29 December 2014

Whole wheat Banana almond muffin


wholewheat_muffin

I wonder who coined this phrase "Go bananas".Whoever it is,I also wonder if he/she wanted to dedicate this to me exclusively somehow because I do go Bananas whenever I get Bananas and then I get my Ghajini moment /dementia-tic attacks and I ignore this fruit for longtime UNTIL it gets chickenpox and bit stinky !

Then my better 1/2 would also go Banana and taunt me ,saying ,"My dear monkey whoops wife-y,did you complete those Bananas yet ?" Aaah look they became dual colored -black & Yellow..what a combination and what a aroma !! Our dining room has become so aromatic- Welcome to Banana spa !!Shy Whistler

wholewheat_banana_muffin
Happy new year wishes in advance!

Can't blame him,this story happens everytime I buy Bananas and I never remember the previous lesson !! And then I would be digging recipes day in and day out  to hide these spoiled Banana neatly.

So,this time I made a very healthy muffin with of course Bananas,almonds and whole wheat flour .Oh so good !! It screams HEALTHY  yet tastYYY!

This is how I make a healthy Whole wheat Muffin with Banana and nuts.


  WholewheatBanana Muffin

Ingredients

Whole Wheat flour - 1 cup
Wholewheat bran - 1/4 cup(optional)
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt -1/4teaspoon
Eggs - 2
Oil/butter - 1/2 cup
Agave nectar/Sugar - 1/2 cup
Ripe Organic Bananas- 2-3
Almonds slices - 1/2 cup

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
  • In a large bowl,mix together all dry ingredients-Whole wheat flour,whole wheat bran,cinnamon powder,baking powder,salt and keep it aside.
  • Put the ripe bananas in a blender and mash it well or mash it with hands.
  • In another bowl ,beat eggs ,butter and agave nectar well.Add the above dry ingredients to it plus the mashed bananas .
  • Mix everything until well incorporated.
  • Fold in the almond slices.
  • Now put cupcake liners in the muffin pan and pour the batters into each cups.
  • Bake it for 15-20 minutes approx or until the toothpick inserted into it comes out clean.

That's it.That's one of the way ,how I tastefully hide and end the Banana story forever .Throat cut.Ennoda kalee/Humse hai muqablaNo


wholewheat_muffin_recipe


Have a fun filled,joy filled,blessings filled new year ya'll!

 Eat,love,Live deliciously,

16 December 2014

Basic marinara sauce


marinara_sauce

 It is the lovely month of every year .Though it is cold ,I just can't wait to get out and then nothing can stop my eyes from twinkling,lips smiling and heart fluttering in peace and tranquility.It is December .Christmas is around the corner ,so is the new year ! Hmmmm..time flies .I love how people just can't stop smiling,shopping and decorating their house.It is always fun to go out at night to watch every house blinking in joy. Every day I see new decorations in my neighborhood .Christmas is already in the air !

marinara_sauce

 When people are busy with decorations ,shopping etc ,I am busy with my classes.My courses I was looking forward to, finally started and so did a couple of my freelance projects.Everything came together for me and I am super busy as I've a deadline, to complete one of the project before new year .Time is playing hide and seek with me now .Looks like I won't be that active in my blog now but whenever I'll Seek time,I'll certainly jot down a recipe quickly for sure .

marinara_sauce

Without wasting any more more time,today's recipe is a basic Marinara sauce .I used to buy marinara sauce before but not anymore, as this recipe is the best with home found fresh ingredients and within couple of minutes it gets ready too. And if you will ask me what is the ingredient that is a must to make a yummy marinara sauce,then it is the addition of herbs-- Oregano and basil for me.

This is how I make basic marinara sauce :


 Basic Marinara sauce

 Ingredients


Olive oil - 2-3 tablespoons
Large onion,chopped - 1 cup
Garlic cloves,chopped - 4-6 nos
Oregano - 2-3 tablespoons
Basil leaves -A sprig
Cherry tomatoes ,halved - 3 cups
Sugar - a big pinch (optional)
Salt to taste

Method:

  • First boil the tomatoes with 2-3 cups of water until they become soft .
  • Using a ladle mash the tomatoes and keep them aside.
  • Now heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onions and saute it till it becomes transparent and light brown.
  • Add the garlic,oregano,basil leaves and stir for say 2 minutes approx.
  • Now add the mashed tomatoes and it's water/stock and bring to a boil .
  • Reduce heat and simmer ,stirring occasionally until thickened .
  • Marinara sauce is ready.
  • Enjoy with pasta or home made pizza or as you wish............
 See you soon.

Eat,love,live deliciously,

 

11 December 2014

Blog to Feed a Child - my fifth post


Heart-breaking pics I came across-Photo credits -Reuters,NYtimes
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

If charity begins at home,a revolution begins in a community.

When people with a common purpose combine their skills and energies, the outcomes are magnified.

Needless to say ,because, that's exactly how we got our motherland,India, back years ago .

We did get our country's independence but unfortunately, we didn't get independence from many social evils YET like female literacy,female infanticide,child labor/child exploitation,poverty ,hunger to name a few.

We all are aware of it,we whine,feel sorry,complain ,THEN,we ignore and do nothing ,even if someone is willing to do their bit,we don't step forward to extend our hand and support them or some even stop them to go forward and bring the change . Are we being a responsible citizen of a great country even westerners can't stop singing praise of ? Are we really proud to be an Indian then ?

It's high time,we have to change the "It happens in India " attitude to ,"It won't happen again in India."

A lot of welfare schemes and developmental plans are launched by the government but only a few are implemented.If we can bring a change politically ,well and good,meantime we can support all those valid child welfare programs /NGO's in action.

Just like our great freedom fighters who took matters in their hand ,won freedom and shaped our country ,we, each one of us can also do simple to big roles possible to erase the blots on our country.

If you are a shopkeeper,you can arrange pre-packaged foods at a reasonable price that customers can buy and donate to support any child hunger welfare organizations.You can even give the option of donating a minimal amount for the same cause while customer purchases anything from the store.

