Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Buddy System

Ever since we were kids, the concept of 'buddy system' existed. Going to the loo in a restaurant, take a buddy. Getting punished in class for being naughty, a buddy gets out with you. In college, the partying night, have a buddy. And then in life as you progress, the buddy system continues.

And it’s a good system to have. There is someone who is accompanying you, has your back and above all: is there.

Why should the "Getting Fit" journey be any different?

For me, Getting Fit is not about losing weight (though it would be an added plus and it is a good indicator), it’s about being active, doing things without being out of breath and above all, being able to enjoy the food without feeling like a glutton. Considering that I am self proclaimed vegetarian foodie and over 50% of my posts are recipes, the last part is really important for me, enjoying the food

Among-st all-the-things-I-have-tried, MyFitness Pal has worked out for me.

Have I lost oodles and oodles of weight, hell no. But do I feel better, stronger and above all more in control of my body. Hell Yes. But I know I have a long way to go still!

For me, its about small steps, so in order to progress and continue this journey, I am doing a buddy system for different elements of the 'Getting Fit' business...

So now I have a buddy, a friend who I nudge and she nudges to continue tracking, just logging what we eat. Every single day. Simple.

So now I have a buddy, my hubby who is competing with me to get to a particular number by year end.

So now I have a buddy, a friend who is my 'workout partner' and we encourage each other to go for another 10 minutes through the class.

So buddy up,  keep logging, keep moving and keep enjoying the process. 

Above All continue to Get Fit. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Who is more tired???

Imagine the following setting:

Your day started at 6:30, waking up the family, getting ready for school/office and nudging the kids to finish the breakfast 'quickly'. While you mad dash from getting 'game face ready' for office, sip on 'now' luke warm coffee and ensure all the 'winter gear: all 40 minor things needed' are on the tiny kids bodies and yours! This is followed by urging yelling everyone get in the car, driving safely but angrily against the clock to drop kid 1, kid 2, adult 1 to the office and then to adult 2 office.

And then you get home after a full day at 6 pm with over tired and over hungry 4 people of the family.

As you are prepping a 'wholesome dinner' you wonder:

Who is more tired?

Kid 1: The 4 year old who was yelled at first thing in the morning to finish the last bite of oatmeal followed by lots of work cycles in school and playing with 20 other kids. This is then followed by their much awaited weekly activity 'Getting ready for Ice Skating' and yep, you forgot the gloves! When they ask for the cookie, you nudge the banana forward. She comes home after a full day!

Kid 2: The 9 year old who started her day by realizing, oh no i didn't pack my swim or school bag or uniform the night before. So now she is rushing to finish the breakfast, getting the bags, uniforms ready and then being rushed in the car to reach her school 2 minutes before the day starts. She does her grown up school work and is excited for the 1.5 hour swim meet that evening which ensures she is faster than her last time in the lap. She comes home after a full day!

Adult 1: The mom, who is semi-yelling at everyone to get ready, finish the breakfast, sit in the car! Heading into a busy working day, but at least getting time to finish the luke warm coffee in the last leg of the drive. Amidst a wonderful but crazy day, she is mentally managing the family calendar for all the events/ food menus and downtime needed. She comes home after a full day!

Adult 2: The dad, who is trying to calm the mom, trying to be the good cop and making kids rush to complete all morning chores while answering to emails from work already! He quickly starts on his crazy busy day working with his team spread across three continents. He is taking care of all logistical issues around the family schedule, all pending to'do's and he comes home after a full day!

So, now Who is more tired?

Work is work, and is busy for all. But so is school for these kids. They go from work/ lesson to the next and then have their PE/ recess/ jumping around the playground followed by swim/ ice skating. While you outside of work hours are their unpaid chauffeurs driving them, dressing them, undressing them, making small talk with other parents realizing, oh gosh i forgot gloves for the ice skating class. At the same time ensuring they finish the banana/ snack/ milk.

Who is really more tired.... All four of us, i guess!

The evening family dinner is one 'down time' all four of us get where is no pressure (except for finishing what's on your plate). Just enjoying the food and catching up the others with your busy day. This meal is filled with chatter and laughter and giggles and definitely yawns. This one meal in the day makes all of the day's trials and tribulations are totally worth it!

We are all tired but if we are together in it, we can all comfort each other too!

But for the record... I am the 'most tired' today!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Quick Food Fix: Spicy Cauliflower Steak

Needing my mommy moment~

Last night, I really craved 'good food' something rich, delicious and yummy, and home made.

I wish my mom lived closer and I could call her and tell her, I was this and this. But oh well, reality sinks and I am a mom now and I still wanted some 'good food'

So I got down to business and now a total show off - I started food prep 5:40 pm and by 7:20, dinner was made, kids were fed and were getting ready for reading and bed time! So a very satisfying evening!

