Saturday, August 12, 2017

Soul Soup...

"Each day is an adventure in discovering the meaning of life. It is each little thing that you do that day - whether it be spending time with your irritatingly adorable 10 yr old, bickering over nothing with your husband, catching up with friends, dancing your heart out or just watching that humming bird flirt with the flowers - that holds the key to discovering the meaning of life. I would rather be out enjoying these things than doing too much introspection on the meaning of life. There is always that hot bowl of soup which lets me do some of my soul-searching instantly...."
                                                                                         ---Soul Soup

If you know me you know how much I hate spending too much time in the kitchen...but then you also know how much I love eating which brings me to my dilemma of how do I eat a really awesome meal cooked in < 30 minutes.

The past two weeks have been hard on K2 and me...just the "busyness" of life getting to us and not having K1 around making our familiar routines unfamiliar and we are really trying to make the best of the "pressure cooker situation" - K1's dad is having a major surgery in India today and it has us all on the edge literally. In the kitchen I have stuck to making brain dead easy recipes and last night was not very different - K2 and I had made our trek down to the farmer's market and one of our picks had been organic beets with the beet tops.



I usually make beetroot cutlets (patties) for K2 with the beets and sweet potatoes...I save the beet greens for a soup. Here's a super simple soup recipe for your Instant Pot

What you need:

  • Beet Greens ( 1-2 bunches - cleaned and cut to small pieces)
  • Other vegetables : carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, opo squash (lauki)...anything works. I used a full opo-squash and 2 carrots (mostly because I had it and wanted to add more veggies)
  • 1 cup Red Lentils (Masoor) - soaked for 1 hr
  • 1 container Low Sodium Pacific Foods - Organic Creamy Tomato Soup
  • Secret Weapon : Aachi's Rasam Mix - 1 tbspoon ( find it in your local Indian Store)
  • Chopped Onions, Chopped/Minced Garlic ( 6 cloves)
  • Optional - Coriander Leaves/Cilantro, 1 lemon


What to do

Turn your Instant Pot on Saute....add half a tsp of oil/ghee...I used ghee. Add a pinch of hing, a tsp of turmeric powder and let it sizzle -- then add the garlic and onion and let it sweat for 2-3 minutes till the onion turns brown and smells some kind of awesome. Now add in the Beet Greens, the veggies, the Aachi Rasam Powder and the soaked lentils....cook for another 2 minutes. Now add the entire container of soup and another container of water. Put the Instant Pot on Soup Mode (if it shows 30 minutes reduce to 25 minutes). Now forget your pressure cooker....go watch some TV or read a book.

Once the soup is done, you can do a quick release--- squirt lemon juice, adjust the salt to taste...I usually keep it low in salt and add lots of cilantro...I just love the freshness Cilantro adds to the soup.

Enjoy with crusty garlic bread....some kind of delicious :-)

This  served  my son and me  three soul-warming meals this week!
                                                 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dil Toh Pagal Hai -A path to making your heart more healthy!





It's ironic that one of my conversations with a colleague was around the fact that with Aging a number of our conversations are around aches & pains, parents getting sick, us getting sick vs. births, engagements and romance gossips.

It was even more ironic that as my husband, my mother-in-law and me were walking around the lake and rejoicing the fact that my MIL had lost 19 lbs in 8 weeks and no longer had knee issues and could walk comfortably for 1 hr (she is 73), we got a panicked call from my sister-in-law...my father-in-law had suffered a massive heart attack (Posterior myocardial infarction with anterior infarction in case you were wondering). My MIL is back in India with my FIL and his condition is stable now and he is in the recovery phase. The reality is even though my FIL walks regularly, he doesn't pay much attention to diet ( he is a diabetic) and my MIL is determined to make a change to that. She asked me to send a diet chart for him and I was working on this a couple hours in the evening and hence my thought - why not share the knowledge and information.
Here are some key things to remember while planning your diet for heart -health 

