Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone

Hope everyone has a great holiday season.

I am going to be posting several new recipes when I get back here. Until then Adios!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gift Wrapping

I made this big mistake of starting my gift wrapping just yesterday. Never seems to end. Under estimated the rolls I would need and went to the shop twice to get more. Lesson learned. From here on just place the gifts in those gift bags with some tissues. That should take care of it.

Of course, wine bottles are easy all around.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bean Usili - Recipe of the week

Check out this week's recipe, Beans Usili. Look out for an announcement on my next workshop date.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Healthy crepe recipes

The origin of crêpes is French but there are several variations of it all around the world. I came across some incredible recipes and will post them soon.

Dosa or dosai is the Indian variation of the crêpe. And, in my opinion that is the best tasting crepe out there.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Love my new Gym

I have come to realize that there's one or should I say one more thing I cannot do without, and that's a good gym. I'd never heard of a gymnasium open 365/24/7/ days a year until now. I have been to this new gym at all times of day and night, and this place is always busy.

A spectacular facility, absolutely clean with state-of-the-art machines. It is also the size of a little town. Not sure how they keep it profitable. Through sheer volume and excellent membership pricing I would suppose.

The fun part of my exercise routine is also people watching. The crowd that comes here is fit and hip as if from some high-fashion city like Paris. It is quite inspiring because it makes you want to work harder and stay fit. Oh, one more star and that is their restaurant. It is also top-notch.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gifts for the holiday season

I just found this out. The web site Harry and David has excellent gifts for clients and friends, or family. I have looked at this site in the past but was turned off by the prices. I had a lot of plans for shopping, but didn't venture out at all. Just used these online stores (amazon and Borders are good as well) and so far have taken care of a few of my friends and family. The prices are extremely reasonable too. I think the volume of online shopping at these sites have really brought the prices down and affordable.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A.D.H.D.

Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder - That's what it stands for. It's a mouthful! I had no clue what this was until some years ago when I started reading about it. There was a period when there was a lot of focus on A.D.H.D. in movies, talk shows, articles, you name it. Then, I began to think maybe I have ADHD and possibly almost everyone in my family has this neurological disorder.

After talking to parents and other friends, I felt every kid in a school had it and ADHD was being used as an excuse possibly by both parents, teachers and family members. So even if the kid did not actually have it he/she was getting away from being disciplined for the tantrums and bratishness.

With more reading and understanding of A.D.H.D., I’ve come to realize that we are using attention (or its lack) as a marker and a metaphor for something larger in society — for the multitasking, the electronic distractions, the sense that the nature of concentration may be changing, that people feel nibbled at, overscheduled, distracted, irritable. However, all these things are not A.D.H.D.

The actual disorder is very complex and has a lot of elements to it. There is a broad spectrum of this disorder and experts treat each patient or child differently. It is tough especially for parents who deal with children having extreme symptoms of this disorder.

I now understand how misled I was by several things I read or saw. A.D.H.D. is actually a serious issue but can be controlled by medication and other types of treatments.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shopping for gifts

I have a few special people - neighbors, friends and a few family members for whom I buy gifts every year. As a rule I don't really buy anything for myself since I am against the herd mentality. Besides Christmas is not really my holiday.

Instead of wasting time walking the department stores, I've decided to buy a couple cases of really good wine and distribute. Of course, kids are excluded from this crowd. It is easy to shop for them. A few gift cards to clothing stores would be perfect. Now, the question is where do I find those wine shops like the 'Total Wines' store in Delaware? Any recommendations for which kind of wine?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Children in day care

Looking out the window at the drifting snow I was for some reason reminded of the days when my children were little and still in grade school. Tomorrow being Monday and school day, it is quite likely that kids here will have a delayed opening or maybe even a day off. Maybe some will even stay home sick given the changing weather conditions, stomach flus and so on.

Neither of my children spent much time in day care. If they attended day care for a day or two a week, they would fall sick for another week or two. As a result, they never really got used to that environment and their system did not build the immunity other children had. So, when they were in elementary school if a child fell sick in their class it immediately affected them. So, I guess all those ear infections and stomach flus at the day care centers actually have a beneficial side to them. Children build a stronger immunity and fall less sick later on.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards' death made me extremely sad

It also increased my admiration for such a courageous lady. She was successful in all ways except one, her marriage. She tried hard to fight her personal issues but it appears she couldn't reconcile. Her books are promoted as being extremely successful with a lot of lessons to be learned from every aspect of her life experiences. I should check these out.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back on yesterday's dinner

Here's what I ended up doing last evening.

Went back to the basics. Just some Indian bread with a couple of sides. One was Okra and potato mixed vegetable, and the other was vegetables mixed in dhal with some mild spices. Finished it off with a cup of yogurt. Look for this vegetables in dhal recipe at the next recipe of the week at vidyaswamyskitchen.com.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's for dinner?

That is the most useless question I have and get everyday. I make it a mandatory thing to cook during week days although it is time consuming especially on busy work days and when it cuts into my time with other things.

Regardless of how good or bad the question is, I need to cook. I think I'll have to travel far just to pick the right veges for this purpose. I may do it or change my mind on that. Will let you know tomorrow what was for today's dinner!

Monday, December 6, 2010

10 things for health and beauty

Hey, if you are anywhere around 50 years of age, check this out.

Two things I love

Sleeping and Eating. In that order. My favorite time of the 24-hours is the 8-hours of sleep time. I have also always liked lunch time. Since childhood I have considered it to be the next best time of day when I usually got to taste the different foods my friends had in their lunch packs.

My system doesn't allow me to overdo either. Thank God for all the restrictions my mom enforced on me. I can't take naps even if I'd like to in the afternoons. The theory my mom had when I was growing up was women can easily put on weight and become lazy. She would ask me to play with my friends if I felt sleepy, or just read or do something else other than sleeping. She had no explanation as to how sleeping might add weight.

The next was eating. I like to eat but my biological clock shuts even if I want to. I should again thank my mom for this. We usually had healthy foods in the house but in spite of that my mom never let me overeat or indulge.

Upto a certain stage I was able to repeat this with my children. Not anymore! But I am glad that they do have healthy eating habits and probably eat less junk food than I do.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Eating while travelling. What should vegetarians do?

For this one reason I wish I lived somewhere around India. Good food is available everywhere with plenty of choices.

This month during my travels I will be in a place, where I just read, are no vegetarian choices at all. As much as I love to travel and meet people from different cultures and experience the world, I am wondering if not having even one proper meal a day is worth all this adventure!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some herbs to keep you healthy

Here are the ones I use and like. Ginger, garlic, green tea. I use these regularly. Others that are as good are mushrooms, cinnamon and mint.

I only use mint in the form of leaves. Cinnamon in the form of powder or root. If you like fresh mushrooms you can use them as they are. I do not like mushrooms unless they are shitaake or one of those rare ones that come in funny shapes. So, I buy them once in a while and make cheese stuffed mushrooms or create this simple vegetable dish.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Check out this week's recipe


An easy, tasty recipe. Takes hardly any effort and is always a big hit at parties where you need to cook for a crowd.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cleaning up after Thanksgiving

That's one of the worst jobs after Thanksgiving. Storing leftovers is the other hard one. Finding the right containers to store, then finding them in the refrigerator the next time, ... it turns out to be endless during the couple days after Thanksgiving. I've had enough of the pies and icecreams already. I can't wait to start back normal cooking.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The weather here is so drab!

I certainly got spoiled. Until a couple days ago the weather was so warm in the 70s. Today it's grey and dark.

Enjoying an easy Thanskgiving day. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you - my dearest friends and family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Love this vegetarian variety

I have been following these recipes for several weeks now. A great mix of soup, salad, stew, quiche, dessert and more.

What do you feed people right before the Thanksgiving dinner?

That's the question I always need to plan ahead for. We all pig out during the Thanksgiving meal but it's not that we don't eat prior. Breakfast, lunch - what do you do when you have a crowd that comes the day before or the morning of.

I generally make a dish or two that would serve as a good lunch on Thanksgiving day. Last year I remember ordering sandwiches from DeFabio's. Except for myself and a couple others who were pure vegetarians, the rest enjoyed this sandwich variety tray.

This year is different. We are a minimal crowd in a different city. Feels quite weird. However, we are all set with the usual frills,bells and whistles for the Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

Gosh, I miss my extended family and all my friends.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A new recipe for your Thanksgiving left overs

Recipe of the week - a vegetarian spicy flavor for your Thanksgiving left overs.

Favazza, an Italian restaurant at the Hill in St. Louis

It was one fanatastic evening at the Lavazza at the Hill in St. Louis. Authentic Italian food for extremely reasonable prices. We were given beautiful patio seating but we chose to be in the warm dining area inside near the fireplace.

The Hill is a unique area in St. Louis where the Italian immigrants settled when they came to this part of the country around 1830. Most of them worked at the clay mines, lived here and created a 'Little Italy' for themselves. It attracted other Italians and is now a close-knit Italian community.

