The wonders of watermelon

April 21st, 2014

watermelon 2One of our favorite fruits when its warm and sunny outside is watermelon. There’s nothing to beat the taste of an ice cold slice of sweetness! Watermelon juice is also delicious and cooling. Try it with a dash of salt and pepper, or as we do in India, with a little black salt. YUM!
In my exploration of the wonders of all things natural for the face, I guess then there was no surprise to see the wonders of watermelon in the area of natural beauty, too! The white part of the fruit, between the red flesh and the skin, has marvelous anti oxidant, anti aging and anti dryness benefits. Below I’ve listed a few:

 

Watermelon for dry skin:

Take the white part of the fruit, near the rind, and mash with 1/2 a ripe avocado

Apply generously to cleansed face for about 1/2 hour

Wash off with warm (not hot) water

This provides an incredible, natural moisture surge

Watermelon for aging skin:

Again, you will use the white part of the fruit and blend in a teaspoon of green tea powder (I use organic matcha)

This will be very watery, so to bind it, I add a teaspoon of organic locally grown honey

Apply to cleansed face and lie down if you can to avoid dripping

Wash off with warm water after about 15 or 20 minutes

Your skin will glow after this treatment so advise your friends to wear their dark glasses when they look at you :)

Watermelon for cleansing and overall skin care

Cut off 2 large pieces of the white of the melon

First mix with the white of an egg

Apply to cleansed skin for 15 minutes, wash off

Mix the remaining fruit with the yolk of an egg

Apply immediately, wait 15 minutes

This treatment does 2 things: the white of the egg deep cleanses the skin, preparing it for the moisture and nutrients provided by the yolk

I like to add some green tea powder to both treatments, but that’s optional

Of course, after all these lovely facials, you can end off with some of our lovely home made rose water tonic!

What’s that sound? You rushing to the grocery store? Great!

 

Pinterest

Get beautiful with roses

April 10th, 2014

<em>With spring here, I love seeing the colorful flowers and blooms everywhere. Our own driveway currently is offering a Roses for beautystunning, welcoming burst of yellow roses on either side, which puts me in a great mood when I come back home from work. The other day, as I was enjoying the fragrance of our roses, I remembered the bottle of pure rose water that is always in my mother’s refrigerator.

Roses are not only a lovely feast for the senses, they are also used profusely in beauty products and routines in India and other places like Turkey and Egypt. My mother tones and refreshes her face with her rose water, as well as splashes it into various puddings and cakes.

So I decided to make my own rose water- and it really didn’t require much effort! Why I would encourage anyone to do so is because rose water is a natural toner which your skin will love. Simply rub it on to your face gently with a cotton ball, after cleansing. Your skin will feel beautiful and refreshed. In addition, rose water, when mixed with a bit of glycerin makes for one of the best natural face cleansers because roses are astringent, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and have the loveliest of scents.

How to make rose water:

1. You will need 6 cups of red rose petals. These should be freshly picked (preferably in the morning after the morning dew has evaporated) and no chemicals/preservatives should have been used to grow the roses.

2. Wash the petals really well and remove any bugs and dirt particles.

3. Put the  petals in a large cooking pot, and add enough distilled water to cover them. Don’t add too much water, else the rose water will be very diluted.

4. Cover the pot and simmer on a low flame. Don’t let the water boil over.

5. Let the water  steam until the petals have lost their color , and you can see the rose oil floating on the surface.

6. Switch the heat off and strain the water into a glass container which has a tight lid. Store the rose water in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.

7. Now you can use this rose water to freshen up your face any time of the day- doesn’t get any purer than this!

Here’s how to make a natural face cleanser with rose water and glycerin:

1 cup rose water
2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin (available online or in health stores)
5 to 10 drops rose essential oil

Put everything in a small glass jar and shake well. Your face cleanser is ready to be used. Clean your face and neck with a cotton ball soaked with the cleanser, and you are sure to love how your face and senses feel every time you use it!

