101 Changes: Change 20 – Healthy Eating Made Easy

If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over for 21 days. I am writing a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out previous 101 Changes Article: 101 Changes: 101 Changes: Change 19- Do More With Beauty Products



Image source Happy Heart and Mind  Cooking at home

One thing I have learned as I am getting older is to take care of my health properly. As a mom of 2 kids, I want to make sure I am healthy enough to keep up with their energy when doing homework with them or taking them to music and sports classes, playing with them.

I am vegetarian so I eat mostly plant and grain based diet but I sure have my moments when I am not eating healthier. Being vegetarian one would think it is healthy, not so. As I have said before, one can be vegetarian eating pizza, potato chips and drink coke or sugar laden drinks; it is vegetarian but it is NOT healthy for sure.

As I am getting older (past 20s and in late 30’s) I am learning how to take care of my health by eating more plant based food and cooking at home. Since I love cooking, it comes easier but there are days, when I simply fall off the health band wagon but I am getting better by buying right groceries and snacks to keep myself motivated to eat healthier.

Here are my top choices for healthy eating:

Green Vegetables: I buy green bell peppers, Kale, Baby spinach, Collard greens, mustard green, Green beans, Thai/Indian long beans, Green squash (Asian groceries store), Dark leafy Salad greens, Broccoli, and use Green herbs such as cilantro for flavors.

Rainbow Veggies: Other than green vegetables, I am focusing on rainbow colors veggies such as carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, Tomatoes, Purple red cabbage, eggplants, radishes (red and large white from Asian store), cauliflower, red onions, sweet potatoes, Olives and so on.

Whole Grains: Being an Indian, I use lot of rice and wheat based grain and flour for cooking. I try to use whole grain as much as possible. Living close to whole foods and trader Joe’s, I have found many new grains (whole, split and flour) such as amarnth, kamut, millet, farro, barley, quinoa and spelt. One can make salad, bread, naan or rotis, savory biscuits from grain or flour. If you can not eat gluten, there are still other choices to eat healthier and still be gluten free.

Eat Fresh Fruits: Eating fresh and in-season fruits is best. In California, there are many farmer’s market that sells fresh fruits from local farmers that are organic. Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Pears, watermelon, Mango, Papaya, Peaches, Apricots make great snacks for kids and adults. I sometimes make dessert, cookies or bread with fresh fruits by looking at online recipes blogs.

Avoid fat free and sugar free: Earlier when I was younger, I thought sugar free and fat free is good and I ate that way. Now, I know better and try to eat good fat, real sugar in moderation. Regular coke always taste better compared to sugar free cola and we know why. Do not be afraid of fat, sugar but eat those food in small quantity, is that simple.

Drink Water: It is okay if you like Wine, juice, Smoothies, shakes or beer. Drinking in moderation is always best practice for any diet. However, drink more water whenever possible as nothing quenches thirst more then cold, fresh water.

Vegetarian Protein: As a vegetarian, I often gets asked about protein in my diet, there is plenty of choices for vegetarian to get required daily protein intake. One of the best vegetarian source for protein is lentils, dried nuts, beans and tofu. There are many soups, stir fries can be made with lentils and tofu. Many think tofu is bland but if you marinate it and cook it right it will be tasty for kids as well.

Take Vitamins: It is always best to take nutrients from fresh and cooked food but sometimes when it is not possible taking daily vitamins may help. Vitamin B12 is hard to find in many vegetables so I try to take vitamins with B12, iron and folic acid to make sure my body’s optimum health.

What To avoid or eat less of:

As I said above, being healthy is not difficult but requires little discipline and planning. Eating or avoiding a few things may improve our health and energy.