  1. Focus on Portion Control (we have started eating in salad plates vs. dinner plates)
  2. Eat more vegetables and fruits (especially cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and green leafy vegetables like spinach, amaranth and methi greens and high fiber fruits like Apple and Pears...one banana a day is great if you are not a diabetic or on the border line)
  3. Select Whole Grains but limit your whole grain servings to twice a day ( steel cut oats, barley, quinoa and if you absolutely must have rice swap white out for brown)
  4. Limit unhealthy fats (basic thumb rule - say no to red meats, don't eat too much fried food, use ghee in moderation or not at all, we have swapped out whole milk for 2% and limit the amount of dairy, we have more yogurt than milk because it gives us the protein and is probiotic and good for the stomach, we use coconut oil in moderation for cooking - 750 ml lasts  3 people about 6 months in my cooking ( I pressure cook a lot in my Instant Pot) 
  5. Choose low-fat protein sources - Egg Whites, Tofu, Beans & Legumes ( I make a lot of sprouts or beans salads, dals/lentil soups), choose chicken and fish over other fatty meats.
  6. Reduce the sodium in your diet...flavor with lemon, pepper and all the wonderful warm Indian (or non-Indian) spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon etc.
  7. Plan Ahead - make meal plans, diet charts - do your grocery shopping mindfully
  8. Supplement as needed - Fish Oil, Flax Seed Capsules, Garlic Capsules, Red Yeast ( all work for heart health) - what's more important is find out what works for your body!
  9. Have a hurrah - it's OK to get a treat occasionally, you don't have to go cold turkey, treat yourself to foods that you miss once in a while, don't binge on it though
Here's the diet chart I built for my Father-in-Law. Reality is I have kept it easy with a focus on the tenets I have above - lesser carb, more protein and heart healthy foods (flax seeds, green tea, oatmeal, high fiber).


Do ensure that you take a probiotic and give your stomach the time to get used to eating more vegetables and legumes...it might take a couple weeks. Consult your doctor before starting any diet, I am not a registered dietician or nutritionist. My mother-in-law is a practicing doctor and she stuck to my diet plan and believes that it really helped her in the two months that she was here (but then again, she is my MIL and she might be forced to say nice things ;-) )

Try this delicious Chickpea and Coconut Milk Ishtew (non-fat/light coconut milk) - you can make it in your pressure cooker or Instant Pot. If you are in the mood for some meat try this heart-healthy Haleem recipe (again made in my trusty pressure cooker or Instant Pot).

You heart will thank you!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How Sunshine Returned to Joyland?

Cancer in my dictionary is a bad word...it stole away from me my champion, my best friend, my motivator & my role model...my father. So, I have watched cancer from far with trepidation and fear...knowing that it's this evil beast that can strike at any time...When SC walked into my office last week and shared this book with me How Sunshine Returned to Joyland?, I didn't really want to read the book, this is about someone's baby having cancer...could I really deal with it?


The book sat on my night stand a couple days untouched and my 10 yr old attracted by the beautiful artwork asked me if we could read it together. I couldn't chicken out or find an excuse to say No, so we started reading the book.

  • We read it once, he said - Ma, she draws really well. Is she only 6 years old?
  • The second time we read it, he said - so the darkness was this ALL (blood cancer), Ma she is brave. Can you google me her picture?
  • The third time we read it, he said - can I keep the book?  
I feel I am very inadequately attempting to share the emotional journey my son and I made in those three readings of this story about Aparajitta Dutta, this brave 6 year old who fought cancer head-on. The struggles that she  and her parents went through are many, but the reality is that her story is an inspiration for parents across the globe whose brave kids are fighting cancer.

The lessons she teaches simply in her book are lessons we can all find strength in :

  • Dream Big
  • Smile
  • Enjoy the Present
  • The Magic of Happy Thoughts
  • The gift of true friends


Hats-off to her parents who are thinking beyond just their own child and focusing on greater good - funding cancer research for childhood cancer and also setting up a support network for parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer. All proceeds from the book are going towards St.Jude Children's Research Hospital

If you want to read the book, you can buy it on Amazon here  
If you want to donate to the cause - Brave Kids Fight Cancer you can do so here

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Going back to the roots...

                                         
I landed in Bhubaneswar on a cool clear day in February...having been stuck inside a tin can they call an aeroplane for hours I was more than ready for a visit outside and we ended up at the "Adivasi Mela" 



I ended up picking up Palua or Arrowroot along with a few other herbs (turmeric, bhel patra etc.) at the Mela and it was a glimpse into a part of the culture that I hadn't been exposed to in a long time. Palua is a root vegetable and has numerous health benefits - easy to digest, good for digestion, immunity boosting, treats urinary tract infections,fights food borne pathogens and soothes dental issues among other things...



The Palua sat in my pantry for a couple months and then finally today I dusted out my degchi (cooking pot) and made some delicious kheer(i) which my son  slurped down in the matter of minutes.



