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Blog: Cooking with Madhu

Welcome to Madhu Gadia's Blog

June 2011 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 6:21 PM

June 2011
Happy Father’s Day

Dear Madhu,

As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, because wishes just may come true. Last year, when I was looking for a job, I kept saying, “I would love to have a job that combines my nutrition background and culinary passion, and if the job required travel I would be fine with it.” Well, it all came true. I got a job with FLIK International/Compass Group USA as a Regional Wellness Director and I am working in a cafeteria at Aetna insurance group. My job is to ensure that the customers have a good selection of healthful foods and provide nutrition information and education in the employee cafeteria. I am working with chefs, clients, and customers—nutrition and culinary passions rolled up in one job. And, I travel at least once a month to other locations for wellness education and audits. So, the other day, when I was talking to my sister and complaining that I am swamped with work and travel the next few weeks, she had no sympathy. She just laughed and reminded me that is exactly what I wished for. So, I had an aha moment as I packed for my next trip.

June is Men’s Health Month

Celebrate Father’s Day and take care of the men in your life by encouraging them to have a check up with their physicians. Men sometimes take better care of their car then their health. Anchored by a Congressional health education program, the goal of Men's Health Month is to increase awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Encourage men to pay attention to warning signs such as: changes in bowel or bladder habits, persistent backaches, recurrent chest pains, and extreme fatigue. Here are some health checkup tips for men:

• Eat less, move more: Check your weight
• Eat your vegetables and fruits
• Know your cholesterol levels
• Check your blood pressure
• Get screened for colorectal and prostate cancer

Men’s health issues significantly impact everyone around them. Women and men should educate themselves about potential male health problems. Check out www.menshealthnetwork.org for resources and health facts.

June Recipes

This month I am sharing some new recipes that I demonstrated at a culinary meet for the FLIK chefs. Doing a demo for your own company chefs is always challenging; I was excited and yet nervous, but it all went. I prepared tandoori roti and naan and served it with dips.
The demo goal was to show chefs how to make Indian breads. Most people are familiar with Indian breads they eat in the restaurants. Naan (bread) is everyone’s favorite. It is prepared fresh in Indian restaurants, typically showcased by chefs as they make it to order in a tandoor oven. Tandoor, is an underground clay oven that has direct fire and heats up to 800 F, is usually found in restaurants and in few homes in Punjab, India. The chef, hand stretches the bread and sticks it on the oven wall, task that requires skill and practice, and the bread cooks quickly on both sides. The taste and texture of the naan made in a tandoor is unique and absolutely divine.

But naan is just one type of bread. At home, Indians eat roti (a whole wheat flatbread) that is unleavened, salt free, and fat free. Also tandoor oven is a special oven that is only found in restaurants and in few homes in Punjab, India. Everyday bread is made on the stovetop. With all the rage about eating whole grains I wanted to share with chefs how to make roti. To be more specific, I wanted to show them how to make roti and naan in a pizza oven.

Testing Recipes: At the Aetna café in Hartford, I have access to an ideal brick pizza oven. The first time I made roti in the pizza oven, I realized, based on the comments I got from my testers that the oven roti (compared to stovetop) was a little dry if eaten without any curry. Since roti was going to be the main star of the demo, I wanted to make sure the rotis were soft and delicious by themselves. So back in the kitchen, I reworked the recipes for the oven.

Dips for the Rotis: Indians always eat roti with some type of a curry. Since this was a fusion demo, cooking Indian breads in an oven, I decided to serve it with three different types of dips—dips are versatile and popular. My culinary juices were flowing so I tested a Pulled Chicken Curry Dip. I also served Black Eyed Pea Dip and Cucumber Raita Dip.

Everything was a great hit at the demo. And last week, I made the tandoori roti in an oven at a party I had at home and got rave reviews from my Indian friends. I hope you enjoy the recipes too.

Tandoori Roti
Naan
Pulled Chicken Curry Dip
Black Eyed Pea Dip
Cucumber Raita Dip

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Sincerely,
Madhu Gadia

P.S.: Please forward this newsletter to at least five of your friends and family. Have any suggestions for future newsletters, I would love to hear from you.
 

Copyright © 2011 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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May 2011 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 6:20 PM

May 2011
Happy Mother’s Day!

Dear Madhu,

My world right now is colored with yellow Forsythias, pink flowering crab trees, and red tulips, and I am soaking it all in. I have spring fever and take every opportunity to be outside. This past weekend, I went for a long walk in the park and counted 12 colors of tulips, sat out at a café and had brunch with a friend, and visited a nursery and bought a fully loaded pot of purple pansies. Now spring is in my living room.

