Out with the old and in with the new!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

The Greek Sunset on Flickr

Here we are counting down the last hours for 2006! Isn't this amazing?

I can't believe 2006 zoomed past at whirlwind speed and we are awaiting a new year.

This year has been rather special for me. It was in February of this year that the Daily Tiffin was brought to life. It started out as a way to document the daily lunch boxes I packed for my son and has now developed into a wonderful team blog. A blog that still gives great lunch box ideas, but also discusses other interesting family issues.

With Shaheen, BlogLily and Nandita we all take turns writing about our experiences and sharing our thoughts with you. Throughout the week you have great topics like how to fight colds with healing teas or about, what many will probably be able to relate to, the culture clashes when preparing lunch boxes. In December we had a few great posts about traditions in family, eating wisely during the holiday season, how to help our children understand the values of receiving and giving during Christmas and of course gift guides to help you find something for your loved ones.

We also brought on a few contributors to join the team. There was a nice recipe and a great article about banning junk food ads.

All in all it was an eventful year at The Daily Tiffin.

The new year will bring on many new posts and interesting write-ups. We hope to be able to get a few more contributors on the team. The main thing that we would like to do is make The Daily Tiffin more interactive with you. You, our readers, mean a lot and we look forward to getting your feedback.
Things to look forward to in the new year will be fun events. We will be having a few events and hope you will take part. More on these in 2007!

For now though, on the behalf of my team mates, BlogLily, Nandita and Shaheen and myself wish you all a Happy New Year! Hope the new year brings joy, happiness and success for you and your families.

See you all on the other side!


Have A Magical Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

We at the Daily Tifffin wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Hope you enjoy the festive days with your families, friends and children.

Happy Holidays!

Best wishes from,

and our contributors,

Anu and Asha

Adults have to eat too!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Posted by Shah cooks

Packing kiddie lunches are fun in a twisted kind of way.. it takes imagination to think up something that their finicky selves will like and is yet nutritious. Each day the lunch box comes back empty is a pat on the back. And each day it comes back untouched( not very frequently now) is to be marked and pondered on. So its a relief to pack an adult lunch, adding spices and veggies liberally, without worrying if the combination will be appreciated (and tolerated) or not. So some days I decide to pack lunch for my self or my better half and then its time for all the easy breezy recipes to come into play.
If not leftovers, what then? It has to be a one dish recipe taking up not more than 10-15 minutes of my precious morning time or late night time( when I would rather be watching a movie). Fried rice is one such versatile dish and when made at home, so nutritious and easy. No more of the greasy rice from the fast food places which has made it synonmous with stale food. Its rather a delicate cooked rice just tossed for a minute with vegetables and seasoned while hot. You could add shrimp, chicken or egg to add protein to it and its a complete meal.

Egg Fried Rice:

Cooked Rice- 2 cup
Carrots/Peas-1/4 cup
Green chilies-1 finely chopped
Cilantro- 1/4 cups finely chopped
Scallions/ Green Onion-1/2 cup very finely shredded
Bean sprouts-1 cup (Optional)
Light Soy sauce-2 tablespoons
Garlic clove --1 finely chopped
Black pepper- 1/2 tsp
Salt-1/2 tsp or to taste
Beaten Egg-1 or 2
Oil- 2 1/2tbsp

Cut all the vegetables very finely into small cubes of almost the same size. The vegetables and spices have to be all cut up and handy before you fire up the pan. Keep aside some of the green stems of the scallions for garnish.
Heat 1 tsp of oil in a non stick pan and scramble the beaten egg till cooked. Keep aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large shallow pan or wok and add all the vegetables and garlic. Stir fry for about 2-4 minutes. Add the rice and mix thoroughly. Add the salt, pepper and soy sauce, stir thoroughly and check seasoning. Add the cooked egg, bean sprouts,the chopped green stems of the scallions and the cilantro. Remove from heat and let it cool before packing into lunch boxes. This one was made in the morning and hurriedly photographed before packing it.

Another Lunch

Another common lunch packed for my little one is ravioli. I keep store bought ready made raviolis (yes, I don't make them) with chicken and cheese filling, and cook them as needed. 4-5 pieces is the most he can eat. After cooking them in water and draining, I season them with a bit of olive oil heated with oregano or thyme, a pinch of nutmeg, red pepper flakes or pepper, garlic powder and salt. It adds flavor and tastes good even when it is cold. Add strawberries, a brownie slice,milk and carrots or any other vegetables and fruits of choice.

