Red cabbage & chickpea salad

Purple cabbage Chickpea Salad | Project 50k update

Do you remember the magazine that carried a feature on women’s leggings, photographing unwary moms’ bottoms when their kurta fluttered up at the traffic signal? I have an idea the magazine may like. I’d like to contact the same magazine to ask if they’d be interested in doing a similar feature on the men in gym who wear sleeveless T-shirts and gym tights and all men/boys who strap their pants around their thighs, their back pockets near the back of the knee and their “jockey” strap for everyone to see. If someone knows someone who knows someone who supplies water cans to that magazine, please put in a word, will you? That’s how things works, don’t they? I was at the gym a couple of days back when all these distracting thoughts criss-crossed my mind. I noted them down to write about them later. I then finished my workout and checked my weight. I’d lost about 0.6 kilos over the last 10 days. Project 50k update Overall I’ve lost about 3.6 kilos from the time I started. I’ve also switched over to MyfitnessPal app. I find it crashes less often and has lot more food listings which makes it quicker to use. I’ve still got to lose a little over 14 kilos in 3 months. It’s a lot steeper than the pace at which I’ve been losing weight. But I also know I’ve had a few lackadaisical weeks when I was swamped with work, when I ate late and skipped my workout. Then there was my birthday and my son’s and so cake and ice cream. I thought I was no longer as besotted with chocolate cake, with ice cream, that I was now adult enough to not eat the entire box of leftover cake. Appears that I am not. It’s time to tighten up and stay focused. How is your weight-loss journey shaping up? Do share in the comments section below. While you’re at it, do check out Positivehealthwellness site that has a great collection of useful information on diet, fitness and wellness. I love their infographics. Now I actually have a chicken parmigiana recipe in my drafts that I wanted to post but then I don’t want to disturb reader’s expectations. There were quite a few of them who felt cheated that I was eating Dal Makhani in the course of Project 50k. I am eating healthy most...
Roasted cauliflower paneer and chickpeas salad

Project 50k update + Roasted cauliflower & Chickpeas salad

Fellow project 50k losers (weight losers, I mean), for the first time since I started on my Project 50k weight loss journey I saw some real results last week. I climbed up on the weigh scale not expecting much. And lo and behold, I had lost 1.5 kilos in 10 days. I was ecstatic, so delirious in joy that I couldn’t believe what I saw. I didn’t climb up again to check though. I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of this moment. I sang all day that day. There are some things that women are wont to share – maid, a good tailor’s contact and their weight-loss strategy. I am generous with everything except my maid. I am fiercely possessive of her. Here’s the weight-loss strategy I followed over those 10 days – I upped my workout to make sure I burnt a minimum of 500 calories per day. I had the normal breakfast I made for the rest of the family – idli, dosai, oats, upma or cereal. I continued to eat low carb meals for lunch – stir fries, sundal, salads or chapathi and vegetables. I ate dosai or lunch leftovers for dinner. Here’s the important part. I ate dinner by 8 pm every day. I’d been hearing from many sources that eating an early dinner is crucial. Little did I know that it can make such a significant difference in weight-loss. I absolutely have to credit Aarthi (a dear reader), for this little gem of a tip. Thank you so much Aarthi. The 12 hour fast is apparently a very popular and largely successful weight-loss technique. You basically confine all your eating to a 12 hour window 8 am to 8 pm or 6 am to 6pm. You don’t eat anything after 8 pm. You can drink water. Studies have found that just sticking to this time window helps burn fat and aid weight-loss. I think it really works. I strongly urge all fellow Project 50k losers to give this a try. While you are at it, here’s one more healthy and hearty salad to eat during your weight loss journey – Roasted cauliflower, paneer and chickpeas spiced to your liking and served on a bed of lettuce leaves. I love this salad because it has all my favourite things – cauliflower, paneer and chickpeas. You can roast them in an oven or...
Beach style masala kadalai - Boiled peanut salad

Beach style Masala Kadalai – Boiled peanut salad

People go to the beach for different things – to gaze at the sea, to feel the salty sea breeze, for a walk, to make sand castles, to play a game of Frisbee with friends, to make out with girlfriend/boyfriend and pretend no one’s watching, to wet feet in the sea, to take the dog for a fun outing, to escape the heat, to eat masala kadalai and bajji. If you know me, you should know what my reason is, to go to the beach. To think that Beach style Masala kadalai is good for you and is healthy is against all odds. But it is. If you are following my project 50k, you’ll know I am all about clean, healthy, low carb meals right now. This meal fits the bill perfectly. Boiled peanuts are delicious as such. If you want to turn it into a flavour-packed, filling salad, try this beach style masala kadalai. It is super easy and quick to put together and yummy. This beach style masala kadalai makes a great diet lunch. If you find shelling peanuts tiresome, you can quite easily get yourself a pack of raw peanuts and pressure cook them for the same results.  

