10 Minutes Sweet: Condensed Milk Peda

I hardly make Indian snacks and sweets at home. It’s time consuming and I cannot stop it with just one sweet/snack. The ones I frequently make are Bonda, baked vada, obbattu/poli and this condensed milk peda. All of these are so easy to make and I don’t have to spend hours and hours in the kitchen for cooking and cleaning {call me lazy.. yikes!}

Tomorrow is Krishna Janmashtami (a festival we celebrate) and the one sweet I make every year is condensed milk peda. It’s super quick to make and my family loves it.

Ingredients:

  • Sweetened condensed milk – 1 can
  • Yogurt/curd – 2 tablespoon
  • Cashews – 4 tablespoons
  • Butter – 3 tablespoon (a small piece of butter)
  • A tall microwaveable vessel (the condensed milk will boil over if you use small vessels. A tall vessel will prevent it from happening)

Directions:

  • Grease the vessel with butter
  • Combine all the ingredients in the vessel (You can
  • Microwave for 3 minutes and mix well
  • Again microwave for another 2-3 minutes
  • The microwave timing varies depends on the power of your microwave. Microwave until you get the milk peda consistency.
  • We love smooth consistency milk peda. If you want it in churned consistency, microwave for couple more minutes
  • Cool down and transfer to a container with tight lid. It can be stored in the fridge for few days

Be sure to check out my other lazy recipes as well šŸ™‚

We Stopped Eating White Sugar And Here Is Why

In an effort to avoid processed food, last December I decided to avoid sugar completely for a week. The first couple of days were really hard for someone like me who has sweet tooth. The life was dull to say the least šŸ˜‰

Have you ever felt like only when you cannot do something you’ll be forced to do it? That’s how I felt. Only when I decided to give up on sugar, someone would bring me sweets or we have Holiday party were there were no vegetarian food and the only items I could eat were desserts. I had 2 dry buns and coleslaw in the Holiday party. Dang it!}

Anyways, I successfully was able to complete one week without consuming sugar or food made with sugar. But I also decided that it won’t work for me. I want to enjoy my life as much as I want to live a healthy life. So, I decided to try other alternatives to processed white sugar. I replaced white sugar with brown sugar/coconut sugar in the kitchen. I started using coconut sugar, dry ginger palm sugar and Jaggery when making sweets. My family didn’t notice the difference when I changed everything to brown sugar or coconut sugar. I checked with Hubby after couple of weeks whether he likes the taste of his Coffee and this guy gave me a happy nod šŸ™‚

It’s been 8 months since we started avoiding white sugar at home. I don’t completely avoid eating cakes or other sweets outside. Will just limit the intake.

The difference I noticed in the last 8 months:

  • My weight usually fluctuates a lot. I was able to get rid of the last 6 pounds of baby weight that was clinging on me for a while with the just the same diet/workout as before
  • My waistline size went down. 
  • My craving for sweets went down. Or at least I was able to control my cravings

Something I’d like to mention here: I consciously try to avoid buying/eating other processed foods. I’m sure it made an impact as well.

White sugar alternatives: (Check the picture above for pictures associated with names)

Brown sugar:
Brown sugar is considerably healthier than white sugar even though brown sugar calories level is little higher than white sugar.

Also, brown sugar provides the same nutrients as white sugar. It’s good to limit our daily sugar intake overall.

Where to buy: you can find them in all grocery stores

Coconut sugar:

In my opinion, it’s hands down the best natural alternative to white sugar. The taste is noticeably different than white sugar. But it’s soo good for our health.

I wrote a post on how to use coconut sugar. Check it out if you want to know how to prepare it for regular use.

Where to buy: I get it from India. They have long shelf life and can be stored for a while. I also saw “coconut sugar” sold in some of the grocery stores. Never tasted them though.

Dry ginger palm sugar:

It’s something I use when we are sick or for urad dal kanji. Love its taste in some specific food items.

Where to buy: I get it from India. You can find it in some of the Indian grocery stores as well.

Jaggery:

Can be used when making most of the Indian sweets. I use it when I rarely make Indian sweets at home.

Where to buy: Can be found in all the Indian grocery stores.

When buying pre-packaged food from the grocery store:

  • Check out the ingredients label. I try to avoid anything that contains more than 10g of artificial sugar (White or brown sugar)
  • I don’t avoid natural sugar in fruits and some vegetables. The Naked Juice label shows 29g of sugar. But all of it comes from fruits and vegetables. So that’s good. 
  • Even though I’d prefer to avoid packaged fruit juices, I try to choose better options among all. Lately these juices are GOD send when traveling or mid-afternoon snack.

Disclaimer – I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor and all the opinion above are from my personal experience.

