally there is an event in the blog sphere ("Serve me some Juices, Shakes, Smoothies" hosted by the lovely Madhuri@cookcurry nook) that I wanted to send this recipe to …if you want to know more about the event go here
Note- If you are calorie conscious - this is not the recipe for you. I invented this shake as a high power pow-wow breakfast for my extremely picky 3 year old.

Pow Wow Date Shake

8 Oz Whole Milk
4 Pitted Medjool Dates (Soaked Overnight)
1 tbspoon Trader Joes Unsalted Creamy Almond Butter
1 Medium Banana

Give the above mentioned items a whir in the food processor of choice ( I make mine in a Rocket Blender and it works fine). Pour into a tall glass or in my case son's sippy cup. Enjoy the luscious creaminess of the banana with the sweetness of the dates and the nuttiness of the almonds…makes you want a glass of your own (yup! I snuck a taste). If you are wondering on calorie count – about 500-600 calories – brilliant for early morning breakfast on the go (or in my case K2).
It has lots of good nutritional value with 50% of DV Potassium, 9 gms of Fiber, 32% of DV Calcium and 12% Iron. It is high on Fat content due to the whole milk and almond butter which you could easily eliminate but for my toddler, I choose to keep it high in fats for the time being.

My smoothie of choice is – Nature’s Peak (Paradise Fruit Medley) – this is a blend of kiwi, peaches and mangoes with Almond Milk (I usually don’t even need to sweeten it – I add a teaspoon of raw organic agave nectar to sweeten if needed).

Now if I can invent a dinner option that works as well as my morning short cut for K2 – I will be a happy mom. I think he is warming up pretty well to Trader Joes Ravioli (Chicken Sausage with Sun Dried Tomatoes) and the Black Bean and Mushroom Taquitos…as my Dad says it – Take it one day at a time.
Note - Picture of the smoothie and the smoothie maker (K2) courtesy my Nokia E72

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Enlightened Plate

I have been in a “Funk” – there I said it…I moped around a lot – thinking why us, worried, questioning life’s purpose (no answers yet), a constant dark cloud over my head (think Eyeore in Winnie the Pooh, if you don't have kids don’t even bother visualizing), I have gone about things on auto pilot since November…telling myself that I will get out of it and things will get better. I don’t think I am the kind of person given to depressions, terrible mood swings or tantrums – I keep my mind and self pre-occupied and busy and really sweep negative emotions literally under the carpet (not a very healthy thing to do).
This week I was mentally categorizing my personal and professional life and realized – on things that I “could” control or change – I wouldn’t do one thing different – I absolutely love my new job and the new connections that I have made, I love the level of diplomacy and tact it has taught me and I love the fact that I am truly stretching myself and learning something new. On my personal life – I have been able to achieve a work/life balance…spending time with my son who is fast growing up, K1 seems busier and more stressed than normal but I am assuming that will smoothen out in the next couple months, we have been focused on living simple and eating healthy. I traded down my car (a spiffy Lexus IS 300) for a wonderful Prius 2 years back …I shop more at the Farmer’s Market…if I didn’t have a brown thumb and a small backyard, I would try to grow some fruits in my backyard. Yet, it is the things that I can’t control that put me into the “funk”…however that is not my story to share. However, when I see a loved one’s positive approach to life and adversity…I realize that is real living. If you think you are a victim, you shall feel like a victim. I especially loved a recent article I had read by David Servan…very inspirational. If you want to read it is available here.
I very loftily did not set any New Year resolutions for myself this year. Yet as the year progresses I have set a mental checklist for myself that I need to well what else…check off!

  1. Get Organized - Declutter, Declutter, Declutter ( sell off K2’s old stuff that I am clinging on to, give away things at the Salvation Army or just trash)

  2. Go to Yoga at least 4 times a week – this one is critical

  3. Eat Healthy - I think I am there with this one. But think I am too hard on K1 and K2 in terms of diet and need to loosen the belt a little bit and let a little bit of meat (chicken, fish) into the mix. Not always worry about nutritional value or antioxidant value – just go with the beat…If I want to have a Nestle Triple Chocolate Drumstick – then I will go ahead and have one….of course I won’t have it every day…but that one drumstick will settle the noisy cravings for a while.

  4. Live Simple – no fancy cars or expensive gym memberships or branded accessories…I came into this country with two suitcases and guess what! I was super happy ( I am quoting my friend P here)…I would much rather focus on the non-material things in life for now (in the background of course we will pay up our mortgage debt, squirrel away some savings for retirement, put some money away for a college fund for K2)

  5. Focus on the now vs. worry about the future – I want to take a long hike, a trip to the zoo, I want to learn how to swim like a fish, I want to watch whales, I want to go on a wild life safari, I want to write a book, I want to learn how to bake scrumptious vegan cup cakes, I want to take a trip to India and go down to Goa with the family (K1,K2, my parents, K1’s Parents and our siblings)…and I am going to figure out how to get all these done this year without letting work deadlines and my own virtuous other self talk me into not doing the “fun stuff”.
Do I think I am out of the funk…don’t know yet…but I do have a go forward game plan. I did go to the Farmer’s market this Sunday and my loot was – A bright bunch of Yu Choy Sum (lots of yellow flowers), Garlic Greens, Broccoli, Carrots, a head of fresh Cabbage, One large Daikon Radish, a bunch of small red radishes, a head of cauliflower, Somerfield Apples, Pumelo, Quail Eggs (my son wanted the baby eggs and he has been faithfully having four scrambled up every night) and Jalapeno Foccacia (from Black & White Bakery). I cooked home quite a bit this week; here is a rundown of what I made – Banana Bread, Curried Pinto Beans, Broccoli and Cabbage Stir-fry, a simple salad of Persian cucumbers and red radish (dressed with lemon, salt and pepper, Besi Bela Bhaat (see what that is here), Potato Raita, Stir Fry of Yu Choy with the garlic greens…truly an enticing & enlightened plate…what’s on your plate this week?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday is not such a bad day...

