Tips & Tricks Tuesday


Hope you all have had a great start to the week. One of my goals recently has been to get back to writing on a regular basis and by regular I mean at least once a week. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now, but despite all the thought and best of intentions, I would never get around actually sitting down and writing because I often found myself at a loss of ideas. I don’t like to write just because, I like to write about things that come from my heart or something that I am experiencing in my life and feel that others could benefit from the strategies I’ve discovered or lessons I’ve learned. You might be thinking that should come easy, sure the thoughts come easy, but like I said to actually sit down and write, that did not happen.

How many of you are with me, where you find execution can be a bit of a challenge sometimes, for whatever reason, either you’re busy doing other things or you forget,  etc..

My very first “Tips & Tricks” is execution of your plans/thoughts/intentions. Here are a few easy and simple tips to get the ball rolling on your idea and give it form, make it happen :)

  1. Start small: We all have grand plans and big ideas. Sometimes the challenge(s) these big ideas pose can act as a deterrent in giving that idea/plan life. Sectioning the idea into smaller chunks helps to realize individual smaller goals leading to an overall big goal.
  2. Celebrate small victories: Humans by nature, most of us at least, thrive on positive energy, motivation, encouragement. In order to continue fueling our work, we need to motivate ourselves and we can do this by celebrating small victories, appreciating our hard work, support of people around us and the success of those small goals.

That’s all for today. I’d love to hear your comments, what you think about these.

What are your personal tips and tricks. Do share :)

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Monday Motivation


I enjoy running and I try to run 3 times a week. However, if you’d met me a few years ago, I would have said, meh! I don’t care for running. I enjoyed outdoor activities and working out at the gym, but at neither places was running ever an option. However, when I did finally start running, I liked running outdoors so much so that along with it came a strong dislike for running on the treadmill, to a certain extent even being confined in a gym made me cringe. So as a result when weather would not be favorable, I did not run, thus leading to a day with zero workout. It would either be too cold or raining or wrong time of the day.I kept waiting for the perfect running conditions and then one day while chatting with a friend about this, I realized that I’d never have perfect conditions all the time. Recently I came across this quote and felt it applies not just to running but most things in our life.

Today, right now is the perfect time!

Today, right now is the perfect time! (Image courtesy: google image search)

Hope this motivates you today. Happy Monday

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Y for Yoga


It’s funny how you start losing certain habits the lesser you practice them. Truth be told I haven’t been doing Yoga on a regular basis and when I sat down to write this post, Y for Yoga did not come to me immediately. I spent some time thinking about comes to me when I think of the letter Y. My mind was blank, I struggled for a few minutes and then decided to take a break. While flipping through a magazine nearby, a light bulb just went on. Yoga is a form of exercise surely, but it’s more than just exercise for the body, it is also an exercise for the mind, which most other sports are, but Yoga goes a step further, it’s an exercise for the body, mind and soul. Yoga is a complete inside-out exercise that makes even those parts of your body work you probably didn’t know you had ;)

Yoga is also about focusing your attention on what you are doing in the present moment, focusing on the posture and forgetting everything else; While practicing I imagine I’m on a hilltop with green grass everywhere, the sun is rising and the birds are chirping.

If you’re busy and do not have time for a full on Yoga session in your day, try to practice just 3 sun salutations every day, preferably in the mornings.

One very important thing to note is — Listen to your body, don’t just do something because I said so or someone said so. If you have certain health conditions, do consult a doctor before you choose to practice Yoga.

This post wouldn’t be complete without me giving thanks to my loving mother who’s always taught us and reminded us the benefits of a healthy and happy life, which can can be accomplished only by keeping the mind, body and soul happy. She introduced me to Yoga. She inspires me everyday.

Here is a sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) routine including the breathing pattern in case you’re interested in trying it out. Feel free to youtube it or ask someone at your gym about Yoga classes.

Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar (Image courtesy: google image/askinyourface.com)

Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar (Image courtesy: google image/askinyourface.com)

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Z for Zen


Definitions of zen:

  1. Traditional/Regular Dictionary: a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition.
  2. Urban Dictionary: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.