How do you make Palua Kheeri? Here is my 5-step fool proof recipe to making this recipe in a degchi
  1. Start your cooking range, place degchi and pour about 3/4th liters of milk (I used 2%) and start heating
  2. Make a slurry of the Palua in cold milk ( about 3 tbspoon worth)
  3. Grind cardamom ( 6 pods) and sugar to taste ( I added this) and add in the degchi
  4. when the milk starts boiling, gently add the slurry and keep stirring
  5. when the consistency of the kheer thickens (like picture above)...it's done
Here is my 3-step fool proof recipe to making this recipe in an Instant Pot
  1. Make a slurry of the Palua in cold milk ( about 3 tbspoon worth)
  2. Turn on your instant pot, add 3/4th liters of milk, add the slurry, Grind cardamom ( 6 pods) and sugar to taste ( I added this) and add to your IP
  3. Keep the instant pot to Porridge Mode and let your kheer cook. Stir - check sweetness and consistency.
You can eat it warm or cold...Enjoy!

What I have learnt rather late in life is that - it's the simple things that take you back to your roots and sometimes it just doesn't need to be complicated.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Self Care Series : While you were sleeping...

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?”  

                                                                      circa 2006, tired mom getting some Zzzzz time
While I was writing my last blog post I was shocked to find out that the risk of death from stroke and heart disease was significantly higher in people who get less than six hours of sleep a night ( think 48% higher).

I had watched Arianna Huffington talk about sleep about 4 years back at a Women's Conference ( you can see the jist of it in this Ted Talk by Arianna Huffington ). She insightfully quoted "sleep your way to the top" and rediscover how to live a more productive and joyful life  by getting more sleep. According to AH,  for men, sleep deprivation is an act of virility and one-upmanship and goes on to talk about examples at the work place of how "lack of sleep" was being worn as a victory badge (don't shoot the messenger guys...instead look at yourself and scan yourself and see if you indulge in those behaviors).

How to get more sleep?


1. Get checked for medical problems that might be waking you up - these include issues like Obstructive Sleep Apnea ( did you know people with OSA had 3 times the risk for Type 2 diabetes). My dad suffered from OSA and sure enough he had Type 2 diabetes.
2. Set up your environment for sleep — have a comfortable bed, a dark room (or an eye mask, if needed), and quiet (use earplugs, ambient music).
3. Set up your evening for sleep — do a quieting half hour before bed - they say don't take a device to bed but for me the Kindle is my version of a physical book, so I read for 1/2 hr before bed. 
4. Set up your days for sleep — get sunshine during the day and keep the room dark in the night. Get some physical movement aka exercise, so your body doesn’t want to move when it’s time to sleep.
5. Prevent hunger and low blood sugar. A bedtime snack including protein and some complex carbohydrate (a small bowl of oatmeal, some nuts, even a small piece of dark chocolate) might help you stay asleep. I swear by this smoothie recipe of mine (it's a play on the Ethiopian Drink Telba) - 1 Banana, 2 tablespoons roasted flaxseeds, 1 teaspoon cacao nibs (optional) , 1 cup of water or more depending on the consistency you want and 1 tsp honey to sweeten (I added Stevia, as I am trying to cut down on sugar). It's high in protein, fiber and essential minerals like Magnesium and potassium (it's good for you heart too!).
6. In consultation with your health-care provider, consider proven sleep supplements such as magnesium and melatonin. On high stress days, I take 5 mg of Melatonin to ensure uninterrupted sleep. I take a magnesium supplement every day called Natural Calm   and have been taking this supplement for 4 years now.
7. Get help with anxiety, stress, and depression, if you think those might be problems. I think everyone goes thro' phases and sometimes the depression and anxiety might just be a chemical imbalance ( for me a couple years back it was a severe Vitamin D deficiency) or even if it is a deeper seated issue, its better to meeting it headlong vs. let it fester.
8. Accept that sleep is important. It’s not being lazy; it’s not shirking your responsibilities. Your body needs it. You may have to spend some time in the day clearing up things that are worrying you, like taking care of the kids so that you can relax and heal at night. Sleep is especially important for kids and setting them up with good sleeping habits is critical to their well-being.
I look forward to shutting off the lights and having this free entry into a "land of dreams"... I especially love getting up in the morning rested after a good night's sleep. How did you sleep last night? 

