Detox away!

Why do we need to detox..

We consume lot of chemicals either in food or air we breath in. Some of the signs when we know we need a detox could be as simple as lack of energy, insomnia, allergies, headaches. 

There are various reasons you need to detox – mainly to improve your immune systems, removing toxins from your organs like liver, stomach, kidney, loose weight by improving your metabolism and burning fat, increase energy levels and so on.

Our parents and ancestors would fast periodically and gain the same benefits. With the cultural shift, we barely fast but we are cool with detox..so here I am trying to write some benefits to get some of us motivated for the same.

There are various blogs, products, articles that are written out there on detox. But the simple things we can do in a day to day can help big ways.

1. Drink plenty of water, additionally flavor with cucumber, lemon or mint to enhance detoxing.

2. Eat simple home made food like khichdi with rice or oats, raw vegetables salads, fruits, simple soups, sprouts, quinoa, brown rice, black rice, wild rice, steamed vegetables, Raita, leafy vegetables.

3. Say no to caffineated drinks like coffee, tea. Instead have green tea, herbal teas, ginger tea, salt lassi, salted buttermilk.

4. Protein intake by adding eggs, beans, tofu in every meal.

5. Make your sweet cravings satisfied by eating fresh fruits.

Start with once a week as you can see your body will react to the process. Based on how your body reacts, you will need to figure out the frequency as once a week or once a month or twice a month or once a year.  There are more challenging ways to detox as well as you learn about it. You could be on complete liquid or fruit diet for couple of days. But listen to your body and work with it. The best way to start is by eliminating processed food and intake lots of water and having one meal as kitchdi. Pick a day which is less hectic to ensure you are energy can be contained. Add simple exercises or yoga in your routine.

The benefits are large from improving your state of health to state of mind. 

Finally thanking my dear friend for motivating me to write this and do this again as a common goal!

Weekend Project – Upholstery of my bar stools

I have been hunting for a swivel bar stool covers for a while. My kids and I had rough used it and it needed an uplift. I could not believe I couldn’t find one for that size. Most of them were standard sizes and this one was 2 inches bigger. There are many custom cover makers, but they were turning out $35 per piece and shipping. I just needed to spend a little more and I could get a brand new stool!

I decided I will have mom get one stitched back in India as I am not good at stitching. I continued to research more on stitching options and I came across many blogs who did no sewing covers and easy steps to make covers and list was on.

I decided to visit the walmart craft store and see if I could get a good material to try my experiment on. I met a lady named Cecilia and she patiently explained to me how to sew elastic and measure. I still looked confused and unsure and shared my concern with her. She then suggested I should use the staple gun and it would be the easiest way for me.

So I grabbed my material, staple gun, scotch gaurd to protect and reached home with a mission (sounds like I was heading to win a game).

1. I unscrewed the seats from the stool.
2. I cut my material in half for 2 stools.
3. I drew a circle using my seat on the material with enough material left to pull and staple.
4. I cut them to look like a circle and stapled the four opposite sides to hold it in place.
5. Slowly I folded the rest to remove any wrinkles and stapled them carefully.
6. I placed the seat back in the stool and screwed them back to its position.
7. Used scotch gaurd to protect from spills and let it dry.

Finally so proud to have done something by myself. Loved it. Will be using my staple gun for more projects. Just have to look for ideas now 😉

Here are some pictures from before and steps I followed and final product!

Let me know if you liked it!!!

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Maha Shivarathri

People chant ‘Om Nama Shivaya’ as many times on the auspicious day of Shivarathri.

March 10th was Maha Shivarathri celebrations for Hindu’s. The festival is very important for followers of Lord Shiva. It is celebrated in a grand scale in India and in parts of Nepal.

It is believed that this is the day when Lord Shiva married Parvati. It is also believed that this is a favorite day for Lord Shiva. Another story says this was the day when The Lord danced to create the universe. Another story days when the world or universe was is in danger of destruction, Parvati prayed to her husband Lord Shiva to save the universe.

On the day of shivarathri, married women fast for their husbands’ long life. They worship Lord Shiva and Parvati for a happy and long married life. They stay up all night which is known as jagaran doing the prayers. The next day after sunrise is when women break their fast.

As a kid I remember visiting the Lord Shiva temple every year. It would take at least couple hours sometimes to get the glimpse of the idol as devotees line up to pray. I cannot remember much more other than that and sometimes spending evenings and nights driving around the city to see various idol’s of lord Shiva. They would be decorated and beautifully adorned.

Today people play games and some do chant prayers on the occasion and stay up all night in the name of god.

People send wishes to their close friends and family on the occasion. My best friend sent one that was creative I thought.

Om Nama Shivay

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Wish u & ur family happy MAHASHIVRATRI.

