Of potlucks and gatherings

 

Hello! It has been a couple of weeks since I updated my blog. Just been one of those phases with many drafts and none published. So much happening in the country and around the world, lot to process, lot of emotions. I decided to let go of everything and post something completely  unrelated. For the love of food and the experiences at potlucks !!

*Another potluck*

Being an Indian abroad we always have social gatherings and a lot that involve potluck lunch or dinners. No, this is not an organized ‘I bring an entree, you bring a dessert one’ but ‘I will bring something and you bring something’ ones. So we end up having dinner which have multiple versions of the same item. And many a time by a large group of people (whom we don’t know) whose culinary skills we don’t know about.

So what do you do at a potluck?

Observe

Look around the table to see what is on the menu today

  • 4 trays of lemon rice in different shades of yellow
  • 2 kinds Potato podimas (mashed potatoes with spices)
  • 2 kinds of potato fry
  • 3 kinds of puliyogare  (tamarind rice) distinguished by the amount of peanuts in each one
  • 2 kinds of  channa masala (chick peas)
  • 3 trays of sundal– black eyed beans, black chana dal and peas
  • and finally 4 kinds of curd rice
  • In addition a few trays of frozen samosas and pakoras and (ofocurse) dessert

Assess

Color, texture, consistency, presentation (yes they do matter when there is more than one)

  • This lemon rice lacks color, this is not mixed well, this looks perfect – on the plate
  • These potatoes are cut too big to fry, this podimas doesn’t have enough turmeric, these potatoes are cut right and looks great
  • This puliyogare has enough peanuts and well-cooked, non-mushy rice
  • This channa masala has better consistency and less watery than the other
  • This sundal has the right amount of coconut and curry leaves – win!!
  • Curd rice 1 too dry, curd rice 2 – no tempering, curd rice 3- too many pomegranate seeds, curd rice 4- looks creamy and inviting – on the plate

Attack

Once you have assessed and know what you want to eat, ATTACK before others do 😛

Finally

Socialize   (…only if you really want to.)

Unfortunately free food means free conversations too. So make sure you say hi to a couple of people and have a conversation. Well, if you don’t feel like it you can always pretend to like kids and sit closer to them as they are on their Nintendo, Wii, PS4 and would leave you alone!!

So ..what are your thoughts on potlucks and gatherings? What is your favorite dish to take for one?

 

 

 

 

Cheatsheet..to eat healthy!

I was texting a good friend of mine and as we kept rambling we touched the topic of food. She complimented about my skin (Had to type it! :P) and we both started talking about how hard it is for food – lovers to stick to a diet or healthy eating process. My curse is salt while hers was sugar. As we kept discussing it struck both of us that that could be a good blog post idea. So how can you cheat your diet and yet be healthy. Few ideas, tried and tested:

#1 50-50 rule
Eat only half on your plate . Especially when you are eating out, ask for the take out container before you start eating and fill it with 40-50% of your food. Now finish what’s on your plate. If they don’t have take out option then do the same by segregating your plate. Don’t over fill yourself. This discipline itself helped me cut down on over eating and also made me realize that that I was over eating most of the time.

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#2 Stop when you aren’t hungry anymore and not when you are full

This is just another version of the above tip. Meaning stop eating once your hunger is satiated. Just stop, regardless of how much is left on your plate. If you are hungry later you can finish your plate. Initially this might lead to wastage of food but remember your body is not a trash can. So, don’t feel guilty for the leftovers. Store them if you can and over time you will start serving yourself only the right amount you need.
#3 Never skip a meal

Trust me! I have done it a gazillion times and the end result is hogging on the first junk food you see. So never starve yourself. Munch something before you get out of the house in the morning or have a snack at your table when you know your meeting is going to last through lunch. And never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Research has proven that we buy more junk food when hungry compared to when we are not.
#4 Eat your greens first

Start your meals with the good (healthy!) stuff. The salad or the fruit bowl or yogurt and then go on to eat the entree. This will help you fill up and leave less room for the chicken or the yummy roast potatoes or the pasta.

In case of Indian food, it is very hard to resist the pakoras or vadas that are appetizers. Try eating the vegetable curries (entrees)  first and save the pakora for the end. Or take half of what you would if you can’t control yourself.

#5 Make Smoothies if you are lazy

So I am lazy, especially when it comes to morning foods , it is very rare that you will see me have anything other than a cup of tea. For a brief period I stuck to smoothie breakfasts. Do click on the link to read about it. And yes it was great, filling and I realized when you eat healthy first thing in the morning , you tend to tone down on quantities over the day. So that nutribullet is an investment if you like drinkable meals.

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#6 Go on and indulge (with control!)

As I said, I am a foodie and it is hard for me to resist. So, I did indulge but with portion control. Previously, in a buffet I would eat my fill of everything and by the time I reached dessert I would be over-over stuffing myself. And the ride back home would be miserable. But once I started portion-control of  consciously serving myself only half of normal portions. I had enough space for dessert and I enjoyed what I ate better without guilt and/or feeling like an inflated balloon. So go ahead , take a spoon of everything in that delicious buffet and you will be fine (only a spoon though!)

If it makes you feel better, it is extremely extremely hard to practice control especially when delicious food is right in front of you so over indulgences and over eating does happen but make it a habit to compensate by exercising or having healthy few meals. Over time, it will become a natural instinct thing to eat healthy in right portions.

Disclaimer: The above ideas are just ideas to help you balance and not recommended if you are working towards losing weight or toning your body.

So what do you do to stay healthy without following a strict diet regimen? Let me know!

Follow me on Facebook for regular updates and feel free email me at jansdoodles@gmail.com.

 

Its been a Smooth(ie) week!

I am a very conscious eater (thumbs up) plus an impulsive foodie (thumbs down) . Being a foodie is awesomee but I tend to over eat every time I see something I love and then don’t bother to work/burn it out. I buy a ton of fruits and vegetables and hardly finish eating them within a week because I would have had a Thai food craving or Indian food craving and would go to a favorite restaurant for take-out. And lo and behold all my beloved fruits and veggies are rotting already and my weighing machine was smugly grinning with extra pounds. So it started with guilt and turned out to be an amazing way to drink it off for one meal everyday. Healthy and guilt-free!

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