Every restaurants, universities, hotels, sports ,entertainment venues,community programs can tie up with organizations fighting child hunger and donate extra good food to help the kids/people in need.

Every community can grow a community garden to provide fresh produce to such organizations ,so that they will be ever motivated to make not just some food but "nutritional foods" as a part of meals for hungry kids .

I am not sure if there is one already but if not,we should also have organizations or community programs that ensures local school kids/government school poor kids should also get food not just during school days or school time but also after school time or during holidays as well.

Moreover,every community should take initiative to raise public awareness about the social evils like child hunger etc and the steps one can take to support thereby.

Any slum area nearby should be volunteered to highlight the importance of balanced food and cooking .

Every one can at least spare some time personally to volunteer to support organizations dealing with women and child welfare and do their bit.

Every retired medical professionals (atleast) should come forward to help establish a good medical facility in rural/slum areas.They can also assist in providing multi-vitamin tablets to poor pregnant ladies and unhealthy kids for sure (something is better than nothing after all).

Every retired (atleast) teachers may volunteer to spread education to the needy and therefore ,create more awareness -like accepting a girl child,educating her,marrying her at right age,may she be aware of birth control methods,how to be healthy and deliver a healthy child in future and so on.

Every chef or someone with cooking knowledge can render their cooking skills in any soup kitchen that arranges meals for the hungry.

If someone has a political influence in any way ,please do a good deed ,atleast try to advocate the serious implementation of more child welfare programs and our ex-prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh himself publicly declared ,"Child hunger as a big National shame."He further added,"India cannot hope for a healthy future with 42% of children aged below five years being underweight. The health of the economy and society lies in the health of "this generation". Policy makers need to clearly understand many linkages -- between education and health, between sanitation and hygiene, between drinking water and nutrition - and then shape their responses accordingly." Praying to God, may our government get enlightened somehow and take the necessary steps as soon as possible.PLEASE !

Let our celebrities be a real hero than just a reel hero , to inspire people to take action .Unity is strength.

We,whoever is capable of,should come up with more fuel efficient cooking methods,simple homes,electricity,water etc for rural/slum dwellers.

Easier said than done.However,if there is a will,there will always be a way.We have to do something now or it's never.That is humanity all about afterall.I am doing my bit whenever I can and am willing to and God will show me the ways and means too .I can't help everyone, though I wish I had a superpower to do so but yes I will do my bit to help someone atleast.I promise!

If you are doing your bit,High five ! 

No matter how much we develop ,it may not only enhance our lifestyle,attitudes,education,job posts,luxury etc but also our heart that beats not just for us but for others too.Let us always keep us human ,humble,available especially to the needy.

Let us all be the candle that don't mind to burn itself to blow away darkness and bring a ray of light and hope!

Imagine that feeling, when a hungry/helpless child smiled and the reason behind that happiness is YOU .Speechless and life worthy ..Isn't it ?

Imagine our country where every child is healthy ,educated and no one is left hungry ,crying and dying .That proud moment and you know you did your bit for that positive change .How proud to be an Indian and above all a human ..Isn't it?

So,let us all ,who call themselves "Human" come forward and play their role in shaping our country and make it a better place to live in happily and safely irrespective of any religion,gender,caste,color or creed.I promise,I and family will by God's grace ...Will YOU ?

 "Hope is not enough to change the world, to bring peace, to end starvation and poverty, to provide a decent education for all children, or to prevent nuclear holocaust. Yet it is a critical starting point for building a better and brighter future. All of us are challenged to connect hope to action until we have created a might river that will carve a new path to the future." -- David Krieger






Prayers & love to those kids and family,








P.S.:This is a part of Blogadda and Akshaya Patra's collaborative effort “Blog to Feed a Child” theme where any blog post contributed for the same cause, BlogAdda will sponsor meals for an Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year.

So,I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda


This is my 5th post (I believe ,that means 5 kids meals for a year are sponsored on behalf of me by Blogadda and Akshaypatra...yippeee ) and so, I take this opportunity to thank Blogadda and AkshayaPatra for their noble effort and giving me a chance to do my bit as well.My blogging is so worth now ..Thanks a lot !


09 December 2014

Blog to Feed a Child - 4th post

 


Every child should be given the right to grow up and become a productive citizen. This will not happen unless, at the very least, basic food needs are met. Ending childhood hunger should be a national priority. -- Pamela Sue Martin, actress

They say,"Children close their ears to advice but open their eyes to example."

As I said in my previous posts,when the parents take the necessary steps to make a difference in someone's life , kids are naturally instilled and inspired by the examples set thereby.And when kids are inspired ,they will have a natural tendency always to create or support any cause worthy of.

It all can start from their own home ,right from respecting,valuing and never wasting any food in the first place. Understanding that, someone somewhere is dying for that leftover food.

Secondly,parents can celebrate their kids birthday by arranging a b'day party, where the invitees are requested to bring gifts that will be totally donated to the local schools or centers dedicated to the welfare of poor and unprivileged kids.

Parents can also donate online and make some other kid's day simultaneously.

Parents can request the Principal or teachers to participate or support the child development programs like Akshaypatra's and play a significant role in assuring meals to the under privileged kids in local schools.Children should be further encouraged to volunteer for the same.

I wish every school in India would support such cause involving the dedicated collaboration of teachers and students.Like on Children's day,every children are suppose to bring cash or kind like clothes,toys,books,study materials,stationery,fresh/nonperishable food items etc that will be donated by the school to the child welfare organizations.

College students can donate money as much as they can at their food cafeteria while buying their lunch/meals.They can arrange food drives as well.

Organizations like Akshyapatra conducts various kinds of fundraising programs involving kids/college students like arts and crafts,exhibitions,sports events  etc ,so apt schools/colleges and  even communities can participate and boost their good cause and make a remarkable difference.

Teenagers/Young adults can volunteer for such organizations in myriad ways.

