Lunch – Soup, Salsa, Steamed-Oven fried Veggies

IMG_6009Soup and Steamed veggies were done in steamer and oven. Salsa was made in food processor.

Soup – 1 bunch spinach, 4 garlic cloves, 1 big tomato – steam all together. Blend adding 5 macadamia nuts, add salt, pepper, coconut oil and serve hot. If needed add hot water to get desired consistency.

Steamed veggies – Steam cauliflower and potatoes until 3/4th cooked. Add dry spices, salt, oil and oven fry for 15 minutes at 200 degrees celcius.

Salsa – 2 green peppers, 2 cucumbers, 1 bunch cilantro, 20 cherry tomatoes, 1 medium onion – pulse in food processor to chop finely. Move to a bowl. Add 3 avocados, oil, salt, lemon juice, roasted cumin powder and mix well.

Here is the steamer I use: Slow Cooking and here is the food processor.

 

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Lunch – Soup, Salsa, Tortillas

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We had a healthy cooking seminar by a nutritionist last Sunday and I made salsa inspired by her recipe. I call this cooking hands free cooking because I can do other work like gardening, sewing, violin practice while the cooking is going on. And if I forget, no problem of burning the food!

My lunch today

1. Corn flat bread: corn flour, garlic, oregano, sesame seeds, salt.
2. Slow cooked soup: Papadi bean, Beet, Potato, Onion, spices,
3. Salsa made in food processor: Cilantro, Pepper, Onion, Carrot, Zucchini, Avacado, Lemon juice, Avacado oil, Salt, Pepper, Fresh ginger, cumin powder, anise powder.

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Flower Arrangement

Learning Floral Arrangement

10th August 2017
Made my first circular cool and warm leaf arrangements. Did you come out to my satisfaction but am glad I could get past my inertia.

8th August 2017
My cleaning maid surprised me one day with a beautiful flower arrangement. Seeing a business opportunity for her who has a BIG family and is very poor, I downloaded some flower arrangement tutorials, put them in my iPad and gave it to her to learn. Meanwhile I felt interested seeing those but I have not been able to overcome the fear and nervousness and feeling of overwhelm and confusion to start it. The same teacher made a video on wreaths and because it had only 2 things I made one with a wire. Then I made 2 more without wire just tying the leaves with a thread. Now I feel I can try a small leaf arrangement. Here are her videos.

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Traditional Indian Teas

main-qimg-adaee3ab7be2f4ad8848dcc8e26e0d4c-cAround 10 years ago when I was in the USA I learnt about how cows are factory farmed in inhumane, unnatural conditions and fed with hormones. I decided to go vegan for 6 months and see how I felt. The most difficult thing for me was to get rid of the so called “Indian tea”, made by boiling milk, black tea and sugar. I had a hard time drinking bland tasteless herbal teas. But I told myself it is just a matter of 6 months, honey! Take it as an exercise of will power and self control.

And by the end of 6 months I had started liking herbal teas, my taste buds seemed to have become sensitive and not wanting a strong “kick giving” tastes. I wanted to give myself a treat with Indian tea. Started making myself the treat! And guess what…I could not bear the smell of it! I had to go out of the house while it boiled. After coming back I poured it into my cup and tried drinking it. But I felt like throwing up. Instead I threw away the tea.

I was very surprised how my taste buds had changed. Think for yourself what could be the health benefits of the Indian tea and then think for yourself what could be the health benefits of herbal teas (mint, lemongrass, bergamot, tulsi, oregano, thyme, and so many more).

Last year I went to India and my family members were forcing us to have the Indian tea. And we made fun of how it is not an Indian tea but a british tea and how we are still the slaves of the British :-). I visited a restaurant in Mysore and ordered a “Kashaya” and then it struck me that THIS is the INDIAN TEA 🙂

So I have been making herbal teas and Kashaya at home. Here is a very simple recipe. I make garam masala at home since I do not eat chillis, instead use black pepper. After sieving the garam masala I transfer the left over to a bottle (lets call it garam masala husk :-)) to use in Kashayas. Now here is the recipe for a kashaya:

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 tsp clove powder.
  2. 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder.
  3. 1/2 tsp black pepper powder.
  4. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder.
  5. 1/2 tsp cardamom powder.
  6. 1 tsp of xanthum gum powder(dinka in marathi). This gives the tea the desired thickness.
  7. 2 tsp of garam masala husk.
  8. 5 cups of water.
  9. 2 tablespoons honey.

Mix all ingredients except honey. Boil until the quality halves. Let it cool a bit and add honey and drink warm!

