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Turmeric: The Indian pinch of wonder!

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The-Indian-pinch-of-wonder-253x300India is home to some of the most diverse cooking and eating traditions of the world. This probably finds its roots in the fact that people from several relegions and nationalities settled here, contributing to what we collectively called the Indian Culture. Just like the people, the food too is diverse and an amalgamation of all these varieties.

Imagining Indian food without spices is unbelieveable. For a country that for centuries was known as the land of spices, spices here are reverred and preserved with utmost care.

When we talk about Indian spices and don’t mention turmeric, we definitely have got it wrong. The wonder spice of India, Turmeric- rich yellow in color is a must have in every Indian house. Not only is it used as an agent to color and flavor the dish, turmeric is said to have healing and medicinal capacity.
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    The right food for your baby, right from when in the womb!

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    The right food for your baby, right from when in the womb!Its universal knowledge, that a mother tirelessly tries to convince her child to eat greens and fruits for good health. Well a recent study points that children start learning about flavour right from when in the womb. The amniotic fluid in the womb helps them undetstand flavor, followed by mother’s milk after birth.

    Let us take a look at some food you should include in your diet when pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

    Bananas would definitely be the first pick. Rich in nutrients, it contains amino acid tryptophan and vitamin B6; these together help in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is said to be an awesome mood lifter and comforter.

    For the mother, due to the rich potassium content,  pregnancy related fatigue can be tackled. For mothers who are lactating, bananas can serve as a quick bite if meal time is distant. Among its other benefits, bananas can relieve constipation. You can always make its consumprion interesting- have it the usual way or as a smoothie, or try banana pies, banana bread, banana ice cream etc..

    Looking at the benefits of Bananas for kids. They are a rich source of magnesium. This helps the child maintain muscle and is great for the nervous system too. It helps regularize the heart rate. Vitamin B6 facilitates brain and nerve functions and with calcium, strengthens the bones.

    Up next in the dietary chart is the green leafy vegetables – spinach, cauliflower greens, fenugreek etc are rich sources of Iron.

     Pregnant and lactating mothers will get Vitamin A from the greens in their diet along with folate.  Since green vegetables are rich in fibre too, it adds volume to the diet reducing chances of constipation.

    Growing children too need vitamin A. It is crucial for healthy eyes as well as a strong immune system. Green vegetables help the growth and development of cells, healthy skin, provide calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium and are therefore seen as necessary for good health. Consume them in soups, juices etc.

    Tomatoes are also a good thing for your chart. It is a rich source of vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium. For the mothers, it can be a rich source of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, copper etc. All these nutrients are considered crucial for the pregnancy and post pregnancy period.

    For the children, tomatoes have vitamin C important for healthy bones, teeth, gums, blood vessels; it also lets the body grasp iron and calcium, assists wound healing, and facilitates brain function.

    Kiwi they say is a healthy option. With vitamin E as much as three times compared to apples, its dietary fibre content is also equal to three celery sticks. Its folate content matches 4 peaches too: all of the above can guarantee the birth of a normal healthy baby.

    Brocolli is a rich source of calcium and folate for mothers as it facilitates a healthy pregnancy and nutritions breastfeeding mothers. Broccoli is rich in fibre and antioxidants that can battle diseases.

    Early starts to good habits, last till the end; and what better start than have your child eat healthy right from when in the womb. Eat wise, live healthy.

      Organic food: The truth versus the myths.

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      Organic food: The truth versus the myths.When ever you hear someone talk about organic food, the first thing you hear is that it is good for the environment.

      Organic food growth unlike usual farming does not pollute the soil and the groundwater with pesticides and chemicals, but there’s a flip side. Organic farming is productively half as important as conventional farming, it requires far more land to produce the same amount of food. As per research modern high-yield regular farming has helped preserve about 15 million square miles of wildlife habitat. Now if  organic farming had to be conducted at that scale, the need for 10 million square miles of forest land would rise. Also practically less-productive farming could mean lesser food for undernourished.

      A recurring question we often hear with regard to organics is whether it is more nutritious. Well there’s no clear majority as far as the researches are concerned, with most studies swinging both ways. A study pointed more vitamin C in organic tomatoes in comparison to the regular tomatoes;  whereas another study said cancer-fighting flavonoids were greater in organic corn. On the flip side there are studies that say otherwise. The amount of time a produce sits on the shelf also affects its nutritional capacity. For example Spinach loses about 50% of its foliate within a week.

      They say you don’t have to be as meticulous and careful while washing organics. How true is that? Let’s see. Any produce, be it from the fancy mega chain next door to a local organic farm, is vulnerable to bacteria, such as the deadly E. coli which has been known to kill people. Soil and runoff  water can get easily contaminated with E. coli-harboring animal excreta can infect the produce especially melons, lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, spinach, and green onions, since they grow intimately to the ground. Apart from bacteria, there are viruses and other infectants. Its always better to be safe than sorry so wash thoroughly under running water before you cook.

      The next popular myth is that by consuming Organic food you are supporting small farms and/or eco companies.

      With the rising demand, the companies started importing cheap organic ingredients from other countries. With all the carbon di oxide emitted during the course of transport, the eco-virtues of some organics can be questioned.

      Another popular assumption is that organic food is better for you. Let’s see how much of this is true. Yes, organic food is good, but not if it’s organic chips, organic soda or organic cookies. You cannot trick yourself into believeing that cane sugar is not sugar. Also fried chips are bottom line ‘fried’, it makes no difference with the kind of compost was used to fry it. The key word there is ‘fried’

      From a vey philanthropic view, Organic food is said to be more humane in its approach as much of the organic milk comes from small farms. The idea being that the animals are reared and kept well, as well as they have ample amount of space to move and live. Yes, they are definitely better than the larger fact

        What Color is Your Food?

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        What Color is Your Food?Color, as sensed by the eyes, has much more to it than merely being a physical trait of objects and things. Generally color affects the intensity of the feeling it induces: dark colors project warmth and the lighter colors generate cooler effects. Learning to read the colors of the food – raw or cooked – can help you deduce a lot of information that can enhance the lead to a more rewarding use of food by us.

        A lot of nutrition related information is hidden in the colors different types of food display.  The darker the color of the food is the richer it would be in iron, a vital mineral required by the body for running its normal body functions. Haemoglobin is a significant constituent of blood.  The colors Red, Dark Green, Dark Brown and intense purple found in vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, eggplant and different varieties of gourds are indicative of these foods being rich in iron.

        Milk is completely devoid of iron as is indicated by its starkly white hue.  The consistency of the intensity of color over the entire surface of the vegetable is indicative of it being fresh and free of any pathogens. Blanched colors reveal the excessive presence of pesticides or blight in the vegetables.

        Vegetables in general take the color of the major ingredients they are made of: carrots are red due to the abundance of the carotenoid – dark orange color – on it.  Carotenoid gets converted into Vitamin A in the body, in which carrots are known for.

        Presence of Chlorophyll – a natural dark green substance produced as a result of the action of sunlight on the plant cells – renders most of the plant products Green. Colors also have psychological implications with respect to the choice of food we make on a daily basis.

        Shades of Gray and discolored food appear repulsive to the senses.  Green stimulates the healing and feels good emotions in our psyche, goading us to believe that all food items which are green in color are always healthy. Consuming food with shades of Red, Yellow and Oranges , infuses enthusiasm and energy along with the vital nutrients in our diet .

        One of the major functions of dressing the food with different colors is to add vitality for enhancing the likeability factor of its otherwise bland appearance. Color is nature’s way of adding variety to the food .This ensures the intake of vital nutrients from a variety of sources on our part.

        Fresh and healthy food is meant to be brighter and consistent in color. Most people prefer risking the piquancy of a red hot chilli for the color it imparts to their food. Eating brightly colored dishes help in fighting the pangs of depression experience occasionally by every one of us. The color therapy, already in vogue for treating a lot many of the psychological conditions has comfortably seeped into the domain of gastronomy as well.

        The amount of information that can be decoded from the color of the food we eat, can help us overcome nutritional and psychological deficiency in case any.

         

         

         

         

         

          Wonder Kitchen Appliance – Microwave Oven

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          Microwave OvenMicrowave technology was not meant to be for the kitchen initially. It was for the good fortune of a chocolate bar melting in a technocrat’s pocket, working in a microwave infested area that the idea of utilizing the heating effects of these extremely harmless waves in the kitchen germinated.

          Other than helping cook our food, Microwave entertains us by carrying radio signals laden on them to large distances and aiding TV transmission on the same lines. Other than the communication industry, they are being extensively used in medical and plywood industry.

          These waves produce heat inside the food particles by transferring their frequency – vibration – to the water molecules present in food and eventually raising the temperature of the same. Microwave cannot heat up moisture less food items; water is necessary for it to be effective. This is why only the food content gets heated up, and not the dish holding it.

