Diwali Sweets – To eat or not to eat?

Most of us have grown up eating many homemade delicacies made by our mothers, aunts and other ladies, in our case dad and husband too. Indian food and festivals are inseparable. My mom used to have specific delicacies on festivals. She never made anything mismatch to that season of the festival. Say for example, for Nagpanchami ( It is a festival where we pray to the Snake God) she used to make naivedhya of Sakhar Bhat ( Sugar Saffron Rice). On the last day of Ganapati, that is on Ananta Chaturdashi, she used to make Banana Pachadi ( Kelachi Koshimbir) which she used to call as “ Anantachi Koshimbir,” these things were seldom repeated as may be those festive days would be perfect weather-wise to have this all. After her, I have never seen anybody so thoughtful with regards to food. Come rainy season and we used to refrain from Brinjal, Onion completely, and Garlic, the simple reason would be that rains make the digestion sluggish, if we eat something like onion, we would need a good digestive power, as the winter approach, the digestion gets back to normal and after Diwali, we can actually start eating Brinjal, Onions, and Garlic. There is a specific day called “ Tulasi Vivah” when one can start eating everything. Diwali sweets were made well in advance and were allowed to be eaten only on the Abhyangasnan Day ( Narakchaturdashi) the tradition which continues till date.

Why this much thought in eating?

Because our food science is very well advanced and it is as per the season. Seasons affect the gut and digestive power of the stomach. If we eat as per the digestive power, we are never to fail. I totally believe in eating seasonal food. Diwali is meant for eating. Good food and Good times equal Diwali. Diwali Palaharam is a matter of great interest across India. With the talks of diet and nutrition in place, life has become difficult.

How the supply in the market changes our perception of food.

7 to 8 years ago, PepsiCo introduced oats in India. The campaign was making India heart healthy. The campaign was successful and slowly other companies like Britannia, Kellogg’s also rushed to bring in the most healthy cereal of the world “ Oats.” Looking at the facts, it is apparent that slowly with these types of campaigns India has become 200 crore market for cereals which is nothing but packaged food presented wonderfully and advertised really well. Same goes with other packaged goodies such as Wafers, Noodles and so on. The question on my mind is why would we give up our food and go ahead to eat something which does not even taste a bit like Indian food. The answer is the power of ADVERTISING and BRANDING.

How colors, advertising, branding, and campaigns change the food scenario?

Nobody branded Poha, Upma, Idli, Dosa the way we are bombarded with Pizza, Noodles and Masala oats advertisements. Same goes with Diwali Snacks. After Navratri, you can watch Cadbury advertising about how to gift Chocolates ( Cadbury Chocolate Pack) this Diwali to your loved ones, neighbors and so on. I mean really? When did the warmth of homemade ladoo, murukku, shankarpali was replaced by something made in the factory with many other products with loads of preservatives?

Oats Chivda, Ladoo Without Sugar and Gluten Free Chakli

There cannot be Chivda without Poha, Corn Poha, or Sabudana Poha period. There cannot be ladoo without sugar ( palm sugar or jaggery are good replacements of sugar), and there cannot be chakli without gluten as Chakli wouldn’t happen if there is no Gluten in the mix. So, the gist of all the above is, as we always say, eat in moderation. Have those long walks every day consistently to feel good and fit.
No million dollar company can be worried about your heart, and it’s health though they claim. Ultimately, you are the only person who knows your body and its needs. So, eat homemade, think homemade and seasonal. Whether should you have all the sweets? Please have as you wouldn’t get the warmth and thought with which it is conceived and made.

Happy Diwali.

Kumudavalli

Kumudavalli

Dressed in a simple cotton saree with a huge bindi on her forehead carrying a round cane basket of flowers going for a door delivery of flower garlands Kumudavalli is all there to enchant you.

She is soft spoken but there is a kind of strength in her walk. As she crosses signals and busy roads, she is sure that her basket of flowers will be empty by the end of the day. Sometimes you would also see her chewing her favorite beeda but that too not very often. Every evening 6.30 to 7.00 she would start from her home walk all the way to Mylapore to deliver flowers.

Flowers are her life. They have helped her make a livelihood. Her son is now working in a big company and daughter duly married with kids. She is happy but says that she has to come and sell the flowers to keep herself busy.

You can get all types of flowers from her. But she is very fond of Tulasi. Whenever I ask her why she gets me so much Tulasi, she says “Put it near the feet of Lord Vishnu, he loves Tulasi.”

Kumudavalli has no marketing, no social media. All she has is word of mouth and an amazing customer service. When she first met me, we were staying at the rented house. One evening she came and told me that the house owner ( who were not staying there) used to get flowers from her for last 20 years and she would be happy coming to that home again and give me flowers. I was more than happy and said yes to her. One more trait of Kumudavalli’s flower business was that the flower packet was never more than Rs.10. If I ask her more flowers for some occasion, she would ask me money only at the end of the month. Her flowers were always fresh and she would know what goes on what day. For example during Ganesh Chaturthi days she would bring red flowers and suitable flowers to Lord Ganesha.

On Saturdays, which is called as a Lord Vishnu’s day in Tamil Nadu, she would bring suitable flowers to Lord Vishnu and loads of Tulasi.