The Hill was originally a part of Charles Gratiot's League Square, granted to him by the Spanish territorial government in 1798. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the League Square had been subdivided into large tracts. Several of the Hill restaurants were started years ago and still continue to thrive because of their fantastic food.

There are several other restaurants in this area and I plan to try them all out one every month if possible.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where are those specialy shops?

For a person who enjoys cooking and can't find the special ingredients of mediterranean or chinese cooking, or those gourmet cheeses necessary for some recipes, it can be quite frustrating.

I am still looking and hope to find them this weekend. The only problem with weekends is they disappear as fast as they appear. Somehow got to fit this in.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Your body will not budge no matter how rigorous your exercise routine is

What does one say to that? The latest that I read about exercise and its effects say the following.

No matter how systematically and rigorously some people exercise their bodies just will not respond. Apparently this is the conclusion reached after a Finnish study that says that's just the way some people are genetically composed.

Yey. A good excuse to not exercise at all and just take to the couch. I know a few people I can show this to that'll make them happy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sweet potatoes baked in maple syrup

I always baked sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon.

Here's another recipe. Wash, peel and cut 2 pounds sweet potatoes into cubes. Add 1/2cup maple syrup, 1 stick of unsalted butter, 1/2 tsp. lime juice, a touch of salt, 1/2tsp. cinnamon powder if you'd like. Bake together until done. You may stir a couple times in between. When almost done remove cover and bake until top turns slightly brown.f

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lower calories and cutting back on portion sizes...

A combination of the two in restaurants can certainly help with the Americans' waistlines. Chefs have been trained everywhere in the world to create tasty recipes and not worry about calories or the health of a consumer. Caring about health and intake clearly is a consumer's reponsibility.

However, in the U.S. being the most obese country in the world, there are conscious efforts in the food industry, to pay attention to using better ingredients. There are regulations for some restaurants to list calories on their menus. Not sure why only some need to follow that rule. I believe it would be a great idea to train chefs on general rules of healthy cooking and nutrition. This way they will not be held responsible if for eg. they are sued. There was a recent news item where one of the fast food chains was sued by a customer for his obesity and health issue. Hmm! Not sure how this logic works. The customer won the lawsuit too!

Restaurants and chefs can do all they can. However, the consumer is the one in control of his/her quantity intake.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Buckwheat and Black Kale With Brussels Sprouts

A great fall recipe by chef Michael Anthony I just love this recipe and felt compelled to share with you.

3 medium onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups buckwheat
Salt
Pepper
6 cups water
1 bunch black kale, blanched and finely chopped
2 parsnips, diced and blanched
1 tablespoon whipped cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 small red onion, sliced and sautéed
12 large shiitake mushrooms, quartered and sautéed
12 brussels sprouts, quartered or split into leaves (roasted in 375 degree oven until just tender).

1. Meanwhile, In a saucepan over medium heat, sweat the onions and garlic by cooking them in 1 tablespoon oil until they release some of their moisture and become slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. (“Sweating” vegetables means slowly softening them over gentle heat to draw out the flavor without browning them.)
2. Add buckwheat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with water and bring to a simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let buckwheat rest in water for approximately 10 minutes. Strain excess water.
3. Once the buckwheat has been drained, immediately add kale and parsnips. Add whipped cream and parsley, and stir gently. Garnish by topping with shiitake mushrooms, onions and roasted brussels sprouts.
Yield: Serves 8.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shifting the cost of health care to the employees?

This is ridiculous. The employer passing on health care cost to a higher paid employee. So, do we have to pay back if we are earning more than $50,000? This is unacceptable and looks like several employers have already implemented the program.
My take is employee benefits should be the same across the board at a company regardless of the salary levels. No employee should be punished for doing well.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Who cares?

That's right. Who cares about consumers' health? Nobody. Definitely not the McDonald's or the Pizza Hut's of this country. When consumers become conscious of their own health and stop having these fat, rich foods, sales start to drop at the other end. Marketing companies then jump to the rescue and think of various ways to get us back to buying the same foods by using clever marketing tactics.

For eg. Domino's pizza started losing market share,then partnered with an organization called Dairy Management to boost sales. The marketing company suggested the more cheese on pizza idea, lured back the consumers to its pizza pies, sales doubled and they are back in business. Who are the losers? Consumers. In what way? Our health. More cheese, more fat, more heart attacks, more high cholesterol, more hypertension, more diabetes, more medical bills and more of everything that are just not good.

So, while warning about fat, U.S. pushes cheese sales on the other end through these firms similar to Dairy Management. Nobody cares about the consumer. Companies are only interested in making money.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

At last!

Schools are slowly but surely realizing that school lunches are as important in contributing to good eating habits and nutrition as are our homes.

When was the last time anyone saw a menu as this one? And for this price?

-Vegetarian chili, sofrito brown rice, confetti corn salad, pico de gallo, salad bar, milk. Making the menu even more appealing was the price: $1.50. This is a typical lunch menu of Public School 29 in Brooklyn. Actual student chefs produce and prepare these menus. How many school districts can get that lucky?

Well, eating healty has become quite popular in many schools across the country. They are starting little vegetable gardens to produce their own vegetables and use them for school lunches. However, this percentage is a miniscule. Most schools don't do this. They don't provide the required nutritional calories. Most of the statistics lean totally toward non-nutritious meals such as chicken nuggets, pizza, fries, hotdogs ... you name it. The cost of coming up with nutritious meals 5 days a week is probably part of it. But, I am sure growing the vegetables in the school garden might help in addition to the federal subsidies.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Vino lovers

There are several types of wine lovers/drinkers. Where do you belong within that range?

For some reason, maybe it's the French influence of style, people who have anything to do with wine think they are wine afficionados. I have seen a range of such people. Some who drink a glass or two everyday; some who think wine is a must when they are with their dates and want to impress them; some who buy and keep buying them but hardly drink them; some who have a temperature controlled wine cellar and think of it as an investment. I could go on and on. Essentailly, some of us love wine while others love those who love wine, or love the wines of others, or love hoarding wine.

Who are you exactly? A drinker, a collector, a hoader, the expert or the amateur?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Just like real people, real food has curves

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, vegetarians can look forward to all the side dishes that are way more exciting than plain old turkey. Can cook any vegetable or a mix of vegetables with a dash of herbs, seasonings and cheeses too! Add to the mix add some sauteed onions and garlic. Then top it off with light cream and black pepper and bake until done. More specific recipes on their way. Stand by.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Where should we store vitamins?

I don't know and sometimes even change spots so that they are not exposed to too much of heat or humidity. I have at times stored vitamins in my refrigerator. And I am glad I have never stored them in the bathroom. So, which is the right place for vitamins?

In any dry place of the house like the bedroom. Any place far away from the constant shift between humidity, heat and cold. So, if you are reading this blog, move them out from your bathroom shelves that are behind the mirror.

Check out recipe of the week - home made buttermilk

Check out the easiest and most nutritious way to make buttermilk. That's the recipe of the week.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Caffeine and Alcohol Drink Is Potent Mix

I have seen a lot of adults do this. After several glasses of wine or scotch,they manage to fit in some coffee as well. Now, it is proven to be really deadly for the young. That's what the research says but what would make it any different for the adults?

"A brand called Four Loko — a fruit-flavored malt beverage that has an alcohol content of 12 percent and as much caffeine as a cup of coffee — has come under particular scrutiny after students who drank it this fall at Ramapo College in New Jersey and Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., ended up in emergency rooms, some with high levels of alcohol poisoning." If this is followed by coffee the body is tricked and the counter effects of high alcohol don't kick in until late.

The drink apparently was just introduced and is misleading because it looks like any other energy drink but has a high alcohol content. The more shocking part is that it is found in refrigerators because moms think it is a regular drink like iced tea. There are different flavors available and they are cheap as well. So, students buy them cheap and get the high of regular alcohol. Apparently, it doesn't even taste like alcohol.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mi Lupita

One of my new favorite Mexican restaurants near my home in St. Louis is Mi Lupita. Very cheerful waiters, good service, tasty food. I ordered a plate of grilled veges. with a side of guacamole, and a cheese tortilla. Perfect for lunch.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A glass of red wine a day does a whole lot of good for the heart


They say men are allowed 2 glasses and women 1 a day. I am not a wine drinker or any kind of drinker, but once in a while at a social gathering for instance I'd go for an apple martini or a glass of margarita over wine. Those are my two favorites. The mood though that red wine sets especially when served with chocolates, strawberries or strawberries dipped in chocolote is beyond ordinary. November is almost here, so the rest of November and December I guess are all about wines and chocolates.

Just last week we were at a neighbor's and he took us to their beautiful bar. I initially refused to drink anything and that's when my neighbor reminded me about the good effects of wine and what the doctor recommends nowadays. So, I accepted and continued talking to another guest. My host came up with a glass of wine. Yep a glass except it could hold a gallon of wine instead of a cup of wine. The doctor has recommended a glass, but I haven't read anywhere about how large or small the size should be.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Which is your favorite Indian spice?