Chicken Pasta salad with creamy mayo dressing

“STOP FIGHTING and STOP SHOUTING. Why do you shout that way? I don’t like shouting” –  I shout, louder than both of them. “I don’t want to hear any complaints about each other. Go, brush your teeth. Your teacher also says the same thing? Yes, she is right. I don’t want complaints either. Be friends. Better, stay away from each other. Brush your teeth. I don’t know where the white race car with the skull sticker is. Find it yourself. No, I will not buy ice cream again today. No, I am not giving my phone instead. Switch off the TV. Brush your teeth. Close the fridge. I can’t make lemon juice now. Close the freezer. No Poori. Same tiffen for everybody. Brush your teeth. I don’t have time. No, I have to go to office. I can’t stay at home. Brush your teeth.” Yes, Summer vacation. I think back to my summer holidays. What ever was I doing? Cartoons were only on Sunday – Duck tales and Mickey mouse in the morning, He-Man in the evening. What did I do the rest of the time? I played out in the sun the whole day, running about, making up games, leaves were money, the Ashoka tree was the shop, the gate was the school. Nobody called us in for lunch. We were on our own. We fought, ran, chased each other, fell down, scratched our knees, got up and ran again. We could play carom pauper the whole afternoon and not be bored. What is really weird is that the grandparents of our little ones, the same ones who didn’t bother to check on us while we sweated outside in the sun, the ones who didn’t check if we had eaten lunch, the ones who bought us one Mango 2-in-one bar once in 6 months, stops the Kwality Walls vandi every day to buy Jiggly jelly and Cornetto for our kids. Strange. We are the in-between generation bewildered, muddled trying to please everyone, satisfying no one. Summer is pushing me towards salads, muskmelon juice, mangoes and lassis. I am always trying to simplify meals – one-pot meals, one dish meals. I had a wonderful idea of making an all-in-one Chicken pasta salad that could be a meal in itself – chicken, pasta, fresh crisp vegetables and creamy mayonnaise dressing. I could have the whole thing done in 20 minutes and...

Masala Kadalai – Spiced Peanut salad

Masala Kadalai – Spiced Peanut salad This masala kadalai is an all-time favourite snack at Chennai beaches. Go to Besant Nagar beach and you’ll find numerous vendors selling these addictive goodies in little cellophane pouches. It’s a live salad bar, a little wooden push-cart on top of which sits a huge pile of steaming groundnuts (peanuts) with shredded veggies on one side and the seasonings on the other. Kadala podaradhu (boy and girl talking hours on end) got its name from masala kadalai, because most couples frequent beaches, beaches being one of the few free (did you think it was because of the sea, the breeze, natural beauty and stuff? Wrong!) places in the city other than Café coffee day which isn’t free or even cheap though their ads are, where you can lounge around forever and not pay for anything other than a packet of masala kadalai. I am trying to re-create this popular Chennai classic at home. My son loves sundal (boiled chickpeas) and I am hoping with this Masala kadalai I can sneak in some vegetables as well. My little brats are really picky, they’ll actually pick out the offending vegetables from a dish before putting it in their little mouths. I hope they don’t notice. This is not really a recipe, it’s that simple and that popular. I need to say this lest Chennai people beat me up for posting something so obvious. Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 4-5 IngredientsBoiled groundnuts (peanuts) – ½ kiloShredded cabbage – 1 cupShredded carrot – 1 cupLemon juice from 1 lemonChilli powder – 1/2 tspOnions (optional) – finely chopped – ½ cupTomatoes finely chopped – ½ cup Raw mango (optional) finely chopped – a handful Method 1.      Boil groundnuts in their shells in salted water – just enough water to immerse the nuts, in a pressure cooker for around 15 minutes. Drain the water and shell the groundnuts. 2.      Just toss everything together in a bowl and serve individual portions in paper cones or bowls. Notes 1.      Mix the ingredients just before serving. 2.      You can serve this as a fun party appetizer in pretty paper cones. You could even pack these as a salad for lunch.    
Chicken Alfredo pasta

