Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Bombay Pao Bhaji Or A Quick & Delish Way To Get Your Kids To Eat Veggies!

It's a drab Monday evening and that dreaded question looms in the air: "What should I cook for dinner?"

"No idea" pat comes the husband's standard response. (One of these days I'm going to pan fry a 'No idea' and serve it to the man just like those many internet memes I've seen floating around. Pah!)

"Something interesting Mom!"

"Not boring roti, sabzi, daal puhleeeez!"

Well, at least the kids are more forthcoming in their replies. To be honest, I'm not in the mood for roti, sabzi, daal myself. I scour the fridge for ingredients, hoping inspiration will strike. What a mess! There are some sorry looking small brinjals floating around, looking at me accusingly for excluding them from the achari baingan medley that was cooked up last week. There're also two lonesome carrots, half a head of cabbage, one bell pepper, some celery.....I sigh and turn my head to the right when it suddenly hits me! Inspiration! It's staring me right in the face! A packet of Kohinoor pav bhaji masala beams back at me cheerily. Of course! The perfect way to get rid of all the bits and bobs floating around in the fridge and get the kids to eat their veggies while we're at it. Purrrfection!

What's more, the quintessential Mumbai style pao bhaji is a breeze to whip up and does away with the need for making rotis which I....well, let's just say, don't particularly fancy. Here's my easy, breezy Mumbaiya pao bhaji recipe:

  • Chop up all the lonesome looking veggies in the fridge, especially those in ones and twos that you know are not going to get eaten otherwise. I used up the brinjal, carrots, cabbage, some potatoes to add to the mix, and even a little sliver of pumpkin (hah!) left over from my pumpkin pie experiment last week. Steam in a pressure cooker, cool and mash
  • Finely chop some onion, ginger, garlic (add more if you like your bhaji with a nice garlicky flavour) and tomatoes. Take some oil and a generous blob of butter if you like and sauté all of the above till nicely done.
  • I then added some finely chopped bell pepper and celery that I also had floating around, sautéed it for a bit, and then added the mashed veggies from step one. Add in a sprinkle of turmeric, red chilli powder, pao bhaji masala and chaat masala. Mash everything together nicely, add two small cups of water and let it all simmer for about 15 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Done! Fridge clean up accomplished and happy kids and husband licking their plates. And they even ate and relished all the veggies that they normally wouldn't touch with a barge pole. Bwahahahaha.

PC: Umesh Soni @unsplash.com

It was SO good I didn't even get a chance to click a picture before the troops gobbled it all up and had to source one from the net instead. Hmph. Reminder to self: next time round, plate and click in the kitchen before serving it up to the fam.

Any other pav bhaji fans out there? Give me a holler!

Friday, November 6, 2020

Sandy Snack-O-Wich (A sandwich of Russian descent)

What do you do when your 6 year old is missing his grandparents something terrible? Why, you make sandwiches of course!

So the 6 year old was missing the grandparents today and the usual video call chat just didn't seem to be enough. We brainstormed a bit and decided a joint activity which could be done virtually might just do the trick. How about cooking suggested the 6yo, who is quite the young chef in the making. Some more brainstorming on no-fire cooking ideas and the concept of Sandy Snack-O-Wich was born!

The dining table was transformed into a tech-savvy zone with the laptop positioned at a strategic angle, and ingredients were assembled for these super healthy cheese, chutney, packed-with-veggies sandwiches. While my mom and the 11yo chatted, my dad and the 6yo made these sandwiches together.

The powers of imagination and creativity were unleashed and they came up with this cool concept of sandwiches that aren't just healthy and good to eat, but also look like the creators! Grandpa and grandson made the exact same sandwiches- one that looks like the 6yo and one that looks like Grandpa😃😃😃

Can you guess which one is Grandpa and which one is the young 'un?

Sandy Snack-O-Wich was such a huge success that a paean had to be written in its honour:

When I'm feeling a little hungry

And my tummy needs a TREAT

My grandpa has a SUPER SNACK

That's really kinda neat!

It's loaded up with veggies

A colorful, crunchy DELIGHT

With bread and cheese to go with it

You'll long to take a BITE!

When Grandpa and I cook together

This SNACK you're sure to see

But do you know my FAVORITE bit?