Pinterest

Homemade fresh zucchini soup

March 30th, 2014

<<em>strong>I know we flirted with spring last weekend, but this weekend saw a revisit of some wintry moments. I’m not complaining – California needs more rain – but it did bring out a craving for some warm and cozy meals. One of my absolute favorite meals, especially at lunch so I don’t feel sluggish later, is soup. I confess to enjoying a good old sodium laden Campbell’s from time to time, but nothing beats the feeling of knowing you ate a fresh vegetable homemade soup, with no extra sodium or preservatives! I love this particular recipe, made with fresh zucchini, but you can also substitute any vegetable of your liking, for instance cabbage, celery, asparagus or carrots (you can even try a mix). For this light but nourishing soup, you will need:

2-3 zucchini, washed and peeled

1/2 chopped onion

3-5 slivers ginger (this to me is the piece de resistance)

3 cups water

sea salt and black pepper to taste

non fat milk

Method:

Brown the onions slightly, then add the ginger

Once the ginger is soft, add the sliced zucchini pieces

Stir fry about 3 minutes (don’t over cook)

Add water (I like doing this in a pressure cooker), give 1 steam

Let everything cool about 15 minutes, then put through a blender

If it’s too thick, you can add either water, or a little non fat milk for a slightly creamy taste

Heat and enjoy!

 

Pinterest

Spicy shrimp appetizer

March 15th, 2014

<<<em>strong>a href=”http://amaramoms.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/shrimp.jpg”>shrimpOk- this one is a winner because it is very easy to make and a proven winner with guests! Having said that, this should be cooked and served right away, so I’d recommend serving this to a small group of people.

You will need:

1 pound of shrimp (fresh is best, if frozen- then thawed).

4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

Taco seasoning, paprika and cayenne powder- a few sprinkles of each (or half teaspoon )

Lemon juice

a handful of cilantro leaves, chopped

Heat some olive oil in a thick bottom pan, and add the chopped garlic. Let it sizzle but  not become brown.

Toss in the shrimp and season with salt and other seasonings.

Let the shrimp cook well (about 5 minutes).

Once the shrimps are done, take the pan off the heat.

Squeeze some lemon juice, adjust for the seasoning and sprinkle the cilantro leaves.

Serve directly from the pan with pita bread to mop up the juices- it’s more fun with a small group of friends!

Pinterest

It’s that SIMPLE!

March 5th, 2014

simpleOne of the many benefits of working where I do is samples. Once or twice a year, we get samples of lots of fun beauty products and needless to say, I grab a full bag of them to take home and try :) For beauty products that are meant to be used on the face, however, I’m always a little leary given my sensitive skin and tendency to break out. One of the bottles in my goody bag happened to be a facewash from Unilever called Simple. Initially I stayed away from it and focused on the fun nailpolishes and body creams. After a few weeks, I decided to dive in and wash my face with Simple. No breakouts, skin felt clean and fresh. Hmmm. Day 2, same thing, Day 3 same thing….you get my gist. I’ve now been a loyal user for over 2 months and I LOVE it. According to Unilever “Our philosophy is simple – no perfume, no colour and no harsh chemicals in any of our products, as these are the most common causes of skin irritation.With more than 50 years of heritage in caring for sensitive skin, Simple knows that using only the kindest ingredients pays dividends when it comes to looking and feeling good.Our fragrance-free and colour-free soap was launched in 1960 and was recommended by doctors for people with sensitive skin. Since then we’ve kept our products kind.” I really like that word “kind”, because I do believe in today’s day and age, with what we put into our bodies and apply on our faces, we can be very unkind to our skin. In the days of my grandmother, food and lifestyles were just simpler, so their skins glowed naturally. Today, we need Simple. If any of you use this product or line, we’d love to hear from you about your experiences!

Pinterest

Why I find skateboarding so fun. By an Amarakid, Suhail

February 19th, 2014

<<em>strong>BAM! The skateboard hits the ground, and I am still on it! I feel a rush of joy as I feel myself rolling away smoothly. I have just done a ledge that to this day I thought impossible! I am a big skateboarder and I do it all the time.  I love skateboarding for many reasons.
I enjoy skateboarding because it makes you strive to learn new tricks and do new things. Another reason I like skateboarding is the thrill.  When I say the thrill, I mean the thrill of wondering if you will fall trying this new trick. One thing about skateboarding is that you also have to be mentally strong and fairly fearless. If you decide to do something, you have to stick with it, no matter how scary it is, or it will haunt you. Believe me, I have been there. There are still a few things that I am scared to do, and it haunts me. These are  a couple reasons I enjoy skateboarding, and I recommend you try it too.

If you would like to try it, here are the parts and brands I recommend you get.

