Sugar Is Less And Cardamom Is Too Strong – A Life Lesson

As a kid, I got invited to a bunch of houses reasonably regularly to taste test. I was about 7 – 8 ish, and in particular, this neighbor aunty would give me a taste of every single prasadam she made.

The belief was that a small kid held precedence even to God. And I happened to be the chosen one because she’d get precise feedback. Like this one she remembered from so long ago – ‘मामी, सककरे कम्मि, एलककी तुंबा जास्ति’ – meaning, sugar is less and cardamom is too strong.

I never knew what was so valuable about that at all until one time when I visited her house in my 20s. By this time, we had long moved out, and we were no longer neighbors with her.

And she said this – ‘ you were such a tiny kid and you’d unabashedly tell me such is less, something else is more .. something was sooo sweet about how you’d say it, that I’d also mockingly say it like you all the time!

I’d tell mama*, and wife time is too less, office time is too much’ .. I’d even ask myself that question with everything else in my life, she said.
For instance, ‘I’d be so lonely after you folks moved out – and I’d ask myself, what I need more of and what I need less of.’ Invariably, I’d get the right answer!

More friends, fewer machines.

More gardening, less whining.

More mama*, less Manorama – and she started laughing!
*mama = her husband and Manorama = another neighbor aunty who talks and talks without taking hints to stop

Since that day, I’ve also made it my tradition to ask myself that question pretty regularly.

What do I need more of, what do I need less of?

It is SO useful when I am cooking, blending perfumes or painting.

But it is especially useful for life.

So, my lovely reader, tell me what you need more of and what you need less of?

Here’s what I wish for you, more clarity and fewer distractions and plenty of love!

❤️, g

Sometimes In Life It’s YOU Versus you

“Hey, fry me some pooris no, pleeeease?”

” Hey, make me some paneer bhurji to go with it no, pleeeease?”

The voices inside call out your name, begging you to give in to some craving. Just this ONE time, it pleads!

But you know what, sometimes winning means defeating yourself. 

This happens to be the tag line of the new sports fantasy novel that released, a co-collaboration of Kobe Bryant. It came out just a couple of days ago, and I’m so looking forward to reading it! I really hope you do too.

The current corona phase continues to prey as we are grappling with the chaos and destruction it has left in its trail. And now more than ever, my dear reader, you must not allow your cravings to win the better of you!

Defeating your cravings to eat oily, deep-fried, dairy-rich, meat, and egg-based fatty foods give you a much higher chance of winning the battle against corona.

Here’s a short but informative video I’d love for you to watch. And do what it asks of you!


Remember, sometimes defeating yourself is what brings you to sweet victory.

Until next time,

“It’s V Hard When People Don’t Like Me .. Why Don’t I Just Go With Whatever They Say?”

Dear reader,

Now and then, it so happens, that I will be reading a book when some words, some guidance, some insights just leap out of the page! And ask to be internalized. Like, that voice inside is SO clear about this instruction.

And I wonder, why is it saying this now? Am I going to need this ?? And in what context??? The questions just pour out from inside! Over the years, I’ve learned to stay calm.

And then, in just a couple of days, the situation will present when the message contained in those words is like a perfect fit. And I’ll hear a faint voice that says – this is why.

Someone in a session asked – “it’s v hard when people don’t like me .. why don’t I go with whatever they say? And then I can do what I want when I’m by myself.”

Here’s what the book fairies had me read –

“who doesn’t prefer being liked to being disliked? The problem is where this desire stands in the hierarchy of your values. Does it stand at the peak, above integrity and self-esteem? The issue is not whether you want to be liked, but what you are willing to give in exchange. The more you surrender to the fear of someone’s disapproval, the more you will lose face in your own eyes, and the more desperate you become for someone’s approval. Within you is a void that should have been filled by self-esteem. When you fill it with the approval of others instead, the void grows deeper, and the hunger for acceptance and approval grows stronger. The only solution is to summon the courage to honor your own judgment, frightening though that might be in the beginning.”

Some insights need to be read, re-read … and above all else, need to be applied time and time again. I can sincerely say I’ve practiced it for a long time .. and continue to do so with this particular one, my reader friend. I hope you, too, will reflect on this gem of wisdom. Just sit with it and see what comes of it for you.

And let’s both send a heartfelt thanks to dear Dr.Branden, who has articulated this truth so eloquently.


Acceptance .. What Does It Mean?

Have you given this question a thought as to what acceptance may mean to you?

In the name of respecting each other, people sometimes require us to suspend our thinking faculties.

Let me share a story.

Someone I know happened to phone her dad to ask him to be careful. She shared with him how smoking was making people vulnerable to upper respiratory problems. And how with his age combined with many many years of smoking, it could expose him to deep trouble. Especially now, with all that is going on in the world with this COVID. Being so far away from him that she may not be able to help if things were to go wrong, she expressed her concern.

And what did her dad do?

He yelled back at her asking, do all five fingers look the same?? He angrily told how she should learn to be a little more accepting of people that are unlike her prim and proper self! Be respectful of my choices, he screamed at her.