  • Avoid meat products, this is more true even if you are meat lover, if you reduce or give up meat products for health or ethical reasons, it may help with your health.
  • Avoid cheesy, fatty food at home or when eating out
  • Avoid fried food such as french fries, dumplings or eat in moderation
  • Avoid or reduce eating refined flour
  • Artificial flavoring, diet food staple from grocery store.
  • Do not eat old food sitting in fridge for more than a few days
  • Do not use plastic to heat up food, use glass container instead
  • Avoid trans fats
  • Do not deprive yourself of any food, just eat less of instead
  • avoid or reduce sugary drinks or alcohols
  • Reduce eating out or take outs
  • Do not read or watch Television when eating, this is one of my worst habit that I am working on fixing it

If you want more plant base food diet, check out these following books;

Product Details

 Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

This is one of the best book with over 300 healthy plant based recipes. The secret is out: If you want to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and prevent (or even reverse!) chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the right food is your best medicine. Thousands of people have cut out meat, dairy, and oils and seen amazing results. If you’re among them—or you’d like to be—you need this cookbook.

Product Details

 The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition

If you are vegetarian, vegan or thinking about eating more plant based diet but wondered what about nutrition?, Where to get nutrients that others get from meat and dairy?, How to spot hidden animal ingredients in packaged foods?, Howto avoid the vegan pitfall of overfed but undernourished?, How to order at restaurants? if you asked these questions, this is right book for you. I have it and I still refer to it when I am in doubt.

Make Homemade Gifts From Extra Fruits


If you have a extra fruits at home, either because you bought too much from the farmer’s market, or got from someone who has garden, what to do? It happened to us, a neighbor gave us so many oranges, more than we could eat. We ate fruits, made fresh juice, even shared some with other friends, we still had leftover oranges on our kitchen counter.

I turned to internet and food blogs to find a ways to make something edible form oranges, as I could not think of anything at top of my head. I found a few ways to not only use leftover extra oranges but also found a ways to use other fruits and make some home made gifts to share with others. Here are a few ways to save money, eat healthy and be creative at the same time.

Make Citrus Salt:


Leftover fruits such as Oranges, Lemon, Lime

1 Cup Coarse salt

How to Make it: Recipe

Zest Oranges or other citrus fruits Until you get about 4 table spoons worth of Citrus zest. I use small inexpensive gadget that works well. Make sure not to zest white part of the citrus fruit as it tends to be bitter.

Mix zest and coarse salt in small bowl. You can use small whisk, but I prefer to use my hand to mix the content to release the flavor.

Spread it on baking try and leave it overnight to air dry it. I suppose it can be done in oven but I did not try it so not sure how the outcome would come out and taste. Air drying worked well for me. Fill it in air tight glass herb bottle. You can use in in Salad, soup and use it in herb infused olive oil with pasta dishes. Over the time, zest colors may fade but taste remains.

It should have about 2 months of shelf life.

Candied Orange Peels



3 Oragnges

2 Lemons

4 Cups of Sugar

1 Grapefruit


Peel Orange, lemons and grapefruit and score them in to sections in to 6-8 pieces by hand. Make sure peels are washed and does not have white parts or citrus membrane.

Cut Peels in to strips about half inch thick approximate measure.

Put washed and cut peel strip in sauce pan with water. Cover the sauce pan and bring to boil until soft. Drain.

Use same sauce pan and add 3 cups of water with 3 cups of sugar and bring to boil. Make sure sugar dissolves in to water.

Add boiled Citrus peel and bring to boil again.

Reduce heat and simmer peels slowly and gently. Stir once in a while until Citrus Peels are translucent and syrup becomes bubbly. It took about 94 minutes or so for me , approx. 1.5 hours. It is not a fast cooking so have patience while making this.

Once you think peels are translucent, drain it. Save syrup for other things (topping on crepes etc.)

Spread Peels in to cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Let it sit and dry it overnight, 8-12 hours.

Put remaining 1 cup sugar with food color of your choice, I used red. Toss red sugar powder in a bowls with air dried peels. Shake off excess sugar. Again let it air dry for 1 more day 8-12 hours, before eating.

For variety, you can dip these peels in to melted chocolates half way and dry it or freeze it. It will make beautiful candied peels that will taste great too.

Fruit Jelly:


Approx. 2 Cups fruit juice such as Orange Juice or Lemon Juice. (It can be freshly squeezed of store bought)

3 cups sugar

6 oz liquid pectin

2 table spoon fresh lemon Juice

Coarse sugar

Cooking oil (spray)


Take large sauce pot and pour Citrus Juice and sugar in it. stir to combine and dissolve the sugar.

