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.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Diabetes and sugar-free products

I have too many family members and friends who are Type II diabetics. Most of them take foods that have sugar susbtitutes.

I just read an article which says that just because a product claims it is sugar-free, doesn't really mean it is safe for diabetics. Sugar alcohols in these products are compared to aritificial sweetners but the sugar-alcohol are like regular sugar. They are not sugar-free products. The molecular structure may be different, they may have slightly lower calories than sugar but are still capable of raising blood sugar levels.

I think people should not be fooled by the misleading labels. I'm not sure there is a lot of information available out there though.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Nature's gift

There was a long period of time when I stayed away from coconut in my diet. Which essentially meant I just stopped buying it. So, for about 25 years coconut was out of our kitchen. The saturated fat in coconut is higher than any other ingredient we use in our cooking. But it is bad only when cooked. In its raw form it is the best for our health.

It was after one of my recent travels abroad that everything changed. I learned raw food is very healthy and coconuts took the lead in health benefits. So, whenever I get a chance I throw in some shredded fresh coconut in my vegetables to top 'em off. I make sure they don't cook along with the other ingredients though.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What do I do with my green beans?

As appetizing as they may look, it is quite difficult to make green beans truly tasty unless they are made with spices as in the Indian preparation called beans usili.

But here is one recipe I have found to be truly fantastic.

Spicy Sautéed Green Beans with Ginger, garlic and Sesame seeds
For a pound of fresh green beans, use the following measurements for spices and ingredients:

Blanche for about 6 minutes. Sauté green beans in about 2 Tbsps. of olive oil for about 10 minutes until slightly shriveled but still crispy and brightly colored. Set aside. In another Tbsp. of olive oil, add 1 Tbsp of grated ginger, and 4 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp. or 2 tsps. of chili-garlic paste. Mix well and then add the beans. As a final touch, sprinkle a tsp. or so of sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A bowl of fruit for dessert

A bowl of fruit, that's all we wanted for after dinner this hot, humid summer day. For some reason I felt happy, nourished and satisfied with just fruits. And, I did not touch chocolates the whole week. Not to worry. Will make up for it tomorrow. I think chocolate and that too dark is allowed off and on!

True to life quotes...

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You always pass failure on the way to success." - Mickey Rooney

“When you know what you want, and you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it.” Jim Rohn

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What is your favorite drink?

I hope some of my blog readers and I know some personally, will answer this question.

I can tell you what mine is. I generally do not drink but if I am in a social setting and somebody offers to make something special, I ask for an Apple Maritini. That is my favorite but next only to a Margarita. :))

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Easy diet and it works. I can show you proof.

Last evening I was at a neighbor's when a few other neighborhood ladies joined us. I hadn't seen one of them in over a month or so. Oh, what a difference. She was just about the right build to begin with but yesterday she looked like she had gone down a few dress sizes. She looked more terrific than ever before.

I was excited to see her look so great and asked her to reveal her secret. Her answer was simple. All she did was watch her meal portions. Not even crazy exercising. Just the usual 3 to 4 days a week of the regular exercise routine she had before.

We had a brief discussioin on this watching your portion diet and I truly believe that's all a person needs to do to lose weight. Just watch what they eat, stay off junk food and sodas. The weight is bound to start melting away since you will not be feeding the fat cells. You'll see the magic happening right in front of your own eyes. And, what ever calories you consume of course should be fairly healthy from the right food groups.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Now, we're talking. Try this one.

I have come across too many beet related topics this week that I had to emulate the mood and write about it too.

I have mentioned before that I yearn for the particular natural taste of beets that I grew up with but have not found anywhere around in the stores I usually shop at. This one recipe might just be right in bringing out the taste, texture, aroma and nutrition of beets.

Mix 2 thinly sliced beets(remove skin) , a bunch of baby spinach or arugula, with 2 Tbsps. diced scallions, 1 Tbsps. cilantro, 1 Tbsp of each some toasted almonds and walnuts, juice of half a lemon in a large bowl. Then sprinkle generously fresh ground black pepper. Top it off with a hint of salt if necessary. Taste it and let me know!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Alzheimer's prevention

I have aging parents and I am beginning to detect some loss of memory in one of them. I've been encouraging my parents to read more, take part in social activities, do puzzles and also some light exercises every day. There is something I read today in Dr. Weil's blog that was announced by the Alzheimer's research foundation about prevention of the disease that falls in line with my parents' daily prayer rituals which is meditation.

