Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quick Fix- Not Fat Veggie Chilli

Everyone wants to eat healthy, high protein, complex carbs and low fat. The belly fat, the unhealthy weight all need to go! Now.
It's just, the more we try to eat healthy, the harder it gets. Especially for foodies like us.
The men- hubby and brother have been very honest to the P90X workout this month. Three weeks into it, and they are barely missing it. They are encouraging each other, buying healthier, avoiding temptations and above all, enjoying the process.
As vegetarian's, our protein intake is not on the higher side. With a workout regimen like P90X or any gym activity for that matter, increased protein is a must. It keeps one fuller for longer, rebuilds the body after strenuous workout.. and is a must per P90X instructor-Tony. The name that is said the most in my household nowadays(!)
We have been creative in the GN & SD household. The usage of Sprouts, Daals, Tofu dishes, Edamame has increased two fold. In order to support the 'boys' workout, I recently made a quick High Protein Dish with lots of vegetables and I think it was flavorful. Sadly I made it a bit spicy, so V could not enjoy it this time. But next time, I wow to keep spice level in check.

Non Fat Veggie Chillie Recipes

What you need
One cup each of small diced onions, celery, carrots, red & green bell peppers,
2/3 Ripe tomatoes Chopped, mushrooms (if you like),
Kidney beans (1 cup un-soaked/ 1 can),
Chick peas (1 cup un-soaked/ 1 can),
salt, Dried Oregano leaves/ Italian Seasoning. Black Pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste
red hot chilies flakes if available or red hot chili powder to taste
4 table spoon chopped cilantro (coriander or dhania leaves)
Olive Oil

To make:
-Soak one cup of Kidney beans and chick peas overnight. Boil them to tender the next day. (If using cans, make sure to wash the beans thoroughly.)
- Heat the saucepan on the stove, add Olive Oil
- Add diced onions to the pan heat it for a minute or so to sweat. (One can add ginger, garlic if needed)
- Add celery, bell peppers, carrots and stir occasionally for about 5-6 minutes. Add some salt, this gets more juices out of the vegetables.
- Add chilli powder/ red chilli flakes. Now add tomatoes to these vegetables and stir for 5-6 minutes. Don’t cover the pan.
- Add both the beans to the mixture and stir well.
- Add 3 cups of water. Let it come to a boil.
- Add Oregano, lemon juice, Black Pepper and salt to taste.
- Reduce the gas and let it sim for about an hour. The more you let it stew, the more flavorful it tastes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning
Serve with Chopped Onions, Jalapenos
One can eat chilli by itself like a thick soup or on rice.

This time, we ate Veggie Chilli with a little of the Wild Rice (A mix of White, brown, Black rice and some lentils).. and it tasted heavenly (according to me!)

Like always, the total time needed for me to get it going was less than 30 minutes. The stewing needs no intervention. I had made chilli once with a friend in a slow cooker which we let stew for about 8 hours… aah it tasted divine! So if you do have a slow cooker... you better make it sooner and dont forget to call me!

Edited to add: Sorry no pictures again! I really didnt know I was going to blog about it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

In anticipation of weekend-

For V’s birthday... Sumit got her a Mickey Mouse Baking set. A complete set with tray for twelve mini cup cakes, pre mixed frosting, cup cake mix, sprinkles, Spatula, measuring cup (all with Mickey art).. the whole deal! I have been wanting to use the set for a while... now that the Birthday celebrations have subsided, I am planning to use this Saturday afternoon with V, in putting the baking set to good use.
Yes, I was am way more excited about it than V currently is. The cup cake set even comes with liners of Mickey! I mean come on, what’s not to get excited about. I shared the plan with a dear friend, She awwed and said: "Mommy- Kiddo bonding time"
And I smiled and thought... hmm.. So true.

