Double beans curry, Quinoa and roasted veggies

It’s been a long time. I hope you enjoyed the Navrathri school break. I may have enjoyed the holidays more than Hasini and Yuvan. When Yuvan woke up and realized he had to go to school, he whined and pleaded. I told him firmly he had to go to school. He had had a good break. He needed to get back to his routine. After their school van disappeared around the corner, I sat down with my cup of lemon and honey and mentally ran through my master list of excuses to not go to gym – “I needed a break” – I was already in one. “I was tired” – Not really “I was late. I didn’t have time” – Not applicable “I just didn’t feel like working out. I have to listen to my body” – This seemed most appropriate. So I went with it. I just didn’t feel like working out. I had to listen to my body. So I skipped gym. I sat sipping my drink thinking of what else I could get out of. The after-holiday blues are always so hard to fight off. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to do the laundry. I don’t want to work out. I want to stay on the couch all day, undisturbed. Days like these I make my laziest meals. I hope to slowly get back into the grind. I have plenty of posts I planned to write and a host of de-cluttering to do around the house but never got around to. I am looking forward to breaking though the ennui and getting all of them done. Good luck to all of you in beating the post-holiday slow-down! The recipe I have today can easily be a lazy meal too if you remember to soak the double beans the previous night. Just dump everything in a pressure cook and cook until soft and your desired curry consistency. Serve over quinoa or hot steamed rice. Top with a fried egg if you want to up your curry and rice game. Serve hot. Enjoy!      
Delicious FROYO - 3 gorgeous flavours

The Genius Dessert for weight watchers – Froyo, 3 ways

The dessert world is not a secular place, you know. I didn’t think of it that way until I started on project 50k (my weightloss project). I remember when I waited for dessert course in delicious anticipation. It was my favourite course. Tiramisu or Rum chocolate mousse or pannacota or .. ? I ate but with latent guilt. There aren’t very many options for people watching their weight.   It’s hardest when your friends are eating dessert and they coax you to have a bite too. You have a good mind to snatch the bowl from your friend and gobble it all up. Instead you demurely refuse citing a resolve that you very much doubt and pray that he finishes it up before you change your mind. I can manage most days when I have nothing within reach. But sometimes I just need something sweet and creamy. Enter FroYo or frogurt or frozen yogurt. It’s almost better than ice cream especially when you don’t want something as sweet, when you’d like something more complex, something sweet yet slightly tangy and with that luscious velvety mouth feel. The base for froyo is fresh thick yogurt. Our regular homemade or store bought curd/yogurt is just not thick enough for dessert. So start by straining yogurt to make hung curd/yogurt. Simply place a sieve inside a bowl, line with a cheesecloth and pour yogurt into it. Place the entire set-up inside the fridge overnight. Thick cheese-like yogurt will be ready in the morning. Basic Vanilla Froyo If you want to keep it really simple, add good quality vanilla extract (like Fabflavours, that has a huge variety of flavour options to choose from) and sugar to the strained yogurt and blend. Freeze for 5-6 hours and scoop into bowls for a velvety smooth, creamy, tangy- sweet vanilla fro-yo. I like it at soft-serve stage. So I let it soften a bit before digging in. If you’re in the mood to try new flavours, then give these flavours a shot. I came up with them in a fit of creativity and inspired adaptation. The Fabflavours contest on Home Bakers Guild was the push I needed to dive in and do this. Thank you to Home Bakers Guild and Fabflavours for that! Beet Khova Froyo The inspiration for the beet-khova froyo comes from the beetroot halwa that my periamma made often when we were little kids. The...
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...
Paneer capsicum stir fry