This Week’s Indian Meal Planning + Make Ahead Plans

Due to an impromptu vacation last week, we hardly finished the items I pre prepared last weekend. That made this week’s meal preparation quite simple. Today I made,

Ragi idly dough
– Home made ghee

Below is this week’s menu:
Breakfasts:

Lunch:

  • Tomato rice
  • Rice with drumstick sambar + potato curry
  • Broccoli paratha with channa masala
  • Rice, kuzhambu and carrot poriyal
  • Lemon rice with bittergaurd fry
  • Rice, mor kuzhambu and beans paruppu usili
  • Out

Dinner:

  • Baked pasta and salad
  • Idly with tomato chutney 
  • Adai with aviyal
  • Dosa waffle with sambar
  • Paneer sandwich with baked sweet potato fries
  • Upma with coconut chutney
  • Out

Snack:

    Recap Of Our 1 Night Stay At Great Wolf Lodge {Pictures Overload}

    Last weekend we decided to take a break after a couple of weeks of crazy work + sickness at home. Great Wolf Lodge was one of the places we wanted to visit for a while. For our short vacation this time, it was a perfect place considering we wanted something within driving distance and just one night stay.

    Great Wolf Lodge has multiple locations across US. We went to their Grapevine location closer to Dallas.

    When we started the trip, the little guy was so happy and kept saying “we are going to Dallas” {He had no idea what Dallas is by the way}. After couple of hours, couple more stop, and lunch, he slept off and woke up when we were about to reach the destination.

    We were hoping for less crowd as it was the last week of summer break before the school starts and the sky was pouring. Boy, I was so wrong. It was a good number of people and in a way it created a good, happy environment.

    Booking:
    I’d suggest you sign up for their membership (click the “sign up” link located at the top right corner once you choose your destination). They provided better rates for us (just for signing up) after I signed up and logged in through my account.

    Sometimes LivingSocial offers deals on Great Wolf Lodge. I’ll post it in CentsibleIndian Facecbook page when they post next deal on the Lodge.


    Room and Tickets:

    Tickets are your wristbands that you collect when checking-in. Room key is also your wristband. You can pay for everything using the wristband as well. How nice is that!

    We went with standard room for this trip. But they have “themed” and “premium” rooms options as well. The standard room itself is quite a good size. It comes with microwave and refrigerator. After a good couple of hours in the water park, we went to the room and had microwave popcorn and some fruits for snacks. I just like the convenience of having microwave in the room.

    We also went with “balcony” option when we selected the room. I don’t think you can call it a balcony though. It’s not private and is such a small space to even sit outside. We will not be paying extra for the balcony next time.

    The room also has semi-private living room and small office space that we barely used.

    Activities:

    The Lodge has both indoor and outdoor water parks. We spent all our time in the indoor water park due to rain. All of the rides, except two, are for people over 48″ tall. So, Chuttu is not qualified for any of those. They have wave pool and other areas where Chuttu spent majority of his time.

    After an hour or so in the regular water (82 degree temperature), Chuttu started shivering. We thought of leaving the park and taking a break until he gets better. Then we found the awesome warm pool inside the water park. So we took him to the warm pool, warmed him up and went back to having more fun.

    Some other activities in the Lodge are included in the tickets as well. Few of them are story time, clock tower show, cub club etc.You can buy separate tickets for additional activities.

    If you want a break from water park, they have some fun game area inside the Lodge. Chuttu was so mesmerized with the flickering lights that he didn’t even care/know to play the games. He was running from one game station to another and checking the lights while one of us had some fun time playing games.

    Food:
    The best part of this Lodge is, park, food and all other activities are INSIDE the Lodge. You don’t need to go outside at all. The available food options are quite good as well.

    They have pizza shop, buffet, casual eatery (inside the water park), ice cream shop, and Starbucks (maybe more). We ordered Pizza for dinner and it was surprisingly delicious. The morning breakfast buffet had way too many option as well. The only caveat is the cost. Dinner buffet is $21 per person and Breakfast buffer is $14 (i think) per person. 

    We have few hours of fun in the water park on the day of check-in, dinner, story time and called it a day. The next day we had to check out by 11. But the nice thing is, the entry to water park is valid till the end of the day. So, we put all the luggage in the car, took only the changing clothes and went back to the park again the next day.

    They have locker options inside the water park that can be purchased for $10 per day (for small lockers). The shower rooms are well maintained and they even provided shower gel.

    It’s not an inexpensive trip considering we only stayed one night. But the tickets come with $50 credit per day and you get to enjoy variety of activities inside the water park. Even my toddler had a blast and even now he is saying he loves Dallas. {For him “Dallas” means “Great Wolf Lodge” :)}.

