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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Banishing the blues...will sweets help?

Jelly candies...! 
This is yummy, my all time favorite :) As they say in the advert this is something that makes children as well as adults crave for every now and then.

Wiki says Haribo founder Hans Riegel Sr. introduced this attractive delicacy for the very first time in Germany in 1920. Now we have countless shapes and flavors that make us spoilt for choice all over the world. Gummi bears, Gummi worms, berries in all shapes and sizes, sour, sweet, fruity, is mind boggling, indeed !

Well, anything in excess is poison. It is a well known fact that we all reach for icecreams and sweet dishes when stress kicks in. It is not only the sweetness of these wonderful foods but the beautiful looks too that make us reach for such things almost always overpowering our willpower. Craving for such things is an unhealthy way to de-stress. If you have access to low calorie sweetener like Stevia or similar things like that it is acceptable to a certain level. But it is always better to deal with emotional issues by healthy, positive measures and there are numerous solutions available off / online now-a-days. Sometimes a hug is enough to feel comfy :). So next time before opening the Refrigerator door or emptying a packet-full of jellies, just give it a try !

Well, jelly candies...a cool treat :),
  • Beautiful things bring positive feelings. All sweet dishes look beautiful. No wonder these attractive cool delicacies help in banishing blues. But there are much cooler, healthy choices available that bring positive vibes. 

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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Exploring Nature...African / Mexican coriander

This exotic herb is known in different parts of the world in different names. Here it is known as "African coriander" ( African malli, in malayalam, our mother tongue ). The popular names include Mexican coriander, Farang coriander, culantro, spirit weed, fit weed, saw-tooth coriander, saw-leaf coriander, bandhaniya, long coriander etc.

From what I read from the web this herb is widely used for culinary purposes in South America, Fareast and Africa. It is popular in Assam and Manipur in India; in South India it is not very common. Hope my blogger friends will enlighten us about this beautiful herb's popularity in their countries.

This herb has flavor similar to coriander / cilantro, the difference is this is stronger and intense. We may need only a small portion of it's leaf to garnish our dishes compared to the more common coriander leaves.

This has two types of leaves. The leaves that are at the lower portion of the plant are long and are about an inch in breadth. They have saw-tooth like spines at their edges. Not at all thorny, they are smooth :). The rosette like leaves are also present in my plant, they are also palatable. Hope it will flower soon.

The above plant was small when brought from my ancestral home with my mom's permission. She has one more there. They use it regularly in dishes. This is grown in a purely organic way. The potting mix is the same I used to grow ladies finger; details of which you can get from my post about growing ladies finger - the organic way.

She has grown well in her new place here with me. I guess she is happy to meet you all, my blogger friends :) She is no fussy plant; requires only little Sun and water.

This exotic herb has been claimed to be having many health benefits besides the culinary uses like garnishing, marinating and seasoning.

The claims include:
  • anti-diabetic
  • anti-convulsant
  • anti-cancerous
  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-inflammatory
  • analgesic
In traditional medicine it is used for treating hypertension, fever, worm infestation, burns etc. Well, nothing has been proved by well-controlled double blind studies nor there is uniform acceptance and agreement among the researchers, like in the case of many herbs said to be having medicinal value. So always get the advice of a qualified doctor.

It is actually fun in having a leisure time activity like gardening. Growing herbs, spices and medicinal plants as well as flowering plants are cool ways to bring positive energy. It has become a productive hobby as well in the present day world, considering the value of organically grown produce. Such cool stuffs are always in demand all over the world. There are many more exotic herbs still not very well known to people, having unique medicinal values. Besides they improve health in natural ways. The end result is we all feel better !

Enjoy exploring Nature...! Let this also be a cool method to reduce the sky-rocketing stress levels. Help the needy, suffering fellow human beings. Identify such rare plants, spread awareness and push the scientific community to conduct research to validate medicinal value claims.

Such activities bring lot of happiness to everyone. Remember, happiness is our right.

The botanical name of this herb is Eryngium foetidum.
  • There are many things still unknown to us in nature. Some things may seem so common but they may be priceless. Nature still has many secrets and we have just begun unveiling those.
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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Indoor garden, a cool way to de-stress

Greenery indoors is something that makes us relaxed. It is refreshingly cool to see live plants inside our house. Live plants are not difficult to grow indoors, give it some tender love and care, sure it will grow well.