Line a baking pan with microwave safe plastic wrap, covering whole pan and spray with cooking oil spray lightly. Leave it on side.

Cook juice on sauce pot on high heat for about 20 minutes or so, until mixture becomes soft ball stage. add liquid pectin inside and stir in for 2 minutes or so. You can use candy thermometer also but I did not, I just eye balled and guessed the temperature. I am bit lazy like that. If you use candy thermometer, make sure temp is about 220 degree or so.

Remove pot from the heat. Stir in lemon juice.

The pour the mixture in to prepared baking pan lined with plastic wrap.

Let it sit and cool for 1.5 to 2 hours, until it becomes firm.

Lift plastic wrap on pan and cut in 1 inch squares, or any shapes you like by knife or cookie cutters.

Dip each pieces in to sugar gently.

Store it in air tight container. You can wrap each little pieces to make sure they stay unbroken if you like.


Image source: Wikipedia

How To Cook and Eat Healthier

BLR 066

Image source: Zengirl

I am life long vegetarian since my birth, but that does not mean I eat healthy. Occasionally I tend to eat junk food sometimes, especially when I am stressed out, or extremely busy in other things. As part of finding balance between heart and mind of six areas, eating and being healthy is one of the important thing in my life as it is for many of you. Cooking and eating is important for anyone because we are what we eat, and we are what we think of ourselves.

Here are a few Tips for Healthy Cooking:

Some of the people I know think cooking is complicated and hard so they tend to get take out or eat out. When they eat something at home it is almost always frozen meals heated up. Other people are opposite cooking great 7 course meals on weekdays like Martha Stewart’s shows. I fall somewhere in between, I generally love cooking but occasionally I go through times where we simply eat Khichadi or Bread and Milk for dinner.

Here are some of the ways I have learned over the years, so cooking is not complicated. Cook healthy at home with these simple tips.