I want to highlight what Hollywood actress ,Drew Barrymore said, "Feeding a child at school is such a simple thing – but it works miracles.School feeding not only fills stomachs, but has a proven track record of boosting enrollment, attendance and academic performance. I can’t think of any issue that is more important than working to see that no schoolchild in this world goes hungry."

I hope, may we all have this mentality for every child out there and let us set examples /footsteps for the next generation to follow/stay inspired and do the needful.

These are some of the ways I believe children can also take an active part to help fight child hunger and help a child to grow and live well somewhere.

"Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of an education." ~ Alice Waters









P.S.This is a part of Blogadda and Akshaya Patra's collaborative effort “Blog to Feed a Child” theme where any blog post contributed for the same cause, BlogAdda will sponsor meals for an Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year.

So,I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.


02 December 2014

Muringa ila Thoran/Drumstick leaves stir fry Kerala style

MURINGA_ILA_THORAN



Welcome to the finale ! Today is the last show of the drumstick leaves .Dancing<- That's my husband -dancing and yelling at the top of his lungs ,"FINALLY"!!

Kandille,ee manushyandey oru kaaryam  ...Huhhhh :P ...Not to mention,my 3 days long affair with Moringa oleifera certainly irked him a lot.Before he would become violent and turn me silent,I had to finish this edible affair ASAP.

I can't blame him ,I do confess ,I did push honey P aside and grinned big at the very sight of  Moringa oleifera as if he was the prince charming of my dreams.An eligible edible doctor full of medicinal qualities !

DRUMSTICK_LEAVES_THORAN


Well,you know what I loved most about them here,these leaves were already plucked,neatly packed and ready to use ! Unlike in India, I remember the other strong reason why I hated these leaves,mom would delegate me the task of plucking those small leaves from not big but teeny weeny stems full of infinite leaves and de-stalk them carefully ,which would take time for ever. It was like a never ending finger exercise.Meanwhile,my clever mom would start boring me with stories with life lessons .What an idea mom g!! ..I named it drumstick torture !


It's amazing how a torture has now become a rare treasure here.However,these leaves do come with an expiry date.The sooner it is used ,more fresher it will be.So,that sums up my three days affair with Moringa oleifera.

The last recipe I made was Muringa ila thoran(in my mother tongue,Malyalam) aka drumstick leaves stir fry with coconut  mixture ,Kerala style.

So,here is how I make Muringa ila Thoran:

Muringa Ila Thoran

Ingredients

Drumstick leaves - 3 cups
Mixed beans(lima beans,pinto beans,peas,green gram mix)- 1/4 cup (Optional)
Shallots/Small onions,chopped - 1/2 cup
Green chillies ,chopped - 3-4 nos.
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Coconut,grated - 1 cup
Salt to taste

To temper:

Coconut oil - 1-2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Dry red chillies - 1-2 nos.
A sprig of curry leaves

Method:

  • Soak the mixed beans overnight.Next day, pressure cook it with enough water (covering the beans) for one whistle or until cooked.Keep it aside.
  • Wash and clean the drumstick leaves well ,drain and keep it aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan,splutter mustard seeds,followed by dry red chillies.
  • Add the chopped shallots and green chillies ,stir well for a few minutes until the shallots become pink.(Low-medium flame)
  • Now,lower the flame, add the curry leaves and drumstick leaves to it and saute for a minute with turmeric powder added to it.
  • Cover the leaves with a lid and let the leaves get cooked well and tender.
  • Remove the lid and add the grated coconut to it and salt to taste.
  •  Muringa ila thoran is ready to serve hot with steaming rice and curry.

Note:

  • Adding the boiled beans mix is quite optional but it certainly gives it a distinct flavor.Even any boiled lentil can be used instead,makes it more tastier.
  • Leaves should not be wilted or with any discoloration and avoid any stems even if it is small as it can make the dish bitter and tasteless.
           
 In case you missed two other drumstick recipes - Drumstick leaves and potato stir fry and Drumstick leaves kerala curry

My dear Moringa oleifera ...sweet good bye for now ...Till we meet again..:P





25 November 2014

Drumstick leaves curry|Muringa ila curry-A Mallu speciality


drumstick_leaves_curry
 
Last week,for three days straight,I was dating "Moringa Oleifera".Shhhhh between me and YOU ...Don't tell Honey P ,otherwise he'll be likeMad smiley bending rod....Doesn't it sound like the male version of the beautiful actress Sofia Vergara ? .Actually,I meant drumstick leaves and Moringa Oleifera is as a matter of fact, the botanical name of the mighty tree and you also thought Free Laughing. Ha..Got ya !


Did you notice (Mallus), the Malayalam word for drumstick tree is "Muringa" ,almost similar to the botanical name,Moringa? Interesting right !


When these leaves are (almost) available in every household back in India in abundant ,here in US,it is exotic ,very rarely available and the very sight of them will make your stuck jaw simply drop or droop and your eyeballs fall out and mouth wide open ,as if you just saw a magical vegetable item in the grocery shop ...Well,that's exactly what happens to me ,even though I am not a big fan of these leaves but yes, it's like every leaves, have some kind of memories attached to it.

drumstick_leaves_curry

The most memorable one is, as I said in my last post ,my amma darling roaring like a lioness and then lecturing all the multi-benefits of this leaves ,which I never dared to listen.

However,guess what, I was googling the correct word for drumstick leaves in Malayalam and my jaws again dropped ,this time almost touching the ground  ,when I read ,this humble common tree in every (almost) home in India is not something that usual ,it is in fact quite unusual.

Moringa trees also known as the horseradish tree ,is actually called ,"The tree of life/The miracle tree".Experts all over the world believe the drumstick leaves are loaded with a variety of vitamins,minerals,proteins and amino acids with less carbs and calories than any other leafy vegetables and so, is considered to be an ideal plant that can play a significant role to eradicate "Malnutrition" all over the word.

The drumstick leaves contain -

• 4 times the vitamin A of carrots
• 7 times the vitamin C of oranges
• 4 times the calcium of milk
• 3 times the potassium of bananas
• 2 times the protein of yogurt


It is also a rich source of iron having almost 3/4th of the amount present in spinach leaves and has 18 of the 20 amino acids required by the human body including all 8 of the essential amino acids found in meat products.

