Tag Archives: diabetes

Lucha Libre vs. Obesity & Diabetes

Fighting Obesity and Diabetes in the Latin Community!  

I am excited to share the good news that I will working with a small non profit group who are part of alternative media channel for the Latin Community (Las Perlas TV) who are heading a new campaign called Lucha Libre vs. Obesity & Diabetes in Toronto – where 7 Canadian-Latin American community leaders disguised as “Mexican Luchadores” (wrestlers who hide their identity behind flashy and elaborate costumes and masks) will participate in a “weight loss” competition to lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks through awareness of nutritional eating habits and improvements in their lifestyle.



















Here is a link to their promo YouTube video to their kick off campaign where it’s fun and catchy and a great way to approach the topic with a culturally sensitive, positive manner.

I will be creating menus that consists of healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas for the whole family. I will be posting videos, recipes and pictures of the process so you can follow our exciting campaign and spread the word to anyone who is interested in eating delicious healthy food that uses Latin ingredients and also exploring world cuisine!

Swiss Style Bircher Muesli

Overnight Oats Muesli with fruits & nuts

Healthy Breakfast Idea!

When I lived in Germany close to Switzerland’s border during my chef training I had this style of muesli in many cafes and high end hotels and it became my favourite. This recipe was founded by Dr. Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner in Zurich early 1900’s who believed that natural ingredients “food of the sunlight” by nature was best for human health.

I made Bircher muesli all the time despite the cold months and varied the ingredients according to the season. It’s so tasty and hard to believe it’s healthy.  Similar to the traditional premade muesli you find in stores with nuts and fruits but creating your muesli with your choice of seeds, nuts and dried or fresh fruits and creating a healthier version to call your own!








I love the portability of this muesli as it packs well where you can take it with you in the car, to the office, picnics and hikes. A healthy wholesome delicious breakfast to start your day!

 Prep time 5 min                                                Serves 6

 Chef’s Note: oats will expand after being soaked but not too much 1:1.3 ratio



2 cups rolled oats (or quick oats)

½ cup sliced almonds

1 apple, graded with skin on

2 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp cinnamon powder

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 cup low-fat yogurt

1 cup 2% milk or milk of your choice


  1. Grate the apple and add lemon juice so it doesn’t oxidize
  2. In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients and apple mixture mix well
  3. Transfer to a sealable container and store overnight in the fridge
  4. Divide muesli in bowls and add desired fruits or more milk or yogurt and enjoy!

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving = ½ cup soaked muesli, 120 ml: Calories 253; Fat 8 g; Carb 36 g; Fibre 8 g; Sugar 9 g; Protein 13 g; Potassium 461 mg; Calcium 165mg

6th Annual South Asian Diabetes Expo

I am excited about our 6th South Asian Diabetes Expo – Canadian Diabetes Association has been helping the South Asian Diabetes Chapter to bring diabetes awareness in the South Community in a sensitive manner.

We have an exciting event where medical professionals will be speaking about topics that we haven’t touched on at the South Asian Expo, including Belly Fat and why its bad for you and Diabetes Care overall care – we believe these are sounds topics that will resonate with the attendees.

We will also talk about Fat, Diabetes and Healthy Eating in the kitchen, and demystify between good fats and bad fats. I will do a cooking demonstration using alternate grains in the South Asian kitchen as I am always experimenting using different grains for South Asian cooking.

We’ll also have fitness demonstration using fitness rubber bands as they are great for taking them anywhere including on your trips. We’ll have a full trade show and much more.

SA Expo Poster

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

When you start to see leaves turn golden colour you know we are in fall the season and you’ll see plenty of different varieties of squash and pumpkins showing up in markets. It’s time to stock your cellar with them as they will get you through the fall and winter season. Cooking with them is easy as they are high in potassium, fibre and it will fill you up with good calories and suitable for people with Diabetes, CVD, Celiac and Vegan diet. Here is a staple recipe as your family will enjoy the soup through the cold months.







Cooking time 40 min       Prep time 15 min              Serves 12

Chef’s Notes: This soup freezes well, make large quantities and store in the freezer for future use!

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup


1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 lbs Squash (medium sized) peeled, seeded and cubed

4 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stocks, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper for taste


  1. In a large stock pot heat the oil and add onion, celery and carrots and sauté well
  2. Add cinnamon and bay leaves, and sauté for another minute
  3. Add squash and sauté another minute
  4. Add stock and bring it to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes or until squash is tender
  5. Season the soup with salt and pepper
  6. Cool the soup, take out cinnamon stick and bay leaves
  7. In batches puree the soup in a blender and incorporate all the soup and add additional stock/water to desired consistency
  8. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seed or pumpkin oil and serve warm

Nutritional Analysis per 1 serving (8 oz/1 cup): Calories 83; Fat 2g; Fibre 2g; Carb 14g; Sodium 103 mg; Protein 3g

Camino Santiago Passports, Stamps & Symbols

Chapter 6 – Camino Santiago Symbols, what are they about?