Indian spices top all cuisines since they use the most number of spices in their cooking. On my Web site, I have listed I believe almost all of them with some explanations of what they are and how they are used. Obviously, we cannot use all of these spices in our cooking, but combinations of two or more specific ones produce distinct tastes.

Can you tell me which spice is your favorite?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Iron Chef show and the talents in them

Just the other day I was watching a popular show here in the U.S. called the Iron Chef. Award wining chefs compete in one of the toughest cooking competitions. In a short period of time they come up with a whole 3-5 course meal out of the blue creating incredible on the spot recipes. The chefs are not only creative in cooking but also in the presentation of the meal. And, the presentation is truly a combination of arts and the sciences.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bloggers and Followers - Any creative ideas on this?

There are always challenges at every point in our lives. What I am facing now is marketing challenges for this serious hobby of mine - healthy vegetarian cooking. I have some tested and proven methods but need additional help.

Do write back to me or blog here and thanks in advance for your help.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A great article on how to help children with anorexia

I have come across people with anorexia who I have known personally. One of them passed on, the other is fighting to overcome this illness.

Here is a great article that says family therapy works best. It is a lot on the family but if they work together, the person suffering can come out ahead.
Bringing in Family to Combat Anorexia by RONI CARYN RABIN

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vegans, why do you put yourself through hell?

I do understand if vegans have no choice but go for non-dairy and many of the non- foods. But if you are choosing it over being a regular vegetarian, then life can get difficult. Here is one comment that I think drives home a point.

“Vegan cupcakes can have just as much far, sugar and calories as any other cupcake, They are not healthier, except perhaps that by tasting like dog food, you will eat fewer of them.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

Not a favorite of eggs, but they come in handy at crunch time

I've been working hard and multitasking too much; which has become the way of my life. So, planning for dinner is not something I waste time on during some busy weeks. I create quick spur of the moment dinners which usually turn out to be pretty good.

Eggs are not my first choice but when push comes to shove, there they are. Scrambling eggs after cooking a mix of vegetables with herbs and spices always turn out good. Saute a good mix of vegetables with garlic and ginger. Then pour some beaten eggs over the cooked vegetables and stir a couple times in low heat. You may add spices such as dry powerdered cilantro, cumin, cayenne pepper as the vegetables continue to saute on the pan. Vegetables can be cooked prior to adding eggs and refrigerated. But do not freeze the vegetables. Frozen cooked meals are never as good as just made.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Green Beans with Ginger, Garlic and Sesame Seeds

Check out this week's recipe at vidyaswamys kitchen.com.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Creamy Risotto

I think Risotto is one of the easiest and simplest foods to create. Here is a great recipe.

Pick a variety of rice that has substance. It gives texture and body to the taste. Saute garlic, scallion, 1/2 cup diced mild onion. You may also add a green vegetable such as beans or peas but not too much. Grind a variety of toasted nut such as pumpkin or pine along with basil and create a pesto. Use olive oil to saute the raw rice. Use vegetable stock to cook the rice. After the broth boils, add rice, vegetable and the pesto. Pour some (1/2 cup) dry wine such as Pinot as the rice is cooking. Use parmesan cheese or pecorino romano, stir them into the broth. Add cheese toward the end. Add some salt if needed since cheese has salt. Sprinkle black pepper and stir the mixture well. It should be creamy and wet. You may add some more stock if the finished risotto appears dry. Taste delicious.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My experience at Penang

There are few restaurants that are consistently good. Being a critical foodie, I can vouch for the Malaysian restaurant in downtown Philly called Penang.

A great starter there is roti kanai, you have vegetable and meat varieties as side dish. I skip that to do justice to my actual entree which is spicy vegetables in a clay pot. It is outrageously delicious. I think I have figured out the taste but haven't tried it yet. Very soon in my new kitchen. I will let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chefs tell us what to watch out for in the kitchen

Watch out for big carrots: Mark Ladner (Del Posto, New York) explaining how he lost a bit of finger while slicing and dicing.

Be wary of crowded kitchens: Harold Dieterle (Perilla, New York) suffered a deep hand cut when a dishwasher bumped into him while he was deboning a steak.

Don’t tackle too many onions at a time: Michael Laiskonis (Le Bernardin, New York) lost a bit of thumb while “trying to bust through a very large pile of onions.”

Use care when carving Jack-O-Lanterns:: Anita Lo (Anissa, New York) tells about a deep cut to her fingers when her hand slipped carving a pumpkin.

Pay attention while shucking oysters: Dominique Crenn (Luce, San Francisco) was distracted by a guest and put an oyster knife through her hand.

Keep hot pans off of stainless steel counters: Andrew Carmellini (Locanda Verde, New York) says he made a “classic, stupid mistake” when he burned himself on a counter where he had recently placed a hot pan.

Stay focused: Paula Deen (The Lady & Sons, Savannah, Ga.) recently burned herself taking cookies out of the oven because she was distracted.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Not sure how some chefs just whip up recipes

I see on so many blogs and Web sites chefs especially those who are popular come up with random recipes. They can create something exotic sounding out of the simplest vegetable and ingredients. With some cheese in there I am sure anything can be created into an appetizing food item especially if that is accompanied by a great photograph. However appetizing it may sound or look, the taste is questionable unless these recipes have been tried and tested.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's for dinner today?

Not sure. It's past dinner time. No picky person around to demand anything, but that person will be coming home soon. So, here's what I am going to do. I have fresh spinach, olive oil, and have garlic. I am going to get something together, along with the left over Indian bread I made yesterday. Maybe a salad. And, a raita. What's your dinner?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pesto in warm cherry tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed With Pesto

I’ve been serving these appetizers for decades. You can also make a warm side dish with medium-size tomatoes (see variation below).

1 or 2 garlic cloves, to taste
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds or Mediterranean pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint cherry tomatoes

1. To make the pesto, turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic. When it is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the basil, pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, salt, pepper and olive oil to the food processor, and process until smooth and creamy. Add the Parmesan, and pulse until well combined.

You can also use a mortar and pestle. Add the basil leaves gradually, and mash with the pestle. Add the pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper. Mash to a paste with the basil. Work in the olive oil and the Parmesan.

2. Using a paring knife, cut thin slices from the tops of the cherry tomatoes. Use a grapefruit spoon or small spoon to scoop the seeds and flesh from the center of each tomato. Lightly salt the hollowed out tomatoes if desired, and place them, cut side down, on a rack to drain for 15 minutes. Fill with the pesto, arrange on a platter and serve. Refrigerate or freeze any excess pesto.

Variation: Warm stuffed tomatoes with pesto: Use six to eight medium tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the tops off the tomatoes, and scoop or gently squeeze out the seeds. Fill with pesto, and place in a lightly oiled baking dish. Heat through for 15 to 20 minutes until warm; the tomatoes should still be intact. Serve.

Yield: Serves 12 as an hors d’oeuvre, six to eight as a side dish.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How do you pick a place that pleases everyone?

Have you been through this? On a Saturday evening, you'd like to do something fun but by the time you make a decision that everybody is agreeable to, it gets to be too late. Then the excitement fades and everyone ultimately decides to stay home.

That's what happened to me this evening. After a lot of going back and forth, choices and suggestions, we turned around to look at the time and realized it was 8:30 P.M. I was too lazy to even change my clothes and got too comfortable doing nothing. So, did nothing. Actually am loving it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Eggplants often get a bad rap

I hardly see eggplants being used in homes. One reason is the huge eggplants we find in regular stores with lots of seeds are absolutely tasteless or simply taste bad.

Smaller eggplants or the asian varieties are the best, they literally melt in your mouth. Sometimes, produce junctions carry them. If you like Eggplant Parmesan with those humongous tasteless ones, wait until you try the real eggplant. They are also good baked or roasted in olive oil. You may add peppers and sprinkle some herbs and spices to make them more interesting.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Anything goes when it comes to food I guess

Dead, fresh, live, stale, hot, sour, pungent, salty, sweeter, bitter, tangy,and of course in all shapes, colors and textures; annnnnnything goes.

So, how do you like this combo? Spaghetti Taco. It even sounds gross to me. Apparently though kids love it. A mom even served it as a meal at her kid's teen party. And, it was a hit. I read Karen Petersen, 'a mother of two from Rye, N.H., fries her own taco shells and breaks the spaghetti into thirds to make the strands fit more easily'.

The fever is catching on. Boys in particular and I can believe that love it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Diets,Weight loss - up and down and around it goes

Does it sound familiar? I think it would to many people. Can be exasperating.

Although I am no expert, the following has worked for many in my family and for me. The best answer that I have found is to have 3 good meals a day, empty calories maybe okay here and there but staying away from them will produce the right results. Just don't buy them. Limiting if one must to the weekends may not be a bad idea. Egs. A cookie or two, a glass of soda, or a cup of ice cream I think wouldn't be so bad.

Three meals are a must. Never go hungry and get the good calories from real food. That's it. The best secret is never to try any diet. Never feel bad about eating. Never search for food when you are either sad or happy. Although I do that off and on. Guilty on that count. About drinking - not on a regular basis. Movement in any form is a must. Swim, walk, bike, jog, lift weights, anything.