Dinner Menu:
Vij's Adapted cauliflower steak
Malai Kofta,
Cucumber sabzi....
followed by left over fruit custard from the night before!

Yippie and it was totally worth it! All four of us thoroughly enjoyed the dinner  and licked our fingers and cleaned the plates! Even Little Lady, who picks and chooses which vegetable she wants, took second and third helpings of 'Vij's Adapted cauliflower steak'

The recipe is adapted from here. A friend had made it a few munch bunches ago. I modified to fit in my 'Quick Food Fix Rule'

Serves 4:
Caulifower florets cut length wise
Spices: 1/4 tsp
Salt, Pepper, Mirchi/ Cayenne Pepper, Cinamanon, Crushed jeera powder, rock salt
Ginger: 1/2 inch- Grated
Garlic: 4 cloves- Grated/ finely chopped
Olive Oil: 3 tsp

For coating:
All Purpose Flour/ Chickpea Flour: 2 tsp mixed in a liquid paste in 1 cup water
Panko Breadcrumbs: 1/2 cup (feel free to use other variety, i just have some left over from my Onion Rings evening)

1. In a box mix all ingredients, oil and the florets should be marinated with all spices well

2. Add the coating ingredients and again mix well
3. In the pre-heated oven (425), on a greased dish, lay out the marinated florets evenly spaced

4. Let it bake/ crispen for 10 minutes
5. Flip and let them bake for another 10 minutes
6. Ta Da!! Garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy!

It is the perfect combination of crispy cover, soft flavorful cauliflower, who new 'Gobhi' could taste so well!

And yeah, a weeknight malai kofta recipe will follow: I skipped all frying and just enjoyed the 'healthier' twist. However truth be told, the portion i gobbled was not 'healthy; for sure.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Last year of being Single Digits: Happy Birthday Miss V

This is her last year of being Single Digits.

She reminds me very frequently and I really don’t want to know. She is turning 9, that is a freaking big deal and now the reminder: 'Last year of Single Digits mummy'

Miss V, Miss Chatterbox, Dadi Maa, Didi, Nunu, Bittu, Vedu, Champion... all different names for this amazing 9 year old!

A very Happy Birthday!

Miss Chatterbox,

I tend to gush about you a lot, you are my first born and you will always be my baby. You are mature beyond your years and extremely observant. But let’s stop time for a minute and really enjoy yourself at 9.

You tell me right now: 'I don’t want to be a teenager soon, since they are so annoying'
(You and me Both!!)... but you are growing, older and wiser. As one of your aunt's told you... you don’t have to be one of those annoying ones!

You takes her role as 'an older sister: didi' really seriously.
There are times I have to remind you- just be an older sister and not a parent! Be your little sister's confidante!
I love watching the two of you play, and as you are growing together, you giggle together when I yell at you. You have your own secrets and little eye rolls.

You were the first kid in all our friends and family and that makes you super loved and adored. It makes you super lucky and yes sometimes you get annoyed being the oldest. It has its own pressure.
I am getting impressed at how you are standing up for yourself and saying: 'I can help so and so at the party, but I rather do this' I do like it. It is such a fine line and you are doing well on it.

Its a mental reminder to let you enjoy being yourself and your age.

You are definitely getting your sense of humor from your father (thank god for that!). You and your papa have started ganging up on me a little bit now.... boo hoo. I giggle and I chuckle and I love that daddy-daughter 'grown up' bond of yours.

My lovely 9 year old. I love you, I yell at you, I snuggle into you, I dance with you, I laugh hysterically with you, I cry with you, I just love you so much!

You are growing up to be this beautiful, kind, sport and above all confident girl.
I love it, you inspire me!


Now, as always, here are the highlights of your year 9!

1. Harry Potter:
You are me are reading this together. We start the book together and all through the five books, you complete it before me! Yes, now we can watch the movies together

2. Swimming:
You joined the Sheridan Swimming league and though we cannot make it all the practices or the swim meets, you are doing well. Your back stroke is the strongest stroke. Thanks to your nana

3. Phone:
You are talking more enthusiastically to your grandparents in India on phone now. There have been a few calls with your friends as well and that is amazing. But no phones till you turn 13 or may be 20!

4. Sleepover:
Yep, my baby you have had your sleepovers this year. Your friends are welcome anytime for a sleepover, but I am sorry you are not allowed to stay over at your friends yet. House Rules. Have your friends over whenever!

5. Foodie:
Oh my gosh, you are a spice lover (Yay!) You will try different things and always want to help me make them at home. Your favorite this year has been 'Kutiyonaam' by your aunt and surprisingly 'Daal Baati' made it back in the list. I am impressed.

