Zucchini & Zucchini blossom Soup

Zucchini Blossoms Soup

Summertime, fresh Californian produce, farmers market and fresh air. What do they all have in common?

Nothing much, per se, but they all provide a lot of inspiration of fresh and healthy meals.

Last week while we were at the Fort Mason Farmers Market, the vegetable stall was a riot of color. I saw orange-yellow squash blossoms stacked next to green and yellow zucchinis and red tomatoes. The  colors were inviting and I picked up a bunch of flowers. Vipul eyed me and the flowers suspiciously. I told him I am going to make some zucchini blossom fritters. He asked me if that was all for dinner or there was “real” food as well along with it.

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Pan fried Pumpkin and Halloumi Salad

Panfried HAlloumi and Pumpkin Salad

Salads can be sexy too. Interesting. Appealing. But most importantly filling and easy to make.

To continue with our weight loss journey, I made pan fried Pumpkin and Halloumi Quinoa Salad. Pumpkin made it filling and interesting. Halloumi added a salty touch and a unique rubbery texture. Quinoa gave it an excellent protein base. Pan frying it made it easy to make. I am usually a fan of using the oven but a few months ago a friend pointed out how energy inefficient it is to bake a pumpkin for hours in the oven. Although that is incredibly hands off to cook in over, it probably is more energy intensive. I agree with her and decided to quickly make this in a skillet.

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PINTEREST Worthy Custom Cake Without Spending $$$

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The biggest first world problem mom’s face these days is PINTEREST. Spending hours to see something pretty and curate it for posterity. Most of the pins are just that – a reflection of pretty things you want in your life but can’t really have as they are either too fragile (aka will break easily), expensive ( trip to BORA BORA with 2 tots in tow), too time consuming ( flat abs and sexy butt anyone?) or things that simply won’t look good in real life (hello there, red pencil skirt!). But they afford a few mins of flight of fantasy when you are rudely waken up for something or the other (the third time tonight).

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Wholesome Food Diet: Lose 18 Lbs and 2 inches without lifting a finger!

Its been almost 6 months since we started eating better.

And drumroll please…we have lost weight, are more energetic than ever! The afternoon 3 ‘ o clock slump is better. We are not ravenously hungry all the time so our sugar level seems to be more stable throughout the day.

Sure, I lost a bunch of pregnancy weight so I don’t count; but Vipul has lost 18 lbs and at least 2 inches off his waist. His Triglycerides and cholesterol levels have improved. Yay! All this without exercise. Like the saying goes, Abs are made in the kitchen.

We are restructuring our kitchen to work on our health.All while following simple wholesome food principles:

1. Eat more veggies.

We have the basic salad dressing and the lemon dressing handy. A large salad has become our staple when we eat at home or out. It’s so easy to eat salad. After 6 months, Varun ventures with a leaf or two here or there. Any meal without salad or vegetables feels very heavy and starchy.

2. Eat less processed food

In our quest for eating less processed food, we have switched to real food. Like whole milk and yogurt, snack on fruit, nuts and seeds or celery stick with natural peanut butter or hummus and red bell pepper strips. We eat less refined sugar You may notice I have made few sweets and desserts in the last 6 months than I did earlier and the ones that were made for truly celebration worthy occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

I bake with whole wheat flour.We have a few snacks on hand so that we don’t feel deprived and binge on it. Moderation is the key.

3. Eat local and seasonal 

I don’t think this has helped with weight loss as much as it have with variety. Instead of eating the same vegetables and fruits year round we have had variety. Citrus and pears in winter, strawberries and rhubarb in spring, peaches and plums in summer.

4. Eat more varied carbs

I still think carbs are not bad. We just have to vary them. We eat more of rice flour, millet flour “bhakris” or unleaved bread. We have tried buckwheat and french lentils as salad base to make them filling. I think it has helped simplify meals and served as an excellent vehicle for more vegetables.

5. Eat healthy fat 

This has been the biggest change in our lifestyle. We eat good fat – Avocado, Walnuts, Salmon, Olive Oil, Ghee and Virgin Coconut Oil. The combination has helped Vipul increase his LDL levels. His LDL levels were atrociously low (22) and now they are up to 38. Which is still in poor category but its moving in the right direction.

We have ways to go. We want to become more strong, improve our immune system and lose more weight overall.The focus is not as much on weight loss as it is to improve the cholesterol and energy levels.

Here are one thing that I have added to our  list – Exercise daily 

Skip rope, jumping jacks, squats, planks and maybe a long walk or jog. This will be by far the hardest change to make. With 2 kids, who need and cling to us all the time; making time to exercise will be our real challenge.

Luckily for us, Varun is interested in running, biking, swimming and climbing. It’s a matter of making the most of it!!

PS – I laughed when I wrote the title. While working at Microsoft we had a mid year performance related “check-in” or a discussion for us to meet with our managers to track progress on our work commitments for the year and course correct as necessary. It typically happens in February. I clearly miss working and the title is a sub conscious manifestation of that!