Vegan Chili – Wholesome and balanced (protein, carbs and fiber)

Two months ago, on a regular work day as I was busy doing my work things – solving problems, prepping for meetings, making prezos and replying to emails, I read a slightly unusual email, by “unusual” I mean the subject line had nothing to do with techie things, it said — Chili Cook-off in two weeks– I quickly glanced through it and went back to doing my work, however, a few seconds later, I couldn’t help coming back to the email. I thought to myself “Hmmmm, I do enjoy a good chili, but I’ve never ever made one myself, if I participate, this will be a great way to make my first ever vegan chili”. As I pondered over the decision for a little longer, I realized that more than anything I was really excited about cooking for my colleagues and I became aware of something I’ve always enjoyed and something that has always motivated me to cook — it’s to feed near and dear ones. That’s it, I didn’t care about winning, I was really excited to try out a chili recipe (I’ll admit I was extremely confident that it would turn out great mostly because I knew chili isn’t the most complicated recipe to experiment with and because I knew I was cooking to feed others — a lot of love and joy would go in the making of that chili. :)) Anyway, long story short, I won the people’s choice award! woohoo! In fact some folks came to me and told me that they enjoyed my vegan chili way more than some of the meat chilis they tried that day.

This recipe feeds about 6 to 8 people


  • 1 Tbsp organic virgin coconut oil (feel free to sub this with your choice of oil, I used this for its health benefits over some other commercially available cooking oils
  • 1 medium sized onion – diced. (I used a yellow onion)
  • 2 medium (not too fat) carrots – diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bell pepper – diced
  • 1 medium sized zucchini – diced
  • 2 medium sized stalks of celery – diced
  • salt to taste
  • crushed black pepper to taste (optional)
  • a dash/pinch of turmeric powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin (I used toasted ground cumin but either is fine)
  • Extra firm tofu or soy protein or any vegan protein you may choose to add (optional)
  • 2 serrano or thai chillies (optional)
  • 2 15Oz cans of light or dark kidney beans or black beans (I used dark red kidney beans and black beans)
  • 1 28Oz can chopped tomatoes (I used fire roasted tomatoes to add that extra oomph! ;))
  • Chopped cilantro or spring onions or chives for garnish (optional)
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • If not making vegan version, feel free to use shredded cheese or sour cream or greek yogurt (healthier option to sour cream) for garnish
  • slice of vegan bread such as sourdough type to go with the chili (optional)


One of the many benefits of making a vegan chili (in addition to saving animals, saving environment, healthier option) is that unlike the meat version vegan chili does NOT require slow cooking for hours in a crockpot. It is very easy to make, you can easily refrigerate/freeze it and makes for a wholesome meal

  • Dice all the veggies and set aside
  • Coat the bottom of the pot with oil. Heat the pot over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers, then add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic, green chillies (if you went with that option) and season with salt and pepper (I usually do not add all the required salt and pepper at once, I introduce it gradually). Cook until the onions are soft.
  • Drain the beans in the colander or strainer and rinse. Set aside.
  • When the onions are soft, add the remaining vegetables to the pot and season again with salt and pepper. Add cumin, turmeric and chili powder. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just starting to get tender (approximately 10 minutes).
  • Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot, along with the rinsed beans.
  • Crumble the tofu (or soy protein or any other vegan protein you may choose to use – but in that case follow the cooking directions stated on the package) and add it to the pot.
  • Keep stirring
  • Finally, add water and bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot. Gently simmer until the veggies are soft and the flavors have fused together and you can smell the delicious aroma of your hearty chili (about 10 minutes). Taste the chili and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Voila! Your vegan chili is ready to be shared with loved ones. Garnish it before you serve it.

Let me know if you try it out and also how it turns out if you follow this exact recipe.

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You And I And All That Is Around Us

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” – Herman Melville

I was going through some emails this morning and one of the emails I read started with this quote. I kind of understand and resonate with this quote. I say “kind of” because it left me thinking about the latter half, “..among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes and they come back to us as effects…” we are all connected, I am sure if you’re curious like me, you’ve been wondering about this for a while now, if we’re all connected, how are we impacting each other, how can we act consciously? Right? The world appears to be getting more hedonistic? It depends what glasses you have on. I always try to start with my assumption of people around me being like me and my experiences therefore are shaped by that instead of looking at everyone and everything with doubt and skepticism. Of course, sometimes people are not what we perceived them to be. Perhaps, we should start without any judgment at all? just observe from a neutral place?  Maybe that is another post.

