Thursday, February 23, 2017

Getting Fit, some good and some even better

By now you know, I am not the 'fittest person' and I am far faaaar from being the size I want to be, but, well I am doing something about it.

Last year was much better health wise for me and definitely spirits wise as well. This year, I want to continue the trend in the right direction. And I have a buddy system in place now with a lot of follow through and just checking in with each other to ensure we are 'doing something about it'

So what's going on in the 'Getting Fit' business?

1. My fitness pal: I have been logging religiously on this for 36 days now and I want to continue until spring break and then enjoy the beaches to come back to more of the same.

2. Balanced meal: I have been eating everything (which is what I love about this tool), and I have increased protein in our vegetarian meals, more tofu (this tofu steak has become a staple in our house), more quinoa and definitely more lentils (which I really don’t like and hubby loves) and continuing our regular vegetable infused dishes

3. Working out: So this has been a big game changer, I have signed up for a neighborhood gym and 3-4 days a week, I have been waking up at god awful 5:30 am to go for a 45 minute class. I have been crashing every single night at 9:30 pm. Some days I have even gone for a 5 am class, which for me is crazy good.

4. Weighing in: I have been weighing myself once a week, there has been no weight change, it has not gone up or down. My trainer says: Muscle formation. I will go with that story, makes me feel better, but weighing in day makes me feel like ‘examination day’ and so far, no pass and no fail. I am focusing on the no fail element! It gives me hope that I can Pass someday

5. Buddying Up: This has been the real motivator. I take a morning class; Sumit heads out for an evening class. We encourage each other and discuss the crazy workout our instructors think we can do. The kids have a hearty laugh when we enact the trainers! I message my partners in crime, it’s just nice to be able to say: ‘I am so sore, I can’t walk!’ or 'Why haven’t you logged in today'

I was debating whether I should post this or not especially considering it’s only been a month and my before and after pictures look exactly the same!

So here it is
Yay, I have been going strong for a month    : the good
My gosh, waking up at 5:30 am really sucks: the bad

I can do this……. and sustain it                    : the best

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What's your 'soul food'

This one is not about recipes, or healthy eating or my kids keeping us in splits of laughter, this one is more about 'soul food'

We all have that one thing in our minds and in our palates, that we think of that menu item and there is a sense of 'gush and warmth'. On a long tired day if that was on the menu at home, you will gobble it up. When you think of that food, you remember your growing up years sitting on your tall dining table with your mom serving you and coaxing you to eat. You really didn't need the coaxing since you were ready with your spoon and all to dig in and finish it off! Seconds please?

So what's your soul food, that one item that makes you think of being a child again. That one item that just makes your worries disappear!

For me its a very simple one: 'Chawal-Curry-Bhujia' aka 'White Rice - Yellow curry - chick pea crisps'.
You dig in with the Papad-um as a spoon and just eat it! Nothing else matters....
A very traditional and wholesome Indian meal.

I wonder with my kids what will it be 'soul food' for them? They are growing up in this melting pot of cultures where the influence's are what we eat at home, outside and with their own friends. Will it be a simple 'Rice-Curry' or a 'hot piping soup'. Will it be 'bowl of noodles' or a simple 'mc n cheese'. What will be the one thing that will make their taste buds tickle, eyes misty and they imagine the smell of food.
As they grow older, form their own minds and personalities and set on their paths of the future. I wonder, what will be their 'true soul food' !

Note: Picture above is from 'google'. thank you having the images of my childhood food that I could cherish

Monday, February 13, 2017

Homemade Granola Bars

Mornings are rushed and I should be the 'good parent' and say, my kids eat a healthy wholesome breakfast, but reality is very different. They are generally chugging milk down, or being coerced to finish the last few bites of the cereal/ oatmeal. every single weekday.

I have no issues if they eat in the car, and fruits and the kids cereal bars are our go to energy boosters in case we are really running late or in between school and classes. I have a bag now in the car just dedicated to collect the orange/banana peels and cereal bar wrappers. And it gets filled up really fast!

I used to feel guilty about this, now I dont. It is what it is! So yes, I am the best mom my kids can get!

Recently I was wondering, these granola bars whould not be that hard to make! And well after researching eggless versions, i combined a few recipes to 'try making' this.

Honestly, start to finish (except cooling time), it took my little lady and me only 20 minutes to make, which was really awesome!

Makes 8-10 cereal bars.
1 heaping cup packed dates, pitted (deglet noor or medjool)*
2 pouches of Instant Oatmeal (If you have steel cut/ rolled oats: crisping time is longer)
1/2 cup mixed nuts, chopped : We used almonds and cashews (Other recipes I reviewed had pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts etc.)
1 1/2 TB butter
1/3 cup honey
2 TB brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (A dear friend had gifted me home made vanilla extract for Xmas, delicious!)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup craisins (or raisins)

* Note: If your dates have become hard for being in the fridge too long like mine, don't worry, just put the dates in hot water for 4-5 minutes and they will be 'hydrated'

Step by Step Process: 
1. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a "dough" like consistency.
2. Toast your oats and the nuts in a 350 degree F (176 C) oven for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
Note: Toast them in different pans, its quicker!
3. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat, while stirring. Cook and stir for a minute
4. Place oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl
5. Stir the warm butter and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
6.  Add craisins
7. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper so they lift out easily.
8. Press down firmly until uniformly flattened - really pack the bars
9. Bake for another 15-20 minutes. Now this is optional step, i did make mine for additional crispiness. If you choose not to re-bake, please put this is refreigerator to cool.
10 Remove bars from pan, let it cool overnight and chop in 'cereal bar' length

To store: I cut the parchment paper around each bar just to avoid them sticking to each other and also because I was feeling 'fancy' and kept in an airtight box.