As per Ayurveda,about "300" diseases are curable using this very humble drumstick leaves.Believe it or not !! (Credit:Medindia)

muringa_ila_curry

Phew..Fainting...now I know what made my mom,to roar like a lioness and why the lecture of how awesome these leaves are, used to be little longer comparatively?

Like Peepal tree that Hindus worship in India,this tree sounds like equally eligible to be worshipped !JAI HO!!

 Unlike my first drumstick leaves recipe which is my hubby's favorite ,today's recipe is almost every Mallu's favorite back in Kerala.

Drumstick leaves aka muringa illa (in Malayalam)  curry.A very simple and quick to make curry made with of course our drumstick leaves and a ground paste of Kerala's own coconut ,cumin and garlic.It goes so well with hot rice and any side dish.A simple Kerala delight.

Here is how I make drumstick leaves curry a.k.a (as always my mom's version) muringa illa curry.

Muringa illa curry

Ingredients

Drumstick leaves,(destalked,washed & cleaned well) - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Water- 1& 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

To Grind:
Coconut,grated - 1 cup
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Garlic cloves,medium -1-2
Water - 1/4 cup

For Tempering:
Coconut oil/cooking oil - 1-2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Dry red chillies,broken - 2 nos.
Shallots,chopped - 1 tablespoon
Curry leaves - One stalk

Method:

  • Grind the coconut,cumin,garlic,water into a very fine paste.Keep it aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds.Add the shallots and saute till they become translucent followed by broken red chillies.Finally add the curry leaves and saute everything well for a few seconds.
  • Now add the drumstick leaves to it and saute until it wilts .
  • Now, add in the ground paste of coconut mixture.
  • Saute for a second.Add water till the desired gravy consistency is reached (little by little).
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Let it simmer on medium-low heat BUT don't allow it to ever boil .
  • When it reaches the boiling point,switch off the heat.Serve immediately with hot rice.
Note:
  • Pluck the leaves properly without any tiny stems.The leaves should look fresh and should not be wilted or with spots otherwise it will taste bitter.
  • Adjust the curry consistency by adding more or less water.
  • Coconut oil gives it a Mallu special flavor to it.
muringa_ila_curry

I love this curry for its simplicity and yet the amazing Kerala flavor it carries .Love having it with rice and fried fish and any thorans by side.How yummy !...Man ..I am drooling.....Time for my pettpuja (time to fill my stomach:P)......


22 November 2014

“Blog to Feed a Child” - my third post



Charity begins at home.

There are a lot of ways Government plays a significant and wider role in preventing the problems faced by our country and then there are NGO's who also do the same in their own way and then there also many ways we as an individual or family can assist our country in solving a problem in our own little ways and it all can start from our humble home and heart.

As children in any family look up to their parents as role models and inspirations,I believe the parents should take the apt action to help any worthy cause as much as they can and there by setting example and inspiring their kid to do so in present and their future.

As I said in my previous two posts(1,2),the first step to eradicate child room hunger should be empowering women especially from rural,slum areas of our countries.

It can be as simple as making sure the house maid is treated well ,paid well . Occasionally, giving them used clothes or toys ,study materials ,left over good foods.If possible ,one can even sponsor or help her(maid's) kid's education.Or, even encourage her to get some education or go for some vocational trainings like tailoring,embroidery works,other arts that will help her to get a better job in future .

A woman can only understand another woman's pain better.So,we as a woman should take initiative even on a smaller level by supporting any programs that enriches a woman in any way . Within housing colonies,women can come together and make a generous donation whenever it is possible and later accumulate those contributions and submit it to any organization dealing with women empowerment.

When we get old,we lose the urge to celebrate our B'day,may be we can, if not frequently at least on our b'day make a ritual to do a humble donation for helping another helpless woman somewhere in need.How blessed that B'day will be ?

If one is financially sound or big-hearted to risk with pleasure,one can sponsor any girl child through many NGO's supporting that cause.That means one is not only sponsoring the girl but also making sure her next generation will be not as helpless as she is. I am sponsoring by the way.May almighty allow me and my family to continue doing so.

All the woman entrepreneurs especially,must play a vital role by hook or crook in empowering women for sure ,I hope !

In rural/slum areas,woman face a silent physical,mental toll especially during her menstrual days.They use dirty rags and clothes in unhygienic ways that can lead to other grave diseases that has the potential to affect her fertility or pregnancy or delivery and the child born and even may become a factor responsible for her death.

All the sanitary pad manufacturers in India should come up with ways to make sure the pads are available even to the slum dwellers .I wish they would come up with options like "Buy one and Give one" scheme meaning any woman who buys any sanitary pads, will give an equal number of pads as a donation by default to some rural woman via some organization that would support such welfare scheme.I hope !

By the way,I take this opportunity to salute Mr.Arunachalam Muruganatham ,known as the "Menstrual man" for his path breaking innovation in menstrual hygiene management. He once worked in a cycle repair shop and was heartbroken to see his wife using a filthiest rag to use for her periods to save money for food and he eventually , endeavored to create a low-cost sanitary production unit.

Today, this machine is available in 1300 villages across 23 states in India. Women Self-help groups achieved employment by working in units that produce these sanitary pads.Such a great contribution from someone who didn't have it all ,but struggled much harder to give his best to uplift humanity especially the weaker section of the rural society,the woman.His story is so heart touching and inspiring.Hats off to him !

When a man can understand a woman's discomfort,how can we as a woman do nothing about it.We can even donate sanitary pads to orphanages or any programs that supports the same concept.

I really wish many more organizations or scientist ,innovators ,should come up with creative ways to provide very affordable sanitary pads to each and  every rural/slum women across the country. I hope!

Many healthcare practitioners especially retired ones should take utmost interest in providing free health care services in rural/slum areas and creating one to one awareness among ladies.I hope!

