Have You Made Any New Year Resolutions Yet?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Posted by Mansi

(image courtesy-wikimedia)

2008 is coming to an end, and like every New Year, its time to reflect on what's gone by, evaluate the good and bad, make some amendments if possible, plan some new goals for the coming year, and move on ahead with a smile and anticipatin on what's in store for you over the border of time!

As I was busy evaluating my 2008 professional goals at work, and writing up new ones for 2009, I realized its important to do so at the personal level too. New Year resolutions, as people have so named them, are nothing but a list of things you'd love to change in life. They can be as precise as "Lose 10 pounds by May 2009", or something as spiritual as "Try to play with my kids more often". I was intrigued to find out what others feel about such resolutions, and I was surprised to find that quite a lot of them are goals that would be common to most of us. I sat down to scribble a few things I'd like to do, and here's what I came up with:

1. Be a better listener and more patient with people
2. Try to be more carefree about things rather than worrying my head off
3. Learn to lower your expectations of others, and increase those from yourself
4. Earn enough to buy a new house:)D
5. Cultivate a new hobby that's not tied to my personality type

Ok, there were several more things I thought of, but I'd rather not bore you guys with it. But what I'd like to convey is that it felt good to jot down these things! The fast pace of life often provides us with less opportunity to sit back and reflect on what we can do to improve our lives without much effort. We always try to change others, and it's way easier to point fingers at others rather than accept faults of your own. But just half an hour of honest self-inspection can grant you an inner perspective and make you powerful enough to hear your inner voice - a feat that escapes most of us due to the din and bustle of life

So, take an hour to think about what leaves you dissatisfied, and make a list of things you could do to change it yourself. Then select the Top 5 or 10 things from that list, and translate them into measurable goals, or New Year resolutioins. Allot yourself a deadline, for humans never accomplish a goal till pushed to do so, stick the list in your cubicle or as a post-it on your laptop, so you are reminded about them every day, and try working on them. Consider yourself successful even if you finish half of them, and give yourself a pat and a treat every time you tick-off each goal.

I just finished reading a book called "Siddhartha", by Herman Hesse, and it made me realize that Life indeed is a learning journey, and Experience is surely the best teacher. You don't neeed someone else to define what you seek from life - the power lies within, its only a question of taking some time to talk to your soul, and you'll find most of your answers in that moment of self-awakening

So, what are some of your New Year goals and resolutions? Or don't you beleive in them at all? Share with us what you feel. But for those who have already made a list, I wish you all the best in accomplishing them, and wish you all a Happy and prosperous 2009

This post was written by Mansi


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The Kitchen - A Pillar of the Family Unit

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Posted by Peter M


We're at the cusp of two years...2008 is all but history and 2009 is like a blank canvass, waiting to be coloured, brushed and stamped with your own signature.

Besides the usual New Year's resolutions of improving my diet, exercising more and being ever-nice to the people in my life, I have a new goal to pursue.

I will organize and arrange meals where the family eats together. I've heard and read on many occasions in the media that the health and well-being of a family hinges on whether or not they eat together.

I don't buy this notion that life's too busy for a family to dine together. Rather, I think we are all too pre-occupied with other interests in our life that deem dining together as a secondary goal or for some, a drag.

I've always enjoyed the banter, discussing food, world and local issues over the dinner table. When the whole family is present at the dinner table, this food and chat dynamic is at its best.

Ask your daughter to make it on time for dinner. Let her know it's important to you. I know it's hard to eat as a family each and every day but perhaps more days supping together can be the new goal.

Ask Junior to drop the X-Box, come down from the multi-media fantasy room known as the bedroom and have a good'ole discussion and meal over dinner. Family's that dine together, stick together.

According to a Harvard Study (2000), families that ate together actually ate more healthily and that children got a double benefit by also doing better in their studies! Remember, your sons & daughters will also find themselves away in College studying or moving out on their own.

Ask then to help with the meal preparation, setting the table and helping with the clean-up and dishes. You're empowering them with the most basic of life skills.

One of the biggest obstacles to eating together as a family has to be the menu itself, ie your child (or children) will come up with an excuse if the menu isn't to their liking.

The solution to this is to make dishes where substitutions can easily be made. Another is to cook on weekends, double-up on favourite meals and freezing them just in case your kids balk at Tuesday Night's Liver..."Oh, I have spaghetti & meatballs in the freezer and we're all having salad. We'd really like you to be home for dinner"!

You'll be amazed at how quickly kids change their mind when the menu is to their liking.

Family meals should be an exchange of ideas, it's a great way to sneak in "family meetings". I don't my family has ever had a formal family meeting...the dinner table was the forum.

Turn off the TV, give the video games a rest, cell phones, PDA's and computers can wait...eating as a family is paramount and it's the best platform to strenghen family ties and pass on cultural traditions.

Have a wonderful holiday season, health & happiness in 2009!



This post was written by Peter Minakis



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MURPHY'S LAW & KIDS...NO KIDDING!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Posted by Deeba PAB

"If anything can go wrong, it will."

Travelling is one thing, but travelling with kids adds a whole new dimension to life. We've been travelling for ages, before & after the kids appeared on the scene ... perks of working with the airlines I guess. To date, we've never travelled without medical insurance, other than on this last trip to Sydney. To date, we've never had a medical emergency, other than of course on this last trip to Sydney! Murphy's law fell into place & as things had to go wrong, they certainly did!! We didn't have time to sort out insurance because of last minute changes to the trip, visits to the Australian High Commission to change the visa etc...& then sheer exhaustion! It was on my mind through out, & then in one moment of wild abandon, I just abandoned the idea. NOTHING untoward on the medical front has ever happened till today, & I have been travelling with kids since the daughter was 3 months old...she is almost 13 years now. But, halfway through our short vacation is Sydney she developed jaundice. Hmmmmmmmm....I'd like to share my notes for the future while travelling with kids:
  • Make sure all their vaccinations are up to date (I always do)
  • Visit your paediatrician before leaving (something I always do as a habit)
  • Carry a small medical kit in your hand baggage (something I've always done, whether I'm travelling or not..my bag is most unglamorous!)
  • Make note of your paediatricians' emergency contact; he knows your kid best
  • Carry alcohol wipes on the flight (recommended by the doctor in the children's emergency hospital in Sydney; brilliant idea I think)
  • Carry a good quality hand sanitizer because the doctor felt that most bugs are picked up on flights (a valid piece of advice indeed; my sisters daughter who is 3+ now, has always landed in India with a flu bug & the first person we always visit is the doc!)
  • Carry all vaccination records (or scan a copy & upload it in an online account for quick access)
  • Carry any medical history
  • If by chance, you are required to see a doctor in a foreign land, do make points of significant & insignificant happenings while waiting in the clinic, because every bit of history helps here.
  • Do not PANIC. Be cautious, but never panic. Panic makes the mind think irrationally, & panic tends to transfer to kids as well.
  • Lastly, of course, & quite obviously, take medical insurance. It's available online too, now I've learnt...better late than never. Am still paying back hospital bills for blood tests etc, but I guess, we live & learn!
Thinking back now, it was a good learning experience, though an expensive one. I must commend the medical facilities & the excellent doctor, (Dr Scott Nightingale), in Westmead Children's Hospital in Sydney. He was the best doc I've met to date, & despite being so busy, is till sending me the results of some of the medical tests which come through every now & then.