  1. 95% fat free does not “eat 95% more”. It still has 5% fat, which is not 0%.
  2. Also zero percent fat, is also misleading. See always calories before consuming extra food. I am now skeptic of all no fat, low fat, claims. Some low fat and no fat actually have known to more calories compared to full fat counter part. Check it for yourself, you’ll know.
  3. Being Vegetarian does not mean, you’re eating healthy. I know that my own experience, in college I have eaten and lived on only cold pizza, chips and soda. That is Vegetarian diet but not healthy one.
  4. When buying food such as bread, grains, read label. If the first ingredient is not whole wheat or whole grain it might be not healthy enough.
  5. Always eat colorful fruits and vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, cantaloupe, watermelon and so on. It will bring out vitamin and nutrients more.
  6. Add more dried beans, dried lentils, tofu and nuts for protein sources. It is best for Vegan and Vegetarian. Even if you’re meat eater, these will work with your diet as well.
  7. Broil, boil, bake or steam food instead of deep frying or sauteing in oil. As it will have less fat and more healthier.
  8. Eat more fiber hero food for better digestive system such as brown rice, oatmeal, rye, quinoa, barley.
  9. When looking for re-fried beans, you can make it at home easily or look for low fat, no lard added refried beans from super market. It will have less fat and less calories.
  10. If you buy canned fruits, make sure that canned fruits are packed in its own juice rather than sugar and syrup.
  11. Same as above for vegetables and beans, make sure no extra salt is added or always rinse canned beans to get rid of access of extra salt. extra salt does not help with Blood pressure.
  12. For sugary food, check labels to see names that you can not pronounce, that always rings true for me. If I can not pronounce or know ingredients that means to usually be careful.
  13. If you read labels and it says it comes form natural sources, some ingredients such as chemical, artificial flavors also, comes from natural sources too. Do not go by advertizement or what it says, follow your gut feeling.
  14. Give up or reduce meat. If your meat eater, go one day meat free.
  15. If you are Vegetarian, eat healthy, not chips or soda. Eat Vegetables.
  16. Skip rich sauces made from cheese. Try instead to use lemon, orange juice, salsa, vinegar, garlic, herb and spices to flavor the food.
  17. Use hard anodized or cast iron cookware so you can cook without much or no oil. I would recommend not to use Teflon coating nonstick pans and they tend to peel and Teflon is chemical you do not want to mix with your food.
  18. Many of us waste food, myself included when we buy too much or cook too much. Learn to either share it with friends, neighbors, family or homeless shelter. You can also learn how to preserve food to make it last longer.
  19. If you’re cooking in cast iron pan, take out the food after cooking to avoid discoloration due to metal reacting to food.
  20. Eat healthy and filling salads, with veggies, bread, pasta and beans. Who says salad has be only greens? You can add more stuff to make it filling and rich with nutrients.
  21. Use whole grains whenever possible and avoid refined flours and food.
  22. Some fat are supposed to be good for you such as olive oil, avocado, corn oil, soybean oil and canola oil. Still use it sparingly.
  23. You can use cooked and pureed potatoes, cauliflowers for thickener in soup and sauces instead of corn starch or other thickeners.
  24. You can saute food in little water instead of oil sometimes. Or use little oil.
  25. You can replace high fat cheese in recipe such as ricotta to low fat cottage cheese. I have done it and people have hardly noticed. In similar way, I use tofu instead of Paneer (Indian Cheese) to make stews and curries. You can tell the difference in taste a little but it still comes out great.
  26. Key to cooking with tofu is to marinate the tofu for 3 hours to over night. Otherwise tofu is so bland and does not taste good. When tofu has absorbed the flavor it will be liked by all, including kids.
  27. We do not use eggs, so when I bake or cook any recipe that calls for egg, I use vegan egg replacer, which is healthier, lower fat, socially feels right.
  28. Eating and cooking at home does not need to be fancy or expensive, there are a few ways you can make 99 cents noodles look and taste like a gourmet meal.
  29. You can replace high fat sour cream and mayo with low fat or no fat yogurt in soup, dip or sauces.
  30. Whenever possible cook at home from scratch. It will be more healthier and some of the food can be cooked around 30 minutes. If you’re looking for ideas check out cookbooks for fast cooking ideas.
  31. If you’re short on time like I am sometimes, I get help from grocery store which I call semi-home made cooked food. This where I get some ingredient prepared from store but I do some cooking or addition to make food like what we like. For example, I get frozen pizza dough or frozen pizza shell then all I have to add is sauce, veggies and cheese.
  32. If you eat out follow these 20 tips when you eat out so you can be kind to your waist and your wallet.
  33. We have stopped eating at fast food places, except a few one such as Quiznos and In and Out Burger that we like and we could not be happier and bit healthier.
  34. Try out some new food that you have never tried, be it new fruits or new ethnic food. You might be surprised and like it. There are many ethnic food such as Thai, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Indian (including popular Italian, Chinese, Mexican) restaurant have many vegetarian, vegan choices.
  35. Last but not least, walk and exercise by doing simple things such as parking a car in little further from your office or school. Taking stairs instead of elevator. Dance silly with kids for fun. Think happy healthy thoughts!

I am sure, there are more ways to eat healthy that does not feel like climbing mountain or so hard. Do you have your favorite to share?


How To Stay Fit During Holiday Season

How to Stay fit during any Holidays

Holiday season usually means several parties to celebrate, Thanksgiving feast, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New year among other celebrations! One of the great thing about holidays are get together, eating yummy food and being with family and friends: loved ones. However, I dread January as I tend to gain a bit weight somehow From Diwali, to Thanksgiving, to Christmas and New year eve party and party food. Are you like me? If you are then know what I am talking about. If you do not gain weight, then write quickly and tell us your secret!

There are so many parties during last few months of the year:

  • Office Christmas Party
  • Family gathering
  • Friends parties (Some of us have more than one different gatherings)
  • New year Celebrations

When we had Thanksgiving gathering, where we had so much food, and 5 types of pies, plus more desserts dishes. We shared and ate leftover for days! It sure was fun, but not for my body. I have already plan to make sure my end of year gatherings are fun and healthy both.