I recently read an article about an environment cum fuel efficient cooking stove designed by Guatemalan scientists and social workers that requires only 25% of woods to cook and through a stovepipe it emits the smoke out of the house ,it reduces carbon monoxide by 80% and is quite safe and easy to use.Moreover stove recipients in return commits to plant more trees in the area .

I wish we had something like this as well,because like the rural women in Guatemala,Belize, Hondura,Mexico,Pakistan etc ,our rural women also faces the exact problem of going to forest to collect woods and burdening their heads or cutting trees /deforestation,during cooking for hours ,they(she and her family) inhale all the dangerous smoke that can cause many respiratory issues and even death.This fuel and environmental friendly stove option would be a boon to our rural ladies as well.Hope it is already implemented or is in the pipeline.I hope !

Women face lots of challenges compared to men . It is multi-faceted and inter-related.Even if we can't do big things, even small step will do.A drop can cause a ripple ! It's all about taking that first small step and then together we all can make a huge difference.

These are some of my ideas that I believe and I am and I'll personally do as well and if it makes sense to others,hope we all can come out with options to implement it through different mediums ASAP.

More the women are empowered,less will be any under-nourished kids and so will be any child hunger or classroom hunger . We woman especially should come forward to extend our full cooperation to make sure, we do our bit to uplift a helpless woman and thereby help in combating child/classroom hunger.

"There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies." -- Sir Winston Churchill















P.S.This is a part of Blogadda and Akshaya Patra's collaborative effort “Blog to Feed a Child” theme where any blog post contributed for the same cause, BlogAdda will sponsor meals for an Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year.Kudos Akshaya Patra and Blogadda!

So,


I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

20 November 2014

“Blog to Feed a Child” - My second post



“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Uneducation  +/- Unemployment  = Child hunger.

To eradicate the classroom  hunger,the first thing first,the children from poor families should "GET" an opportunity to join a school and experience a classroom in the first place and to make sure they continue this educational journey further, there are many other factors that needs to be addressed and dealt with first.

As I mentioned in my previous post,we have to have welfare schemes aimed at uplifting the women population residing in the rural India.We have to build educational centers for the same and projects like "Bottle schools" and likewise upcoming projects seems to present a doable "HOPE" to implement it cost effectively as well as efficiently.

We also need to provide many job opportunities to these struggling women.Different types of woman oriented jobs like say simple pickle making small scale business or tailoring business and lots of rural women are expert artisans who create one of a kind handicrafts etc ,either their talent remains hidden or are exploited by middlemen .So,a platform to showcase their expertise like "online" would do the needful justice and provide the income they deserve to live well with their family.

 Similarly,different types of schemes should be "Implemented" properly/as promised by the Govt. of India ,NGO's and other renowned social service organizations etc that should guarantee simple yet effective financial and non-financial aids to support a common farmer in his farming practices, as major part of rural India relies on agriculture.

Celebrities should also play a vital role in giving hands on example to the people by utilizing their influence by being "Partners in hope" (financially and non-financially)and inspiring others for the betterment of the society.

The youth of India should help the Govt. by inventing and coming up with ideas to create low cost farming machines & practices ,not limited to but especially IIT-ians.When our government forgets or stumbles, the citizens especially the youth of India should try to remind them by creating awareness in various forms using the social media to the extreme to reach out far and wide.

Gone are the days when we could just rely on our government and eventually blame the government for all pitfalls and issues faced by our country.Today with the help of social media, our (common man's)freedom of speech and expression can be utilized in a much better way to create,share and spread awareness every nook and corner and come out with an unanimous support for any worthy cause thereafter.

Similarly,we can do more by participating in the financial buzz and aid of the virtual space,"CrowdFunding",by contributing as much as we all can ,together we can give all these hopes and dreams a wing to reality.

You see ,Child hunger is a vicious cycle or process.An educated woman->Healthy pregnancy and or job/income->Birth of a well-nourished kid + An educated man->Better job & decisions ->Source of continuous income->Family welfare->Food,roof and education for their children->Bright future.

So,to eradicate classroom hunger ,we have to also play an inevitable role in nipping the evil in the bud first ,so that we eradicate the root cause of the problem to control it's occurrence in future than just dealing with a part of the problem by itself.

“When we want to help the poor, we usually offer them charity. Most often we use charity to avoid recognizing the problem and finding the solution for it. Charity becomes a way to shrug off our responsibility. But charity is no solution to poverty. Charity only perpetuates poverty by taking the initiative away from the poor. Charity allows us to go ahead with our own lives without worrying about the lives of the poor. Charity appeases our consciences.”
― Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty









P..S.This is a part of Blogadda and Akshaya Patra's collaborative effort “Blog to Feed a Child” theme where any blog post contributed for the cause, BlogAdda will sponsor meals for an Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year.Kudos to them!

So,

 I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

19 November 2014

“Blog to Feed a Child” - My first post



 "When India achieved independence, more than 50 years ago, the people of the country were much afflicted by endemic hunger. They still are."

"Estimates of general undernourishment - what is sometimes called protein-energy malnutrition - are nearly twice as high in India as in Sub-Saharan Africa."
~ Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize Winner

It's not Cancer,AIDS,TB etc ,the life threatening diseases that are the leading cause of death in the whole world but as a matter of heartbreaking fact,it is mere "Hunger".Unfortunately ,as per UNICEF,1/3 rd of the world's malnourished children live in India.Over 7000 kids die of hunger every day and that is over approx 25 lakhs deaths per year.

 According to the Naandi Foundation report ,around 46 percent of all children below the age of three are too small for their age, 47 percent are underweight and at least 16 percent are acutely malnourished, or wasted -  almost double that of sub-Saharan Africa kids.

More than 900 million Indians below poverty line live on less than Rs.20 a day.

Unemployment,poverty,little education and awareness,lack of basic health care facilities,poor hygiene,age-old customs like child marriages,improper birth control methods,poor health especially of rural women have contributed to the uncontrollable plague of our country,"The child malnutrition".

Despite good economic growth and many welfare programs like Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) etc are being implemented by the Indian government to fight against child malnutrition,it is pretty slow , unsteady and hard to count on.