It looks like HIM and ME!!!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Book Review! Anne Of Greene Gables

 One magical summer years ago, I discovered Anne of Greene Gables. My granddad gifted this classic children's book to me during the school holidays and it was love at first page! It was a summer full of lazy afternoons filled with reading in the leafy verandah of my grandparents beautiful old bungalow.

A dear friend recently gifted this book to my daughter and I was actually a little worried that she may not like this book that I once loved so much. Luckily, she loved it too and we've spent some wonderful moments talking about Anne, me rediscovering it all over again through my daughter.

Set in late 19th century Canada, Anne of Greene Gables recounts the adventures of red haired, irrepressible 11 year old Anne as she gets in and out of numerous scrapes, her innate optimism intact. Somehow the fact that Anne is red haired seemed important to mention; I remember this fascinating me as a child and it's the same with my daughter 😄

This is a wonderful book for kids aged 10 and above, and it has seven sequels (woohoo!) so if your children take to it, it's many hours filled with the joy of a good book. Anne of Green Gables is available on @amazondotin if you'd like to check it out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Immunity Boosting Foods For Kids

Immunity on your mind? What with the ongoing pandemic and the monsoon in Mumbai, children's immunity tops the list of concerns of most parents these days. The damp weather makes kids even more susceptible to infections and the new normal will need us all to have strengthened immunity.

One of the easiest ways to boost children's immunity is by incorporating nutrient dense foods in their regular diet. Here are the top 5 immunity boosting foods most nutritionists recommend:

1. Turmeric: Our good 'ol haldi is a powerful antioxidant, known to boost immunity. Apart from your veggies and daals, add a pinch of turmeric to warm milk for a healthy bedtime drink for your kids.

2. Go nuts! Dry fruits like almonds, dates, raisins, cashews and walnuts make a great snack for kids in-between meals and are packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

3. Yoghurt: The probiotics in yoghurt stimulate the immune system so include a serving or two at meal times or serve it up with some fruit as a snack. Just make sure you avoid the high sugar flavored yoghurts though as those aren't great for the immune system due to the excess sugar.

4. Ginger: Ginger works well against sore throats and coughs thanks to a compound present in it called gingerol. Use it liberally in your soups and stir fries and of course for mommies, your  cuppa ginger chai!

5. Vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables: The list would be incomplete without these. The seasonal fruits and veggies that are available this season have phytonutrients that are great for fighting infections. Make sure you're getting your 5 daily servings of fruits and veggies!

What foods do you make it a point to include in your children's diet during this season? 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Lockdown Life Skills For Kids

 The extended lockdown in India has been tough for us with having to juggle office routines, online school for kids and the unending house work since we don't have any help. 

It's also been a great opportunity to teach our kids some much needed life skills though! They started helping out with a lot of little stuff around the house and slowly felt confident enough to take on more and it's been a huge help! 

Here are some basic life skills your kids can help you with too: 

1. Making their own beds when they wake up and at bedtime

2. Putting away their clothes, books, toys aknd keeping their room tidy 

3. My 11 year old has learned the full laundry cycle and is feeling very responsible and empowered since :) Sorting, loading, drying she knows it all! She also really enjoys folding the clothes, it helps her unwind she says.

4. Laying the table, clearing up the table after a meal and rinsing their own plates and spoons before putting them in the kitchen sink.

5. My 6 yo loves hanging out in the kitchen with me and helps put away the washed dishes as we chat. I wipe them dry and he puts them back in their designated places.

6. Basic meal prep- both the kids can now fix their own milk, cereal, toast and can even cut vegetables (with supervision). My 11yo loves making rotis (I don't! So am hoping she can take this over soon😉) and my 6yo loves  helping knead the dough (it's a good punching bag) and puree tomatoes with the hand blender.

7. Watering the plants- and talking to them😄

The best part is these chores are  building basic life skills that I know will help them in the years to come. What are some life skills you think you'd like your kids to learn?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ten ways to get your kids into the Christmas spirit!

'Tis the season to be jolly but do you find the winter blues setting in and getting your kids into a blue funk instead? Maybe it's getting out of that warm, cozy quilt to deal with a school run in the biting chill of early morning; surly teachers (not so happy to be out of bed themselves); or a general winter melancholy that's bugging them, but if you find your kids not so revved up to bring on the Christmas cheer, here are ten sure shot ways to get them right back and rocking into the Xmas spirit! For some real fun leading up to the holidays, try these ten days before Christmas as a sort of Christmas Countdown and they'll be giving Santa a run for his ho-ho-ho's!