Oh, one more thing. Never combine food and TV.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How does one get rid of the pesticides from vegetables?

I have always wondered. How far should one go? I have read Meryl Streep uses a scrubber and soap or something similar on apples to remove the wax and the sprays. I have never done that. All I do is wash everything at least once under running water. I rub them while rinsing; sometimes on things like tomatoes, I don't do that either. It just may not be enough I understand but wouldn't cooking on high heat remove all the toxic stuff?

I wash my hands before, after and during cooking. Don't have to worry a about cleaning the cutting board since there is no meat involved. I just rinse them after cutting vegetables. I know it's not enough. Starting today I will consciously do more of the rubbing, maybe scrubbing and rinsing. Friction should be enough to take care of those pesky pesticides.

Hmm. Too many things to worry about.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It is not happening and probably will never happen

Consumption of vegetables in the U.S. - As far as I have known, it's always been the absolute minimal if not absolutely nil.

Just this year with Michelle Obama's push for vegetable consumption among children it has received some noticeable press. But until then, I can definitely believe that most homes did not really promote it. I have sat at dinner tables at many homes where vegetables made a guest appearance. They can't be appetizing if they are just steam cooked with a dash of butter and a sprinkle of salt. You've got to add taste to it. Day after day of steamed veges can be truly unwelcoming.

Recommendations are: at least four to five vegetable servings daily. A serving: half a cup of cut-up or cooked vegetables, one cup of fresh greens, half a cup of cooked dried beans, or, if you must, six ounces of vegetable juice.

That's a lot even for a complete vegetarian like me. But, it's easy to do since it does add not calories. One can start with two servings and then consciously build it up little by little. A no-meat day will help to up the vegetable intake as well.

What's so great about vegetables? You'll never know until you try. It can make a world of difference to lose weight and feel healthy; and it translates to a whole lot of other things from physical to psychological.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Avial - Check out my recipe of the week

A popular mixed vegetable dish from the south.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stretching before or after exercise?

I have always wondered which is better. Or, if both are necessary. After my rigorous routine on the stairmaster it's become a habit of mine to stretch. It helps me relax my muscles and also take a breath.

I seldom do it before exercise and skip it mainly because it would cut into my actual exercise time. Maybe it's for the better. The NYT article says that stretching before running for instance does not help and in fact hinders athletic performance.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How funny is this?

I have a neighbor who has reached the prime age of 70+. Extremely active, liberal, beautiful, successful and I can go on and on. And she is a first generation Italian too! An authentic Italian in all ways except one.

While I am still making my own sauces she said she gave it up about 25 years ago. Reason? She is so used to Ragu spaghetti sauces that she doesn't like her own sauces any more. I just couldn't believe what I heard.

I was wondering if that was an excuse or if she truly meant it or was just joking.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The starchy thin or flat sticks called noodles

Just the other day on NPR there was this chef (forget the name) talking about the different varieties of noodles. Mung, rice, potato... I like noodles as long as I don't get the feeling of being stuffed. Of course for that not to happen I'll have to watch my intake.

Noodles can take on the flavor of any spice or sauce. The only thing to watch out for is over cooking and making it too soft or sticky.

I found a great recipe online. With some slight modifications it works really well.

Some rice sticks
1-2 garlic clove, peeled, green shoot removed
1 cups fresh basil leaves
1 Tbps. parsley leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped shelled walnuts, the fresher the better (about 1/2 ounce)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and broken into 2-inch lengths
 
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place the rice sticks in a large bowl, and cover with hot water. Let sit 20 minutes, until pliable.

2. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic. When it is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the basil, parsley, walnuts, salt, pepper and olive oil to the food processor, and process until smooth and creamy. Add the cheese(s), and pulse to combine. Transfer to a large pasta bowl.

3. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the green beans. Cook five minutes, then transfer to a bowl of ice water and drain. Add the noodles to the water, and boil one minute until tender but still al dente.

4. Add 1/2 cup of the boiling water to the bowl with the pesto, and mix together. Drain the noodles, and toss with the pesto and beans. Serve at once.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Obesity more expensive for women

What a shock! Of course, it is. The heavier the person, the costlier everything gets. Even in the case of obesity. Think about it. Medical insurance, cost of living, everything.

Again, it's all based on statistics which I didn't do but there are enough studies on everything and this is the result. Obesity is expensive all around. And, yes it all comes down to money. The incremental costs faced by obese women are nine times higher than those for overweight women. Overweight in and of itself is costly but obese I guess means tipping the scale, literally in all ways.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'd like not to believe in astrology but I do when I am down

Daily Horoscope as in those Leo forecasts in my inbox are a bunch of boloney. Don't know if I spelled that right! However, I keep getting them and reading them. They are so nebulous and mostly inaccurate. And I usually never remember anything.

But I do remember and dwell over them if they are not good. Especially if they coincide with a bad day as in today.

I found a remedy to deal with those bad horoscopes that match bad days - ice cream. I stopped by Giant on my way back from the gym and got those pint-sized ice creams in a few different flavors. Had two of them and actually felt better. You may want to try it. Eating feels good when otherwise things are bad.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Raita - recipe of the week

Raita Raita, an Indian condiment that goes well with just about any flavor - hot, bland, tart,also with breads and rice dishes.

Back to Quinoa this week

Ever since I came to know about Quinoa, it's replaced almost all other staples, such as bread, rice, Indian wheat breads, or Upma usually made with cream of wheat. I substitute quinoa in place of starch anywhere I can. There's no sacrifice in taste at all. In fact quinoa Vegetable pulav is better than regular rice based pulav.
I just came across quinoa muffins. I've got to try that. Honestly, what's not to like about quinoa. On the health end, there is no better grain out there. On taste, there's nothing to complain.

My family says I could soon turn into a quinoa with all the quinoa consumption I've been doing. My goal is to turn these hard to please family members to quinoa advocates!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's there to not like in Italy?

I had a friend who recently came back from Italy. And, all I heard were complaints. Pickpocketing in Rome, too expensive, pizza not tasty... I am listening to her while thinking to myself she must be crazy?

Rome is on my list of revisits. I just fell in love with every thing I saw or touched or tasted. Exotic, romantic, beautiful, in short to me it was heaven on earth. The architecuture, history, people, food, especially the wines, cheeses and desserts; shopping, music, everything. Rome and Florence were the only two cities I could visit during the short 6-day vacation but they were unforgettable.

I cannot stop with just mentioning the word food. I have to elaborate. For one thing it is easy to be a vegetarian in Italy. There are varieties of soups, breads, cheeses and absolutely delicious vegetables. Even a simple plate of spaghetti there was incredibly tasty. I remember ordering food and staring at it for several minutes since I was always mesmerized by the presentation, the aroma, flavors and never wanted to start eating for fear of emptying the plate, which I did in no time. I remember doing activities and visits in such a way that I had enough time to experience the different places that people recommended for us to eat at.

Well, all I can say is my love for Italy and everything Italian began some years ago and I don't think it will ever end. Which reminds me of my favorite movie of all times, The Godfather. That's what I am going to watch tonight with my plate of pasta and vegetables in olive oil.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Follow me on Twitter

I have received invites from at least 10 people to start a Facebook account. That is something I am paranoid about due to privacy issues. But I do have a Twitter account if you'd like to follow me. Twitter Vswamy.

Cooking for one?

Not a fun thing to do as I mentioned in my previous blog. It's boring to shop and if we do, it turns out to be too much. We end up wasting the food, or after cooking them all most of them become left overs. How many days can we handle leftovers? So, it goes into the drain.

I have learned to make it more economical by having a loose plan for shopping and buying just the few items that I may not have in my pantry. If I still end up with too much, I cook them all and freeze for later use. The excess vegetables are made into salads that get used up within a couple days.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A tasty recipe for just one

Just yesterday I was talking to a friend who ate out of a can and said had never bothered to cook a meal for just one person. Agreed. Food has to be cooked and shared. It makes it more interesting when you have company.

Off and on I am also alone and going into the kitchen to cook for just myself is not very appealing. But, you've got to eat. It's better tasty food than can food. Here's a simple vegetarian Black Bean Chilie.

1 pot Simmered Black Beans
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons mild ground chilie powder
1 tablespoon lightly toasted cumin seeds, ground
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup cheddar cheese or crumbled goat cheese

Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, stir together for about a minute until fragrant, and add the chilie powder and cumin. Cook, stirring, for two to three minutes, until the mixture begins to stick to the pan. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture is beginning to stick to the pan, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste dissolved in water and bring back to a simmer. Season with salt to taste and simmer, stirring often, for 15 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fragrant. Stir the tomatoes with the beans. Simmer for a few minutes and add some chopped cilantro. Serve with some cheese crumbles on top.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pleasure in pain, an attribute of human nature

I am not talking about anything profound. It's about chilies and the extreme heat that some varieties of chilies produce in our food preparations. It can actually burn and scald, and are quite painful but also pleasureable at the same time. Yet, some people absolutely love this unbearable heat and pain. I have seen people eat extremely hot food with tears rolling down their cheeks but won't give up what is one their plate.

