It Is A Custom, After All ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Today am going to tell you a story. It’s from the time when I was within this Endocrine team and I would function like my boss’s assistant and sit through the patient consultations, take notes and explain the conversation in simple language to the patients later and so on. When I wasn’t assisting him, I’d work as a dietitian and diabetes educator.

This doc had a charming way of making small talk with patients to put them at ease. But the thing that would most catch my attention is how he’d remember details of the conversation and even make notes – to use it at just the right time to drive home a point. Like, spot on timing!

That day, we were seeing a man with diabetes who had come in with his wife. That particular day being a festival, my boss asked the lady if her husband had bought her any new saree. And she replied how he had bought one last month for her birthday and therefore, he gave this festival saree a skip.

We were seeing the man that day as he had injured his feet upon walking bare feet on a recent temple visit. So, understandably my boss was upset that such a well-informed man had gotten himself into this horrible mess – which was entirely avoidable in the first place.

And the doc went on pointing how this patient had received several sessions of diabetes education from me, and how I had already given him instructions on how to handle different situations as a diabetic – low sugar, foot care, eating out, adjusting insulin and so much more.

Thank goodness I had made my notes for all that I had covered in my sessions! The man who was quiet the entire time now said to the doc – “I could have very well walked with my shoes in the park next to temple, all the while chanting my prayers.Am sure the gods would be happy. But I wouldn’t be. Customs, you see! Just how do I give up the custom of doing pradakshina, please tell me!!”

My mouth fell open upon hearing how this man did not think anything of his diabetes. And for him to have walked bare feet around the temple doing a pradakshina in the hot summer sun, all in the name of custom?? I was stunned.

My boss turned to the man’s wife, looking her straight in the eye he said, “it is absolutely a custom that he must buy you a new saree for Gowri habba ( festival of the day). So what if he bought one for your birthday last week! Oh and! Make sure it’s a festive silk one – not a paisa less than 25,000 Rupees. And definitely remember to get one each for Dasara and Deepavali too. It is absolutely customary to do that.”

Both of us ladies gleefully laughed! The husband was stumped. And my boss had delivered the lesson perfectly, along with a dash of humor.

I remember this story especially around festival times, when people tell me ‘oh Girija, I just had to make milk payasam or ghee something-else and have it as a family .. after all our customs no!’

I think it was the great George Bernard Shaw  who once said – am paraphrasing, in the name of custom, one can get away with any atrocity. True, isn’t it?

Now my dear reader, will you take ten minutes to reflect and see what absurd things you may be doing in the name of custom?

“How The Hell Should I Celebrate If Am Not Eating Paneer, No booze, No This Or That??”

No objects were hurled at anybody and nobody was injured in this discussion – just saying! 🙂

Hi lovely reader,

I get to have some absolutely wonderful, deep and meaningful conversations with women as part of the work I do. Just can’t tell you how grateful I feel for the wisdom I glean from all this.

So, today I’ll give you a peek inside one of those totally eye-opening exchanges I had last week.

Them: G, my brother and I would have to share a cup of milk when we were growing up. My mother would say to us – “when you grow up, get rich enough to each have a full cup of milk, each eat a whole boiled egg. And eat your rotis with butter! But for now, this is all there is kids”

G: hmm

Them: And now, I am rich – I can have a whole cup of milk as many times I want, eat as many eggs as I like and Persis (their very trusted house-help) makes the best rotis, but I had brown bread delivered! And white butter, too!! And here, you’re saying this is bad, that is bad ..

G: hmm .. I only said what science says about it ..

Them: wohi baat hai – all same! After all this struggle to grow up, study, earn – why?? When I can’t even have butter on my bread, what is the use! How to celebrate?? No paneer, no butter, no booze, no non-veg – nothing!

My friend, have you wondered about this anytime -about how, more of something isn’t necessarily better by default?

No matter how much money we make, our bodies process only those foods it is meant to process;

No matter how rich we become, our stomach can still only hold so much food that it is meant to handle.

We can still only wear ONE saree at a time!

When we go from very very humble situation of very little food to eat and very few clothes to wear, it is reasonable to desire and have goals of having more of these things. A little more than what we need with some more to spare. Such that, it is not a hand to mouth existence.

