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December 2010 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 5:57 PM

December 2010
Happy Holidays!

Dear Madhu,

As I’m rushing around getting ready for the holidays, I can’t help but think of December also as The End, end of another year. Each December over the last few years I have taken some time to reflect on my feats and triumphs, however small. I typically write these down in a journal, which helps me focus on my accomplishments rather than focusing on everything I did not do or should have done. I hope you too will take the time to focus on your 2010 endeavors and accomplishments.

In my list, I also like to include everything and everyone I’m grateful for, people who helped me through the year. This December, I first and foremost want to thank YOU for your support throughout the year. I could not have done it without you. The books, The Indian Vegan Kitchen and New Indian Home Cooking continue to do well and receive great reviews. I’ve shared the reviews with you via Facebook, Twitter, and this newsletter. Thanks again.

The Perfect Gift: Buying gifts can be stressful. There is the financial pressure as well as the struggle of finding that ideal gift. As a shameless plug, how about The Indian Vegan Kitchen and/or New Indian Home Cooking!

My Chai Recipe Won a Contest! I rarely enter a contest but last July, I submitted a recipe for Spiced Chai Latte to the Vegetarian Nutrition Group’s recipe contest. I guess, you never know until you try. My recipe was one of the three contest winners! See the link to the recipe below.

Healthy Bytes: The holiday season can be a challenging time to stay on track with healthy eating goals. How can you eat well and enjoy your favorite homemade treats, office parties, and big meals? Here are some simple ideas to celebrate the season without feeling guilty or deprived. After all, savoring food is part of enjoying the holidays.

  1. Plan ahead. A little planning can save you time and energy at meal times. For holiday get-togethers plan appropriate amounts and types of foods served. If you’re expecting twelve guests avoid preparing food for fifty people. Too many leftovers are a downfall during the holiday.
  2. Eat regularly. Don’t skip meals. Missing a meal is never a good idea. Avoid making the mistake of "saving up" on calories because you know you have a holiday party to go to that night. It usually leads to increased craving and overeating. You can include your favorite holiday foods into your meals to satisfy your appetite.
  3. Relax and Enjoy. Focus on activities instead of the food. A party is a great place to meet people and catch up on news. Distance yourself from the buffet table so you’re not tempted to nibble.
  4. Make Time for Exercise. When you’re busy with holiday activities, you may be tempted to skip your workout. But don’t fall into that trap. Exercise can help you manage your hunger, burn calories, and reduce stress. In the long run, you’ll have more energy, accomplish more, and enjoy the holiday better if you stay active.
  5. Size Matters. Dish up your food on a salad or snack plate, if one is available. Select one to three of your favorite items in small portions and savor each bite. You can eat almost anything in small quantities. But do remember, you don’t want to nibble the cake away. The total number of bites do matter.
  6. Be Realistic. This may not be the ideal time for you to start a weight-loss program. But you can aim to maintain your weight through the holiday season. Help yourself to succeed with positive and specific self-talk. For example, if you tell yourself you will eat only half a slice of apple pie at a holiday dinner and pass on the potatoes, you will be more likely to follow through than if you plan to totally skip dessert.

December Recipes: Along with your traditional holiday favorites, add these fun-to-eat, flavorful, and spicy Indian appetizers. Samosas are one of the most popular Indian snacks. The traditional method of preparing the dough is time-consuming, so I often make samosas using puff pastry sheets. These Quick Vegetable Pastries have all the taste of samosas and take a fraction of the time to prepare. The Black-Eyed Peas Dip has become one of my favorite appetizers for demos and tastings. It’s easy, quick, healthy, and delicious. You could probably use about one can of black-eyed peas to serve six people as an appetizer. And for a flavorful hot beverage, make this award-winning Spiced Chai Latte.

Quick Vegetable Pastries (Samosa Puffs)
Black-Eyed Peas Dip (Lobhia)

Spiced Chai Latte

Wishing you all a Very Happy Holiday Season and a Prosperous New Year.

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Madhu Gadia


Copyright © 2010 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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November 2010 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 5:56 PM

November 2010
Happy Diwali!