 As per Al Jazeera reports, though welfare programs aimed to aid millions of hungry like school meals to feed poor children across the country and the Anganwadi services to support mothers in every district are in action , the services are plagued by mismanagement and corruption in political level.Infact,school meals carry worms and insects in them, children told Al Jazeera, and the Aganwadi centers are often closed and dysfunctional.

I believe,it's just not the government but the citizens of country as well who can make or break a country.So,it's every citizen's obligation as well to take responsibility in their own hands to help each other as much as they can ,irrespective of any religion,caste creed ,color,status etc to enrich humanity , prosper together and make our nation more prosperous.

As they say,"Charity begins at home." Let's brainstorm ways and means to help our unprivileged countrymen and when it comes to a child ,let us do our every bit as much as we can to help them eat well,grow well,learn well and live well.

I believe every child's fate starts right from his's/her's mother's womb.She is the root and if the base is strong,stronger will be the tree.And like the saying,"Behind every successful man there is a woman." So,let's give all the women of our country especially the rural women,the full support and assistance she needs to learn ,stand on her own feet and take the right decisions in her life- take care of herself and others properly.So,that no one suffers!--This, I strongly believe, should be the first step towards eradicating child hunger.

I recently read in a magazine how a healthy cosmetic company was doing their bit in US & neighboring countries to help the helpless by building schools using "BOTTLES" .They were in fact supporting a good cause promoted by ,"Hug It Forward organization" , a grass-roots organization that facilitates education and awareness by empowering communities in Latin America to build “Bottle schools”.

Bottle schools are schools built using “eco-bricks” a.k.a. plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic trash. Entire communities come together ,they collect all 1.5 to 2 liter discarded plastic bottles from everywhere and then they stuff those bottles tightly with inorganic trashes like plastic grocery sacks, potato chip bags etc, then line them up between layers of chicken wire and cover them with cement/Adobe. It is infact very simple yet quite strong as this type of building can withstand rain and storms without any adverse effects.Bottle schools are much cheaper and takes less time to build comparatively than traditional schools as well.

So,If we can do something like this concept in our country as well, that would be like double joy,we'll not only clean up the environment (which is also one of our concern) but also clean up the uneducation problem as well.We can provide a simple and doable platform for educating and spreading awareness to every under privilege, from child to adults especially uplifting the women and thereby improving her's and her child's future thereby.I am sure that will certainly have a positive impact on eradicating the child hunger to a great extent.

Just as Amartya sen said ," There is considerable evidence that women's education and literacy tend to reduce the mortality rates of children."

So,if we can encourage our Government and we also volunteer and motivate the rural communities to come together, join hands to create such projects like bottle schools in every rural part of India,it will play a vital role in the overall upliftment of our nation and upliftment of any nations resides in their children-the next generation.Stronger the new generation,more stronger our country's future will be in every aspect .

If that's too much to ask for ,then let us not forget what Sir Claus Moser said "Education costs money. But then so does ignorance."

It's high time,to decide and take measures,which one is the best option here then????

















P.S.This is a part of Blogadda and Akshaya Patra's collaborative effort “Blog to Feed a Child” theme where any blog post contributed for the cause, BlogAdda will sponsor meals for an Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year.

So,

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

18 November 2014

Write Over the Weekend theme -Story with 3 words -Parle G biscuits, Doordarshan, Nataraj dark pencils.

 

After a rough winter,a beautiful summer was around the corner.Neha was super excited about it,as that meant,"Summer holidays" was near by and that also meant,it was time to dump those school books,pack up and get ready to visit her grandma in a small remote village in the Northern part of India,Uttar Pradesh.

Her mom,Sita, had a condition though.The quicker she completes the holiday homeworks,sooner their journey would start.Neha saw it coming.Like mom,like daughter,she also put not one but couple of conditions too:-

1.Her mom should insist her dad to buy her a set of "Parker pens" which was in fact her last B'day wish-unfulfilled !
2..Her empty choco box should be filled to the rim with an assorted mixture of Ferrero Rochero chocolates,cream biscuits,truffles and fudges.
3.High time,TV cable connection should be taken at all cost.

Sita took a deep sigh.Neha's stubborn nature and she being the only pampered child ,Sita had to kneel down to her daughter's wishes.She promised she'll try her best to convince her dad about her over-the -top demands .

Later that evening,Sita conveyed those demands as it is to her husband,Rakesh.Rakesh was in a dilemma as last month only he bought his daughter,a brand new laptop.However,it was really hard for Rakesh and Sita to say no to their only kid,apple of their eye,Neha.

Anyways,Rakesh got her the jar filled with assorted chocolates for the time being.Parker pen ,he assured Neha that he'll ask Neha's aunt (Rakesh's sister) to get her from U.K.

And last demand, cable connection,he assured, he'll get her once they are back from their vacation.
Neha being very adamant agreed to do only half of the home work for the time being and later after the vacation, once her pending demands were fulfilled.

Since any persuasion would be futile,Rakesh said,"As you wish."

Neha kept her words,completed half of the home work and happily left to visit her beloved grandma.

Neha never liked  the village and lifestyle over there ,but loved her grandma ,who lived alone with a maid and maid's little daughter ,Pushpa Rani.Pushpa, who was almost the same age as Neha,very soon became Neha's playmate.

Pushpa's day started by helping her mother in the Neha's grandmaa's kitchen and then washing especially Neha's clothes .Neha felt like a princess who had a very dedicated maid at her perusal.
She was so impressed with Pushpa that she wanted to gift something to her humble,loyal, always at service little maid,Pushpa Rani.

A week later was Pushpa's b'day.Neha asked Pushpa,"How she is gonna celebrate her b'day?"

Pushpa replied with a big grin on her face,"I'll go to my aunt's place,they have T.V.I'll watch Jungle book,Ramayan,Vikram Betal and then a movie."

Wonder struck Neha asked, "That's it? and  what about the cake,"The b'day cake",are you not going to cut it?"