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Self Care Series : Different Strokes

"Nearly six million die and another five million are left permanently disabled. Stroke is the second leading cause of disability, after dementia. ... In the developing world, however, the incidence of stroke is increasing."

I lost a 59 yr. old uncle yesterday to a stroke. This was my mother's younger sister's husband. He had the symptoms of a stroke - Sudden numbness of his leg on the left side, trouble walking & loss of balance and severe headache. He ignored it for 2 days...he was rushed to the ICU on the third day and they found a large brain clot on the 5th day and did a brain surgery to remove the clot on the 7th day...he spent the next 30 days in a hospital, half the time on a ventilator and finally drew his last breath yesterday at 4.30 AM.

Did you know?
  • Nearly 800,000 (approximately 795,000) people in the United States have a stroke every year, with about three in four being first-time strokes.
  • Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
  • Every four minutes, someone dies of stroke.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and the leading preventable cause of disability.
  • More women than men have strokes each year
  • South-East Asians are more at risk than other races
Who is more at risk?
  • People with high Blood Pressure
  • People with Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Cholestrol (especially high LDL)
  • Obese or Overweight People
  • Desk Jobs or leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • Bad Food Habits - red meat, eating too much carbs & sugar to your diet
What can you do about it?
  • Sleep Well - 7-8 hours every day
  • Manage your stress - meditation, yoga, read books, take quiet walks, listen to music, practice gratitude
  • Managing your weight - ensure your BMI is in the healthy range
  • Diet - this is a topic I am very passionate about - making sure you eat healthy is No.1 to keeping a lot of these diseases at bay. Eat more fruits and vegetables, Eat legumes and lentils (sprouted if you can sprout them at home), Limit Dairy & Meats, Eat more nuts and seeds, Consciously add more fiber to your diet, Cut down on fat, carbs and sugar in your diet.
  • Regular Exercise - Try Shruthi's Bolly X Class in the Oracle Gym!
  • Smoking & Alcohol - No smoking and either no alcohol (or alcohol in moderation!)
  • Recognize the symptoms of a stroke and go immedietely to a doctor if you suspect that you are having stroke symptoms
                                                                                             circa 2002
I know it's easier to give advice and very hard to follow in real life...it has taken me years to get disciplined about exercise, sleep and food...it's second nature now. I am putting a picture up from 15 years back...I loved...no love... food ( fried food, chips, cookies and indian sweets)....and I didn't really like exercising and it shows in this picture of mine. I don't believe in "before and after pictures"...the reality is the After is "Work in Progress"...it's still a journey and the key is I am learning to live life happier, healthier...sharing this information with the hope that you do something positive for your health today!



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tanishq's Diamonds NOT a girl's best friend!

Tanishq the Indian's say is what Tiffany's is to the USA. Hear my story and you will definitely know that "Diamonds can be a girl's best friend but avoid Tanishq at all costs"

My 40th birthday which happened a couple years ago also marked the 1st year anniversary to losing my father and getting a promotion. Having lived a very minimalistic life until that point (and because my Dad was always urging me to do something special for myself) I was ready to  treat myself to something special to mark the milestone. I ended up buying myself a solitare diamond ring. It made me feel wonderful - a gift I bought for myself...no other person involved (almost like coming of age...). My ring was a great companion for 3 years. Two weeks back with normal use, my entire solitaire with it's cushion fell out of the ring setting. I thought the diamond was lost but with the help of some wonderful people I located the diamond (after 15 panicky minutes....can't imagine next steps if the stone was lost !!!)




 I contacted Tanishq hoping to understand next steps...the first tenet of their mission is - Total Customer Orientation... or so I thought. I was so wrong...

I sent my first email to a senior executive at Tanishq and heard nothing back and sent a follow-up email...NOTHING !!!

I am now getting my ring reset at a reputed local jeweller in San Francisco  and paying $300 ( ~ Rs. 20,000) for fixing poor quality issues of the manufacturer. The jeweller concluded that the workmanship on the ring was really shabby ( 2 solders where the ring needed 6 solders if we are getting technical) and hence the solitaire had fallen out...When I read forums on Tanishq, I saw this as a complaint that a lot of people had about stones falling out of the setting.

I want to highlight this as an example of not just NOT standing behind the quality of your work and brand but also of a total customer disorientation and apathy to what a customer is going through. If you are thinking of buying from Tanishq for brand name and reputation - take my advise look locally and pay lesser elsewhere...