"I never had a slice of bread,
Particularly large and wide,
That did not fall upon the floor,
And always on the buttered side"

Have a safe & peaceful hoilday season...


This post was written by Deeba

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Christmas Gift Ideas

Monday, December 15, 2008

Posted by Dharm

it's the season
of love and understanding
Merry Christmas, everyone


Christmas is just round the corner and lots of us are frantically trying to buy gifts for our loved ones - especially the kids. I've always tried to get presents that are useful so this would include a new shirt or a new dress. However, clothes seldom thrill the kids as much as toys do. I have no issue with buying toys for the kids but I do try and get something educational or at least something that helps develop their knowledge, thought process or at the very least, develops their coordination or motor skills.

As the kids get older, I also find it is good to get them toys that we can all play together. So, since Christmas is just a few weeks away, I've put together some of my favourite gift ideas for the kids as well as an explanation of why I think they are pretty good.

Lego
Who doesnt like Lego? I loved it when I was young and both my son and daughter love it now too. I love Lego because it unleashes the creative genius in children. Most of them have instruction books to make a predefined model and this kind of guides them into making their own design later. It's also something that adults can get involved with too. If you are on a cost cutting drive and have access to the internet, download the Lego Designer from the Lego website. This allows you to create virtual designs on your PC! My son spends hours creating his own stuff with this programme.

Uno cards
This is a really fun game that you can play together as a family. The rules are fairly simple and although there is an element of luck involved, it still teaches you a little about strategy and at the very least, stimulates the thought process. My 4 year old is an Uno queen although the game is recommended for older children.

Monopoloy
Board Games are always fun and to me, one of the best and most loved board games is Monopoly. I like this because it teaches kids how to handle money as well as basic adding and subtracting. It also gives then an insight into investment. The latest version of monopoly is the world version and this exposes the kids to different world cities. I know at least my children now know where a lot of cities in the world are!

Word Games
Word games are always fun. It helps build the children's vocabulary and spelling as well. Two of my favourites would be Boggle and Scrabble. Boggle is relatively easier and a bit more fun for younger kids.

Make your own Volcano
There are a lot of sets that are sold out there 'teaching' you how to make your own volcano. Why not do it yourself with just a bottle of vinegar, some sodium bicarbonate (Baking Soda, NOT baking powder) and some food colouring. All you need to do is to almost fill a class with vinegar, add in a drop or two of food colouring and then add in a tbsp or so of bicarbonate. The whole thing will fizz up and overflow. To make it even more realistic, wrap some cardboard around the glass to shape it like a mountain with the glass opening acting as a crater. The 'lava' will then pour down the mountain. Great fun, you get to teach your kids about chemical reactions and above all it is so cheap!

Homemade Gift Certificates
Finally, why not get your kids or loved ones, homemade gift certificates. Neatly print out small index cards with promises such as

"One trip to the cinema";

"One trip to the ice cream shop";

"One day at the park"

or for the significant other in your life

"One back massage";

"One foot massage";

"One home cooked meal";

"breakfast in bed";

I think you get the idea!!

Well folks, I hope this helps and that you enjoyed my last article for the year. Have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!






This post was written by Dharm



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: thedailytiffin@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Monthly Mingle - Low Sugar Treats Round Up

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Posted by The Daily Tiffin




I can already feel and smell the holiday season look at this wonderful array of dishes while I was doing this round up. So many interesting and innovative recipes to choose from, I don't need to think hard about what desserts to make and gift them to my dear ones. With the economy down, and the purse strings tighter , these innovative dishes make interesting gifts. Homemade ,healthy and from all over the world ! What more can any health conscious person ask for ?

Here is the beautiful picture gallery for this month's mouth watering and tongue tickling treats ! Thanks to one and all for participating in this truly special event!

1. Kitchen Flavours - Anjeer Badam Halwa
2. Snooky Doodle Cakes - Almond and Date Balls
3. Kalyn's Kitchen - Apple Cranberry Crumble( Flourless)
4. Cook Book Cuisine- Apple Sauce Raisin Cake
5.Live to Eat - Banana Walnut Bread
6. The Daily Tiffin - Berry Short Bread Cakes
7. Sunita's World - Carrot and Pine Nuts Cupcakes
8. Green Gourmet Giraffe - Cherry Banana Muffins
9. Whats For Lunch Honey - Chocolate Orange Muffins
10. Culinary Bazaar - Eggless Banana Muffins
11. Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes - Eggless Banana Pancakes
12.Diet, Dessert and Dogs - Apricot and Orange Fudge
13.Bengali Cuisine - Kala Paturi
14.Health Nut - Oatmeal Fruit Macaroons
15.Ecurry - Pineapple Coconut Mousse
16. Fun and Food - Mixed Fruit Jello Cupcakes
17.Trini Gourmet - Pumpkin Pone
18.Veggie Wedgie - Raw Chocolate
19.Tasty Curry Leaf - Roasted Grapes with Creme Di ricotta
20.Health N Taste - Til/Tal Ni Chikki

If I have missed anyone, please leave a comment here in the comment section and I will include their entries.








This post was written by Dee



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Tiffin Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Posted by jokergirl@wererabbits



It's the season for christmas dinners and as my mother and grandmother were visiting in the weekend, I had a lot of leftovers from mine! Luckily I had bought plenty of healthy veggies, so I still managed to make a colourful box.
Vegetarian zucchini quiche Lorraine on mixed leaf salad, cherry tomatoes, carrot flowers and purple potato salad (the potatoes are purple, not the salad! It was good but for a potato salad, there are better tasting potatoes around.).



This is my own box, and the cutter which I used for the carrots. I'm sure you can figure out how I did it! It just goes to show that you can do quite a lot with "ordinary" cutters if you can't get the special veggie cutters.



This post was written by jokergirl from WereRabbits.



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A Taste of Slow Food

Friday, December 05, 2008

Posted by Meeta K

 

Orange on white 01framed

It’s easy to eat poorly or inadequately in our fast food culture. Overworked and stressed we rush out to find a quick bite and often find solace in a burger or a hot dog. The temptation of sugar, salt and fat feel good while you are eating it but it really does little to satisfy you. It’s convenient at the time and stills your hunger. Dinner might be a quick microwave meal, frozen pizza ready in minutes in the oven or even take out. Looking at the long term effects, it will make you and your family fat, lazy and sick!

We know that! However, I am still surprised when I read articles or watch reports that show over two third of us are overweight and one third are obese. More disheartening is the fact that over one third of our children are overweight and the CDC says that of the children born in the year 2000 - 30 - 40% will become diabetic in their lifetime.
We’ve read these dismal statistics so often - over and over.