Dear Madhu,

It has been a year since The Indian Vegan Kitchen: More than 150 Quick and Healthy Homestyle Recipes was released. It has been a wonderful and exciting year for me. When you take on a huge project like writing a book you basically do it with blind faith that everything will work out and when it does you are pleasantly surprised. I am happy to report that the book has exceeded my dreams and I thank all of you for that!
Happy Diwali! Translated as the Festival of Lights, Diwali may also be written as Dipawali or Deepavali. It is one of the main Hindu holidays; celebrated with similar reverence and merriment in India as Christmas is celebrated in the United States. The celebrations start almost a month before with various religious and social events. The main components of the holiday include cleaning the house, visiting family and friends, lighting oil lamps, praying to the goddess Lakshmi for wealth, enjoying lots and lots of food, and to top it off—setting off fireworks. It is a celebration of victory of good over evil and signifies the uplifting of spiritual darkness. Diwali is celebrated based on the lunar calendar and this year it’s on November 5th.

Comfort in Traditions: Each family has its own traditions related to the holidays. I started having a Diwali party when my kids were small with the intention of educating them about their own holiday. After a couple of years all my friends started calling it Madhu’s annual Diwali party and looked forward to it. The next thing I knew, this annual Diwali celebraton became a tradition amongst my family and friends. I have been hosting this annual gala for over 20 years. The house is lighted inside and out. My son decorates the front yard with lights and my daughter strategically places candles around the house. My husband takes care of the drinks and of course I’m the cook and the organizer. And now my son-in-law fills in and helps all of us. It’s a family affair. And friends help too. Everyone comes to the party dressed to impress in colorful Indian clothes and we spend hours feasting and regaling. As the night is winding down, we play cards – a little gambling is part of the Diwali tradition. I’m sure you can relate these to some of your own family holiday traditions.

November Recipes: One of the most important parts of holiday traditions is of course food. In my region in India, puri (fried bread) and aloo (spicy potatoes) are a must on Diwali. The trays of desserts remind me of Christmas cookies and so does the atmosphere. Puri (fried bread) and aloo (spicy potatoes) turn any meal into a celebration. They can be served for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. I’m also including a very simple dessert called halwa that just goes very well with this meal. Diwali or not, enjoy a meal of puri, aloo, and halwa and have your own party.

Fried Bread (Puri)

Spicy New Potatoes (Jeera Aloo)
Cream of Wheat Halwa (Sooji Halwa)

I wish you and yours A Very Happy and Prosperous Diwali. May all your wishes come true!

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Madhu Gadia

Copyright © 2010 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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October 2010 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 5:54 PM

October 2010
Eating Out

Dear Madhu,

I love to eat out, how about you? It’s convenient, fun, social, and at the end of the meal—no dishes. Over the years, I have noticed that I’m eating out more than I used to. With friends, we often just meet at a restaurant instead of inviting each other over for dinner or a cup coffee. I have colleagues and friends that have never come to my house. This is a huge change from how things were when I was growing up, when eating out was reserved for special occasions. Nobody I knew went out to eat or picked up a meal on the way home because they were too tired to cook. I remember my mom, when tired or sick, just making a matar pulao (pea pilaf) for a quick and easy meal.

Eating out is easy, but is it good for us? As a mom, my biggest concern is the health of my family, and as a nutritionist the health of the nation. People today are eating out up to 5 meals a week. If you’re eating out more than once a week you have to be cognizant of what you order and how much you eat. 

Sneaky Portions: What is a portion size, does anyone really know anymore? I don’t think kids today know that a 2-inch cookie, a 2-ounce bagel, or a 1½-ounce muffin were normal portion sizes until about 1985. Take these Portion Distortion quizzes and see how the portions and calories have gone up in the last 20 years. The portions are even bigger today than in these quizzes from 2003 and 2004.

The other day, we were eating out in an Indian restaurant and my friend who is trying to lose weight asked me if I knew how many calories were in the tandoori roti (Indian flatbread, cooked in a clay oven) we had ordered. I guessed that one roti was about 250 calories. He didn’t believe me. He ate only half of it, and later, we measured the roti on a food scale. Half of that tandoori roti was about 2.2 ounces, which is about 175 calories (1 ounce of bread or roti is about 80 calories) and thus that whole tandoori roti would be 350 calories. Wow, I was off by 100 calories. He was right and I was so happy that he didn’t listen to me—this time. And it once again affirmed my belief that when you’re eating out you have to be super careful or calories will slowly sneak into your diet. 

