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Day 24 : Pre & Post cooking work

Our food is now greatly simplified. We just eat salads for lunch and dinner every day. The vegetables vary, dressing remains the same. The prep time is very time consuming, may be not that bad if it comes down to 2-3 hours for 3 days’ worth of food. And then packing the food in containers layering it from one of the greens , quinoa/cracked wheat/brown rice,  lentils of variety (one type every week), two steamed vegetables ( carrots, broccoli, beets, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts), I shop for veggies every 3 days so that they do not sit in the refrigerator and escape my memory. I have been diligent about that lately as I often forget and throw out the veggies. Bringing in only when I plan to cook is greatly helping me.

This obviously entails cleaning of veggies, chopping them, steaming and packing the food in containers. And all of them should be done in a day. I have also stopped using canned products that requires me to perform additional two steps of soaking a day before and cooking them. But, that is a lot of work as I am greatly un-coordinated and inefficient in the way I organize my cooking. Additionally, I make spicy peanut powder inspired by one of my favorite chef’s recipe, along with dressing. These items all combined make up for a fulfilling meal and I cannot be happier to have found something that is sustainable. The dressing which is supposed to last for 3 days usually does not. I think we overdose ourselves greatly. Still, not very bad compared to my earlier days of trying to make homemade food. Let’s just say I am able to manage and see a scope for improvement on being more efficient with my energy and time.

When I have some time and mood for cooking, I make a simple Italian, Indian or Mexican dish to satiate my taste buds or find a new recipe to play with. Then comes the cleaning part, which is where I am still struggling with, I am trying to wash them off immediately but the constraint of storing wet dishes makes it challenging. I have timed it several times, the dishes are done under 10 minutes’ tops, but motivating myself to do that work takes hours of cajoling. Additional stress if I have guests over.  And that is why, I have not been keen on inviting anyone over. Sure, we can order food outside, but it undermines the whole idea of saving when we are tight on budget. It’s any day cheaper to cook healthy meals at home than eating outside.

This is partly bragging as well as ranting about the benefits and dis-advantages of homemade meals and where I stand. Hope you have ignored all my rants and took only positive aspects. After all, in America – those added sugars, salt, canned and refrigerated goods are neither tasty nor healthy anyway.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  ~Hippocrates

Now, your turn – speak up about your cooking adventures.

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Day 23: Resolutions review

It’s been exactly a month when I took these resolutions :

  1. Drink 2 liters of water every day.
  2. Yoga 5 times a week.
  3. De-clutter once a week at least for 20 minutes.
  4. Write on this blog at least twice a week
  5. Eat home made food unless there is no option.
  6. Treat myself when I achieve some of personal and professional goals.
  7. Read at least two books each month.

and….

I followed none. Absolutely none. It breaks my heart to over estimate my capabilities and commitments and under deliver them. It is bit in-humane for me to do it. When I make lists like these, I forget that I am a human and not a robot. I have mood swings, my physical and mental abilities have limitations and more importantly trying to outrun my laziness to manage my time efficiently. The only thing that I have been consistently trying to do is drinking 2 liters of water and that is if I make it my agenda first thing in the morning. Yes, I forget to drink water until I have these dreams where I am desperately searching for water every where waking myself up in the mid night to gulp down full bottle of water. The other thing that I have been some what successful is #5, 5 out of 7 days, meals are prepared at home, that should not be even part of resolution for that matter, it was that holiday time and I went off the track eating every meal outside.  #2 is averaging once a week and rest of them are almost not happening.

Then, why make resolutions when you cannot follow? I really like to plan, execution is a paramount problem for me, having a sizable goals is probably a good idea. But, no matter what I do, I have difficulty following it through. As the saying goes, rules are for breaking and so as resolutions are for renewing. Ok, I just made that up, the resolution part. Self-blaming does not help either and it is greatly discouraging, so please do not do that, especially if you are in the same boat as I am in not following through resolutions. So, I give up and stick to only two reasonable goals that are healthy – #1 and #5 and I seem to follow that a bit, so I continue.

If I reduce my resolutions to just to two of them, my success rate just went up drastically. So, I will just stick to it. It all made me feel better and want to eat an chocolate ice cream to celebrate myself. Speaking of which, I have been on  a hunt for satiating my chocolate ice cream by making it at home. Yes, I have been eating lots of ice cream lately and I put on so much of weight lately, putting on weight is not a problem but the limited choice of dresses to wear is the problem. So, I am in the process of cutting down that addiction. Not easy. So, I found this awesome recipe that I am planning to give it a shot. I’ll share the link when it comes out well. It looked great and we can make it at home with few ingredients. I have to wait around until my banana ripens and I could froze them. Patience is the key. Did I just went off track? Ok, I’ll stop right here and right now.