One of my most vivid memories from childhood is cake bakes I did with my mom, the icing I fought with my brother to lick for and above all placing the "Gems", Tutti Fruity, Mixing colors in icing, using cake pens, and trying to make the cake look all pretty.
Growing up, for all our birthdays, mummy and her best friend K Aunty (My fav. Aunt), would get into planning mode and Eggless cake had to be made. Two... one for adults to pretty up and other for the kids- My brother and I to 'pretty up'. Mum had a collection of heart shape, round, teddy bear and numerous other baking pans. They mixed and matched different pans to make different shapes; I remember a teddy bear cake made with three different cakes, a butterfly cake, a three level cake, a boat cake and so on. They are creative!
The day of the baking was the most fun. We, the kids were given the task of mixing the flour with the condensed milk and the other stuff. In those days, electric beaters, whippers were not so common. I remember stirring and stirring and competing with my brother, my batter was smoother. Then, mum would give us the icing to mix. She and K. aunty would put all the ingredients together and we mixed. We licked a lot in the middle, loved the smell off the Vanilla Essence and countless other things. Yes, we got scolded for not washing hands between licks, for dropping the spoon, for not leaving enough icing to go on cake. But they smiled, and Mum and K. Aunty involved me completely in the cake bake process.
Bhaia and I were just happy licking/ mixing the icing. Mum and K. aunty would put the cake in baking. The mixing bowl was for us to lick! And we waited! Patiently, I must add.
They decorated the main cake. The second cake- was all for kids to decorate. I loved it. I remember one heart shape cake, K. aunty gave my brother and I one side each, so we don’t fight. We competed to get the 'our' own side prettier!
I know, this time when I go to India, I must dig for those cake pictures.

As I wait now, for Saturday to roll around and get to my first baking expedition with V where life is way simpler: I will rely on pre-mixed stuff, the oven will not conk off in the middle, the cake will not go bad! The electric beater will do the smoothness, the bake spray will ensure no stickiness, the sprinkles will flow freely through the containers. I know there will be a mess, licking of the mixing bowl, falling of batter and so on. But hopefully fond memories that V and I will create together over an afternoon of 'cake bake'!

SD thanks for a wonderful gift for V.. and for me.
Mum, K. Aunty...I will miss you both a lot this Sunday as I try to recreate history, this time with your granddaughter!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mid-afternoon slumber...

Or Siesta as it’s lovingly known!
With busy week and even busier weekends when did you last take a siesta? Just nothing. Slept in the middle of the day with no books, no TV, no laptop, no phone, and basically snuggle in!
A few weekends ago, we had friends visiting from out of town. En route to home after heavy brunch, I asked hubby to drop me and V home and friends and him to tour the city. This way, V would be fresh for evening plans. Sounds perfect.
We came home and while she napped, I started reading. 30 minutes into my book, I looked up and asked myself: "Why?"
No one is home, V is probably knocked out for 2 hours, dinner is possibly outside, and there is nothing else. Why don’t I sleep? I came up with thousand and one excuses to not nap. May be I should fold the laundry, clean up the house, get dinner reservations, catch up on missed work outs or may be complete this book I have been slacking with.
Now.. I am no power napper. Once in a while, when I have tried to sleep in the middle of the day, it better be for a couple of hours or none at all. I can’t just sleep for 30 minutes and be fresh. I will be VERY cranky. Trust me, or ask anyone in my family.
So, here I was a cozy afternoon pretty much to myself with baby snores to give me company. And I am battling with myself as to why I should not sleep. I was enjoying my book immensely, but an afternoon slumber... it's been a while.
I kept my book aside, switched of the lights... and slept. Slept for solid three hours in the middle of the afternoon. I am thinking V might have gotten up and seen me sleep, so she went back to bed.
Refreshed. Completely refreshed. After I woke up, I had this renewed energy in me. Wondering, why I don’t do this often.
I promised myself, once a month. Just nap in the afternoon on a weekend.

It has not happened yet... after that day. But I am hoping, sometime soon, I will be able to catch my siesta!
What about you, tried a lazy afternoon lately?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A bit Mathematical today!

All of us are grown up's are now done with math, equations, formula's and so on. Right?
And geeky people like me in school and college, topped Math and cried if I got 99 out of 100 since geeky people like me, didn’t like losing that one point/ mark due to a stupid mistake!
And even if you could not wait till Math is done with, you still encountered formulae and equations and factors..Right?

