Thursday, August 22, 2013

Let's Eat Toast...

I got an email this week which pretty much read like this -
"Thank you for sharing your blog.  I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading this post and a few others on your blog as time permitted over the weekend.  I actually printed out your seven steps to a healthy you as they seem very sensible and within reach – no crazy diets or strange supplements – just common sense things that seem fairly easy to incorporate."
To say that it made my day is an understatement... I started this blog as a stress buster initially, the reason I put so much of my heart and soul into it is because it was (and still is) my way of reaching my blog brought him relief (from hospital treatments,  chemo & boredom), pride (too much of it in his daughter's ability)  and happiness (because the topics close to my heart were close to his too K2, Food and Work)...and he always always egged me to go on and do what I loved which is write...

The past couple days have been busy and I have been overworking (intentionally)...I believe we set our own pace and I set very hard deadlines for myself this week...I worked extra hard in the Zumba classes and by Thursday I was ready to collapse from exhaustion...I was seeing doubles of the spreadsheet I was working on...when K2 walked up to me and asked me - Ma, what is for dinner? My first reaction was to snap, the second reaction was to order chinese...I was bone tired and willing to cut corners...yup! exhaustion and irritability makes good sense fly out of the window. However, I dragged myself  away from Castle...this fabulous new find on TV, it was 7.40 PM. As we walked to the Kitchen I racked my head on what I could put on the table in 15 minutes which was healthy, balanced and  nutritious (tall order I know!)...out came my handy cutting minute later  I had chopped one apple, one peach and added both to the Blendtec with one packet of Amazing Greens, 72% Guittard Dark Chocolate, 8 Almonds, 2 Oz Baby Kale (EarthBound Deep Greens), 4 Oz Dreams Hazel Nut Blend and I had this smoothie ready in 37 seconds which K1 consumed in literally 3 minutes ( 240 calories with < 15 g of sugar (all from the fruits), 8 gms of fiber and 8 grams of protein). I toasted bread  and spread an amazing new find on top of it - Melt (butter alternative with coconut oil and flaxseed oil) on it. I also made a grown up version of my childhood favorite (Anda Bhurji or scrambled eggs) with Red Onions, Broccoli and Shitake Mushrooms)...I was done by 8.05 PM...dinner and cleaning was done and complete in 25 minutes straight...

Lesson of the day : learn to make do...and enjoy the making do....then even that will feel super-special. So did you eat your toast today?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seven Steps to a Healthy You!

With Age comes the realization that we are mere mortals with our bevy of problems, aches & pains, allergies, likes & dislikes. Yet one thing that stays a constant companion is Good Health...there are some simple, easy steps that we can take to maintain our health :

  1. Drink Water throughout the day and cut out soda : I always forget to drink water till I get thirsty but cutting out soda has become second nature. They have free soda at the office but you never see me reaching out for anything other than a hot cup of herbal tea or water
  2. Stock up on healthy portable snacks : Fruits, Seaweed (try Annie Chun's Grab and Go), Kits Organic Bars, I microwave peanuts and put them in snack bags, string cheese, almonds, dried cranberries and raisins, Belvita Cookies and if I want to indulge...Snackwell Yogurt Pretzels
  3. Plan Healthy Meals : I have a rough idea of what we will be eating most of the week -- some of this meal planning includes ordering fresh home-cooked foods. I stock my freezer with Organics like Sukhi's street wraps, EVOL Burritos, Amy's Readymade Indian for my son. My fridge has ready made adai batter (indian crepes), greek yogurt, fresh organic eggs (chicken and duck), Clam Shells of triple washed salads - mostly Organic Girl, easy to cut and eat raw fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, berries, apples, oranges, bananas) and of course sometimes  the brownies and tarts (from Whole Foods)
  4. Pack Lunch : My  family carries lunch to office/school...whether it is a sandwich, paratha or pasta, our preference is to carry a balanced meal from home or order a packed lunch beforehand  rather than go pick some food from the cafeteria.
  5. Fit Exercise into your lifestyle : Exercise is not an afterthought anymore in my life...I go to the gym at least 4-5 times a week for Zumba and Yoga. We go for walks or hikes as a family...we don't make excuses...we look for workarounds so that both K1 and I can go to the gym and yet take care of the daily routines. K2 is in swim camps and sports camps all summer and I see him becoming so strong and athletic.
  6. Feed the Mind : I am a junkie for all books self-improvement and tend to read quite a few books in that genre. Coursera and the Bhagvad Gita are constant resources in my life that I draw on from every day of my life. And of course I do throw in the more than occasional chick lit.
  7. Sleep Enough : As I give this advice I flinch...I have only just started sleeping again. The last few months sleep has been elusive...I have started developing a routine...and I have my sleep hour to 11.30 PM and sleep at least 7 hours. My goal is to sleep by 10.30 PM and get 8 hours of shut eye. I tend to work after 9.00 PM and sometimes time just passes me by too quickly.
Most important when you slip - Cut yourself some slack! However, make sure you get back on the bandwagon otherwise life will pass you by.
Yesterday my brother brought over his Blendtec and I made a quick smoothie for breakfast this morning. Presenting to you the Enlightened Greens :