Day Ten: Bring home the tree!

That's right, its time to get the great outdoors in (and in this case, since its Christmas, plastic trees qualify too ;))! There's nothing that gets the Xmas-sy mood going like decking up your home with a beautiful Christmas tree. From the real deal to artificial trees, there's a whole host of options out there to suit every budget and living space. To get your kids into the swing of things, get in a bare tree and get your kids to help with the decorations. The range of Christmas baubles available nowadays from fake snowflakes to feather birds to glitter stockings can beat the meanest winter funk and you can add to the fun by making your own decorations.

When Nikki was two years old we brought home our first  tree to introduce her to the joys of Christmas. Unfortunately, we left the bag of baubles we'd also bought back at the store and by the time we got home it was too late to go back to get it, so we just decided to go to the store the next morning. We needn't have worried, since Nikki had already figured out a way to get her tree decked with some customized décor! Very soon pretty much all of her small sized soft toys were hanging up on the tree, along with her socks, cardboard glitter stars, real candy (who needs plastic when you can have the real deal?), cotton snow and some leftover birthday streamers (along with a party hat thrown in for good measure). I'd never seen a tree before with Tweety Bird, Minnie Mouse, toy giraffes, monkeys and snails vying for attention with giant cotton balls and Alpenliebe lollipops but it sure was one good looking tree and unlike any I'd ever seen before! This has become a sort of Christmas tradition with us; we put up our tree every year about ten days before Christmas and Nikki lets her imagination rip! This year Mister Cube will probably add his own touches to it as well :)

So bring in your tree and let the kids style it their way!

Day Nine: Plan an X-mas playdate!

What better way to get your kids into the Christmas groove than getting together with some friends to bake and decorate some Christmas cookies while listening to some croon-some Christmas carols (Rudolph the Reindeer & Jingle Bells are on a loop at ours when Xmas rolls around) and sipping on some hot chocolate? And the mums can kick back over some mulled wine as well! You can even throw open your tree to your child's friends and make the tree décor project a joint one. This is a great way to get both younger and older kids into the holiday spirit; just vary the level of cookie baking depending on your child's age. For younger kids it could be as simple as dipping Marie biscuits into some melted chocolate, letting them sit in the fridge for a while and decorating with sprinkles; and for the older lot you can go all out with the kind of cookies you want to bake and decorate. After all who doesn't like a fresh, warm cookie straight out of the oven, no matter how old they are?!

Day Eight: Write a letter to Santa!

Santa may just be a fat man in a red suit to us jaded old grown ups, but for a child there's something magical about Christmas because it has Santa right at its heart! So introduce your kids to the magic of Santa if you haven't already and better yet, get them to write him a letter. It doesn't have to be about gifts if you're not into the 'gifts for Christmas' scene; they can just write Santa a letter telling them all about themselves ( a brilliant way to get the pre-schoolers interested in reading and writing also!). And you can tell them all about Santa and his magical life at the North Pole in turn; his little helpers, the Christmas tradition of bringing gifts to all the good little boys and girls, the reindeers that help him navigate the snowy night before Christmas to deliver gifts through your chimney- no less! Yes I know, I'm a sucker for the Xmas razzmatazz! I even have a visit to the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi on my bucket list- for the kids, but naturally!

And if, like me, you love the whole gifts under the Christmas tree scene, you can get your kids to write to Santa asking for what they would like and why they think they deserve it. Nikki decides her gift at the start of each year (or maybe right after she's got her Christmas gift for the year!) and looks forward and works towards it (Santa gives gifts only to good little boys and girls remember?) all year long. The much awaited letter writing happens at the start of December, followed by a grand letter posting ceremony. The thrill of anticipation is only surpassed by the excitement of seeing that brightly wrapped package under the tree on Christmas morning and knowing that Santa had been there! I've found its a great way to get her to decide in advance what gift she'd really like to have, work towards it and patiently wait for it before she actually gets to own it. And the letter writing bit, explaining how and why she really, really deserves to have her gift is one fun ride I wouldn't miss for anything :)

For older kids who've outgrown Santa (sob!), you can rope them in to play Santa for their younger friends and siblings. One mom I know gets her circle of friends to pool in hundred rupees or less each and has her fifteen year old son and his friends buy gifts (each not exceeding hundred rupees) for her younger five year old and her gang of friends. The older lot have great fun playing Santa (they even get into the act by dressing up as Santa) and the younger lot get Santa and his goodies!