Diamonds may well be a girl's best friend but as I have sadly discovered...not a Tanishq Diamond !!!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

In Loving Memory...


Dear Theresa,
I am sitting in your warm sunlit office space in Building 300,
When you moved to the warmth of Arizona,
You gave me the gift of a wonderful office space.
We met a couple times before you moved,
You were always so helpful and warm...
I really appreciated the camaraderie and the sense of belonging you made me feel from Day 1
It was a shock to learn about your health issues,
You were so brave and positive...
It left a lasting impression on me.
And 10 days later you are no more...

I hope that you have found yourself a warm sunlit place up above,
You will be missed.


I lost a colleague Theresa yesterday - what I remember about her is her beautiful smile and warm personality and her absolute willingness to help her team mates. She has left behind a young daughter. A fund to help with the education of her young daughter Rachel has been set up, please help if you are able to - Theresa you will be missed !!!

FUND FOR RACHEL'S EDUCATION
DONATE NOW

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The truth about School Lunches!

I am angry and upset about the state of affairs with our school lunches specifically in our school district. For years I shut out the angst of my son recieving cold, burnt lunches and sometimes a lunch where he was supposed to get a "chicken dish" but got it sans the chicken and told myself that maybe I was the only parent feeling the pinch of paying between $5.50-$6.50 for my son's lunch - for a not so good lunch. Here's a picture of the california rolls that my son's school lunch advertises vs. what the kids get in reality...you can guess which is which...



 My son patiently ate the food I ordered for him in 3rd and 4th grade and finally told me in 5th grade - Ma, please start packing my lunch for me (or I will do it myself) - I would rather eat a PBJ to what they are giving us at the hot lunch. I have been packing school lunches for most of this school year (except for the time when I went to India)...no matter if I had a critical deliverable or an early morning meeting - my evening ends with my planning a packed lunch for my boy. Reality is it is not that hard once you have a plan of what you want to pack and I am able to give my son a "reasonably  healthy and nutritious" lunch for < $1.50/ day. Here's one of the sample meal plans I built (what can I say - I am a planner!)


But this blog isn't about my ability to plan and pack school lunches for my son. It's about the fact that 

(A) Food at my son's Public school runs to about $5.50-$6.50 for a school lunch that includes an entree, a choice of drink (milk/water) and a choice of fruit. School Lunch prices for our school district are way "out of whack" when compared to neighboring districts (these graphs are self-explanatory!) - in case you are wondering my child falls under the BRSSD umbrella. If I as a part of a double income family am feeling the pinch - can you imagine how hard this would be for a single income family ( about half the families in our school district comprise of single income households)




Here is a Yelp Review that I pulled up on our lunch provider on the topic 

The response of the vendor was particularly enlightening but I won't add it in here, I am hoping you would actually go to Yelp and read their response (gist of it is they say - they don't get the $5.50-$6.50 - apparently the district sets the price to cover "other" costs). 

I have started a conversation with the School District but the answers I have had from their Chief Business Officer have been very "officially correct" but not particularly enlightening.

(B) The quality of food is sub-par and the vendor usually gets away with it.  I will give you an example that had me all riled up this week - my son was signed up in advance for the spaghetti with chicken meatballs ( we don't eat beef or pork)...a week before the lunch was due I am sent a message saying chicken meatballs were not available, so they were substituting it for spaghetti with meat sauce (beef) WITHOUT consulting me- I went in and changed the order to cheese ravioli very reluctantly (it's not a very nutritious meal!)  - but honestly seeing my son's sad face in the AM when I told him he had a hot lunch was just a "cherry on top of that indignity". The reality of WHY I ordered a few school lunches this week is  - I am frugal and I had a balance sitting in choice lunch and I didn't have the patience or time to ask them to refund it, so instead ordered a few lunches to close it out to zero balance  and my son's expression made me wish I had gone thro' the pain of getting that balance back vs. order him a hot lunch. Read an example of the travails a parent faced - I had a similar conversation with a parent at our school. 


From a parent’s perspective School Lunches are successful when (a) their kids are happy eating the food – no complaints (b) the food specs are reasonably healthy (c) the food is consistently affordable. From my perspective school lunches for us have been bombing on all three levels . A good school lunch strategy is if we had a simpler lunch menu  vs. complex choices that are very poorly executed and a pricing structure that is reasonable ( reasonable for me is comparable to other school districts and something that doesn't feel pricy to parents)

My son moves to middle school next year and my strategy for school lunches is - Status Quo aka pack my son healthy school lunches from home. What are your thoughts on school lunches?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Self Care Series & A Recipe!