          Microwave cooking keeps the color and the nutrients of the food intact; food cooked in a microwave oven is healthier than the conventionally cooked meals. It can also be used as an instant food warmer. Utensils made of materials not transparent to microwaves cannot be used for cooking with them , like utensils made of iron and other metals. Variations of plastic and paper are microwave friendly materials.

          Microwave ovens consume less power and can be stationed conveniently anywhere in the kitchen. A creative mind can take more out of this oven than just cook with it. Dusters used for cleaning can be disinfected by microwaving them for 5 minutes.  Heating pads used for soothing physical pain are more efficiently warmed up in a microwave oven.

          A microwave oven keeps its own time for cooking, as it has its own timer. Exposing citrus fruits to microwaves can help by softening the harder materials and releasing more juice while they are squeezed. The aroma of these fruits also gets enhanced by lightly cooking them with microwaves.

          Children’s crayons can be melted and reshaped as per their creativity. Frozen cosmetics are also best used by melting/ warming them with a microwave oven. The reason why this technology scores over conventional heating methods is that microwaves heat the contents consistently throughout.

          Exposure to unconcealed microwaves can prove detrimental to humans in many ways.  Leaving aside the precautions needed to avoid its direct exposure, it is the most harmless way of accomplishing multiple tasks at home. Never try to open the door of the oven midway during cooking. Do not start the emission gun while the door is open. There are very less chances of an accidental exposure, because the emission is reciprocally linked to the door of the oven.

          If used appropriately, microwave oven is the master appliance in the kitchen; its uses can be as wide as your imagination. It is the easiest to clean and operate. The advanced models are coming with facilities like grilling and heating by convection, further adding to its uses in the kitchen.

          People who have been using the conventional stove for years find it a bit difficult for switching over to this technology; a minor change of the mindset can open the gates of unlimited possibilities in your kitchen for you.

            Bread – The Universal Staple Food

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            Bread – The Universal Staple FoodNo kitchen is functionally complete without the aroma of the freshly made bread. Some form of bread is prepared daily in every kitchen round the globe. Mostly made from different types of grains and their various combinations, bread is the staple food of almost all cultures: it provides adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates along with a dash of fat and vitamins, adequate enough for a day’s nutritional needs

            Human culture is entwined around the bread, anointed differently at various locations, depending on the type of grain available locally  for making it. Bread can be roasted, baked or fried. There are basically three ways of making bread: baking with yeast, leavening it with baking soda and simply heating the dough on the pan.

            White bread is made from the finer interior core of the grain(endosperm), it does not go very well with the health conscious, being made of very fine material it subjects the digestive system to undue stress. Brown bread is made of the bran and the interior white core of the grain. Being coarser it is easily processed in the body and is also more nutritive than white bread. Whole grain bread is made from the dough made from the  bran, the interior endosperm along with the germ.

            At the core of the process of making bread is the leavening or the lift provided to the dough by the action of different agents, like the Yeast – bacteria – or the baking Soda.  These agents convert the sugars inherent in the dough into gas (carbon dioxide) and alcohol. The gas so produced in the form of minute bubbles, raises the dough from inside, turning the entire mass into a sponge. The external heat provided congeals the entire mass as it is, forming the bread.

            A Roti is a form of bread famous in Southeast Asia, wherein the dough prepared from the whole grain is made into flat rollovers and roasted on a heated pan. Nan is a leavened version of the Roti, and the geographical stretch it spans across is synonymous with the Roti’s., Rye bread, native to Germany is high in fiber and nutrients. Apart from these the French, Italian and Cuban breads are world famous.

            The bread is much more to the kitchen than just another type of food prepared on a daily basis. Its high affinity to the moisture and the odors can be used to rectify a number of processes going astray in the kitchen: keeping a loaf of bread over a bowl of scorched rice – and covered for 5 minutes – would suck off the annoying odor completely; it is the best choice for picking up the tiny glass shards from the floor and holding a piece of bread between the teeth while cutting onions can save you the watering eyes.

            Bread is central to the daily meals; everything else is just the accompaniments as additives or enhancers to it. The method involved in making bread and the way it is consumed, reflects a lot about sthe culture of the associated populatio

              Techniques of Cooking

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              Techniques of CookingTechniques of cooking are basically the different methods of exposing the food to the heat; each type of exposure lends a different texture, aroma and taste to the cooked food apart from making it easily digestible in our system.

              Roasting of food stands for exposing the food to dry and indirect heat at lower temperatures. The food is cooked slowly for a longer period of time. Slow cooking softens the food – vegetables and the meat – by breaking down the constituents like the Collagen, the protein which imparts strength to the structure of the food.  Roasting also helps retain the moisture content in the food.

              Barbequing, grilling, searing and broiling are different types of roasting. Barbequing involved exposing the food to low temperatures for very long periods of time. The food is evenly cooked from within and the surface. Grilling involved roasting the food over a mesh of wires, at higher temperatures where in the source of heat is placed below the cooking food. Broiling involves exposing food to the heat source from above it.

              Cooking food at higher temperatures for a shorter duration of time hardens the  outer surface by a process called caramalization, lending it a brown colour, whereas the inside remains raw to some extent. All these techniques imparts a different  taste , aroma and texture to the food.

              Baking involves passing the heat over the prepared dough by convection mostly inside a closed oven. It hardens the surface retaining the soft core. Sometimes yeast is used in the dough to induce fermentation for  more softer and porous final product.

              Cooking food by boiling means exposing the food to the heat of a boiling liquid, by placing the food directly into the liquid,  liquids used generally are either  water or milk. Boiling at lower temperatures is known as simmering . Blanching , another  variation of boiling involves throwing the food to be softened in the  already boiling liquid and removing from it after a short interval, and immediately throwing it in ice cold water. This helps soften the food and altering the seemingly harsher tastes of certain foods.

              Braising , poaching and steaming are other types of boiling methodologies , wherein the food is exposed to different types of heat- dry  or moist – for obtaining different results. All the methods involved in boiling generally alter the look of the food to a great extent.  Adding salt while boiling raises the boiling point of the liquid the food is being boiled in.

              Frying is a technique of cooking , wherein the food is exposed to the heat of the boiling oil or any kind of fat in place of water as in boiling . Fat can reach much higher temperatures than water imparting an altogether different flavour to the cooked food.  This method also sears or caramelizes the surface of the food keeping it much harder and crisper. Fat also seeps into the food imparting it its aroma and flavour.

              Thus different techniques of cooking food impart different characteristics to the food as appreciated by varying cultures across the world.

               

               

               

                Spicing up your food

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                Spicing up your foodThe spices are the most sought after food additives around the world. History stands testimony to the number of wars empires in the past have engaged into wars over claiming authorities on the spice abundant territories. No explorer/ navigator, who have ever left the shores of his land, during the exploration period, returned back without a flotilla of spices. Orient was christened as the spice land.

                This was the prowess of these apparently diminutive but multifariously potent vegetative products.  Spices are drawn from various parts of different plants. Spices as seeds, leaves, roots and barks of different plants are loaded with disease resistant substances, and are used to add different flavors to the food.

                Apart from being flavor inducing additives in the food, spices are also powerful preservatives. If added in adequate amounts, they can keep the food uncontaminated for longer periods of time as is evident from the pickles prepared ones, remain intact for years.

                Spices like Turmeric have medicinal properties; a perfect antiseptic for a sore throat if taken with warm milk.  Clove oil is universally popular for relieving toothache. Ginger and basil have a special place in Ayurveda, due to their uses in curing multiple maladies.

                Coriander, Fenugreek and Celery are packed with powerful antioxidant compounds, which slows down the aging process considerably in human beings. Apart from being therapeutic, spices also aid indigestion.

                There is a correct method of using each spice separately, for enhancing the desired results. Leafy spices like Basil should be crushed before mixing them with the food, as crushing would help release the sap stored inside and  diffuse the flavors in the dish faster. Adding spices at the starting of the cooking process will give properly blended flavors and adding them toward the end keeps the flavors distinct.

                Spices  should be added in juices hours before their consumption to allow enough time for the flavor to develop. The amount to be added depends on the desired intensity of the flavor. Spices add the colour and flavor to the food. Absolutely differing cuisines can be created from the same base material by working out different combinations of the spices available.

                Nowadays, various spices and their combinations are available over the counter as spice pastes with added benefits like consistence of flavor, easy to store and complete extraction of the flavor. These come in user friendly containers which have their reuse value.

                Spices are the ornaments of any cuisine. Their presence in the food titillates the digestive glands and aid in the proper absorption of the digested food by the body. Different measures of spices are representative of different cultures round the world. Fresh spices like Coriander and Basil  can be easily grown in the private kitchen gardens, processing of the other spices is a complete industry in itself.

