Hi everyone! It’s unlike me to post twice in one night, but I forgot to add this in my last post, so I got back on! 😛 A friend of mine recently got married and moved to India, and she just started a blog! She was born and raised in the US, fell in love, got married, and moved to India! She blogs about her daily experiences from a really unique perspective. For those of you who really want to learn about life in India, this is your chance! I asked her if I could link back to her blog from here, and she said yes! So, if you’re interested, click here – American Sugar, Indian Chai. 🙂
I’ve mentioned in a couple of my past posts that I want to start blogging more about Indian cooking, culture, etc. Well, today’s the day! When people learn that I am Indian, our conversations always turn to the food and local restaurants. I love it when people love Indian food!!! I started noticing that a lot of bloggers wrote about their Indian dining experiences, so I thought, why not share ways they can make some of their favorite dishes at home. It’s really not as daunting as it seems…I promise! My original thought was to just start adding Indian recipes to the recipes page, but when I actually started writing out some of the recipes, I realized that the first thing I needed to do was to introduce some of the key spices. As those of who love Indian food know, it’s all about the spices!
So, let’s begin…
My grandmother actually bought this “spice holder” (I totally just made that up) for me in India when I told her that I was serious about learning how to cook Indian food. 🙂 I think you can find something like this in a local Indian store/market in the states. Now that you’ve seen the big picture, I want to go through and identify each of the spices.
Nine times out of ten you will be using turmeric in your dishes. You don’t have to use a lot to taste the difference either. I love the bright yellow color!
I think it’s safe to say that all Indian recipes call for red chili powder. Heck, I even use it in some non-Indian dishes. You may be tempted to substitute other chili powders, but the Indian kind really has a unique kick to it, so if you can find it, I would use this over others.
Mustard seeds are one of the first ingredients used once the oil is heated. Again, like with the other spices, you don’t need much to add a lot of flavor.
Cumin seeds are also added at the beginning of the cooking process along with the mustard seeds. The thing to remember with these two is that you have to make sure the seeds are “cooked” through and no longer raw. I asked my mom how you would know, and she said, “with experience.” LOL! I’ve found that you are pretty much in the clear after about 2 minutes. You just have to make sure the oil is hot before you add the spices.
This spice is a combination of coriander and cumin seeds ground up into a powder. It’s the spice you can (and should) use a lot of because of the rich, earthy flavor it adds. And it’s usually added towards the end of the cooking process.
So, to be honest, I haven’t used this one yet. I decided to include it because I am sure there will be a time when I refer to it in a recipe, and I don’t want anyone to be thrown.
No, salt is not an Indian spice! BUT, I do keep it with the others because it’s a key seasoning in Indian food.
Two other spices that are worth mentioning are Garam Masala and Asatoetida. Garam Masala is a very traditional spice that is used in many dishes. It’s good to have on hand because it adds flavor and heat that is very different from the red chili powder. Asafoetida is a powder that you sometimes add at the beginning with the mustard and cumin seeds. I’ll be sure to highlight when to use this one in my recipes.
The thing I love most about Indian cooking is that once you have the basics down, you are free to be as creative as you want! A little bit of this and a little bit of that!
Something I want to clarify is that my family is from the Indian state of Gujarat. Every state/region has its own culinary specialities, so a lot of my recipes will be variations of ones that I grew up eating. I personally also love Punjabi food (paneer makhani, saag paneer, etc.) and South Indian food (dosas, utappam, etc.), so once I start experimenting with some of those recipes, I will be sure to share!
I hope, if nothing else, this helps familiarize you with some of the key spices that most Indian recipes call for. And don’t worry, my goal is to share recipes that are simple to make yet very delicious. This is just the beginning! 🙂
We’ve all heard that dark chocolate is good for you. It has antioxidants and it’s heart healthy. But did you know that it’s REALLY good for you!?
Let me back up a bit. While at work today, I got an email from WebMD. I signed up for these updates through work, and they are actually pretty informative! I started clicking around and came across an article titled “Is Chocolate the Next Super Food?” Naturally, being a chocoholic, I clicked on the link and started reading with great interest!!
- Researchers have found that dark chocolate and cocoa powder have an equivalent to or higher amount of antioxidants than found in “super fruit” juices (acai berry, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate).
- A cardiologist was quoted as saying that, “When looking for a sweet snack, a square of dark chocolate might, in fact, be your healthiest choice!” YAY!