  • 2 Green Fuji Apples ( they were from my friend P's garden)
  • 3/4 Box (5 Oz Clamshell) - Organic Girl - Five Happiness
  • 3 Oz Blueberries
  • 6 Oz Greek Yogurt
  • Honey (use stevia if you don't want the extra calories)
  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • Water (depending on how thick you want your smoothie)
Use the Smoothie button and in less than a minute you have a delicious breakfast on hand. Here's me drinking to your health! And to all  my fellow Indians back home -- Vande Mataram!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Losing my Father...

"I was my Daddy's girl,
I know he loved me the best
The time we had... 
Wasn't nearly enough
And yet we did -
pack in an entire
Lifetime of love...and memories.
No regrets or grief...
Only love for the man you are,
And the man you will remain in my heart."

                                              circa Nov 12th, 2012
It was almost the end of November. Her heart was heavy...she had spent 30 blissful days with Bapa and the time to go back  to the US was fast arriving - on this particular walk he told her - Ma, I think I have only 3-6 months left. She changed the topic...that her indestructible father was but a mortal was not something she wanted to face yet...though the reality of it loomed ominously over her head. Suddenly as if to lighten the atmosphere heavy with unshed tears, flew a bright green parrot squawking noisily at the father-daughter duo. Their conversation moved on to lighter things...Oriya fathers and daughters love talking about food (or at least this father and daughter duo did) and she asked him - Bapa...what do you really want to eat? He said - Kaleji Kosha. She knew that he had said that partly because she was avoiding eating meat due to his health issues and loved Kaleji (mutton liver). So when she went home, she asked her Ma to make some Kaleji Kosha. Oriya Mothers are famous for cooking and feeding their families till their stomachs are filled to the point of bursting.  Ma got out her degchi and sent Shankar (the gardener) to get the freshest Kaleji available in the market...both father and daughter enjoyed the Kaleji Kosha that day like there was no tomorrow... he was right...four months later he was no has been 9 months since then and all I remember is the love, the laughter and the hope...the hope that miracles do happen and we will get more time......but the reality is  there were no tomorrows, happy endings or miracles in this story...just gratitude for the time that we got to spend together and love for the man that Bapa was.

For Kaleji Kasha you need :
  • 500 gms - Mutton Kaleji (wash in warm water cut into small pieces and keep aside) 
  • 2 large Red Onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 large Vine grown tomatoes (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • the ubiquitous Tej Potro (Bay Leaves)
  • My Ma doesn't use whole masala because we just don't like the taste of the whole cardamom or clove in the curry (so we lightly microwave 2-3 cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and grind the same - use about 1/2 tsp of this is potent and can overwhelm)
  • the usual suspects - turmeric, chilli and cumin/coriander powder
How my Ma makes it?

In a large degchi (this is the cast iron kind)...heat up 2 tbsp of mustard oil (if this was my kitchen it would be 1 tsp of Olive Oil). To this add a pinch of sugar (it helps the Onions to caramelize). Add a pinch of hing (this is something my Ma and I do with our cooking, avoid if you don't like hing) and tej potro. Add the ginger garlic paste and Onions. Cook till Onions are caramelized, then add the tomatoes and the usual suspects (turmeric, chilli and cumin/coriander powders). Now cook till everything integrates and the smell in the kitchen is pure magic (takes about 15 minutes...but follow your eyes and nose). Now add in the Mutton Kaleji (liver) and cook for about 1/2 hr plus...add the 1/2 tsp of the ground masala mix and salt to taste. The secret here is patience, no adding water (keep it on low flame) and cook, taste, cook...follow that process till it tastes perfect (and looks like the picture above)

Enjoy with hot phulkas or rice (add some love and laughter on the side…makes for great memories)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Show me your Heart

Life is so full, that at times it gets overwhelming...I learnt the principle of KISS (keep it simple sista) early in my work life but learnt to apply it late to my personal life but some wise person said - Better Late than Never.

Heart Disease is the No.1 killer in the US (one out of every three are impacted by it). The No.1 cause for this No.1 killer is STRESS. Our lives are overflowing with To-Do Lists, Juggling, Parenting, Cooking, Working, Balancing Spreadsheets and we still  itch to add activities to  our weekend schedule.This year I have decided to take a stand and am putting my money where my mouth is - I am participating in the Bay Area Heart Walk.

Please support this cause - it has affected a lot of us personally...K1 lost both his paternal grandparents to a heart attack and a stroke and I know a number of you have stories similar to's about building awareness and step at a could be your lunch money for a day, maybe more...every little bit counts.

Donate for my cause here
Walk with me here