Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Quick Fix Recipe: Bruschetta

It's been a while since I have posted recipes, I guess a lot of it is to do with my MIL being here and she is pampering me and cooking for us.
This past weekend we had some dear friends over for relaxed conversations and a fun evening. My chatterbox had been 'demanding' spaghetti for a really long time, so that resulted in an Italian Menu.
For me, an Italian dinner starts and ends with Bruschetta... no questions asked
 Here is my quick adapted recipe for the delicious Bruschetta
 Time to Prepare/Cook/ Assemble: 10 Minutes
1. French Bread: One Loaf
2. Butter: 3-4 tsp
3. Tomato finely chopped: 1 cup
4. Onion finely chopped: 1/4 cup
5. Olive Oil: 3 tsp
6. Garlic cloves: Finely chopped: 2 cloves
7. Spice: Salt, Black Pepper per taste
8. Fresh finely chopped Basil: 1/2 cup
9. Toasted Sesame seeds for garnishing

1. Mix all the topping ingredients and let it sit for 30-45 minutes.
Note: You can use it right away, but if you let it sit then the juices blend really well together
When ready to eat:
2. Cut 1/2 inch slices of French bread, and butter on one side.
3. Toast on a pan very slightly
4. Layer the topping and then the garnishing and serve.
This time around I didn’t take any pictures, one I was super hungry and two they got devoured before I even thought of it.
So enjoy this 'Quick Fix Bruschetta' as and when you please!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Finding people to share our journey

1 week into My Fitness Pal, I am excited. No, I have not miraculously lost any weight or feel even a tiny bit curvier. It is Business as Usual.

But I am excited. I get the general idea of my calories intake for the day. I say 'general idea' since I don’t spend the time to find the 'exact food' I eat. It helps me think about, oh I have this big dinner tonight, maybe I should have a lighter lunch. What I truly appreciate in the app is my graph of nutrients and breakdown by meals.
For the first time, I see how Carb heavy my meals really are.
I always knew I eat a lot of carbs, but when I see that over 60% of my day intake is carbs, I go like Wow. Of course, my roadblock is: my intake of carbohydrates is directly proportional to energy level. Yes, I am aware scientifically it does not make sense, but hey, you can't change a life time of eating habits in one week.
The other cool thing is the validation that dinner is my heaviest meal of the day. I know it should be 'King's breakfast and pauper's dinner'. But honestly, with our lifestyle, it really does not happen. This is the meal I can truly sit down and enjoy with the kids and Sumit!
But here is the shocker, I am calorie counting! I was such a stuck up and always said, 'Yeah not sustainable'. That's why they say, “Never say Never". I think I am still a stuck up and continue to say 'It's not sustainable but I am sticking to at least trying'
My daily calorie intake is still 'way' higher than what is prescribed for me. The good thing is that I have not cheated on the app yet. If I eat it, I log it. If I drink it, I log it. So it's good and bad. I am hoping to make some tweaks in my meals to come closer to my recommended calorie intake.
Aim for next week is first to continue using the app and next to meet the prescribed calorie intake at least twice a week. I am doing this 'One Step at a time'
So I am finding people to share my journey. As usual the first line of support is with Sumit. I think deep down he knows, I will give up soon, but while I am doing this he is cheering me on. His nudge, do it till our next vacation which is only a month away! Second line of support is my friend who got me introduced to this app: 'My Fitness Pal'. I continue to bitch to her about how hard this is. She encourages me none the less. And then of course to keep me honest, log it here and in the app.
Now for the complaint: 'It's so hard, just counting every morsel of food that goes in your head. It sucks!'
And the Update: 'I am still going to try’

Monday, September 21, 2015

Getting Fit.................round 2354346593764

See there is a pattern here, I start this 'Getting Fit' business' follow through for a bit and then let it slide. And then another phase comes and then I start something new. I wonder if it’s a follow through problem or just that I get bored problem.

Whatever the problem may be, the weight is definitely not sliding off on its own. The tiny silver line, its not increasing, but I am over my target weight at the rate of 10 pounds each kid.
See what I did there; blame the kids of extra baggage and not myself!
Getting back to the point, I have tried only salads for dinner 4X a week, Fit Bit, Meal planning, 3X a week work outs, walking, climbing stairs, slight modifications to lifestyle etc. And case in point, I just lose track of it, be it a vacation, a busy phase or just life in general.

