Thursday, August 22, 2013

Happiness - how to increase it

Pursuit of happiness is our unalienable right; but how can we achieve it? Here is my quick summary of what we can do to achieve our goal based on an article I read recently.

10 amazingly simple things you can do to increase your happiness quotient :)

1.  Regular exercise – even a little can make a difference with countless benefits!
2.  Adequate Sleep – in addition to all the other benefits including recharging, recovery, and relaxation, it also helps us be happy and more positive.
3.  Live close to work – the stress of long commute builds up; better job, higher pay or bigger home just don’t make up for the daily drag.
4.  Schedule time with family and friends – ultimately, the important things that matter in life are our relationships with others.
5.  Commune with Mother Nature – natural environments like the forests, beaches, mountains, gardens, etc are the best for maximum happiness; so get your 20 minutes of fresh air every morning or evening when the weather is cool!
6.  Service to others – do little or big deeds of kindness every day as part of daily living so that it becomes our second nature!
7.  Smile! – even if you don’t feel like it, put your heart into it and practice smiling like you mean it with your whole face anyway :). It works!
8.  Plan your dream vacation – even if you cannot follow through with it right away, the act of planning and the anticipation are apparently the best parts of a vacation!
9.  Meditation – regular meditation permanently alters the brain and promotes happiness in addition to myriad other benefits.
10. Exercise gratitude – genuine gratitude increases happiness, appreciation, and life satisfaction.
     Lastly, and best of all: Getting old makes us happier!!! According to research, people seek out situations that lift their moods as they age. So, we needn't be afraid of growing older – we can look forward to being more positive as we grow older, wiser, and - happier! Be Happy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Almond Butter - Easy and Delicious

Almond Butter

Wow, talk about easy! Making almond butter is not only very easy, it is also economical. I use purchased roasted nuts for ease of preparation; but the nuts may be roasted at home in a skillet or in the oven. And since the roasted nuts are already salted, I do not add any additional salt.  If you prefer an unsalted product, by all means use unsalted roasted or raw nuts. I make small quantities to keep it fresh.

I love almond butter just as it is and do not add anything else; but if you like, you may add cardamom or cinnamon for a bit of spice. Dates or raisins may also be added to make a sweet spread. Add spices or dried fruits to the food processor after the almonds have turned into butter and process a little longer until you have a uniform butter. I use the food processor to make the nut butters as I can scrape out every bit of it out (versus the blender) and it is so easy to clean too.

Note:  This process takes about 15 minutes; at first it might seem that it takes too long. But just when you think nothing is going to happen, the nuts release their oil and almond butter appears! A very satisfying endeavor :).

An important reminder: Although almond butter is nutritious, this is a concentrated food and very easy to consume so do practice portion control so as not to overload your caloric budget :).

Makes about 1 cup


1 cup dry raw Almonds
1 cup roasted, salted Almonds


Place the almonds in the food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade.

Turn on and keep the machine running; at first the nuts get pulverized and stay powdery.

Soon you will see the color change as the oil is drawn out.

Keep the machine running still and then the amazing change happens: enough oil is drawn out and TA DA! ....... you have almond butter!!

Stop the motor and scrape, loosen any bits stuck on the sides or bottom, and push to the center of the processor bowl to make sure all of the powdered almonds get incorporated.

Let the machine run for a minute or two more until you have a uniform almond butter.

Scoop into a clean container, label, and refrigerate.

Serve on toasts, crackers, rice cakes etc.