A lot is written and spoken about zen. What comes to your mind when you hear the word zen, how do you relate to zen? I believe that zen is more like to each his own. There is no recipe for zen, some find it in painting, while some others find it in gardening. But the common thread is focus, focusing with the mind, body and emotion on the task at hand aka being fully present. Zen comes easily when we’re doing things we enjoy; at least for me it does, so any time I find myself juggling too many things or overwhelmed, I take a break to do something I am passionate about. That activity brings me back to equilibrium.

mindful

Someone once told me that zen is a type of religion or is related to a certain religion. No, Zen has nothing to do with any religion and everything to do with every religion. Zen is a state of being, you can experience zen while praying, zen while playing and zen while driving too.

What do you do to restore the balance?

I shall leave you with that question to ponder upon and this…

Source: google images

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A Little More In 2013


Looking back at the year that has been, 2012 couldn’t have started on a better note. Before I knew it, 2013 is at the door. Can’t wait to welcome it with open arms and a big smile. The following is my resolution for 2013, what’s yours?

20121231-172444.jpg

Posted in Kindness, self-help | 4 Comments

Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies


‘Tis that time of the year, temperatures are falling, snow is falling (in some places), leaves have fallen, a lot of red, green and white everywhere. The holidays have become a lot more commercial now than they were before. It is still fun, getting a Christmas tree, aah the smell of a fresh tree. While I do not get a tree home, I take in whiffs of air every time I drive by this place that sells trees. In my mind, I picture myself in a beautiful landscape surrounded by snow-covered tall ever-greens, sitting by a fireplace and enjoying some warm cookies with a glass of milk… Warm cookies… warm cookies…. warm cookies… coming back to reality, the thought of warm cookies still echoing in my head I realize that perhaps in this moment that is the only thing I can make happen! Aah… love it when magic is in one’s control ;) I drove to the grocery store, pulled up this really cool recipe for vegan double chocolate chip cookies and started shopping.

Before I write down this recipe, I must share something that made the whole process of baking cookies and the cookies themselves much sweeter.

When I was at the checkout counter, my cashier, Nick, greeted me and asked me “How are you?” I replied, “Fine, thanks. How about yourself?” He replied saying that he was tired to which I said hopefully his shift was ending soon. Unfortunately, he had another 4 hours to go. I felt bad for him and hoped that his day improved. As he was scanning my items, I noticed that I had some Lara bars in my basket that I could gift him and hope to improve his mood or even bring a smile on his face momentarily. I picked it up and handed the bar to him. His first reaction was – “Do you want to remove this from your list?” I said “No, that is a gift from me to you, hope you enjoy it. :)” He was ecstatic, his face lit up and he told me he was not sure if he could accept it. I said to him “Of course, you can, it is a gift. All I ask is for you to pay it forward.” He replied.. “Definitely”. So there’s my story of a random act of kindness.

Thank you for patiently reading. Here’s the recipe I enjoyed and this will most likely go into my permanent cook book, once I master it by tweaking around just to get it right.

Notes:

  1. I did not have an electric mixer or food processor at that time, so I used all the strength of my arms to whisk and mix and maybe that is why my “whole Wheat” cookies were not as smooth in texture…. But delicious nonetheless
  2. The recipe calls for whole wheat baking flour, which I did use, but keep in mind, the cookies will taste slightly different than what you’re used to.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 Tbsp (tablespoon) ground flaxseed (equivalent of 1 egg)
  2. 3 Tbsp water
  3. 3/4 cup non-dairy, non-hydrogenated butter (such as Earth Balance)
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar (I used slightly less than 1 cup and I used brown sugar)
  5. 1 tsp (teaspoon) vanilla extract
  6. 1.25 (1 and quarter) cup whole-wheat pastry flour (you could use all purpose/white baking flour if you wanted)
  7. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  8. 1/2 tsp baking powder (aluminum-free)
  9. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  10. 1/4 tsp salt
  11. 1 cup non-dairy semisweet chocolate chips (I used only about half a cup)
  12. Special ingredient that I addded – half a cup of tiny vegan marshmallows
  13. Might need 1 or 2 Tbsp of non-dairy milk or water