So in spirit of yet another attempt at "Getting Fit' is using 'My Fitness Pal'. Trust me anyone with a smart phone has this app and people who have tried it swear by it. A dear friend on a lazy Friday afternoon chat session swore by it and said she is only 5 pounds over her pre baby weight. That was motivation enough and of course her nudging me on and saying: Don't do anything just log your food. That's it. Simple enough.
She knows how much I hate dieting since for me it’s not sustainable. I get super cranky! Her punch line was, just do what you do and start noting it down, since the calories of everything you consume are right in front of you, it makes you question the choices.  And so I did, 4 days of using it has made me realize I am eating an average of 600 calories over my target for the day. Hmm.
Its only day 4 and as of yet I have not made any changes to my diet. Small things like: taking the pita on falafel sandwich adds 200 calories, so I skipped the pita. I skipped sugar on my daily coffee mainly so the differential of my target calorie intake and my actual consumption is not that much. One step at a time.
This comes to the next point, is 'One step at a time' the right thing to do? I am young and at a place that I should be definitely more active and fitter than what I am. Do I need the 'Big Bang' approach since the pattern of 'One step at a time' is not really working for me? I wonder.
While I wonder, I start using 'My fitness Pal'

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I am partial to her, a lot. She is my child!

There are always two schools on thought on everything, some say, appreciate your child, it gives them a lot of confidence. Some say compliment but advise, they need the guidance and don’t need the re-enforcement.
I don’t know which school I follow with my daughters. I guess I never will know.
But I do know, I tell my Chatterbox, Miss V often, how proud I am of her and then at times, I tell her how silly she is (this generally is in my angry voice). I tell her often to not be over confident and then in gatherings not to be shy. Sometimes I yell at her for being 'such a child', sometimes I hug for being a child, my baby.
Bottom line, I KNOW I confuse her. But I hope deep down she knows, I love her! A lot. I wake up to her sneaking in my bed and hugging me. I can’t imagine starting my morning any other way!
My little Chatterbox (7 years old) was preparing her speech for 'Student Council & House Captain' last night. She wrote the speech and rehearsed it in about 2 hours. She enunciated, engaged with her pretend audience, made it exciting and smiled through her test run.

Last night while I tucked her in bed,
She asked me, "If I win, can I sleep in your bed?"
I replied: "Even if you lose you can sleep in my bed!"
She rolled her eyes and said: "Yeah yeah, I should just go and have fun" (My Smarty pants)
As I write this, she must be in school gearing up for giving her speech in front of primary school. I wonder what she is feeling. This morning, it was a combination of happiness and excitement for her. Me, however, I have had butterflies all morning! I could barely sleep last night since her video of the speech was playing in my mind in repeat mode.
Let me add, I am not anxious of the results, I am just amazed at this little wonder of mine.
But Miss V, My Chatterbox, is wise beyond her years. She is confident (sometimes over!), she can keep adults engaged in conversations (earlier I used to feel they are being polite, but now I see them coming over just to spend time with her!). She plays with little kids, her little sister and young friends follow her like a shadow. She loves hanging out with her friends and Sumit and I look forward to spending our lazy afternoons playing Scrabble with her.

She is sweet and yes, I know she is my daughter and I am partial to her, but hey in my school of thought: 'Be proud and share your pride'

Friday, September 11, 2015

Summer of 2015

For the past two summers the kids have been going to India for their summers. They travel, eat delicious food, travel some more and get pampered by the grandparents.
This summer was different, very different.
Both the girls stayed here with us. My In Laws visited us from India. I took 8 weeks off from work before my new role. Sumit didn’t travel for work.
So all in all, we had one of the most memorable summers.

V, my Chatterbox (7 years) was in Camp for a few weeks. She was really excited about it since she had NEVER been to camp in her whole life.
I think she was disappointed and I don’t blame her, even I felt it was a lot of unstructured time and maybe I can choose better camps for her next year. There were however lots of field trips which she loved, daily swimming which I loved and lots of pick up early, lets stay home, lets gallivant around town which we both enjoyed a lot
S, my little Lady (2 years) was in her school as normal. To take her out for a few weeks didn’t seem right since she is so well adjusted now. She went to a field trip a week in a 'yellow school bus' which was her highlight. We went to parks almost every evening, slept late, woke up later and just generally relaxed.
My In laws, I thinking enjoyed the summer, the heat not so much. They walked a lot, to pick up V from camp, to stroll while the girls enjoyed the park, they got to spend a lot of time with the grand kids which I think is amazing.
 For me, having summer off was the best, I truly relaxed and now feel really rejuvenated. I went for massages, long lunches with girlfriends, evening dates with Sumit, shared a lot of giggles with the girls and accompanied them to as many field trips and activities as possible.