How are you all doing with your resolutions?

Day 20 : Meeting people in a social setting

Call it a Social Anxiety, I have hard time having a conversation with new people. Especially, if I have to meet friends of friends or friends cousins/family members.  So, it is extremely rare from my end to be friends with these new people unless the action/persuasion happens from the other side, looking back, I can count on my fingers.  Perhaps, the experiences I’ve had in the past, where I felt people judged me right on my face, or my inability to participate in any conversations for lack of knowledge in areas of discussion or if I am making up all this in my head, not sure. I have myriad of thoughts running in my head of what if’s, then’s, else’s or something weird that I think of with the end goal that they might be looking down on me or Is it just that I get that sort of feeling with few people. It just is and hard to justify even though they are very nice to me and I mean nothing to them and may forget me the next moment the occasion ends. But, I carry forward the feelings, at times good, some times bad. I remember bad feelings quite often than good, guess, that is human nature. That is why, I have another new year resolution for me to think only positive of any situation. It helps me to be sane and If I have to meet them again, then I would feel good and look forward to meet any one for that matter. What do you think?

How about you? how do you look forward to meeting new people? what do you chat when you meet? are you a natural conversationalist? I have too many questions to ask. With some people, the conversation just flows and with other’s (which is majority in my case) it becomes most like Q & A with yes or no answers and I look for every opportunity to get away from them and not to meet them ever again. Is it me or them? or if they are in the same boat as me. I am not sure. And that is why, I have hard time meeting you my dear blogger friends. As much as I love reading your blog posts, I categorize myself as one who may not fit in your world. I would not know, unless I try. Someday, I muster enough courage to give it a try. One day.

I try to pay attention to other’s who are good at making conversations, the topics they choose and questions they ask and how they put an effort to make a personal connection with them, some how. I am amazed at some of my friends, cousins who have confidence to meet any new people without shying away. On the other hand, I fight with my inner self so much to make such attempts. Why is it so hard for me? And yes, writing just my thoughts out here want me to get to the root of this problem, and find solution to make my life better. Finding a problem in itself is an accomplishment, now, onto looking for ways.

How about you all?

Day 18 : Illustrations

Learned about sketching in one the blog that I regularly follow, she is one of my favorite author from India that I tend to follow her blog. She is into many things, and the art on her instagram got me interested to try it out.  I cannot add it to my resolution list as this is one of the many experimental hobbies that I pursue. I ended up drawing something with my regular pen on a paper and applied water colors to it, the result was not too bad but not good either to show off my first art in the longest possible time. Ok, I was a decent painter when I was a kid and am proud of myself to say that my younger cousins imitated my every doing are now a better artists than I am. Imitation is the biggest flattery, isn’t?  This lead me to looking into beginner level tutorials for sketching, and that is when I landed on fashion illustration.

I thought, if I am starting new, why not take up fashion sketching and experiment with it. I ended up watching quite a handful videos and realized it is not as easy as I thought. To get the body proportions in itself is a quite a measured art that comes naturally after so much of practicing. Then comes, the style with which a model poses, and the type of dress you choose to adorn that figure is another challenging. Once you perfect these two, then comes the lighting, shading and coloring and that requires you to understand the science behind lighting and shadow. The curls, folds, wind, sheer clothing, stiff clothing and essentially you can go as far as close to taking a picture. Since, this is all an imagination, it get’s difficult, and no wonder becoming fashion designer is not that easy. Of course, technology is advanced and it has become easier than ever to draw it online and give specification of light source, style and dress, it will adjust to the desired one, and more importantly it’s faster.

So, every hobby that I have taken up or want to do sounds like I am swimming in a Ocean. This is difficult. I rather be jack of all trades than master of at least one to some extent. There, I still cannot nail down and say I like a thing and I want to continue. What am I passionate about? I guess, I’ll still be figuring out in my 80’s provided if I have my mental and physical abilities in tact. Any fashionista’s here? to be precise people who sketch?

I’ll just focus on basic sketching of stand still models with fancy gowns that I wish to wear. I am not a big fan of clutter and I am no model to get such variety to wear, I’ll live in my art, my imagination is not that great either. I’ll start with copying simpler one’s and then if I still hold interest, will come back with my artsy stuff to flaunt here. And most importantly, with one art that I drew this morning, definitely therapeutic for my rest less mind.