Along with all the matching flowers she would put a gajra of either mogra, chameli, jai or jui,kunda and the likes. Here there is a tradition of giving flowers to any lady who comes home at any point of time in a day.

It is due to Kumudavalli’s flower packet that I have never missed giving flowers to any Sumangali ( Married Woman) coming home. One gajra will always be there at home no matter what.

She was the one who gave us amazing garlands for my Sister In Law’s engagement. These garlands were specially made with Rajnigandha’s flowers, with roses in between tied tightly with the thread made of banana stem. They are sure as heavy, but create such a beautiful memory of that event through their fragrance.

As the days of Shravan approach I usually tell her to include some bilvam in the flower packet.The bilva patram would be neat ( 3 leaves as a piece without any holes) and she would deliver it without any fuss. The price of the flower pack would be little higher like Rs.12 but her customer service is impeccable.

She knew that there is small kid at our home, as she came everyday, she would tie a gajra for my dear little K even when she had a boy cut. 🙂

I call all lady flower vendors Kumudavalli ( Kumuda – Flower Valli – Creeper). I feel that is the best name for all the ladies who deliver flowers to households. Kumudavalli coming to Shrilekha’s home does not know how to count. She is an old lady but looks stunning with two sided nose pin and a nice cotton saree. She usually tells Shrilekha to count and give how many flowers she has given in that month. 🙂 I always feel that she has a deep belief on the customer and the trade that neither of them would cheat her.

Above all, for all Kumudavallis there is the Lord who knows all the accounting 🙂 HE would never do anything wrong for these ladies who are working hard twinning flowers and threads for HIM.

Freedom from Unhealthy Habit – Hum Fit to India Fit

Freedom is subjective in every aspect of our life. As we go ahead and make vows to make ourselves fit along with many celebrities on the eve of Independence Day, we need to really identify what is that one unhealthy habit which is taking toll on our body. Identifying that first will help us take further steps towards fitness. What is the definition of unhealthy? Well, anything which is not in coordination with your body is unhealthy. Today, we are going to emphasize on sitting. As per the new norms “Sitting is the new smoking”. Knowingly or unknowingly we sit a lot throughout the day. While commuting in the car or the bus, while at the office, while dining at the restaurant, while at home watching TV and so on.

An average human being spends around 7 hours of sitting during the day which is way above the guidelines specified by World Health Organization.

Sedentary lifestyle has been told to be the root cause of many health related problems. Sitting is considered as bad, but sitting with bad posture makes it even worse. I have seen people in mid 30s having severe back problems. This is primarily due to prolonged and wrong sitting posture.

What can you do about it?

Move every thirty minutes from your place to another place if you are working at the office. Take short breaks in between work so that you have necessary break from prolonged sitting posture. You can also have fitbit telling you to complete 250 steps every hour so that you don’t remain sedentary throughout the day.

Bad sitting posture can be improved by getting a proper ergonomic chair. If that is not possible, see to that your back is straight while sitting and you are not exerting pressure on your tailbone. Generally, prolonged sitting makes us spread our legs on a stool or a chair. This changes the sitting posture exerting pressure on the vertebral column.

If you are working from home, sitting on the floor with back straight helps. Sitting on the floor and getting up every hour for short breaks may also help strengthen the joints. We sit on tables, chairs, sofas, car and most of us have completely forgotten how it is to sit down and get up without holding any object for support. There was a challenge on internet sometime before which prompted many people to get up from floor without any support.

Get a standing desk. This is my absolutely favourite. Getting standing desk is very comfortable solution to prolonged sitting. Get a desk with proper height so that you can effortlessly carry on your workday with it.

Instead of doing all these workarounds it is always better to move often and reduce the risks related to sedentary lifestyle. Freedom from something as unnatural as sitting ( on sofa, in the car, on a chair) is necessary today. We are born to be active and we should be throughout our lives. That is the real definition of freedom for the human body.

This blog post is for the independence blog train by UK and Sarah

I failed – In my no sugar challenge :)

I failed – In my no sugar challenge :)

It is ok to fail, many people have told me but I seldom have failed in my many many pursuits if I ignore the surprise math test in 11std. Failure to do something does not feel great, it feels sad to not to have accomplished something.

No sugar challenge started when me and my colleague Vignesh who is a sports person were discussing about how no sugar has helped him.

He was talking about refined sugar and how completely stopping it helped him.

I was impressed and thought let me start it at once. It was exciting..no sugar..whatsoever with a resolve.

Next day I woke up to banana as always and some time later I tried having the no sugar tea. One sip of it was not great but overall it was fine. May be my taste buds were happy with the sweet taste of banana already so they did not complain much about the no sugar tea. I generally take one coffee around 11 pm, so my dear cook Kamakshi had to be told specifically that I am having this “vratam” please don’t indulge yourself in giving your akka (that is me) a great cup with a good quantity of sugar.

She was surprised because I am the one against all possible fad diets and fad rules about food.