Well now that we are going into the holiday season, everybody must be excited and looking forward to the vacation ahead. So Happy Holidays and hope everyone gets at least a couple of good memories from all the holiday events. Enjoy!!! As Calvin says the day begins when school ends.

This Post was written by Shaheen from Malabar Spices.

From Receiver to Giver

Friday, December 15, 2006

Posted by Anonymous

There are few things more difficult and more important in a child's development than their growth into members of a community, people with obligations toward others, with gifts to give and contributions to make.

One of the best times to lead your child gently in this direction is the Christmas holiday season. Even in cultures that do not celebrate this Christian holiday, the urge and pressure to buy gifts for others is strong. As is our own desire for material things. And we all know that something has gone wrong in the giving and receiving equation -- that we often give beyond our means, that our children seem to become little engines of consumption around this time, wanting things we aren't so sure they should have. How odd and sad that this most wonderful of ways for human beings to express love should so often become twisted into a painful struggle between parents and children over what is appropriate, and how much is too much.

In our family, we have had many Christmases of almost sickening excess. As our children have gotten older, I've come to some small understandings about how to right our course, one that's no longer headed toward the Mall, but toward the stable in Bethlehem. I offer them to you as examples of what one family does to make the holidays more about giving than receiving:

  • Model generosity. Your children learn best from what you do, not what you say. But you cannot do this until you have examined your own feelings about giving and receiving and gotten your house in order so you can be the most outward reaching person you know. That might mean toning down your own desires for things, slowing down so you can find time to give, thinking hard about your own history of finding comfort in material things.
  • Show your children how many places there are to give and then give with all your heart and means. Give toys to the toy drive, food to the hungry, warm coats for the warm coat drive. Bake for the neighbors, put up Christmas tree lights for the woman who can't get out of her house. Ask your children for their help. Start them off with easy things like: reminding you to bring that bag of toys to work, or drizzling glaze on the spice cookies. In general, make sure there is some role, no matter how small, in everything you give, for your children.
  • The children should be in charge of choosing, wrapping and paying for presents for significant people. We started this small: my children buy gifts for their siblings and for each parent. Some years they use their own money, other years they have a budget. It doesn't seem to matter how the gifts are financed because this exercise is really more about teaching children the pleasure of giving. And there is nothing more fun than giving a gift to someone you see every day and keeping it an absolute secret. There is something about the anticipated joy of the recipient that children really respond to.
  • Show your children how small things can be wonderful. When you describe what you want for Christmas, tell them about little pleasures. Lavender soap, new fun paper clips, a set of measuring spoons to replace the bent up ones you're using now. Let them feel your excitement about small new things. Don't insist that this is how it should be for them. Over the years, it will surely sink in.
  • OOOO and AHHHH. We have a tradition in our family that every present has to be opened one at a time. The recipient looks the giver in the eye and says something about it. We've got this thing we do where everyone says "OOOOOOO" and "AHHHHH" when the present is revealed. It's silly and fun. It slows things down. The children like it.
  • Be involved in holiday activities that are about something other than yourself. We sing in the family choir at church. There is no better time to let your children feel the sacredness of the holiday than on a quiet Thursday night in a hushed church suddenly filled with the sound of voices singing about miraculous things. If you are not religious, you can still plan a caroling evening with your neighbors. Or you can have a tradition where you read a story every evening to your children, a story with a holiday theme. There are lots of books that are not so much about organized religion as they are about the goodness of people. Choose them and read them. Ask a librarian for help if you're not sure.
The main point I want to make today, then, is that you cannot tell your children to be generous. You simply have to be that way yourself, asking only that they help you in your chosen way of celebrating the holidays. As they grow older, your children will show signs of this kind of generosity as they -- like you -- discover the generous person inside themselves, the person who truly understands that it is far better to give than to receive.

This Post was written by BlogLily from the TiffinTin.

A matter of balance and some Christmas thoughts too

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Posted by Unknown

A balanced tiffin

While Daily Tiffin is busy with Christmas celebrations and tips, I'd like to sneak in a short post about the kind of tiffins I indulge DH with. It's generally a portion of healthy carbs, a portion of protein from lentils or legumes and a portion of vegetables.

What's in it?