Are you watching Bigg Boss? | Quick Paneer stir fry

The newest expletive around here is “Julie”. That one name signifies every person you ever hated, the lowest of the low, the back-stabbing, the “sombu-thooking”, the phony, the desperate wannabe, the conscience-less, the opportunist. If you’re not watching Bigg Boss you’ve missed watching the most hated character in the history of Tamil television, ever. So hated, that an entire lexicon of swear words inspired by “Julie” could very well come into common usage – “Bloody Julie”, “Julie you!”, “Juliehole”. Whether you’re watching just for Kamal Hasan or because you’re curious how low it can get, or because the troll videos are too funny and you need to follow the show to follow the trolls or you’re watching as a social experiment, you’re watching Bigg Boss. That’s all that matters. Let’s not get all elitist about it. It’s ok. Plenty of people have taken offence at the show for a variety of reasons, the lamest among them being – “There are so many better things to do, so many important burning issues to solve. Instead they are making Bigg Boss”. That’s the most fucked up reason I’ve ever heard. Does that mean we cancel all TV shows, movies, theatre shows, stand-up comedy, concerts & cricket matches and employ actors, comedians, models, musicians and cricketers in the army to fight at the border, in laboratories to research life-saving drugs, in environment groups to clear the oil spill and clean the beach and the koovam? People are doing their jobs. They are doing what they’re best at. How difficult is it to change channels if you don’t like a show? What do you reckon these self-important socially-conscious people solved yesterday, last week and the week before? Did they set right the water purifier at home that hasn’t been working for the past couple of weeks? These are the ones who typically read multiple newspapers front to back, watch news channels to corroborate what they read and then take every conversation opportunity to put forward their stand on Kashmir, Trump, Syria and what you should be watching on TV.  Pop culture is too common for them, water purifiers too existential, Bigg Boss too crass. Mamiyaars have taken a breather from comparing notes with fellow maamiyaars about their marumagals. Marumagals are discussing something other than their maamiyaars. Colleagues have momentarily shifted focus from office politics to discuss bigg boss controversies. People all over TamilNadu are...
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...
An easy. delicious & filling leek soup

Diet meal – Leek Soup & Honey mustard Grilled chicken

You know the feeling when you say your prayers, remove your shoes and socks, look around and decide to leave your clothes on and slowly climb up on the weighing machine all the while imagining the time you ate just pineapple and leaves while the person in the adjacent table ate biryani, the time you braved the dust and traffic and walked to work and reason that these great sacrifices deserve at-least a 1 kilo drop and then look down to find a 200 gram increase. You jump down as if given an electric shock. You gingery put one foot on the machine and as delicately as possible the other foot so as to exert minimum weight, look down now thinking if you had drunk too much water in the morning, if you had finished the toilet business and see the exact same weight you saw earlier. You get down, put on your socks and shoes and walk away thinking “What the fuck!” , “Fine!”, “I don’t care”, “I’ll keep going”, “Life is not fair”, “I’ll never lose weight”, “I hate diet meals”, “What I need is acceptance”, “Round is a shape too”.. You’ll oscillate between disillusionment, self-pity, anger, frustration and biryani. It’s a deeply emotional thing, all of this weight-loss business. Not easy at all. The day you take your weight, you’ll let loose, seek comfort, eat noodles or paruppu sadam or macaroni instead of your diet meal. After the initial bout of frustration and cheating you’ll think back to your routine and realize times when you had eaten out, when you had not pushed yourself as much. You’ll then come up with things you want to change, new diet meals, a more strenuous routine, an extra bit of exercise or a little green tea ritual you want to add. This cycle is normal. Let yourself go through it all. If you have decided to eat only soup for dinner, then here is a soup you’ll love. This leek soup is simple, easy and super quick. I added a small potato to give the soup some body. You can do away with it if you prefer. I paired it with an equally simple honey-mustard sauce grilled chicken. You could serve the soup alongside toasted wheat bread too for a delicious, filling diet-meal. Project 50k Update I’ve not checked my weight since my last weight-checking debacle. It’s been about 10...
Will Kelloggs K help you lose weight?

Will Kelloggs Special K help you lose weight?