Often parents preach to their children about the value of food, but send them mixed signals when meals are eaten in front of the TV or computer or take out food is ordered every other night. In our fast paced life, time is of essence and convenience becomes the main issue. In America, one of every four meals is eaten at a fast food restaurant; one in four is eaten in a car and one in three in front of a TV or computer!

Consider what these children are learning about the value of food. We are teaching them that it is “easier” and “cheaper” to purchase this type of “food” than to prepare real foods at home.

In one article I was reading recently a mother had never prepared a home cooked meal for her 4 year daughter! I was appalled and it prompted me to write this article.

In their recent articles, Manisha talked about invisible expenses and Peter about home economics to help you manage your costs and finances better. While the immediate cost of fast food might seem low, there are other types of costs we might also want to consider.

What is the long term cost of CO2 emissions, pollution, obesity and diabetes that inevitably comes from eating processed foods?

Enter the Slow Food Philosophy.

“Slow Food” is more of a philosophy than a cuisine. I am not talking about cooking a dish in a crockpot all day, but rather how slow food is defined by how it's prepared, and how it should be enjoyed. It's also the name of an international movement, founded in Italy.

slow_food The Slow Food Movement arose in 1986 in Italy as a response to the negative impact of multinational food companies and is spreading around the world – slowly! Today the Slow Food Movement has branches over the five continents, in 130 countries, with about 80 000 people.

Slow Food protests against the standardization of taste, it protects cultural identity, which is connected to food and seeks to safeguard processing techniques inherited from tradition. It also involves valuing time to prepare, eat and build a community through food. Sometimes the movement has been criticized as having an upper class pursuit, however far from extravagant eating, slow food is about the celebration of the connections that food can make with sustainable production and local food traditions that are often lost in our economy.

The slow food concept is about good, clean and fair food. It’s about allowing fruits and vegetables to ripen on the vine before being harvested and making breads from scratch. Slow food is about locally grown ingredients, traditional cooking methods and the producers and chefs who follow the creed.

And all of us can do join in on this philosophy to celebrate this kind of good, healthy food.

Here are a few ideas:

Summer Berries 03 framed Buy locally: Shopping for produce is an action with a huge impact. I cannot stress this enough! You make the choice to spend money on foods that are grown and picked in your region by local farmers and brought to the market, instead of traveling great distances.  Point out the sources to your kids when you are at the grocery store or the farmer’s markets. Now that Soeren can read he makes sure that the produce that lands in our shopping basket is from our region. Sometimes he will frown at me if I place a mango from Brazil in the cart! ;-)

Go for Organic: Whenever you can. This reduces your family’s and your exposure to pesticides and chemical fertilizers. You will soon realize that several of the items simply taste better too. Several years ago when I made the decision to buy organic produce there were two things I always had in my mind. One was the fact a close friend of mine was diagnosed with a rare cancer type. Her doctor told her that the tests were showing high levels of certain chemicals found in pesticides, deducing that the cancer might have been a result of the food she was eating! I decided that this was not what I wanted for my child or my family. I paid the extra cent for organic produce happily. This brings me to the second point. The fact I am paying a little more for organic food – I take more care of what and how I am preparing food. I buy less and make sure we waste less. Today I would say we are eating 90% organically and regionally. Yes – I am proud of this fact.
Also read:
Organic Food - What is it?
Is Organic Food Healthier?

Tomatoes 02 framed Grow your own: If you have a garden, grow your own produce. If space is tight fill a few pots with herbs and tomatoes. The point here is you are not only picking and enjoying fresh food from your own backyard, you will also be giving your children priceless values about the concept of food.

Cook at home: Even if you're short on time, you can still enjoy delicious homemade meals that can be ready in 30 to 40 minutes. We’re not saying no to burgers but rather saying yes to healthy homemade burgers, where you control what goes into them. This is healthy fast food and you will find a plethora of great recipes to get you started on the Internet. A few you will find on iVillage 19 30-minute meals. You’ll also find several great lunch box ideas for healthy meals for you and your kids right here on the DT.

Get your kids involved. It’s part of the slow food picture – to spend valuable time with your family. Not only are you spending quality time together with your children in the kitchen, but you are teaching them how to be involved in the food choices that they make. By getting actively involved they are learning that they can make choices about the foods and ingredients that they consume. Be creative with the food you prepare and let your kids express themselves through their recipe choices and presentation.

Finally share food. Use food to help others who might not be able to provide or cook for themselves. From a simple doubling a recipe and taking a home-coked meal to someone who is ill or donating food to the food drive, are all aspects that will teach your children the value of food. Soeren and his school collect food every year in December for our local food drive here in Weimar.
Drop in & Decorate
This year I have organized with his class to host our very own Drop In and Decorate event, which is a charity event started by my dear friend and DT alumni writer Lydia (more on that later).

Become a part of the slow food manifesto. You do not have to join the movement but you can use the same principals to make changes in your food culture. It’s important we practice what we preach and set the right examples so our children grow up making the right food choices.

Interesting reads:

Slow Food Movement
Ministry of Food
Ecoglobe – The Slow Food Movement


Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: thedailytiffin@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This post was written by Meeta

Easy Breezy Berry Short cakes

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Posted by Dee

The Holiday season begins at our home with this dish alternating as a snack , dessert and sometimes even breakfast. Quick to put together , its a low sugar treat which one can enjoy without any remorse or guilt. The variations are endless, you can use just one kind of berry or a combination of a few. I chose to use mixed berries.

Ingredients::

Serves 2

1 cup of mixed berries
4 firm slices of bread ( home style white bread tastes best)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of sugar
2 pinches of Cardamom powder
1 tablespoon of butter/margarine

Method:

1. Toast the bread slices in an oven warmed at 200F. Alternatively you can toast using a normal toaster, but ensure that they are warm. Remove the crusty edges and smear with butter/margarine on both sides of the bread and cut diagonally into triangles.

2. Take the 1 tablespoon of sugar in a plate add a pinch of cardamom and mix well and sprinkle on both sides of the bread.

3. In a saucepan , add the remaining butter and 1 teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of cardamom and cook the berries for about 3 minutes i.e. until they are soft but still intact.

4.In a plate take about 4 slices and pour this warm berry mixture on the bread triangles. Serve warm and enjoy!


Berry Short Cakes

Notes:

1. The recipe called for home style white bread, I used whole wheat bread.
2. You can use other flavors like cinnamon, fennel, star anise , aniseed, lemon, mint, lemon verbana, vanilla instead of cardamom.


Recipe Source : Luscious Berry Desserts by Lori Longbotham

This goes to Monthly Mingle - Low Sugar Treats hosted by Daily tiffin this month! Last date for entries is December 8th 2008.









This post was written by Dee



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: thedailytiffin@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Just a Reminder ...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Posted by Dee

Monthly Mingle - Low Sugar Treats is being hosted on Daily Tiffin. Last date for entries is 8th December 2008.