This tiffin has 2 whole wheat chapatis (Indian flat bread), sauteed cabbage shreds and a black eyed peas curry to dip into.

The smaller tiffin is for days when he gets delayed in office. The dry roasted peanuts are for the energy to keep going and a couple of dried apricots because he loves them. A couple of 'Kisses' - Hershey's Dark Chocolate are for the endorphine boost to beat the stress at work.

Kid variation

A similar lunch box for the kiddies would be a sandwich stuffed with sauteed vegetable filling. The black eyed peas curry could be whipped in a blender to make a smooth dip for the sandwich. The fruit-nut-chocolate box treat could go in as it is.

Why is this good?

Legumes and lentils like black eyed peas, make sure your blood sugar rises up gradually and not shoots up and down erratically making you even more hungry at the sugar low. These are not only loaded in protein (a great source for vegetarians) but also in fiber. The advantages of fiber are only too well known. Read this to know more about the goodness of lentils. Investing in a small pressure cooker will make cooking different kinds of lentils a breeze of a task without any prior planning. These black eyed peas get cooked to a soft consistency in just 5 minutes of pressure cooking after a 2 hour soak. Even if you forget to soak them, no problems. Just pressure cook for 5 more minutes.

Green leafy vegetables like cabbage of the Brassica family, are rich in cancer fighting anti-oxidants and you could easily make this saute with a ready cole-slaw mix pack from the supermarket. That way, all it'll take you is 5-7 minutes of the sauteeing time. It's wise not to combine high starch veggies with carbohydrate sources, like bread and potatoes or chapatis and peas. That was you end up eating more from one group and less of the other.

Music for Christmas

As my team-mates on DT are giving you Christmas gift ideas, I'd like to share with you my favourite albums to jazz up your Christmas spirit.

Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas

Frank Sinatra Christmas Collection

The Spirit of Christmas - Ray Charles

Interesting reads

While you are running in a frenzy trying to shop, cook, bake and mind your kids all at the same time, these Top 12 Chilli Out Tips will be real handy.

Gratification overload is hitting many families this festive season. Read about it here.

This Post was written by Nandita from Saffron Trail.

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Christmas Gift Guide: Books

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

In my last post I covered Homemade Gift ideas for Christmas. Something you can create with your kids or just yourself. Today I thought I would complement Shaheen's post and offer a few ideas on children's books and cookbooks.

I would love your feedback on this. If any of you already have one of these books let us know what you think of it. It might help others make a better decision.

Picture Books For Lil Ones

This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt; pictures by R.G. Roth (US$16, ages 3 to 7)

"This jazz man, he plays one, he plays rhythm with his thumb, with a Snap! Snap! Snazzy-Snap! Give the man a hand, this jazz man scats with the band."
Using this jazzy version of the old "This Old Man" rhyme The jazz Man introduces a famous ensemble of African-American jazz musicians as it counts to nine. Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to name two, joyfully jam for the kiddies and illustrations give clues to the performers, and the end matter has a biographical sketch for each one. It has won three honors including the Nick Jr. Book of the Year for Children.
This will appeal most to preschoolers and kindergarteners.

G Is For Gzonk!" An Alpha-number-bet Bookby Tony DiTerlizzi (US$16.95, ages 5 to 7)

DiTerlizzi's Dr.Seuss will amuse and surprise as he invents imaginary animals to illustrate as he describes a "silly dilly take on abc". Among all the laughs you will have with your kids, the will be exposed to colors, numbers and letters. A great a fun way to engage the creative mind and help them learn. One of my faves for Soeren.

Our 50 States by by Lynne Cheney, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (US$ 17.95, ages 4-8)

After America: A Patriotic Primer and A Is for Abigail, both Cheney and Preiss Glasser have compiled what in my opinion is their best yet. It is a story of a family who journey across the 50 states. Each page is a filled with colorful illustrations depicting the past and present. There are memorable song lyrics, historical data and famous landmarks are visited. Something that will have the kids glued to the sofa for hours.


The Silver Spoon by Phaidon Press.

For fans of the Italian cuisine. A revised treasure of over 2,000 recipes, it is a true culinary bible that has been finally translated into English. Folks, this one is on my wishlist too! It contains everything from sauces, pastas, antipasti and sweet dishes.

Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme by Dorie Greenspan.