Here is a link to an interesting read about Shivarathri, which also explains science behind the festival.

http://www.hindujagruti.org/hinduism/festivals/mahashivratri/

Wikipedia has an interesting aspect as well-

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maha_Shivaratri

I absolutely believe that most of our festivals have a scientific reason and religion is just an aspect around it. I am sure their is a reason for fasting as well. But for me..I probably ate a lot today in the name of god :-)!

Food blogs & sites that inspire me and a easy healthy recipe makeover

I enjoy watching cooking shows and videos and get inspired and cook when I do get time to try new things.

I thought of sharing some of my goto sites and inspirational sites.

Vahrevah.com

The vah chef has so many good video lessons for a novice cook. It has helped me to a great extent to pick up some good cooking skills.

Manjula’s kitchen

She cooks many good vegetarian cooking. Simple and delicious and she is US based so helps with ingredients matches as well.

Showmethecurry

The 2 ladies are amazing teaching some simple tricks and some easy recipes as well. This was the first video based site I encountered and was impressed.

Gayathrivantillu

She cooks all Andhra meals which are my favorite. It helps me connect better with my friends and family and has a great collection of recipes.

Food food and Sanjeev kapoor videos

They have a great collection of recipes as well.

Pinterest

I love browsing and book marking all good recipes. I love baking and I enjoy browsing and looking for easy recipes.

Sailus

She has a great blog and collection of recipes as well.

Other notable blogs and Facebook feeds

1. Babble
2. Litebite.in
3. Monsoon cooking
4. Namma adugamane
5. Aggie’s kitchen
6. Oh she glows
7. Mansoon spice
8. Joyofbaking
9. Family fresh cooking
10. Thelady8home – a blog by a very good friend
11. Cooking with my kid

And not to forget family and friends who are awesome cooks too and I get to learn a lot from them. Some of them have turned some good old traditional versions to healthy options making then much more easier to consume without guilt.

One such recipe-

To make dosa or paddu

1 cup urad dal soaked
3 cups semolina
Salt

Grind the urad dal and mix semolina with water and then add the ground urad dal, salt and make it to dosa consistency and ferment overnight.

Enjoy with chutney or sambar by using the dough to make dosa or pancakes.

To make paddu add onions, grated carrots, green chille paste per taste and mix well into the dough. Use the paddu maker to make small and yummy paddu’s. Enjoy these with chutney’s too.

The above recipe was shared by a very good friend of mine. I thought she was super smart to do this.

The above recipe has replaced rice to semolina, which is a healthier option to rice. Enjoy these changes and share them with me 🙂

If you have some good options to replace the high carb or fat to healthier choices, do share them with me.

Embedded thoughts

There are many wonderful quotes I read and get inspired with. But, I was pondering on some good thoughts shared from many who have touched my life in many good ways…helping me be a better person. I remind myself of many of these quotes as they cheer me and help me move ahead!

I will continue to refine this space as I come across more in the future.

Enjoy!

1. Remember positives and ignore the negatives – mom

2. Why do you think I am struggling? I am using my time wisely and being busy and that helps me – mom

3. I don’t want to praise my kids. I want to hear them from others – mom

4. Family is the most important thing – aunt Sarla

5. You cannot control what people think. You can control what you think.

6. Apply what you have learnt.

7. Remember you are never ready for the position..thought can be applied on both personal and professional level – courtesy my leader.

8. Remember it is a journey – courtesy my leader.

9. Every day is a new challenge. Go with that thought and ask what’s new today and bring it on!! – a colleague.

10. What is the most important thing? – courtesy my mentor.

11. With responsibility comes accountability. Accountability drives results. Thought was apt for personal or professional level.

12. If you are not thinking positive, you feed negative – My friend Sumedha.

13. Work on what you have and leave the rest – my friend Sumedha.

14. Do not over think.

15. There is no right or wrong – My friend Sumedha

16. Dream big dreams.

17. Never become so busy making a living that you forget your life.

Most of these is common and you may have heard it. For me these are valuable advice and I cherish the thoughts behind and value what each one have said. It is great to be able to summarize and read them over and over.

Healthy Grain – Quinoa

Have you tried this grain called Quinoa? As a vegetarian, I am always in lookout for various options for protein. It has good benefits with respect to high protein content (14%) and good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and Iron. The grain has slightly bitter taste, but when eaten with good curry, the bitterness is negligible.

Quinoa

If you are not familiar with this grain, I would highly recommend you read this on wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa

I use this as a substitute for rice. For few years, we used brown rice. The fiber content is higher on brown rice compared to white rice. It took us a while to develop the taste around Quinoa. I try various ways to incorporate this grain into our daily meal plans. It goes well with sambar or any curry on the side. I also use Quinoa in my soups to give more density to my soups. It becomes a full meal in itself. My kids can’t make out I have Quinoa in the soup, which works well.