Want to know more about Indian food in restaurants, read my response to the Editor of Question: Many calorie-conscious home cooks may see the heavy sauces or fried breads often featured in Indian restaurants as too decadent and fatty for an everyday meal. Surely, not all of Indian dishes are indulgences. Are there lighter choices to make at home?
Answer: Restaurant meals are often high in fat and calories… Indian cooking at home rarely, if ever, uses cream as the base. At home, most sauces are made with onion, tomatoes and spices and, for a creamy sauce, yogurt or nuts are added. (For the full answer and the rest of the interview, visit the blog post here:

Eating Out Healthfully: Do you really know how often you eat out? In reality, not in theory! My clients often find as they keep a food record that they eat out more often then they thought.

  1.  Keep a record of how many times you eat out for a few weeks. Make sure you count every meal you eat away from home—breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, coffee shops (unless it’s just black coffee), parties, carryout, and ordering-in. Be truthful to yourself.
  2. Be careful of portion size. Measure, measure, and measure. Use a measuring cup, spoon, and a food scale once in a while so you know how much you’re eating.
  3. Share a meal. Or bring 1/2 to 2/3 home, depending on the restaurant.
  4. Remember to balance meals. It’s hard to eat out and get everything you need, especially fruits and vegetables. Eat at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits a day.
  5. Eat mindfully. Enjoy the taste and flavor of what you’re eating.

The Indian Vegan Kitchen Reviews: “Fragrant curry, simmering dal, colorful tandoori, spicy korma—the aromatic, delicious foods of India, with their incredible range of spices, flavors, foods, colors, textures and ingredients, speak for themselves,” says Sharon Palmer, RD, editor of Environmental Nutrition in the article “Indian Cuisine, Healthy and Delicious.”

I also hope you had a chance to check out the “Vegan Gourmet” recipes in the October issue of Vegetarian Times, in the article called “Indian Made Easy.”

October Recipes: Dal is an Indian version of beans. Actually, dal is the generic name for all dried beans, peas, lentils, legumes, or pulses. The word dal is used interchangeably for both dry and cooked beans. Dals are staple in Indian cuisine. Dals (beans) are very versatile and are a nutrition powerhouse. This month, I chose dal recipes that are readily available and easy to prepare. The Lentil-Vegetable Soup and Quick Kidney Beans recipes both use canned beans and pink lentils used in the Ginger-Spinach Pink Lentils recipe cook up very quickly. Also, you will find that all three preparations have a very different seasoning and a unique base. Enjoy dal with rice, roti (flatbread), or any crusty whole grain bread for a satisfying and filling delicious meal.

Lentil-Vegetable Soup (Masoor-Subji Soup)
Ginger-Spinach Pink Lentils (Adrak-Palak Dal)
Quick Kidney Beans (Rajmah)

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Madhu Gadia

Copyright © 2010 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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September 2010 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 5:53 PM

September 2010
Menu Planning

Dear Madhu,

I recently went to Boston and spent a few days with my daughter and son-in-law. Although not planned as such, it turned out to be just as much a business trip as a family trip. I worked when they worked and spent evenings and the weekend with them. It’s great to see your children making lives for themselves.

Boston is a fun place to visit; it has a personality of its own with a mix of history and skyscrapers. It is well connected by commuter trains, subways, buses, and taxis. I love the Boston Common area, it’s packed with tourists and locals walking, talking, and just sitting and daydreaming. Did you know Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States? I walked for hours throughout the city (okay, I got lost a little) and had a blast. If you’ve never been to Boston, it’s worth a visit.

My Kayak Debut:
I’m beside myself, for now I can say I know how to kayak. Since the kids live near Charles River, we decided to try out kayaking. My son-in-law had been kayaking before but it was the first time for my daughter and me. She and I shared a two-person kayak, and after gliding into the riverbank a couple times we learned to work together and maneuver our way along the river. It was a great experience; I know I would do it again. And to all of you, if we can do it, you can do it.