Travel brings power and love back into your life – Rumi

I’ve talked about much of my preparation for the Camino but I haven’t really talked about the process of the Camino, how one walks the Camino path. When I heard about the Camino I started to research about it – I could find tons of website and blogs and there was a symbol that kept showing up over and over again – it was the scallop shell. The scallop shell signifies rebirth and it’s the symbol of Camino and the apostle Saint James and the French call it Coquilles Saint Jacques (Scallops of Saint James/Jacob)

Legend of the Santiago de Compostela

Who was Saint James? Why did so many of his followers or pilgrims take the road to Compostela as early as year 1000? According to the bible James the Greater was one of Christ’s first apostles who died in Jerusalem in the year 44 AD. He said to be been beheaded by order of King Herod Agrippa, who was apposed to the new religion. Legend has it two disciples brought his body back by boat to Galicia where the tomb was discovered by 9th century by a hermit who was led to it by a star. Relic worship was widespread at the time and the site rapidly took on its vocation as a major pilgrimage center comparable with Jerusalem and Rome. Campus Stellae or “filed of stars” became Santiago de Compostela and this town tip of Galicia soon built a Romanesque church that was to become one of the most imposing Gothic Cathedrals in Europe.







From all the pictures of the Camino the directional sign to Santiago were all directed by the shell using it as a walkway symbol or a yellow arrow sign pointing to a direction to walk ahead. From my trip I’ve seen the yellow arrow on rocks, roads, trees and trust me you will be happy to see it on your path so that you don’t miss your path. The scallop shell is also modified like a sunburst used sideways signifying many paths around Europe leading to one meeting point, Santiago! How cool is that!

When the pilgrims start the Camino everyone gets a passport called “credentials” from the tourist office at the starting point (in my case at St. Jean PP) a passport where each pilgrim will register their personal information. Once a pilgrim obtains a passport then they can collect stamps to indicate that they have passed the proper Camino path through various villages. The passport is used as a credential to get accommodations at albergues (Hostel, Pension). When you reach Santiago, to get the Compostela (the Camino certificate) the passport is examined at the Tourist office to make sure all the necessary stamps,  the last 100 km have been walked by the pilgrim. So these stamps are given out in most albergues, churches and municipal offices – they are unique to each place. But all the stamps are verified and the certificates are given out to everyone who walks the Camino to Santiago.

My passport, my first stamp from SJPP and Camino Shell

My passport, my first stamp from SJPP and Camino Shell

You are also asked a question at the Tourist office why you walked the Camino – this is not a test question that one must pass but to let one reflect on the whole journey and answer why they did the walk and then you are given the certificate. I have a degree in Computer Science, Diploma for Culinary Arts, many awards and certificates but I think this one will be very special to me. This certificate is not easy to get – and it’s not about how fast or how many days it took to finish rather how one did the walk and the quality of it. This is truly a reflection of oneself how you want to do the Camino walk.

Santiago de Compostela for me!

I’ve given permission to myself to do something totally different where my body and soul hope to work in synch without being too hard and judgemental about myself. I also hope to find a balance in my life, balance my blood sugar with the heavy physical activity and to achieve a taste/test of walking close to 880 km where I’ve done this similar distance by plans, trains and automobiles but never by foot and that’s some achievement I can do and be proud of. Especially with type1 diabetes (T1D), I’ve never challenged myself to long physical activity where I can really speak to so many others challenged by diabetes who limit themselves to travel or long distance physical activity that they can with proper planning and training.

Buen Camino!

My Camino Way

camino2Chapter 1 – Brief History of Camino de Santiago

For some time I’ve been thinking about doing the Camino de Santiago  (long walking trek over 800 km)  – an ancient pathway to pilgrims, even Napoleon took this path to visit the large cathedral of Saint James in the ancient city of Santiago in Galicia, Spain. Ancient time they thought Finisterre (Atlantic coast of Galicia) was ‘end of the world’ (costa de morte) – where there was no landmass, leaving civilization at the edge of Atlantic Ocean until the new world was discovered in 1492.

“People tend to forget the word “history” contains the word “story” – Ken Burns

There are many routes to get there within Europe. I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer faith and spirituality people have in achieving this massive goal by walking approximately 25+ km each day – walking through tough terrains, mountains, foot hills and valleys and sleeping in albergues, monasteries and eating what is available along way.

Why the Camino for me?

Not being an athlete or a religious person I wanted to undertake the Camino to learn about myself and my body as I haven’t pushed myself to do anything challenging after being diagnosed with type1 diabetes (November 14, 2005 – ironically its World Diabetes Day). Having type1 diabetes (T1D) has its challenges, to maintain healthy blood glucose (blood sugar) throughout this trip, eating what is available and walking 25+ km a day (exercise and tons of it) is an enormous challenge without proper planning and training.

camino5March of this year I decided to take this challenge and to train for it. Walking is something I can do as I’ve tried running many times but it didn’t click for me, neither did biking. But walking 25+ km each and every day for 32+ (approximate days to walk 800 km) days? – Well it has a good ring to it. It’s like training for anything, all I had to do was to step out of my house (my comfort zone) and walk on the sidewalk and viola I could do 6 km for an hour, wow I can do this Camino!