Pushpa ,little lost in her thought, replied,"Naa baba".

Neha was shocked and asked curiously,"Hey what about the gifts?"

Pushpa gave a wonder look back.

However,Neha thought of gifting her something anyways.So,she asked playfully,"Pushpa rani,tell me three things you would like to have as gift?"

Pushpa,smiled innocently and replied ,"Ummmm...a biig box of Parle G biscuits,a TV with Doordarshan and lots of natraj pencils."

Neha said,"Ewww...so cheap.! What if you get something better than all those things-more or less similar."

Pushpa insisted,"I only want them."

Pushpa said in a composed tone,"My mom says just because something is cheap doesn't mean they are not good and one should always learn to save money as much as one can.Money don't grow on trees,we work hard to earn it.We should always value money and put money for better use instead .Always be happy with what we have or get."

"Every month amma would buy me a packet of parle G.
",said,dreamingly,Pushpa.

Neha shocked ,asked,"By the way,DD programmes ?Dont you get bored of them?"

"Do you know in cable you've got so many options."

Pushpa replied,"Amma says,"Too much of anything is bad."

Nehas asked sarcastically,"Now why do you like just Natraj pencils?"

Pushpa replied,"They have Lord Shiva's blessings I believe and they are good ,affordable and we don't get any in our village.Once my uncle got me few pencils from town."

Amma never buys me any as she can't afford me to send me to school.I want to study.

Pushpa bid good bye and hurried to help her mother to prepare lunch.

That left Neha in a thought provoking state of mind.

That evening Rakesh called Neha to tell her that her aunt is also gonna visit her grandma soon with her cousins for their vacation and guess what,her aunt will buy the parker pens for her for sure.
.
Neha said in a calm tone,"No papa,I don't want any Parker pen."

Rakesh called Sita and almost kinda passed out.

Sita surprisingly asked,"Are you sure?"

"Is this my adamant daughter saying?"

Neha interrupted,saying,"Actually mom,I want something else" and not for me..but for Pushpa."

Sita stood there speechless.

Mom, Pushpa taught me a lot of things,she inspired me big time.

I realized,"The things I take for granted are the only thing someone else is praying for."

Neha's dad replied gleefully,"Exactly dear,that was our intention of this vacation mainly."

Sita smiled and said happily,"That's my girl."Now get ready,let's go for shopping ..come come we've got to buy lots of thing for pushpa and You."















P.S.This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

13 November 2014

Drumstick leaves and Potato stir fry


drumstick_potato_stir_fry

The biggest tree I remember from my childhood days back at my home in North India was this rough and tough ,"Drumstick tree".This tree was something,as if mom also fed it a jug of Horlicks or something,it grew leaps and bounds within no time and was quite fruitful.Not only us ,all our neighbors equally targeted it as a part of their balanced diet every now and then.Sometimes it was the drumstick/fruit,sometimes the flowers and sometimes the leaves.Poor tree sacrificed itself strongly,happily and willingly like a statue.Bechara,kaam ka bhoj ka maara !!Sigh !!

I really felt bad for this tree.I wished mom wouldn't at least attack this tree for my sake or say my excuse not to eat these leaves.I never liked it especially the leaves.The smell itself used to be such a big turn off.It made me feel nothing less than a cow /goat eating grass.And that "vomiting-expression on my face"made my mom really roar like a lioness.And the next thing we know ,she starts lecturing (like I do here ;P) about how nutritious these leaves are.I would simply run for my walkman then.

drumstick_leaves_recipe

However,after coming to US after marriage,the mere thought of each and every item prepared by mom in the past made me utterly drooling and craving. There were hardly any food I hated anymore.The same thing happened with the drumstick leaves as well.

Infact,here it is quite rarely available.It is like once in a blue moon kinda vegetable here.I came across only once or twice in Indian store so far and whenever I did,I am sure every people in the store thought I was running to defuse a bomb or something.Poor honey P was like,OH NOOOO!..There she goes and I didn't see it.She is not with me people.No Not Me

This summer was the second time,I bought bunch of fresh drumstick leaves and I couldn't wait further to cook different recipes and torture my kitchen .The first recipe that I prepared was Drumstick leaves and potato stir fry.Very simple side dish that can be enjoyed with hot plate of rice and curry or any roti,parantha etc.

Drumstick leaves and potato stir fry

Ingredients

Potato,small,diced - 4-5 nos
Drumstick leaves - 1 cup
Onion ,small,sliced-1 no.
Green chillies -1-2 nos.
Red chilly powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Garam masala - 1/4 teaspoon(optional)
Asafoetida- a pinch
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Red dry chilly ,broken-2
Curry leaves-4-5 nos
Salt to taste
Coconut oil - 1-2 tablespoons

Method :

  • Wash the drumstick leaves well ,chop them and keep them aside.
  • Heat oil in a kadai/pan,temper mustard seeds,cumin seeds,dry chillies and asafoetida.
  • Add the sliced onions and green chillies and saute till onions turn translucent.
  • Add curry leaves,saute,then add the potato cubes and the chopped drumstick leaves,saute them for a minute.
  • Add turmeric powders,red chilly powders and Garam masala,stir well.
  • Add a teaspoon of water,mix ,cover and cook on low flame until the potatoes are tender and drumstick leaves are cooked..
  • Uncover it ,add a teaspoon of oil and salt to taste ,mix well and keep sauteing for a minute or two.
  • Drumstick potato stir fry is ready.
  • Serve it hot with plain rice and curry.
Note:
  • Pluck drumstick leaves that look fresh not wilted or discolored otherwise it will taste quite bitter and discard the stalks.
 drumstick_leaves_recipe
The addition of potato definitely made this dish more yummy.It was like potato recommending me indirectly,look now ,how tasty drumsticks are,you'll love it :P.But jokes apart,I agree,I so under estimated the goodness of these humble tree .I am not a fan yet but I don't hate it either. How about you?