Any artists here? Would love to see your sketches or illustrations. Please leave me a link to your art work.

 

Day 15 : Fulfilling meal

What constitutes a meal that is nutritious, healthy and most importantly that satiates all your senses?. The smell, texture, taste that is not only appetizing but also very fulfilling is something that I look forward too. When you have food, it should be energizing as well. That is one such recipe I came across and I loved it very much. I usually look for vegan/vegetarian meals at various restaurants that I keep trying. When I came across this organic cafe Live Alive,  I fell in love with variety of food options that nurtures soul and body. I would look forward to trying different item on the menu every time I happen to visit that café. I carefully made a note of all the veggies, the style of cut, texture and taste, it was so delicious that I have decided to give it a try at home.

So, I scouted the entire world wide web for making the dressing recipe.. until I landed on this website, this turned out to be exactly as I tasted there. I made a batch of it that serves for up to 6 meals.  I had cooked quinoa, and layered with steamed broccoli, cooked & diced beets, steamed diced carrots and also added for some spicy-crunchy taste – dry-roasted and semi- blended peanut-chilli powder-coriander seeds-cumin-garlic-mustard seats. It turned out to be amazing. I just cannot stop bragging about how much I loved it. This is all refrigerated, all you need to do is organize, warm it for 30 seconds in microwave, add the dressing and have it. I have had it dinner & lunch for two days.  It was absolutely terrific. Highly recommend trying it.

If you were my regular blog reader, you would know how I keep struggling with food options and always on lookout for variety of cooking channels to get ideas for easy-to-prepare dishes. I want to minimize my time and optimize the options and easily scale for as many people as I want to serve. This recipe definitely goes under my favorite list.  What about you? And also, I do give reference links every time I like something and try it out. When I re-visit it In the near future, most of the links just does not work anymore. That is why, I plan on building my favorite recipe index, albeit copied, the references will be provided along with the text version of the recipe.  Between, I see the trend in food industry is shifting to grain bowls, mostly with kale-quinoa, kale-farro, kale-brown rice as a base, and all the other options are placed on top without mixing by giving an picturesque appeal to mix them up and eat. It just looks lovely and very appetizing. What appeals to eye and taste buds is a real winner –and before you assume, definitely not those junk foods that are deep fried and that are served in larger quantities.

I read somewhere, gut is the root cause of disease and food is the real medicine. If you ea t right, then you don’t have to visit any doctor. Please do share any simple veggie recipes you have.  Looking forward to hear from you.

Day 10: Breakfast routine

Do you have a breakfast routine?  What does it comprise of?

By writing those two sentences above, I just learned the grammatical difference between Do and Does. And when should each be used.  You must have figured it out by now the huge number of grammatical errors in my writings.  Ok, the topic was not about grammar but about breakfast.

I have been averaging to 5 hours of yoga in a week, i.e 5 classes. The classes are missed mainly coz my instructor cancels at least one morning class in a given week and I on the other occasion. I have been having pretty light dinners lately and that will make me very hungry in the mornings. I am looking at simple but healthy choice of food(s) that gives me enough protein, calcium and all important nutrients that are necessary for a balancing meal. Please share if you have any suggestions that are easy to assimilate into my routine.

One of the ideas is to have lentil/oat creeps, soak the lentils of different varieties, grind them up and spread it out on a hot flat pan. Have it with hummus/peanut sauce/tahini or with any steam cooked veggie combinations every day.  Lunch should be simpler that it should be no brainer and I have not settled on some ideas yet. I know that I have been going back and forth on simplifying the menu and never getting around it. I have also noticed that, I am consistently ignoring to include greens in my diet.  Making it a point to include diverse range of options is very challenging. And which is why, I am on lookout for simple, yet nutritious meals to consume.

Someone said, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.  Something of similar sort has been suggested by my yoga instructor in order for me to bend flexibly during yoga session.  But, I love my food and prefer to have really heavy dinner. Since, my love for yoga exceeds love for food at the moment; I am trying my best to be conscious on what I eat, when I eat and how much I eat along with the amount of water I consume on a daily basis.  I have also ingrained into my morning routine to have lemon-honey-warm-water combination first thing as soon as I wake up to help kick start my metabolism.

It feels good to know that, once you kick start one thing, without forcing yourself, you would be doing other things and it all feels very natural and logical. Do you have any such things, that you have started as an experiment and that gradually put you in a path that you once thought was difficult to get there? I would love to hear your thoughts on that. Please share.