But! If we don’t pay attention to our inner talk, go go go – hustle hustle hustle mentality can land us in deep trouble. We tend to forget that we are still the same species with same kinda simple bodily requirements even though we may have advanced in the socioeconomic sense.

The question is not how much paneer or meat or milk or booze you can afford. The question must be, does your body require paneer or meat or milk or meat – and if yes, how much can it afford to process safely .. isn’t it!

It was such an enlightening session for  both of us, that for me personally I had take some quiet time to reflect upon it, most of last week.

More money = more milk, more meat, more booze = more happiness? No!

Beyond a point, more of anything doesn’t lead to greater happiness or contentment by default. If we’re especially talking about food, it requires deliberate effort to use the money wisely and appropriately so that the food we consume brings us the joy of good health.

Often, we need to spend money to free up time so we can eat, sleep and move our bodies – some required activities that cannot be outsourced!

So, I request you to give this some quiet time and think through – 2020 is approaching fast. Make sure you have some clarity around this so that, 2020 can be your best year yet!

Love,
g

They Wanted Vada Pav For Comfort .. Here’s What I Gave Them

Dear reader, isn’t it fascinating how we carry our childhood memories of specific comfort food!  Speaking one’s mother tongue, serving someone their comfort food must be two definite ways of taking friendship to the next level with people.

But sometimes, people tend to develop unexplained deep liking for something they’ve only just seen or experienced. So much so that it baffles the person feeling it. I feel fortunate to see and meet people here who feel this way about India and Indian food.

“How did I live all these years without this?”, they said of vada pav 🙂

The genuine warmth of the chaat person serving it, the vibrant bustle of  Mumbai and it’s sweet everyday people – they were smitten by it all! And they wondered if I could make some … at 9 pm in the night!

At any time of the day (or night) I don’t deep fry stuff in my house ..  but didn’t have the heart to say it out loud to them. And I wasn’t going to relax this small but absolutely critical rule I’ve made for myself about 8-9 years ago.

So here’s what I came up with. And DELIGHTED report it was a huge hit.

I don’t have pictures the final of the final product, as it got eaten up right away .. but you’ll definitely get the point – so here we go!

Step 1 – Warm a lavash bread on the tava

 

Step 2 – Place the alu sabji and garlic chutney as seen in the picture

 

Step 3 – Roll it tightly as seen in the third picture

I’ve no pictures from this point onward –

Step 4 – Cut the roll into 1 inch rounds

Step 5 – Roast the alu exposed sides of the roll on the tava until it turns a crispy golden brown

Step 6 – Serve with green and red chutney, plus tomato ketchup or sauce

It comes very close to the real thing MINUS all the evil of oil and deep frying. And that, in my books is a huge PLUS!

You know lovely reader, food must feel good long after you’ve eaten it. Isn’t it? What’s the point in eating something if it’s going to make you feel guilty and miserable ten minutes after??

Well, that’s my yardstick for saying yes (or no!) to anything in life.

On that note, Jai ho to desi food  ❤️

Phir milenge!
g

Masala Vada Recipe That Turned Out To Be A Big Hit This Vijayadashami

Hi lovely reader,

Here’s a savory Amboday or Masala Vada recipe – sent well ahead of time for the upcoming Diwali!

All summer long we got to eat the sweetest corn this time .. it was so juicy and so delicious that it has totally turned me into a corn-snob for the first time.

So, as summer is slowly fading into fall season, the produce that is available is changing too. But the tongue has it’s own longings and it delighted upon seeing the corn on the cob at Costco.

But guess what, the corn-snob (yours truly!) felt it was tasteless. Like how they say of even a non-working clock reads time correctly twice a day, even this absolutely tasteless  corn inspired this creation of truly fantastic Amboday for this Vijayadashami.

So here goes –

Amboday:

Ingredients –

5-6 corn on the cob – steamed and stripped
1 med red onion – minced
1 handful of cilantro or mint – finely chopped
1/2″ fresh ginger, chopped
Oats – as required
1 or 2 green chilies – chopped fine – use only if you like heat

Procedure –

Put the stripped corn and ginger into a food processor with an s-blade and get a coarse mixture.

Take the mixture into a bowl and mix in onions and greens. I happened to have methi leaves on hand I loved using in this recipe. If you have used green chilies pl use a spatula.