If you would like a complete set, or a pre-made board where you can just buy it, open it, and ride, here are a few brands I recommend (not in order for best to worst) :

1.Toy Machine

2.Krooked

3.Blind

4.Girl

5.Positiv

6.Enjoi

 

Here is what kind of pre made boards not to get.

1.Don’t get a skateboard with characters like spongebob or spiderman on the bottom.

2. Definitely don’t judge a skateboard by its design, especially if it is not one of the skateboards listed in the list above.

 

If you would like to buy individual parts from different brands and build your board yourself (which is what I do) here are the best brands for each part.

Deck: Chocolate, Girl, Anti hero, Blind,Krooked,Real,Enjoi

Griptape: Mob, Shake Junt

Trucks: Venture,Independent, Thunder

Bearings: Shake Junt, Reds, Swiss

Wheels: Powell Perelta, Spitfire, Bones

Hardware: All are the same, but I use warehouse.

If you are going to build the board yourself, make sure to buy a T-tool. A T-tool is a universal tool that you need to build a skateboard, because it includes all the parts to build a skateboard.

 

When you have a skateboard, before you start trying to do tricks, learn how to ride it. When you are comfortable riding it, and feel that you can start attempting some tricks, always the first trick you want to do is the ollie. An ollie is the most basic trick, and every other trick revolves around it . An ollie is basically making the board jump, and when you manage to do this, you can start ollieng off curbs, stairs, and ledges. When you have perfected your ollie (which will take about 2 months usually, if you practice almost everyday), the next trick to learn is the kick flip. A kick flip is when you ollie, but then flick your foot outwards, causing the board to flip under you. The hardest part of this trick is landing it, but when you do, you will be able to do it off stairs and ledges too. After this, you will want to try the shuvit, which is actually easier than a kick flip or an ollie, but is very hard to land. A shuvit is when the board rotates under your feet. This is different than the kick flip because in a kick flip rotation, the board flips over in a manner where you see the top, then the bottom, and then you land on the top. In a shuvit, the board does not flip over under you, it rotates, showing only the top.

Pinterest

Super Bowl 2014 – kabab time!

January 30th, 2014

<<strong>em>Some things don’t change! Remembering Rahoul’s Super Bowl 2013 kababs and making sure we recreate them for Sunday.  (Actually, some things do change – no 49ers this year – go Broncos?!)

 

2 lbs cubed top round or london broil

wash, pat dry

1/2 tsp garlic paste

1/2 tsp ginger paste

1/2 packet Shan Tikka Boti Masala (a pinch more or less depending on your tolerance for heat!)

1/2 cup water

Mix into paste

Rub into meat

Marinate for 2.5 hours (if you need to marinate it for longer, refrigerate the mix)

Grill on low to medium heat

Garnish with lemon, onions and cilantro

Optional: mint chutney

And now? “Who’s got it better than us?? NO ONE!”

Pinterest

Aloe vera for hair fall

January 22nd, 2014

<<em>em>Lately, I have heard from many friends (and family) about their hair falling alarmingly. This could be due to hormones, age(!!), stress or diet. Who knows but it got me  started looking into natural remedies to prevent hair falling. Out of all the many excellent remedies, the ones that stood out again and again were applying either onion juice on your scalp or fresh coconut milk or beaten eggs, or natural aloe vera gel.

I liked the egg and the aloe vera remedies more. I have tried the applying an egg wash to my hair in the past with great results- so I’d encourage you to try it for your falling tresses. The aloe vera is untested by me, but it seems to be a real winner given the number of folks who have tried it successfully.

Aloe vera gel

Take a big piece of aloe vera plant and put it in boiling water.  Let it boil for no more than 2-3 minutes. Now cut the plant and squeeze the gel out. You should get enough gel to massage into your entire scalp and to this, add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix well and massage into your scalp. Leave it on overnight and then wash your hair with the mildest of shampoos possible. Do this a few times a week to see good results.

(Adding a tablespoon of fresh, natural fenugreek powder to the aloe vera paste will help with your hair even more.)

Eggs are a very rich source of sulphur; they also contain a lot of protein and minerals such as selenium, iodine, phosphorus, iron and zinc, making them an excellent remedy for falling hair. Beat an egg with a teaspoon of olive oil. Apply to your head liberally, and leave on for about 20 minutes. Shampoo with a mild shampoo, and condition. Do this three times a week.

Here’s to long and lovely locks!

