Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fantastic Fruit Series : Captivating Cantaloupe

Fruits were a big part of our meals growing up. More often than not, my father would come bearing some or the other seasonal fruit when he returned from office. Exotic fruits were not available then as they seem to be now, so apples, oranges, grapes , et all were familiar on the kitchen table. Come summer and the two oft seen fruits in our hands would be the cool, sweet watermelon and the luscious, almost fragrant musk melon. My mom would peel the fruit...the distinctive gray coloured peel with the rough lattice like ridges...would cut the sweet pale yellow to orange coloured fruit, divide it EQUALLY amongst 4 bowls and serve it to the family...we would devour the contents in no time ! Some times she would make a delicious coconut and milk based fruit salad with the musk melon ( we called it shikarni...or as the Maharashtrians would have it, shikaran :) ) ...on warm sultry nights...a bowlful of this cool delicious fruit salad would taste like nectar, straight from heaven!
Imagine my delight then when I saw the same fruit when I arrived in the States..only it was named known as a Cantaloupe ! (I do not know if there are any botanical differences in the two varieties of fruits...but I am assuming that they are the same) I don't remember seeing the honey dew melon ever in India...these are refreshing too..but thats for another post.
Regarding the Cantaloupe, it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, to which belong illustrious members such as the cucumber, pumpkins and gourds. The fruit seems to have to be native to the region stretching from Egypt to Iran. The finest fruits are supposed to be the ones grown in Afghanistan and Iran.

Cantaloupe Fun Facts:
* As with the other members of the family, the cantaloupe is high in water content, making it a perfect fruit for the summer months and is low in calories.
* The more orange the flesh, the more carotene it has.
* Melon seeds are also dried and eaten in salads or as snacks.
* If the fruit is left uncut at room temperature for two to four days, the fruit becomes softer and juicier.
* One serving of the fruit is sufficient to provide a daily dose of Vitamin A and Vitamin C ! Amazing !!

Health Benefits:
* Cantaloupe has antioxidants that help us to fight various ailments such as diabetes, blood pressure, cancer and heart diseases.
* The fruit is a very good source of potassium, Vitamin B6, dietary fiber and niacin.
* It is fat free and cholesterol free ( magic words for all of us there looking for healthier snack and dessert options )
* Cantaloupe is a good source of folate, which is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells

The following is a recipe that I got off a recipe card distributed in grocery stores. I tried it once and found it really really delicious.

Cantaloupe Sipper:


2 C chilled cantaloupe cubes
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
1/8 C apple juice
1 tbsp honey
a dash of ground ginger


1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and and process until smooth and foamy.
2. Pour into your favourite glasses and serve immediately.

Verdict !
Refreshing and delicious. The ginger adds the zing and the lemon juice adds the tang.
Perfect complements to the sweetness of the cantaloupe !
( The recipe can be easily made vegan by omitting the honey)
I tried this with a watermelon too and that was good too..but if you like the taste and fragrance of the captivating cantaloupe, then you have to try this :)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

To Be Or Not To Be.....

.....That is the question...A working mom, that is. Thats the question thats been bouncing up and down in my head ever since I decided to start looking for work after a 2 year hiatus. I am sure that this question has been pondered upon by scores and scores of women, I am not the first and I certainly will not be the last...Why the dilemma, you ask ?? Well lets see...Being at home, having the privilege of being able to watch little P grow in leaps and bounds, being able to spend more time on all the hobbies that I neglected when I was working, being able to lead a simplistic life is wonderful. I have more options to spend my time on, I have nobody to look over my shoulder, I am not accountable to anybody , nothing that will conflict with my most important priority.
That said, in some ways, I miss the days when I used to be a working gal. At work, all said and done, I am me..not somebody's wife or somebody's mother. For those 8 hours, its my personality that comes through, my inherent qualities that are let loose. I am free to be my self and that is exhilarating. Don't get me wrong...I love being a wife, a mother...I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world..but as a mother and a wife, we tend to continually push those roles to the forefront, and it is nothing if not exhausting ! One one hand you have the cleaning, cooking, laundry, house work that is a never ending chore and on the other hand you have the kids to look after, their nutrition, their upbringing and everything else that motherhood entails. Add other friends and family and outings and parties to the mix and there is hardly any time for oneself. And I do not think that it would be selfish of me to crave some time for myself ! Having a career outside the house would give me some time, albeit hectic, in which I will not have to worry about anything else but being myself.
Lets come back to playing devil's advocate now...if I start working..every day will begin on a hectic note..getting three people ready, when one of them cant even put on his own clothes is bound to be time consuming !! Getting myself ready, packing lunch boxes, getting little P's bag ready and being out the door by 8.30 am will not be an easy feat ! The day will pass by in a blur and it will be time to pick little P from his Montessori, getting home, completing any necessary chores on the way dinner, taking care of everybody's dinner, getting P to bed, getting everything ready for the next day...whew ! Just anticipating this whirlwind of a week makes me long for the weekend. I also feel that unless TH and I plan weekends properly, we are not going to get much opportunity for spontaneity !!! I will be cramming everything that I missed during the week into the two days of the weekend. Little P will be spending quite some time outside the house and I will not be a part of those hours of his waking time which he spends at the school ...sigh..
Are we modern women attempting to be superwomen ? Trying to do everything and be successful at it ? Did mothers in previous generations have some knowledge that made them choose to stay at home ? My mother was a stay at home mom and so were all my friends'. I do not know what effect it has on children to spend that much time away from home from a very early age...I do not know what effect it has on families..
So should I reply on an environment in which I grew up and be a stay at home mom, at least until my son starts attending proper school ?
Or should I be willing to work extra hard to try and achieve a little bit more, have a career and give my child an early handle on independence ?
Which is the correct answer ?
Well, thats just it !!! There is no correct answer to this question ...Amazing isnt it ? In my opinion, each and every woman can have a different answer to this question, an answer that could change at any point in her life and still be a valid answer ! I could decide to wait until my son starts public school, or I could start working now or I could decide never to go back to work again and I still would have it right !
Thats the beauty of it...Whatever the decision, it is individual to a family and should have no influence from outside factors..
A bumper sticker somewhere reads " Motherhood is not for wimps ! ' and that is proving to be truer and truer as I get more experienced at it :D
So here's to the mothers everywhere, working ones as well as stay at home ones, because its the most challenging and fulfilling of all the roles that a woman will ever play in her life !
(And best of luck to all those women in the same boat as me :D:D )

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers out there !

(Mother's Day is on May 11th)