We didn’t travel this summer with a full house, but had a stay cation with Horse rides on Millennium St., evening picnics at Maggie Daley Plaza, Summer Movies at Jay Pritzker, Musical nights at Ravinia, camping with friends, grilling on our newly renovated expanded deck, impromptu dance party with girls, trips to cousins in Indiana, enjoying long swims and splash pad at Crown Fountain!
I think my highlight was the girls sleeping in later and a relaxed start to the mornings.

As I write this and skim over my summer pictures, the one phrase that sticks is: 'A lot of nothingness and A lot of memories'

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I can't bake... but I bake!

I guess the title: 'I can't bake... but I bake' says everything doesn't it!

Baking is just not my things, I still try! mainly to overcome this "i cant bake' mindset and limitation and also since I LOVE desserts!

Of course, my Chatter Box, 7 year old v loves to bake aka: eat the batter, do the icing etc. Sumit avoids eggs in dessert so if i bake at home, I can skip/ substitute and make eggless desserts for him. My Little Lady, the 2.5 year old loved anything sweet!

So all the more reason to 'Try Baking'

Here is my 'Baking Experiment and Success Story'

Strawberry Crumble

Time to Prep: 15 minutes (Varies depending on how long your seven year old takes to mix and chop the berries)
Time to Bake: 30 Minutes

Berry Mix:
Strawberries: Of Course!: 1.5 pounds hulled and quartered
All purpose flour - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Lemon- 1 tsp

For crumble:
Oats: I used rolled oats: 1.5 cups
All Purpose Flour: 3 tsp
Sugar: 3 tsp
Cinnamon: 1 tsp
Grated Ginger (Optional): 1.2 tsp
Butter: cold unsalted:3 tsp

1. Pre-heat the oven at 375 F
2. Butter your baking dish, mix the Berry Mix ingredients and leave for 5-10 minutes
3. In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients of the crumble except the butter
4. cut butter in small pieces and rub it in with the crumble: the topping should look 'crumbly'!
5. Now layer the crumble on top evenly and bake

Enjoy warm with Whipping Cream/ Vanilla Ice Cream

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A day of Summer Bliss

Living in the mid-west, we are sort of 'used to' the idea that within a 4 hours driving radius, we really don’t get to anything SUPER FUN.
And if there are SUPER FUN, we have been there already! So it gets boring!

I miss east coast for that. When we lived in DC, within 3 hours we could hit the mountains to the beach or SUPER FUN stuff! And when I lived in sunny California, i guess I should not complete that sentence; else there will be an overflow of tears!

Anyhow, back to my Midwest, with July 4th fast approaching, we wondered what we should do! A friend said Lake Geneva, and we all said, Yes, why not (I have been there a few times already (5, but who is counting), it’s the ONE really nice place to head out from the city, and close enough to do a day trip too)

So it was 5 families, 19 people from the wonderful City of Chicago who headed with beach bags, picnic baskets and summer gear to Lake Geneva.

Only one major disappointment, who charges 7$ per person forbeach access, well Lake Geneva does! But I got over that, the minute my feet touch the soft warm sand! We found some place for all of us to sprawl, changed headed in the lovely water! It was wonderfully warm, the kids played on the sand, kept going in and out of the water. So did we, and so did our parents who are visiting from India.

The picnic baskets kept opening, more food, more fruits, more juices, more sugary and the grand finale: Samosa's and Kachori's on the beach after an amazing afternoon. It could not get any better!

This turned out to be one of those days, where every single person enjoyed themselves, the youngest being 2 and the oldest about 70!

Funny. Chicago has lots of beaches to choose from (free access), Chicago has lots of sprawling space, lots of ice-cream shops and definitely lots of fireworks. But, just the process of driving, going to some place simple with friends and family and no rush, missed nap times, sugar high, eating Indian goodies on the beach are totally worth it!

Here is hoping for more summers and more such simple outings.

I wish there were more such simple joys in the mid-west! I just need to explore more I guess!