Networking in Motion:
We’ve all heard about the importance of networking but this is the first time I saw it come together for me. I initially met Louisa Kasdon, a well-known food writer, at the Healthy Kitchen, Healthy Lives conference in March 2010 (check out her blog and articles on After the conference I followed up with her and she invited me to come to Boston and record some videos for the website,, where she is the Managing Editor. Sure enough, when in Boston, I recorded two cooking videos for the website. It was a great experience to work with a professional crew and the videos turned out great. I loved doing it and hope to do more videos in the future.

Learn to how to make Black Eyed Pea Dip and Quick Chickpea Curry in these cooking videos.

Through Louisa I also met Ranveer Brar, a Corporate Chef for One World Cuisine in Boston. I learned about One World Cuisine’s numerous and varied Indian restaurants in the Boston area. Then, Ranveer introduced me to Pushpir Bhetia of Guru the Caterer. He has two restaurants and sells homestyle Indian food. Boston is a hopping place for Indian food. It is always great to meet others doing work that complements your own.

I also met up with Deborah Chud in Harvard Square and we shared our passion for healthy and tasty foods. She has great recipes and ideas on healthy eating on her website, a doctor's kitchen.

Getting Dinner On The Table!: After you have worked 8-plus hours, it takes a lot of motivation and energy to get dinner on the table. If you struggle to make dinner after work, you’re not alone. A significant number of my clients fret over dinner and the process. On top of all the challenges comes the pressure of making meals healthy, balanced, and tasty. I love to cook (most of the time) and am fairly proficient but sometimes it’s still just a chore. Over the years, I have found some basic tricks that really reduce the time in the kitchen and make cooking easier.

Here are some of basic kitchen supply rules that need to be in place: 

1. Plan ahead. You must have some type of a menu plan for the week, primarily your dinner menus. Most of us eat similar foods throughout the week for breakfast and lunch. A little bit of planning goes a long way.

2. Keep a shopping list. Make a shopping list from your menus and keep a running list of things you need to replace. A list jogs your memory and saves time as you walk the supermarket aisles.

3. Shop once a week. If possible, shop once a week (maybe twice) for most of your grocery needs. Avoid extra shopping trips. Every time you stop at the grocery store you end up spending valuable time away from home and increasing your dinner prep time. With a little planning you can even buy enough perishables for the week, for example for fruits buy bananas, apples, or grapes along with seasonal fruits. Some fruits last longer than others.

4. Include a variety of staples: Make life easy by buying cleaned/bagged greens, frozen vegetables, and canned beans etc. These foods save time and are great fillers, if you run out of perishables.

5. Keep it Simple: Make simple and easy meals on workdays and more elaborate meals on days when you have more time.

6. Be flexible: Schedules change, unplanned things happen—don’t stress, just make something else from your list or whatever is in your pantry. 

Basically, having the ingredients on hand cuts down on meal planning significantly.

September Recipes:
Since menu planning is the theme of this month, here are three dishes that are great meal starters. Bean Burgers use canned chickpeas which makes them quick and easy to prepare. Serve these burgers with a salad for a complete meal. Pav-Bhaji—Veggie Sloppy Joe Sandwiches—are a street food of Mumbai. Pav means a bun and bhaji mean vegetables, thus it’s vegetables on a bun. The first time I saw a Sloppy Joe sandwich—ground meat on a bun, it reminded me of Pav-Bhaji. You just have to try it to believe what a delicious concoction it is. And for chicken lovers, make this quick and easy Blackened Chicken. Serve it with rice and salad for dinner, and for the best part the leftover chicken makes a great sandwich or a wrap to take for lunch.

Bean Burgers (Dal-Vada Burgers)
Veggie Sloppy Joe Sandwiches (Pav-Bhaji)
Blackened Chicken (Kali Mirch Murgh)

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Madhu Gadia

PS: Check out The Indian Vegan Kitchen recipes featured in the October issue of Vegetarian Times magazine, page 48. Recipes are not available online.