                Spices like mint are used as a mouth freshener widely.  It is believed that the entire Ayurveda resides in a kitchen rich in spices. Home remedies are preferred todaydue to these magical/medicinal properties of the spices.

                 

                 

                 

                  Must Haves for the kitchen

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                  Must Haves for the kitchengA minimalist kitchen is a clean and organized kitchen. Minimalist here does not mean substituting one tool or appliance for the other. This can be quite inconvenient most of the times. Minimalist here stands for the minimum number of tools and appliances required in order to handle all the tasks related to the functions of a kitchen.

                  Think about the kitchen and the first thing that comes to mind is the knife. Sharp knives are a better option; you need to lean handling them with dexterity to avoid unwanted cuts on yourself. Out of the many types and sizes available, acquiring the basic three – Chef, serrated and paring – can take care of most of your chopping requirements.

                  A flexible tong is next on the priority list. It would act as the extension of your hands in flipping, turning and holding the objects while cooking. Avoid hoarding an array of different sized pots and pans in your kitchen.  Two non stick saucepans of different sizes – catering to different quantities – should suffice for all the major frying and sautéing you would be required to do on a regular basis.

                  Spatulas, wooden and metallic can take care of activities, outside the sphere of tongs; they can mix, churn and flip food like omelettes and sandwiches on the hot pan quite conveniently. Spatulas are also a better option for mixing ingredients homogeneously as required by the recipe.

                  A small and a large box grater is a must in every kitchen. Grated, onions and ginger is the base for any recipe to start with. Cheese blocks cannot be used as it is in any preparation; a grater comes into the picture again here. Choose the grater very diligently as the size and angle of the cut decides on the quantity of the aroma that releases from the food.

                  If you do a lot of baking, you cannot afford to avoid owning a basic set of measuring cups.  They also come handy in case you are an amateur cook otherwise as well. Trying new recipes necessitates the use of measuring cups in case you want to be right the first time.

                  A blender is the genie in the kitchen: it would take care of all your chopping, grinding and mixing. Other than a microwave oven the blender is the only appliance in your kitchen, the use of which is limited by your imagination. Microwave oven is another essential item you can’t do without in your kitchen. It is the safest and time efficient  technology for doing almost everything.

                  Spoons of different sizes can help for handling materials for different purposes.  Liquid strainers made of metal mesh in varying sizes are a necessity in the kitchen. A Colander would take care of washing large quantity of vegetables though.   A set of three different sized cooking bowls would close the list of the essential items for the kitchen.

                  Add to these a chopping board and a set of napkins, and you stand well equipped for inaugurating your kitchen.

                   

                   

                    The Super Men in the Supermarket and the Kitchen kings at home.

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                    The Super Men in the Supermarket and the Kitchen kings at home.The food arena is no more an alien zone to the men of the world. Working men to the stay at home dads, men are picking up the supplies and whipping up the delights in their new found play zones – the aisles of the super market leading to the kitchen. In 2012, it was anticipated that men were to test their culinary and home shopping skills that year, striking a food trend. However by the end of the year, the growth of the trend was such that it is already predicted how 2013 is going to see this develop to another level altogether. In 2013 men are expected to establish a strong hold, with the boys, dads and men at large influencing our food and playing the roles of both- that of a shopper and a cook. As per a 2012 survey conducted by the organization- Cone Communications, about 52% of dads can now relate to driving to the grocery store, picking up kitchen and grocery supplies and stocking up their homes. A fact established by ESPN which reported that 31 per cent of grocery shoppers are men, a massive increase to almost double the numbers in 1985. Also with the several young single men living by themselves, the numbers of men cooking for themselves has increased. A very interesting survey find says that the men of the house are more likely to plan a meal chart for the week than the women; a very startling 52% vs. 46% in statistics. This too they plan their weekly chart way in advance. The discomfort of getting to work in the kitchen is wearing off and their culinary skills improving by the day.

                    One motivating factor is certainly the numbers of husbands starting to work at home, or even find some work and participate in household activities. A second factor is the new found joy that men are experiencing in cooking up a meal. Also the need to alter ones food habits due to lifestyle or health based reasons can lead men to make efforts in terms of food.

                    We see several supermarkets trying to woo the “kitchen” men are experimenting with something called  “man-aisles”. A “man aisle” is basically a location in the super market which is catered to men. It features food targeted at men and other products to create an ambience for shopping and facilitating impulse buys. We see an active campaign to develop a long lasting effect to attract the male shopper; to empower and encourage them via several inititives with in-store shopping, nutrition tours and programs cooking school. There is a surge in numbers of men taking up cooking classes, set to the convinience of men; like corporate cooking batches for men who work the day.

                    Food they say is a passionate art; one that has been associated to women down the ages. But in food as a business venture, it has mostly been the male chefs who are appreciated. Now when food has grown into a domestic luxury, even the need of a good meal on a normal, an occasion-less day is stepping in.

                      Materials for the Interior of Your Kitchen

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                      Materials for the Interior of Your KitchenTechnology has provided several options to choose from for adorning your kitchen with the desired look. Various combinations of texture, color, ease of use and durability constitute your choice while hunting for finishing styles for your kitchen.

                      Depending on individual taste there is an array of choices available in the market today for assembling the interiors of your kitchen.  The one that deserves foremost consideration is the different types of stone available for finishing the work surfaces in the kitchen.

                      First in the line is the granite, as it lends a dash of sophistication to the ambience of your kitchen. It can withstand high temperatures and can last forever. The downside with it is that it is starkly expensive and cumbersome to install.  It is available in pre- sized blocks and thus is limited in covering projections and curves in the design if any.

                      The nearest substitute for granite is the stone reconstituted from its particles like quartz stone. With other attributes remaining the same as with granite, it has the advantage over granite in being able to cut to the required size and design. Being porous, every stoned surface stands the risk of being infected with germs.

                      Laminates, both high and low pressure offer wider choice at the range of colors available and are highly resistant to heat.  They are lighter to handle and their finish is elegant. They are less resistant to impact than the stone, and thus are a cheaper choice in case you don’t require to engage in high impact activities on these surfaces.

                      Ceramic tiles come in several designs, textures and color. They give a very segregated look to the interiors. They are resistant to high temperatures and facilitate replacing each one individually in case damaged, than replacing the entire service. The joints stand the danger of being stuck with material used over them, requiring extra maintenance.

                      Another option available is the hard paint. The best part of using the paint for finishing your kitchen’s surface is that it allows customisation of the shades of the color you intend to use. Thus rendering the finish more personalized than other options can offer. It is also a better choice for displaying the details of the design and inversely facilitates detailing of the same. The downside with using the paint is that it is prone to chipping over time.

                      Another option available is of various types of glasses. Glass tops look elegant but are prone to straining if used roughly enough, and the straining is non reversible. Glasses are expensive to purchase and a single stain can ruin the look for ever .You

                      Whatever material you decide upon for your kitchen’s interiors, just make sure that you keep away from coming up with a monotonous look by using the same material throughout. Use different materials for different surfaces of your kitchen: stone for the working surfaces and laminates for the cabinet doors.

                      Also try to use different shades and patterns from the same color scheme for generating a level of interest in the interiors of your kitchen. s

                        Vegetarian versus Non Vegetarian Food

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                        Vegetarian versus Non Vegetarian FoodA perennial debate is on since eons ,  which one is better from among the vegetarian and the non-vegetarian food, the spiritual and religious aspects included.  Let us keep it more scientific and try to rationale out the facts and figures backing both.

                        Both the types have their own brighter and darker sides to some extent. Food from vegetative origin is richer in fiber and most of the essential minerals and vitamins. It is found to be more easily digestible as most of the digestive juices which are released in our stomach are tuned to vegetarian food.

                        Humans have canine teeth , standing a proof to the fact that  our bodies are built for eating flesh.  Non vegetarian meals are richer in iron , protein and some vitamins like Vitamin B 12. These substances are not available in vegetarian food in so high concentrations, as they are available in meat.

                        Research supports the fact that people living on a non vegetarian diet are more prone to chronic  disorders like diabetes, cancer and heart diseases. Is it because the flesh is not very well aligned with our body systems and produces serious aberrations in the long run ?  Psychology has also contended the premise that people who feed on flesh more than the vegetative products are more inclined to anger and the whole gamut of negative emotions.

                        Spiritualists adduce this to the kind of energy the food inherits from the source it is derived from: procuring of flesh involves murder, and thus the negative energy gets blocked inside the animal from going through the horror of the process involved. Pain is thought to be experienced only by the brain, thus all things vegetative do not experience negativity during their processing.

                        Vegetarians  have been shown to be having comparatively longer and healthier lives.  Meat , especially from sea food can be quite dangerous to eat as a lot of fish considered as delicacies, have mercury in them , ingesting which can lead to a number of irreversible damages to the body like cancer and brain related disorders.