Now, you’ll find the mix is way too moist on its own – so add in oats to bind the mixture, until you get a a dry enough mixture.

And put the mix in the refrigerator for 10-15 min.

Then scoop out 1/8 or 1/4 cupfuls and shape them like a Vada.

And bake them at 350 or 400 until they lift easily – then flip over and bake until they turn golden brown or crisp to your liking.

And enjoy!

Oh Thanks To The Hot Chic Waiter Girl, Venky Went Red!

Hi my dear reader,

These days I love coming to vacation rentals with a kitchenette as opposed to a hotel room. Being equipped for an opportunity to cook your own food – should the inspiration strike – isn’t something I’d want to miss.

That is especially true for me in a plant paradise place like Maui! The sheer variety and access to farm fresh harvest is like no other in an agriculture dominated state like Hawaii.

All that said, first three days of being here we ate at a restaurant. We had signed up for a bunch of other activities. One of which was to spend a day deep in the forest area, where a nearby local farming family catered to our food needs.

We were excited about our find of this eating joint, and ordered our salad. Five minutes later, our sweet young waiter served a plate and I said to my husband, “we can share this, baby .. the second plate must come soon”.

Waiter girl was little surprised  “you meant two plates, right??” I confirmed no, two salads and went back to conversation with my husband.

The second day we were at another restaurant and we asked for a salad. Same response – hey we wanted to check if you meant two plates or two salads. No error, two salads I said.

The third day was the best! 😂

We went to this place called Flatbread Company for my husband’s birthday lunch. As usual we ordered two salads. And one pizza – thin crust, only veg, no cheese – after ten minutes, I added.

Five minutes went by and our lovely waitress comes by and asks -” did you really want two salads? Our servings are big, just so you know” .. I said yes and smiled. And then, very spontaneously she said, ” and you want a veggie pizza ten minutes after that??”

Oh dear! 😂😂😂

The and word and the tone of surprise 😂 Venky was red by this time!

I gave her a chuckle and said “yes and yes” 😂 and sensed our conversation wouldn’t resume until after I had enlivened Venky .. and had to come up with something. And I spontaneously said – “What guy wouldn’t want to be memorable to a hot chic! Trust me she’ll remember you as the sweet guy who wolfed down a salad and followed it with a pizza!”

And our man was laughing and smiling .. all was well again.

I secretly ordered a beautiful macadamia nut torte with pineapples to end the meal.

My dear reader, whether it’s a guy or a girl eating huge salads in front of crowds does make others feel awkward. They feel that way because they know they themselves aren’t doing it. And they _are_ supposed to be doing it!

So, often they will convey their own awkwardness by way of surprise. Our waiter ladies in all three situations may not have felt the slightest awkwardness themselves. They may have purely asked for clarity of the order.

But if you’re a big salad eater or want to become one, you must learn to handle such situations with feeling offended or embarrassed. Often, you will still feel bashful – like how Venky did – even after years of being this way. That doesn’t go away at all. And you’ve got to learn to take it in your stride.

Plus, you’ve to remind yourself that vegetable and fruit are extremely low in calories when cooked right. So, one needs to eat a fair quantity to feel satiated. And one can afford to take in big helpings as well, without worrying about gaining weight.

Life lessons come anywhere anytime .. no!

I’ll catch up with you soon, am going away on a farm tour after this email .. here are some salad pictures for your inspiration.

 

 

 

Love,
g

A Zero-Guilt Laddoo You Can Make In 5 Minutes Or Less

Hi there my dear reader,

It’s been the busiest two weeks since I’ve last spoke with you .. but tests are over, assignments submitted and am on my way to getting better as a fragrance artist 🙂

Someone engaged me in a conversation over this .. I explained everything I knew in great detail from a nutrition standpoint, about which I’ve written here.

And after a lot of head-nodding and ” absolutely agreeing” they said they are going to go home and make paneer out of buffalo’s milk to use in recipes for the upcoming festivals.

Girija of 25 years ago would have cried rivers of frustration over this 😂 but Girija of 2019 just went and took a luxurious nap for 30 minutes!

Coaching, counselling and teaching are all activities focused on people that are open to receiving.

Even with self-directed and/or unassisted activities like reading, information that one is reading needs openness to be received.