Another one on my own wishlist. Dorie Greenspan has compiled a divine chocolate desserts by the best pastry chef in the world, Pierre Herme. The recipe collection are compiled for the normal kitchen so even people like you and me can have a go at making some of these sensual creations. The photographs in this book are incredible. There are fantastic recipes for dacquoise, macroons and chocolate rice pudding. I have to stop here otherwise I will drool all over my notebook.

King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains by King Arthur Flour

A 600 page baking bible for the health conscious with easy to follow recipes. A book with scrumptious recipes like brownies, flaky croissants and muffins all made with whole grain flour.

Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver.

Jamie shows his Italian soul in this book. He tours through Italy and collects awesome recipes from all over the country. Lovely photographs and candidly written. My current fave in my kitchen.

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Last but not least - a book that has made me find a new liking for baking. Easy to follow and written by Dorie Greenspan in a way you feel as if she was right there next to you in the kitchen. I love this book and have tried out a few recipes here and here. This cannot be missed out on. If you are interested in getting your hands on this book I am offering it as a prize for the Menu For Hope III auction.
Do something good - donate some money for a good cause and get your hands on this book.

You will also find several other great gift ideas on Chez Pim's campaign wesite. By bidding on any of the several prizes offered, you will also be helping some of the millions that desperately require every bit of support.

Please help us support Menu For Hope III by donationg generously.

Thank you!

This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?

Banning Junk Food Ads - UK's Bold Step

Friday, December 08, 2006

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

Photo courtesy BBC.co.uk

It was exactly one year ago this conversation took place. I was with a group of friends having tea when I happened to mention that that my son Devashish had put on quite a bit of weight in a very short span of time. At least I thought he had, though I was not sure. When I said this, a friend asked me if he was eating too much junk food. My answer to that was a definite NO. I mean Dev was 3 years old and had not even been introduced to junk food as such. So how could he have too much of it? I thought that was a very strange question.

Fast forward to this year and I cannot say the same. Dev now notices and recognises the Golden Arches of McDonalds immediately when he sees them. A fast food joint is one of his favourite places to visit. He rarely eats the entire meal but loves the toys that come along with the meal but I know it won’t be long before he will be gobbling down burgers and chips and washing it down with some fizzy drink and I have to admit that this increasing attraction of fast food joints does leave me a bit uneasy.

How many of you see the similarities to this?

Child Obesity is a rising problem causing great concern and a cause of many debates, issues and controversies around the World. Health Experts in the USA have equated it to National Epidemic and are calling it an Urban Illness. Statistics show that 15% of the children aged between 6 to 11 years in the USA are overweight and the percentage is rising with every passing year. Europe too has seen a steady increase in the percentage of Child Obesity with highest prevalence in Southern Europe. According to the Health Survey for England, 16% of boys and 10% of girls aged between 2 and 10 are obese.

Parents all over the world have the same worries: Is my child eating healthy? Is he/she getting his daily rations of vitamins, minerals? How can I help make the correct food choices with so many external influences on a child’s diet? It seems to be a never-ending story. So, the latest from the UK about junk food ad bans on television in an attempt to beat child obesity, comes as a welcome piece of news.

About 40% of ads during children's programmes are for food. Most of these are for confectionary, fast food, pre-sugared breakfast cereals, savoury snacks or soft drinks. Ofcom (An independent regulator and authority for the UK communication industries) has hence put forth the proposal that ads for food and drinks high in salt, sugar or fat will be banned from British television programmes aimed at children in the government fight against increasing childhood obesity.
Media regulator Ofcom put forward rules that will apply to programming that appeals to children under the age of 16 at any time of day or night on any channel.

This decision has left both advertising and health groups angry.
Ofcom said it had a responsibility to reduce the exposure of children to the advertising of such foods, balanced against the need to secure television programmes of high quality. Consumer and health groups have been lobbying for a full ban on junk food TV ads before 9pm. However, Ofcom thought this to be disproportionate.

Ofcom’s initial aim was to target the under 9-year-old group with this ban, however on November 17 the announcement to extend the ban for the under 16-year-olds came as a big surprise. Due to this new plan, to cover an older group, the regulations will be required to go through new consultation. The final decision will be announced in January 2007. Whatever the outcome one thing is for certain - Marketing companies have till March 2007 to comply with the new regulations and the kids-only networks till end of 2008. The restrictions will apply to all broadcasters licensed by Ofcom and based in the UK, including international broadcasters transmitting from the UK to audiences overseas.