Money plants are the easiest to grow, you may have to keep it once in while in warm Sunlight. It will thrive well even if there is only limited Sunlight inside. I am growing money plants in water-filled containers. All others I am growing in soil, cocopeat or a mixture of both.

In my experience we can depend on green lucky bamboo plants with full confidence. As you can see these two plants are placed where no Sunlight falls. They are growing well, no problems whatsoever. Never kept them outside to get Sunlight ! I am growing these in a potting mix of only cocopeat and not in water-filled containers or soil.

NASA has released a list of plants that purify indoor air. The emissions from TV, fluorescent lamps, refrigerator etc. pollute indoor air and plants help in improving air quality.

Selection of plants, as I mentioned above, is very important. Even indirect Sunlight is enough for some plants to grow well. Self-watering containers limit the need for daily watering; it helps in keeping the plants hydrated when we go for vacation. I have already posted about making self-watering containers at home.

Attractive containers, beautiful plants...well, let us make our interiors lively.

No doubt, greenery indoors bring positive energy. Such cool sights inside our houses send positive signals to the brain that eventually help in banishing the blues we may experience. A clean and lively environment is a sure way to better our mood level. Add some life to our environment inside buildings. Use this to be a better person; let it also be a personal development tool. Plants provide excellent vibes.

Let us make our indoors world too a better place to live.
  • Environment plays a lot in giving us positive energy. Adding a touch of greenery to our interiors is something that makes us relaxed and happy. 

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Monday, 9 March 2015

Leisure time activity, Organic Okra ( lady's finger ) cultivation at home

This is my first attempt at growing Okra / bhindi / lady's finger organically at home. Fortunately it has become a success, thank God :)

Urban farming, as you all know, is challenging. With limited space, Sun and other constraints growing vegetables and fruits, that too organically, is very difficult and frustrating.

Armed with some farming experience in the past, preparing myself ready to accept setbacks, I took the first step researching a lot, both online and offline, about organic farming at home. I learned that if we want better yield we must get top quality seeds. This has better resistance against common diseases as well. So went to the Krishi vigyan kendra sales counter at CMFRI located on Goshree road near High Court Junction at Kochi and purchased Okra seeds ( Arka - anamika, an awesome variety of interspecific hybrid !).

I mixed organic soil with vermicompost bought from AVT gardenia at Panampilly nagar, Kochi and cocopeat ( a natural, organic soil conditioner made from coconut husks and fiber which has great water holding capacity ) from Sterling, poonithura. To this potting mixture some cowdung powder and a handful of neem cake powder were also added. Neem seed cake, as you all know, is a good organic pest repellent. Two Okra seeds were soaked in water overnight and planted about two centimeters deep into this potting mix. Within a week seeds germinated. Watered it regularly and kept the pot in the narrow backyard at home where we get some amount of Sun...mind you, this is metro city in a tropical country, lol, packed with concrete structures all around, not allowing full Sun to get through !

The terrace of my house is already covered with a sturdy aluminium sheet truss work so no Sun :) there too, else I would have tried terrace gardening. There is a balcony, well...will try something there as soon as possible :)

However, my cute Okra plants grew happily, I put a plastic mesh around the pot fencing it to prevent it from getting crushed by the football small children play next doors. Anyway things went on smoothly. Now it is only a month and as you can see my beautiful plants have begun producing lovely fruits ! These ladies are just a foot tall...! :), there are so many lovely fruits sprouting, as you can see !

I would like to share the joy with all my blogger friends worldwide and decided to post this :)
Buddies, aren't they cute ?

In Kerala too, like many other countries worldwide, toxic pesticide and fertilizer usage has resulted in very high incidence of cancer and other serious diseases forcing people to go organic in whatever way they can. The problems with organic is the genuineness of produce, certification and exorbitant cost. Many are not at all aware of proper organic growing methods, availability of seeds and planting materials.

My advice to all who venture out into this wonderful task is to go for the easiest to grow plants like Okra and salad leaves like coriander and fenugreek. Remember, Sunlight is crucial. Start small and expand gradually. Watering can become difficult especially if you travel a lot, with no one to help. Try self watering plastic bottle with a wick, I will post something about it asap. It will keep your beauties happy for a week if you use a big soft drinks bottle, no big deal !