                        Yes seafood is the richest source of calcium and especially fish are loaded with certain proteins which are unknown to the vegetarian world. Eating meat is considered to be more nourishing for the skin and thus helps in enhancing the looks. The white of the egg is another healthy source of protein, unparalleled in the vegetative world.

                        Vegetables and fruits, apart from being rich in fiber and minerals are almost devoid of any fat. Flesh on the other hand is encumbered with the fat to a great extent. Meat takes longer to cook than the vegetables. There is a fear of getting an infection from meat, if not cooked properly, because animals house a lot of germs in their systems which are capable of withstanding extreme cold and high temperatures during the processing of the same.

                        It looks like that a combination of both can form a wholesome human diet. Meat should be avoided in access by people for whoms fat is a big no. Cooking non vegetarian meals for the required period can help get rid of the germs housed inside it.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                          Curries: from the diversities of the countries, to your plates.

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                          CurriesCurries now define dishes from all over the globe. Over the last few decades curries have become synomymous with taste, flavor and good meal choices. Let us take a look at some of the most popular curries and their native countries. The sweet, the sour, the spicy or let’s say plain delicious.

                          What better way to start than talk about curries from Thailand. Thai food is diverse regionally; influenced by seasons, regional variations, cooking techniques etc. Popular curries include the red and green curries, spicy aromatic curries and mussaman curries.Served side dishes like pickled vegetablesor dried fish, the main mix in Thai curries is the rich paste. Afine balance in the hot, sour, salty and sweet flavours is key.

                          Just as much as Thailand is known for curries, India too is. Pioneering this dish for centuries altogether, the diversity of Indian food manifests the varied culture of the country. Each Indian curry is different from the other.

                          A blend of ground spices called the “garam masala” is the magic powder here. It includes peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, mustard seed, nutmeg, mace and other spices subject to the region.

                          Spices in India are used generously and differently. Spices are sometimes even roasted to being out the flavors and the aroma before using them.

                          Coming to Japan, there are three main types of curries namely curry rice, curry udon and curry bread. Curry rice is meat or vegetables served in a curry sauce using an instant curry roux of curry powder, flour and oil. This ls then simmering with the other ingredients for enhanced taste.

                          Curry udon noodles served in a curry sauce with flavourings and toppings.

                          When in Indonesia, Indonesian rendangs is meat simmered in a spice paste. By the time the dish is cooked it turns out to be much drier, but is still referred to as a curry.

                          Other popular Indonesian curries include kare and gulai – here coconut and spices with beef, fish, goat or chicken are key ingredients. The food served Central Java is known for its sweetness. A popular dish is gudeg, a curry made using jackfruit. Curries are served with side dishes like chilli sambals, peanuts etc.

                          When we talj about the Carribean, the food is an out burst of flavours. Lamb, chicken, pork or goat, they’re enjoyed all over the archipelago be it Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago. Flat bread shops sell curries in the flat, thin bread. Richly influenced by the settlers like the Sri Lankan plantation workers or Indians, their food takes elements from various cultures.

                          Looking at Sri Lankan cuisine, Sri Lanka is connected to India, therefore Sri Lankan cuisine has traces of Indian food. The popular pick for lunch and dinner, Curries are teamed with steamed or boiled rice. A principal meat curry, with side curries of may be vegetables or lentils form a typical Sri Lankan meal.

                          The food is rich in Spices like cumin, coriander, cloves and cardamom. Sri Lankan cuisine also has dutch influences.

                          Curries have taken the world by surprise, growing in popularity each day. Rich, diverse and very interesting in its preparation and make; curries are now popular choices, and why not- they’re simply scrumptious.

                            Laying the Kitchen Plan

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                            Laying the Kitchen PlanThe kitchen is the most frequented of all spaces in the house, as it houses the food, nobody can do without.  A properly designed kitchen can aid in the optimal utilization of space along with quenching the aesthetic thirst of the mind.

                            The basic layout of the kitchen should allow for a lot of open space, irrespective of the overall dimensions of the kitchen. A bit of thoughtfulness can do the trick here? The wall cabinets should essentially be extended up to the ceiling, as any space between the two would encourage the accumulation of the dust and useless articles.

                            See to it that the placement of no doors should interfere with the work areas. Make sure that the approach between two or more workstations should not be obstructed by any cabinets or appliances. Avoid having any dining place in the kitchen area. The dining table should always be preferred separate from the kitchen.

                            The flooring used must be of ceramic or terracotta tiles. There should not be any cabinets over or near the cooking stove. The sink – the most used part of the kitchen – should be laid at an appropriate distance from the fridge and the stove.

                            The placing of the three essential components of the kitchen – the storing space or the refrigerator , the cooking gas or stove  and  the sink – should follow a triangular pattern in order to avoid congestion of the most repeated and major functions. Most of the utensils and appliances if not in regular use must be kept hidden in the cabinets.

                            Use bright colours on the walls and the flooring to give a warm effect to the ambience. The monotony of the design can be broken by creating some center of interest in the kitchen by any one of the ways: using contrasting colors for a corner or small space; shaping certain components in an odd way or creating a section based on a particular theme, in contrast to the rest of the construct.

                            Provide sufficient ventilation for air in the kitchen, the ventilation should be directed away from the main house. The appliances to be used must be thoughtfully placed in order to avoid any functional glitches later. Installing roll out cabinets can substantially increase the storage area.

                            Hardwood is a durable option for making the storage cabinets as any other synthetic material used for the same can be susceptible to deterioration by excessive heat and moisture common to the kitchen environment. Install a larger and deeper sink to avoid the spilling of water on adjacent surfaces.

                            As per the Vastu principles, the kitchen must be located in the southeast corner of the house. The cooking stove must be placed in the southeast sector of the kitchen.  The shapes and detailed designs of the surfaces, platforms and the cabinets should facilitate easy cleaning of the same.

                            The kitchen is the most vibrant and active part of the house. A creatively designed kitchen can increase the efficiency of the processes involved, not to forget the indirect impact it can have on the taste and quality of the food prepared in it.

                              Kitchen – A Woman’s Alter Ego

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                              Kitchen - A Woman’s Alter EgoThe hearth is to the kitchen, so is a woman to a home.   A kitchen reflects the true feminity of the woman in myriad ways. The trait common to both is feminity.  Feminity is all about constructive forces and that’s what a woman and a kitchen stands for: both are nurturing, accommodating and sensitive by nature.

                              Sensitivity is the most important  trait common between them: cooking – as the action part of the kitchen – is an art, that can be perfected only by imbibing the sensitivity to the delicate playing of ingredients in a recipe;  the woman strives to maintain the same delicate balance between the ingredients – family member and the related chores – the household is made of.

                              In modern times the construct and the constitution of a kitchen is a direct reflection of the status and ostentation of the owning family, and especially of the woman of the house. The lately made-over kitchens with the modular components and accompanying sheen to flaunt , goes very well with the blatantly transmogrifying persona of the woman.

                              Both the housewife and the kitchen are the center as well as the mascot of the culture of the house. You just need to peep into the kitchen in order to have a feel of the  culture of the house., the same is indicated by the way a housewife clothes herself and gyrates in the kitchen while performing various tasks.

                              In case a house wife is upset about something, no other part of the house is as apt a reflection of the state of her mind as a kitchen is. Her disturbed Psyche would instantaneously get translated into an unkempt platform, smelling refrigerator and the badly cooked food.

                              Both of their identities are mutually inclusive to each other: both of them resonate and feed each other’s existence. The woman is the empress of the kitchen: everything in there is at her whims and fancy, in fact the kitchen is the only section of the entire house the woman actually dwells in.

                              The layout of the work area, the degree of cleanliness, the type of the utensils and their arrangement, the use of color or the texture on the interiors and the aroma emanating from there in, projects a flawless image of her personality. Both are made for, and of each other in the real sense.

                              Modern kitchens – keeping with the pace of its woman- are getting shorn of their feminity  to a great extent. As the modern woman takes over masculine territories, and in the process lose a tad of their feminity, their kitchens follow suit by taking up less curvaceous designs, louder colors and rougher textures.

                              Advanced technology has made it possible for a woman to further fine tune the kitchen area as a co-extension of her identity. The options that are available in the market pertaining to the look, usability and productivity of the kitchen is something never seen before. The best part is that the popularity and affordability of modern/ modular kitchens is leveling out the creases created by the status/culture conscious society.

                               

                               

                               

                               

                               

                                Feed Your Skin to Beauty

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                                Feed Your Skin to Beauty“What we eat is what we are” goes the saying. Chosen carefully, food can completely alter the way you look, more so, even the way you feel. Beauty is nothing, but just the health quotient of your skin. Healthier skin is always beautiful. No amount of topical application of the beauty ingredients – at least claimed – can compensate for the healing effect of the healthy food ingested orally.