Obviously with a proposal for a controversial ban on the horizon there has to be a strong debate raging over it.
The points that are being debated over are:
1. Whether it is enough to ban the ads only on the children’s channels and during those adult programmes watched by children or should there be a complete ban on these ads before the 9 pm watershed. Health campaigners support a complete ban before 9 pm watershed, but of course the food industry feels that these restrictions will be over the top.
2. Another school of thought is that advertising is a free speech issue and can any independent body bring about a ban on it?
3. Will only banning such ads really reduce the percentage of child obesity? Should it not be accompanied by emphasis on a combination of regular exercise and healthy eating patterns encouraged by parents and schools?
4. The most negatively affected by such a ban will be the food chains, manufacturers and broadcasters as this ban is set to cost them an estimated loss of 39 million Pounds of revenue. The food companies will simply turn to other channels for advertising.

The debate goes on.

This is a positive step towards helping us as parents to get our kids to not only eat healthier but also THINK healthy. The ads might not be the responsible factor for obesity in children, but it certainly is a very positive direction to take.

Book recommendation - Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Marketing strategies and campaigns from these huge companies have targeted exactly the age groups being considered in the Ofcom guidelines. Fortunately some companies have already taken pre-emptive action ahead of the ban. Burger King said it would voluntarily stop making and showing ads in the UK aimed at children from 22nd December. As parents, we realize that if we start early with giving our children the correct morals, values and eating habits that this will have a positive effect on them as they grow. The big fast food chains and other “junk food” manufacturers use the same method to promote their products.

Beating obesity is the big picture in this fight. Parents want their children to be able to live healthy, without the issues of high cholesterol, diabetes or even the social problems a child might have to suffer. In our attempt to educate our children it might have often become hard when on the other side you had to fight against the side effects of such advertisements. This step however should support us a little more. Education and a good balance should be the focus.

Maybe it might not be so unthinkable that in the future both – parents and the fast food companies – might even achieve more for the future of the children if they worked together. The outcome of this bold step UK has taken might just push these companies not only to re-think their campaigns but also their products. Maybe in the future the prospect of going to a “fast food joint” will not cause parents to cringe but actually look at it with positive feelings. Because in the end which parent would say no to a “fast food” meal prepared with healthier ingredients.

What do you think?

A couple of good articles on child obesity are:
Pester Power on www.arabnews.com
No Child Left Inside on www.dailypressandargus.com

Book recommendation:
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Researched by:
Anupama – Food n More

Written by:
Anupama – Food n More
Meeta - What's For Lunch, Honey?

Lighting Up Faces Before Lights Off

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Posted by Shah cooks

My son and we have a very simple sleep routine. It started when he was a baby and we read books to him to calm him down and get him ready for bed. He loved it and still goes to sleep just like that after a couple of books read to him (or now read with him as he has started reading). I know those of you who have a sleep rebel on their hands are envious and all I can say each to his/her own methods of calming down. Stick to a routine and they have something familiar to fall back on every day whether its a bath or a song or a book.

So now he has a bigger collection of books than we have and along with him, we too enjoy the variations and subtle jokes in the children’s books. Some of them remind us of our childhood when we were not so proper and were way too rambunctious for our parents. The books speak of experiences gently while entertaining at the same time. This time I am going to introduce you to three of our favorites. You may already be familiar with them but if you are not, welcome aboard.

A book we love to read at bedtime is “Sometimes I like to curl up in a ball” By Vicki Churchill. It is a sweet story of a wombat (Australian marsupials) who plays around the whole day but as night falls yearns for the comfort of his mother’s side. It has spectacular illustrations and makes you want to read it again and again. A comfort book.

The other favorite is DK First Encyclopedia which is packed with clear, well-researched information and quizzes for curious minds. Lively photographic design makes it especially appealing for children ages 4 and up and starts them off on the whole encyclopedia journey. The information is given in bite-sized key points and fact buttons in keeping with the junior minds and the material is similar to what is discussed in school.

The third book or rather magazine we love is “Zoobooks”, a monthly subscription magazine focusing on one type of animal. It has eye popping illustrations, educational diagrams and entertaining photos. Each book is a keeper as a future reference. It introduces ideas such as endangered animals, while describing an animal and its habits and habitats. It is a wonderful gift to give an inquisitive kid.