Here is a case-study showing that the particular type of meditation mentioned here does help in overcoming memory issues.

A study at the University of Pennsylvania showed that eight weeks of Kirtan Kriya (KK) meditation from the age-old Kundalini yoga tradition increased brain activity in areas key to memory and improved cognition in the 15 men and women, ranging in age from 52 to 77, who took part in the small study. At the outset they were given cognitive tests, and their cerebral blood flow was measured with imaging scans. The participants were then taught KK and instructed to practice it daily for eight weeks. KK, sometimes called a singing exercise, involves singing the sounds, Saa Taa Naa Maa along with repetitive finger movements, or mudras. For comparison, five other individuals were told to spend 12 minutes a day listening to two Mozart violin concertos. At the end of the study, scans showed increased cerebral blood flow in the meditation group participants, but no statistically significant increase in the music group. Meditation group participants also did significantly better on a neuropsychological test and in other tests of general memory, attention and cognition. No such improvements occurred in the music group. The findings were announced by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This is a quickie

Quickie? What can I be talking about? Food, of course.

Here is a quick recipe for a steamy, summer day complete with all the vitamins and nutrition. Plus light and tasty. All you'd have to do is chop up a few vegetables and clean the blender after you're done.

A handful of each of the following:

vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup baby carrots, chopped
a couple sprigs of fresh coriander
1 clove garlic
1 cup of cello spinach, washed
Any other greens you have on hand
1/2 cup of garbanzo beans
a handful of pomegranate seeds
1 cucumber, chopped
1 Tbsp. crushed black pepper

Blend everything with a few cubes of ice. Add salt if you like to and drink it up.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Beets, or Beet root as I know it

Beets are great any time of year. I used to be turned off by the deep color but now I actually crave beets. It's been many years since I've had them only because of the smell and taste of pesticide. I have tried canned and fresh beets but they seem the same. I do not feel safe eating or feeding them to my family. Is there any place that does not spray them so they don't taste like contaminated vegetables? Of course, beet is a root so this has as much to do with the purity of the soil.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Body weight x .08

If you are into sodas to quench your thirst, then you should read this. Especially during these summer days of scorching heat and unsatiable thirst. I have a friend and actually a family member too who starts out the day with a diet coke. They continue drinking soda until bed time. They even carry a coke bottle to their bedside. I have also seen people who have a can of soda with their breakfast instead of juice, water or milk. And then I had a co-worker who swore that she was allergic to water and the only fluid she can handle is regular Pepsi. I have more funny, ur... scary stories too.

It hurts to see people doing unhealthy things to their bodies. They are not to be completely blamed though for their soda addiction. I believe it starts from home. If parents buy them and have them available, children will naturally gravitate toward these excessively sweet, sodas. There are other dangers such as fat build up, empty calories and that could later on lead to diabetes, excessive weight, etc. etc. Am I preaching? Well, maybe.

What I am getting at is, just try plain old water. There is nothing like water to quench thirst. The quantity recommended is one's body weight times .08. It could mean a lot of water. Not to worry. Every bit of water in your food intake counts toward the total quantity required by your body. Fruits and vegetables contain water. Coffee, of course not in excessive quantities can be counted toward that fluid intake. A person like me needs 9 8oz. cups of water. I've probably had about 4 so far. Now that I am conscious about this, I've got to figure out where the other 5 will come from!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Health Recommendations

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine establish recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for vitamins. The recommendations reflect how much of each nutrient you should receive on a daily basis, based on the known nutritional needs of practically all healthy people.

The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid.

Specific recommendations for each vitamin depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy).

There are 13 essential vitamins. That means they are needed for the body to function. They are:

Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B1 (thiamine, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin, Pantothenic acid, Biotin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Folate (folic acid)

Vitamins are grouped into two categories:
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body''s fatty tissue.
Water-soluble vitamins must be used by the body right away. Any left over water-soluble vitamins leave the body through the urine. Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the liver for many years.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What a 3-day weekend can do to one!

Don't know about you folks but all the eating I did during the past 3 days left me starving today. Not by choice though. The weekend was a great excuse to stay away from the gym. That's the first thing that suffers in my case. Seriously, need to re-calibrate myself and fall back into a routine after a zany food binge.