For today, let’s be aware of every thought that crosses our minds, every word we speak and every action we take. I’ll share how that goes from my end at the end of the day :)

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Remembering You

You opened your eyes on a rainy June day

Our hearts melted and our smiles grew wide

Tears of joy expressed what words couldn’t say

When we saw you tucked in by your mama’s side

A mischievous boy with a twinkle in your eyes

Playing pranks and joking around, you never missed a chance

to make your sisters giggle with glee; around you, the laughter just flies

Gifted with many talents, you were the king of dance

You cheered people up wherever you went

Every soul you touched, you lifted it to happiness

Frowns turned upside down, time with you was time well spent

Oh! but the pain that was concealed behind

those twinkly eyes, that big smile and those dancing feet

Nobody said it was going to be easy; C’est la vie

Wish you’d reach out, perhaps because we never asked

We never asked, “How are you really doing? I’m here for you”

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Monday Motivation

Hi All! I am back from a week long Yoga retreat. I feel alive, rejuvenated and inspired. Riding on that inspiration and energy I am sharing the following quote by guru B.K.S Iyengar with you all. Maybe it is not Yoga for you, maybe it’s running or martial arts, whatever form of practice helps you look within is a great start.Yoga - Look Within

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Stretching, Why It Should Be A Daily Ritual

A few years ago, I injured my knee while trying to snowboard in extremely icy, packed snow conditions. After nursing black-blue knees for a month, I thought I was fine. However, last year after a couple of 10Ks and just 2 days of snow-boarding, my knee pain came back and it was brutal . Usually, I am very aware of my body and watch for signs it’s throwing at me. But this one kinda baffled me, after much deliberation I finally decided to get an MRI to make sure everything was in place. $450 later everything still in place turns out just the knee cap on my left knee was a little loose. After being prescribed 2 months of Physical Therapy (PT) by the doc I walked out of there happily, now knowing for certain that there was no reason to be concerned.

The first session was a detailed discussion with a senior therapist. She examined my knees, made me do certain movements and then assigned a therapist to work with me. I went in twice a week for two month. I was dedicated, never missed a session. I loved the staff there, right from the front desk, to the therapist and the assistants. They gave me great advice, tips and suggestions on what I needed to do in order to make the muscles supporting my knees stronger. This is where I understood the importance of stretching and strenghtening. You should follow your doctor’s or trainers advice, especially if dealing with any health issues. This is what I learned from my pain, my therapy, my healing process ultimately leading to a healthier and happier me. My goal here is to share my experience and current stretching routine with you, feel free to use any or all of it at your discretion.

Sports player or not, worker-outer or not, IMO you should stretch regularly (if not daily) to —

  1. Prevent injuries
  2. Speed up recovery process post workout or sport activity
  3. Keep the muscles and tissues in good working conditions
  4. Ease the pressure on various joints/Reduce physical stress
  5. Improve flexibility
  6. Improve blood circulation

There are many different methods of stretching and there is no one right way. Everyone is built differently and has a different lifestyle and most likely different goals, you must figure out what’s the best option for you. Here is what I do:

  1. Stretch EVERYDAY!
  2. Foam roller is my new best friend! Before you start letting your imagination run wild, for those of you who don’t know what it is, this is what it looks like (img source: google image search) —

How do you decide what type of foam roller you should go for? Well, for me, I had plenty opportunities to try out different foam rollers at my PT’s practice and picked one that suits my needs the most. You can either consult your doctor, or trainer or look up wikihow.

3. Foam roller is not the only way to stretch, I alternate between my new BFF and Yoga, which i usually refer to as my soulmate.. because for me Yoga is more than just exercising one’s body, it’s about getting in touch with your inner self… more on that in another post. I find certain postures such as

a. downward facing dog

Image source:

b. Upward facing dog

img src: google img search

There are many more postures you could practice based on your needs and physical fitness levels. My mum is a Yoga instructor and I learned Yoga under her supervision. It is very important that you know the right technique to avoid injury. It might be worth checking out a Yoga class.

Here’s a little humor to brighten up your day. What if Gandhi took a yoga class!?? You don’t know who Gandhi was? Perhaps you may want to read this -> Mahatma Gandhi, while you’re there, you may want to look up MLK too.

4. Getting regular massages — again this totally depends on your health conditions. I try to get a massage once every two months, usually deep tissue or a Thai massage.

Between my new BFF and soul mate, I make sure I get my daily stretching in. There are definitely times when I believe I am too busy to stretch, those days I do get my leg stretches in while waiting for the train or when I want to take a break from sitting at the computer. I also get my upper body/arm stretches in similarly. Don’t worry about what others may think, it doesn’t matter! You need to get your stretching in! That’s what matters!!!

I shall leave you with a video of a cute dog doing Yoga!

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Meditation In The Mundane

Meditation In The Mundane

Who loves to eat some freshly picked pomegranate? I know I do!! Growing up, mum always did all the dirty work:

 go to the market -> buy fruits & veggies -> wash them -> cut them/peel them ->hand us the bowl/plate and at times even fed us… aren’t Mothers the best!

During the winter season, fruit vendors would be lined up, each one with his/her own unique style of displaying the variety of fruit they’d gotten from the farms and orchards. The best part of accompanying my mum to the market was not to see her win the bargaining competition with the fruit vendor (aka fruit wala) but at the end of her grocery run, be all cute and smiley and convince her to buy me a bar of cadbury’s Dairy Milk… aah! those were the days, well before I digress any further I wanted to share with you how I naturally discovered (or one could say accidentally discovered) a great way to ease into meditation while doing mundane things, I didn’t really get it when I was a child, how my mother did it all, cooking, cleaning, feeding us, keeping up with our school schedule, homework etc.. and of course making sure dinner was ready by the time dad got home. She must have practiced some form of meditation too.

