Experiences, Experiments, Food, Kids, Little Moments, Milestones

Finicky to Foodie

The children’s lunch boxes for the most part are embarrassingly plain and simple for two reasons. Firstly, Hari and Ram prefer it that way. Secondly, like it or not, kids use lunch time more to socialize than to fill their tummies. Food is not a priority at school lunch time, at least not for my kids. So I stopped fretting about planning lunches long back and have learnt to focus on other meals that they eat at home instead.

A week back, the tween expressed interest in introducing variety to his daily lunches. There were a number of caveats thrown in. “Amma, no cheese, as it smells”, “I like the mac n cheese but it makes me feel heavy”, “I don’t want hot meals that go cold.”

If you pictured me rolling my eyes during this conversation, you are spot on. Past the rolling of the eyes, I did smile to myself wondering at how far we have come. What a finicky eater this child was as a toddler and what a foodie he has grown into! The child is still particular about what he eats and has strong likes and dislikes but a good meal makes him feel like he is at the top of the world. We brainstormed and came up with a menu that works for all of us – Hari, Ram and I. 

Monday – Pasta with seasoning

Tuesday – Buy from cafeteria

Wednesday – Aloo or paneer paratha

Thursday – Paniyaram

Friday – Rice and beans or leftovers from Thursday dinner.

And wait, wait, it’s not done yet. For the sides, a fruit and or nuts is acceptable. But on Fridays, the child requested that I  pack something that would surprise him. Again, another rolling-of-my-eyes moment. But again past that, I found the ask endearing and a way to add a little zing, a little something that would set Fridays apart from rest of the week, a little happiness boost. Plus, it seems like a nice way to build on my non-existent ability to surprise someone

Any lunch box ideas that has worked for you?  Any surprises that you would pack for your child? or would like for yourself in your lunch box? 

Standard
Experiences, Family, Food, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Humor, Kids, Life, Little Moments, seasons

Baseball Tales

Hari began the baseball season with lofty statements. “I live for baseball”, “Baseball is my life.” I looked at the better half, who takes his role as nurturer of sports passion of his offsprings a tad seriously, and saw stars dancing in his dreamy eyes. And what do you know? Before I could say baseball, the father-son duo had signed up for three teams – school baseball team, town baseball team and the club baseball team that Hari has been part of since Fall. And did I forget to mention that the second child was already signed up in Fall?

For my part, I did what any sensible mom, who has the unenviable task of planning two mini dinners atleast three days during the week and once during the weekend (and let’s not even get into calendar management please), would do. Closed my eyes shut, sent a prayer to Varuna bhagawan – let it rain, let it rain..!

The regular season is drawing to a close and I am happy to report that the household has managed to survive and I might even add that the reluctant baseball mom has become an eager cheerleader.

I am happy for Hari. The season bestowed him with a variety of experiences, from being benched to being glorified as the MVP.  He was flying high one day and heartbroken the other day. He felt like he was treated unfairly one day but was able to take a step back the next day and see the decision in perspective. He worked hard and took responsibility for improving his game. He climbed the batting order and learnt new ways to pitch.

Ram is having a great time swinging his bat and playing ball. As a parent from Hari’s batch put it, at that age you can ask how the game went knowing that you will always receive a confident and happy answer. Besides at this age, there is more excitement over snacks during break time than playing ball during game time. Da coached Ram’s team for the second year in a row. 

Now if you will excuse me, I have a pre-game dinner to pack. My life is going to be dull and empty once the baseball season is over… Not really!

Standard
Experiences, Food, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Little Moments, Ram Leela, Uncategorized

LMT

Sharing the little moments from my week. 
cherry blossom

  • This week was THAT week in spring – gloomy skies, foggy, misty mornings with cherry blossoms, daffodils, and greenery all around.  Beautiful, just beautiful! I have been sneaking in walks, 5 mins here, 5 mins there, to take in all the sights and sounds, and soak in this breathtaking beauty. 
  • Hari and four other kids worked on a group project for Culture Day in Sunday school. It was a delight to watch the kids plan, prepare, collaborate and present their work. They did such a fine job!
  • Spring=Baseball in our household. Hari is part of three teams this spring and he is so pumped up about it. It’s a scheduling nightmare for us but honestly when you see the light shine in his eyes as he speaks about baseball, you just want to do the best you can to give him as much game time as possible. Who knows how long the passion will last but as long as it lasts, it must be nurtured.
  • Kerala style plum cake, have you had them? Oh I so love it and I relish every bite of it..! Better still, Hari has become part of the plum cake fan club. Nothing to beat the shared joy of looking forward to something. 
  • Now that Ram is reading on his own, he has developed a reading routine. I read a book to him and in return he reads a book to me.  Being part of this child’s reading journey has been a sheer joy!
  • Taking Ram to Take Your Child to Work Day and spending the day with him at my workplace doing arts and crafts. 

Alright tudlu for now, the weekend is just around the corner. What little moments are you celebrating this week?

