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

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)


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 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.