That means we will be eating, drinking and be merry! So no wonder when it comes January 1st, we all have new year resolution to lose weight and be fit.

Download my free ebook : Meaningful Holidays (No need for email)

10 tips to staying fit during Holidays

Prevention is always better than a cure, if we are just bit careful on what we eat, we might be able to avoid weight gain that happens to most of good people. I admit it, it is hard for me as I love to cook, I am always cooking and sharing meals or eating out in those gourmet restaurant does not help.

However my biggest problem are my mom who think, that only way can show our love towards each other by finishing their food! And if you say” Mom, I am careful and eating healthy and I can not eat your fried dumpling”, oh the guilt trip she gives, oh my. No one can resist it, not me either, specially when my mom’s cooking is so yummy to me!.

Do you have mom or relative like that? Than you’ll know what I am talking about.

Here are my top ten ways, I am trying to keep my health, fitness and little sanity intact during this holidays. Hope this will help you celebrate meaningful holidays that are healthier.

  1. Eat a healthy snack before going to party. When I host a party, I try to keep some healthier but when I go to my relatives and friend’s party there may or may not be healthy or vegetarian choices so I usually eat a little before going to party and it helps me when I am not famished to choose better food.
  2. Eat more vegetables: Being vegetarian it is easier for me to choose vegetables and fruits but even if you are not vegan or vegetarian, you can choose various vegetable choices with your meat and potatoes to balance out the nutrition and fat.
  3. Skip gravy, cheesy and high fat choices: These gravys, cheese dips and friend snacks are high in fat and if we eat too much, it sure will add to our waist and other places on our bodies. If you can not resist and skip it like me, make sure you take little for taste only. Everything in moderation will be much better thing to do.
  4. Drink more water: Sometimes we are thirsty, no other liquid quenches our thirst like cold glass of water, so drink it through out the day. 8-10 glasses is generally recommended for most people. Added benefit of drinking water is also, that it will keep us hydrated and it is calorie free.
  5. Reduce Alcohol: For some people there can not be celebration without alcohol and that is fine. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation and always munch some food with your wine or beer so to make sure you do not have hangover next morning.
  6. Please your relative other ways: If you have relatives like mine who insist that if you loved them, you will finish their cheesy and fried dish, you have to be careful to stay healthy and not get fat. You can take little to show you love them and ask them that you loved the food so much you will get take out for home so you can eat it next day as well. They may just be happy enough to pack it for you, and not force you finish it right there. It may just work for you as well.
  7. Less dessert: Not many can skip dessert and I am included in there. Our gathering have lot of sweet dishes such as pies, chocolates pudding, and more. Have little pieces of dessert instead of skipping it all together so you will not have deprived feeling of not having a sweet.
  8. Exercise: Winter time is bad for going out and with many parties with food can be tough on staying healthy. So make an extra effort to exercise, dance and just do lot of walking when you can to keep fit during winter time.
  9. Bring your healthy food to share: If you host a party, make sure you have plenty of healthy choices for you and others who might want to eat healthier along with traditional food choices. If you are going to friend’s party, offer to bring a potluck meal to share which is healthier so if there is nothing you can be sure to eat at least your own food you brought. This has helped me a lot, as a vegetarian I will always have a choice to vegetarian choices and host does not have to go out of her way to make a special meal for me.
  10. Do not worry and enjoy it: Holidays comes once a year so take precautions but if you can not, just enjoy it and do not worry about it much. It is not fun to be party popper who does not join in fun, so do not make it obvious and go with flow.

We all deserve break once in awhile, so have little fun and eat food your aunt made specially for you. Wear that ugly christmas sweater that your mom bought you. Have a laugh and silly fun once in a while!

Cookbooks for Vegetarians : For Healthy and Easy Cooking

Vegetarian Cooking

Being vegetarian is not new for many, some do it for health reason, some do it for ethical reason. One of my friend has gone vegetarian for saving money and being healthy. Even if you are meat eater, having vegetarian meal along with your meat and potatoes will balance your diet.