                                Skin is constituted of collagen: the protein responsible for making the skin supple and firm. Moreover, one of the end products of the digestive process, the free radicals, they are the reason behind collagen losing its character and pre- mature aging of the skin.

                                Poor diet – lacking in essential minerals, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates in the required proportions – can kill the skin texture, apart from affecting the vital processes in the body, the resultant effect of which reflects on the skin. Stress is the third culprit.

                                Adequately nutritive food is a potent weapon for reigning in all the mentioned causes of the skin losing its beauty.  The effect of free radicals can be neutralized by ingesting ample amounts of antioxidants. Vitamins E, C and A are powerful antioxidants: raw vegetables of all colors are loaded with them like tomatoes, spinach, celery, radish, carrots and so on.

                                Cooking these vegetables for longer and at higher temperatures disintegrate their structure, rendering them ineffective in fighting free radicals. Cooking food at lower temperatures and for  shorter periods of  time can help  preserve these free radical fighting antioxidants,  and assist the skin  retain its vitality.

                                Covering the utensil being used for cooking can prevent the loss of the vital nutrients via evaporation. Two to three servings of raw vegetable salad per day, adds sheen to the surface of the skin. Eating foods which help detoxify your body can take years off your skin: drinking lemon grass juice stimulates urination, aiding in flushing out the toxins – waste products – from the blood stream.

                                Microwave cooking helps preserve the vital nutrients in the food, though some people require re-programming their palate suiting the same. Keep a check on the intake of the amount of fat in your diet. Though fat is an essential additive – in diminutive measures though – to a beauty inducing diet, its intake need to be regulated commensurate with your metabolism and daily energy requirement.

                                Excessive intake of fat with respect to the amount the body can utilize daily, gets stored in the form of adipose tissue under the skin, giving it a puffy and an unhealthy look. Same goes with sugar, required for instant energy needs, if ingested in access, adds to the fat stored under the skin with similar consequences.

                                Sugar needs to be avoided altogether from entering your plate, especially the crystallized sugar, consuming which is the most criminal act a diet conscious being can perform. A beauty diet is the one which is devoid of carbohydrate – potatoes, rice and white bread to name few- rich ingredients into it.

                                 

                                  Evolution of the Kitchen

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                                  Evolution of the KitchenThe basic kitchen came into existence the moment ancient humans discovered fire and its use in turning the food more palatable, easy to eat and softer to digest.  The prototype of the modern kitchen at that time was an open bon fire on which meat was roasted.

                                  Later as the man started to settle down, turning a food producer instead of a food gatherer as before, relative uses of fire other than just roasting meat and for protection emerged.  Eventually   diverse uses of fire were discovered, which made having a dedicated place for all the related activities to cooking imperative upon the ancient  tribes. Thus originated the basic form of modern kitchen.

                                  The basic structure of kitchen remained more or less the same till the discovery of the cooking stove and gas in 18th century. Another factor that contributed to the kitchen being more organised was the beginning of the use of the water pipes, supplying regular water to the kitchens. Before that kitchen was rarely a closed space like we have today, in order to restrict the ensuing smoke from entering the living areas.

                                  By Middle Ages, the kitchen got segregated into the kitchen of the rich and the kitchen of the poor. Poor people turned a corner of their living area into an elementary kitchen due to lack of space. Rich had an elaborate separate building used as the kitchen, which enclosed the living area for the servants – usually the slaves – working there as well.

                                  In the wake of industrial revolution- 18th Century – came a number of related  inventions, and the face of the kitchen was transformed like never before. Taylors famous time and work analysis entered the kitchen as well.

                                  The designs of a optimal kitchen began to be suggested based on these studies. These studies were majorly based on, and  for the cities socio economic structures. Rural kitchens were still based on old model.

                                  Women started working in the newly established factories for sustaining their families at home . The social housing concept was born out of the needs of the newly emerged working class. The entire paraphernalia of the kitchen was to be contained in the smallest possible space of the already dwindling houses of the middle class.

                                  Work and time studies came up with rationalised kitchens , where the three major functions – Storing , cooking and sink – were placed in different combinations with each other, for  working out the best possible fit.

                                  Early 20th Century saw the extensive use of gas and electric stoves. The large scale laying of the gas and water pipes, covering almost the entire urban populations across the globe. This boosted the convenience of working in the kitchen, and the convenient mind began gadgetising all the functions left hitherto untouched.

                                  Modern kitchen is a high-tech zone of the house, where gadgets laced with artificial intelligence are substituting humans in many of the areas. An ever increasing number of options is available related every aspect of cooking.  The idea of designer kitchens is already on the hit list of the status conscious rich. All the activities constituting a kitchen have been delegated to the appliances , which are proving to be better substitutes for humans.

                                   

                                   

                                    Eating Online

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                                    Eating OnlineGoing by the increasing trend of the technology permeating every aspect of our life, eating online is already a reality. Eating online stands for ordering food online and saving you the rigmarole of leaving your house to eat outside, sifting through the menu pressed against time, with the seemingly hassled waiter standing on your head. The inherent commotion compelling you, with placing your order in a jiffy, minus a second thought, and the eternal wait till the food lands up on your table.

                                    Online eating or take- away restaurants are gathering wind under the wings on the single promise to the gourmets on saving their passions from getting killed by the energy sapping protocols at the real restaurants. Convenience is what these eateries sell online, because they are very well aware of the increasing deficit of this faster becoming rare commodity, owing to our frenzied lifestyles.

                                    The first convenience you get while eating online is of a detailed menu and all your time you can take in deciding on a more personalized order. You save the cook waiting for your order the time and the peril of misunderstanding your exact need, attributable to the commotion present around.  This gets translated into the increased chances of your receiving exactly what you wanted and saving the bitterness on both your parts in case the order would go wrong.

                                    This is further beneficial as the eateries/ restaurants/ hotels offering their services free online would have better chances of approaching you with appropriately sifted information by inventing various marketing strategies. This in turn increases your power to choose the best being offered from the comforts of your reclining chair. You can be kept updated on the latest products and offers from them by being included in their regular message texting campaigns or on their websites.

                                    Web sites make tracking of your order in real time more convenient. You would get a personal identification number on placing an order online, which would help you know the stage at which your order is on, saving you the anxiety of waiting at the restaurant’s table completely blank to this vital information.

                                    You even have the option of chatting with the service providers in case you need help with either choosing any of their offerings or  expressing your  discomfort at them.  All this perfectly suits the growing by each day tech savvy lifestyles of the customers today.

                                    Online eateries empower you better at voicing your dissatisfaction online for everyone else to read. This generates virtual pressure, necessitating the corrective action on the eateries part, which can only afford to overlook the same by risking its reputation and the business. Taking services online can make available as well as enhance your collective bargaining power like never before.

                                    So next time you plan to eat out, look out for the takeaway eating services available in your area on the internet. The term eating out has gone virtual, like many other services being pushed the same way by the ever expanding internet.

                                     

                                     

                                      Dining Table Manners

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                                      Dining Table MannersDoes the way you eat food need to have a standard protocol or should it be as per the as it suits principle? A very subtle line of decency and refinement pertaining to the way things are done, distinguish the human from a beast. Following certain pre-determined and universally accepted norms of eating during dining with others, reflects this finest attribute of being civilized , adding a tinge of feel good factor to the environment, conducive to eating in peace for everybody.

                                      Different cultures have different established norms of eating. Some of them can be unacceptable and weird like the one which preaches that one should never deny the drink – alcoholic -   offered by the host, even if you are a teetotaller. But there is a set of manners indicative of your level of refinement and respect for food and others, which definitely needs to be internalized and displayed at formal occasions.

                                      Always be on time or at least 10 minutes before the stipulated time for dinner to start. Keeping others waiting is read as being rude and disrespectful for the ones present. Inform in advance in case you are stuck up with something out of your control. Apologise to everyone present in case you reach late.  Take your seat and wait for the host to signal the commencement of the feast.

                                      Wait for the host to pull of the napkin and place it in his/ her lap and follow suit. The napkin is meant to be on your lap for the period you dine, preventing your dress from getting soiled by any food items dropping on it accidentally. Do not use this napkin for any other purpose: sneezing; cleaning spill over’s or wiping the table ware.

                                      Begin serving after the host has done so and start with the dish farthest from you. Use different dish for each item served. While eating hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, slicing the food in morsels of smaller sizes each. Stuffing your mouth with more than can be chewed inconspicuously is seen as being gross.

                                      If someone asks for salt or pepper to be passed on to them, hand over both together than only the one asked for. Never interrupt a food item in between it being passed through multiple hands to its intended recipient.  Say “excuse me,” looking towards everyone present before leaving the table between meals to attend an exigency.