Day Seven: Make this Xmas about giving

In line with the Santa spirit, how about getting Santa into the lives of the underprivileged this year? Organize a giveaway drive among your friends and family to give away old clothes, books, blankets or toys- several of the things we often don't need, don't know what to do with and sometimes dispose of mindlessly; and give them to people who can use them -orphanages, slums, schools for the underprivileged. Get your children to gift one toy at Christmas this year- it could be that much loved teddy that nobody plays with anymore or that book that's still in great shape but hasn't been read in forever, wrap it up and let your child play 'Secret Santa' to another child who'd only be too happy to have his/ her toy or book. Just make sure the things you give are in good shape; it's going to be another child's Christmas gift after all!

Day Six: Make it an X'mas Movie Night!

From 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' to 'Miracle on 34th Street' there's a whole host of options out there to rock your Christmas movie night.

Image Courtesy: www.filmoria.co.uk

Our personal favourite suited to our little munchkins (ages 5 and below) is the Original Christmas Classics collection which includes all the faves like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and The Little Drummer Boy, to name a few. And my personal favourite part about Christmas (since Santa doesn't bring me any gifts, sniff) is curling up on the couch with popcorn, pizza and eggnog and reliving my childhood by enjoying these all time Christmas classics with P and my two little dumplings.

Day Five: Discover Christmas through books!

Now that you've watched and enjoyed movie night, get into the Christmas cheer the bookish way! Books like The Night Before Christmas and The Joy of Giving (Berenstain Bears) probably need no introduction, but in these parts the resident five year old prefers Fancy Nancy (we're on a Fancy Nancy spree at the moment) with her Splendiferous Christmas. My personal all time favourite though has to be The Elf on The Shelf! Not only is the elf great fun, you can also take his invaluable assistance in getting your kids to bee-have, and if used wisely and well, all year long ;)

Image Courtesy: www.amazon.com
Day Four: Make it a crafty Christmas!

Christmas means holidays and holidays have little creatures twiddling their thumbs all day long with their favourite 'Mom, I'm soo bored' expression always on express display. If you need a way to pre-empt this ( and also keep aforementioned little c's out of your hair), get them busy with some X'mas art and craft! From handprint reindeers to pom pom ornaments (which can be used for your tree!) you can get your dose of crafty inspiration on Pinterest- or just Google your way into Christmas craft heaven! For our holidays this year, I'm just going to go through the awesome list of  Christmas collages over at Artsy Craftsy Mom.

Image Courtesy: artsycraftsymom.com
Day Three: Cook up some Christmas cheer!

You can't have a list all about Christmas and not talk about all that scrummylicious Christmassy food out there! From divine, melt in your mouth mince pies, edible gingerbread houses (I just saw some last week at a Thanksgiving party), crumbling with flavour Christmas cakes and oh, how can I leave out pudding- Christmas can be a foodie's heaven! Why not try cooking up a Christmas storm in your kitchen this year with your little ones, with this easy chocolate cupcake recipe from BBC GoodFood. I can personally vouch, that if made right, these cupcakes are to die for- and they can be a perfect addition to your Christmas playdate or tree decorating party or even a great Christmas gift for friends!

Image Courtesy: bbc.co.k

Day Two: Hit the malls!

Yes, that's right- I haven't gone off my rocker and started writing a whole new list here- hitting the malls IS a great way to bring on that Christmas spirit! Just hop over to the nearest mall and you'll know what I'm taking about. From snow flakes to glittering Christmas décor, indoor sleigh rides for kids to cookie baking workshops, malls these days are taking Christmas festivities to an all new level. And they have friendly mall based Santas too, who are only to happy to pose with your kids for that Christmas selfie and note down requests for last minute 'must-have' gifts! A trip to the neighbourhood mall is guaranteed to get your kids into the festive spirit while taking in the visual treats most malls put up on display as Christmas décor. They usually also have fun activities, workshops and Christmas bazaars around this time with a lot of stuff for kids to do. Oh, and you can get in some last minute Christmas shopping done as well since you're at the mall anyway (maybe just leave the husband out for this particular activity ;))!