She was so stunned with that response that she did not know what hit her!

To her, it was her dad and his smoking habit, for a vegan person like myself, it could be my meat-eating friend, and with you, it may be a roomie that loves beer for breakfast every day – asking us to be accepting of them.

This is what acceptance means, folks.

Acceptance means not quarreling with facts.

Acceptance in this particular context means to accept that the dad is a smoker. And that he’s very likely addicted to nicotine.

Acceptance means that you make your own arrangements to deal with the reality of a smokey house if you were to visit him at his place. You don’t get to grumble and whine about his smokey house!

Acceptance means that you must be prepared to shell out some money and invite him to a restaurant for a meet ‘n’ chat – for yourself because you don’t want to endure being the passive smoker while you politely hang out with him in his smokey house.

Acceptance means you come to terms that he has all the freedom to buy his cigarettes with his money and smoke all he wants within the confines of his own house.

Oh and, accepting dad has NOTHING to do with accepting his actions. Acceptance is not a behavioral blank-check!!

So, acceptance does NOT mean that you have accepted smoking to be normal. Or correct.

Or that you would fund his habit or sit and smoke to keep him company!

With your friends and family, differences can come with any issue.

No one – no friend, no family – not even your own dad, can require you to suspend commonsense and your ability to think through things, in the name of acceptance.

Having clarity about matters like this is vital if you don’t want people in your life guilt-tripping you.



What’s The Common Thread In Irregular Periods, Weight Gain, Pimples And Diabetes?

In the early 90 s when I was college, we’d think of diabetes, irregular periods, unwanted excessive facial hair, and pimples, much like how we felt about floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. They were all ‘acts of God.’

If a girl were unfortunate, she would have to deal with the anguish of painful periods. Or take insulin injections for her diabetes during pregnancy.

Worse was when a girl whose engagement was broken came to our endocrine clinic. All because the boy’s side felt she was too hairy. And she was doubly unfortunate as she hailed from an orthodox family and was also getting married into one – and she was not allowed to go to a beauty parlor to get that unsightly hair taken care of.

Do you want to know the common thread connecting all these health issues we face as women?

The answer is high-fat content in the foods we consume. That’s it.

The excess fat we take in by way of animal foods, and fatty plant foods such as coconut and vegetable oils cause what is called insulin resistance.

The insulin resistance then goes on to disrupt many critical cellular activities, causing a cascade of one adverse event after another in every organ system inside our bodies.

In the next email, let us discuss the topic further. Let’s see what is an acceptable amount of fat for us to stay healthy. Hit reply and send your questions, dear reader. I’ll do my best to take as many questions as I can!



I’m NOT Teaching Any Recipes!


So many of you wrote in asking for healthy recipes!

A healthy way to make pakoras, chips, and sweets 😂 , and brand names of healthy oils. Oh, dear!

Folks, listen to me – here’s the first super easy and perhaps ONLY recipe you’ll need for health.

#1 Learn to eat ingredients.

If you want to lose weight, get over your health issues caused by insulin resistance, you must stop going after elaborate recipes.

Just steamed rice is a complete dish.

Cooked dhal is a complete dish.

Chopped vegetables and fruits are complete in and of themselves.

‘Oh Girija, what are you saying! Don’t you have any need for taste??’

They are all tasty on their own. To me, that is! And if you combine two or three of these, it gets even better.

And if it helps you eat more vegetables, grains, and lentils in their simple and pure form – you may use a little salt, some spices, and cook them minimally.

Above all else, learn to combine taste elements of ingredients elegantly.

Such as mixing the sweet carrots with salty greens and spicy onions and fresh, crisp cucumbers – it becomes tasty like any other elaborate dish, but only healthier!

Put a heap of this salad on cooked rice, salt to taste – it will become a filling pulao type dish.

You can combine colors, textures, tastes of plain vegetables, fruit, cooked pulses, and grains. Chopping a vegetable finely and mixing it with a little fruit makes it so much easier to eat as it becomes juicy.

With minimal cooking, it increases your options even more.

You know what eating this way does to you, dear reader?

a. It frees up your time, money, and mental space from traditional cooking.

b. The highly nourishing – zero nonsense way of eating will loosen your attachment to junk food.

c. You can eat this type of food to your fill without having to count calories or worry about weight gain.

One of my American friends went on a health resort stay recently, which was terrific, by her admission. She came back feeling so much lighter – both in body and mind – and sat down to reflect the one thing that may have led to the result. This is what she concluded – mostly eat what we count as ingredients. She spent upwards of 5000 dollars for this insight!



What Can You Do With 30 ml Of Oil For A Whole Month! It Is SO Less :-(

Tell me something – did you think this q yourself anytime?

Even if you haven’t, it’s okay – because I am going to answer it for someone else today – and you can listen in.

I’ve been after people who consult with me to eat less oil. Especially with this COVID threat, and we know that oily foods reduce our immunity.

So when this lady asked me this q on skype, I promised to email her my response. Some things you need to see in writing – on a paper – to grasp the meaning in its entirety.