And true learning always brings about a relatively lasting change in behavior. It needs practice for it become a habit though.

I see people with various levels of readiness to coaching and learning. But I work exclusively with those who are committed to objective self-assessment. These people are my tribe.

So, I wanted to help my tribe with a delectable yet easy sweet recipe for the upcoming festivals. And I came up with this Oats Laddoo for you.

 

Here’s how to make these delicious Oats Laddoo-s  

Ingredients:

Oats – regular old fashioned – 1.5 cups
Almonds – handful
Medjool Dates – 10-14, depending on how sweet you want it
Cardamom Powder – 1 tsp

Place the dates in a cup of water.

Put the oats in a food processor and powder it.

Then add the almonds into the processor, powdering it and mixing it with powdered oats.

By this time, the dates would have softened. So, drop the dates in to the processor – you may chop them if you want to be kind to your machine – and turn the mixture to look like moist bread crumbs. Somewhat like this –

 

At this point, take some of this mixture and clump it to form a lump. It must hold the shape well. If you find it kinda powdery, add a couple more dates and process it again.

Add the cardamom powder and process one final time.

Then take 1 tbsp amounts of this mixture and form them into laddoo-s.

There you have it, my friend! A Laddoo that’s actually healthy for you.

Sssshhh … don’t tell anyone it came together in 5 minutes!

Enjoy prepping for the festivities, talk soon!

Love,
g

This Is How To Make Mushroom Pulao With 1/4 tsp Oil

That was just me being very generous there and saying 1/4 tsp, lovely reader .. hehehe

So, last week when I sent you that recipe for chia pudding a handful of  my adorable peeps wrote back asking,

“savories??”

Of course, savories ke bina kya jina? Hai na!?

I had made this Mushroom Pulao that’s a crowd pleaser, husband-pleaser and me-pleaser too!

So, here you go my dear friend – make this mushroom pulao and tell me what you think! It is sooo good that my landlady followed her nose, came in and exclaimed ‘ooooh what is that!’

Mushroom Pulao:

Ingredients –

cloves – 4
cinnamon – 1/2 inch
oil – none to max 1/4 teaspoon (use a measuring spoon – am watching!😂 )
Onion – 1 medium, sliced
Mushrooms – 400 gm, sliced
Green peas – 1 cup
Pumpkin seeds – 1/4 cup
Tomato – 1 small
Ginger – 1/2 inch or less
Garlic – 1-2 pods
Kitchen King Masala – 1 tbsp
Rice – 2 cup, uncooked
Salt to taste

Method –

Cook the rice as you’d cook for rice dishes such as this – no oil or salt or spice required at this point. Allow the rice to cool and have it ready before the next steps.

Put a pan on heat and put no more than 1/4 teaspoon of oil in to the hot pan.

Add the cloves and cinnamon, and add the onions after 30 seconds and mix.

While the onions are getting done, place the ginger, garlic, tomato, pumpkin seeds and masala in a blender and blend it using little to no water.

By now, the onions would have turned translucent – add the sliced mushrooms and peas. Mix everything and cover with a lid.

Once the mushrooms and peas look done, add the blended paste and mix. Add salt to taste and turn the heat off.

Gently add in the rice and give it a mix.

At this point, I usually taste-check and if salt tends to be on the lower side, I love to add a vinegar-jalapeno sauce to round it off.

Mushroom Pulao is now ready to serve! Find the prettiest platter there is and present your pulao with a slice of tomato on the side and some finely chopped green onions sprinkled on the top.

Here’s a pic of my fav vinegar-jalapeno sauce. I’ve no pictures of my mushroom pulao of last week 🙁 but you’re welcome to show me yours when you make it!

 

Want Freedom From Procrastination?

Firstly, happy Independence Day!

On most special days, holidays and weekends – pretty much on all the days when I can laze back in bed for an extra ten minutes – I ask myself ‘how can I stop being lazy’ 😂

10 on 10 for the irony of it all!

Looks like am not alone at all.

Someone recently was saying to me ‘Girija, if I am so smart why can’t I get this crap done once and for all??’

They are trying to lose 20 kilos.

And another friend was saying of her cousin, ‘I dunno why she drinks so much – she’s way too intelligent for that’.