Here are the rules :

1. Create a dish that fits the theme of “Low- Sugar Sweet treats” as described above.
2. Post about it on your blog anytime from now until 8th December.(entries must be in English, please).
3. Link to this post and send the details to us (see below). Please feel free to use the logo created above for this mingle.

Once you’ve posted your dish, send an email with “Monthly Mingle: Low-Sugar Sweet Treats” in the subject line to: thedailytiffin (at) gmail (dot) com by 8 December 2008 with the following information:

* your name
* your location
* the name of your blog and its URL
* the name of your dish and a link to the relevant post
* a copy of the main photo of your dish 200px wide (and compressed so that it is below 1MB!)

This is going to be an exciting mingle and we are looking forward to having you over.




This post was written by Dee



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: thedailytiffin@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Nail those Invisible Expenses

Posted by Manisha Pandit

With the economic downturn and the increasing number of jobs lost on a daily basis, it is time to take a closer look at our finances. In his article, Peter suggests hiring a financial advisor you can trust to help you improve your return on investment. This is excellent advice especially if money matters make your eyes glaze over and the math drives you nuts. However, the underlying assumption is that you have savings. Living from paycheck to paycheck is not a new or uncommon phenomenon even though all it takes is some common sense to make it a thing of the past.

While we are known to budget for our rent or mortgage, our utilities, our monthly groceries, and perhaps even some living expenses, many of us do not have a handle on how much we spend on a daily basis that drains our savings and therefore our next paycheck. What's eating away your money? Something called your invisible expenses.

You know how cool it is to say how you simply cannot do without your morning cup of coffee from Starbucks? Now add that up and see how much your vanity costs you over the month. You could start making your own coffee every morning. Still have that need to fit in with the rest of the yuppies with next to no savings? Buy the Starbucks cup and fill it up with homemade coffee. Seriously.

Carry a bottle of water with you and start drinking water instead of those sugar-laden sodas or those so-called guilt-free diet drinks that use sugar substitutes. Every time you buy one from that ubiquitous vending machine, you are adding to your invisible expenses. You may spend anywhere from twice as much to four times as much for every purchase you make from these vending machines. If you have a bottle of water, this can be refilled for free from a water fountain and your body will be grateful, too!

Eating out is another invisible expense. You may tell yourself that Subway sandwiches are healthier but are they the right choice for your pocketbook? By the time you leave the restaurant, you have spent nearly $10 each time. And much more over the month. You could pack your own sandwich that morning or the night before or carry leftovers from dinner as your lunch. You could also start a sandwich club with a group of folks from your workplace where you take turns bringing sandwiches for lunch. The sandwich menu changes on a daily basis and you look forward to something new every day. Or delve into the lunch box ideas right here at The Daily Tiffin.

Keep a stash of energy bars or crackers in your desk at work and always make sure that you have something in your purse to tide you over till you make it home. Again, your body will be thankful for your kind consideration!

Movies and popcorn, late night runs for ice-cream, that new mohair sweater, those earrings and trinkets, the magazine on the stand near the checkout counter ... they all add up. As do taxi rides.

Consider making a log of every penny you spend over the course of a month. Or, at least two weeks if an entire month is a daunting prospect. Note how many of those expenses were indulgences, impulsive purchases, or expenses driven by a factor of laziness. Compare this to your monthly budget and see how much you are really spending as opposed to how much you think you are spending.

Make lifestyle changes to cut down on your invisible expenses. It takes a little bit of planning and effort but allows you to manage your money more effectively, with a positive side-effect that you may even start living a little healthier. This is not to say that you must live a frugal life with no frills. Do treat yourself to simple pleasures every once in a while but don't make it a habit, as it will eat into your savings.

The less money you have to spend, the more likely you are to go into credit card debt; and, given today's high APRs, that is not a scenario you want for yourself. One suggestion would be to give yourself a weekly allowance and pay only in cash wherever possible.

It is also the season for gift giving and showing everyone how much you care for them by spending large amounts of money on gifts that they might never use or on gadgets that they can do without. I heard on the radio that Americans spend on an average of $850 per person on gifts at this time of the year. Give your loved ones the best gift you possibly could: an IOU gift certificate for quality time spent together. Or cook a meal for them and bond all over again over the dining table. You could donate money to a local charity or a good cause and send out greeting cards with more information to your friends and relatives, telling them that you donated in their honor.

Stop. Reflect. Think. Plan. And then take action to nail those invisible expenses and wipe them out.


This post was written by Manisha

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: thedailytiffin@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Home Economics

Friday, November 28, 2008

Posted by Peter M


One would have to be in hibernation or living under a rock to not be aware of the current urgency in the affairs of the global economy.

It's a time of great uncertainty with people unsure of their jobs, future plans put on hold, retirement and education funds on hold, rising food costs and a shrinking nest egg.

Sounds dim, huh?

Most of you know me as "Kalofagas" but my "regular" job as a financial advisor also puts me in contact with alot of people, their dreams and their concerns about the future.

These aren't the best of times economically but it's a good time to take stock of your own personal affairs and that of your family's.

The first thing you should do is ask if you have a true financial advisor? A financial advisor will ask you about your short and long-term goals, reduce your tax exposure, study your insurance needs, see if your current portfolio matches your short and long-term goals, study your estate and insurance needs, help you with your budget and ultimately help create a portfolio that will match your goals.

If your current "advisor" does not touch upon most of the above aspects of your affairs, perhaps it's time for you to seek a new advisor.

The best way to find an advisor you like and you trust is to seek a referral. We ask friends and relatives to refer a mechanic, a dentist or babysitter...why not ask them who their advisor is? Are they happy? Does the advisor stay in contact with them? Do they see you at least yearly? Do they educate you? Are you comfortable with them?

Once you've found 2 or 3 prospective advisors, it's important to ask how they are compensated. This is very important as you will find out if their primary motivation is to make money or make money for you. The latter is always the most sought-after.

Find out what your advisor's credentials are and seek out information on the company they work for.

Finally, choose and advisor that's a best fit for you and your family. Choosing an advisor in your same life-cyle (age) helps, someone familiar with people in your career field and an advisor who best suits your needs.

Advisors come in all shapes, forms and levels of service. They are stock-brokers, insurance agents, bankers, certified finacial planners & advisors and there are good and bad ones for every category.

It's a good time to take a closer look at the relationship with your financial advisor and if you don't have one...now's a good time to start.



This post was Peter



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Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at The Daily Tiffin

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Posted by Mike of Mike's Table

For those of us who celebrate Thanksgiving, this hustle and bustle leading up to the holiday also signals the beginning of the winter holiday season. This can be the beginning of a very hectic time of year--tidying up the house, spending time with infrequently seen friends and family, preparing a lot of food, bargain hunting for gift purchases, planning a big vacation--whether you're hosting or just visiting, it can get pretty chaotic pretty quickly and there's a lot of little things that demand your attention. I for one have been running around like a headless chicken trying to ensure my Thanksgiving dinner comes together as I imagine it, focusing so much more time and effort than I would on any other meal. While I do enjoy the craziness, I also realized that its easy to get preoccupied with the details and lose sight of the bigger picture.