Today I had it with barley flour samosas and stone ground cilantro-mint-tamarind chutney 🙂

 

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Benefits of Pranayama

Am reading this book by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati on pranayama and practicing pranayama after taking a yoga teacher training course in India and I feel so sad for knowing about pranayama so late in my life. I wish those who read this post get to know about it and teach their children Pranayama at an early age. Below I am sharing some excerpts from the book, sans the scientific jargon!

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1. With sustained practice of pranayama, the structure, the skin and the smell of the body begin to change.

2. One is full of fresh energy and the senses are calmed and their outgoing tendency diminishes.

3. Impurities are removed not only from the physical and panic bodies, but also from the mental, psychic and causal bodies.

4. The intellectual capacity increases and the mind and thoughts become more powerful.

5. Negative tendencies begin to top off almost automatically. The small things that could earlier spin one out of control dissolve into nothing.

6.It creates static electricity in the body thus recharging the positive ions breathed in from the environment and converting them into negative ions. The effect is the same as that created by rain and thunderstorm.

7. Contrary to popular belief, the oxygen intake reduces by almost half in pranayama, does NOT increase. However, pranayama allows more time for oxygen to mix wth the blood, more time to eliminate waste through breath and blood. After pranayama, the strengthened respiratory apparatus is able to bring in more oxygen through the rest of the day.

8. All organs are massaged making the digestive and eliminatory system healthier.

9. Exercises whole cardiac system, especially Nadi Shodhana is excellent for Hipertensive people, as it brings the systolic-diastolic ratio to normal.

10. It harmonizes, purifies and neutralizes the secretions of the endocrine glands. During certain pranayama the circulation of the blood becomes very rapid and quality of the blood is also rendered very rich, the endocrine glands function in enhanced way.

11. Transition from childhood to adulthood becomes smooth if children start practicing pranayama at the age of 8. This is because pineal gland normally begins to decay with the onset of puberty. Pineal gland acts as a check for the pituitary gland. Pituatary gland is responsible for controlling the growth and functions of the other endocrine glands. If the pituitary gland is not regulated form an early age, an imbalance arises between the physical and mental development and the emotions mature before they can be handled. To prevent the decay of the pineal gland, children should start practicing pranayama at the age of 7 or 8.

12. The spine receives a pull during pranayama, thus toning the nerve roots and giving a strong stimulus to the whole nervous system.

13. Alpha waves are emitted and beta waves are reduced in the brain. Alpha waves bring harmony to the brain.

 

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Tawa Sabudana Vada/ Pan fried Yucca patties

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I stopped eating fried food many years ago. And so I could not eat sabudana vada anymore. All these years I was making only Sabudana Khicdi at home. Today I tried sabudana vada on tawa. It was super delicious and needed very less oil to cook.

Ingredients:

  1. 1.5 Cup Tapioca Peals/Sabudana soaked overnight. Make sure to just cover the peals with water. Too much water will make them soggy.
  2. 1 Cup ground crunch peanut powder. Use a stone mortar for better taste.
  3. 1″ ginger finely chopped
  4. 5 Sprigs of Cilantro finely chopped
  5. 1 green chili finely chopped
  6. 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  7. 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  8. 2 Potatoes cooked and mashed
  9. Salt to taste

Process:
Mix all ingredients well so that it makes a binding mixture. If it does not bind sprinkle some water and mix the ingredients again. Massage with the hands like you would do to make a dough.

Heat the pan, make small balls of the mixture, flatten in your palms and spread on the pan. Brush with coconut oil. Once done on one side turn over, brush with coconut oil and remove when done. Alternatively you can bake them.

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Makes 15 vadas.

Serve with buttermilk. I am a vegan so I used almond milk, salt, lemon juice mixture and gave it a tadka/tempering of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves.

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Slow Cooking

I wish to share how I slow cook at home. I had started steam cooking after reading its health benefits as it retains the most nutrients. But gradually I realized by how much it reduced my time in the kitchen. I have the below steamer, it has a timer and 3 tiers. I can put rice, vegetables to make a curry at the same time. But that is not the real advantage for me. The real advantage is that I can work in the garden, go for my evening walk, clean my house, do yoga, sew or practice violin WHILE cooking. And if I do not return on time, the food does not get burnt, instead it stays warm for many hours!

So for those women who say they do not get time to do exercise, slow cookers are a boon 🙂

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After many years of steam cooking we bought a slow cooker to cook beans like garbanzo, kidney beans, black beans for which we were otherwise using a pressure cooker. And not just that this slow cooker cooks about just anything. I make rice pulav, daal, polenta(like upma), sheera and much more in this. Again it has warm, simmer, low, high cooking settings and turns to warm mode once the timer is done. So I can put my lunch to cook in it, go to the farm and return after 4 hours for a hearty meal 🙂

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Now with so much time saving, I have started to think of going back to traditional grinding for making chutney and am going to buy a silbatta of stone!