And you get to see what I wrote for her. Please consider taking a print out of it and stick it on your refrigerator or someplace in your kitchen.

Q: What is the smallest teaspoon measure of oil that I have verified to work well for ONE dosa and tadka for a quantity of 4 people, etc.?

A: 1/8 teaspoon.

Q: How many 1/8 tsp measures are there in 30 ml of oil?

A: 240

Q: How many would that be per week and per day?

A: That would be 60 per week and approximately 8 per day.

Q: How would you use the quota of 8 one eighth tsp measures in a day – please enlist.

A: If I have to answer this Q for myself, I can never use it all up even if I want to! I always find myself having some on hand. Here’s how it breaks down for me –

a. Sambar – 1/8 – the amount of sambar I make and use, keeps for two days

b. Rasam – 1/8 – same as above, lasts for two days

c. Sabji like dry veg curries or gravy-like chole, rajma – 1/8 – keeps for two days

d. Idli – I never oil the plates

e. Dosa – I only oil once every 3-4 dosas

f. upma, poha, jeera rice, mushroom pulao – max 1/4 tsp

Oh and! I forgot to say this – for pressure cooking the toor dhal, I use even lesser than 1/8 tsp. I mostly use just a drop.

A drop (1/64 tsp), a smidgen (1/32 tsp), and pinch (1/16 tsp) measuring spoons are wonderful, even more importantly a necessity, to keep in your kitchen. They are usually found in bakery supplies aisle of your department store.

Now tell me, dear reader, how would you want to think of it –

just 1 ounce 

or only 30 ml 

or oh-wow-240-freaking-1/8-teaspoons of oil??

They are all the same. And not the same too, in a strange way!



PS: For my sanity, I made a rule about 11-12 years ago that I would NOT ever cook anything deep-fried in my kitchen. And I’ve found myself eating deep-fried food outside of home no more than 5-6 times a year. It is ALWAYS unpleasant afterward. And my body is slowly learning to reject it stronger than my tongue craves it – I observe them tussle over it.

Do You Start With Upma Recipe And End Up Baking A Cake Instead?

I have a question for you.

What if, just what if, you get started with making say, upma in the kitchen and halfway through losing track with that! You get side-tracked so badly that you fail to see the vegetables you chopped for upma, the curry leaves and green chilies you kept aside, you even forget that you took out the salt and hing from the cupboard!

You get so carried away with the rava cake recipe that somebody is making on the youtube that you are watching on your iPad while cooking in the kitchen. And you ignore all the prep you had made for upma, and you end up baking the rava cake instead.

Has this ever happened with you? What if it does happen with you??

I asked this exact question to one of my clients recently. And she quickly said, ‘oh, that would never happen to me, Giri!’ So, I asked how come?

“Because, right from when I get started with making upma, my mind is set on it. I will see myself eating a plate full of upma while looking through my Facebook feed – in my head – long before it ever gets done!” she said.

This was the same person who was calling in to tell me how she forgot about her eating healthy plans and weight goals just two weeks into the new year. She was stunned that what she was doing was just that – starting with upma intention and ending up with a cake instead!

Here’s what I discussed with her and am going to share with you too, my friend – listen carefully. I told her that she must write down her healthy eating and weight goals 20 times a day spread over morning, noon, evening, and night.

And she has reported how that goal sentence keeps buzzing in her head at all times of the day!

Oh, you know what? I do this myself with my own goals. And I cannot tell you just how useful it is in programming your whole system towards your goals. It just doesn’t let you waver at all! It certainly makes it very, very hard to err. Try for yourself and tell me how it goes for you.

Until next time,

It Is A Custom, After All ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Today I am going to tell you a story. It’s from when I was within this Endocrine team that I would function like my boss’s assistant, sit through the patient consultations, take notes, 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 that he had bought one last month for her birthday and therefore 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 person with diabetes – 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 quiet man finally spoke up and said to the doc – “I could have very well walked with my shoes in the park next to the temple, all the while chanting my prayers. I 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. 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, and 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 wonderful, deep, and meaningful conversations with women as part of the work I do. I can’t tell you how grateful I feel for the wisdom I glean from all this.

Today I’ll give you a peek inside one of those 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 eats 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 the 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!

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 hold only so much food that it is meant to handle.

We can still only wear ONE saree at a time!

When we go from a 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 the same kind of 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 taken 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 mainly 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.

We often need to spend money to free up time, 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!


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

My 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 particular ways of taking friendship to the next level with people.

But sometimes, people tend to develop an 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 think 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 like to deep fry stuff in my house but didn’t have the heart to say it aloud to them. And I wasn’t going to relax this small but critical rule I’ve made for myself about 8-9 years ago.

So here’s what I came up with. And DELIGHTED to 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 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!


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 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, the 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 a little surprised, “you meant two plates, right??” I confirmed no, two salads, and went back to the 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, “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, and 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 think 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 awkwardness by way of surprise. Our waiter ladies in all three situations may not have felt the slightest embarrassment 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 by 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 vegetables 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.