These turned out delicious and in the morning, it was not the kids who devourved them but us. But yes, I am definitely planning to make more variations of these. I will always have the store baught ones in car, but for mornings, this may go really well with my 'luke warm' coffees

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Kids say the darnest things...

If there was a race between my two girls of who spoke the 'most outrageous' things... well in my opinion, the Little Lady will be first followed by a close finish by the Miss Chatterbox.
Yes you read that right: the 4 year old will win for the most ridiculous things said instead of the 9 year old! Uff!

Case in Point

Story 1:  'Cow Dog'

Scene: While driving to school
Little Lady: Mummy look there is a cow dog
Mummy looking around on the streets of downtown Chicago.... and a Cow, hell no, Dog yes
Mummy: I cant see it baby.. oh wait a minute, the black and white spotted dog: that's a Dalmatian
Little Lady: Yes I know its a Dalmatian, but from today it will be a 'Cow Dog'
Mummy: Why?
Little Lady: Well only cows have black and white spots but this is a dog, hence 'Cow Dog'

No reasoning can trump this 4 year old

Story 2: 'I know how this will end'

Scene: In a afternoon 'scolding' the Miss Chatterbox for something
Mummy: I am shocked and disappointed in you
Miss Chatterbox: I know this will end, you will now yell at me, I will cry, you will take something away, I will cry, We will hug and make up
Mummy: Ouch....

In my mind: I better change my 'scolding play book' and get something more effective

Story 3: 'Dress and leggings'

Scene: The older one is home due to an injury and has some friends visiting to check in on her, I take a quick trip out of the house to pick up the little one from school and tell her on way back: We have a surprise at home for you. On entering the house peeps in the living room and sees the friends and squeals with happiness

Little Lady: oooh, yay. Let me run inside and change into my dress and leggings
Mummy: Really laughing loudly: They want to just see you.
Little Lady: noooo, i want them to see me in my dress and leggings!

10 minutes later, the little lady enter with aplomb in her dress and leggings: My friend said correctly: This one is going to be an interesting one to raise.

I agree and run for the hills....

Friday, February 3, 2017

Quick Food Fix: Crusted Tofu

Breakfasts on weekday's in my house is cereal/ oatmeal for the kids. A hot coffee which becomes warm by the time I get to it and then a lot of 'running out the door'

Yes, Yes I know, breakfast should be the biggest meal yada yada yada. I swear whoever came up with that either woke up at 5 to ensure that happens or just preached and didn’t practice. 

So yes, breakfast is definitely not the biggest meal in my house, it’s just the most rushed!

However, the other day, I had an extra '20 minutes' at hand! so instead of sitting and sipping on my hot coffee, I said let me try this 'Hot breakfast on a weekday thing'

It worked out, it was quick to put together, was delicious and well I did enjoy it. However, it was once in a blue moon thing of a weekday breakfast for me, definitely hard to keep up. 

Recipe for the crusted tofu

1 package extra-firm tofu

Wet ingredients:
3 tsp All purpose Flour/ Chickpea Flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Water to mix

Dry ingredients:
3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (Takmariya)
2 tsp Crushed Peanuts (optional)
Salt, pepper, red chili as per taste 

Oil for toasting/ frying on a pan
Scallions, sliced 

For the nuoc cham: Dipping Sauce:
1 tsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp chilli sauce (optional)
2 red Thai chilies: thinly sliced

Optional: Drain the tofu for as much time as possible — 20 minutes to an hour. It makes the crisping portion quicker, however if you don’t drain no worries, just let the tofu crisp for a few more minutes!

The nuoc cham/ Dipping Sauce: 
In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients! Ta Da

1. Mix Chickpea flour/ All Purpose flour with 1 teaspoon of water to a smooth and runny paste. 
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a plate.

1. Cut the drained tofu into cubes
2. Submerge the tofu into the Flour-Water mixture,
3. Then coat the tofu in the sesame-panko mix.
4. Repeat with the remaining cubes
5. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and add about 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil. 
6. Place the tofu cubes into the frying pan. 
7. Crisp tofu slices for about 3 to 4 minutes a side, then transfer to a serving platter. 
8. Garnish with scallions. 

Enjoy a healthy, quick to put together 'dish' with the dipping sauce. 

Full disclosure, I feel this would be a better appetizer recipe, it was filling for breakfast for sure, however the flavors are strong and I had 2 breath mints before work to ensure that no one else knew about my 'breakfast of a king' mood!