Eat,love,live DELICIOUSLY,




11 November 2014

Melonade


melonade_recipe
My Heart stealer !
  Do you know what I do when life gives me lemon ? You guessed it right,I make "Lemonade" and when life gives me "Melon" ,I make ,whoa you brilliant ,you are so right,I make "MELONADE" Cheeky Smile .High ten!

Usually ,everyone makes drinks like this especially during summer, to keep them cool, I mean physically but as usual,weirdo me always do the opposite ...When everyone goes left ,I go right...I know you'll say ,"DUH!!" ,if you follow my blog ,you know that I am nothing like any other blogger ,I am someone who as usual breaks all the rules ....even in blogging...Manufacturing defect in my DNA I guess :P (Viewer discretion advised -->my mom & dad ) .

melonade
Don't break my heart!

So,what was I saying...yeah ,right Melonade!...Thanks for reminding !...Well,what can I say ,I love melons, so I guess ,I got super excited when I saw the Biig water melon at the store at a very good price ..even though Honey P warned me..."Are you sure you want that Huge water melon ?"

I was like,"Are you kidding me honey P,hell yeah !" .....As usual ,after having chunks of water melon everyday,I got fed up and my refrigerator was also not happy like honey P it seems,I got a warning that ,"Don't you put that huge stuff in me-I am full!" .So poor me ,had to come out with some recipes soon to finish and demolish this huge greeny pinky fruit ASAP. Chef
melon_drink
A bloody Melony....
 My last post MeLuce popsicle was one such creation and then ,I thought I will make a drink like a post workout drink...Whoa my treadmill and my body are ROFL !! ...well :-\


So,yeah this is one of my energy drink (now my lazy body will agree with me here for sure).I know you brilliant people (unlike me) ,would have already guessed it,but still ,Melonade is a fusion of  water MELON + lemonADE . I love it when our well known lemonade becomes tad colorful !!It's like I just murdered the lemonade hahaha....

Jokes apart. Melonade is very simple to make and quite a refreshing healthy drink.


This is how I make my Melonade,

Melonade

Ingredients

Watermelon juice - 2 cups
Lemon juice (1 large lemon)- 1/4 cup
Sugar/Sugar free to taste (optional)
Regular Soda water as needed (optional)
Ice cubes as needed

Method :

  • Mix watermelon juice,lemon juice and sugar well until sugar completely dissolves, in a jar.
  • Add the soda water and ice cubes.
  • Mix and serve in a glass/glasses immediately.
I betcha,you will drink and say,"Dil maange more "/"My heart wants more" ,I did! ..Thank God!...and that's how I successfully completed that huge water melon to everyone's delight at my home.Now onwards, I'll buy small to medium size water melon only...what say ?...

By the way,it was so fun watching honey P lifting that huge water melon at the store,he can, for sure ,now win the world's weightlifting championship without any hassle Rolling On The Floor Laughing....

Eat,love,DRINK,live DELICIOUSLY,


07 November 2014

MeLuce Popsicle


lettuce_popsicle
Melon+Lettuce

 I think, I am ,as always ,in a denial mode.Oh wait may be also in a bit cheating mode !

 I hate winter.I simply can't digest the fact that summer is gone.I want to freeze some summer fun I always look forward to.One among them are ice creams or ice pops/popsicles !! So,simply put,I made a very healthy and vibrant looking ice pop to rekindle the bygone summer
.
homemade_popsicle


And as I said,I am also in a bit cheating mood or mode ,as I am using water melon juice and lettuce juice instead of something creamy,chocolate-y and henceforth ,cheating my palate and making it believe ,so what if it's made up of water melon and lettuce juice,it is an Ice pop.Enjoy !! Look at those colors ,how can you resist it ? Moreover,it is so healthy and so guilty free ...every bite will remind you ..gosh summer is still around !!

healthy_popsicle

 Yep,the child in me always craves for ice creams or ice pops and my unhealthy calorie laden body craves for whatever but healthy !!...The outcome/compromise - An ice pop made up of water melon and lettuce juice !!

healthy_popsicle


By the way ,why I chose Lettuce juice ? Well,to make a good use of leftover lettuce which would otherwise refuse to stay green for long in my refrigerator,they also get depression episode ,you see!!

And yeah,Water Melon+LetTuce = MeLuce popsicle.I had to name it so ,as I was afraid if my better 1//2 would otherwise refuse to eat it if he comes to know that the green thing is nothing but lettuce juice(He is not a lettuce fan).He thought it was something hi-fi.I revealed this secret once he was done with one and yes my fear did come true, rest of'em he left for me to complete happily.Lucky me !

Did you know ?

Lettuce juice is very helpful for healthy growth of hair .

Water Melon & Lettuce Popsicle

Makes 4

Ingredients

Water melon juice - 1 cup
Lettuce juice - 1 cup
Popsicle mold- 4 nos
Popsicle sticks - 4 nos

Method:

  1. Fill each mold with a layer (about 3/4 th size of the mold) of watermelon juice.
  2. Keep it in the freezer for an hour or until completely frozen.
  3. Now on top of that, put the second layer of lettuce juice.
  4. Keep it in the freezer until partially frozen enough to put the sticks into it and the sticks should stand firm.Keep it in the freezer until full frozen.
  5. Remove the frozen popsicles from the freezer and dip them slowly in a pan of warm water for about 10-20 seconds until it is loosened or splash warm water to the sides of the pop mold until it loosens up.
Note:
  1.  I didn't add any sugar.The water melon is sweet enough for me.
  2. To make lettuce juice,take a few leaves and puree it in a blender it with enough water until it becomes juice-y.You can add sugar here if you wish.
  3. Make sure that the first layer is completely frozen before adding the next layer, otherwise they will bleed and get mixed and second one should be partially frozen ,initially, so that stick can be inserted into it and then full frozen  . 
  4. You can also incorporate this popsicle (like next day) in another healthy smoothie as well.

 So,who said that you can't have a healthy -guilt free popsicle  and even if it's winter.This is my frozen edible summer version - colorful and healthy !! or another healthy beautiful way to incorporate healthy foods in my boring diet.How cool is that !..Ice ice baby.....