So most importantly, out of all the things you can focus on, I just thought it might be useful to remind the readers out there who can be a bit like me: remember to have a great time! All of us at The Daily Tiffin hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving !






This post was written by Mike



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Gifts From The Kitchen – Chocolate Spoons

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Posted by Suganya

It is that season of the year where many of us rampage the stores trying to find a gift for the near and dear. Even though store-bought gifts are convenient, there is no denying that handmade gifts carry a special meaning. It’s a lot of work, you say? Nah, this one is dead easy.

Do you lick a chocolate covered spoon when you are baking a cake or cookie? Do you like to have hot chocolate in a snap? Then this one is for you - Chocolate covered spoons. Looks gourmet, but very easy to make.

You will need

Spoons – about 15
Semi-sweet chocolate – 1 cup
Shortening – 1 tbsp
Glass bowl - to melt the chocolate
Baking sheet lined with parchment/wax paper – 1
Cellophane paper - to wrap
Thin ribbon

Garnishes like sparkling sugar, crushed peppermint candy, melted white chocolate, sprinkles, mini marshmallows, etc.

Instructions

  1. Take chocolate and shortening in the glass bowl and microwave for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
  2. Dip the spoons in the chocolate, as far their bases, tap gently to shake off the excess chocolate and place them on the baking sheet lined with parchment/wax paper. Top with any of the garnishes mentioned above.
  3. When you are done with all the spoons, freeze for 15 minutes for the chocolate to set.
  4. Wrap the spoons with cellophane paper and tie with a pretty ribbon. Makes about 12 to 15 spoons, depending on how much you lick the bowl while dipping the spoons.

To enjoy, stir one of these spoons in a hot cup of milk, and voila, you have hot chocolate. In addition to being great gifts, they come handy while serving drinks to your visitors, both kids and adults.

Chocolate spoons garnished with crushed candy canes, sparkling sugar, melted white chocolate

The sparkly chocolate spoon goes to SHFAll That Glitters, hosted by Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.

Some noteworthy points

  • If the chocolate is not in dipping consistency, add a splash of milk.
  • Both plastic and metal spoons work. Use whatever suits your needs.
  • You can add flavoring oils of your choice to the chocolate while melting.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, start dipping your spoons.




This Post was written by Suganya


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Tiffin Tuesday - leftovers + decoration = bento!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Posted by jokergirl@wererabbits



Big box (top): Millet and chili sin carne decorated with parsley. Millet is actually rather tasty, but not very different from couscous texture and flavour-wise. Mmm.
Small box (bottom): Tiny croquettes on picks decorated with oregano; mini chocolate chip muffin (made in a condiment cup with a tiny amount of muffin dough), star-shaped carrots and a cup of tsatsiki.






This Post was written by Jokergirl



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Announcing Monthly Mingle 27 : Low Sugar Sweet Treats

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Posted by Dee




Don't we all love sweets? Most of us cant stop eating just one! With the holiday season in the US, I traipse the stores, looking in wonder all the sweet treats ,hoping to carry at least a few boxes home , but when I read the labels pertaining to the calorific value, I come home without any!

With the fast approaching holiday season, many of us would be busy making sweet treats for our family and friends.

This month, we ask you to get your pots and pans out, put on your thinking caps and set to making healthy Low Sugar Sweet Treats. It would be great, if you use natural sugar substitutes like honey, agave nectar etc.




Here’s how it works:

1. Create a dish that fits the theme of “Low- Sugar Sweet treats” as described above.
2. Post about it on your blog anytime from now until 8th December.(entries must be in English, please).
3. Link to this post and send the details to us (see below). Please feel free to use the logo created above for this mingle.

Once you’ve posted your dish, send an email with “Monthly Mingle: Low-Sugar Sweet Treats” in the subject line to: thedailytiffin (at) gmail (dot) com by 8 December 2008 with the following information:

* your name
* your location
* the name of your blog and its URL
* the name of your dish and a link to the relevant post
* a copy of the main photo of your dish 200px wide (and compressed so that it is below 1MB!)

This is going to be an exciting mingle and we are looking forward to having you over.

If you too would like to guest host the Monthly Mingle in the future drop Meeta an email at blogmeeta [at] gmail [DOT] com (Please note that this email address is different to the one you should send in your entries at.)




This Post was written by Dee



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: thedailytiffin@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Classic Cookbooks for Kids

Friday, November 14, 2008

Posted by Mansi

(image courtesy of Amazon.com)

These days, its fascinating to know how kids are interested in cooking and helping around the kitchen at quite a young age! I recently joined a Baking class, and I have a 9-year old girl who has signed up along with her mother, and she loves making desserts! I guess the exposure to food & cooking shows on TV has given a huge impetus to young budding chefs, and kids are hopping on to the bandwagon!

A couple days ago, Jokergirl mentioned foodie gifts for kids, so I was tempted to see what kind of cookbooks are available for kids so that parents can feed their enthusiasm and nurture their passion. I was pleasantly surprised to see there's a whole category for children's cookbooks, and loads of topics to choose from. I've tried to summarize the Top 5 Books based on online reviews and my interpretation of the book's contents.

1. 30-Minute Meals for Kids - by Rachel Ray
"Cooking Rocks", is a spin-off from Rachel Ray's Food Network Show "30-Minute Meals", designed specifically for kids between the age of 4 to 16! With more than 100 kid-friendly recipes with vibrant pictures, great tips, anecdotes to make it fun, and even specials like "Make-Your-Own-Takeout," "Super-Snackers," and "One Pot Wonders", this will be the best gift for your budding chef!
Read Review at Barnes & Noble
For ages 4 to 12; MSRP: $16.95

2. The Kid's Cookbook - by Williams Sonoma
This Williams Sonoma spiral bound cookbook by Abigail Johnson Dodge has more than 50 recipes with easy to follow instructions, with recipes for menus that cover breakfast and lunch, dinner, side dishes, snacks, and desserts. Classic cooking techniques are explained with lots of photos. A glossary of ingredients includes photos for easy identification. And its available for less than $20.00!
Read Review at Barnes & Noble
For ages 9 and up; MSRP: $19.95

3. Pillsbury Kids Cookbook - by Pillsbury
Bursting with great eats everybody will love, this Pillsbury cookbook has everything, from snacks and sandwiches to desserts, festive holiday treats and even basic cooking tips and techniques to make it more fun! With interesting recipes like "Bunny Rabbit Pancakes" & "Jiggly Fruit Salads", your kids will be ready to learn and impress in no time!
Read Review at Barnes & Noble
For ages 6 to 12; MSRP: $12.00