Copyright © 2010 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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August 2010 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 5:50 PM

August 2010

Dear Madhu,

Are you stocking up on “back to school” supplies? Everywhere I go parents, kids and college bound young adults are getting ready for the upcoming school year. Since my husband is a professor, our household runs on an academic calendar even though my children are no longer in school. August always brings a little anxiety with it as it announces the end of the summer and a beginning of a new school year. Personally, by August, I am ready for the summer to end. Don’t get me wrong I love summer, but after three months of lack of routine it becomes a bit stressful.

Actually that brings me to a big question: we all know that stress happens, but why do some people bounce right back and while others get depressed and sick? Often, it’s not the stress itself, but our coping mechanisms for managing the stress. Physical health and mental health are intertwined, which is why I’ve always included a session on stress management in my weight loss and diabetes classes.

Empower Yourself: Not all stress is bad for you. Stress can be classified as no stress, slight stress, moderate stress, high stress, and chronic stress.  Slight to moderate stress releases just the right amount of adrenalin to help you focus and be productive. Once a project is completed, your adrenalin level comes down and you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. It is the high and chronic stress that causes disease and illness. It is easy to fall into the stress trap and feel out of control. Don’t let stress take over your life. The first step is to understand your stressors and how they affect you. Awareness is half of the cure. Then make sure you find stress management techniques that work for you. Once you have the techniques down, you will feel empowered over stress. For example, I have come to recognize that if I do not exercise regularly, at a minimum of three days a week, I become unusually tired and whiny with the same amount of work. This fact now motivates me to make time for exercise.

Find what works for you: Along with exercise, I also find that yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises (pranayam) all help me manage my stress level.  You don’t need to change your way of life and become a “yogi” or “hippie” to find benefits.

There is so much information out there that it is hard to know where to start. Some sources that have helped me cope with my stressors include the books A New Earth by Ekhart Tolle and Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan J. Jeffers, and a meditation album The Soul of Healing Meditations by Deepak Chopra. Find what works for you and practice it regularly. After all, you are in control of your life.

Testimonials and Support:
Thanks to all of you The Indian Vegan Kitchen continues to get great reviews and has been one of the top rated Indian cookbooks on Kelly White Phillips in her Living on the Vedge blog, shares her experience cooking Indian food for the first time using The Indian Vegan Kitchen. She states, "I was shocked at how light and low sodium your traditional Indian foods can be prepared." She made roti and stuffed eggplants...yum.

August Recipes: During the months of July, August, and September, I like to buy most of my vegetables from the farmers market. I have to be careful or I will buy more fresh produce than my family can eat; besides the whole idea is to eat it fresh. The taste of fresh produce is unmatched and fresh produce also has the highest nutrient content. The longer the produce sits the more nutrients are lost. When we visit India, we’re amazed and constantly comment on the great taste of the vegetables. I used to think it was because Indian vegetables were better but then I realized it was because they were fresh. In India, cooks buy the vegetables fresh each day. Here, even when I buy produce from the farmers market I rarely cook it the same day, and if I buy it from the grocery store, it has probably sat for 7 to 14 days from picking, transporting, purchasing, to cooking. Naturally, it doesn’t taste the same. So, at least during the summer months (in Iowa) I try to incorporate as much fresh and local produce as I can.

I also have a kitchen garden and for the last month we have enjoyed the amazing taste and texture of fresh cucumbers practically every day. Yesterday, I made eggplant from the garden and I think by the end of this week I will have enough okra for us. Many farmers markets today not only carry tomatoes, onions, and zucchini – they also carry exotic vegetables such as okra, eggplants, and gourds. Here, I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes that can be made with fresh produce from your kitchen garden or local farmers market. In both books, The Indian Vegan Kitchen and New Indian Home Cooking, you will find lots of easy recipes that will transform your summer bounty in to delicious meals. Enjoy!

Spicy Grilled Salmon

Okra and Onions (Bhindi-Pyaj)
Mashed Eggplant (Baingan Bharta)

Happy and Healthy Cooking!

Madhu Gadia

P.S. Need a consult on weight loss, diabetes, or stress management? Frustrated and confused with nutrition information and science? Wondering how does stress affect your weight and health? Want practical healthy solutions? Talk to a dietitian and get the strategies that work for you, see

Copyright © 2010 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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Copyright © 2018 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved