Posted on 11/01/2012 at 11:29 AM by Madhu Gadia
I have heard, “Things happen for a reason,” so many times that I want to scream, especially last week. I did everything in my power to avoid Hurricane Sandy and found myself in its path more than once. Considering all the devastation in New Jersey and New York, I know I have nothing to complain about. Basically, I had to travel for work from Hartford, Connecticut, to Merrimack, New Hampshire, on Monday. To avoid driving in bad weather, I decided to leave on Sunday. When I started my trip, the weather was fine, but 50 miles down the road the wind picked up and mist became heavy sheets of rain quickly. Everything about this storm was different from normal bad weather, and I became increasingly stressed. I certainly breathed a sigh of relief when I reached my destination. The next day by the afternoon however, the officials declared NH a state of emergency. Instead of being alone in a hotel, I decided to drive to my daughter’s place in Boston. When I left the weather was just cloudy but midway the wind and the rain picked up to the level of hazardous conditions. I made it fine, but the drive scared me silly. I asked myself, “Why am I facing this hurricane; what is the reason?” and of course there was no blatantly obvious answer. Although everything worked out, and I was safe, I hope I never have to meet Sandy, or anyone like her, on the road again.
Once settled in, my daughter said, “Mom let’s make pakoras (vegetable fritters – see recipe below) and chai – your favorite rainy-day foods.” We did and had a nice evening together.
Bad weather often reminds us of winter, and winter reminds us of holiday time. This year Diwali (Festival of Lights), a Hindu festival, is on November 13th followed by Thanksgiving on the 23rd. Along with the recipes, here are some health tips to ponder.
Having food within easy reach, such as a candy bowl or cookie jar, is an invitation to grab-a-bite on the go. Research suggests that people overeat for multiple reasons, and hunger isn’t usually the top reason. We make hundreds of food-related decisions every day and are unaware of 90% of them. Food is too easily accessible these days, whether it’s from a vending machine, a gas station, or fast food restaurant – the more we see food, the more we are tempted. Small changes in your food environment—out of sight, out of mind—can help you avoid “mindless eating” and make every bite count.
Is it Really Healthy?
Food marketers splash health benefits to entice consumers. Some health claims are not necessarily better for you. You should compare the nutrition facts and then decide:
Snack Bars flaunt numerous health benefits but contain artificial and processed ingredients, and 200 to 350 calories. Extra nutrients are nice but remember total calories count.
Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter saves only 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 10 calories per serving and has more sugar. It tastes different from your favorite peanut butter.
Frozen Yogurt although lower in fat, is still a dessert. It’s easy to walk out of your favorite fro-yo shop with a 400 calorie delight of yogurt and toppings, thinking you’re only eating 100 calories.
Holidays are upon us. Cooking for the holidays is both challenging and fun. I like to make lots of homemade goodies for the holiday table. But, of course, that takes time. To decrease some of the last-minute stress, I now prepare a few things ahead of time. I find that snacks and desserts take a significant amount of time, so I try to plan some items that either keep well or can be frozen and reheated. Here are some of my favorite standbys that I can serve at any holiday celebration: Vegetable Fritters (Subji Pakora); they freeze well and can be fried as needed. Spicy Cashews are anything but ordinary. Black pepper gives them a nice kick and your guests will not be able to keep their hands out of the bowl. For dessert try these Crunchy Blossom Pastries (Chirote); they are fun to serve because they look good and taste great, impressive little sweets that command attention. Make sure you hide these items, or they’ll disappear before the party.
Have a great time cooking and sharing meals with your loved ones and remember to enjoy and savor food.
Happy and Healthy Cooking!
P.S.: Gift Time: Remember to add the books The Indian Vegan Kitchen and New Indian Home Cooking for the cooks on your list. It’s nice to get free recipes, but a good cookbook is a treasure for a lifetime.
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