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F (180 deg C or gas mark 4).
  2. In a food processor or blender (I used a blender), whip flaxseed and water together until mixture reaches a thick and creamy, almost gelatinous consistency. Set aside
  3. In a large-sized bowl, mix butter and sugar. Whip until creamy. Add flaxseed paste and vanilla
  4. In a separate bowl, blend the remaining dry ingredients except for choco chips and marshmallows.
  5. Add this mixture to the wet mixture and mix until everything is well blended. You can use a hand blender or food processor to mix.
  6. If you need a little extra moisture, add a small amount of water or non-dairy milk. (I added 2 Tbsp of almond milk).
  7. Finally, stir in the chips and marshmallows.
  8. Form balls on uniform size, flatten them slightly and lay on a baking sheet or aluminum foil.
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the tops are no longer gooey. You can turn on the oven light and monitor the cookies.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Recipe courtesy: The Joy Of Vegan Baking

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Sabudana Chi Khichdi (Sago/Tapioca khichdi)


I have discovered that my passion for cooking surfaces mostly towards the year-end when it rains and the climate is cold. Why the rains, you ask? I grew up in India and one thing you must know about India – its seasons: Hot, hotter and hottest with the monsoon season somewhere in the middle :) I love the monsoon season in India. As a kid, that meant holiday at school when it rained cats and dogs. India is a tropical country and when one says raining cats and dogs means it pouring down hard and will most likely cause flooding.

I enjoyed going up to the terrace to enjoy the first rain of the season. The rains not only brought out the earthworms and snails, it also brought out the beautiful smell of the Earth, the melodious music of nature.

When it rains so hard that we’re forced to take a break from school and work and stay indoors, it means only one thing – family, friends, fun and food. That’s another thing to note about Indians, they never miss an opportunity to get together with friends and/or family to chat and laugh over food and drinks. Especially during the monsoons, it is very common to enjoy some chai with hot snacks such as kaanda bhajji (onion fritters), vada pav and sabudana khichdi. This morning I woke up the wonderful pitter patter of the rain drops on the roof. It reminded me of home and so after getting out of bed and quickly scanning through my pantry, I decided to make me some masala chai and sabudana khichdi. I am going to share with you the recipe for this regional dish, originating in the state of Maharashtra, India. Growing up in Mumbai (city in Maharashtra) one becomes a Maharashtrian by association :)

Sago is not a good source of fiber or vitamins, but it is low in fat and has small amounts of protein. It is high in carbohydrate content, so it is good if you’re looking to go running the next morning or if you’ve had it for lunch, then an evening run should be effective as far as fuel is concerned :) But yeah, if you’re on a diet, then you probably want to stay away from this calorie demon. This snack is super low on the oil content (not fried, only oil required is for tempering) and one can add veggies to this snack to make it healthier.

Here is the recipe:

Serves 2 to 3 people

Ingredients:

  • Sago – 1 cup (soaked overnight or at least 6 hours)
  • Oil – 2 Tbsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida – 1 pinch
  • Curry leaves – 3 to 4
  • Green chilli – 1 to 2 finely chopped
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Juice of 1 small to medium sized lime (as per preference)
  • Sugar (I used brown sugar) – 1/2 Tbsp (or to taste)
  • Coconut – 1/3 cup
  • Cilantro (corriander) – for garnishing as per your preference
  • Roasted peanuts – 1/3 to 1/4 cup coarsely ground

Method of Preparation:

Wash and then soak the sago balls in about 1/2 cup of water overnight, however if you’re pressed for time, then about 4 hours should be fine with occasional stirring to mix it such that all the sago balls equally absorb water. When the sabudana (sago) have been soaked long enough, they become bigger in size and very soft. Take a mesh or strainer to get rid of excess water. Then lay a kitchen paper towel on a plate and spread the sabudana in a single layer on it to get rid of any water that wasn’t drained. Let it sit while you temper the other ingredients. In a pan (or kadhai), add the 2 Tbsp of oil. Add mustard seeds to it, as soon as the mustard seeds start cracking, add cumin, fenugreek, turmeric powder and Asafoetida. Finish off with curry leaves and green chilli. Now add the sabudana and mix well. Turn the gas back on, while constantly stirring. Add the peanuts and coconut. Mix well. Finally add the sugar, salt and lime. Mix well. In order to let all the flavors be absorbed by the sabudana, keep the flame on for another 5/8 minutes. Remember to keep stirring. Now turn off the flame and garnish it with cilantro. It is ready to be served. What gives sabudana khichdi its flavor is the sweet-n-sour (tangy) blend of sugar and lime and the crunchiness of roasted peanuts.

sabudana

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