Friday, November 16, 2012

Eating Skinny!

So I stumbled up on this article and it got me thinking:

Practically everything on this list are things my Desi mother has been unconsciously feeding us for years. Remind me to thank her for the amazing metabolism I had for most of my life. I say that because lately I find my metabolism majorly slummed and it’s probably because I’ve taken out all the great stuff from my diet that I used to eat before. The more I think about it the more I realize that this may be the secret why I never saw my mother/grandmother ever doing all the crazy diets or intense exercise routines most American women succumb to in order to control their appetites. Even reflecting on myself, as a teenager while I was still eating mom’s home cooked desi meals I wasn’t thin but I was able to maintain a healthy normal weight without much struggle at all. And the moment I added in a mix of exercise into my routine I was able to drop weight quickly. Nowadays it’s like I breathe air and I’ve gaining 10 pounds!

Desi women are not skinny by nature; we have wide hips and curvy midsections. It’s just who we are. Butttt I wouldn’t call Desi women obese. The main things I see women of south Asian descent have is good self-control when it comes to food and a pretty good metabolism. I’m not talking about us Desis who grew up here and been subjected to tons of junk food loaded with sugars and carbs. I’m talking about the real home grown edition of Desi, like our moms and grandmas. I know I have AWFUL self-control when it comes to delicious food. Pizza, mashed potatoes, lasagna, and chocolate cake I can’t remember the last time when I said ‘oh I’ll just have 1 helping thank you’. But true Desi women who grew up eating wholesome home cooking just ate less and that was their unconscious effortless portion control/ weight loss regime.

So according to the article, these are the ingredients I need to bring back onto my plate:

Chili peppers – The first thing you think of when you hear the words Indian/Pakistani food is spicy. Ultimately, you aren’t a Desi if you can’t handle the heat. And it was only when I grew up and read up on it that I found out that the spicy taste does wonders for your metabolism! Yay spicy food! :)

Pine nuts- As a kid I remember my Ammi and Dadi roasting up chilgozay (pine nuts) to snack on in the winter. Meanwhile, in the summer time my mom would dry out the seeds of all sorts of fruits for us to munch on. I specifically remember cantaloupe seeds but I know pumpkin and sunflower seeds were definitely something we ate while pretty much oblivious to the massive amounts of nutrients they are loaded with. Something all women are known to do is eat out of bored, but Desi women hit it on target by nibbling on something that would suppress appetite in addition to decrease their fat stores!

Cinnamon sticks- I never knew it until I started cooking myself, but cinnamon is common a spice used in most curries. I put whole sticks of it in my Pulao to add aroma, but if you ever cook curries with garam masala it’s one of the main ingredients in it. Who knew it’s a metabolism booster?

Red Lentils – Every Desi child knows what daal is, masoor ki daal to be specific. And, whether you liked it or not you definitely ate it a few times a month if not weekly. I personally LOVE daal with kaali and khutti daal being among my favorites; plus it’s honestly one of the easiest meals to prepare. The added bonus, all the protein and good fiber in lentils is great at keeping you full for longer.

Fennal tea- I drank gallons of it post-delivery as my mom insisted it will help sooth my breastfed son’s digestion and mean less gas for him from all the things I eat. Little did we both know that it actually helped me lose a ton of my baby weight! Too bad I stopped drinking it as soon as I stopped breastfeeding; I need to get back on this stat! (buy some fennel boil it in water, tea doesn't get much simpler than that!)

Overall- After a long and tiring day at school/work, while it’s easy to pick up food at the drive thru or cook 2-minute ramen noodles (loaded with sodium and preservatives that only cause you to bloat!), small efforts like cooking up some daal and adding in a dash of ‘lal mirch’ will do your body good..

**There are a bunch of other items this article mentioned that I personally do love eating (apples, watermelon, raspberries, avocados), but they aren't very 'Desi' so I'll just mention them here and encourage everyone to add them into your diet!

(photos courtesy of Google Images) 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

What this storm is all about

Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it, step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white
sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That's the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Quite a bit happened from the last time I wrote here. We had a little event last Tuesday called Hurricane Sandy. Just a little gust of wind and a couple drops of rain. No big deal. YEAH RIGHT. My family and I were some of the VERY fortunate ones and we only lost power for 4-5 days. Besides dealing with lack of heat, hot water and no cell reception we didn’t suffer any loss at all. Lots of people near the Jersey shore, Hoboken, Staten island and other towns in NY dealt with major damages like flooding and harm to their homes, cars and sadly even lives. The entire week was a major shock of reality that at any given moment life as you know it can change so count your blessings.

It was also a big reminder that we live in a great nation. Our mayor took to Twitter almost immediately and began answering questions and addressing problems of down trees in neighborhoods. Comfort stations were set up in locations which did have power for people to charge their electronics, take a hot shower or simply enjoy the heated shelter. It was frustrating not knowing when power would be restored, but it was comforting to know that officials were working hard and continuously to restore life back to normalcy. Our township arranged a Trunk or Treat event over the weekend since the hurricane occurred too close to actual Halloween and roads weren’t safe for children to be out. It was a wonderful idea since the kids really did need a positive change from all the chaos that had been ensuing all week. A week later now, most people we know have had their power restored, lines at gas stations no longer have 4 hour wait times (Governor Christie instated a ration system which helped but also less generators are being used so demand has gone down too), and most importantly, the in pour of help to locations who desperately need it is amazing.

My husband and I plan on joining an organization this weekend who is working with the Red Cross in setting up shelters in disaster struck locations. I feel so guilty for complaining about anything I endured when I see entire towns completely under water, homes swept away and lives lost. The very least we can do is pray for them, and a little better is to roll up our sleeves and help them recover.
Today also is an important day for me for two reasons. My Nana (maternal grandfather) passed away 2 years ago today and as an American it is also Election day. Those two events are totally unrelated but combined they created emotions in me that somehow relate. Remembering my Nana reminds me of the kind of person he was and the memories he left us with. Memories we will cherish forever. Thinking about him reminds me that one day I too will be 6 feet under, and makes me wonder how do I want my posterity to remember me? Sandy was just another wake up call that life can be taken at any moment and all that remains is for the ones left behind to pick up the pieces and put them back together. I want to change myself so when people pick up the pieces of what I leave behind they are filled with pride to have been a part of my life. I truly wish to help others, not just with my money and my words but with my time and efforts. I intend to become an active member of my community, for example by voting for officials in my town and state and on a large scale for my nation’s president. My governor and mayor made me proud this week and I will continue to support them. I hope to do things within my community that actually make a difference. I want my grandchildren someday to remember their Nani not just for her love for high heels, chocolate, Cinderella, and a crazy obsession with handbags. I truly hope to change myself to be a generous person. A person whose essence is kind and giving. Often times we only help others when it is convenient for us or when it serves our ego, but it’s another thing to just make that generosity a part of your nature. It becomes what you are doing all the time without even realizing it. I want giving/kindness to become natural to me, not something I take time out to do. We have a few brief moments in this place, let’s spend them doing something wonderful.

Look here to see what I wrote about the last election and what it signified to me.