Day One: A Karan Johar-esque X'mas

Because, like the man said, it really is all about the family! Christmas is about spending time with your near and dear ones so get your loved ones together for a meal or a movie and focus on spending time together as a family. Bond over your favourite activity as a family and relish the time together. It will make the holiday season that much more special and make for some wonderful festive memories over the years. And- more of a note to not-so-trigger-happy self- don't forget to take pictures!

Day Zero: The Day before Christmas!

Finally, its the night before Christmas and hopefully by now your kids are full of Christmas cheer and festive spirit! The night before Christmas don't forget to set out some cookies and hot chocolate for Santa (Yes, he prefers hot chocolate over milk- all that riding through the snow, don't you know) and drape some fairy lights over your Christmas tree for some extra cheer.

You're now all set to enjoy the big day when Christmas finally rolls around! Enjoy the holiday unwinding over some good food and great company. We're lucky to have friends with whom we go for midnight Mass every year at their local church and all the kids always have a great time. This is usually followed by a long, lazy Christmas brunch and a stroll around the neighbourhood to look at all the beautifully decorated churches. And when the day finally ends, it is with the anticipation of looking forward to bringing in the New Year with more good times to come!

Wait! That’s not it, we have a Christmas Bonanza – Online party happening!!
Come join a set of fabulous bloggers sharing their Christmas moments - Easy Holiday Crafts, DIY ideas, Recipes , Decor ideas and book recommendations with you.

Starting from today till Christmas and beyond, each one of us will be writing a post related to Christmas.
Participating blogs
ArtsyCraftsyMom - munniofalltrades - hfareensspace - roohiscollections - hellomommyhood - attachedmoms - totschooltotallyawesome - Themomviews - bumpsnbaby.com -
rugsoflife - oneandahalfminutes - shishuworld - ruskandtea - aspoonfullofideas - orangekitchens - obsessivemom - rachnaparmar - parentingmantras -
onboardthemommyship - kwikdekoblog - thekeybunch - momzspace - whatscookingmom - coloursdekor - happypeopleevents - fantastic-feathers - beingzoesmom

So sit back, relax and check out all the fabulous Christmas Bonanza posts from our participating blogs in the linky. Support us by sharing our posts using the hash tag #ChristmasBonanza

This Linky is for participating blogs only, but We would love to see your Christmas Crafts too. Come and link up your Christmas post at ArtsyCraftsyMom.com

Thursday, October 30, 2014

That holiday feeling!

A holiday has always been a sure shot way to get me to instant bliss. So when its two back to back holidays, its a double scoop of super loaded, twice as much, packed to the brim blissfulness! Clearly I also ate too much ice cream on vacay (double fudge, chocolate chip loaded, with twirls of dark chocolate, nutty Oreo bits and oozing with decadence....sighhhhh)

Anyway, getting back to the point, we're just back from first, a short-ish holiday in Panchgani followed by a long-ish holiday in Dubai, with a gap of about a week between the two which felt like a quasi holiday in itself since all we seemed to be doing was unpacking, packing and planning for the upcoming trip! We've been back home for a couple of days now and both my children seem to be suffering from a severe holiday hangover. Bedtimes, nap times, waking up times are topsy turvy and meal times have been replaced by grazing whenever the fancy strikes (or not!). But none of that is bothering me right now because I'm still basking in the post vacay glow and not even lunch at 3pm or both kids bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5am can get me down right now (that and the fact that we have a few more days to recover before its back to the school routine and I'm forced to snap out of that holiday feeling)!

The Dubai holiday also ended up being a completely disconnected-from-the-virtual-world one for me because my phone died on me just a few days before we left and I found myself Facebook-less, Watsapp-less and also contact-less for a while so was pretty much cut off from everyone apart from P and the kids. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise (after I'd survived the initial panic attack) because it was just so refreshing to switch off from all of the virtual messaging and info overload; a lot of which can be mostly unnecessary. Anyway, so I also managed to fall off my hundred happy days of blogging wagon in the meanwhile so I'm just going to pick up from where I left off, with a couple of happy holiday posts thrown in in-between (and photo posts too, no less!). In the meantime here's to holidays, new and old, the ones that've left lasting memories and the ones yet to come. Like I read somewhere in a shop window in Dubai, your vacation starts the minute you begin planning it and in true holiday spirit we started planning our next one on the flight back from Dubai. Coz nothing can quite beat that good ol' holiday feeling!