Do let me know which is your and your kid's favorite book. I could add more to my library too and we could make a best loved list by age group.

For Your Info: From December 11 to December 22 Meeta will be hosting a prize for the Menu For Hope III fundraiser. It would be great if the Daily Tiffin readers help raise money for this special cause by bidding on the surprise prize. Every penny you bid will be sent to the United Nations World Food Programme. In return you will be able to get your hands on a special prize. Many of us are taking part and you will find more details here.

This Post was written by Shaheen from Malabar Spices.

Makeover your food habits

Posted by Unknown

A food makeover can easily lead to a 'you'-makeover. It is astonishing as to how many calories we can cut out from our food by simple subtitutions or reducing the quantity of some ingredients. Christmas and the new year are fast approaching. It is as much a time for celebration (read that as loads of good food) as much as it is for introspection. A conscious thinking about are we doing good to our bodies. Do we need that much sugar in our morning coffee? Do we need that carton of whole cream in our soup? If we absolutely need it there, can we vow to eat a little less of the good stuff?

A few tips to remember

1. Substitute refined products with wholesome products. Our ancestors used to eat raw, the least we can do is to eat 'whole'.

Example: Refined all purpose flour to part whole wheat flour
Advantage: More fibre, stable blood sugar levels, protection from cancers.

Example: White bleached sugar with jaggery or any other unrefined sugar source
Advantage: Refined sugar is a zero nutrition food. Jaggery has loads of iron and minerals.

2. Reduce the fats, sugar and salt. We're not asking you to give up, just to reduce.

Example: Don't keep salt shakers on the table. I'm sure you wont get up in the middle of the meal to get salt. Out of sight is really out of mind.
Advantage: Excess salt is one of the main causes in developing high blood pressure. And it is no secret that a normal blood pressure is one of the key indicators of of your heart health.

Example: Instead of smothering your toast with butter or margarine, try a chutney or a vegetable spread. It's tastier, believe me.
Advantage: Lower in calories and richer in anti-oxidants

Example: We don't need to DRIZZLE loads of olive oil on everything like the chefs on food network do it. Olive oil is good. But remember everything in excess is bad. A tbsp or so per recipe is good enough.
Advantage: Each tbsp of olive oil saved is 120 calories lost. Like they say, a penny saved is a penny earned. I'd say, a calorie saved is a calorie burnt.

3. Use healthy methods of cooking.

Example: Potatoes are one of the greatest vegetables and they get bashed most often. Compare a boiled potato with French fries. While a boiled potato would approximately be 100 calories, a handful of fries would be atleast 3 times as much. It's all in the technique. Baking, roasting, steaming, poaching, grilling, pressure cooking, sauteeing are wonderful methods of cooking. Use them.
Advantage: Nutrients are preserved without adding excess calories from deep frying.

4. Share the good stuff.

Example: Can't resist that chocolate avalanche at your coffee shop? Go along with 4 friends and share it. In short, eat smaller portions of good stuff. Who can survive not eating their favourite chocolate brownie or mom's teratti paal? Eat, but eat consciously. Savour that one small piece slowly and lovingly.
Advantage: You wont crave for the goodie by abstaining. Sharing will cut down your intake by large.

Recommended reads

~I came across this eye-opener of an article in the Daily Mail about child-nutrition. The article was written by Jane Clarke- Britain's leading nutritionists and was called - Let them eat white bread - It really IS healthy! This makes an excellent read for all parents who are concerned about what is the best food for their children.

~The Happiness Project blog by Gretchen Rubin is a part of my everyday reading. Every Wednesday is tips days at her blog and her Tips to eat better is a great way to end this post. Read it here.

This Post was written by Nandita from Saffron Trail

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A Tiffin and a Christmas Gift Guide

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

If you are anything like me I am sure you have some of that Turkey from Thanksgiving leftover and frozen away in the freezer. Am I right? Well instead of shoving it to the back of that freezer let's use it to make some pretty great sandwiches.

I had made a Turkey Roulade from the Bon Appétit menu planner from Epicurious.com. It was filled with Porcini, Crimini mushrooms and lovely Italian Pancetta (Italian bacon).

Once again if you are anything like me you will cook for 80 when only 8 are going to be sitting down at the dinner table. LOL!