Standard
Experiences, Experiments, Food, Health and fitness, Life, Me

February reflection

I kept up on mindfulness till mid-February. But the last two weeks saw me falling, falling and falling.  I was disheartened that I had not kept up the momentum but let’s face it. Not falling is not a realistic scenario. Atleast not for me. So may be the goal is to minimize the frequency of the fall and to pick myself up as quickly as I can after the fall. This month I will focus on eats, workout and meditation.

Coincidentally, I have enrolled in the advanced nutriage workshop, wherein we will design our own menu, eating clean 80% of the time, and allowing for indulgences 20% of the time. I want to specifically focus on cooking simple meals. Wish me luck.

Standard
Detox, Experiences, Food, Health and fitness

Jan. reflection

I am doing ok with my word of the year – Mindfulness, thanks to the Nutriage workshop that I am signed up for. We are in the third and final week of the workshop. Strike 1 was gluten and processed food. Strike 2 was dairy and caffeine. Strike 3 is sugar and grain. So this week I am on a gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, caffeine-free, added sugar-free meal plan. The goal is to detox and reduce inflammation. For the most part, I am chugging along. Today, I missed black mission figs that I tend to treat myself to after lunch and dinner and craved for some dairy. The temptation passed. Also, this time around, I have been focusing on portion control. This is something that I have struggled with for a long time. One thing that is helping is eating mindfully. When I am eating, I am not doing anything else. Secondly, I have come to realize that the Law of Diminishing Utility truly applies to eating. The first bite is always tastier than the second, the second tastier than the third and the third tastier than the fourth. So overeating has lost its charm.

As part of the workshop, we are required to do some physical activity and meditation. I have not been as steadfast with physical activity but have been enjoying some meditation led by Tara Brach. Do give her a try if you get a chance.

That’s it for now. Take care!

Standard
Experiences, Experiments, Food, Gratitude, Health and fitness

Nutrition workshop

The first nutrition workshop for the year has kicked off. This time it is a 3-week program focused on helping us get back to healthy eating and healthy living.  I have done these workshops enough number of times to know the  drill – what’s allowed and what’s not. I have done it enough number of times to also know that half hearted efforts do not pay;  there is no shortcut to healthy living – you have to devote your time, energy and give it your all.

This week is week one. We are off gluten. One cup of caffeine. 

Truly thankful to this nutritionist who conducts these workshops to create positive ripples in the community.

Standard
Experiences, Food, Gratitude, Little Moments, Memories

What’s cooking?

The list of homemade food that I have been making has steadily grown over the past few years. From homemade yogurt and dosai batter, I have graduated to making ghee, milgai podi, pickles of different kinds, paneer, hummus, ginger garlic paste, thiratti paal,banana bread, muffins, and I even experimented with making regular bread once or twice this summer.

I don’t think of myself as a passionate cook. However, I have finally figured out what motivates me to cook. I like knowing what ingredients go into the food that we eat. I like to make things from scratch without any pre-processed ingredients. I believe in eating clean, eating right (that we generously eat junk is a story for another day). I love understanding the properties of individual ingredients, the chemistry that develops when they come together and how they influence the taste, texture, smell and look of the finished meal. I love problem solving for missing ingredients. My kitchen is the place I am most spontaneous. When I have guests over, I put a lot of thought into planning and prepping my meals so I can offer them dishes that they like, avoid things they do not like, without having to spend all my time in the kitchen.

It only took me 15 years to evolve from a clueless cook in denial to a mindful one who has accepted her role as a primary provider of meals. Most of this evolution comes from seeing and talking to passionate cooks.

As a child I was a finicky eater. I didn’t/don’t eat curd, a blasphemy for folks in my clan. I ate very selected vegetables and for the longest time, I ate food only if it was hot.  But even for me, I am pleasantly surprised by how much of my childhood memories is associated with food. Hot hot venpongal with gotsu during puratasi sanikizhamai, onion vatha khozhambu and potato roast on Sundays, mango milk shakes and custards during summer, thakkali thokku and vengai sambar. Thank you amma not only for working around my finicky taste buds and cooking simple flavorful food  but also for being on call when I have a cooking crisis. And of course, for regaling me with Venkatesh Bhat recipes!

Laksh, food is probably the least discussed topic in our conversations. But your conviction about how food is a medicine and how much love you pour into making meals for your family has mostly certainly rubbed on me. Thank you for sharing your passion and for introducing us to cheese dosai and heart shaped dosai for breakfast. They have become a staple in our house.

I am also greatful to my friend P from college.  I love the little tricks and tips that she shares with me during our weekend calls. Many of my cooking adventures are sparked by the seeds she plants in my head.  “Oil is friend and water is enemy for cast iron”, “Just put a karandi and let the milk boil, thiratti paal is easy to make”  Or the way she tells how much she likes chopping vegetables or rolling chapatis. I have learnt to see cooking from a different lens, thanks to her.

Last but not least, I am thinking of my maternal grandma fondly as I type this post. She cooked up a storm every time we went. Oh how many varieties of sevais she made in one go (paruppu, ellu, thengai, lemon, velam, curd! ). Wow, patti, just wow! I just wish I had understood that cooking for her was an expression of love. That the only way she knew to shower love was by laboring in the kitchen. Thank you patti, thank you, for loving, caring and cooking.  

Standard