Exercise for Health, Sanity, and Energy
You know that exercise is good for you – but do you know what is the most important benefit for you? There are so many benefits of exercise but the best reason is the one (or two) that makes you want to workout. For me the most important reason is the increase energy level. I actually discovered that I need to exercise for energy in reverse gear. Let me explain, few years ago, after dinner I said, “I am exhausted,” then I said it again the next day, and the next and the next. I felt physically and emotionally drained. When I analyzed my time I came to the conclusion that I was my normal super busy self—with two small kids, a job, and a home—so of course, I was busy, nothing new. Except for some reason, I had not gone for my regular walks. Of course, I immediately took myself for a walk and in about three days I was back to my normal energy level. It still happens, once in while, that I get too busy to exercise but now I know that I must exercise or I will not feel good. Thus the reverse part is that I don’t necessarily feel good when I exercise but without it, I feel bad. My favorite exercise is walking, and I walk minimum 3 times a week, 20 to 50 minutes per session. Besides energy, exercise also…

1. Makes me feel better
2. Helps me cope with stress
3. Clarifies my thinking
4. Helps me manage weight
5. Reduces aches and pain

Walking is the Best Exercise
This is not to say that other forms of exercise are not good but several studies have shown that simple walking can have just as many benefits as other more strenuous exercises. Walking is easy, you do not need any equipment except a good pair of shoes, and you can walk anywhere. The general recommendation for health and disease prevention is to exercise minimum of 150 minutes per week, that is 5 days per week, 30 minutes per session.

Book Accolades
Last month I received several wonderful emails from cooks around the country who have tried recipes from my books and loved the results. I received emails for both books (actually all three of them). Thank you so much; I am sharing a couple of them for each book.
The Indian Vegan Kitchen
Madhu, I bow to you for creating a wonderful marriage between Indian food and veganism!!! I am so, so happy! Thank you!  –Michelle

 “I ordered The Indian Vegan Kitchen cookbook after reading all the amazing reviews. I just wanted to tell you that YOU are an AMAZING chef! Okra & onions, bean burger, your garam masala, omg everything has been phenomenal! My boyfriend, a self-described "meat & potatoes kinda guy, loves it so much he actually started cooking in the kitchen just to make recipes from your book. Much love!  – Diana

New Indian Home Cooking:
“Hi Madhu, I want to let you know how much I love your book New Indian Home Cooking. I was always intimidated by Indian cooking, but you make it very easy and approachable. I now make Indian dishes at least once a week. I promoted your book on my site:http://homemademothering.com  Thanks  – Maureen

 “I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful work. I made two dishes from your book "Lite and Luscious Cuisine of India"& they were absolutely fantastic. It is so awesome to have access to recipes that are tasty, healthy, easy to prepare & economical. Thank you!” –Michelle
(Note: Lite and Luscious Cuisine of India was republished as New Indian Home Cooking.)

May Recipes
It seems appropriate to share recipes from both The Indian Vegan Kitchen and New Indian Home Cooking this month. Ground Lamb and Peas (Kheema) is a very easy dish to make and one of the most popular lamb or mutton dishes in Indian cuisine. Enjoy Kheema with whole wheat roti or bread and mint chutney. Mint flavor goes really well with lamb. My family loves this sweet and sour mint chutney, so I usually make double batch and freeze it when mint is abundant and inexpensive. It’s a great accompaniment to most dals (beans) too. Okra and Onions is one my favorite vegetable. I can just roll up a roti with okra and devour it. For best results, choose tender fresh okra and cook it as soon as possible.  Enjoy. 

Ground Lamb with Peas (Kheema)
Mint Chutney (Pudina Chutney)
Okra and Onions (Bhindi-Pyaj)

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Sincerely,
Madhu Gadia

 

Copyright © 2011 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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April 2011 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 6:19 PM

April 2011
April Showers Bring May Flowers!

Dear Madhu,

April 22nd is designated as Earth Day, a day intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. My organization, Compass Group USA, as well as many other organizations, is promoting Earth Day’s message by celebrating April as Earth Month. Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in opportunity and was first held on April 22, 1970. It is now coordinated globally by Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 175 countries. This year Earth Day 2011: A Billion Acts of Green® encourages us to live and act sustainably. Here at Compass we are featuring locally grown foods, sustainable fish, and encouraging people to eat at least one meat-free meal per week—good for you and good for the earth.