                                      Keep your mobile phone on silent while dining in a group. Taking calls while sitting on the dining table is considered rude. Never utter the word “toilet” while excusing yourself  from the table in order to uses the wash room. Don’t start cleaning any accidental spill overs by yourself, wait for or ask the attendant to do so.

                                      Avoid talking with food in your mouth, and do not bring up any embarrassing or controversial topic for discussion. Pace your eating to match up with otherss, so that you don’t finish too early or too late than all the others present.

                                      Dropping in thank you email or placing a call for the same, brings the entire process of being civilized while eating to its pleasant denouement.

                                       

                                       

                                        Benefits of Eating Sprouts

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                                        Benefits of Eating Sprouts!Sprouts are the germinating seeds which are eaten raw. The process involves soaking them in water, and then allowing them to germinate in a pan, till the seedlings are about the size comfortable enough to be consumed raw or after light cooking. Sprouts score very high among the food items generally touted for health benefits.

                                        Sprouts are the cheapest option for staying and looking healthy. It has been proved beyond doubt that the protein and vitamin content of the seed enhances considerably during the sprouting process. On the other hand, cooking longer at high temperatures actually destroys the vitamins like C, K and E. Hence sprouting not only preserves the vitamins to be used by our system, it actually enhances the concentration of the same.

                                        The sprouts contain large amounts of natural enzymes, which help overhaul the processes inside the body, making the absorption of nutrients more efficient and complete. The essential enzymes are rendered inactive by exposure to heat during the cooking process. Thus eating sprouts is the only way to ingest these enzymes intact.

                                        Sprouts are an excellent way of eating fiber in our food. The fiber remains firm and active in sprouts, as cooking can dissolve it to some extent. Fiber helps by binding with the waste material and toxins inside the system and flushing them out.   The bowels function at their best when sufficient quantity of fibre is present in the digestive waste. Taking fiber at its rawest is the easiest technique for ridding the body of harmful substances.

                                        It has also been found that the characteristics of protein get enhanced during the sprouting process, especially during the soaking stage. The quality of some of the immunity strengthening   proteins like Lysine is considerably enhanced by soaking. Soaking also expels harmful chemicals like tannins from the seeds – where they occur naturally – if ingested can cause diseases like cancer.

                                        Another benefit sprouting offers is that the minerals like calcium, phosphorous and potassium binds with the proteins – during soaking – contained in the seed, making their absorption more efficient and easy.  These minerals function as   intermediaries between a number of body functions, especially related to weight loss and weight maintenance.

                                        Chemically sprouts are alkaline in nature, thus they help counteract the excessive acids produced in the body. Production and retention of acids in the system can prove to be carcinogenic and damaging to the organs. The energy laying latent inside the seeds gets kindled enough to be better utilized by the body by soaking.

                                        Due to all the mentioned reasons, sprouts impact our health positively from all the required angles: it helps with losing weight; infuses the system with antioxidants, prevents the wearing down of the cells and cleansing the system by flushing out the disease causing toxins.

                                        Sprouting helps preserve all the natural benefits trapped inside the seed, which get reduced and deactivated or are lost completely by exposure to heat during cooking. Some may not find sprouts scrumptious enough to be eaten raw, they are advised to  lightly cook the sprouts to alter the raw taste before consuming them.  The taste of the sprouted seeds can also be enhanced by adding them to salads or just sprinkling some condiments over them.

                                         

                                         

                                         

                                          Breakfast: The tale of the evolution of the first meal of the day into the most important one!

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                                          BreakfastWhen most food researchers and lovers around the world, predict the trends that the year is going to experience, there’s definately much thought and contemplation riding behind it; after all food is a passion that does not thrive on lesser love. So when popular kitchen, grocery-store, super market or dinner table talk suggest the rise of the otherwise shy breakfast as the most important meal of the day. Like we earlier said, the food people say nothing without a reason and the benefits and importance of having breakfast are next to undebatable now; with researches after researches enlisting and strengthening, the Breakfast as the ‘it’ meal of the day. The benefits of breakfast are seen in all age groups, in big and small ways. For example children who take breakfast before heading to school are likely to perform better in school activities. Survey’s indicate that the children less behavioral issues, better concentration and grasping power, approprite body weight, more energy and stamina, lesser mood swings and more agility. The constant fluctuations in the food market and the incresing food prices has convinced several people to adopt protein rich breakfast items as lunch and dinner foods to be able to cut costs while maintaining the healthy intake of food.

                                          Men who do not consume breakfast are more prone to be afflicted with Type 2 Diabetes than those who take breakfast. A 20 per cent higher risk to be precise after accounting the body mass index and the quality of the breakfast the sample’s consumed. Studies suggest skipping the first meal  increases the chances of becoming obese or having a heart attack. A Harvard Medical school study suggests that people who eat breakfast are less likely to feel hungry in the course of the day and resultantly less likely to overeat.

                                          The best way to keep oneself fit is to keep a constant check on the blood sugar levels; keeping blood sugar stable is crucial to good health. A good way to start the day on a good note is having a good breakfast. With a whole pandora’s box of choices you can really choose your pick of the day. Some of the best options include yogurt, granola or cereal, an omelet with whole grain bread and vegetables, a fresh or frozen fruit smoothie with youghurt with side eggs, oatmeal, fresh juices or a plain glass of milk. Almond or peanut butter are not only a good source of proteins, but other nutrients and minerals too. You can also mix and match your options making them super nutritious. For example, you can add Nut and seed butters in oatmeal or dry fruits to your smoothie and turn up the nutrition quotient. Fresh fruits are also a brilliant and obviously a very healthy choice to start your day. What better than a banana and peanut-butter whole wheat sandwich or a strawberry and youghurt mix for that excellent start.

                                          A good breakfast at the start of the day is the secret of staying healthy. So pick up a healthy first meal to have a great day.

                                            Bread: Cake’s poorer brother gets fancier for your dinner table.

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                                            Cake's poorer brotherBreads are common to almost every household across the globe. They may be characteristically and physically different depending on the make, flavour, ingredients and bake; but they are all a part of the immensely and unbelievably large bread family. However the swift yet silent make over of breads over the years has been phenomenal. Enhancing the staple ingredients of flour and water with something as small as a hint of butter or garlic, the bread is in for a pleasant twist from its usual self. Let us take a look at some of the breads worldwide that have broken out of their conventional moulds and are walking fancy on to our plates. The first amongst the several is the quick bread. Quick bread uses no yeast like the usual breads. It instead substitutes it with  baking soda or baking powder which helps in the leavening of the bread helping its form and creation. Biscuits and sweetened breads make fancy dinner breads with ease.

                                            Over the world some of these breads have really come on their own to become the favourite serves for your fancy dinner plans. Let’s look at some of these: Let’s start with the ‘lavish’ Lavash, a simple flat bread stemming out of Armenia. Enhancing the bread with a topping when warm adds to its appeal as a good serve. Eat it moist rolling it as a wrap or a crispy bite when dry, the Lavash is tasty to the T. Next from the owens of Italy, we have the Focaccia, the flat Italian member of the bread breed. Extremely flexible in terms of use it works just fine as that pizza base, or a panini shell, for a sandwich or a wrap. The make of this popular wheat bread uses yeast and it comes in flat rounded shapes, usually garnished with a wipe of  olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs. What works as a magic element for this is the touch of Italian seasoning that makes this  plain bread leap fancy on to your plates. It can also function just fine as the side dish to go with the soups or the stew. Up next is the Pumpernickel, the popular bread in the line of Germany, Russia, Poland and the rest. A good pick for a heavy meal, this dark bread made out of rye is a slow bake creation. The pumpernickel dough is sour and needs not very over powering additions to go with it. Usually lumped with cheese and cream, the Pumpernickel is the staple choice to partner the stews, broths and soups. The simple looking French bread is no plain Jane, with a little make over she can be the star of your party. So yes, any crusty wheat bread with a soft chewy center can be identified as a French bread. Now when toasted well and garlic-buttered it is the perfect complement for Italian or French platter.

                                             So the next time you plan to platter a fancy dish, do not underestimate the immense potential of the humble bake. The bread you serve can be a winner all the way!

                                              Maple Sugar: The biography of the new world’s first sweetening agent.

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                                              Maple Sugar:Maple sugar is anointed as the New World’s first natural sweetener. Supposedly, before the European settlers arrived with the honeybee to make honey, native Americans settled to the North east were using sugar from the sugar maple trees each spring. In these camps an indigenous a sweetener rich in nutrients and minerals was produced.

                                              Native folk lore has several versions of how it was discovered. One of the popular legends says an Iroquois chief threw his tomahawk into a maple tree. When he retrieved it, he noticed sap oozing out from the cut in the tree. He collected some and carried it home to his wife who added it to the meat she was cooking. The sweet maple flavor is said to have won their hearts and find its way into the world of food.