I have seen people come up with creative recipes using Quinoa. You can substitute for rice, oats, potato or for adding additional density to your dish. This is one wholesome grain that we should check it out 🙂

For now let me share my soup recipe –

Quinoa – 1 cup
Mixed lentils -1 cup soaked overnight
Garlic – 4
Onion – 1/2 chopped
Red chille flakes – 1/2 tsp
Veggie broth – 4-5 cups
Canned tomatoes – 1
Zucchini – 1 small chopped into cubes
carrots – 1 medium chopped into cubes
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Wash your Quinoa using a strainer.

In a pressure cooker, add 1 tbsp olive oil and add garlic chopped, red chillie flakes, add onions and saute till it turns transparent. Add your veggies, canned tomatoes, lentils, Quinoa, broth, salt and pepper and cover and cook in the cooker till 3-4 whistles. Check for taste for more salt and pepper. You can also add a spoonful of lime juice for additional flavor. This has been a favorite soup for the family..well I make it one as it has huge benefits of protein and a small carb ratio 😉

I have substituted Quinoa with pasta shells at times and that also turns out really good. You may want to add more broth if you like your soup more liquid.

If you are looking to cook Quinoa to substitite for rice, just wash the Quinoa and use 1:2 water and cook it covered till it boils. Cover partially and keep mixing till water disappears.

Here are some good recipe links to try:

Quinoa Salad
Quinoa Upma
Quinoa Pancakes
Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf
Quinoa Patties
Black bean Quinoa burgers

If you are aware of more, feel free to share it with me..would always love to try something with this grain.

Makara Shankranti

Wishing you all a Happy Shankranti!!!

I can’t remember all the rituals and stories and I have a habit of calling mom on each one. Just a reason to catch up and understand the culture and some times on the stories. This time I had to speak to grandma to get more stories 😉

Jan starts with a new set of Hindu festival. Makara Shankranti. Even though hindus follow lunar calendar, this is one festival that follows sun position. Basically this means sun transitions to Makara meaning Capricorn sign. The festival always falls on 14th of Jan. This begins the journey of sun in the northward direction. This also marks the beginning season for harvesting. Scientifically the warmer days are supposed to start from this day onwards.

The festival is celebrated in various different ways in India. The harvesting season is welcomed in different cultures in different ways. In some parts they have a tradition to fly kites. Lots of yummy sweet dishes are prepared in some parts. In assam, it is Bihu. In southern states of india, a traditional pongal is cooked. In gujrath, the sky is covered with kites. It is a festival of kite. In punjab a festival of lohri is celebrated.

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In my home the kids are given Bogi Pallu which is a mixture of sesame seeds, peanuts, jaggery or sugar cubes (small ones), chickpeas.

The same mixture is also distributed to few families as part of tradition along with a fruit and sugarcane. As kids we loved eating sugarcane and sugar candies that came along from different house holds. Sugar candies were made in different shapes and colors and would be attraction for kids.

Festival food – I have always seen mom and grandma make pongal. Pongal is traditionally cooked in a new earthen pot. Pongal is like a porridge made with rice and lentil ( moong dal). They make sweet version with jaggery version known as sweet pongal and savory version known as khara or uppu pongal. It is accompanied with a tamrind and jaggery dipping. The warm pongal on a cold winter day is comfort food. My grandma makes more varieties of pongal and mostly cooked in milk. She calls is Pallu pongal as base and uses that to make variations. This is accompanied with freshly harvested vegetables that are cooked in a tamarind and spice mixture. They also traditionally make obaatu which is another sweet dish. Very yummy as well. Some folks refer that as pooran poli.

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The morning of Shankranti every one cleans the front of their house. They believe this is done for welcoming goddess Lakshmi. In some parts of the country they get fresh cow dung and use that for cleaning.

Every one after bath worships the Sun and goddess Lakshmi. They pray to the god’s to give them food and grain and keep their blessings on the family. Families wear new clothes symbolizing a new start. The variations food is then prepared and offered to god before prasadam(offerings) is consumed.

I perform the festivals in a smaller scale and less lavish. I make simple savory pongal and sweet pongal and everyone in the family pray to god for good health. This time mom sent the sugar candy and a good friend got them for me. I made the mixture of chickpeas, coconut, sugar, coconut and peanuts to distribute among few with sugar candy. I will update the story with new pictures I can share after the festival.

I am hoping these stories are inspiring to my friends and my family and wishing you all a great health and happiness!

This is visual yellu and sugar candy for all my family and friends.

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Happy Shankranti again!