- For those of you who don’t like the taste of super dark chocolate, the researchers analyzed chocolate containing 60-63% cacao, so you don’t have to go for the 70-80% stuff to get the health benefits.
- It’s important to read the label because you want to look for cocoa powders and dark chocolate that contains natural or non-alkalized cocoa. Alkalization is the process that mellows the flavor of cocoa, but at the same time, it destroys the important compounds.
- NOTE: The number of calories and fat grams per serving of dark chocolate is much higher than that in fruit juices, which means that it needs to be enjoyed in moderation.
I love articles that tell me my favorite decadent treat is actually pretty good for my heart! Woot woot! 🙂
On another note, I want to quickly mention my love for Costco! It’s the best place ever! You can find fruits, veggies, books, jewelry, clothes, wine, electronics, movies, etc. there. My mom absolutely loves Costco, and I think she frequents the one near our house 3x a week! In fact, my dinner tonight came from there. It was a spinach, garlic, and parmesan flatbread made with surprisingly simple ingredients! You keep them in your freezer and pop them in the oven and heat through when ready…deliciousness! I paired my flatbread with a 3 bean and balsamic salad. Unfortunately, I am still getting used to all this picture-taking, so I ate the salad before I remembered to take a pic. 🙁 Sorry…still new to this!
Ok, I’m off to watch Modern Family!!! This week’s episode looks HILARIOUS!!! Can’t wait! 🙂
What’s your favorite TV show?
Recently, I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to try new foods and actually buy some of the things I read about in the blog world. So then today, I was thinking about all the new things I’ve tried in the past few months, and I realized that most of the foods have become regulars in my diet. Another funny thing is that these new things have kind of replaced (at least for the time being) something else. You’ll understand more as I go on…
Skim milk vs. Soy milk – I am a huge skim milk fan and have been for as long as I can remember. My aunt and her family have been trying out different soy products over the past couple of months, and since I visit them pretty often, I have been trying them too. She told me about Soy Dream milk, and I bought some at Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks ago and really liked it. It has a sweetness to it unlike skim milk, but it’s pretty subtle. I don’t know if I’ll be able to enjoy a huge glass of Soy Dream the way I do plain ole’ skim milk, but I must say, it’s pretty tasty in my morning oatmeal! And an added benefit is that soy milk is full of nutrients and vitamins.
Peanut butter vs. Sunflower seed butter – So to be honest, I just tried SF seed butter for the first time today (thanks blog world!) in my morning oats and I really liked it. It definitely tastes different then PB, but it’s still very creamy and rich, and it’s not overpowering at all. I was honestly expecting to not like it at all, but it was pretty good. I can’t say that SF seed butter is a replacement for PB (because nothing can be), but it’s definitely something I will keep in the pantry to switch things up a few times a week!
Baked potato chips vs. Baked fruit chips – I don’t know if its fair to compare these two snack items, but in my mind apple fruit chips are the perfect alternative for potato chips. The Granny Smith chips are tangy, the perfect mix of chewy and crunchy, and also a little sweet. Sometimes it feels like I’m eating candy when I eat these! They also taste great alongside some nut butter…the perfect pre or post workout snack!
Splenda vs. Agave nectar – I am a little ashamed to admit this, but I do take Splenda in my coffee, but only when there is no alternative such as cane sugar or agave present. I know sugar substitutes are not good for you, but for some reason, I can’t use regular sugar in my coffee. I think it’s the thought of 0 calories in Splenda vs. 60+ in sugar. So, to try to curb that habit, I started using agave nectar in my coffee. I like the raw sweetness of it and honestly less than one tablespoon is the perfect amount for me. But as I started researching it more, I learned that not every brand is made the same and good for you. You have to be sure that the agave nectar you purchase is organic and raw (as in very minimally processed). I like it because it’s a low glycemic sweeter and because I don’t have to use a lot to get the level of sweetness I desire.
I just love trying new things and will keep you all updated as I find other new and tasty products!
Do you have any foods that fit in with the “This vs. That” theme? What are some of your diet switcheroos?
Before I delve into a semi-deep blog post, I wanted to share details about my dinner tonight. It was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! I know some of you may roll your eyes when I say this, but Tucson really does have some of the best restaurants. AND the food is reasonably priced, which is always a plus in my book!