                                              The process employed to make sugar was rustic in comparison to modern techniques. Hollowed out logs, heated rocks for evaporating the sap, and handmade containers were used to collect the sap as well as store the maple sugar. Later several tribes boiled the sap till it crystallized deriving maple sugar. This was mostly because the syrup was harder to store.

                                              Native Americans considered Maple sugar to be valuable food commodity, not really knowing the scientific context. Today we know it has approximately 89 percent sucrose, followed by fructose and glucose. Maple sugar is rich in potassium and calcium. This is subject to the source. Other minerals include magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, malic acids, citric acids and amino acids.

                                               Many recipes in old New England cookbooks call for “Indian sugar,” but few modern cooks have ever heard about it. Maple farmers sell granulated maple sugar directly to consumers under different names, such as maple powder, maple sprinkles or maple granules.

                                              The speculated reason behind maple sugar’s dwindling popularity and almost disappearance  from the American culture is said to be the entry of white sugar. White sugar was cheap and was produced by slave camps in the West Indies. In a bid to keep America self-sufficient in terms of sugar and to avoid reliance on the import of cane or beet sugar from other countries, Thomas Jefferson, brought up the native maple sugar tree. Jefferson in 1808 wrote, “I have never seen a reason why every farmer should not have a sugar orchard, as well as an apple orchard.” Inspite of the fact that cane sugar was selling like hot cakes in comparison to maple sugar, the art of procuring  maple sugar was preserved in American tradition.

                                              The mud season harvest brings along with it several traditions founded over the years. One of these traditions is the very popular “sugar on snow.” People of all walks and ages, await the new supply of maple syrup. It is served hot directly on packed snow or finely shaved ice. What a lovely delicious treat!

                                              The process of making cuts on Maple sugar trees is called tapping. The trees are tapped in early spring to make the most of the conditions of alternating freezing and thawing. Most maple farmers collect only a few buckets of sap. The more big scale operations use food-grade plastic tubing.

                                              After the sap is collected it is transported to sugarhouses where it is finally turned to Maple sugar.

                                                Glossy magazine kitchens are good to the eye, not necessarily best for you!

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                                                Glossy magazine kitchens are good to the eyeDo not live the idea you see in a magazine’s perfect snapshot; be practical, calculated and well planned when you think of that ideal kitchen for your dream spread

                                                Designing a kitchen for your new house can be quite a taxing and testing task. There are so many things you want your new house to be the process flow easier, it’s a good idea to sit down and really think about what you want to get out of your new kitchen. Kitchen experts usually ask their clients to come up with a list. This list is basically about the needs of their new kitchen, the things they want and things that they may be open too if their budget allows. This is a good way to also set a budget.

                                                Experts with years of practical experience behind them have their additional set of questions for their clients. While going through the lists they usually always find glitches that they sort with these additional details and questions.

                                                Usually what most clients need is a better walk flow, space and more storage facilities. Special facilities like double ovens or baking spaces for large meals can also be included. But people often never pay attention to details like whether they are right or left handed, or for that matter whether other familymembers are right or left handed. Workflow is affected by this. Universal accessibility elements should be incorporated in the kitchen design to make a happy kitchen space.

                                                Keeping the children in mind, safety concerns must be thought of. Safety measures must be a priority when you design your kitchen. May be special seating arrangements for the children can also be incorporated in the design, especially for new mothers using the kitchen while raising a toddler.

                                                The Wants list might include cabinets, trash bins, recycle bins, a microwave, an oven, a refrigerator among other things.

                                                If your budget is open, you might also have a dream kitchen list with a wet bar, wine racks or another refrigerator, accessories etc.

                                                The good thing about putting thought and pre-planning these things is that this will avoid any hurdles once the work starts full fledged.One should not be thinking about things last minute.

                                                Once your list is well revised and ready then it’s time for the next level. Step out into the market and scout multiple showrooms to get an idea of the products available. According to the choices available to you, make the necessary alterations to your list. This prepares you for your next sitting with the designer, because you are clear about what you saw and want. This signals the green light to your designer, and he will get cracking with your list, getting your dream kitchen ready.

                                                The skill of the designer is shown when he makes the most out of what is given to him/her. For example cabinet sizes are important as is the storage space. Ample yet practical designs are a testify the designer’s skill. A good kitchen designer will give you just the kitchen you wished for and beyond. Nothing short of that.

                                                  Clicking that perfect picture of that delicately presented food you’ve created!

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                                                  Clicking that perfect picture of that delicately presented food you've created!Ever wondered what makes the food in the papers, or the hoardings or in the magazines look so amazingly great and appetizing? Ever drooled over that perfect pie or lip smacking dessert? Ever contemplated as to what goes into the clicking of these deliciously appetizing pictures? Well there are a lot of ways to play around with the food as well as viewer’s eye. The art heavily relies on the complexity of the dish and what portion are we trying to hilight.

                                                  Using props can make a lot of difference while enhancing a picture. Try clicking pictures using tools, utensils etc as props to bring out the element of energy or the angle of action for a good shot. This could also be used to catch the attention of the viewer and redirect it to the aspect of the dish we want him or her to take note of.

                                                  Photographing food can be both – an easy or a mammoth task. The good thing about food is that it will never fuss. Food is unlike the usual model with her bag of tantrums and pose patiently till you get that ultimate shot. But on the cons side food can also be a difficult model because it sits still. You can’t ask it to powder itself or touch up its makeup to look fresh just as you can’t ask it to look lip smacking delicious.

                                                  Now right here comes in your talent. Since you’re the photographer you need to breathe life into the food so that it works for the eyes of the viewer, making his stomach crave it. The lighting and the angle of the dish also play a pivotal role in creaating this effect.

                                                  The best props would include the serving dish or bowl. The tools used to whip up the dish can also serve as good props. However remember the element that is prime to you and needs to be brought out in the picture and accordingly place the props. For example while clicking photographs of dishes that comes across as dull due to its color and/or texture, the props can make a lot of difference adding that zing to the picture. For example a carving knife accentuates a smoked chicken, establishing the tender meat under the smoked surface surface.

                                                  Using props can also visually tell a story that goes behind the creation of the dish. Taking a shot of a sizzler plate being smoked up, conveys the action that leads to the final dish. Similarly a scoop of fresh cream held on a laddle over a cup cake establishes the placing of the cream on the cup cake to create a finished delicacy.

                                                  Now if you want the viever to concentrate on your favourite part of the dish make generous use of tools without being direct. Use a fork to split open a portion of the dish where you wish to show off the texture or a spoon through a blob of icecream.

                                                  So keep that camera of your’s ready the next time you invest time in great food. You’ll have framed memories, of the time you wish to cherish.

                                                    Just a sweet tooth or an entire you the sugar addiction story

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                                                    sugar adiccionDo you feel the need to nibble on sweet knick knacks or do you find the walk past a sweet shop a difficult one? Well you may just be addicted to all things sweet, without even having an inkling.

                                                    You may be a through and through foodie and a stubborn kid when it comes to your sweets; but if you’re okay only after satisfying your sugar cravings you may well be a sugar addict. There’s no harm in being weak willed when it comes to sweet dishes, but if you identify with the signs keeping a check is important. After all an excess of anything is not good for health. Isn’t it?

                                                    So if you know you’re sugar obsessed well and good. If not go through the traits we are about to discuss and you’ll know where you stand.

                                                    Ever seen a kid enjoy his ice cream cone with that grin on his face announcing ‘yummilicious’; have it made your heart rumble and your tummy growl in want, so much that you have set your hands in your pocket, pulled out money and headed straight to the ice cream van.

                                                    If you enjoy the sugar rush, meaning the sugar high not much after you have  consumed sugar, you are losing yourself to the sweet demon.

                                                    Closely connected to the first trait is the opposite of the sugar rush, better known as ‘sugar low’. Occuring approximately an hour after you’ve consumed sugar, you may experience symptoms like restlessness or uneasiness.

                                                    Do you get all pink and excited when you walk into a sweet shop or are treated to a buffet of all things sweet? If yes, you’re a ‘sweet’ person.

                                                    When you have finished the last bar of chocolate in the house, and still open the refrigrator several times to try and hope for a miraculous bar to be present; the ‘sweet bug’ has bit you.

                                                    Sweets can literally burn a hole in your pocket if you can’t control yourself in a sweet mart. So what if you empty your wallet by the time you walk out of the store; your hands are still filled with bags of beverages and sweet meat to keep you distracted from your monetary losses.

