Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A date with myself...

Being a Harry Potter buff has its advantages and disadvantages - Given that the final offering was PG-13, I could not with a right conscience take eager K2 for The Finale -- seeing the grimace of distaste on K1's face, I decided alone was the way to go...so with a kid's size popcorn and a massive dose of excitement, I went into the theater and the movie did not disappoint. Hey it was Stephen King who quoted - "Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend." No wonder, I didn't watch Twilight beyond the first offering - it was too one-dimensional for me while Harry Potter took me to places I wanted to visit and it is a magical journey I will cherish and I hope I can pass on this affinity for Harry Potter to K2.

This week has been about "healthy substitutions" food wise. I made this easy Apple Spice Bread Muffin with ground Flax Seed Powder (the brand I used is Spectrum - I have posted a picture below). Flax Seed Powder has been a wonderful addition to our pantry. Wikipedia not I says - Flax Seeds are a rich source of protien - One hundred grams of ground flax seed supplies about 450 kilocalories, 41 grams of fat (the good kind) , 28 grams of fiber, and 20 grams of protein.Flax seeds contain high levels of dietary fiber as well as lignans, an abundance of micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds  lowers cholesterol levels and lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels.

  • 2 Cups Apple Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 Cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ Teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup Spectrum  Organic Flaxseed Flour
  • 2 Organic eggs
  • 1 Cup organic sugar
  • 2 tbspoon Spectrum Organic Toasted Walnut Oil
  • 1/2 Cup coconut milk (or fat free milk)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Measure the flours and cinnamon into a  bowl. Sift together with the salt and the baking powder/soda. Keep aside. Measure the eggs and the sugar into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer (or your hand), beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, stopping two or three times to scrape the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula until the mixture is pale yellow and creamy. Add the  Apple Sauce, walnut oil and the  milk. Beat with the hand mixer set on medium speed for about 5 minutes, stopping two or three times to scrape the sides of the bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Test this by rubbing the batter in between two fingers. It should feel smooth. Turn the sifted flour mixture into the beaten egg mixture and stir to combine, until the flour is completely mixed in, but don't beat it or the cake will be tough (now is a good time to add in raisins and nuts if you so please, I chose to make it a plain kind). Spoon heaping tablespoons of the batter into the muffin pan (or cake pan) , filling each close to the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until the mini cakes are deep golden in color and a cake tester (I used a tooth pick) inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn out onto a tray to cool to room temperature. Wrap with wax paper or plastic wrap to store for up to three days. This is a healthy, protien filled snack for K2, it is a great breakfast item, which has tonnes of healthy stuff (yes the sugar content is high but what's life without a little bit of sweet, you can definitely substitute the sugar with Stevia)...

This recipe goes out to Sobha @ Good Food who is hosting the event - Cook it Healthy - Protieneous. And when you think Muffins and Cakes - protien is the last word you think of -- but with my special muffins made with  Flax Seed Flour -- the protien level is high but you don't really lose out on any of the big flavors & moistness of a muffin ( K2 had 2 in one go - if that isn't a testament to taste I don't know what is !!!)

How is your week going? I am spending time in the evenings with a book K1 suggested to me - What Got You Here, Won't Get you There by Marshall Goldsmith. The book has been eye-opening in parts and insightful in others...as they say there is always room for improvement in oneself  :-)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Story of a Jhola and Conformity...

The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself

What in the earth is a Jhola you ask me...well it is a stunning bag made usually in India out of cloth with intricate patch or art work and it's usually handmade. It was a hot summer in 2004 when I was back in India, in Pune and I saw a shop selling Jholas and it was love at first sight...
I bought not one or two Jholas but five- all for the princely sum of Rs.300 (roughly 6 bucks). I had 2 bright pinks, one black, one blue and an orange...I came back home and used my Jholas just about everywhere...the yoga class, shopping, everything...and I observed the covert looks my Jhola got...and I got conscious. A week later unable to deal with the stares, I packed up  my beautiful Jholas and put them in the garage.

Seven years later, I was cleaning a garage cupboard and I found these beauties and I picked them all up and reinstated them in my closet -my current favorite is my bright pink one  and it goes with me everywhere --- sure I get looks but I like my Jhola and that seals the deal for me...How true ring the words of Dr.Seuss - Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

The past week has been uneventful - watched a couple fun movies with K2 - Cars 2 and Megamind.  We also watched a heartwarming Hindi movie - Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara - definitely worth a watch (brought home the point about living not just going on with life...because you get to do it but once) - we went on a 5 mile hike and got lost amidst the warning rattles of snakes and mostly silence...

we came upon a clear beautiful lake where there was this young puppy cavorting in the water - joyous, seizing the moment...this week life has been trying to teach us some lessons...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fast Food Nation.

Over the long weekend, we took it slow - we strolled in the mall and bought nothing, just walked around people watching, we hung out with A whom we hadn't seen in more than 2 months. We spent Saturday with good friends C and P over a pot of delicious Paella and store bought Dhoklas...C I hadn't seen in over 2 years and she was (is) one of my closest friends,so catching up was great.We went to the library on Sunday and picked up a bunch of movies...K2 is in the Berenstain Bears phase and I scrounged in the kids section for  their DVDs and  found Get Organized and Mind your Manners...and while I was on this hunt for K2's DVDs I spied on  "Fast Food Nation" and picked it up. A long hike down the bay trails later, K1 and I sat down over a relaxed dinner and watched Fast Food Nation - let me tell you I was glad we were eating a vegetarian meal that day (and even more glad that I didn't eat hamburgers...ever!)...the movie was a candid view at different issues that plague the American Society - Conformity, Apathy...among others and interwoven is a killing story about   America's fast food industry - when a marketing executive for the Mickey's burger chain is told there's a nasty secret ingredient in his latest culinary creation - The Big One, he heads for the ranches and slaughterhouses of Colorado to investigate...but discovers the truth a bit difficult to swallow....

In this country where we find it easier to just dress up, pick up the car keys and run out to pick up some food...or even better order take-out with the press of a few phone buttons - it is hard to cook food from scratch -- and who am I to judge, there are days when I come back all tired from work and all I wish for is a warming bowl of Khichidi with some spicy achaar and all I have on hand is zippo...we do try and make healthy choices then - a creamy organic tomato soup from TJs, or a burrito from Amy's or a Naanwich from Sukhi's.
There is a joy to slowing down and enjoying a stroll down the farmer's market while sampling their fresh produce and buying local, buying a beautiful mint plant and planting it in my backyard  and watching it grow and planning a meal with my family (a salad made with leaves from that mint plant)...and most importantly watching my son's interest in food grow and his food knowledge and horizon expand (he tried Ethiopian food last month and pupusas and tamales the month before and empanadas this week)- so with a commitment to trying to cook more I brought myself this weekend - a beautiful Le Creuset Cookware set (I have waited  awhile for this beauty).
At our place we are having  tonight a spicy Zunka (made from Jalapenos) and saucy Usal with rotis - a maharashtrian's dream meal...what is cooking in your kitchen?