It’s Okay to Skip the Meat
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to reap all the benefits of a plant-based diet. How about eating 1 to 2 meatless meals per week? The health benefits of eating plant-based meals are well recognized today but it did not happen overnight. As a dietitian, I have seen the traditional American diet change over the last couple of decades. Several health organizations and health professionals are now recommending people eat vegetarian meals at least once a week. To help Americans reduce consumption of saturated fat and to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer—four of the leading causes of death in America—a national public health campaign called Meatless Monday (a non-profit organization) is working in conjunction with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to make it easier for people to eat at least one vegetarian meal a week. Twenty-eight other public health schools also support the campaign. The program follows nutrition guidelines of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the American Heart Association.

Eating Healthfully at Work

The fact America is facing a health care crisis is not news. The obesity epidemic is a major reason that health-care costs continue to rise. Approximately 70% of illness today is linked to increased weight and decreased physical activity.

People spend 8 to 10 hours at work everyday. Tired and stressed out, they end up eating what is available in their cafeteria where the choices may not always be ideal. When employees eat 3 to 10 meals, breakfast and lunch, in the cafeteria, it is critical that the cafeteria offers healthful alternatives. I have the privilege of working with Flik International (Compass Group USA) as a Regional Wellness Director. Flik runs the cafeteria for Aetna insurance company. My responsibilities include assuring that the cafeteria offers a variety of healthful options, nutrition information on foods, and customer education. It’s an exciting job for me as I am working at the prevention level. I totally subscribe to the wise old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Do you eat 3 or more meals in your cafeteria? Is it easy to choose healthful meals? Are you getting your fruits and vegetables? When you eat out that often, it is important to make good choices and balance your meals.

Presentations
The past couple of months, I have been busy providing a variety of presentations at different venues. I presented “Building a Healthy Cafeteria” to Aetna clients, “Eating Out Healthfully” at a community health education program and “The Bad 4 Letter Word, Diet” at the BryanLGH Diabetes Annual meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you have ever presented to a group, you know it is a lot of work. I am relieved only once I’m done, but it’s comments such as “You mesmerized the audience,” make me do it again. On April 16th I will be presenting “Curry, Dal, and Ghee—Meeting the Needs of Indian Patients” at the Colorado Dietetic Association.

April Recipes

With all this talk about busy lives and eating meatless meals, I am sharing a vegetarian meal with you that you can make in about 30 minutes. As you know the majority of Indian cooking is done on the stovetop, and with four burners, you can easily cook several dishes at once. To prepare the meal below efficiently, start by putting rice on to cook. Next start the Zucchini-Tomato Dal, and while the dal is cooking, chop the zucchini and tomatoes for the dal. While the rice and dal are cooking, make the Cucumber Tomato Salad and the Yogurt and Banana. And ta-da! All four dishes will be ready at about the same time. Enjoy.

Zucchini-Tomato Dal (Torai-Tamatar Dal)
Basmati Rice
Cucumber Tomato Salad (Kheera-Tamatar Salad)
Yogurt and Banana (Kele Ka Raita)

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Sincerely,
Madhu Gadia

 

Copyright © 2011 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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March 2011 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 6:16 PM

March 2011
National Nutrition Month

Dear Madhu,

March is one of my favorite months, primarily because it should be the end of bad weather. The skeptics argue with me and remind me that it can snow as late as April. And I remind them that “it can” but the snow won’t last; basically the worst is over. Maybe I am delusional or it’s just the power of positive thinking but a little optimism works for me. After being cooped up all winter I am looking forward to longer days, daffodils and long walks in the park. Have a great spring!

Color Your Plate Healthy:
March is National Nutrition Month, an annual education and information campaign sponsored by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The 2011 theme is “Eat Right with Color.” The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Your body needs a variety of nutrients and the best way to get them is by eating a variety of foods everyday. The colorful vegetables and fruits provide you with a “pot of gold” in terms of nutrients. If you consciously eat purple eggplant, blueberries, green leafy vegetables, red tomatoes, oranges, and yellow squashes, you’ll easily supply yourself with full range of vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals and antioxidants. Many of these vital nutrients are only found in plant sources. Do you eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables everyday, as recommended? Be mindful and eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables everyday.

The Magic of Breakfast:
I am sure you’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast, as the word says is breaking the overnight fast. Eating a good breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day for both adults and children. Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast do better in school and adults feel and perform better at work. Adults, in quest of weight loss often skip breakfast, but studies have shown that skipping meals, especially breakfast, actually makes it difficult to lose weight. Eating something within couple of hours of waking up revs up your metabolism and thus helps you feel better and lose weight more effectively. Here are some of the most common statements I hear from my breakfast skipping clients, “I’m not hungry when I wake up,” “I don’t like breakfast foods,” or the most drastic statement “I will puke if I eat so early in the morning.” All I can say is eat or drink something within couple hours of waking up and try to make it as healthy as possible. It can be as simple as a piece of toast with coffee, a bowl of cereal, or even left over lasagna if that appeals to you. For more breakfast ideas and a cereal recipe see Power Up with Breakfast,” from ADA.