This afternoon a colleague and I were once again discussing Chinese Mother's/ Tiger Moms... Here she is Chinese and I am Indian. Needless to say, interesting conversation. But more on that later.
Anyhow, she was telling me a math problem that her 11 year old (with a little help from her father) cracked and it took her a decent amount of time to even figure out.
So, the math geek in me awoke and said, bring it on Sista!!!(Roar!)

It took me a while, some of her help and using 4-5 pages on my notebook to come to an answer which was... correct. Needless to say, I was super happy that answer was 'eventually' correct and super upset since it took me a good 25-35 minutes to even come close! See the geek in me is very much alive.

Anyhow, so here it is for you...
So here is simple question (Or not)- No google allowed at all.. so don’t cheat!!!

Add sequence of numbers..

n= ?

Come on... put your thinking caps on.. and get back to me with responses and how you got to it!

Prize for winning: Pat on your back and knowing that it all comes fleeting back to you!
Now... tell me- Did your geek hat come back on? Or did' Thank god, I am done with this Math crap' issue came into light? Be honest now.

Edited to add: NO CALCULATORS as well... please.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Are you a softy or a toughie.?

Hmm, I remember my teenage, early adult hood years. I was super strong in my mind, and over all a toughie. Being a bit tom boyish, I took pride in carrying the heavy furniture around without a flinch, Yes, I did massage my sore arms in the privacy of my bubble bath. I would sit through an emotional movie and not be super sensitive about it. I would barely shed a tear, rather, I would use eat a Jalapeno and wipe away the tears calling it;- Spice Tears. But overall, I knew I was a toughie, or a may be a softy, being a toughie. Hey, single girl, foreign country, away from family. I had to be a toughie, right?
I am sure, my friends can swear by me actually enduring a bit more pain emotionally and physically, since I Do and DID believe- Tom boyish girls have more fun.
Then slowly but surely and much to my mother’s relief, I calmed down, the raging hormones, the need to defy the world, be the rebel all kinda fell into place. Mind you, I am still as opinionated as before, but just hmm a bit diplomatic/ polite about it now! (Eye Rolls welcome!)
Anyways, back to the point: After you became a mom, or settled with a significant other made you a softy?
Hmm, in my case yes! I couldn’t believe I actually screamed in a horror movie and snuck into my hubby's arm after my marriage. Whereas just a couple of years ago, I would laugh away or be the arms for my scared girl friends! After being a mom, I can’t believe how easily tears come to my eyes ( Yes still in the privacy of my room). Just recently, a colleague shared her story of her 5 year old breaking an arm in school by falling down. And just listening to her, had me misty eyed. I did comfort her, and told her things would be fine. But ran to the rest room and wiped the tears away.

Am sure, when my daughter reads this in a couple of years, she would laugh, since I am a toughie with her. I won’t easily budge by her 'I-want-this-tantrum' I actually brave it out. But, I know the minute she realizes, I am giving her extra hugs and kisses to make up for my 'toughness'.
It's finally the softy side of mine overtaking my toughness as a wife and a mother.

Has this happened to you? Or I always was a softy, just didn’t want to show it around and be vulnerable? And oh yes... what are you.. a girly girl.. or a toughie girl! Remember, under your motherhood, wifehood, working hood and ... there is still a girl!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Media is getting irresponsible.

I seriously avoided writing about the Aarushi Story. It’s not my story to tell, to comprehend, to judge or to imagine. I can only feel sorry for a child's lost life, workers family broken and grieving parents. I cannot even fathom the pain the two families might be going through.
But, Today, I read Shobhaa De's take on the whole saga.... and it got me thinking- How freaking inconsiderate. How childish and how inconsiderate!!
She is charging the parents guilty without any proof

Quotes and My retorts:
De: "Grieving parents behave in a different manner. They are broken in spirit and rendered almost incoherent with grief at the loss of a loved one. An only child at that. Not these two, though....conduct displayed by Mr. and Mrs. Talwar appears a bit too calculated, even cold blooded to viewers."
Garima: Are you serious, you are charging the parents for the ghastly crime of their kid and you are saying the parents are cold blooded. Ms. De even says the ‘viewers’. I think she summarizes and goes over and talks about her view as the generalization of 'viewers'. Every grieving parent would deal with the issue at hand differently. If anything, I credit the Talwar’s for being steady and talk through it. It shows there strength in finding the truth.

De: "or a mother of a dead girl to project such steely determination during what must have been the most harrowing time of her life, seems a bit unnatural."
Garima: Again, the mother has not gotten a chance to grieve. It’s been over two years and no one knows why her child's life was taken. No one has been found, ever since the death there have been investigations, charges, leads, and more leads and more acquittals. She will have to be determined as to who did it. She has to be, else she will break down and cry and justice will not be delivered to her daughter! Hell yes, bow down to the mother for the steady pace!

De:"Their faces are stony, their eyes, strangely devoid of any emotion. When they mention Aarushi, they could as well be discussing their neighbor’s kid."
Garima: The Talwar's have to. They have not grieved, they have not said there good byes, to achieve the aim of finding the culprit, all they can do is cut off from the situation and deal with the day to day issues. No one will hear them through sniffles. They will only be heard if they shout!

De:"Here are two busy professionals - parents who claim they slept through the murders that were taking place a few feet away from their own bedroom. "
Garima: They had no idea that there kid will be slain in cold blood. They slept keeping their worries away. Probably peacefully knowing that everyone of their family is safe in the house. On any given night, at the end of the day, I am passed out as well. Does not make me irresponsible, just human.

De: "As of now, it’s a case of the perfect murder! "
Garima: This is the only thing I agree with Ms De. It definitely seems like a perfect murder so far.


The reason Ms. De's post pissed me off, is “media trial”. Here is a person, a writer, a legend, in her own right who is going with the band wagon of 'Lets crucify the parents, someone needs to" What right, does ms De or the media, or you and me have to charge anyone guilty or not. They might have done it, they might not have. Don't judge the parents moves, mannerisms. They have a grief which none of us hopefully even have to fathom. They have a right to deal with the situation in the manner which makes them stronger and willed.
For a person like Shobhaa De, who has a huge followership and a respected stand, knowing very well that what she writes, will be considered golden, it seemed rather callous to go and make bold judgments as a third party. If nothing else, it seems very immature.
Where is the age old concept of "Innocent until proven guilty'

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Weighty Matters....

As a blogger I was invited to attend the Special K: "What you will gain when you lose" even at Union Station in Chicago yesterday by the PR firm Ketchum. When I read the invite and then re-read it- one sentence struck a chord: "Change the way you think about weight loss"
You are not really loosing the weight, but gaining something. Be it- Discipline, Enthusiasm, Confidence, Better Tailor, Sass, Pizzazz. Whatever, Losing weight, staying fit, is a pre-cursor to other things? And it does not have to do with looks. It has more to do with your emotional well being.
I know, on my heavier days, I feel lazier, implying, I won’t make the effort for that one party, one gathering to go to. Implying, I might just sit at home and sulk. It’s running around in circles from that point on.
Weight is on people's mind, most of times. And weight is no longer the pounds, its the BMI, it’s the healthy well being, it’s no longer, lets count calories, it more about making better food choices, it’s no longer crash diets but its more about let’s see what I can have instead of French fries for snacks.
The 2 week challenge of Special K is well known. The big misconception I had about it- replace two of your meals with Cereals- How boring I think. I know I can’t sustain that for two days, forget two weeks. So I asked the brand manager, and she worded it perfectly. No it’s not two bowls of cereals. Its right snacking, right fruits, vegetables, and nuts. But replacing one 'unhealthy' meal with a nutrient rich cereal bowl.
I am all about sustainability. Will I be able to sustain the two week challenge? Probably not. I am not that disciplined with my meals. I am far from taking the 2 week challenge. Early last year I had done 8 week Getting Fit challenge mainly for myself. The aim was to make healthier choices, log food, introduce some gym or physical activity and above all live life as normal.
I think I did most of it entire year minus I cheated on the continuous physical activity part. I am trying to change that now.
Key point to note, I have not lost weight, but have become more active in my lifestyle. I have not dropped two sizes, but am definitely balancing my meals more. A heavy lunch one day implies a lighter dinner no matter how delicious the food is. 'Better' choices.
Of course it’s relative. There will be times, when all I want is something for my sweet tooth and at that time, I don’t care. Its 'the' choco-fix as I call it. It’s okay. As long as it’s once in a while.
I have been asked by a few of my readers to do a recap and more importantly the ‘sustainability’ of my Getting Fit. I am working on that. One day at a time, one healthy choice at a time. A detailed post will follow soon. This month, I have introduced physical activity/ gym and it should give the additional inertia I am looking for.
Like I always say- It’s a Start!