6. Soccer:
Yes, I am a soccer mom now and I love it. And yes I think to encourage you more and let your love for the sport continue, I will look for a girls only league for next term. You loved the Secret Santa gift of cleats and shin guards the best!

7. Bike:
Yay, you are riding without training wheels now! And thanks to you, I bought a bike as well. We had fun biking along Lake Shore, in forests, in the park. Looking forward to all our vacations dotted with bike rides

8. India:
This past summer you spend 8 weeks in India with your sister and grandparents. You did get bored a little and saw a lot of TV and bonded well with your cousins, swam a little, travelled a lot. I like your disconnected summers, its 8 weeks of just being chilled!

9. Kumon:
Its worth mentioning this in yearly highlights. Why? Since this is the ONE thing, we have had a lot of water works, yelling matches and drama on. Yes, you don’t like it. at all. However you will be continuing this. It has helped you immensely on the speed element. And logically you do get it, and though you love being the 'Math Champion' in school, you don’t like doing Kumon.

10. Birthday List:
Your 8th birthday was a massive birthday party and then also a bowling party with your friends. And your 9th is a birthday list! You have made a list of things you want to eat/drink/visit and I am so happy that the list is simple and it shows me, you enjoy the little things.

My very kind, gentle heart-ed, inquisitive and lovely young woman.
We wish you a very Happy Birthday

Friday, January 13, 2017

Quick Food Fix: Gnocchi in Red Sauce: Instant Pot

Its been a while since I have written about the Vegetarian cooking in my new kitchen gadget Instant Pot.

Now before I give an update, I have to talk about the rage this tool has caused.

There are FB groups dedicated to cooking with IP, be in Indian Cooking, or any Recipes. There are daily conversations which fill my FB stream, there are love letters written to IP, some break up letters, some thanking messages to the IP, pictures of the IP on their trip like it’s their child, there are squabbles about whose recipe it originally was, plagiarism and oh my gosh!!!

Seriously? It's like a daily soap opera on cooking in IP

May be I will get banned/ ousted from said groups for writing this post, but oh well!

Now rant over and back to IP in my house, its used quiet often.

Instant Pot is really nice, I will give it that. I of course did buy mine when friends of mine kept raving about it and saying how it simplified the rush evening’s food wise. I was convinced since friends of mine are like-headed and I trust their recommendations.

What have I cooked: I have finally done the 'Pot In Pot' a vegetable stew at the bottom and lentils getting boiled on top. So truly used the IP for cooking multiple things at the same time. I have made Green Curry, Quinoa Pulaav, Butternut squash soup, rajma, daals and just last night the red sauce for the Gnocchi.

I must add, the red sauce to cook, only took 6 minutes, so prep time of 10 minutes and cook time of 6 minutes, is freaking awesome to have a wholesome meal under 20 minutes!!! Loved it!

But nope, not writing a love letter to IP.

So here is the recipe for the Quick fix IP Recipe

Ready made Gnocchi - I used the egg less Costco one, delicious
Tomatoes: 3
Baby Carrots: 6-10
Onion: 1 cup chopped finely
Garlic: 2 cloves chopped finely
Zucchini: 1/2 cup chopped

Oregano - 2 tsp
Salt, Pepper,Chili flakes - per taste

Optional Additions:
Ready made Pesto Sauce: 2 tsp
Shredded Cheese: 1/2 cup

1. Boil gnocchi on stove top per package instructions
2. In IP, on Low Saute Mode: Add butter, onions, garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
3. Add herbs to the IP and sauté
4. Puree the carrots and tomatoes together.
5. Add the puree and the zucchini to the IP now.
6. Close the IP, Manual: 5 minutes, low pressure.
7. Meanwhile, strain the gnocchi and have it ready to be added to sauce
8. When IP 5 minutes is complete: Vent and open. Add the optional additions and Gnocchi.

TaDa!! Enjoy! we gobbled up the Gnocchi with warm toasted bread before we could take the pictures!

But dinner was DELICIOUS and really quick.
Picture: Borrowed from Internet, however mine looked really similar

Note: If you are making the sauce on stove top and not Instant Pot, after step 5, stir the sauce for 10-15 minutes on medium flame till ready.

However you make the above recipe, enjoy and remember a gadget is something that makes your life simpler.

So enjoy it and the simplicity of it, but writing love letters is a bit much!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Life gives you onion... you make Onion Rings!

When its crazy cold and you really don’t want to go outside for anything... what do you do

Option 1: Sulk and complain of how cold it is
Option 2: Make Onion Rings!
This weekend, one of those Chi-beria days, we got together as a family to make Onion Rings from scratch.

'Why onion rings' you ask.... well, Miss V, my chatterbox, her birthday is around the corner and she has a 'List of things to celebrate' and onion rings was one of them.
Secondly, I really didn’t want to 'Sulk' one more time! So this was a perfect family activity to do!