Nobody ever lost weight with their mothers around. When I am in the midst of the strictest diet, when I’ve not eaten rice for a week, when I am painfully sipping sugar-less coffee my mother hands me a big plate full of hot off the stove assorted bajjis – onion bajji, potato bajji and vazhakai bajji. She brings me mutton biryani the next day. She thrusts a big dabba full of fried vengaya vathal (onion-rice fritters) for snacking. You’d think she doesn’t want me to ever lose weight, which wouldn’t be inaccurate. In fact she doesn’t register that I am fat. Ah, Mothers. In spite of my mother’s sabotage, I managed to stick to Kelloggs Special K for breakfast and dinner for an entire week. 2-bowls a day, just like Deepika Padukone says. Do you want to know if it worked? If I lost weight? In just a bit.. As part of my project 50k, I am experimenting with different diets and exercises to see what works and what doesn’t and to infuse some variety and interest into my weight-loss journey. I am sharing all those details with you as I know many of you are in the same boat. The Kelloggs special K tastes delicious, slightly sweet and wonderfully crunchy. On the Kelloggs Special K pack, there are clear instructions as to what makes the 2 bowls that Deepika talks about. 30 grams of Kelloggs Special K along with 120 ml of skimmed milk makes one bowl and that is 144 calories. Compare that with 2 idlis+ sambar, 2 dosas + sambar or a serving of upma which all work out to about 300 calories and you are consuming only half of that. 144 calories is super low for a meal and would be fantastic for someone looking to lose weight. It tastes great and is low-calorie. What more could you ask for? Well, let me show you what 30 gm looks like. 30 gm turned out to be just over a 1/4 cup. I am using a 1/2 cup measure in this picture and I have a little over half of it filled. I don’t know about Deepika but a 1/4 cup of cereal is like a baby-portion of cerelac. That’s the amount of food we feed our neighbourhood crow. Sorry, he likes to eat more except on Ammavasai when he likes to act pricey. 30 gm of cereal is simply insufficient for me. On days I’ve worked out, I want to...
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!
Chapathi dal grilled chicken - Diet meal

Chapathi, Dal and Grilled chicken – Diet meal

At times it’s hard to believe that something as good as it tastes could be good for you. It was so with this Chapathi, Dal and grilled chicken combo. Delicious, wholesome and satisfying. I wouldn’t mind having this meal again and again. Except for the chapathi, the rest of the components of this meal are almost no effort.   There are hundreds of flavours for your grilled chicken. I happened to have some leftover Thai red curry paste which I rubbed into the chicken and let it marinate for an hour before placing it on a cookie sheet in the hot oven and grilled for 30 minutes, flipping half way through. While the chicken cooked, I pressure cooked toor dal with salt and green chillies till soft, mashed it and finished with a simple tempering of mustard seeds and oil. I cut up a couple of carrot and beans into long strips and steamed them in my idli steamer. I made chapathis last. You can buy Thai red curry paste at stores if you don’t want to bother making it at home. If you are not crazy about Thai red curry flavour, you could try Tandoori style, Teriyaki or a simple lemon-salt-black pepper version. This is a meal you can serve your whole family. But good luck with the steamed vegetables. I ate most of them. Happy Dieting! Let’s do this – Project 50k!
Keerai Masiyal - Greens and lentil soup

Keerai Masiyal

The only reason people make smoothies out of greens is because they don’t know how to make Keerai masiyal. The other reason could be that it is way simpler. If you have half an hour, you can make this keerai masiyal. My personal favourite way to have keerai is Keerai masiyal. Stir in greens into cooked dal and cook just until the greens are cooked through. Blend to desired consistency and top off with a fragrant hot oil tadka. Keerai rice for kids and the non-dieting, non-fat privileged lot and a big bowl of keerai masiyal for you. You see, no extra effort and no separate menu. A big bowl of this keerai masiyal makes a nutrient rich, super-filling lunch. Pair it with a slice of toasted brown bread or a boiled sweet corn cob like I did. Done and done. This is a perfect meal for my project 50k – low carb, healthy and nutrient-packed. Happy dieting!  

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