Writing this post today made me look into usage of has vs have, that vs which, do vs does and as vs since. I hope to learn, remember and correct myself when the opportunity presents itself in the near future.

I’ll leave you all with a quote on food to ponder upon:

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  ~Hippocrates

Day 7: This moment

I have been listening to Practicing Mindfulness, an introductory course to meditation on audible. It has been there ever since I got added on to the audible few years’ back, this particular topic never got my attention until very recent.  It does not end without saying that how serious was I in getting into yoga, purchased the books, researched few yoga institutes in India for teacher training course.  That thought gradually faded when I was told that I need to have a regular practice of yoga asanas for at least 6 months. I joined yoga class, but I was extremely intermittent, maybe that’s not the right term to use, I would go to 3 classes per year at the most. Anyhow, that never progressed any further.

I digressed too much; coming back to the audible book that I am currently listening began after few days into my yoga practice. The topic of meditation is not alien to me.  As a child, we were told to meditate, pray and sit still for longer hours in front of god during special occasions, and yes – there weren’t many distractions back then either. As the author says, we never usually stay in the present moment, our thoughts vacillate back and forth from past to future. Paying attention to present is the most difficult task. As he makes such statements, instantly my mind wanders to evaluate itself.  So, when I come back to listening, I missed out on so much and had to rewind the cursor back to the position where I lost it. He also says that, sitting with your thoughts is the most difficult thing to do. It brings varied thoughts ranging from great to worse, thoughts like anger, frustrations, grudges, resentments, goodness, serenity, happiness, pending tasks, past, future, things to do and many more that makes you want to react immediately and if you do, which you normally would leave you restless.  To avoid such thoughts, we would put the TV on, or keep ourselves busy with something or the other but does not entertain the thought of spending time along to sit back and watch our thoughts and not act on them instantaneously. That is the hard part and that is why author says it is not as exotic as the media projects itself to be.

The author also adds that, our mind is a muscle that we need to work on. For instance, if one wants to bitch about something all the time, your mind wants to do that all the time. That is why they say, the more you practice, the better you get it. Apparently, the same thing happens with our brain muscle too. Growing up, we were told to have only good thoughts all the time, without any reasoning or knowing how that helps us to stay healthy. Happy thoughts generate positive vibes and organically it surfaces to your face and radiates through.  Now, the question is how ? ..and that is why it is considered as a challenge? Living in the moment is certainly not as easy as it sounds.

How about you? What your thoughts on mediation, do you practice it? If so, how do you feel about it? Has it helped you in any areas of your life?

P.S: This is part of 500 word challenge, if you skip a day, you pick where you have left and continue. That is exactly what I did.  And yes, there were no edits done.

Day 6: Time off from screen?

I do not really know how time slips by when I sit in front of any electronic device watching videos. Minutes slip into hours , then into days, weeks and years go by. Watching the kind of shows that do, does not even improve my knowledge in anyway. Is that good? not good for health, eyes or even for brain. Like any other addiction, this is mine. Any one out there in the same league as me?

I have been trying to be intentional about watching TV, but I am just so into it that I keep postponing the thought almost indefinitely. Ever since, I started this yoga, or this 500 word challenge, not long back ago, I want to add “No Screen time” to my challenge list. Every challenge that one takes up requires immense will power and I certainly do not want to overwhelm it to an extent that I give up on everything. Looking forward to watch some TV show towards the end of the day is my little pleasure after a long day’s work. Not only that, if I were to stay home for a weekend, I would watch back to back movies on Youtube, Netflix or Amazon. I feel terrible by end of  the day for not finishing the planned tasks, or any important work that has been pending for quite a while. That incomplete work adds to my stress. The cycle repeats and the only thing I see visible is my white hair increasing rapidly.

I really want to add “Screen off” to my existing list of things, but I almost gave up writing everyday here, and gave up yoga for 3 days straight. As much as thought I have been productive, writing 500 words is time consuming and that it occupies my mind until I get this done. But, I can start in small doses instead of going all out at once. I really want to see what changes it brings into my life. Yoga and blogging are adding some dimension to my otherwise aimless life. These two activities discipline me and one that challenges my physical abilities and the other my mental abilities to some extent leading to better time management. Well, do I have a choice there? May be I’ll some day become yogi with all the serenity and looking at every situation more objectively than emotionally. Who know’s what is in the store? May be with the time I save from “Watching TV” will take me to some where interesting.

Did any one out here challenged yourself with “No Screen time”? I can only imagine how much I can accomplish if I could cut down on my screen time even by 1/4th. Now, the question is how do i motivate myself? and where do I begin with? As usual, it looks like a pattern in me to look for motivation in quotes and also represent my current state of mind – i should just collect them at one place.