“if you want to live an authentic, meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others, hurting feelings, and living with the reality that some people just won’t like you. It may not be easy, but it’s essential if you want your life to reflect your deepest desires, values, and needs.”
                                                  ---The Art of Extreme Self-Care, Cheryl Richardson

The truth is I am still so far from it, beating myself up for errors both real and perceived and caring too much about what "everyone" thinks of my actions, words....here are a few examples just from this week

  1. I sent my son PBJ for lunch...I am a bad mom
  2. I missed my personal training (my arms were aching & I had a meeting), I am a loser who will gain weight
  3. I said no I can't get this project complete this week given my workload, it will take another week...I am such a shirker...why not pull a few all-nighters.
  4. Omigod...I just ate that dessert....now it's going to hit my hip real time
  5. I ate my dinner at 6.30 pm instead of waiting for my husband and eating at 8.30 PM...ergo bad wife
In my 10's I looked to my parents for positive reinforcements, in my 20's I looked to my peers for positive reinforcements, in my 30's I looked for positive reinforcements from family, friends, co-workers and the world....in my 40's I have realized that to feel good about myself, the positive reinforcement needs to come from inside...so starts my self-care series. Follow my journey and if it helps you along the way - awesome! If not - I am sure you will find another blog, article or book that will point you in the right direction :-)

Here are some of the topics I will cover :
  1. Managing Stress
  2. Exercise
  3. What in the world is "Me-Time"?
  4. Peeling the Onion - Physical, Emotional, Spiritual Fitness
  5. Eating Right
  6. Work-Life Balance - is it a conundrum?
  7. Losing Weight not your Mind
  8. Detox - mind, body & spirit
  9. Sleep

Here's how I took care of an important aspect of self-care this week. Food makes me happy and there is a feeling of contentment (in sanskrit : Santosha) in cooking something just right !!!
I had eaten this wonderful, homey subzi at my friend AB's house and I absolutely loved it and so did the two boys. So this week I tried to recreate AB's  UP-wala Aloo  and my son was asking for seconds and thirds of this dish.

Uttar PrADESH WALA ALOO MATAR BHAJi 
Servings: 4  Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 45  minutes

INGREDIENTS

  1. Bhuna Masala ( see recipe here, I make this by the pint(s) and freeze it, makes my meal planning so much easier for desi khana). Skip the Habanero if you can live without the kick, my 10 yr old seems to be ok with the spice level
  2. Frozen Peas
  3. Cinnamon Powder, Turmeric Powder,  Dhania-Jeera Powder/Garam Masala
  4.  4-5 medium Boiled Potatoes ( my method for making a batch in my instant pot) 
  5. Hing (Asofetida) , Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
  6. Coriander Leaves for garnish
Boiling Potatoes in your Instant Pot

Boil Potatoes in your instant pot for  3 minutes High Pressure ( I used medium potatoes and I usually keep a big lot, and keep them in the fridge and use them as needed)



DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add a tsp of oil to the pan, add the hing and jeera. When the jeera splutters add the turmeric and then the bhuna masala and the broken up pieces of aloo/potatoes (I break it up with my hand)
  2. Fry for about 5 minutes...till the mixture becomes drier and there is a nice smell
  3. Now add water (around 2 cups), turn the stove to slow and simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Add the frozen peas. Cook for another 5 minutes (add some more water if the mixture is too thick)
  5. Now add the dhania-jeera powder/Garam Masala and cinnamon powder, Salt to taste
  6. Garnish with the Coriander leaves
  7. The Curry is ready for Prime Time


I wanted to leave you with a thought that crossed my mind today - Taking care of yourself doesn't mean me first, it means me too.  To all you wonderful people out there who are burning the candle on both ends...take a deep breath, you are not alone!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Flying the Unfriendly Skies

Travel, in the young, is a part of education; in the older (maybe wiser), a part of experience.

