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