Her coffee is out of the world but having it with no sugar was 🙁 never mind. I was ok with it. 6th day was Sunday. Little Ms. K is fond of chocolates and kulfi so is her dad. Both love sweets to the core and they indulge as they please. This Sunday, I really refrained from all types of indulgences deliberately. I was the topic of discussion at the breakfast table and everybody was condemning my resolve of no sugar.

I am not a foodie and I do not crave for sweets too but still people felt like I am depriving myself from my free will of having sweets.

Around 10 days of no sugar I started feeling as follows:

  • I was more alert
  • Slept well through the night
  • I felt that my oral cavity was healthy and fresh
  • No sluggishness throughout the day
  • My overall energy was constant without a slump.

It was around 12th day that I got a call from one of my friends. She invited me as a sumangali for Varalakshmi Vratam and I had to indulge myself in the naivedya that she served. It indeed had sweets and I did eat everything she served. That day we attended an evening food award function where dinner spread had an amazing variety of sweets which I have not tasted or had..I tasted around 5 sweets that day…TASTED (not indulged). So, my vratam actually failed that day and my belief that none of the fad rules work got reinforced.

Though I am back to my no sugar routine, there is practically no point in refraining from anything. Balancing is the key. You got to balance everything, your food, sugar intake, rice intake, salt intake and workout to maintain healthy lifestyle.  

I have failed in my resolve but I like my no sugar coffee. Kamakshi is also used to no sugar coffee for akka..that is more than enough at this point 🙂

Every Summer Has a Story

Every Summer Has a Story

As much as people disgrace summer for the heat, children

love to spend their time without any timetable, books, teachers and school 🙂 Each one of us have been through this wonderful phase of our lives “ Childhood”. Summer is the time to relive these memories time and again. While I face the scorching heat while on roads, these beautiful memories make me nostalgic.

Here are some of my very special summer memories:

  • Waking up to the cuckoo’s coo, a typical morning alarm in India during summers
  • The opening of the carton of Alphonso mangoes specially brought from Nagpur
  • The breakfast of Aamras and roti. Topping aamras with ghee every single time before binging.
  • Indoor games with cousines like carrom, rummy, chess and now pallanguzhi
  • Filling water in cooler making it ready for hot and scorching summer afternoons.
  • Making of pickles, aam panna, appalam and papads
  • Relaxing on the lazy evening sipping on aam panna
  • Playing with water for hours together, to beat the heat
  • Reading champak, chanda mama, tinkle, chacha choudhary and saboo’s shenanigans.
  • The red hot petals of Gulmohar and Blushing Bahava or Yellow Bells
  • Evenings on the beach, eating candy floss

 

These are just some of them, I am sure you may be having many to add.

 

Let us know what are your favorite summer memories? Comment below.

 

 

Quest for Flexibility – Sun Salutations

Quest for Flexibility – Sun Salutations

Barbells before breakfast was my theme for the A2Z Blogger Challenge, well there are numerous posts which would help you assess what are you doing and whether you are doing it correctly, meal wise and workout wise. I deliberately did not post about what workouts can be done because as Rujuta Diwekar, a famous nutritionist in India says “Exercise is like your life-partner, choose it in the way that you can live with it forever.”

I love working out in a gym, or home gym, the dumbbells, and barbells give me a rush of energy and enthusiasm every time I workout with it. The soreness and more toned body is a reward for all those hours of exercise that I have put in. Now this Dil Mange More ( My heart wants more). More regarding flexibility and strength, so I have decided to broaden my horizon. For the past year, I was working out five days a week with three days of strength training and cardio as I feel. Which I changed 3 months to see a little change in the weighing scale. Cardio helped me lose 10 lbs along with strength training. My strength training routine continues, but I need more variety in cardio and some challenge.
So here I am embarking on the new journey – Sun Salutations. A tiny winy effort to make my body a little better regarding flexibility and overall strength. But then you would come across questions such as

  • Why Surya Namaskars or Sun Salutations all of a sudden?
    Sun Salutation is a complete workout in itself. We can say a fantastic bodyweight workout. I wanted something which goes with the flow and the structure of the body. I am below the beginner level of yoga, so I thought this would be a good beginning.
  • What time is better to do Sun Salutations?
    Any time is OK as long if you are okay with your pre-workout and post-workout meal. For me as I get up at 5.00 AM, I can do Sun Salutations at the crack of the dawn which is the best time to do it
  • Can it be done every day?
    Sun-Salutations can be done every day, including the periods. Only inversions are to be avoided while being on periods.
  • How to do Surya Namaskars or Sun Salutations:

  • How would it benefit?
    • Basic Flexibility
    • Glowing skin
    • Prevents hair loss improving blood flow to the scalp
    • Regular practice helps irregular menstrual cycle.

But more than all of this, I want to do it mainly because it would challenge my flexibility (which is zero at this point). Also, it is a workout which can be done anytime anywhere without much ado.

Have you thought about including Surya Namaskara in your workout routine? If So how? Would love to know.

 

The article is written as part of the #SuperBloggerChallenge2018 by #Instacuppa conducted by HealthWealthBridge.comFashionableFoodz.com and AllAboutTheWoman.comand should not be repurposed, republished or use otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. SuperBloggerChallenge2018 is not responsible for any infringement caused.