    Social Pressure Impacting Our Lifestyle

    Have you ever felt that you’re making a decision or buying something for social pressure? It can be buying a certain type of car to making a trip because someone else went to that place.

    In our defense, it’s hard to avoid social pressure. It knocks out the person knowingly or unknowingly.
    I grew up watching people’s lives crumble because of decisions they made due to social pressure or showoff. It made a huge impact in my life and I try my best not to get into the swirl.

    Let’s say you see a product in someone’s house and you really want it. If you think it will add value in your life and you can afford without any compromise, go for it.

    If it doesn’t satisfy any of the above, then it’s time to reevaluate the WANT.

    So I came across a pressure cooker at a friend’s house. I’m multiple instances, I’ve asked her about its use and cooking. Quickly I realized I’ll find it very useful considering that I cook both breakfast and lunch every morning. Also my existing pressure cooker was about to die and this one would be a good replacement.

    I’ve been using it every day (sometimes multiple times a day) ever since I bought it. In this case, my friend indirectly influenced me. But I know it will add value in my life and I can afford it without rocking the boat. So, I went with it.

    Need vs Want:

    Think multiple times before making a purchase. Be it buying a pan for the kitchen or buying clothes. I follow this religiously primarily to avoid clutter in life. But it also helps reduce the expenses.

    Remember the end financial goal:

    What do we want in life? It can be early retirement, comfortable old age, kids education etc. Will you compromise any of these goals for a BUY? Just make sure to remind yourself about the end goal and plan your spending accordingly.

    Have a budget:
    Have a budget for each of your spending categories. It helps track the expenses and will show you the income vs spending. Tweak your budget according to your income and needs.

    If you’re new to budgeting, here is my 3 parts series on setting up budget, tools and things to remember:

    Part 1 – Budgeting basics and how to stick to a budget
    Part 2 – Budgeting tools and reviews
    Part 3 –  Budgeting: Things to remember

    There is one area where social pressure is good: Being healthy šŸ™‚ Let’s not shy away and go along with social pressure when it comes to being healthy. Yikes!

    Chia Seeds Raw Energy Balls

    Making energy bars at home is real simple, especially when they can be made raw without using oven or stovetop.The other reason to make one at home is, store bought ones mostly contact high of sugar and doesn’t contain all the goodness the homemade ones offer you.

    I’m guilty of spending more time taking pictures than making these energy balls. You literally need less than 5 minutes to make them. It’s similar to the Dates mithai recipe I posted a while ago.

    The main ingredients this recipes needs are: dates, chia seeds, dry coconut powder, nutmeg, and walnuts. You can choose to ignore the rest even though I highly recommend adding as many of the above ingredients as you can.

    Ingredients:
    Dates – 1 cup
    Walnuts – 1/2 cup
    Chia seeds – 2 tablespoon
    Pistachio – 1/2 cup
    Dry coconut – 3/4 cup (you can replace it with regular coconut as well)
    Protein powder – 2 tablespoon
    Flax meal – 2 tablespoon
    Cacao – 2 tablespoon
    Goji berries – 2 tablespoon
    Vanilla extract – 1 tablespoon
    Nutmeg – 1/2 teaspoon
    Honey – 2 tablespoon

    Steps:

    1. Soak chia seeds in water for 10 minutes.
    2. Combine all other ingredients except chia seeds and grind coarsely in a food processor/mixie (I use my Vitamix for the grinding)
    3. Combine chia seeds with the mix and make them into balls
    4. Store in air tight container and enjoy whenever you need a boost of energy

    I at least eat couple of these every day for snack. I have sweet tooth and it’s super hard to stop with just 2. But hey, it contains all the good things at least šŸ™‚

    Make Ahead Indian Meal Planning – “After” Pictures

    Like I mentioned in my weekly meal planning post, below are the list of things I made today to prepare for the upcoming week.

    • Brinjal pepper kuzhambu seasoning
    • Adai dough
    • Chia seeds energy balls
    • Whole wheat flax meal pancake
    • Mor kuzhambu seasoning
    • Bisi bela bath seasoning
    • Soak moong dal for sprouted moong dal salad
    • Soak red dal and freeze
    • Soak horse gram and freeze 
    • Avial seasoning

    It took me a little more than an hour to prepare all these. Few things to consider before preparing for the week:

    – Make recipes that can be frozen. Freezing helps retain the nutrition than refrigerating
    – Make sure to write the name of the recipe on the container. You might not remember what you froze when you take out the container after couple of days.
    – The BOLD ones on the list above are my own recipes and the rest can be found if you Google them. I’ll share the chai seeds energy balls tomorrow.
    – When I make these seasonings, I make them for more than one use. These seasonings I prepared will last for around a month.