March Recipes:
The majority of mornings, I’m in a hurry and pretty much eat the same breakfast, something easy and quick. But then on weekends, I love to make a different and more substantial breakfast. I love Indian breakfast foods. They are invariably savory and spicy. This month I am sharing three of my family’s favorite breakfasts. I make Uppama (Cream of Wheat Snack) when I am in a hurry, it is easy to prepare and filling. Aloo Paratha (Potato Stuffed Flatbread) requires more time but are fabulously delicious. And when I have company and want to impress them with my culinary skills, I make the Bharva Cheele (Stuffed Mung Bean Pancakes). They take some planning and time but are well worth the effort. They look and taste gourmet and are sure to wow your guests. I will typically serve any of these dishes with beverages such as tea and/or a milk/yogurt shake (lassi).

Cream of Wheat Snack (Uppama)

Potato Stuffed Flatbread (Aloo Paratha)
Stuffed Mung Bean Pancakes (Bharva Cheele)

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Sincerely,
Madhu Gadia
 

Copyright © 2011 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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February 2011 eRecipes

Posted on 09/25/2011 at 6:13 PM

February 2011
American Hearth Month

Dear Madhu,

The only good news in terms of weather this winter has been that the groundhog did not see his shadow. You have all heard about Groundhog's Day. It falls on February 2nd each year. The legend is that if the groundhog sees its shadow, then we will have six more weeks of winter, while no shadow predicts an early spring. Well, I believe in the power of positive thinking, thus I am going to trust in the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil this year.

February is all about the heart. To urge Americans to join the battle against cardiovascular diseases, since 1963 Congress has required the president to proclaim February "American Heart Month." (It is not "Heart Month" or "National Heart Month.") And it makes sense that it is also the month we have Valentines Day. I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Valentines Day.

American Heart Month:
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including stroke, are our nation's No. 1 killer. Estimated approximately 81 million people in the United States have one or more form of cardiovascular disease. Although statistics appear grave, the good news according to the American Heart Association is that from 1996 to 2006 death rate from CVD declined by 29.2 percent. Several national organizations such as the American Heart Association, and The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, and are working hard to help us become aware of risk factors and make better decisions.

Go Red For Women:
Cardiovascular disease is not just an “older man’s disease” as once believed. Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, about 1 woman every minute. Yet women were not paying attention. To dispel the myths that it’s a man’s disease and raise awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of women, in 2004 the American Heart Association created Go Red For Women – a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health. For more information on the campaign and how to get involved go to GoRedForWomen website.

Do these campaigns really help or are they just a gimmick or a marketing ploy. My opinion is that these campaigns not only raise awareness they also give power to make social changes for example decreasing the amount of animal and saturated fats served in restaurants, decreasing trans fats in processed foods, banning smoking from public places, and the list goes on. 

Heart Healthy Choices:
There are several factors that affect your heart health, such as your genes, physical activity, food choices, abstinence from smoking, and how you handle stress. Although you cannot change your genes, you can make the lifestyle changes. A heart-healthy diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. And, if you eat animal products, choose low-fat dairy products, and lean meat, poultry, and fish in limited quantities. Also, choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. For more information on a heart-healthy diet, click here on the American Heart Association website.

February Recipes:
With a little planning and care, all-in-all eating healthy is easy and delicious. This month I’m sharing a few soy recipes from The Indian Vegan Kitchen. Although soy, in itself, is not as beneficial in terms of protecting against heart disease, as once thought, it is still a great food. It is cholesterol free, low in saturated fat, and high in protein and fiber. Soybeans and soy products occasionally require some flavoring, herbs, and/or spices to enhance their flavor or mask a “beany” taste. In general, soybeans, soymilk, soy granules, and tofu all integrate well into Indian dishes. Enjoy these soy recipes, from The Indian Vegan Kitchen.

Kale-Tofu Pilaf (Saag-Tofu Pulao)
Scrambled Tofu (Tofu Ki Bhuji)
Mango Yogurt Drink (Mango Lassi)

Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Sincerely,
Madhu Gadia

 

Copyright © 2011 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved

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Copyright © 2017 Madhu Gadia. All Rights Reserved