4. New Junior Cookbook - by Better Homes & Gardens
BHG, the trusted name for all your cooking needs is out with this beautiful cookbook for kids, which covers everything, from basic tips, kitchen tools, techniques to delicious recipes, even holiday specials! It's neat layout and fun pictures will inspire your kids to plan their own menu, and provide them with ideas to cook healthy too!
Read Review at Barnes & Noble
For ages 8 and up; MSRP: $16.95

5. There's a Chef in My Soup - by Emeril Lagasse
Chef Emeril Lagasse teaches your kids the art of cooking, step-by-step, with his recipes & photos! Every recipe has been chosen and tested by Chef Emeril and by kids, too, so you know they have to be good!! From "Gooey Cinnamon Buns" to "Baby Bam Burgers", "Ka-Bam Kabobs" & "Creamy Dreamy Orange Freezes", its a fun journey cooking delicacies, a.k.a, Emeril's style!
Read Review at Barnes & Noble
For ages 12 and up; MSRP: $22.99

For more ideas about Cookbooks for Kids, read this comparison on GourmetFood. And once you buy a cookbook, get some colorful kitchen tools for kids! And for all you oldies who feel left out, check out Deeba's tips on dressing up your holiday goodies! oh, and by the way, as Holiday Season has already set in, try these unique & affordable holiday gift ideas! Happy Cooking, and Happy Shopping!!

Oh, and wishing a very Happy Children's Day to all kids, especially those in India, where this day is celebrated with great enthusiasm!

Related Reads:
Strategy-based Board Games for Kids
Tasks for Kids in the Kitchen
20 Ideas for Healthy Kid-Friendly Snacks


This Post was written by Mansi


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When a child is sick...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Posted by Dharm

Having a child who is sick is no fun at all. Heck, even being sick as an adult isn't any fun but there is something quite 'painful' about having a child who is ill. I say 'painful' because there are no words really to express the worry, concern and multitude of emotions that run through you. Your thoughts run wild and you start thinking about all sorts of possibilities. It wrecks you physically and emotionally as well.

It is quite common for children, especially young children to have bouts of fever every now and again. There is a concept (or perhaps a misconception) in some Asian cultures that fever precedes a growth spurt. I remember whenever I had fever as a child my parents would put it down to ‘growing pains’. You’d think that I’d be a strapping six footer the number of times I used to have a fever!

Now that I have kids of my own, I realise that having a fever can be very dangerous. Especially so if the fever lasts for more than a couple of days. This happened very recently to my little princess. Let me share this story with you.

Sarah is a sprightly four and half. She goes to kindergarten on weekdays and Sunday school on Sundays. Other than that, she spends her time at her grandmother’s house and of course at home.

One Thursday, two days before her kindergarten concert, she developed a fever. It was kind of moderate but since she was taking part in the concert, we took her to visit our local doctor. As expected, the doctor figured it was a bacterial infection and prescribed some antibiotics for her. She showed improvement on Friday and we thought all was well.

Early Saturday morning, Sarah showed signs of fever again but as her spirits were high, we though she may just be over-excited with her concert. The concert went off really well and Sarah was in a great mood - as was the fever. She was hot so we gave her another dose of fever medicine. Her temperature was in the mid 38’s (that’s Celcius which converts to more than 101F.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, her fever suddenly spiked and my little princess started shivering and chattering her teeth. We decided to give her a suppository and this brought the fever back down. Later in the morning we took her back to the doctor who decided to do a blood test to check for Dengue and Chikunya – two serious illnesses that are borne by mosquitoes. All the blood results came back fine so we were told to just watch the fever and carry on with the fever medicine.

Knowing that it wasn’t dengue of chikunya was a relief but we were still concerned about her fever. The medication seemed to settle her fever a little and we all went to bed feeling a little better. The Lovely Wife decided she would sleep with our princess just to make sure she was okay. This turned out to be a good thing.

My wife woke me at around 2 in the morning and I rushed in to my daughter’s room to find her shivering and chattering her teeth again. Her body was burning up and so we gave her another suppository. This brought the fever down a little but it spiked again at 5.30am. We decided to rush her to the hospital.

Her temperature was taken with those hi-tech infrared thermometers they put in your ear and the result was a whopping 40.9 degrees (105.6 F)! Another blood test was done at the hospital and her results were, to quote the doctor, “nothing spectacular”, meaning that her blood tests didn’t show anything abnormal. Fortunately for all of us, the doctor also decided to do a test for Myco Plasma (which at that time I heard as Microplasma). What the heck is that? The doctor explained it’s a bug that can cause flu like symptoms especially high fever. But my princess didn’t have a cough or cold. Only fever. Anyway, who was I to argue.

The problem with the test for Myco Plasma is that it takes some time to do and so we were faced with the issue of whether to admit her or not. We decided on admitting her – especially since she already had her hand prepped for intravenous administration of medication or to draw more blood. My poor girl was uncomfortable with her right hand bandaged up which is what they do with kids so that they don’t dig or scratch at the intravenous tube in their hands.

To cut a long story short, she was admitted and the tests results finally came back to say that indeed she had a Myco Plasma infection. We were advised that it could take some time for the fever to go down even though they had started feeding her two doses of antibiotics. The Lovely Wife stayed with Sarah 24 hours a day during her hospitalisation.

She was in hospital for 5 days and in that time the fever lasted for 4 days. Yes, you read right. FOUR whole days. For the first two and a half days, the fever stayed high at the 38-39C mark even with suppositories. It finally broke on the 4th day and she would have 6-8 hours fever free. It was only on day 5 that she had a complete day without fever.

At the time of writing, She’s been home now for 5 days and is still on antibiotics. She doesn’t have fever anymore and is almost back to her usual self although she doesn’t have much of an appetite which apparently is caused by the medication. We are just relieved and thankful that she is well again.

So what exactly it this Myco Plasma? It seems it’s a kind of bacteria that doesn’t have a cell wall. This makes it resistant to many types of antibiotics since most antibiotics attack the cell wall. It also seems that this bacteria is ‘in the air’ and is easily communicable especially in schools, kindergartens and other community areas.

So the next time you or your child has a fever, make sure you watch it and take them to the doctors as soon as possible. There didn’t seem to be all these different viruses and bacteria when I was younger and I as sure as heck have never ever heard of Myco Plasma before.

Any new bacteria or viruses you have had experience with and would like to share?








This Post was written by Dharm



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TASTING WITH THE EYES...dressing it up for the holidays!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Posted by Deeba PAB

Colour & looks, basically presentation, play a crucial role in the taste and perception of food. Alongside flavor and texture, color & presentation are considered by to be a major quality factor of food. In fact, the combination just might play the most important role. “If you don’t have the color right, I think you can forget about the other two,” says Jack Francis, food scientist at the University of Massachusetts. “If it isn’t the color you expect it to be, you don’t like it." In his book Fast Food Nation, journalist Eric Schlosser mentions a study conducted in the 1970s that found the color of food had a great effect on people’s appetites. Presentation as a whole changes the way the mind perceives food, & affects our association with food.