Dinner tonight was at Acacia, and honestly, I will not be able to do the restaurant any justice by describing it in my own words, so I thought I would share a description verbatim off the menu:
“Acacia is proud to announce the next generation of seasonal menu offerings. Emphasis has been placed on sustainability as well as value. We believe that locally produced foods are inherently fresher and contribute greatly to the Arizona economy. Whenever possible we buy local, all natural, pesticide and herbicide free as well as certified organic products. A special thanks to the micro farmers of southern Arizona, University of Arizona Agricultural co-operative and Meat Sciences Department for making many of their products available to us.”
How cool does that sound?!?! I love restaurants that support their local communities and this one definitely places a lot of value and emphasis on its relationship with farmers in southern AZ!
For my entrée, I had the corn and chile custard with a variety of veggies that included spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, sweet potato, etc. Here’s a fun pic (from my NEW camera that came in today!).
The custard was savory and creamy and really did melt in my mouth. The veggies were perfectly grilled and seasoned and very tender. YUM!
On to more serious things… 🙂
I think it’s important for all of us to keep an open mind when it comes to trying new and different things. For example, I know that in the past I have missed out on a lot of cool opportunities just because I didn’t want to get out of my comfort zone. I look back and realize that my mindset back in the day was just plain ridiculous! You really don’t know what you don’t know! Now, I love to try out new restaurants, new forms on exercise, new foods, etc.
A major part of all this is being comfortable with change. And again, change was something that did not resonate well with me in the past. I enjoyed the status quo. Something Vishnu likes to say is, “you should never be satisfied with the way things are in life”…definitely did not live by that! I’ve learned over the past couple of years that change is inevitable, and that the more I actively take part in my own life and the seek out new opportunities, the better I will feel about myself. So now I seek out new adventures everywhere I go! By adjusting my mindset, I feel like I’ve really grown as a person. The old Parita would never go hiking and running outside. She would never eat/crave oatmeal for breakfast. She also would not have taken the initiative to follow her heart and start this blog. (She was kinda boring). 😉
So, the next time you find yourself being complacent, please go out and actively look for something new…a new place to eat, a new recipe, a new friend, a new book, etc.
This post reminds of a great quote I read at work, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” –Alvin Toffler
We should all strive to continue growing and learning. As my high school teacher used to say, “we are all a work in progress, never complete but always growing.”
What is something new you’ve tried recently? Do you find yourself getting complacent and ok with the status quo at times and how do you combat that?
Recently, I started thinking about what I would say in an About Me post. I haven’t divulged a lot of details about my life or who I am, and my plan was to slowly incorporate that information into each post. Over the past few days, the idea of an About Me post really appealed to me because I do think it’s important to give the people who read your blog a better understanding of who you are as a person. So, here goes…
My name is Parita, and I am a first generation Indian American. My parents settled in RI after immigrating from India in the early 80s, therefore, I was born and raised in Pawtucket, RI. If you’re thinking, “where is that”, does the Slater Mill ring a bell??? Anyways, I also have a younger sister who is one of my best friends in the entire world! Despite having to raise two kids in an entirely new and different country, my parents did an incredible job! They were able to keep the Indian culture alive in a foreign place, while still allowing us to fully embrace the American culture. For example, my sister and I took ballet, tap, and jazz dance classes, played baseball in an all girls league, and had sleepovers just like a lot of our friends growing up. But what set us apart were the trips to the temple, Bollywood movies, HUGE family get-togethers, Indian dance classes and performances, and multiple trips to India. If I had to relive my childhood, I wouldn’t change a single thing!
We moved to Georgia when I was 14, and boy did I hate it! I missed home and thought everything about the South was strange! However, over time, I came to call Georgia home. After finishing high school, I went to the University of Georgia for undergrad. I majored in Finance because everyone was doing it (no joke)! Truth be told, those 4 years were some of the best yet! I met some of my best friends and my boyfriend of almost 6 years during that time, and looking back, life was so carefree and fun. I miss it!