To some people spicy foods cause heartburns. Many people who are used to the heat have it almost every day. Lately, I have learned that hot foods actually help clear sinuses and inflammation, and are a cancer-fighting agent. SO, comparing negatives over positives the scale is tilted in favor of hot, spicy foods.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spicy Stuffed Okra


This week's recipe is Stuffed Okra.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My favorite pot-luck dish - Guacamole

In my circles, we rarely do potluck dinners. But if we did, a favorite dish of mine is guacamole with baked chips.

I had it at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas, I have been following their recipe since. It was nice of the chef to share it with me. It's always a hit.

Here it is.

Avacado
Finely chopped red onions
Fineley chopped ripe tomatoes
1 or 2 raw crushed garlice or finely diced garlice
Lemon juice
Seeded jalapenos
Fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

Mash avacado. Mix the rest of the ingredients together. This recipe is out-of-this world.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Make your lives easy with the right kitchen tools

They do make a difference. Try peeling skin off a cucumber with a knife. My experience tells me it is never as good as a peeler. Even if some things like a salad maker for instance sound unnecessary, when you do try it you'll see the difference. First of all the slicer is a great investment if you want a quick, colorful, attractive salad. Just drop in some olive oil, herbs, lemon and given it a quick mix with the salad maker. You will never turn back.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Schizophrenia

Here is an article from the New York Times. I have friends and family with this condition who are going through it now. It is a hard to understand illness. But this article through several voices explains it quite clearly.

Characterized by paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations and delusions, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, a related condition, are complicated mental illnesses that make it difficult for one to determine the difference between reality and pretend. While there are medications and therapies that can help, the effects of this condition are often far- reaching. Here, seven men and women speak about living with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Exercise make kids smarter? Then, adults should do the same to stay smart.

There is no doubt about that. I am sure exercise does stimulate the good hormones or proteins to feed the brain and keep it alert and intelligent. Experiments show that it works for kids. If it works for kids I think there is no reason it won't work for adults. It may not have an effect on adult IQ as it does on kids IQ. However, physical exercise as we all know is recommended for people of any age. I believe senior citizens will benefit a lot from some form of exercise or another. I keep encouraging my senior parents to do so to keep their muscle strength. Maybe showing them an article or two will reinforce my constant nudge, and encourage them to fit everyday exercise into their lifestyles.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Corn sugar, a new name for high-fructose corn syrup

All health food nuts by now know that high-fructose corn syrup is one of the worst additives. Many labels have this high on their 3-inch long ingredients list. The general public has become aware of the ill effects of this ingredient as well.

So, all these ad promoters have found a less evil sounding name for high-fructose corn syrup. They have petitiioned the FDA to approve this new name called corn sugar. But, public beware. This is indeed as bad as in our foods as it ever was.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Brussel Sprouts Vegetable


Read new recipe of the week - Broccoli Sabji.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some reasonably priced health foods for everyday consumption

A combination of two or three of these foods from the list below every day can be a great contributor to a lifelong of good health. I think it is easy to follow.

Walnuts
Broccoli
Berries
Avacados
Egg whites
Oranges
Yogurt unsweetened, preferably homemade
Spinach of any kind
Beans
Sweet Potatoes
Green Tea

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Southwest style potatoes

It is easy to turn anything southwestern.

If you'd like to make regular potatoes taste southwestern, here is something you may want to try.

Saute potatoes cut in cubes with the skin until 3/4 cooked. Saute some black beans, and corn with chopped jalapenos and garlic. Add a dash of chilie powder. Mix them all up. Spread some cheddar cheese. Bake in oven until cheese melts and starts to bubble. Yum. Delicious.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Anything goes with cheese, try Gargazola-Stuffed Tomatoes

The last of the big hot tomatoes are here. I don't believe a cheese stuffing can ever go wrong. Try this.

4 large ripe tomatoes
Kosher salt to taste
2 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or use insides of ripe tomatoes, above
1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
4 chives, finely diced
2 tablespoons vodka.

1. Halve the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh. Sprinkle the shells with kosher salt and turn them upside down on paper towels to drain for 30 minutes.

2. Place the gorgonzola and butter in a bowl, season sparingly with salt and aggressively with pepper, and beat until smooth.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

4. Fill the tomatoes with the mixture. Place on serving dish until ready to serve. Serves 4.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Arugula, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

This salad was inspired by another recipe. I have modified it and made another better creation.

Sweet, salty, tart, crunchy and spicy, this salad has perfect flavor and texture balance. Pomegranate molasses is a good balance to remove acidic tastes.

Vinaigrette:
· 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
· 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
· 2 tablespoons sherry or apple cider vinegar
· 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
· 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
· 4 cups arugula, lightly packed
· 4 cups romaine, torn into bite-sized pieces
· 2 ripe pears, cored and cut into 1/2" cubes
· 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
· 3 ounces fresh goat cheese or feta, crumbled
· 1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
1. In a small bowl combine the shallot, pomegranate molasses, vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk until the salt is dissolved.
2. Whisk in the olive oil and let vinaigrette stand at room temperature until salad is assembled.
3. Combine the arugula, romaine, pears and half of the pomegranate seeds in a large bowl.
4. Crumble half of the goat cheese over the ingredients in the bowl (this works best if the cheese is very cold).
5. Whisk the vinaigrette until uniform and add all but 2 tablespoons of it to the bowl.
6. Gently toss the salad with your hands or salad tongs, coating the ingredients well with the vinaigrette. If the salad seems dry, add the vinaigrette in small increments until it is dressed to your liking.
7. Crumble the remaining cheese over the salad and sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds and the pistachios over the top. Serve immediately.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Kale, better than spinach

The Kale Challenge: You'll Be Hooked in a Week!

Meg Wolff, a two-time cancer survivor and healthy food expert/promoter says it is better than spinach. Easy to like it. "Why focus on kale? It's one of the best things you can put into your body - an excellent source of non-dairy calcium, magnesium and fiber".

When I cooked it, I did it the same way as I cook spinach, sauteed with garlic and olive oil. If not for the pesticide taste, it would have been great. Maybe I'll give it one more try.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kheer - Rice Pudding, the Indian way

I have noticed that my friends love it since this taste is not completely new.

Pointer 1: Use a heavy-bottomed pot, so the milk does not stick to the bottom.
Pointer 2: Constant stirring is required to prevent bottom of pot getting too hot. After milk is added, let it boil for about 5 minutes, then cook on a slightly lower heat.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of regular long-grain rice to make 2 cups of kheer
3 cups of regular milk
1 cup of sugar. A little more if you like it sweeter. You may taste it midway and add more sugar as needed.
1 Tbsp. melted butter (clarified ghee)
1/2 tsp. saffron
1/2 tsp. cardamom powder (optional)

Method:

A heavy pot or an Indian wok will be suitable for this preparation. Place walk on stove. Add the melted butter. Then add the rice. Saute the rice until it puffs just a little. Then add a cup of water. Let it boil and cook. Since rice is toasted a bit, it will take less time to cook. After the rice has cooked, add the milk. Let the rice and milk mixture boil for a few minutes. Now add the sugar. Stir the pot often so that the cheese from the milk does not stick to the pot. After the milk thickens a bit you may add the saffron. If you want the kheer to have a richer taste, then let the milk condense quite a bit. You may add cardamom at the very end after the kheer is done.

^ Please contact me for any of these ingredients or utensils.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Labor Day is just a week away?

Summer is soon coming to an end. I feel Labor Day more or less is the beginning of Fall. In no time we'll start seeing colors change. I love all colors. What I don't like is the idea of Winter not being far behind. I'm not looking forward to it.

Well, let's enjoy the Labor Day barbecue weekend at least with something interesting for the vegetarians instead of just Tofu or the same old, same old bland vegetables. And, that would be asparagus. A simple, yet tasty asparagus salad can be pretty exciting.

Steam asparagus for about 8 mins. Remove and dip in regular water. Add some herbs, any you may have on hand, olive oil, a tiny dash of salt, some lemon juice. Toss. Add some hard boiled eggs chopped over the salad. Toss one more time and serve.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A quick lunch at the office

Salads everyday can be BOOOOOring for an office lunch. Vegetarians generally are satisfied with a good dose of protein from an egg or two in addition to the salad.

Here's a way to do it. Pack two raw eggs in your lunch box. Carry a wide cup or a small bowl will do too. Add water in the bowl. Crack the egg and drop it in the water. Microwave on high heat for about 80 seconds. Remove the cup/bowl. Drain the water with a slotted spoon. If the egg appears that it needs more cooking, add another 30-50 seconds and cook on high heat. Pour it over the salad and enjoy the meal.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cooking tools and utensils

For the best tasting Indian food, order these utensils.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Black Bean Dip

Ingredients for Healthy Black Bean Dip:

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup of your favorite salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 seeded jalapenos, chopped
1 large fresh tomato, diced
2 Tbsps. Grated cheddar cheese
Dash of salt to taste

To Prepare:

Using a food processor or powerful blender, combine the salsa, beans and cumin. Process until smooth. Scrape down the sides when needed. Transfer to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredents and mix well.