Edited to Add: I attended the Special K as a media/ Chicago area blogger. The views expressed above are purely my own. I have not been compensated by Kellogs in any way except the box of cereal which I got to stand on the 'huge wieghing scale' in the middle of the train train station! Talk about OMG moments.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekend Thoughts

Being up till 4 am with friends on Friday night playing board games.

Cost of Board Games: $40
Cost of coffee on Sat morning @ 8:30 am: $3.55
Seeing the kid’s excitement and squeals of laughter at making it in time for the Toddler Class @ 9am: Priceless

Needless to say, we had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Quick Sweet Tooth Fix- Fruit Parfait

I have a sweet tooth and I am a snacker by nature. Not the best combination, I tell you.
I try to make good food choices, but when you put anything with Chocolate in front of me, I get weak-kneed!
I am always on the hunt for some healthier sweet options. After some coaxing and ideas, here is my quick sweet tooth fix, healthy and it’s helping me finally use up the left over Vanilla Yogurt!

Things needed:
- Granola or Mixed nuts of choice or Crunchy Cereal or Cereal bars which are crushed up (I used Oats & Honey Cereal Bar crushed coarsely with hand.)
- Flavored Yogurt or Low Fat Yogurt sweetened with Honey or Sugar (per taste). For my maiden attempt I used Non-Fat Vanilla & Strawberry Yogurt.
- Fruits- Oranges, Mandarins, Berries, bananas, Cherries
- For Dressing up - Almonds etc.

1. Get a tall glass or dessert cup. I used Martini Glasses for the presentation pizzazz.
2. Put 2-3 Spoons of vanilla yogurt in the glass.
3. Layer with Granola/ Crushed Cereal bar. (About 1/2 inch thick)
4. Add fruit of choice to form a thick layer. (I used Mandarins)
5. Add another layer of yogurt (I used Strawberry Yogurt for second layer)
6. Dress it up with fruits, almonds, more granola- Your Choice!

So basically the revised Parfait is all about layering:
Yogurt- Granola- Fruit-Yogurt-Granola and so on.
If you like it crunchy, add more granola.

Eat Away!

Other Ideas:
- If you are using plain yogurt with honey sweetness, and want color. Either add fresh Strawberry puree, Mango Puree etc, for colorful layers.
- Feel free to add Essence, Saffron or Cinnamon/ Cardamom to the yogurt for the additional touch.
- If you do need a chocolate touch, put Hershey's Chocolate syrup on top. But mind you, the healthy part goes away with that!
- Alternatively add some chocolate chips on top layer for presentation!

So I am all set to try a few more variations of my Sweet fix!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nice Nice Nice

Lazy Lazy Lazy...

The words above truly describe my New Years...Nice & Lazy. It was perfect. I was in no mood to figure out what to wear, where to go, whom to have over, what to eat etc... It was simple... friends, family, ordered in Chinese and lots of laughs and walk down memory lane. Perfect.

I am a believer of what you do on 1st January, you will do all year around.
So the excited prick in me, still went on the patio and screamed 'Wohoo'. We spent a lot of time with family and enjoyed dinners with friends, some retail therapy and gossip sessions and laughter. Perfect.
Icing on the cake was we gave V her 'New Years' present- A 'Tigger'. She was super excited, jumping all over and since then, it’s been Tigger says, "I am hungry, I am sleepy, I want M&M" It’s been laughter, comical scenes and relaxed time with family and friends. Perfect.

So here is hoping that our coming year is as balanced as the New Year's Day was!