“Wake up with determination, go to bed with satisfaction”

“You can have whatever you are willing to struggle for”

P.S: This is part of 500 word challenge, if you skip a day, you pick where you left and continue. That is exactly what I did.  And yes, there were no edits done.

 

500 Words Challenge for 31 days – Taken – Day 1

I have signed up for a challenge of writing 500 or more words every single day for 31 days.  I came across this when I was going through a blog post on becoming minimalist that I scan through now and then. In the process, if I do like something, I would try to give it a shot.  It is also very important to note that I failed at almost everything that I have taken up. Not a good note to start this challenge – isn’t?

The one rule this author of 500 word challenge says that, just write whatever comes to your mind without editing.  Now, a person who writes on a publicly exposed blog certainly has some filters and of course will not spill every single thought that comes to mind. Is anyone out there who does that? Please let me know, I would be interested in reading your blog.

The other challenge I realized as soon as I signed up was, I was hoping to get a prompt to write about. Nope, there weren’t any. Instead, the email states that today is day 1 of the challenge.  So, to get some inspiration, I browsed through some of the participants of this challenge, found out that most of the links were not functioning in the first place. Secondly, the handful of blogs that did write something, they did not last much longer and the stuff written was random. I guess, I just signed up for nothing? Or rather, I decided to take it as personal challenge to take it forward instead, unless I get emails with some suggested prompts to take up.

The reason behind my hesitation stems back to last year experience of trying to blog every day for one whole month. Besides, I ended up cheating by doing picture posts. That is not an option now.  As I type this, I also realize that I might end up blabbering just to increase the word count. I promise, I will try my best not to do. I am also afraid, that writing so much and every day may lead to not-having-any-interesting-topics-to-share here.

Normally, I would have ended my post here, may be with a relevant picture. But, the word count says 366. Challenge accepted.  So, I would like to leave you all and most importantly to myself  with some interesting quotes from “Albert Einstein

  • I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.
  • If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
  • Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.

Few from Kahlil Gibran,

  • We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.
  • To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and do not forget to leave a comment. I also hope that, you continue to re-visit my blog for next 30 days.

P.S: If you are like me, who would like to explore your abilities as a writer or even for fun. You can know more about it here .

All about oats

Lately, I have incorporated oats into my breakfast regime in an on and off basis.  One cup (156 g) of oats contain – 103 g of carbs, 26g of protein and 17g of fiber.  All, I have heard was that oats is rich in fiber and no one really spoke about how much carbs it contains and the calories -676, these statistics blew my mind. I compared this to one cup of basmati rice and the carbs were 45 g, mere 0.6g of fiber and accounts for 206 calories. Now, I am not sure which one is better, especially when you want to get maximum nutrition and yet maintain or lose weight. The fiber seems to be of importance in many aspects of health. This website seems to give some level of accuracy on how much daily intake of fiber is required and how to account for it here.  And here is another website that lists top 10 sources of fiber.

So much for that, I decided to use up steel cut oats that were sitting in my fridge for ever. I quickly grind a cup of oats, add veggies to it and let it sit for few minutes and there you go.

Recipe1:

1 cup oats – powdered.

1/4 of medium sized cabbage – thinly sliced

Green chillies, bit of cilantro/coriander(optional) leaves and salt per your taste

Nuts of your choice – shredded. (optional)

Recipe2

1 cup oats – powdered

Spinach  or parsley or tomatoes – grind it along with oats or separately and mix them together

green chillies, bit of cilantro (optional), salt – as per your taste buds.

Nuts of your choice – shredded. (optional)

How to: Mix them together, pour water enough to be able to make pan cakes. Let it sit for 10 minutes, turn on the stove with your pan and start making spicy fiber rich quick meal breakfast pancakes.

If you would like to add eggs to above recipes – you can – they turn out great too. Similarly, you can add any combination of vegetables, nuts and they turn out super delicious.

Serve warm with – any kind of green chutney or coconut chutney or peanut chutney or even hummus – it tastes great. Or you could just have them as is without anything on the side.

If I find myself with some time in the mornings, I will quickly make them and have it.

Of course, you can even make sweeter version with banana’s and berries as well – I am sure it tastes as good. I just prefer spicy aspect of it. Nuts gives that extra added crunch while eating. I just fell in love with this quick and easy recipe.

Any nutritionist out there? or make conscious food choices for nurturing your bodies, what measures do you take to include healthy diet without surviving much on vitamin supplements?