Chill before eating (if you prefer) and store in the fridge for up to three days.

Nutritional Details: Recipe makes six servings at 81 calories, 0.4 grams of fat per serving. 4 grams of protien, 4 grams of fiber per serving.

This dip tastes great with fresh veggies for dipping, on crackers, or with baked tortilla chips. It could also be used as a sandwich filling or spread.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The best tomatoes

Summer is the season for tomatoes. There are different varieties - like plum, cherry, vine-ripened,sun-ripened...

The best tasting ones are from the farmer's market that come straight to the market with no stops in between. I have found that roadside stalls that sell these tomatoes are better than anything else.

Tomato is like a staple unless one's health doesn't permit it in their diet. I have a zillion recipes to share. Here's a simple one that will store without a problem for several weeks.

Chop about 4 plum tomatoes or vine-ripened tomatoes in any shape you choose. Take a wok. Warm and then drop 2 tsps. of oil. Crackle half a tsp. of mustard seeds, add the chopped tomatoes, 2 tsps. of chilli powder, a pinch of asafetida and saute. Continue sauteing until most of the natural water evaporates. Add salt. Mix well and store. If you want to use this as a pickle and store it longer, add some 2 tsps. more of oil at the beginning and let it cook until the water evaporates completely. Store it in a bottle and make sure only dry spoons are used to serve.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The French secrets - Dieting and staying slim

There are several simple ways to stay healthy and slim. All easier said than done. The French make it quite appealing. They are a more credible example since women there do walk the talk.

Some things to follow painlessly --

•Empty your pantry of the problem foods, meaning those that definitely aid in adding weight.
•Do not buy in bulk.
•Eat meals at regular times. Follow this schedule everyday.
•Nothing is possible without portion control.
•Have a variety at your table not the same food groups everyday.
•Test out new things.
•Make all the meals homemade, avoiding eating out so much.
•Have a real breakfast.
•Eat slowly.

I would add cook with olive oil. Do not use grease if you can get away with it. Cut back on cheese and red meat.

Monday, August 23, 2010

There is no end to calling oneself creative?

I know something about this- being creative with cooking.

Sometimes I see renowned chefs throwing random things together and calling it creative and tasty. I once made the mistake of actually trying out a recipe which I was a bit sceptical about although the photograph looked pretty appetizing. The dish turned out awful since the ingredients just did not work well together.

One such recipe I came across was adding cake in a cocktail. Come on, there are limits to these things. What I am sometimes shocked about is such bad recipes are published because of the big names behind them.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How to Be Frugal on Dates During These Hard Times?

In this day and age of no job, no money what should people in the dating scene do?
Keep it simple. Cook together, get a bottle of wine and perhaps a movie. What can be more romantic than that? Oh, I forgot the food shopping prior to the cooking. If you don't know how to cook, but want to eat healthy, there is a great cooking workshop that you can together attend.

You'll find here everything you'll ever need to know about cooking and eating healthy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cottage cheese substitution

Cottage cheese is healthy except for the ton of salt added to it. Even if that can be discounted and we get low salt cottage cheese (is something like that even available?), I am not sure how tasty it would be to use it instead of cheese or milk. Got to test it out and then I'll decide.

A feedback from one of my workshop attendees

I received this feedback from one of the gentlemen who attended my workshop last Saturday.

"I was impressed with not only your culinary skills but your usage, demonstration, and narration of the same. I like Indians who not only know their culture and heritage but also know how to explain its linkage with healthy Indian cuisine, herbs, and spices. On top of that your healthy cooking really is healthy. You walked the talk and I truly appreciate that.

Thank you for doing such a great job!! And I look forward to participating in future classes."

- Sachin

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I am so angry with these money minded, heartless beings called humans

I absolutely abhor the fact that everything is hormone induced. I stay away from most things, except ice cream. Now that's my weakness. I do not go overboard but these new pint size ice cream flavors have me.

I started buying them just a couple weeks ago, different brands in different flavors. I have them off and on, Hmm, actually more like every other day. What do I find out today? That all of them add bovine growth hormone (rBGH)that is particularly bad for women. These hormones are injected into cows to produce more milk. And, they cause a lot of problems in cows and as much in pre-menopausal women.

Milk from cows injected with rBGH, is banned in Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and all 27 nations of the European Union. US is always behind in these things. Monsanto the giant and most hated company in the world, is where most of the genetically engineered (rBGH) dairy that go into these ice creams come from and they are swearing in court about it being safe.

That is it. I am not going to buy ice creams from any of these brands any more- Haagen Dazs, Breyers and Baskin-Robbins. Ben and Jerry's is the only one that has sworn they will not buy milk from dairies that have used any artificial growth hormones.

I do not know about the quality of milk in ice cream that you get from places like Dairy Queen, or the other little ice cream shops around. But, I guess the first question to ask is if they are hormone free. People will probably turn around to see who this crazy person is but that's fine by me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Eggs from a farm in Iowa is reported to be unsafe

An Iowa based company has been recalling millions of eggs sold around the country.

"The company said the recalled eggs came from five plants and were distributed across the country under the brand names Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, Kemps, James Farms, Glenview and Pacific Coast. (Dutch Farms said Wright County packaged eggs under its brand without permission.)"

Almost 2 weeks ago, I bought a carton of eggs, and some egg white too. They are the Farm Fresh brand. I have used up half of the carton and luckily nobody has fallen sick at my home. So, should I keep the rest of the carton? Common sense says 'yes'.

Check your refrigerator and discard the eggs if you just purchased them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pictures from the August 14th workshop

Here are some of the pictures taken at Saturday's workshop.

A recipe from August 14th workshop


Split Peas Vada

Ingredients:
1 cup Yellow split peas (lentil)
3 Red chilies
Oil to fry
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. asafetida (optional as it is not gluten-free)
2 Tbsps. diced red onions (optional)
Chopped Curry leaves (optional)


Method:

Wash lentil thoroughly in running water. Soak for at least 2 hours.

Drain water, rinse again. Add chilies and grind to a coarse consistency. Do not add water while grinding. Should be able to roll into balls.

Remove from blender onto a dish. Add salt, and the diced onions. (optional)

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. After it reaches about 350 degrees, lower heat to medium.

Make ping pong size balls of the ground lentil.

Flatten it out just a bit on the palm of your hand.

Drop into the hot oil. Let it brown lightly on one side. Flip over to the other side. Continue flipping off and on until the flattened piece turns dark golden brown.

Drain and remove from oil. Place on paper towel for excess oil to be absorbed.

Serve with any chutney of your choice, ketchup or serve it plain.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It was a perfect day

The workshop yesterday was successful. I had a house-full that included two men. The dishes turned out good, the only thing that I had to deal with was one of the electric stoves that refused to cooperate. Will be soon posting some shots, and maybe a video clip.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Today's workshop

I am so excited. I have a full-house. Can't wait. If you are still interested, please call or contact me via this link. Look forward to seeing you all at Soul Source, Center for Conscious Living in Media, PA.

Friday, August 13, 2010

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

I dislike apples, lately to the point of aversion. When I was growing up apples were a treat and they tasted good. Now they have genetically re-egineered color, shine and some varieties taste like wax.

However, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. This is actually the doctor's prescription and answer to obesity especially in children. The pharmacy that patients are asked to go to are the Farmer's markets and the presriptions are a list of vegetables and fruits, with apples topping the list.

The Massachusetts project is an actual pilot-project and high risk obese children are given these natural food prescriptions for nutrition and treatment. Other recommendations similar to this are no sodas, more water, no snacks and less fruit juices. I am sure less salt and no added sugars are next in line.

Great ideas. If a pilot project shows success it is likely to spread to one community at a time until the whole country becomes aware of healthy eating. That'll be fantastic and insurance companies will ultimately be as poor as we all are.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Make Your Dog The Co-pilot

Runner's world gives us,

Five reasons to run with your furry friend.

1 People don't have tails that wag
On days you're dragging, Sparky can remind you that running should be joyful. His relaxed stride and frisky vigor are contagious. Dogs even look like they're smiling.

2 It's better than bonding over a bowl of kibble
You like to run. And dogs are natural runners. You might be surprised how much you get out of sharing this common interest. It's even better if you both take a nap afterward.

3 They don't worry about negative splits
Human partners can get caught up in how many calories they've burned and their GPS stats, but a dog will remind you that the best workouts are the ones where you run free.

4 They won't accept your excuses
When that tail starts wagging, it's hard to say no. One University of Missouri study showed that people who exercised with a dog were more likely to stick with it than those who go it alone or with a human partner.

5 A tired dog is a good dog
Get Fido sufficiently tired, and when you get home, he's more apt to snooze at your feet than terrorize the postman—or chew up your new Nikes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just bend your neck down and look at your waist

I just did. Not happy. No matter what, I am not able to lose that last inch or two. In my case I'll make myself feel better and blame it on child-bearing.