Many think Vegetarian diet means eating salads and Raw fruits, it is not the case. There are so many great vegetarian choices that are not only healthy, quick and delicious. If you are like me and sometimes need an inspiration from a cookbook, look no further. These 5 books in my cookbook collection is perfect for any cook who wants to make great tasting vegetarian meal. All you need is simple cookware pot, a few kitchen gadgets and vegetarian cooking recipe to start off making a vegetarian meal. When you cook at home, food is not only healthy but you will save money on eating out as well.

Top 5 Cookbooks for Vegetarian Eating

There are many of us eating more vegetarian diet for various reasons. One of the main reason for is that in general vegetarian diet is more healthier, unless your diet consist of soda and french fries only. One of our friend would like to try more healthier food, but he think that vegetarian diet is boring. In reality vegetarian diet can be full of variety food and you will not need to eat salads everyday. For those who might be in same boat as our friend or fully vegetarian, you will love our top 5 vegetarian cookbooks choices. These top rated and best selling vegetarian cookbooks have easy, fast, healthy and delicious vegetarian recipes to whip by anyone at home.

1. Quick Fix Vegetarian: Healthy home cooked meals in 30 minutes of less

This book is written by Robin Robertson, and great for anyone who are short on time and wants to eat healthy home cooked meals. Who is not busy now a days? Not many. Quick Fix book also has dairy free recipes for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan. Quick fix book offers easy, simple recipes for new cooks to seasoned cook. The book has many recipes from salad, main meals, appetizer and more. It also has slow cooker recipes and shows us how to use pre-made food to create a quick meal. With these tips and recipe idea, cooking for yourself or party can be fun and stress free. It is not for purest who wants to cook everything from scratch, still offers fast healthy alternative to eating at fast food joint. Our favorite recipe are, Spinach and sun dried tomatoes quesedilla, Mediterranean Orzo Salad,and No-Bake Oatmeal Almond Cookies.

2. How-Cook-Everything-Vegetarian

‘How to cook everything vegetarian’ is written Mark Bittman who has written and published numerous successful cookbooks. This cookbook has over 2000 recipes with illustrations. Book offer simple and delicious recipes for new cook to follow, there are no complex recipes or instructions which makes it lot easier for many of us cooking at home. A few of our favorite recipes from the book are Fava Bean and Mint Salad with Asparagus and Red Lentils with Chaat Masala.

3. American Vegetarian Cookbook : Fit for the Life Kitchen

This popular cookbook is written by Marilyn Diamond, who also has published many successful books in cooking and getting fit for life with focus on eating to stay fit and healthy. This cookbook has over 500 fit and healthy vegetarian recipes. It also shows why fitness and health matters and reasons we should eat certain way. The book makes it simple explanation making us want to be better at taking care of ourselves while eating good and diverse healthy food at home.

4. Students Vegetarian cookbook Revised

This paperback cookbook by Carole Raymond is perfect for students or those of us, who wants to cook frugal vegetarian meals. Make sure you get the revised copy, as new version is more updated with new and updated recipes. This cookbook has a few tofu and Nori recipes but most of the recipes are simple and easy to make and ingredients that you can find in most grocery stores.One thing we like about this cookbook is it offers lot of healthy alternative for everyone’s favorite food such as pizza, burritos and burgers and pasta. Our favorite recipes are Orange Rice and Black beans salad and Broiled Tofu with lemon vinaigrette.

5. Everything Vegetarian cookbook

This paperback cook book is authored by Jay Weinstein and has over 300 recipes inside. The book has simple ingredients that you will find in most groceries store, without hunting for those hard to find spices. Jay explains everything listed with recipe such as what is that? where to find it? and other possible questions. His writing has humorous tone with tons of fun stories about food and family. Our favorite recipes inside are, baked Ziti lasagna.


I have many cookbooks as I love cooking, but these top 5 picks will be great for any home chefs from a beginner cook to expert cook. Enjoy Cooking.