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

    Indian Meal Planning – Preparing For The Upcoming Week

    Sunday means, menu planning and prepping ready for the week. As much as I wanted to post my plans on Friday like I mentioned in my last week menu planning post, I just didn’t have the energy when the week ended due to sickness. Hope next week will be much better.

    I make the seasoning for curries and gravies that I planned that week, grind them and freeze them. As you might know, I cook lunch every morning. By having all these ready before-hand, I save time on grinding and my morning cooking takes only 30 minutes.

    Posting the make-ahead plan below on a Sunday morning so that if you wanna join me, you certainly can. Below is the list of things I’m going to prepare for the upcoming week:

    • Brinjal pepper kuzhambu seasoning
    • Adai dough
    • Chia seeds energy bar
    • Whole wheat flax meal pancake
    • Mor kuzhambu seasoning
    • Bisi bela bath seasoning
    • Soak moong dal for sprouted moong dal salad
    • Soak red dal and freeze
    • Soak horse gram and freeze 
    • Avial seasoning

    I’ll also post the pictures of the above make-ahead plan at the end of the day.  I’ll share the recipes for them as well.

    4 Things I’m Loving Lately!

    Can you believe it’s almost a month since I posted my last life lately post? I’m trying to post one every 2 weeks. Personally, it’s a fun to write and couple of my readers told me it’s fun to see these pictures as well.

    Birthday celebration:
     

    Someone was eagerly waiting for Amma to cut the cake so that he can dig into the cream. He kept saying “happy birthday Amma! cut the cake” šŸ™‚

    I celebrated my birthday few days ago. I was sick that day and spent the whole day trying to recover from illness. So I was mostly home bound except visiting temple and eating out.

    AND, I bought a long list of products from Sephora as birthday gift. Its one of the areas where I splurge the most.

    Local Sight Seeing:

    A friend recommended this place recently and we decided to stop by in one of the weekends. It’s a nice view of Austin’s 360 bridge and Lake Austin river.

    The path to the view was a little rough. Hubby was carrying Chuttu and Chuttu kept telling me “Amma, careful” and “Amma, are you ok?” lol! This little dude acts like an adult sometimes.

    Amma, you’re dirty:

    I love weekend morning, especially if I can wake up early before everyone ;). One Saturday morning, I decided to apply turmeric on my face before I start making pancakes. Chuttu woke up after me and came to the kitchen. Below is how the conversation went:

    He was sleepy and rubbing his eyes when entering the kitchen.
    Chuttu: Amma, what’s on your face?
    Me: It’s turmeric Baby
    Chuttu: Your face is dirty Amma. Go and wash it!
    Me: Oh no! (agreeing to him that my face is dirty) Can we take a selfie before I wash it?
    Chuttu: Yeah!

    Poor boy! He didn’t even brush his teeth and mommy wanted to take a selfie. I guess he is used to my selfies that he was not even surprised when I asked him.

    Picnic in the backyard:

    When the weather is good without any mosquitoes, we have our dinners at the backyard. the family dinner consists of lot of running, soccer and some bites here and there šŸ™‚

    How To Save Money On International Calling Cards?

    Note: It’s not a sponsored post and does not contain any sponsored links.

    For someone living in abroad, International calling is essential to keep in touch with family back home. I have tried a number of calling options over the years including Vonage. The quality of the call was the same in all of them even though the cost differed quite a bit.

    If you’re familiar with Magicjack, I didn’t have any good experience with them. Everytime we activates credit cards using Magicjack, the cards were hacked.

    Based on my research and experience, below are some of the options that can be tried to either call for FREE or with minimal cost.

    Here is how to make international calls for FREE:

    Bing.com is trying to promote their search engine against Google. So they have these point system through which you can earn points and exchange them for Skype credits.

    For every 2 bing searches, you’ll earn 1 point. It’s really easy to gain these points. Bing.com is my default search engine and I don’t make any extra effort other than searching my queries through Bing. So far I have not disappointed with my search results either.

    For 475 points, you can redeem 500 minutes of Skype credits. We add these points in our Skype account to call families in India. Another good thing is, you can call anywhere in the world, not just India.

    These points can be used to redeem other gift cards such as Starbucks.

    Viber and Whatsapp are other messaging options that can be used for FREE calling. All my family members have access to these apps and I just call them through the messenger apps first and try Skype if they are not picking up.

    Dial91:

    The name might sound fishy. But we LOVED their service for few years until I found a way to make calls for free. Dial91 charges less than 1 cent per minute and the quality of the calls are great.

    They also have an App that can be used for calling as well.

    So far I have not come across any other service that offers calling for less than a cent per minute.

    If you’re using any cost effective options for calling India, let me know. I’ll add them in the list as well.

    If you found this post helpful, Iā€™d appreciate it if you shared it. Thank you!ā€¬