What I did with the left over roulade was cut nice slices and put a sheet of waxed paper between each slice. This I put into a freezer bag and up it went into the freezer. Now, I can easily take out exactly the amount of slices I need on the evening before, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I have juicy slices to use in any way I want. You could do this with turkey breast too. Simply cut in thin slices and freeze between waxed paper.

Tiffin Idea

For Soeren I bought a wonderful rye roll filled with pumpkin seeds and topped with grated parmesan. The roll in itself is delicious. I took one of the turkey slices and quickly panfried it for just a few minutes on each side. The roll is spread with cream cheese and filled with the stuffed roulade. On top of this I spread some of the most delicious cranberry and ginger chutney, which was also a part of the Bon Appétit menu (I will be sharing the recipe and my experience with it next week, so look out for that).
As Soeren is not really a leafy lettuce eater I did not add any, but if you are then I suggest adding some leafy rucola leaves to the sandwich too. Soeren also just loves to nibble on cheese chunks. So, this cheese chunk comes from Bonbel and has a wonderful buttery taste to it.
The fruit choices are organic juicy pear slices and sweet aromatic golden kiwis. We love the golden variety because they taste of so many different types of fruit. I can taste papaya and mango when I take a bite of these. Soeren can eat two or three at a time so I have to make sure I have enough of these in the house.
For his afternoon snack I packed a wonderful European specialty. A nussecke is pastry made from shortcrust dough and spread with a variety of nuts and honey and one side is covered in chocolate. Simply wonderful.

Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas is just around the corner and yesterday, Lily talked about the lovely way her family have been counting the days to Christmas. It made me smile. Although she is in San Francisco I could not help feeling so amazingly close to her when I read the post. You see we too have a similar little tradition. A few years ago I had made 24 little sacks made of green and red felt. Decorated them with elves and snowmen and numbered them all from 1 to 24. I fill these "santas sacks" as Soeren calls them, with tiny gifts (a few crayons, Matchbox cars, little books) to help Soeren countdown the days till Christmas day. Just like Lily and her family it is such a joy to see the excitement build up.

For the big day itself, I thought I would share some ideas with you for some nice Christmas gifts. In today's post:

Homemade Gifts

What I totally love as gift ideas are those self made gifts. Every year the three of us (Tom, Soeren and me) try and make it a point to take time and make homemade gifts for special friends and family members. What started out as a bit of fun has now turned into a beautiful tradition that we all look forward to. It is not only the speciality of giving homemade gifts, it is the cherished moments spent with my partner and son that mean the world to me.

So, every year we sit together and look at photos we took over the past year. Then we select 12 appropriate pictures and make wonderful calendars for the great-grandparents, grandparents, uncle and aunt. Here in Germany many book stores sell calendars that are pre-prepared and all we need to do is decorate them and paste a few photos on them. They come in a variety of colors and styles - something to suit everyone's taste. The family members get calendars with photos of Soeren, who takes special pride in decorating the borders with glitter, stars, colored stickers and drawings. This gift idea is the hit in our family.

A few of my friends have mentioned that they would love one or a few of my pictures. So, I thought of making a few calendars for them with a selection of these photos. Others will get their favorite photo blown up and framed.

If you too have a creative hobby, how about making something special for your family and friends yourself.
If your kids are a little older they can maybe draw or paint their artwork on canvas. Last year Tom secretly got Soeren to finger paint on a huge canvas for me. This is my most cherished gift and I have it hanging in the office.

Other great homemade gift ideas are those of the edible sort. Little ad-ons to the actual gifts. They look and taste nice, but also has a great side effect. It simply shows "I care about you!"

I like to make Truffles. Placed in elegant boxes, they make a luxurious and personal gift for not only family members but are perfect for your colleagues or boss.

Next week I'll share a few more gift ideas for kids books, tech gifts and other interesting gifts. Hope you'll tune in then!

Menu For Hope III
One last thing before I call it a day for today.
From December 11 to December 22 I will be hosting a prize for the Menu For Hope III fundraiser. I would like to rally up all the Daily Tiffin readers to help raise money for this special cause by bidding on the surprise prize I will be offering during this period. Every penny you bid will be sent to the United Nations World Food Programme. In return you will be able to get your hands on a special prize. Many of us are taking part and you will find more details here.

This Post was written by MEETA from What's For Lunch, Honey?