And apparently in both cases they are saying – ‘yeah yeah, we’ll get to it one of these days’

Familiar huh?

I know I do it all the time! All I’ve control over is, to do less of it .. that’s all.

What it is that you are procrastinating doesn’t matter – whether it is starting to eat healthy or learning some skill, or whatever it is, the dynamic of procrastination is the same.

When you sense that other people’s assessment of you is much higher than your own assessment of your talent or skill to get that specific job done, you will not like to risk losing your value in their eyes.

Therefore, in running the cost – benefit analysis of things (our brains are always running cost – benefit analysis on everything), your brain will decide it is much better to not ruin that false but favorable assessment of the world (she’s way too intelligent) or sometimes it could be your own self-assessment albeit a distorted one (I am so smart) about your “talent”.  And therefore it decides that it is wise to indefinitely postpone doing or even starting the damn thing!

This is what we call the ego trap in evolutionary psychology circles. And this is exactly what you must learn to recognize and choose to take the counter-intuitive step if you want true and lasting freedom from procrastination.

Ask me why.

It’s because, that is where your opportunity to earn the precious self-esteem lies hidden!

Love,
g

A Sweet I Made In Celebration Today

Hi there lovely reader,

Today morning I received some sweet news that I’d been waiting for. A creative piece of work I had submitted for evaluation came through successfully. From that moment on, my heart and taste buds were chasing after me to pin me down for a ‘treat’ 😂

Oh dear, these patterns go really deep, don’t they! I was observing myself fighting the impulses, and I was beginning to feel weak as I inched towards giving in. I decided action is the best strategy to calm myself down. And see what I made!

 

 

 

Chia Pudding

It took me all of f-i-v-e minutes and tastes ah-mazing! Here’s the recipe in case I’ve tempted you enough.

Chia seeds – 2 tbsp
Any nut milk – 100 ml
Vanilla essence – 2 drops
Ripe Banana, sliced – 1 (or more if you like it sweeter)
Raisins – 2 tbsp
Pumpkin seeds – 2 tbsp

Place the ingredients mentioned in the very order that I’ve mentioned them. Then place the container in the refrigerator to chill. Leave it for at least 3-4 hours. The chia seeds will absorb the milk and the dish will develop a pudding like consistency. Serve it chilled.

This is a recipe you totally customize and make it your own. Let me know what you make of it. I love new ideas!

Until next week,
much love from g

What Two Of My Fav Writers Say About Tracking

Depending on where in the world you are, it’s the last day of July.

Already??

Phew!

Yes. It just flew by us, no? All of July I discussed Leela’s story with you. Even in bits and pieces it gave you a glimpse of how tracking is a useful habit. Today, I’ll share with you two of my favorite writers/influencers and their insight on the topic of tracking.

My lovely friend, whether you’re learning to add a salad to your meals, trying to lose some weight or looking to fit in some exercises into your routine – you just got to track whatever it is that you are doing. And then, in very small increments steadily improve upon the metrics.

See what this eminent surgeon and author Atul Gawande  and productivity expert James Clear say about tracking.

Today, take a 30 minute-break to be by yourself.

Just you .. with your thoughts, notebook and pencil. Tomorrow is the beginning of a new month. Ask yourself what you’d like to accomplish – it doesn’t have to be some mega big ambition. Even that desire to wake up 10 minutes earlier is a valid goal to go after. You know, 5 months is a l-o-n-g time to get stuff done. Okay, at least long enough to get it started and get some traction.

You can’t ask for better mentors than Atul Gawande and James Clear for what you’re setting out to do, dear reader. Hope you’ll check these links out.

Warmly,
g

Story Of Few Minutes Of Being Uncomfortable And Disproportionate Results

Hi my friend!

Welcome to today’s post! I’ve another story for you.

I was heading to the beauty parlor today to get my eyebrows done and missed my bus! So, I happened to chat with one exchange-student from Europe, who was also waiting at the stop.

After some back and forth about our respective professions, and generally how diets  don’t work et al, she asked me about those people that were successful – she wondered aloud, “what makes them achieve a lasting success with dieting against all odds?” she asked.

It’s a wonderful question to ponder over, isn’t it? This is what I’ve seen to be the reason, for their results.