Now, finding an egg-less/ beer free recipe which was workable by kids was tough... so I googled, combined 3 recipes to make our onion rings which came off AMAZING

To make life simple for you.. and for me to be able to find my own recipe, here is the recipe that kids can make with you.

A Chi-beria kind of day.. is not necessary to make these
1. Large White Onions: 2: Cut into 1/2 inch slices/ Rings
Recommendation: To avoid 'crying' while cutting onion, after peeling the onion, wash them in cold water. It helps reduce the tears

Dry Coating
1 cup Besan (Chickpea flour)
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Coating
2 cup besan (Chickpea flour)
Salt - per taste
2 tsp Oregano
2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
2 cloves garlic (Finely chopped)
Milk- you will have to add to get the right consistency (~ 1.5 cup)
2 tsp baking soda

Top Coating
2 cups Panko Breadcrumbs
You could use any other type of bread crumbs as well, I used Panko since I love the crispiness on frying that it offers

Oil for frying

Garnish: Sea Salt or Chaat Masala

Kids Edition Process
I followed this recipe with the kids, so it created a bigger mess... but in my mind, no mess, no memories!!
We set up a manufacturing line on the kitchen platform
1. First kid dry coats all onions,

2. Second kid dips the coated onion ring in the wet batter
3. The first kids comes back to dip the battered onion in panko

4. Mommy happily fries the onion rings
5. Daddy happily sprinkles with the chaat masala and prepares for a movie evening while we all gobble up the onion rings together!

Detailed Process
1. In a mixing bowl, mix the dry coating ingredients: besan and salt
2. Coat the sliced onions with the flour and place the onions on a tray
3. Except the baking soda, mix all the wet coating ingredients in another mixing bowl
4. Add milk slowly, the consistency of the wet ingredients should be a little thinner than pancake batter
5. Now add the baking soda and mix
6. Dip the flour coated onion in the batter and place on a tray
7. Now dip this battered onion ring in the plate of panko
8. Coat evenly and then fry
Recommendation: Fry on medium flame so the onion ring cooks more evenly. You will have to turn the onion ring at least twice to fry from both sides
9. Sprinkle with sea salt/ Chaat Masala and enjoy!

Sp yes, when life gives you Onions... you make Onion Rings!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016: Wishing you a Happy Balanced Year Ahead

Of course it started with our crazy (bad) flight experience coming back from India via Turkish Airlines, getting stranded with the two girls on foreign soil in winter for 4 days is no fun for anyone!
That debacle aside, I was a bit nervous getting into this year..... I still believe what you do on the New Years Day(s) sets a pace for the rest of the year... and this was not a good pace.
For once, I was the one who asked Sumit, no fancy travelling this year, I really was shaken up!

The girls are growing to be very fine young women now... if I can say so myself. 
Little Lady (Now 4) is charming and is filled with sillyjokes and fun anecdotes. Her highlight is always skipping around the house. She is one 'Happy Soul' 

The Miss Chatterbox (Almost 9) is getting more mature, testing our boundaries a little but still her passion for learning is infections! She is now hooked to Harry Potter Series and is finishing up Book 4. She is definitely wise beyond her years

Sumit and I professionally have had a change of pace all in the right direction. It's gotten busier for us, more challenging and above all more satisfying for both of us. Which is always a really good thing.

A few key highlights, a WONDERFUL relaxing Spring Break trip to Florida and meeting cousins in Everglades. The kids enjoying their summer in India while we traveled up here- Yosemite, Montreal, Quebec and Pittsburgh. All this with a life altering trip to the wonderful 'Leh and Laddakh'. The serenity of that place still mesmerizes me. There were a few more quick getaways from the city, but all in all a nice pace of travel.

We are finishing off the year to a lovely road trip: Chicago-St. Louis-Memphis- New Orleans-Nashville-Chicago

What do I say, travelling and trips are more for memories and really spending time with the family to enjoy, relax and learn something new

This year health wise and 'Getting Fit' has been better than last 2 years for sure. I went for my annual check up and even my doctor commented, am glad you ending this year strong!

Life has been good to us in general, we have parents who dote us and inspire us even today. We have kids who remind us that tomorrow will be even more beautiful. We have each other giving support, holding when we fall and laughing as we go along. We have wonderful friends who are there for us when we need them and are there for us even when we dont know we need a shoulder. We are blessed and happy!

2016 was definitely a better balanced year, what I learned is a Power of No.
If you really think that place is not letting you achieve your potential, say NO and have the courage to walk out.
If you really think that relationship is getting heavier, then say NO and maintain the peace for yourself.
If you really think your family needs something else, then say NO and do what makes the core happy.

To a more balanced year ahead!

Wishing you and your Family a very Happy New Year