Pasta in Alfredo sauce

I finally get excited about the Aadi sale happening all over town. I have terrible luck with discounts. So I am pleasantly surprised that the dressy slippers with glittery brown straps I like, is on 50% discount. I can’t remember when I last bought something like it. It must have been my marriage. I’ve since donned several different sizes of round, I’ve all but lost interest in clothes and consequently in shoes, bags and mirrors. Having finally lost some weight (although nowhere near my goal weight yet), I finally feel a faint interest well up again. I tell myself it’s time I dress better. I buy the dressy slippers to wear with sarees. The next day is the paal kudam festival at our temple. I wear the glittery strapped slippers right out of the box. I’ve never done that. I never wear stuff as soon as I buy them. I let them sit awhile, get a little old and familiar and not as precious before I wear them. This time though, I thought a change was in order. I was putting off things too much. I told myself I had to jump in and do things. I was feeling chirpy. Not normal. I left my slippers outside next to a flower-seller’s shop thinking to myself how pretty it looked. I returned a couple of hours later to find that my slippers were gone. The rest of the family’s slippers were intact. Only my new dressy slippers with glittery brown straps were gone. I asked the “poo kaari” (flower-selling woman) nearby about it. She didn’t for a minute ask me what I was talking about. She seemed too ready for the question. She told me it wasn’t her job to take care of our slippers. She wouldn’t look me in the eye. I knew then that the “poo kaari” shared my taste in dressy slippers too. I returned home barefoot. I was at my rotten worst the rest of the day. I swore. I cried. I threw a fit. Jagan, at the receiving end of all of this, offered to buy me the exact same slippers the very same day. I again swore, cried and threw a fit and then agreed. I went to the same shop and bought the same pair at 50% discount again. Jagan told me “You weren’t meant for the discount”. My maamiyaar told me that I’ve...
Sathu Maavu Adai

Sathu Maavu Adai & Tomato Thokku | What’s your happy song?

I know the song I’ll dance to if I reach my goal weight. I know where I’d shop for what when I reach my goal weight. I know the neck patterns I want for my new saree blouses. I know I won’t post before & after pictures because I’d want to pretend that I was never fat. I’ll probably try to spin a series on how I lost all that weight. I may try to shoot a video doing push-ups. The entire plan is there. I just need to lose the weight. It’s the same song I’ll dance to if I am published. It’s my happy song. You have your own happy song too, don’t you? Come on. You don’t? Everyone has to have one. Think of one right now. You never know when you’ll need your happy song. Your child may get selected in Vijay TV super singer in which case you’ll get hired as a full time performer at Vijay TV. You’ll need a song and a few steps for your sarakku party/booze party. You’ll need to dance at the cousin’s/friend’s wedding; if you do well you could be an extra in their wedding music video. Want to know my happy song? Here it is (Tap the image below for the full video). I love it because it seems just like how I’d dance if I were happy – uncomplicated, comfortable, unbelieving of my luck, insanely grateful, crazy happy and in a lungi. What’s your happy song? Let me know in the comments. Here’s the long pending update on my weightloss journey – Project50k. I’ve been yo-yoing around a 1 kilo range for several months now with the end nowhere in sight. I decided to up the ante a bit and try something adverse this week – A week full of salad lunches. I am not a salad person. I am actually a biryani person. I know there are people who claim to be salad people. I do not believe anyone can be a salad person deep inside, in their heart. For me it is particularly difficult. I don’t believe I’ve ever ordered a salad in a restaurant. It always seemed ridiculous to me. I’ll however be eating salads all this week. I’ll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile here’s an easy-peasy Sathu Maavu adai recipe I tried last week. I am sure you’ve made ragi adai...
Peanut chikki bars

5 Snacks to eat when trying to lose weight

The hardest times during weight-loss (Read all about my weightloss goals on this post on project 50k) are the in-between times, the periods between meals when I feel ravenous, when I have a good mind to order a biryani or call on my mom for a full meal. A couple of marie biscuits and a small glass of vanilla milk may well calm my tummy down. But when I am hungry I want maximum bang for the buck, I crave crispy onion pakoda and hot molaga bajji. The best way to combat these hunger pangs is to have some healthy snack options handy so you never let yourself get to that crazy-hungry stage. Eat the minute you feel hungry. Don’t wait. In this post, I list the snacks to eat when trying to lose weight. I am listing some of the snacks that I have been relying on these past few months while trying to lose weight. Don’t worry. I am not about to suggest making any of these snacks yourself. I know it’s hard enough cooking three meals a day. All the snacks that I list below are store bought. Just stock up on your favourite snack options and make sure to carry a couple of them with you wherever you go. Peanut chikkis Our folks invented energy bars long ago. They were called peanut chikkis. Peanut chikkis have the goodness of peanuts and jaggery and are so delicious. Chikkis used to come as little round balls. Now they come as snazzy individually packed bars, easy to slip into your handbag or workout bag. There are several variants of these peanut chikki bars now – sesame bars, dry fruit bars and such. I prefer the original peanut chikki bars. They’ll make you thirsty. So have a bottle of water with you. One peanut chikki bar and a big glass of water and I am good to go for a couple of hours. Calorie count: 120 calories per bar Cream cracker/Marie biscuits I love cream crackers because they’re not too sweet or too salty like most other biscuits in the market. They’re ever so slightly tangy but mostly plain. You may not take to cream crackers the very first time you try them. If you don’t like them, try marie biscuits. They’re light and subtle sweet and are perfect as a snack anytime of the day. 2 crackers or marie...
Project 50k - Weekly DIET-MEAL PLAN