I can blame all I want on several things, the fact is it does not contribute to good health. Maybe staying off carbs completely will do it. Or, just focusing on that area at the gym would help. I am going to start from today.

Men and women alike set themselves up for big time health problems such as gastro-intenstinal diseases, cancer, high cholesterol, heart problems, insulin resistance and a whole list of other things not to mention self image if you do really care about it.

Studies show the following - A waist size of 47 inches or larger for men and 42 inches or larger for women doubled the risk of dying during the study period, compared to those with smaller waists (35.4 inches for men and 29.5 inches for women). Among normal-weight women, the risk of dying increased about 25 percent for each additional four inches of waist size.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is it possible to just forget health clubs?

Easily. What did we do before health clubs started everywhere? Nothing. We didn't need to do much. The foods that we ate were not genetically reengineered or were they filled with estrogens and fat, or injected with hormones. We ate normal food, probably ate less and our kids spent time playing outside. Everything that's good for our physique.

There is hardly a city in this country that can claim to be healthy. Today, New York city has the most fit people in the country. NYC of course is the ultimate in almost everything... diversity, style, entertainment, health, you name it. Subways take the lead in contributing to health and do a whole lot of good than just being a mode of transportation.

New York subways, a health gym: Rarely would you see an obese person on the streets of New York. Everybody walks and/or takes the subway. If you have ever worn the calorie counter, a little gadget that counts the number of steps that one takes, you'd know exactly how much of body fat was burned. It can quickly add upto 1000s of calories. I have actually tried it.

Back to subway. An article in New York times on this says, 'The subway so neatly meets New Yorkers’ insatiable demands for work, entertainment and efficiency that one can’t help but wonder if we’ve been thinking about it all wrong. It’s not that New Yorkers built the subway they needed; the subway built them.'

I wish we can get back to the basics at least for some things. Walking or taking the subway would top my list.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meatless Raw Foods Are Supposedly The Healthiest

A few months ago, I was in India visiting relatives and friends. One positive improvement that I noticed in their lifestyles is the shift in diet. Almost all of them are extremely health conscious, knowledgeable about nutritional values of everything they eat and why. Some of the middle-aged macho men still live recklessly though thinking they are in their teens or twenties. An example of how some things or some people do not believe in changing for the better.

What I came away with was that naturally grown raw foods are the healthiest. I was visiting a close relative in the french colony, Pondicherry. We visited the peaceful Aurobindo ashram. Close to the ashram was the raw food store and restaurant. My first exposure to this new concept of raw foods. I was not only fascinated by the store and things they sold, but also the pure and natural taste of the foods I had there. They were basic, raw and tasted incredible. It was lunch time. So, we decided on a few elaborate snacks.

I am trying to find more information on the effects of raw foods and also how to have more of them in this country where fruits and vegetables are genetically engineered and sprayed as well.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Should meat be served to guests at a wedding even if either the bride or the groom, or both of them are vegetarians?

At the latest celebrity Chelsea Clinton's wedding, meat was served to the guests although Chelsea is a vegetarian. Now, this has ignited some discussion as to whether it was necessary to serve meat when the bride is a vegetarian.

I think not. How do you make food fun without meat? Just arrange some good Indian chefs to cook. You can have taste, fun and variety all at the same time. There is an overwhelming selection of fantastic vegetarian dishes in Indian cuisine that you can literally go on for a whole year or so without repeating a dish.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Even the paranoid have come back for more

Are you adventurous and daring? Do you like diversity, color and most of all food? Do you want to stimulate your senses and taste buds with bursts of flavors? Then, join me for the next healthy vegetarian cooking workshop. Visit http://tiny.cc/pf93c for details.

Ooo, watch out. Vanity can lead to unexpected health issues

The Claim: Salons’ UV Nail Lights Can Cause Skin Cancer - Not fiction or myth, but a fact. If you have ever been to a nail salon you obviously know this. UV lights are used for fast drying of nail polish. After the manicure is done, women are guided by their manicurists to sit under these lights to let their nails dry. These nail lamps can be dangerous. The finding is UV rays penetrate the skin deeply and lead to cancer of the skin. A couple cases prove this to be true. "One had a 15-year history of twice-monthly UV nail light exposure to dry her nail polish.” The other used nail lights about eight times in a year before her diagnosis.

Something to think about ladies before you go under those little bright white lights!

A new restaurant to visit in NYC

Tamarind Tribeca - I have not dined here but rave reviews say this is a place that can beat any good Indian resataurant in London. This is in my reserve list for the next visit to New York. Restaurants are rated on food, service, ambience, and price. This gets 2 stars, although the reviews are outstanding. I don't get it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Taking a break to check out the new grocery store

I've been at my desk since 8:00 a.m. and finally took a break to check out the new grocery store 'Giant' that has just opened up. Being a foodie things like these excite me. I needed a few items anyway.

The store was quite amazing. Spacious, fresh items, good service and a huge parking lot with wide spaces, I can go on and on. A clean store with good customer service defintely lures customers. I did not find anything unique beyond what Genuardi offers but I have decided this will be my new grocery store to raid until it starts to slide.

It sucks to be the under-privileged

Lately, I have been reading quite a bit about food, health, obesity, education and opportunities.

It is sad that in every area the under-privileged get hit the most. They are more likely to get sick faster due to lack of resources which includes money for preventive care; they are the ones who are the heaviest due to lack of money to spend on healthy food; they have less opportunities because they don't go seeking them at all.

Due to lack of education I believe they have misplaced priorities in life. Going to school of course is way below on their radar because their parents quite likely were not educated and hence do not know the power of education to be able to enforce them on their kids. I have also noticed and read about less fortunate groups in communities in every suburb, city and state who have made the choice of not going to school or college since it is not the direct route to wealth. In other words, they have found better (in their minds) ways of earning money. Obviously, they have not thought about consequences. These groups don't understand that being educated does not necessarily mean being rich. It means creating better opportunities for oneself, understanding or developing strong values in life. Money comes much later, and follows opportunity along with hard work. There is no easy way to become wealthy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More on obesity

I wrote on my July 25th blog about obesity and socio-economic class relationship.

It appears the rate of increase in obesity is faster than ever. I am wondering if the current general economic condition is contributing to this speed of increase in obesity. More people being able to afford less healthy foods. It is true that the McDonald's and Burger King's are affordable to the lower income groups than fresh food markets. One burger a day can definitely do wonders to one's physique. Unless we make an effort to go looking for these healthier produce and fruits it is near impossible to eat healthy.

I thought the lower income groups living nearer to cities where there is public transportation and plenty of walking involved are less obese. But I don't believe my assumption is correct. They are as obese as those in the suburbs who really don't move much. The lower the income level the lower the education or barely any education. So, this group falls under the obese category almost naturally. There is a straightforward link between education or lack of and obesity. That may sound discriminating but I have thought about it and discussed it with several groups. Sadly that is the truth.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This is heart-breaking but more enraging

Here's one more of a list of gazillion studies that says men in general are weak in mind and body. I read that men are more likely to leave their wives/get divorced if they fall sick, whereas women stand by their husbands. This is more so if women are cancer patients.

One study done by an oncologist Dr. Chamberlain of the neuro-oncology division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center says, "When the man became ill, only 3 percent experienced the end of a marriage. But among women, about 21 percent ended up separated or divorced. Among couples who split up, divorce occurred, on average, about six months after the diagnosis, although there was wide variability in the timing."

“All these patients were couples when we met them, but we don’t know about pre-diagnosis marital conflicts that had been festering,” Dr. Chamberlain said. “But the striking part is with life-threatening illness, how often women are abandoned compared to men. That does not speak very well of my gender.”

How feeble can men be! This is the sort of thing that enrages me. What about the vows of marriage in sickness and in health? Why do men get married? Only for taking care of their needs such as cooking, cleaning, bringing up kids, paying bills, doing all the work at home, bringing in the money (of course, the wife needs to have a career too!), as well as needs in the bedroom?

Men out there- if you are reading this you are welcome to participate in the dialogue and speak for your kind.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Call me Ms. Paranoid

Oh, one more thing about gym and exercise. The lurking germs on everything we touch and use, most of all the floor. I am paranoid as is about bacteria anywhere and everywhere. And, more paranoid during flu seasons. I have seen some nasty things people do at the gym and it completely grosses me out. I try not to touch door handles, wipe down equipment handles before and after, spread a towel during stretching and also stay away from people around who sniffle and sneeze. I do not use the regular water cooler ever since I saw a guy spit into it. I have many more gross stories. Don't know if it helps to be as obsessive about cleanliness as I am. At least I did not fall sick last year.

What are some of the things you do to stay clean of bacteria, fungal skin infections and so on that people get if they are regulars at the gym?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Water dilutes but as a result enhances taste too

Balance is key in cooking just like anything else in life. What I have always done to my dishes to make sure that the outcome is sensational is balance the spices and other taste enhancers to salt, so that nothing is overpowering. I'm sure you've all experienced this. If you are too picky like me there are times when you might find the dish has not reached the point of just right even after all the adjustments. I wonder if it tastes right, if it feels right or even looks right. In that sense, I guess a serious cook is like an artist. They want to make their art appealing to all the senses. But, geting back to balance in taste...