Wednesday brings with it the anticipation that it will be time for weekend soon…it’s not like Monday morning which heralds the beginning of a busy new week…or definitely not Sunday where there is a sense of deflation that the two days of respite have whizzed by into nothingness….
As I sit relishing a hot plate of brown basmati rice with spiced chickpeas (cooked with Indian spices but with a little bit of coconut milk laced in which makes your taste buds sit up and think) and greens (Chinese broccoli stir fried with Onions, Garlic and Jalapeno)…I am thankful for this relaxed and comforting meal at home…K2 is upstairs splashing in the tub. He will soon be down and I will have to get his dinner ready.
Recent events in life have made me more keenly interested in Health and Diet…of course it is another issue that it has made me extremely aware of the fact that - I can plan but the ultimate course of action is already decided…doesn’t mean I don’t still plan (and like a typical product manager I also have contingency plans)…but I have made myself more open to experiences. This has been a week of experimenting with smoothies for breakfasts. We have blended apples, bananas, oranges and papaya in different combinations with wheat germ for a stomach satisfying breakfast this past week. This week has also been the week of baking disasters – I tried to bake myself a rye Foccacia and what I got instead was a hard piece of dense dark “thing” no one could eat…I consoled myself by going to the farmer’s market and picking up a packet of double chocolate cookies and lemon currant scones…
We took K2 to Pasta Pomodaro last week and we discovered his affiliation for Ravioli stuffed with spinach…K1 has been taking K2 cycling this weekend. We visited our friends R& M on Saturday…the past 3 days have whizzed by…busy. I did pick up one of my doodles from 3 years back aptly titled “Musical Chairs”…Enjoy

Do you ever wonder about the vagaries of Corporate Existence?
A lot of jostling and rumblings…a lot of whispers and smirks…
You ignore the noises; you turn a deaf ear to the voices,
And you do what your mind and heart tell you is right,
Yet you have outside voices trying to override your conscience.
Positioning, Pontification and Politics – Practice makes man perfect…
Where do I fit in this game…an in player or out…
The music is playing…I see some empty chairs,
But the mind is sick and the heart is weary….
I slow down my pace as I watch the other faces,
Some filled with a fanatical determination to sit down first,
Others anxious and hopeful that they get a seat….
Others walk like zombies with no choice…
I stop…wait a minute…I do have a choice…
I never did like the game of Musical Chairs
p.s - Today's my Ma's B' is wishing her all the health and happiness that the world can offer
p.p.s - I took this beautiful picture of K2 on my E72

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I am too sexy for my shoes...

Remember the Right Said Fred song - Too Sexy for my Shirt...too sexy for my shirt...well today as I was going to the Farmer's Market, I felt that way about my heavy, clunky, bright red MBTs which were getting a lot of indiscreet attention - I saw at least four pairs of eyes look at them and quickly look away...(what can I say...I am very observant). Today, I was in no mood to be judged and loved the wobbly feeling of trying to balance on these with a defiant look at no one in particular and the Fred song playing in my head I went on with my life...
What are MBTs you ask? You can see it here
Bottom Line is I love these shoes -- yes they are ugly, pretty conspicuous and wobbly but once you get used to life with a little bit of wobble...things start looking up. Wonder how my Dad feels about his MBTs now?
My little sister visited us from Ohio last weekend and we did some of the usual things - pictures at Pier 39 and Stanford...and some not-so-usual things - hang out at home with a goofy K2, bake rye animal muffins for above said, take a long walk along the bay trails...we also had some Malaysian, Indian (Hyderabadi to be precise), Greek and Mexican was fun and K2 still misses his Mausi. I am still missing my parents but we have got the hang of Google Video Chat (thanks to lil' sis) now so Bapa and Ma are able to see K2 up to all his pranks...the latest is his rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as a "Potty Song"...don't ask and I won't tell more !!!
The week was very busy with lots of deadlines which I managed to keep (only barely)...Friday saw us in G's house enjoying good company and very relaxed. We pretty much stayed home most of yesterday...I did make a Pav Bhaji and that has been our dinner yesterday and lunch today...we also went down to Toys R Us yesterday and bought K2 his first grown up cycle complete with a helmet and foot pads...he is super excited. We went down to the Farmer's Market this Sunday Morning and picked up a sourdough baguette, pumpkin cake and a tomato mozzarella foccacia bread from Beckmann; half a dozen organic brown eggs, brocolli, bag of salad greens, a bunch of Yu Choi (greens), new potatoes and carrots.

I miss my parents every time I go down to the Farmer's Market . I really enjoyed the farmer's market trips with them and enjoyed all the wonderful food my mother created from the fresh produce . I have only this week (inspired by Ma) started creating a lot of smoothies much to K1 and K2's dismay....I made an Avocado Smoothie yesterday with Avocado, Fat free Milk and Agave Nectar...not a big hit with the boys but they drank it anyway...breakfast today was a milk free smoothie with Orange Juice, Apples, Bananas and Wheat Germ...

How was your weekend?