How to Make Vegetarian Food at Home:

In addition to these vegetarian cookbooks, please check out Videos of: How to Make Vegetarian Pizza by Vah Chef, he is very funny, energetic and shows great way to make many vegetarian and non-veg recipes.

101 Changes: Change 14: Try New Food -How To Use Pomegranate Fruit

I am writing a series of 101 small changes that we can make to make the quality of our life better and build and lead a happier life that is in tune with our heart and mind. These are small changes that I have made and am working on now, so I know they are possible for anyone to do.

If you have not read previous posts, check out a few posts on the changes from the past:

101 changes: Change 13: Reduce Eating Fast Food

101 changes series:


Pomegranate fruit or its juice is popular in India and other part of Asia. In US, many people seem to know and drink POM juice bottles, which seems to be popular among some health conscious people. However, fresh Pomegranate fruits are easily available in even regular store and can be used in variety ways in cooking for its nutrition. One of my friend wanted to try eating fresh fruit but did not know how to cut and use in recipes or even making a juice at home.  While cutting open Pomegranate fruit is not complicated, it can be messy and its juice can stain your clothes and sometimes even counter top. So, taking some minor precautions will make this task much simpler and easier.

About Pomegranate Fruit:

Pomegranate fruit is native to Iran and used in Asian areas such as northern India and Himalayas region. It is now cultivated in California and Arizona area. There are several varieties of Pomegranate with flowers and without fruit which are grown for its red flowers looks. Usually fruit is size of large lemon or grapefruit size. One fruit can hold anywhere from 300 to 1500 seeds, depending on size.

Health Benefits of Pomegranate:

  • Used in Aryuvedic medicine for traditional remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites.
  • Its juice is used in Aryuvedic medicine for stopping nose bleeding and gum bleeding.
  • It is also used for firming-up sagging breasts and treating hemorrhoids
  • Some use the juice as eye drops for cataracts
  • It supposed to help reduce the heart disease risks
  • It provides Vitamic C, B5, Potassium and other flavonoids
  • Pomegranate is high in fiber which is best for digestion

Where  and how Pomegranate can be used in cooking?

Pomegranate juice and seeds both can be used in various ways in savory or sweet recipe dishes. Juice can be drank, reduced to make syrup as gravy on top. Seeds can be used in salad, chutney, curry sauce, as a garnish on soup and stews. Dried Pomegranate seeds can be used in dry cereal or making granola bars, topping on yogurt, frozen yogurt and so on.

How to Open or Peel Pomegranate fruit?

  1. I usually cut the small crown on top of the fruit first to make it easier.
  2. Score Pomegranate in four quarters with sharp knife, do not worry about breaking the seeds.
  3. Put all four pieces in bowl filled with cool water, one at the time.
  4. Softly take out seeds by gentle hand touch to dislodge seeds from the cut pieces.
  5. Once out seeds should sink and other fruit part will float.
  6. Take out the floating parts and drain the water and take out seeds.
  7. Place wet pomegranate seeds on to paper towel to pat dry
  8. Now it can be used to be eaten raw or in any recipes as you desire.
  9. You can keep those fresh pomegranate seeds in fridge for 4-5 days.
  10. Add to Salad, juice can be added in to dressing, garnish on yogurt, soup, stew, pasta, couscous or in vegetables.

For those of us who are busy can buy frozen Pomegranate seeds or dried Pomegranate seeds delivered to your home, or ask skilled friend or mom to do it for you. I like those fresh Pomegranate seeds, it looks so much like small bright ruby stone that you can eat and are cheaper than real ruby gems!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and so always check with your doctor and its facts before trying out at your own judgement and risk.

Salad Image source: http://www.realepicurean.com

Other Image source: Wikipedia, imgfave

No Spend Month Update

In past couple of years I have done “No Spend Month” Challenge where my family of 4 spent about $300 on daily expenses, not counting mortgage/rent, utility and phone bills. One year I did great and another I did not. This time, I am going to be out of town traveling during month of July, hence decided not to do “no spend month challenge” this time.

If you are curious about it check out past few years post to see weekly updates and how I fared below; If you decide to go through this challenge, let me know if you have any questions or concerns. It is always easy to do this with a friend or online friend support.