Well, pests...if the plant is healthy you don't need to worry about them especially if u have used cool seeds bought from reputed sellers.

Neem seed oil, tobacco-water concoction and chilli-garlic juice, all diluted of course, are very effective natural, organic pest repellents. These are 'repellents', so use them before pests attack. Online you will find many resources how to prepare these effective organic weapons against pests.

CMFRI outlet has many organic planting materials that growers would surely need, 'panchagavya' included. It is a concoction of diluted cows urine, cowdung, milk, curd and ghee. Organic foliar sprays like fish amino acid emulsion is also available which is a mixture of sardines and organic jaggery.

I didn't feed my beauties with any of the above, they were growing happily in the pot enjoying the potting mix :). Well, I gave both of them a little support with sticks, it is fair...we all need it, something to lean on, isn't it ?

Online you will find so many tips about organic soil fertilizers, organic foliar fertlizer sprays and repellents.

A word about foliar fertlizer sprays, they are the future...micro quantities are only needed to supply nutrition to the plants, they are sprayed, diluted as directed, directly onto the leaves preferably under them. Will explain in detail about it's usage later.

Search online about Okra has made me aware of many important facts about it that I would like to share with you all. I am calling Okra, a fruit and not vegetable. Well, does it matter?

Okra is now-a-days recognized as superfood. It is rich in calcium ( 82 mg % ), magnesium ( 57 mg % ), ( potassium 299 mg% ), vitamin C ( 23 mg % ) and fiber. A notable feature of Okra is it is rich in Vitamin K as well ( 31.3 microgram % ). Fiber present in this juicy fruit can prevent constipation very effectively.

Oil extracted from Okra seeds is rich in Oleic and linolenic acid. It can be used as biofuel as well. Roasted and ground Okra seeds is a caffeine free substitute for coffee. Any experience, anyone ?

Okra is rich in antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals that cause serious diseases. The slime / mucilage is claimed to be medicinal; it boosts heart health. Okra reduces homocysteine levels thus reducing inflammation. Some eat Okra raw, no need to tell you, better to eat organic fruit raw, one advantage of having a plant at home :) A few plants are more than sufficient for regular supply to a small family. It is an all year produce. Okra leaves can be put in salads as well.

Okra's scientific name is Abelmoschus esculentus.

Organic cultivation is a fun filled activity. Moreover it has now-a-days become a productive hobby as well considering the value of organic produce all over the world. This is a good thing to do with no pollution or environmental damage bringing positive health to mankind. Inspiring people to adopt healthy ways to grow foodstuffs is wonderful.

Another valuable activity that radiate positive vibrations.
  • If there is a will there is a way !
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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Positive energy, Kashi art cafe, fort kochi, an update

Kashi art cafe is a very popular hangout in Fort Kochi.
I have already blogged about this cool spot before and consider this as an update. Kashi incidentally is a venue of Kochi - Muziris biennale 2014.

A visit to Fort Kochi is never complete without a visit to Kashi, that is my opinion :)
This is an amazing cafe where art perfectly blends with coffee and rest of the delicacies. Just sit where you can enjoy art, well...that means practically anywhere here, sip the cappuccino and you are in sync with universe !

This massive portion of chocolate cake soaked in golden brown chocolate sauce is a famous dish and is in great demand all the time.
Reasonably priced, of course :)

The yester years wooden railway sleepers put into use artistically...brilliant !

Art at the entrance...

Creepers, small plants and trees intermingle with art and we too form a part of the whole thing, all in tune with mother Nature !

There is no point in shutting ourselves indoors watching telly and munching on unhealthy snacks when stressed avoiding people. It will never make us feel better. Going somewhere where we feel uplifted, where we may get some clues to solve the problem that caused stress, or talk to people who can offer some help are positive steps. When we get good vibes our brain will respond positively. Our subconscious mind will pick up all such good cues to make ourselves feel better.

Some places are cool; there is positivity everywhere !
  • Anything, anywhere, anytime by anybody in sync with the rhythmic tunes of Nature will always be a success.

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