The Children's Tree

Monday, December 04, 2006

Posted by Anonymous

One thing that really matters to children is having the chance to participate in getting ready for big events. Tiniest Tiffin loves decorating the tree, but it's so early we can't really bring ourselves to buy a lovely, expensive tree that we know is going to dry out and become a fire hazard well before December 25th.

Our compromise? We let him choose a very small tree to beautify for all of us. He decorated it with small woodland animal ornaments and put an angel near them to keep watch, added two glamorous bulbs, and a Santa on the top.

To help him manage his excitement, we put something fun under this tree: a stack of 24 (now though, we're down to 20) holiday books, books we've had for a long time, having collected them for years. He and his brothers wrapped these books up like presents, which gave them practice with scissors and tape. Every evening, we've been choosing, unwrapping and reading one book. As the stack under the children's tree gets smaller, it reminds us of how close we are to the Big Day. And even though the books are ones we know well, this doesn't seem to have diminished anyone's pleasure in either the wrapping or the unwrapping. (And don't despair: If you don't have 24 holiday books, there's no reason you can't use library books you've borrowed for the duration of the season, or even books that are favorites, and have no connection to the season. This is a tip that also works for counting down to birthdays: you can wrap in colorful birthday paper, a week of favorite books to help with that count-down.)

It's going to be a lovely holiday season. I hope your preparations are going well. If you'd like a recipe for yummy spice cookies, I'll be posting one over at the TiffinTin a little later today.

This Post was written by BlogLily from the TiffinTin.

Recipe: Cornish Pasties

Friday, December 01, 2006

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

Photo courtesy Asha Arvind

For the weekend we have an interesting recipe for you. Cornish Pasties are very versatile and can be served for a lunch, snack and are just perfect for any lunchbox. You can fill the pasties anyway you want and according to any taste. Your kids will certainly get a kick out of guessing what mummy filled the pasties with this time ;-).

Have you filled your pasties with anything out of the norm? Tell us about it.

We thank Asha from Foodies Hope for this recipe contribution.

What are Cornish Pasties?
They are originally from Cornwall, England. They say that no Cornwall Holiday is complete without sampling a delicious proper Cornish pasties, whether they are served piping hot, crisp and golden brown just out of the oven, or eaten cold. With the decline of the mining industry in Cornwall , many Cornishmen were forced to emigrate as far as USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and they have taken the pasty recipe with them !

Cornish Pasties ( Makes about 6 Pasties)
Adapted from Linda's of Out of the Garden Pasties

For the crust:

2 - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c shortening (crisco )
1/8 cup milk, or just enough to form the dough

For the filling:

1/2 - 1 lb lean, tender sirloin,
1 medium Rutabaga
1 medium onion
2-3 large carrots
1-2 large red potatoes

Any spices or/and herbs you like
salt and pepper

Eggwash for baking:
1 whole egg mixed with 2-3 Tbsp water

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

1. Mix flour and salt. Now add in the shortening and mix with your fingertips until it looks crumbly. Add milk, little by little just enough to get a firm dough. Divide the into 6 pieces equally and cover the dough to prevent drying and keep it aside.
2. Cut the sirloin 1/4" pieces, and cut peeled vegetables into uniform 1/4" square pieces as well .You can cook vegetables for 5 mins in the microwave with little water until little tender so you don't have to worry about whether they are cooked in the oven, specially Rutabagas. Making sure you don't have any liquid in the meat or veggies, mix all the ingredients with any spices , herbs you like , salt and pepper to taste. Divide into 6 portions.
3. Roll out a dough ball to 1/8" to 1/4" thick circle about 8" in diameter. Must be thick enough to hold the filling without tearing the crust. Place these on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or just spray with some no-stick spray. .Put one portion of filling, a pat of butter, fold one half over and seal both edges with water and press with fork to seal. Brush with egg wash all over the pasties. Prick the top with fork to make tiny holes. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
4. Bake for 50 mins to 1 hour or until the crust is golden. Cool on a wire rack. Serve hot or cold with any sauce you like.

Note: Traditionally, meat and vegs are just mixed together raw and seasoned with salt and pepper before baking. I cooked the vegs just until tender to prevent uncooked surprises inside after baking! It's would be your choice , whether to add them raw or cook for 5 mins before you bake. Same goes for adding spices and herbs in the filling too.

This recipe was written by Asha from Foodies Hope.

If you are also interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.