--Some Wise Person



I woke up early and as I was drinking my AM concoction of ACV and Honey with hot water, a piece of news caught my eyes and I watched this video appalled & horrified at the treatment meted out to a United Passenger...

https://twitter.com/JayseDavid/status/851223662976004096/video/1

I used to be one of those people who used to consider my Premier 1K/Star Alliance Gold as a proud badge...every week saw me on a different continent and I absolutely loved flying the "friendly skies" ahem! United being my carrier of choice...a child later, I have to admit I am happy to be off any premier list and usually will get on a flight very reluctantly. Honestly flying has become more cramped, crowded and delayed than ever…seat sizes have shrunk, your baggage allowances have shrunk and the snacks and drinks offered have shrunk…or no longer free, and à la carte pricing at 30,000 feet has become the in thing…a tapas plate with a drink will be $15…thank you very much! Also most times having to deal with grumpy airline staff, rude concierge service and non-existent traveller support systems...and sometimes your fellow travellers make the journey even more tedious...here are some of my observations on travel behaviors (you can add your own in the comments section) -

  • Air Seat Kickers - this is the worst especially on a long haul flight
  • Air Line Talkers - these are the people who just want to keep talking thro' the flight. I usually wear my noise cancelling headset and play some music...this keeps them at bay
  • Air Seat Recliners - this is especially bad if the person in front of you reclines but the person behind you has strategically stuck his knee into the seat, thereby not allowing you to recline
  • Getting stuck in the middle seat even though your initial ticket said Aisle and worse getting stuck between two big people ( happened to me on a flight to Helsinki...15 hrs and counting...ja!)
  • Air Seat Groomers - I have had a woman sit next to me and do a pedicure and manicure...imagine all that action happening in an economy seat...yikes!
  • Air Seat Squatters - they not only hog the armseats, they get their shoes and socks off and are stretching their legs and hands in every direction available
  • Air Seat Alcoholics - yep! I had a person next to me have 5 double shots of whiskey on a long haul before the stewardess very politely cut him off and didn't give him another one...I moved my seats (thankfully, the airline wasn't full)
Above all, jokes and tongue in the cheek remarks aside,  I hope that the older gentleman in the video gets the justice he deserves...



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cinderella Revamped...

“Women are like tea bags — you don’t know their strength until they get into hot water.”
6.45 AM : The prodigal son walks into the room and whispers rather loudly - Ma, I am awake what about you (well! now I am...awake and a little 😩...fighting a stomach bug!)
6.48 AM : Read my work emails and by the time I get to my personal mail , I see an email that my credit card had a $2000 charge at XXXX (hint : one of those retailers that had a huge data breach) which the credit card co. thought looked wrong and they flagged for me....hell yeah! that ain't me....a couple minutes later the credit card co. assured me I was covered and thanking the Artificial Intelligence Gods that ensured that these credit card co. were able to detect anomalies in patterns...I tried to bolster my inner goddess to get ready for the conference that was happening 30 miles away ( the stomach was still not cooperating...)
7.15 AM : Go downstairs and make my son a PBJ (with almond butter and homemade strawberry jam) for lunch and make his hot chocolate and my chai.
7.55 AM : work upstairs and give a time warning shout to the boys downstairs.
8.25 AM : Boys are out of the house, its a mad rush every.single.day...wonder why?
8.45 AM : Ready and out of the house  on the way to the AI conference and then I see the dreaded sign below on my car - more on my car woes in a separate blog 😞


9.00 AM : Retrace my steps back home and call the car service center  (mentally rationalize...I was feeling sick anyway!)

The rest of the morning and afternoon was a blur of activity when all the body wanted to do was rest...calls, emails, work, a zumba class and a trip out to the service center to drop off the car and pick the loaner car, the dinner run...my stomach still fighting it's own battle of will with my mind...

Ironically, it's International Women's Day today and the reality is its no different from any other day -  I would rather have every day be a day where I strive to be a better version of myself, where I would be bold and question stereotypes and status-quo. I will  be "strong" and rescue myself from proverbial hot situations and stretch myself and teach myself something new. In the wise words of the Cheetah Girls in the song "Cinderella" -
I can slay my own dragon
I can dream my own dreams
My knight in shining armor is me
So I'm gonna set me free, yeah
I don't want to be like Cinderella
Sittin' in a dark cold dusty cellar
Waitin' for somebody to come and set me free...

I'd rather rescue myself!


Right now  I am resting my weary self with some "me-TV time" and a  glass of wine (Ice Wine is my libation of choice - thank you very much!) and a slice of cake ( Red Velvet...not vanilla which is Prodigal Son's choice or chocolate which is what Dear Husband demands BUT Red Velvet for the lady of the house!)...and the stomach is feeling a little better (thank you for asking 😎 )...How is your week going?