Let's dress stuff up...
It's the holiday season & here are a few fun & simple ideas to make food look special. I find these special touches exciting & therapeutic...they seem to give food & 'mood' an instant lift!
Things you can keep/make in advance:
  • Chocolate leaves/scrolls/shavings/strings
  • Chocolate designs piped out & set on parchment paper, & stored in a cool place
  • Crystallise edible flowers & leaves
  • Coffee beans, jelly beans, Smarties/MnM's
  • Silver leaves, metallic edible silver/golden dragees
  • Slivered pistachio & almonds, roasted sunflower seeds, sesame seeds etc
  • Themed sprinkles
  • Coloured/sanding sugar
  • Marzipan

Things to keep in mind:

  • Use the colour wheel if you need help to tie in a holiday theme.
  • A dusting of cocoa/powdered sugar/cinnamon powder are a beautiful way to cover flaws.
  • Put different chocolates in baggies/ziplocs (dark, milk, white) microwave in 30 second intervals. Once melted uniformly, just snip off an end, & drizzle different colours.
  • While the chocolate is still wet, you can sprinkle slivered almonds/pistachios, or 100's & 1000's etc.
  • A simple icing for sugar cookies is adding just enough water/extract/lime juice to powdered sugar to get a thick flowing consistency. Colour this (in different bowls if you want different colours), & pipe this on to the cookies. While the icing is wet, you can add dragees/sprinkles to it. I find that sugar cookies take to this sort of icing the best. Leave overnight on racks to dry. If they are not 100% crisp the next day, pop them into a medium oven for 2-3 minutes.
  • If you want to tie in colours, add some colour to the white melted chocolate & either spread out on a cold surface & flake; or drizzle over out of a snipped baggie.
  • If you choose to garnish with fresh fruit/leaves, don't do it more than 2 hours in advance.
  • A swirl of cream gives soup or even a caramel custard a new look. Add fresh coriander (for savoury) or fresh mint...just a tiny sprig makes a difference!
  • If you are gifting home-made stuff, try & colour coordinate the packing too. The possibilities are endless...

Have a good & colourful holiday season...




This Post was written by Deeba

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Choosing Scents - A Matter of Taste

Friday, November 07, 2008

Posted by Dee




Have you ever wondered why your are not attracted to everyone you meet? Ayurveda answers that every person has a unique essence - our ojas - that is secreted by glands and is indeed a product of body chemistry.

In this way our taste in mates or friends is not unlike our taste in perfumes.Just as each one of us prefers only a few fragrances out of hundreds on the market , we find ourselves drawn to the essence of certain people and repelled by others. Which ones soothe us and which ones do not depends to a large degree upon our own essential nature , i.e. the characteristic mixture of elements that form us.

The smell of something originates from its taste. According to Ayurveda , there are 6 basic tastes or rasas and six basic smells. Each one has the properties of the elements that make it up.

RASA COMPOSITION PROPERTIES

Sweet Earth + Water Cold , Oily, Heavy
Sour Earth + Fire Hot, Heavy , Oily
Salty Water + Fire Hot,Oily , Heavy
Pungent Fire + Air Hot, Light ,Dry
Bitter Air + Space Cold,Light,Dry
Astringent Air + Earth Cold, Medium

A Taste and its aroma , like water and steam are just the same matter in different form , so they affect your constitution in similar ways. The fire in the food increases Pitta , whether you eat it or smell it , but the food must be digested and absorbed when you eat it , where as the odor molecules reach one's blood stream directly via the air sacs or the blood capillaries or via the olfactory nerves where they stimulate the endocrine system and the hormone production. Aroma therapy is great at such times to ease these temporary short lived feelings. It is quick acting and easy and a perfect adjunct to a daily skin routine.

Here are a few properties that complement a skin type and constitution.

For Dry Skin(Vata) : Sweet , Warm , Calming, Hydrating
For Sensitive Skin(Pitta) : Sweet , Cooling, soothing, Hydrating
For Oily Skin (Kapha) : Pungent, Warming , Stimulating , Hydrating

In total, there about 150 essential oils used in aroma therapy . Here is a list of a few.

They can be used as scents, perfumes, mood oils, aphrodisiac oils or body mists.

Some Sample Recipes for Mood Oils

Calming and Warming 3Drops each neroli and lemon Oil + 2 drops each jasmine
& sandalwood + 1 drop vanilla + 1 oz pure jojoba oil base (Relieves anxiety ; balances Vata)


Calming & Cooling 5 drops each sandalwood & vetiver + 1 drop Jasmine + 1oz
pure jojoba oil base.( Relieves anger ; Balances Pitta)

Stimulating 4 drops bergamot + 3 drops each lavender & basil + 1oz
pure jojoba/almond oil base.(Relieves depression; balances Kapha)

Sedating 6 drops rose + 2 drops each jasmine & Chamomile + 1oz
pure jojoba/almond oil base.(relieves Insomnia ;balances Vata & Pitta)

Grounding and Strengthening 4 drops patchouli + 2 drops each sandalwood & cardamom
+ 1oz pure jojoba/almond oil base (Relieves fear ;balances Vata)




This Post was written by Dee



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Three Foodie Gifts Your Kids Will Love

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Posted by Kristen - Dine & Dish



(photo courtesy of WildOliveKids on Etsy.com)

I was in a local department store on November 1st, stunned to hear holiday music being blared over the speakers. This is the year I have promised my self that I will get all of my gift buying done early. As much as I don't want to think about the holidays being right around the corner, putting off shopping much longer will turn me into a last minute shopper once again. I refuse to let that happen.

To start my search for the perfect gifts, I decided that one thing I wanted to get my kids was gifts for the kitchen. They love to help me cook so it is time to get them some things that will make their time in the kitchen more enjoyable. While browsing the internet, I found three things that are on my list of potential gifts.

  1. A Child Size Apron - As I mentioned before, my kids always love to help in the kitchen, but allowing them to help means that I have to let go of the notion that they and the kitchen will be tidy when we are done. I think that one thing that will at least keep them looking clean after an afternoon of kitchen time would be an apron that is just their size. One of my favorite shopping websites, Etsy.com, has a variety of aprons that will fit just about any personality! From a fancy and colorful filly apron, a personalized apron with their name on it to an apron with Dinosaurs, Etsy has an apron just right for the little chef in your life!
  2. Have you seen these Little Cook Tool Kits from Sassafras? I can't wait for my 5 year old to open this gift! She has a lot of play kitchen tools, but the tools from the Little Cook Tool Kit are actual real tools that can be used while cooking with Mom and Dad in the kitchen. High quality and durable, your budding chef will love these tools especially made for kid size hands.
  3. My oldest child is finally at the age where he can read, and I recently discovered that means recipes too! I think it is time he gets a cookbook of his own and he can help actually plan and make our meals. There is a large selection of kids cookbooks out there and you will have to decide the cookbook that would be best for your childs ability and taste. I personally have my eye on The Southern Living Kids Cookbook and The Mom and Me Cookbook.
Whatever you decide to do as gifts for your children this year, make sure to remember to include something to help them hone their skills in the kitchen. The lessons they will learn from spending time with you while cooking will last with them a lifetime.