Fast forward 30 odd years, I am an adult and so I buy my own groceries, cut and peel and eat my own fruit and of course at times I wish someone did it for me! I still love me some pomegranate. A few weeks ago, I went to the farmer’s market and bought a couple of pomegranates. In all the excitement of seeing poms in the winter season I forgot how much time and effort it takes to get actually get to the point where you can savor them. After I get home, I realize, I will have to do the rest myself too, so there I am washing the fruit and laying it on my cutting board. I remember I was wearing a light colored top and afraid I may stain it if I wasn’t careful while cutting and peeling the pomegranate (I was too lazy to go change my top) and so I started peeling the pomegranate extremely carefully and by the time I finished I felt strange in a way that somehow time had frozen, my mind was so engrossed in that moment and in just that one action I had no other distracting thoughts, I felt refreshed at the end of what I think may have been 5 minutes. That is when I had my “Aha!” moment and it was that as much as I’d prefer to sit down and meditate daily for 10 minutes there are times when I don’t. But the truth is, that any mundane activity can become a tool for meditation. For example brushing one’s teeth. I use a Philips Sonicare toothbrush that has four 30-second indications to let one finish brushing one quadrant and move on to the next. I use those 2 minutes to focus on my brushing. I do not try to think about what I need to do during the day, what I am going to eat etc.. because at the end of those 2 minutes, I have more clarity and I get things done faster. I am not saying you need to do exactly those things, but I definitely recommend trying and observing what happens after.

Meditation doesn’t require one to sit in one spot for hours, meditation, the way I see it, can be practiced every day in the little things we go about doing, usually mindlessly.

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Six Simple Ways To Score A Second Date

Hey look at that, I just used Alliteration in the title! It’s definitely paid to be attentive in school, I can show off my smartness and who doesn’t dig smart people!?? We all dig smart people, but there are simple things we dig even more, especially when on a first date. Here are six tips you can follow to make sure you don’t ruin your chances of second date.

  1. Be On Time — If not a few minutes before your agreed upon time, at least be on time. This applies to both girls and guys! If you’re in the dating game (yes! unfortunately in today’s times it appears to be a game — so many dating apps, it’s just like speed dating, except it’s worse!), you must follow certain etiquette. In fact, you should always be punctual regardless of who you’re meeting.
  2. Dress To Impress — You don’t need to dress like you’re going to a black tie event but dress well. No it is not superficial, it shows EFFORT! Show your date that you put in effort and were excited to go out. Men: DO NOT show up in a sweatshirt/hoodie. Women: DO NOT look like you just got out of bed. Even if you do not see this person again, you’ve most definitely left an impression and they may want to see you again. We all love the feeling of being popular and wanted, even though we may not admit it.
  3. Death By Smile — Smile as you exchange greetings. Pre-req: Remember to brush or mouthwash before you head out and make sure you’ve taken care of that spinach or strawberry seed from in between your teeth. Flash your smile as if you were the poster child for the American Dental Association. Don’t bother about what others say, know that mother Nature gave you the perfect smile to go with your face. IMO, when one smiles, it creates an atmosphere of comfort and warmth. Aren’t we all suckers for a smile, be it cute, beautiful, big, small, mischievous but above all it has to be natural and genuine.
  4. iPhone Interruption — Free yourself from the smartphone distraction. Put it away, away from line of sight. Of course, if it turns out to be a disastrous date and you’d asked your friend to call to help you get out of the date, now that’s another post — how to get out of bad first dates. But other than that, your phone should be away. One cannot expect to even hope to make a connection if they’re distracted by their phone while the other person is talking.
  5. Conversations — On a first date, the idea is to try and get to know know as much as you can of the other person’s interests. Find out what they like to do, share your interests too. It’s a great way to knowing fundamental traits of a person, for example, if the answer to “What do you do over the weekends” is “I love Netflix, like to stay in and watch movies” — that person doesn’t like to go out much or may not be social and that is fine if that is what you’re looking for. Be yourself!! Be genuine!!! I cannot emphasize this enough, project your true self and not what you think (s)he may find attractive. The idea here is to get to know about the other’s likes, dislikes, daily/weekend lifestyle. These conversations give you a little peek into one’s life.
  6. Check Please — You’ve exchanged stories and hopefully a few laughs over a cup of coffee or beer or wine or club soda. Men: Please take note, it’s not that women cannot pick up the tab or go splitsville on the bill, but we want to see if the dude is a gentleman or not. In the grand scheme of things 2 beers or drinks or coffees are not going to burn a hole the size of crater lake in your pockets! There will be future dates when you can find out if she’s in it for you or the green aura of money you walk around with. Women: Regardless of whether men offer to pick up the tab, be sincere and ready to split the check. After all, it’s a nice gesture and they’re certainly not required to pick up the tab for the both of you. Remember to thank them for the drink(s).

If you follow these tips, at the end of your first date you know you did your best! The rest is up to chemistry and common interests.

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