If you are feeling the same effects, I would strongly advice starting with plain cold water the first day. Also, stay away from spices and oils. A piece of bread? Maybe. You don't want to touch carbs. All these are out either because they are straight carbs or because they don't really help a damaged stomach -- rice, lentils, fried foods, fruits, also cheese and similar dairy products. So, what is left you ask? CRACKERS. I would recommend crackers with hummus. That's what's for dinner.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sprouted Moong Sabji

Recipe of the week - Sprouted Moong

Lentils, (several varieties are available in Indian grocery stores) are packed with protein and other nutrients. They can be cooked in a few different ways and each type has a distinct taste. Look for dhal recipes on my Web site to cook sprouted lentils. This week's recipe in particular, is tasty.

Also read about health benefits.

The science of Ayurveda - some basic information

The origin of the word 'Ayur' is Sanskrit and it means 'long life'. Veda of course means Science. So Ayurveda is the science of longevity.

Ayurveda recommends including all six tastes in our meals. The six tastes are - salt, sour, sweet, bitter, pungent and astringent. Also, the elemental energies need to be in balance for health. They are air & space, fire & water, and water & earth; which act as regulating principles. If they are not in balance the body becomes unhealthy.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

August 14th workshop at Soul Source

The next workshop is on Saturday, August 14, 2010 from 1:00 - 3:00 P.M. at Hillwood Farm in Media, PA. The focus will be on a couple unique vegetarian recipes, and at least one gluten-free recipe, cooked primarily with spices used in natural Ayurvedic healing. Stayed tuned for more information.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Our June 28th Summer Solstice Party

Anywhere there's a party, I am there. That is of course if I am invited. Lately, my eagerness to see and talk to people has increased more than ever before. As one of the practitioners at Soul Source I was invited to the Summer Solstice Party and had to be there. For one thing I had missed a couple gatherings before due to work or because I wasn't in town. I had also not met many others in my Leadership Group of Soul Source.

Just to give you a glimpse of what the evening was like. We started off with a delicious lime "punch" with fresh mint, followed by a variety of delectable dishes, and finished with decadent desserts, including fresh figs with blue cheese, walnuts and honey, and lemon squares. We were serenaded throughout by Doug Hill's guitar and his melodies. We ended the evening by walking up the hill and listening to Fred's crystal bowls...several folks playing them in the midst of fireflies dancing and tall trees towering. As one of the ladies described it... 'Very magical, like a Maxfield Parrish painting'. I kind of lost myself for a few minutes there.

Folks, if you haven't attended one of the workshop offerings at Soul Source, this is the time to do so. Let me know. Send me a comment or an email.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

August 14th workshop at Soul Source

The next healthy vegetarian cooking workshop is on Saturday, August 14th from 1:00 - 3:00 P.M. at Soul Source, Center for Conscious Living in Media, PA.

The focus of this workshop will be on a couple unique recipes and at least one gluten-free recipe. More information will be posted on the Web site in the next few days.

Characteristics of cooking and the cook

Cooking "is a form of flattery....a mischievous, deceitful, mean and ignoble activity, which cheats us by shapes and colors, by smoothing and draping...."
Plato (427-347 B.C.) Greek philosopher

A cook creates impressions just as music or art

I love this quote where cooking is compared to art, music and nature. They are all so sensuous.

"The beautiful and the good are identical but the fleeting impressions created by the work of a cook or a musician disperse even as they are being experienced. Raphael's painting The Transfiguration is immortal, but Carême's 'Ragout de truffes à la parisienne' lasts while it is being eaten, just as roses that last as long as their fragrance can be enjoyed."
by Lucien Tendret

Ingredients for homemade Hummus

Here is one of the best recipes for Hummus.

Add the following ingredients in a blender and just turn it on:

Chick peas - 1 can drained
Sesame tahini (Sesame Seed paste)- 250 milligrams
Garlic (a few cloves) - 4
Olive oil - 3 Tbsps.
Lemon juice - 1 Tbsp
Salt to taste
Red pepper - half
Cumin - 1 tsps.

Mix the paste well. It is easy to adjust taste as needed such as the tahini, salt, garlic, olive oil or lemon juice. Hummus with baked whear triscuit is great, or even raw vegetables. You cannot find a healthier snack!