This Post was written by Kristen Doyle



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Tiffin Tuesday: fishsticks!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Posted by jokergirl@wererabbits



Homemade potato salad garnished with red onion, crisp lettuce and a baby plum tomato in the smaller box.
Wholewheat-breaded fishsticks on brown rice, a yellow tomato slice, broccoli tossed in sesame oil and a slice of pomegrenade in the bigger box.

This is just to show that bento boxes do not need to contain "special" or "exotic" foods! You can make good-looking, healthy and delicious lunchboxes using staples found in (almost) every kitchen. I personally keep things such as fishsticks (or the vegetarian variant, falafel or cheese sticks) in my freezer at all times. They are a wholewheat variant and ovenbaked instead of fried for extra healthiness.
Similarly, the broccoli florets are frozen and just microwaved before being stuck in the box.
The rice and potato salad are leftovers from dinner - it's no trouble to make an extra cup in the evening and stick it in the boxes afterwards.
All in all it's an extremely low work-intensive and quick way to make lunchboxes!






This Post was written by Jokergirl



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Forty is the New Thirty?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Posted by Peter M


Or so I thought so after I turned forty last year. I'm feeling better than I felt when I turned thirty, I'm comfortable with what I've accomplished in life and I positively believe I have a lot to live for.

So, what's my problem?

I'm forty-one is what's my problem. No longer do I go for the routine physical at my family doctor's. Now I get phone calls from his office reminding me of that" shot" I should be having.

Or that I REALLY should get a flu shot this year (something I've avoided thus far in my life).

I am now getting phone calls with more unusual requests from my doctor's nurse. I received a call to book an appointment for my annual physical and that I should expect "the finger" or er...a brief check to see if the prostate's okay.

It hit me. Forty is not the new thirty and that my life has indeed changed with my introduction into this new decade. I feel great, approach life with zeal but now I have new things to worry about.

Being in your forties means having an active lifestyle, being physically & mentally fit and taking preventative measures to ensure that continued good health.

The other phone call I received was to have my bone density checked. I asked the nurse if there was something with me that raised a red flag and she just replied, "no, you're in your forties and this is now a standard procedure. It's not just women who are developing osteoporosis - men are developing it in increasing numbers too!"

I've embraced the new thirties (the forties), which means a battery of medical check-ups, diagnostics and reassurances that everything's going to be all right.


You should too!





This Post was written by Peter Minakis



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: thedailytiffin@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Diwali Sweet Treats

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Posted by Meeta K

diwali
Image Source: stock.xchng.com In Prayer

This year Diwali falls on October 28th and many of our Indian readers are probably busy getting ready for this spectacular festival.

Diwali or Deepawali is celebrated by Indians all across the globe and is celebrated for five consecutive days at the end of Hindu month of Ashwayuja. Of all the several colorful festivals India offers throughout the year, Diwali is the most vibrant, fun and glamorous festival of all.

It usually occurs in October/November, and is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festivals in India. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Indians will decorate their houses with lights, candles and lamps - or as they are traditionally known in India - diyas. The lights and lamps signify the lighting of darkness and victory of good over the evil within.
Traditionally a Hindu festival, Jains and Sikhs alike regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen family and social relationships.

There are several beliefs as to the origin of the holiday. The most common version is that Hindus celebrate Diwali to mark the time when Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana. Hindus believe that whenever the power of evil increases in the world, Vishnu comes down to earth in a different form to defeat evil. These forms are called Avataras. Krishna and Rama are the popular Avataras of Vishnu. Diwali celebrations are especially a time for telling stories - about Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi, about Krishna, Rama and his wife Sita and any other tales that personifies the good winning over evil.

For us Indians, this festival means connecting with family and friends and what a better way than to do it with food and sweets. Diwali is a period that marks new beginnings. Houses are thoroughly cleaned, a kind of Spring cleaning in Autumn, and re-decorated. The courtyards in Indian homes are decorated with rangoli, which are vibrant patterns created with powdered or wet paint. Doorways and adorned with decorative garlands made with the traditional gold marigolds and fresh mango leaves. 

The kitchen becomes the hub for many households’ days before Diwali. Sweets, savories and snacks are made, lavish dinners are prepared, it truly is a festival unlike many others I have experienced. No expenses are spared, and everybody buys the best ingredients that is affordable to them.

As I know many of our Indian readers will be busy looking for ideas, I decided to put together a few great ideas for sweet treats I found while blog surfing.

Sweets


Indian sweets, which is known as 'mithai', are made with a variety of ingredients like semolina, wheat flour, chickpea flour or thickened milk, to which freshly grated coconut, carrots or white pumpkin is sometimes added. The mixtures, which are perfumed with sweet spices like cardamom and nutmeg, and embedded with nuts and raisins, are shaped into colorful shapes. All these processes - preparing, consuming and giving of sweets – are significant facets of the festival.

Nankatai Image courtesy of The Cooks Cottage Nankatai is a lovely flaky and buttery biscuit. They are typically served when the guests arrive around tea time. I found a perfect recipe for these delicate biscuits at The Cooks Cottage who makes her Nankatai recipe with saffron and cardamom.

Besan Laddoos are small balls of sweet heavenly delights. They are made by gently roasting gram flour and flavored with cardamom. Besan laddoos are extremely popular in India and are served as a simple sweet treat or as a bring along when visiting friends. Asha of Foodie’s Hope shares her delicious recipe for besan laddoos made the traditional way, by roasting the gram flour. However if you are looking for a quick method Nandita offers a great 5 minute beasan laddoo version.

Coconut Burfi is a lovely soft, chewy sweet often presented as a gift during festivities in India. Indira of Mahanandi makes a great version of the coconut burfi, without the addition of milk or ghee. She simply uses two coconuts, which she grated and adds cardamom for a gorgeous aroma. If you prefer a fruitier version over at Red Chillies you’ll find a rather scrumptious mango coconut burfi.

Sheera is a warm sweet very much like fudge, which is made using semolina, saffron, cardamom, raisins and nuts. There are several great recipes, some using fruit to flavour the sheera. One I found to be beautifully authentic was this Sheera recipe from Food for ThoughtGajarHalwa 05.

Kheer – a gorgeous milky rice pudding, made with rice, rice flakes or sago. Deeba provides us with delicious kheer, spiced with cardamom, nutmeg and saffron.

Gajar Ka Halwa is a silky carrot pudding, which is one of India’s most popular desserts.  There are several variations for this delectable dessert. My version is one I got from my grandmother. Using khoya, my gajar ka halwa adds a nutty mix of pistachios, cashews and almonds and uses very little sugar.

That was my quick tour of the blog-o-world of Diwali sweet treats, especially for you.

We from the Daily Tiffin team wish all celebrating Diwali a peaceful and joyous festival. Enjoy the time with family!


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This Post was written by Meeta