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It is never too late :-)

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I never liked my handwriting but then never put efforts to make it beautiful. Since around a year am teaching kids English in a local poor village and one of the kids who is 8 has such a beautiful handwriting that it inspired me to make mine too beautiful. Just my first day’s practice improved my handwriting on the white board to such an extent that I was really surprised. And so am continuing to improve it.

Here is the video which I found helpful:

Through his channel I came to know that he composes and plays music and does paintings with different mediums…what a store of talent!

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Nut Pulp Patties

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Ingredients for the patties:

  1. Pulp left from making milk from any nuts. In the photo the nut pulp is of hazelnuts and apricot seeds – 1/2 cup
  2. Parsely finely chopped – 1/4 cup
  3. Finely minced garlic – 3 large cloves
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 2 tsp of oil
  6. 1/2 cup wheat flour
  7. Water as per need

Process: Mix all ingredients well with water and make a dough. The dough will not feel like it sticks together and that is ok because we are not going to roll it rather pat in the palms to make the patties. Let the dough sit for 15-30 minutes. Divide into equal parts and make patties using the palms. Cook them on a large flat pan all together with a lid on the patties. The lid is important to keep the patties soft and moist. Turn over and cook until done with lid on.

Ingredients for the topping:

  1. 3 medium size carrots
  2. 1/2 cup loose parsley
  3. 1/8 cup raisins
  4. 1/4 cup pine nuts
  5. 1/2 lime’s juice
  6. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  7. 1 tsp of salt

Process: Add all to a food processor and make a coarse mixture.

Serve: Scoop 2 tablespoons of topping onto each patty and serve. Makes 8 patties. We had it with warm nut milk of (apricot seeds, hazelnut, cacao powder, jaggery, rose-water)

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Menstruation – Are the ancient Indian traditions around it a curse or a boon?

In both ancient Indian cultures (american-indians-of-feathers and asian-indians-of-forehead-dots :-)), women were kept in separate huts, not allowed to cook, not allowed to enter temples, not allowed to bathe. Seems to the so called modern feminist women a curse from patriarchal brahmanical culture and male chauvinism. But is that the truth? When a girl used to get her first menstruation it was celebrated by announcing it, dressing her up and inviting the village to a feast much like a big-bang-birthday. Nowadays the girls feel shame about it and so did I in my teenage.

I shall add my own experiences in some time but for now quoting an excerpt from https://trueayurveda.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/menses-from-an-ayurvedic-view/

“There is an additional season for women which happens once every month during menstruation. The beginning period of the full moon is the natural cycle for ovulation. Receiving the essence of the moon at this time, a woman’s sexual impulses heighten and her vitality is once more replenished. Then, during the time of the new moon she experiences the natural cycle of menstruation. Menstruation is caused by the sun absorbing energies from the earth, which in turn draws the menstrual waste from the body. When the cycle has not been tampered with by use of contraceptive pills and other birth control devices, harmful foods and activities, and disruptive sexual activities, the natural ebb and flow of a woman’s monthly cycle remains in harmony .

Regimen to be observed by women in their Menses:
During the period of menstruation, activities need to be reduced to the essential so that the body experiences the least degree of interference. Quick warm showers, or sponging (wiping down the body), is the appropriate means of bodily cleaning during menstruation. She should avoid crying nor take a head bath. A woman should refrain from all sexual foreplay & intercourse. Day sleep and collyrium during the first four days of her periods should be avoided. Considered a very fragile period for a woman, this time is to be used to rest and to allow the body to empty it self before it is renewed. She should also not indulge in loud and excessive laughter and talk, nor should she hear loud noises. Food should be easy to digest,
not too heavy, not too unctuous, nor too dry or cold. She should avoid fatiguing work and all exercise.

All the above, although reasoning behind them is not totally understood without an ayurvedic foundation, during menses may lead to the vitiation of doshas, which may especially lead to gynaecological problems. One may observe these rules in order to eventually restore your natural cycle.
During ovulation, Pitta is most dominant, while Vata dominates the period of menstruation and Kapha the period following menstruation.”

Another source of information: https://lifespa.com/moody-painful-menstrual-cycle/

Update : I started not taking a shower/tub bath during first 3 days of periods since around 2 years. Then I take a bath on 3rd and 5th day. I do take a sponge bath during first 3 days if I feel the need to. And am slowly noticing how it is helping my mood swings. I would say 90% of my mood swings during PMS and during periods are gone. I used to have painful breasts for 10 days before periods, not anymore.

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