Well not so fast – I will talk about my training on my next entry but just wanted to talk a bit more about the Camino.  My first day’s journey at the Camino would start at St. Jean Pied de Port (SJPP), France at the foothills of Pyrenees where you climb 1500 meters straight up the mountain for about 20 km and descend to 900 meters, 5 km to Roncesvalles, Spain. After 10 km from SJPP on the mountain there is no stopping as there are no hostels or huts to stay as its a rough terrain, only the mountain.  So this is the challenge that really pushed my training to figure out how to get ready for this challenging climb and descend and keeping up energy for 25+ km for each day.

Did I mention that I will be doing the 1st segment of the Camino with my husband John – he will be my coach to remind me to take my snacks, test my blood sugar every hour and cheering me on as he has done many challenging climbs in his earlier days including the Kilimanjaro.

We will start our journey from SJPP (France) to Logrono (Rioja, Spain) approximately 200 km to be completed in 8 days. I am also thinking of starting my 2nd journey from where I leave off at Logrono, Rioja to Finisterre, Galicia about 700 km across northern Spain over a month later this summer.

Talk about exciting, I am thrilled. Not only it will be a huge challenge but being a cook exposed to this amazing culinary journey across northern Spain, eating, walking, doing a fitness holiday, meeting travelers from all over the world along the way and breathtaking scenery and history to boot? Why not? This is sounding amazing already and I can’t wait to get there!

Check out the film The Way directed by Emilio Estevez starring Martin Sheen (plays on screen father too) – a powerful story that takes place in the Camino trail where life’s questions, quests are questioned or answered as you’ll meet interesting characters along the path of the movie. Very uplifting and moving film which I really enjoy myself at TIFF few years ago and had the opportunity to talk to both Estevez and Sheen about their journey in the Camino and how it was to play onscreen father and son about life’s existential crisis. They were so happy to share their stories.

I plan to blog about my trip while on the Camino – hopefully the internet connection will cooperate so that I can share my experiences and the culinary journey with you guys and I hope you’ll join me along the way to cheer me on send me positive vibes with your feedback.

Buen Camino!

South Indian Spicy Legume Snack

“Everday can be Navarathri”

When I was a young girl growing up in South India, Sundal (various kinds of boiled legumes with spice) would be given as a healthy snack after school. During the month of October a big festival called Navarathri would be celebrated for 9 days. All 9 days, 9 different kinds of legumes will be made into Sundal with various spices and finishes. Kids sing songs and visit neighbours and collect Sundal for snack.

Typical South Indian Temple

Navarathri in Tamil Nadu

Diabetes meal at Dr. Mohan's clinic

Diabetes meal at Dr. Mohan’s clinic in Chennai







 “My childhood favourite healthy snack”

I’ve made this Sundal recipe with canned chickpea since it’s quick and easy to prepare. You can also make it with any kind of legumes by soaking the dry beans and boiling it. It’s healthy and suitable for people with diabetes, celiac and CVD (cardiovascular disease). It’s a nutritious snack packed with vegetable protein, high fibre and low GI carbohydrates, keeps in the refrigerator up to 5 days. If you don’t have all the ingredients you can still make it with minimum key ingredients. Perfect for take away snack and picnics!

Sundal - Spicy chickpea snack

Sundal – Spicy chickpea snack

Sundal – South Indian Spicy Legume Snack

Prep time: 3 min        Cook time:  5 min            Serves:  4

Chefs Notes: I am using canned chickpeas since I want to exhibit how quick and easy it is to prepare. If you are going to use canned beans, wash it under cold water 2 to 3 times to remove as much as salt as possible.


1 tsp (15 ml) canola oil

½ tsp (2.5 ml) mustard seeds (optional)*

½ tsp (2.5 ml) split mung bean (aka green gram, urad dhal) (optional)*

1 dried red chili (broken into few pieces)

1/8 tsp (.63 ml) asafetida (optional)*

1 can of chickpea – 540 ml (washed couple of times and drained)

¼ tsp (1.25 ml) salt

2 tbsp. (30 ml)  lemon juice or juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp. (15 ml) chopped fresh coriander or curry leaves*

1 tbsp. (15 ml) grated coconut (optional)

*You can get these ingredients in South Asian grocery stores


1. Heat the oil in a frying pan; temper the mustard seeds and wait for it to pop (put a cover so the seeds don’t escape) then add urad dhal and sauté few seconds

2. Add red chili and sauté well and add asafetida and mix well

3. Add the chickpea and sauté well

5. Add salt and lemon juice and mix well until all the ingredients are mixed

6. Adjust taste and add grated coconuts & fresh coriander (or curry leaves) and toss well

7. Serve warm or cold

Nutritional Information per serving: 1 serving = ½ cup (125ml): Calories 170; Carbohydrate 29g; Fibre 8g; Protein 10g; Fat 2.7g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 455 mg