                                                    If you’re sipping on a drink with a sugar-syrupped  cherry in it and if you lose it with the other remnants of the glass to its bottom; if you painfully try to scoop it out not caring about what the world around thinks of you. If you can risk it, while the space is being evacuated to still there and give rooting the cherry a shot; if you get cranky and irritable when you’re finally forcefully evacuated- you my friend are officially sugar crazy.

                                                    If you can relate to this? If you think you’re a sugar addict? And what happens when you are out of your sugar supplies? The answers to this can be equally amusing and scary. We’re not saying having a melting heart for a good dessert or a quick sweet bite is bad, but binging on it is sinful for you and your body.

                                                      Fat: Living with the taboo but not that bad after all

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                                                      fat menFats is probably one of the most tabooed and dreaded words in the food dictionary. But they’re not all that bad after all. Fats can also be a good addition to the daily diet. Against the myth, good fats must necessarily be a part of one’s daily meal as they are crucial supplements to ones body.

                                                      Yes, some fats are notorious and harmful and may cause risk of cardiovascular diseases but then there are also those fats that may protect your heart. Fats are an important source of fatty acids as well as concentrated energy and are rich in fat-soluble vitamins. They can also be used as an alibi for cooking. Let us take a look some fats that help battle cholesterol.

                                                      Avoid cocktails and choose to sip on red wine instead as it is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent various types of cancers. Red wine also has saponins, which help lower bad cholesterol LDL. But wine intake should be limited. As per the American Heart Association its two glasses for men or one glass for women in a day.

                                                      Rotation of oils is a good idea. Example: for one month you could use sunflower oil and then olive oil in the next. Olive, sesame and mustard oils are considered low cholestrol cooking oils. Even avocado oil, corn, cottonseed. sunflower seeds and sunflower oil etc are good for cooking.

                                                      Monounsaturated fats healthy fats. While understanding cholestrol, you must know that there are two types of cholesterol – one that cholesterol clogs our arteries and is referred to as bad cholesterol or LDL; and the other fats are those that help eradicate these clogs which are better known as the good cholesterol or HDL.

                                                      Polyunsaturated fats may also be healthy in certain ways. Polyunsaturated fats has HDL but it affects the total blood cholesterol by lowering both the good and the bad cholesterol(LDL and HDL) and the HDL (good) cholesterol. So these should be used to a certain extent only.

                                                      Plant extract oils are good for regular use. Butter or ghee are popular options for baking; and in some cases even for cooking. However butter and ghee can inflict bad cholesterol.

                                                      The risk of heart diseases by artery clogging is rife. Healthier options like vegetable oils (soya oil, sesame oil, olive, mustard, corn etc) must be used for cooking as well as baking as they share good cholesterol or HDLs.

                                                      Fats from meat also work as cholesterol control agents. But one must still try and reduce the fat that comes along with meat. Let us also take a look at the ways in which one can reduce fat content from meats. While buying meat one must make sure that the meat is cut nice and lean. This will make the task of cutting and seperating all the visible fats from the meat. Like in a chicken, the skin is removed to get rid of the fat deposits.

                                                      When using the meat for preparations like broth, stew or soup, freeze the meat before hand. This will solidify the fat, making its removal easy.

                                                      Irrespectively, one must avoid frying food. By frying the amount of calories increase. You can use alternate cooking methods like grill, roast, steam etc.

                                                        Breathing a whiff of life into your current boring kitchen space!

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                                                        kitchen spaceFor those with the passion for food, the kitchen is nothing less than a place of worship. A place where passions survive, yet the heart finds immense pleasure and solace. If you have been planning on how and what you could do to your kitchen to make it a completely new space; looking up kitchen magazines and decor shows to see what would suit your kitchen best; particular new cabinetry style and new countertops. Whether you select a stained wood or painted cabinet, granite or quartz countertop, there is a bigger picture to be considered first.

                                                        Good kitchen planning is key to get rid of the clutter from the kitchen counter. A good design with storage space for those extra elements that usually mess up your counter

                                                        In order to conduct a successful renovation, you need to study your current kitchen well, understanding the elements you’d like to keep, improve and get rid off. One needs to understand that renovating a kitchen does not mean just beautifying it. All the illustrations of these impeccable kitchen spaces that you see all over glossy magazines are merely representations meant to inspire. They do not necessarily have the traits of a good and convinient kitchen. An important thing to be kept in mind while re-modelling is identifying the working space and the storage area. Get rid of all that you dislike and improvise on the things you wish to keep and improve.

                                                        Enlist the problems you face in your current kitchen, right up from clutter to the flow of things and look for viable solutions to make better them. Ask yourself simple questions like – What is obstructing your work flow, complicating simple tasks into massive ones? What are the objects or elements that lead to clutter and make your station unpleasant? Etc. See how you can adjust your stray vessels, appliances etc using smart and accomodating cabinet designs. Look up the internet for cabinetry features and see what designs would suit the volume of the elements from your kitchen.

                                                        Tactfully divide the  items depending on their usage. For example items used on a daily basis like plates, cutlery, glasses, plastic containers, pots and pans can be in an easily accessible cabinet. Elements used occasionally like ice-boxes, picnic baskets, barbeque set-up,small appliances etc can be settled in a seperate cabinet. Applying this bifocation helps you judge the location of the item you want and makes it easily accesible for you. Please get rid of the items you do not wish anymore, they just add to the clutter and chaos.

                                                        Plan your new kitchen as per the tasks you wish to engage in like cooking, baking, cleaning-up etc and the amenities needed for the same.

                                                        Keep the design of the kitchen extremely user friendly. Try and adopt a universal design that has features making it accesible to every demography.

                                                        It may sound like a mammoth task to you, but taking help from an experienced planner or a designer may just ease your burden substantially. Remember it is easier to avoid a mess than eradicate it.

                                                        Have a little fun and manage to click “before” and “after” photos, you’ll be pleasantly surprized at what you’ve managed to do to your favourite space.

                                                          Feed Your Skin to Beauty

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                                                          beutifull skin“What we eat is what we are” goes the saying. Chosen carefully, food can
                                                          completely alter the way you look, more so, even the way you feel. Beauty
                                                          is nothing, but just the health quotient of your skin. Healthier skin is always
                                                          beautiful. No amount of topical application of the beauty ingredients – at
                                                          least claimed – can compensate for the healing effect of the healthy food
                                                          ingested orally.

                                                          Skin is constituted of collagen: the protein responsible for making the
                                                          skin supple and firm. Moreover, one of the end products of the digestive
                                                          process, the free radicals, they are the reason behind collagen losing its
                                                          character and pre- mature aging of the skin.

                                                          Poor diet – lacking in essential minerals, vitamins, proteins and
                                                          carbohydrates in the required proportions – can kill the skin texture, apart
                                                          from affecting the vital processes in the body, the resultant effect of which
                                                          reflects on the skin. Stress is the third culprit.

                                                          Adequately nutritive food is a potent weapon for reigning in all the
                                                          mentioned causes of the skin losing its beauty. The effect of free radicals
                                                          can be neutralized by ingesting ample amounts of antioxidants. Vitamins E,
                                                          C and A are powerful antioxidants: raw vegetables of all colors are loaded
                                                          with them like tomatoes, spinach, celery, radish, carrots and so on.

                                                          Cooking these vegetables for longer and at higher temperatures
                                                          disintegrate their structure, rendering them ineffective in fighting free
                                                          radicals. Cooking food at lower temperatures and for shorter periods of
                                                          time can help preserve these free radical fighting antioxidants, and assist
                                                          the skin retain its vitality.

                                                          Covering the utensil being used for cooking can prevent the loss of the vital
                                                          nutrients via evaporation. Two to three servings of raw vegetable salad
                                                          per day, adds sheen to the surface of the skin. Eating foods which help

                                                          detoxify your body can take years off your skin: drinking lemon grass juice
                                                          stimulates urination, aiding in flushing out the toxins – waste products –
                                                          from the blood stream.

                                                          Microwave cooking helps preserve the vital nutrients in the food, though
                                                          some people require re-programming their palate suiting the same. Keep
                                                          a check on the intake of the amount of fat in your diet. Though fat is an
                                                          essential additive – in diminutive measures though – to a beauty inducing
                                                          diet, its intake need to be regulated commensurate with your metabolism
                                                          and daily energy requirement.

                                                          Excessive intake of fat with respect to the amount the body can utilize daily,
                                                          gets stored in the form of adipose tissue under the skin, giving it a puffy
                                                          and an unhealthy look. Same goes with sugar, required for instant energy
                                                          needs, if ingested in access, adds to the fat stored under the skin with
                                                          similar consequences.

                                                          Sugar needs to be avoided altogether from entering your plate, especially
                                                          the crystallized sugar, consuming which is the most criminal act a diet
                                                          conscious being can perform. A beauty diet is the one which is devoid
                                                          of carbohydrate – potatoes, rice and white bread to name few- rich
                                                          ingredients into it.