 

 

Pinterest

Recipe for Chicken Xacuti

January 14th, 2014

chicken curryOkay, as promised, here start the Goan recipes! The abundance of seafood dishes in Goa is always amazing, but I have to say that I really enjoyed all the Goan chicken and pork delicacies almost as much. I cooked up this one before the 2014 Golden Globes and scarfed it down while watching all the glorious costumes, before the ceremony even started! Xacuti (or “Chacuti”/”Shacuti”) is one of the Goan dishes of Portugese origin. It is unique for the variety of different spices that are used.

You will need:

2 lbs chicken cubed boneless, skinless chicken breasts or half a chicken with bones
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 inches ginger
10 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch coriander
5 green chilies whole, 2 chopped and dices
1 teaspoon peanut oil
2 sliced onions
1 inch gingerroot
5 cloves garlic
1 large coconut, grated
1/2 bunch coriander
2 inches cinnamon
3 peeled cardamoms
1 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
1 tablespoon poppy seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
8 -10 red chilies
1 star anise
1 mace flower
1/4 inch nutmeg
1/2 inch turmeric
2 teaspoons peanut oil
2 sliced onions
2 slit green chilies
1/4 cup water

Directions:
Marinate the chicken cubes in the turmeric and salt for 2 hours or so
Mix ginger, garlic, coriander, chillies into a paste – add chicken to marinate another 1/2 hour
Heat 1 tsp oil in pan and sauté 2 sliced onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic until onions are golden
Add 1 grated coconut and sauté for another 5-7 minutes.
Once onions are crispy, keep aside.
Roaast cinnamon, cardamom, aniseed, black pepper corn, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, red chillies, star anise, mace flower, nutmeg, and turmeric.
Grind together the onion mix and spice mixture – this is the Xacuti spice/masala
Heat 2 tsp oil in pan and add the remaining 2 sliced onions and green chillies
Stir nicely and then add the marinated chicken pieces
Make sure the chicken is well coated and then add the Xacuti masala and water
After two minutes add Xacuti masala and water.
Cook until chicken is tender, about an additional 15-20 minutes
Garnish with fresh coriander / cilantro leaves
You can serve this up with bread but I prefer it with plain, boiled white rice

Bon Appetit!

Pinterest

Get your Lohri on!

January 8th, 2014

<em>January ALWAYS reminds me of Lohri-the North Indian festival celebrating harvest, gratitude and new beginnings. Living in Delhi, January meant loads of fun Lohri celebrations! And because  it’s a very North Indian (read Punjabi) festival, the celebrations are boisterous replete with bhangra around  bonfires, traditional music and very Lohri like munchies: popcorn, peanuts, ‘gachak’ (a peanut or sesame seed based crunchy brittle) and much, much more. In fact, the streets of Delhi and other North Indian cities are lined with vendors  selling gachaks, ‘rewaris’ (a sugar and sesame seed crunchy munchie), popcorn and peanuts-foods that  keep the body heat going in the cold winter months.

A friend of mine told me that she’s planning a Lohri party at her place in Delhi- and get this: there will be a Lohri ‘Gachak’ bar! Plus, the usual bhangra, dancing, music and feasting and hopefully a good measure of thanks giving for all the wonderful gifts that the earth bestows upon us. Wouldn’t I love to be at that party!

Here’s a wonderful recipe from a friend for making a Lohri special gachak. Yes, it doesn’t have peanuts or sesame seeds (traditional Lorhi fare); but I love it because the various nuts, ghee, saffron lend it a great taste  and can make for a very, very healthy and tasty substitute for your granola bar.

Ingredients:

1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
1 cup coarsely chopped cashew nuts
A quarter cup grated jaggery (easily available online or an Indian store)
A few strands of saffron, soaked in 3 tablespoons of milk
2 tablespoons ghee

How to make:

Pound the jaggery into big pieces.Heat the ghee in a kadai or any thick bottom pan. Add in the jaggery, and let it melt on low flame.  Mix in the saffron stained milk along with the strands, the nuts and stir everything together on low heat till the mixture sticks together-and the milk has evaporated. Spread a little ghee or butter in a large baking tray till it is well coated. Now add the cooked mixture and spread evenly but not too thinly. I’d say a thinness of 1 cm is fine. Now let it cool, and cut into medium sized squares (or rectangles).  You can store the left overs in an airtight container.

Happy Lohri to all of you!

Pinterest