Success comes to those who are willing to be uncomfortable in the present time, as a trade-off for results in the future.

Not just with dieting, it’s true of everything .. if you just think about it.

It is so damn uncomfortable depriving yourself that beer now for for some future well-being of your currently functioning and wonderful liver. Whaaat??

The brief discomfort of saying no to beer, will help you keep the kilos off and your liver safe. 

That movie date with the cute boy who has no job feels like a balm to your lonely heart today, but it eats into your time that you’d otherwise invest in looking for someone better placed and more deserving of you.

The brief discomfort of accepting loneliness, will eliminate the distraction and gets you focused on actively looking for someone more aligned to your values.

Buying that n-th saree this year – for which you don’t even have room in the closet – is an inability to endure the discomfort of shopping seduction and anxiety of passing up a sale without buying anything.

The brief discomfort of temptation to spend money on something you don’t even need, will help you realize how you’ve enough money to invest and grow your wealth.

Looking back, you’ve successfully traded many short term gratifications to get here in life, my dear reader! I know you can do it. And you know you can do it too.

But we all need reminders, don’t we?

Tracking is a tool that reminds you just this! Tracking helps you see it when you fall off the wagon and reminds you if you want to get back on track.

This is what my client – whom we’re calling Leela, realized in her tracking and philosophically calls it her Jr G 🙂 which nowadays speaks to her even as she reaches out to those “foods”.

A tool that doesn’t react to your going off-course, but gently holds the mirror – isn’t that such an adult-like way to do it?

Jr G famously alerts her several times a day now asking, “Short term instant gratification is just that, it is a brief thrill. It comes in exchange for unnecessary pain, want this??”

Now my friend, tell me this – would you like Jr G to help you too?

 

If You’re Holding Hot Coffee Or Something, Place It Down AND Then Read 😆

Oh my dear reader!

Laughter is truly the best medicine there is .. isn’t it? Well, my boss did not think so. A very quick story for you –

One day he caught me being cheerful and laughing about something in the clinic waiting area. He sent word for me and said, ‘it’s not nice for a patient to see us laughing like this, when they’re in pain. Please be serious hereafter!’

I was 22-23, 10 x more outspoken than am now  🤣 + had an arrogant shrug ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

and had retorted back right away saying, ‘if they’re in pain, all the more a reason why we should all be cheerful isn’t it? So that, they will forget their pain at least for a brief moment??’

He was stumped! And annoyed with me. But later in the evening he had left a note on my desk saying ‘G was right, S was wrong’ .. the nicest boss I’ve had I must say.

So why am I saying all this?

We’re continuing with Leela’s story of  learning the Tracking habit.  Now that she was working with me, it was the first day of her following my way. She _had_ to eat a huge salad and drink her soup at each meal .. you know this by now from just reading my emails!

And I got this panic call from Leela – it was close to 11 pm in her time zone.

I was a little stunned – and she was talking to me in whispers – and she was hissing she had gained 3 full kilos in 24 hours! And she said, something was seriously wrong her as she had not seen anything quite like this and was worried.

This is what I did not know at the time of 11 pm panic phone call ..

Leela had this strong conditioning from working with numerous exercise and diet “experts” to weigh herself every night before going to bed. And sometimes she’d check her weight 2-3 times a day too, especially if she had gone to a wedding and eaten  three or four feasts over the day.

Having seen all her blood reports just two days prior nothing was alarming me, so I just comforted her saying we could speak in the morning her time and asked her to go to bed.

Her puzzling text message next morning ..

“I went”

I texted back -“??”

now she says, “I went G”

It was morning her time but it was my bedtime after a long workday. I had no patience for a cryptic text message, so I called her. She said her weight is good after ‘she went’. Something about the way she said “I went” and the way she explained what she meant, cracked me up like crazy   🤣

So, my dear reader, lesson of this email is this – on the best diet, you’ll lose a maximum of about 20-30 grams of fat per day – THAT’S IT!

And what’s more, ALL OF US have perpetually fluctuating body weight, and it is NORMAL. So, please know it is useless to measure it several times a day. Or even once everyday in the weight loss context, no matter which “expert” tells you.

This is best example of tracking useless things – and a mistake I see more often than I care to share.

By the way, I went = I pooped!

Love,
g