Learning from No Spend Month Challenge and Experiment:

I have learnt a few things from being stay at home, Zenguy being out of work for 22 months and doing this experiments for a few years;

  1. Using cash made me aware what I was spending
  2. Credit card usage made me spent more and did not realize where money went, until bill came
  3. Writing down daily expenses, including small 50 cents expenses made me more frugal
  4. Cooking at home is always cheaper, faster and healthier
  5. Kids did not even know anything was a miss, they simply enjoyed it.
  6. Money does not make life better, there are lot of simple things that makes us happy
  7. Library has great resources for entertainment such as new books, movies and even music CDs to enjoy
  8. Paying down bills made me more happy then spending it on luxury item at the end
  9. It is not money but how we feel about money makes difference in our life
  10. Knowing I spent less and was able to control my “I deserve it”, made me learn patience in life
  11. Reading  how to save money books surely gave me ideas on ways to save in my daily life without feeling the pinch.
  12. Finding new ways to make money from home or start blogging to supplement income also helps.

No Spend Month Challenge (2011)

No Spend Month Challenge Take Away and Lessons
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 4
No Spend Month -July 2011: Update 3
Upgrading Inexpensive Food In to Gourmet Meal: Ramen Noodle Hacks
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2 and Savings Tips
  No Spend Month Challenge: July 2011- Update 1
No Spend Month Challenge: July 2011

No Spend Month Challenge (2010)

No Spend Month Challenge: Update and Take away from the experiment
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 4
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 3
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2
  No Spend Month Challenge: Update 1
No Spend Month challenge: July

Question for you:

How are you saving money now?

Food As Art and Nourishment

I love art and I love vegetables as a lifelong vegetarian, but combining both together has never crossed my mind until recently when I saw master pieces of art created beautifully by using food, mostly vegetables. When you will see it yourself, you will agree, it is amazing, and if not it is surely creative. I wrote not too long ago about finding artist within you or finding your own creative side no matter how much you think you do not have creative soul inside you. I really think, there is a creative person hidden inside each of us. Hopefully this will inspire you to be more creative in your way or eat healthy and stop eating at fast food places at least.

These art work is created by 60 year old artist, Alon Zaid. Original art work is shown below so you can compare it with food art! Amazing truly. Hope you like it.

Here is from daily mail news archives;

“At dinner tables across the country, mothers constantly tell their children: ‘Don’t play with your food!’ But for artist Alon Zaid, the habit has produced the most spud-tacular results.

The 60-year-old has recreated some of the world’s most well-known masterpieces using fruit and veg from his local greengrocer.

He sliced and diced vegetables including potatoes, cabbage, broccoli and aubergine and arranged them to look like the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci.

He also crafted edible versions of The Son of Man by Rene Magritte, The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli and Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso. Each piece took five hours to create, in the project for food processor brand Magimix.

Alon said: ‘We picked these pieces of art because they stand out from the rest. They have survived against the odds to become an icon. We turned them into an outline sketch, bought fruit and vegetables that were in season and fitted the texture of these foods to the artwork itself.’

Alon Zaid's Mona Lisa
Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa gets put through the food processor


Grate art: Alon Zaid's vegetable take on Botticelli's Venus
Grate art: Alon Zaid uses carrots, lettuce, potatoes and courgettes to recreate Botticelli's Birth of Venus

Grate art: Alon Zaid uses carrots, lettuce, potatoes and courgettes to recreate Botticelli’s Birth of Venus

Alon Zaid's interpretation of Magritte's The Son of Man
Rene Magritte's Son of Man

I would have never thought it this way! Magritte’s Son of Man gets a fruit and veg make over, still gentle man.


Alon Zaid's take on Picasso's Dora Maar
Muse in food: Picasso's muse Dora Maar is given mushrooms for a nose and radishes for eyes in Alon Zaid's unique interpretation of the portrait

Picasso’s muse Dora Maar is given mushrooms for a nose and radishes for eyes, who knew?

 How did you like this art work?