After graduation, I worked for a public accounting firm in their consulting group. This basically meant that I travelled a good bit and got to see some cool places. I also learned a lot of life skills during this time, and that is why I think everyone should really try to ensure that their first job out of college gives them good experience both professionally and personally. After about 2 years, I decided that I wasn’t truly happy with my job and couldn’t see myself there in the future. So, I signed up for the GMAT and applied to business school to get my MBA. I got into Georgia Tech and began an exciting 2 year adventure. Going back to school was the best thing for me because it helped me realize that if I put my mind to something, I can do it no matter how difficult it seems at the start. I was essentially going back to school to switch career paths, and in the beginning, I didn’t know if my mission would be successful. With a lot of hard work and dedication, I was able to find a job upon graduation that would allow me to follow my professional aspirations. I know that not everyone can afford to take this path (I was lucky to have very supportive parents), but please don’t ever give up on your personal goals and dreams! Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
My current job requires me to move around every 8 months for 2 years. So far, I have lived in Tucson, AZ and am moving to the Boston area for my next rotation. It’s such a great experience! You get to live in 3 different cities, meet tons of new people, and gain valuable experience. Moving around so much is a little annoying sometimes, but I knew what I was getting into! 🙂
The reason I started this blog was to have a space where I could share my thoughts and ideas on health, fitness, and overall well-being. I figured if I could inspire one person to adopt healthier habits, I would have made a difference. However, since starting this blog a little over 2 weeks ago, I am starting to think that it’s going to be about much more than health and fitness. I know that sounds a little vague, and I’m not totally sure what that means yet, but just knowing me, my goal of sharing health information will extend to changing the world…hahaha! What I do know is that aside from sharing my daily thoughts, I want to share more about the Indian culture. Learning about new countries, cultures, and people is so fascinating to me, so I figure blogging about my own culture will be a great experience for both myself and the people who read my blog.
What else can I share about myself?? I love to spend quality time with my friends and family, especially over a good meal! I love talking to Vishnu everyday, but I absolutely can’t wait for the day when the phone is no longer our primary means of communication! 🙂 I love to shop, especially with my sister because she thinks I have great fashion sense (which I really don’t)! I love “deep” conversations about anything and everything (I can just see my friends nodding their heads as they read this sentence)! And this may shock some of you, but I really do love talking to my parents at least twice a day…we’re very close! Working out, reading, traveling, going to the movies, cooking, laughing, etc. are other hobbies of mine…I really love ME time!
Well, I’m sure you’ll learn more about me over time, but I think this is a good start! 🙂 Thanks so much!
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing that you will make one.” — Elbert Hubbard
If you’ve been reading my posts over the past few days, you probably saw that I was traveling to Boston for the weekend. I am relocating here for work and flew up for an apartment hunting trip. And I am happy to report that it was successful…mission accomplished! 🙂
From the minute I booked my travel, I was really nervous about driving in the snow. Honestly, I thought about it at least 10 times a day. I’ve driven in Boston before but never during a snowmageddon! I’ve been asking everyone I know for tips and tricks on how to get around with so much snow on the ground. I even asked someone at the airport! My fear over the whole thing was taking over my thoughts. However, once I got in the car, took a few deep breaths, and started driving, I realized that I was going to be ok. Even through some rough traffic, I made it to my hotel in one piece! I was so proud of myself! This got me thinking about how so many people probably let fear control their lives. And believe me, it’s easy to let that happen. My example is a little silly, but there have been other times in my life where I almost let fear make my decisions for me. I’ve learned over my short 27 years of life that in order to get something out of it, you have to put something in, and that requires taking risks and taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way. I know this sounds cheesy, but you really can’t go wrong if your heart is in the right place. I’m not saying that people should take unreasonable risks. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t hold ourselves back from what we are truly capable of.
If you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, go for it! If you really want to go to Europe, make it happen! If your dream is to be a teacher, do what it takes to get there! Don’t let fear cause you any regrets! That’s enough of the deep, philosophical stuff for today… 🙂 More to come later…promise!
I do quickly want to talk about my lunch today. My realtor and I stopped at a mall food court for lunch because we were crunched for time. As I was looking around, a sign for “Regina Pizzeria” caught my eye! For those of you live in or have visited Boston, I hope you had the opportunity to go to the North End and try this pizza. It’s some of the best I’ve ever had! The sauce is sweet and spicy, the mozzarella cheese is gooey and fresh, the veggies are perfectly cooked, and the crust is a little chewy but very light. And although I was in the boonies and not the North End, my slice of pizza reminded me of the fun times that are to be had in Boston! I am really going to miss AZ and Tucson A LOT, but I am also excited to call Boston(ish) home for the next few months. 🙂