Project 50k Weekly Meal Plan 1 – Diet Meal Plan

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed. Really? You’re stuffing ricotta into ravioli and then deep-frying it. And you are sandwiching ice-cream between cake and dunking in melted chocolate and then frosting it. And with the slightest hint of rain, before the radio channels can switch to rain songs, food bloggers are out in action with a flurry of deep fried pakodas and bajjis in their feeds. Really? How do you guys know I am on a diet? Where are the salads and health drinks and smoothies? Deep fried crisp fritters, bubbling oil, melting cheese and dripping chocolate are sexy. They truly are food porn. And you can’t compete with porn. There wasn’t a harder time to be on a diet. The first couple of weeks of a diet can be agonizing and frustrating at times. Hang on though. There’s nothing like seeing the weigh scale show you a smaller number. I don’t think diet meals need not be boring or bland. It is totally possible to have healthy, delicious diet meals. I rounded up six of the diet meals that I’ve been making lately to help provide you some inspiration to make your own tasty diet meals. I love that most of these meals can be served to the entire family or you can pick one or two of the components of the meal for yourself. I am keeping it simple. Most of us don’t have the time, energy or resources to cook separate meals for ourselves. #Project50k is about real people with busy, messy lives pushing themselves to reach their goal weight. Tap the images below to get the recipes to those dishes.   The past week wasn’t too great for me. I ate out twice and missed gym most of the week. I am therefore making an extra effort to eat right the rest of the days. How has the past week been for you? Share your progress, story with me.   I’ve also been busy testing a few theories the past couple of weeks – Kelloggs special K, 30 day AB workout plus a few home remedies. I’ll share the results of those tests in the coming weeks. Stay focused. We can do this. Keep moving and eat well!

8 Cool kitchen tools

I’ll start out online looking for a new wireless mouse but will find my way to the cast iron skillet or the no-drip oil dispenser or the cute milk bottle. I’ll buy the cast iron skillet, vacillate over the oil dispenser and forego the new mouse as a compromise.   I am a kitchen nazi (bajaari in Madras tamil), a hoarder of spoons, a dabba fanatic, a crazy collector of all things vintage and kitchen and a greedy kitchen-tool buyer. I am always on the lookout for that new nifty little tool that’ll peel the sambar onions for me. It is always the sambar onions. In pursuit of that elusive tool, I have amassed easily the largest amount of clutter that my tiny kitchen can hold. But I haven’t yet found the one that’ll peel sambar onions for me. Here’s a list of some of my favourite kitchen tools. My absolute must-haves are my knife and pressure cookers. I’ve not listed the staples here. I am not the one who’ll buy a yogurt maker or bread machine. I am not a fan of super-specialized gadgets. The tools I have listed here are a bit more diverse yet really good at some very specific tasks. Double blade Mincing (rocking) knife – I love to use this to chop up greens and herbs. I bunch up my greens and go over them once with my rocking knife, turn 90 degree and chop again, turn – chop, turn – chop and it’s done. What I really love is that I don’t have to be holding the greens but I can still chop them real fine. You could easily use this knife to chop or mince onions, garlic or nuts too. These knives are extremely sharp. So be extra careful while washing them. Popcorn maker that I never make popcorn in but roast nuts in all the time – I bought this one at an exhibition (its called Smartpop), the kind where there are these stalls that sell vegetable choppers and roti makers and they do such impressive demos, it takes all your will power to not buy them. I bought it for just under 1000 bucks if I remember correctly. You can air fry small vathals, fryums and nuts in them. Jagan likes to roast a big batch of almonds in them. He lets them cool down before transferring them into a jar....
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