A fabulous easy taste balancer that I just read about is water. I have used water to make a spicy dish less potent. But the chef who recommends water says that to make a dish more aromatic and flavorful, water is the only essential ingredient because it dilutes other ingredients and can change their balance for the better.

This is more true of drinks. The aroma is enhanced with a good balance of water and I would say it's especially applicable to coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker but know of several coffee addicts. I've got to run this by them and see what they have to say about diluted coffee versus potent coffee as in Starbucks or percolated coffee as made in homes in India.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The New Old Age

This article 'Family Relations: An International Comparison,' by PAULA SPAN was one of the recent ones I read about caring for aging parents. An interesting look at parents and grown children's relationships in five other industrialized nations.

Friday, July 30, 2010

House of India

When I am traveling, the one thing I definitely do not look forward to is eating out; especially in an Indian restaurant that serves northern Indian cuisine. We went around Clayton downtown looking for 'Rasoi'. After about 30 mins. of driving up and around the same streets a few times, one of us had this an enlightening moment. We decided we need help with the directions after all. We found the number through directory assistance and called. Unfortunately nobody picked up the phone at the restaurant. A few minutes later we called another location with the same name and found out that 'Rasoi' went out-of-business a while ago.

This was a good excuse to get into that Italian restaurant we just passed by. But my persistent companion was not in the mood especially after the long search for an Indian restaurant. We had already lost an hour by now and I was ravenous. Another search for the next Indian restaurant in the area pointed us to the 'House of India'. Back to directory assistance. After more driving around and some unexpected turns we reached the restaurant.

It was a pleasant surprise. The ambience was just right and romantic; the food extraordinary. Service was even better. We had a variety platter of some appetizers followed by our main dishes. I had palak paneer and a roti; some raita and salad on the side that we shared. I was literally done after the appetizers, but decided to at least taste some of the entree. We packed the rest which was just about my entire meal. We spent another 30 minutes talking to the owner of the restaurant. It appeared that many of the other customers have been there before. The owner then treated us to this amazing kulfi dessert. I maybe stuffed but there's always place for dessert. This place is worth going back to. Oh, one more thing. The price is reasonabale too.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Exercise Philosophies

Everybody likes to be healthy. There isn't anyone I can think of who doesn't support exercise or healthy eating. Here are some responses I have come across or seen.

- I love exercising! I could spend hours watching people doing it!
- A close relative, another big believer usually tells me to spend an extra 30 minutes at the gym. But that person goes to the gym once a year or so. Hmm.
- The best visual I'll never forget is seeing this middle-aged, burly gentleman holding a large soda while biking vigorously.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Health and Social Life

I knew strong social ties contributed to emotional happiness. But I wouldn't have guessed that it relates to our physical well-being too.

Social relationships have a direct impact on health even as much as exercise or lack of, and to other habits like drinking or smoking. Lack of relationships such as strong ties with family and friends could be as risky to health as other bad habits.
Studies say that people are happier, healthier and likely to live longer if they have a network of people to spend time with, talk to and relate to. I guess that makes sense since emotionally happy people generally are the positive people we come across in our everyday dealings. That positive outlook probably rubs off on all other areas of life thereby encouraging people to eat healthy, exercise, take care of themselves and so on.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mushrooms

I have written about mushrooms in some earlier blogs. But I need to get back to it while my experience is fresh in my mind. About 10 days ago I bought a large box of mushrooms, left them in the fridge and completely forgot about them.

While I was cleaning out the refrigerator I found the box with those big white mushrooms quite dark and dried up. I was in two minds as to whether to trash it or not. But, I had spent a pretty penny on them. I am a health nut and if I hear something is good for your health, I buy in bulk and feed my entire family, friends and neighbors so everybody can reap the benefits.

Mushrooms reconstitute, and although they didn't look as pretty as firm, or moist as the fresh ones, they cooked fine. I cooked them in olive oil with some garlic and herbs. Quite basic and they tasted great.

Health benefits are a long list - low in calories, packed with nutrients, and an excellent source of B vitamins and minerals, including selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and manganese. Mushrooms also contain a powerful antioxidant called L-ergothioneine. Throughout Asia, they're revered for their immune-boosting properties. They also contain more protein than most vegetables, and their meaty texture makes them a good choice for vegetarians. Shiitake, maitake, oyster and king oyster mushrooms contain the highest amount of L-ergothioneine, but criminis, portabellas and white button mushrooms are also good sources.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Did you check out the recipe of the week?


Bhajji (Vegetables dipped in a lentil batter)Bhajji is one of the most tasty appetizers of southern India. A medium-spiced lentil batter is created. Then any vegetable of our choice is dipped in the batter, then dropped in hot oil and fried until it turns golden brown. Best when had with chutneys and saambar (a thick lentil soup like sauce) as shown in the picture.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Obesity and Socio-economic Class Relationship

I don't know if it is just me looking in the wrong places or it is reality staring at my face. Obesity seems to be growing in this country despite all the diets and slim bodies we see on screen that promote them, constantly. There are more obese than fit people in places like shopping centers, airports or restaurants. And when I share my feeling of hopelessness or dismay, and the sorry state of some of these helpless people, I sometimes forget that the weight/health issue is most often than not related to socio-economic status.

People in poorer neighborhoods are possibly the largest in size. There definitely is a corelation between where they live, education, income levels and also access to healthy foods. The low income groups just go for the fast, cheap, and unhealthy all the way. Is there a way to break out of this state? I think this is where education should step in. But more importantly, this is where parents should play a part and make a difference. If parents are not educated, then what? Children should have the sense to follow good role models. If that fails, there are many other things they can do. Get involved in sports for instance. Move, be more active. It may stimulate their brains to do well in school too. It could get them to reason that it is better to cook and not buy food all the time. This in turn could result in the next right step.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kalidasa's Ushavandanam

When I was a Sanskrit student in college, Kalidasa was one of the many poets I admired. Here is a line I often think about.

"Each today, well-lived, makes yesterday a dream of happiness and each tomorrow a vision of hope. Look, therefore, to this day, for it and it alone is life."

Kalidasa's "Ushavandanam"

Friday, July 23, 2010

A classic dessert for today's heat

It's been a long, hard week and being a Friday, I think I am done for the day. Just a couple things at work should wrap up the week for me. After that, I am heading straight to my favorite ice cream place in Media for that tantalizing mango gelato I saw somebody holding on their hand the other day while driving by. I couldn't stop the car so just said to myself another day. It's been a few weeks since then but today is the day. There's nothing to beat a mango gelato in summer. I especially love the one I get at Rita's water ice. I think they are the best in town. I make mango pie that's heavenly but haven't tried gelato.

Here's a recipe that will work.

Mix sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and chill. Then pick ripe mangoes and puree to a pulp. Test to see if the mangoes are sweet and not tart. Add a 1/2 cup of lime juice and then heavy cream. Mix well together. Transfer to a container and stir in the cream. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours. You may freeze it in the ice cream maker for 2 hours.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Choice not chance, determines your destiny"

I often think of this quote by Aristotle. I see this as being applicable to every aspect of our lives. However, I'm not sure one or the other completely determines our destiny. Our situations are a mix of choices and chances. Choices are made consciously and chances are not in our control.

If I apply this to my own situations, many of the things I do today including my venture 'Vidyaswamyskitchen.com' is a combination of something I had wanted to do for a while and an opportunity, meaning a chance that opened itself up to me. The opportunity more or less sought me ought.I wouldn't call it my destiny since this is not a 'be all, end all' situation. It is just a hobby at this point. I can take it to the next level and get more serious with this venture or maintain it as a hobby.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A follow-up on the same subject except, it's for men

Oily, shiny faces are not something just women have to deal with and address. Men are bothered by it too. I am guessing they are turning to different avenues for help. They don't use powders or foundations, at least not the ones I have come across, so what do they do? Probably go to salons and other beauty care stores? Of course!

I read there is a new moisturizer for men with a matte finish that removes the oil and shine from skin. Which means there is a demand for such a product! Come on, you men are as vain as women when it comes to looks, skin, hair, you name it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Being real. Finally Hollywood is changing its mind

Women have the toughest when it comes to looks. I do not like applying anything on my face except for some moisturizer. I do use eyeliner or lipstick. As a result my skin always looks oily and shiny. My friends get upset with me for not being trendy and modern, for not using any makeup and encourage me to apply foundations, powders and the many other things available out there. I just refuse to mask my skin and look like a plastic manequin.

What I read today was encouraging though. Even Hollywood is asking women to have the natural look instead of botox and cosmetic surgery, fillers and what not. 'Real' is really In!

Hollywood is actually turning away actresses who are 'unnaturally perfect'. Finally the pressure is off us. Maybe this is an encouraging piece of news to adolescent girls who are so much under pressure to look like the made-up Hollywood so called 'beauties'. Aging gracefully, the natural way is what nature made us to be.