Recipe: Cheese + Spinach Parathas

Quick post to share a recipe that I make for Varun. The following recipe make about 3 medium sized parathas.


  1. Spinach – 1 cup
  2. Grated Cheese (any kind) – 1/4 cup
  3. 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  4. Olive oil – 1 tsp
  5. A pinch of salt
  6. Water – enough to make the dough
  7. Ghee (clarified butter) – 1 tsp (or more)


  1. Blanch spinach by following the steps here. Chop it finely. Save some of the hot water that was used in the process.
  2. Mix flour, cheese, olive oil, salt and chopped spinach. Add water sparingly to make the dough come together.
  3. Let it rest for 10 mins.
  4. Then make small balls out of the dough and roll them out in to parathas
  5. Heat a cast iron pan and fry the parathas one at a time. Start with first side, fry for about 20 secs, turn over, drizzle some ghee. Then flip it again, drizzle a little more ghee and take it off the pan.
  6. Serve with cottage cheese or yogurt.

SOTC–Dec 2013

So, where were we? Oh yeah, imaginary dinosaurs chasing us, which, btw is still going strong. Last month after my mom left, Varun asked about her exactly once!  We were surprised at how well he received her leaving. I think kids are super resilient that way. He does reminisce about her but in a happy way not the missing/sad type that we adults are wont to doing.

After my mom left, we depended on temporary nanny care from this agency. They sent us whoever was available which means there was a new person to take care of him every other day (except 1 week where we had a single person). He was such a trooper!!! He kind of got along with all of them with no fuss or anxiety. I cannot thank him enough for the way he handled a new face every day. I am honestly so tired of this..but until we find the right nanny I guess we don’t have a choice.

His imaginary play is getting really really entertaining. For example: We took him to an aquarium the other day. We saw some fish, octopus, jelly fish and even a diver Santa. After that we got on this Ferris wheel and much fun was had. The next day we were home and he started narrating everything. He climbed on the sofa and “put his seat belt” on. Then we “drove” to the “akryaam” and saw “fishy” and “Santa”.  There was round mat on the floor and that was the “weel”. We enact this whole episode almost every day! I can play with him these days with almost no toys!

He also went tubing for the first time last weekend and I was amazed at how much he enjoyed it. He even found a way to tube all by himself without getting scared! For a guy who is scared of swings (we have good days and bad days with the swing…but mostly bad days) it was surprising and exciting to see him have so much fun.

He does not get much social interaction during the week, so we tend do a lot of stuff over the weekend. We caught a ballet performance performed by little girls and Varun actually enjoyed it. He even clapped at the end of the performance. Adorbs!!

His language is growing boundlessly in both English and Telugu. He is making many sentences and learning new words like “daddy pisikaadu (daddy squeezed me), chappatlu kottu (clap your hands),

He is obsessed with my popu dabba (Indian spice box) and can name – saajeera, miriyalu, elaichi, jeelakarra, pasupu and minapappu. I think he has the most cutest Telugu accent, ever!

I see that he is picking a lot more English these days. Shame, really. Because if he doesn’t speak Telugu he will forget it and that will be that. Oh well.


Tour of our playroom

Presenting our art and play space- tada!!!

Earlier in June we decided to dis-enroll Varun from school and have him stay home with a nanny or us/grand parents.  In preparation for that we started modifying our home environment. We have been wanting to design a dedicated play space for the little one since Dec 2012 and we finally did it!  We have been enjoying this space for about 5 months now and slowly making more additions.
Our house came with a huge/long formal dining living room that we hardly ever used. It used to be a junk yard of sorts. Some time last year we emptied and threw away most of the stuff. After some research we finally did some planning and created the space for him. He loves it! We love it and it is the most favorite place in our home for me right now.

In here you see about 1/2 of the room. That is the main entrance to our home. So this is the first thing any guests see as soon as they enter Smile


The pic below is what you see from the main entrance. That easel is from Ikea and so is the play kitchen.


This is the south facing wall. Yes! Lot of sun light streaming though those windows.


A close-up view of our play kitchen below:


Below is another space for stacking/sorting kind of work. These benches double up as storage for putting away larger toys.


I made this felt board for him and this is our story telling corner.


I also put up his art for display in one of the corners (this is the south east corner of the room).


Towards the west wall of the home we have a large-ish indoor slide and on particularly rainy days this slide provides a lot of much needed physical activity. The photo wall you see there has some highlights since his birth.


another view of the room


Final notes: We bought almost all of this from Ikea. We loved the soft edges, the colors and the various options. All the furniture you see here cost us about $1300. If you would like to know more about the individual pieces leave a comment.

I hope you enjoyed touring our space!


State of the Child–Nov 2013

I want to do a mid-month “summary” post about the little guy. I realized that my first SOTC (State of the child) post was on Oct 16th. Let me see if I can do this every month. Now that I said that, I am sure I won’t be posting any more.

We had only 1 ER/Urgent Care Trip since our last post. That was a little traumatic because one late night suddenly he got these hives for no apparent reason – we hadn’t fed him anything foreign and everything around him was freshly washed and clean.  He was given Benadryl and all was fine.

I took a day off after his ER Trip and we made the most of our day off by visiting a pumpkin farm. This was his first time in a farm and his excitement knew no bounds. Although it didn’t start out that well for us. The farm had this giant balloon thingy and he was scared but the sweet people at the farm turned it off on our request and I couldn’t thank them enough for that. Animals were petted, hay rides were taken, water was pumped via a hand pump and all in all it was a fun day!

Then came Halloween. Halloween was fun! Because of the ER Trip I was little stressed out and couldn’t figure any costume out. He is obsessed with PBS’ Daniel Tiger series and I decided last minute I could put something together (huge props to the neighborhood Dollar Store). Last minute plans, sometimes, are the best! So it was that I assembled a costume at about 4pm on Oct 31. He loved being Daniel Tiger (in fact the next 2 days he insisted on wearing his tail so we had to pin it to his jammies Smile with tongue out). He still does not get trick or treat so even though we participated in Halloween festivities not a single piece of candy (with his food allergies, I can’t deal with trick/treat candies…so I just never told him about it and he is ok not knowing. so far..) was consumed. Let me see how long I can push this Smile

And, then it was Diwali time. Friends, family, cousins…way too much fun was had. He also handled a sparkler for the first time. He loved handling the sparklers and was very careful. In fact on the day of Diwali we had 5 kids with their sparklers-  4 of them were 2 yo and 1 almost 4.5yrs. So yeah too many little people but happy to report that no accidents occurred.

He is bonding with his maternal grand mom very well…and it is almost time for her to go back home to India. He picked up even more Telugu these past few weeks. Some of his phrases:

“jarugu koncham jarugu” (move, just a little, move)

“malli malli tirugutundi” (it is rotating again and again)

“lechara? baaga padukunnaara” (did you wake up? did you sleep well)

“ayyo, rama chandra” ( Telugu version of “Oh, dear God!”)

Of course he knows most of his verbs – thinnara (have you eaten), padipotav (fall down), parigettaku (run/don’t run), katteseyyi (shut it off), ra (come), vellu (go), paadayipoyindi (it’s broken), raatam la (it is not coming). vasthunda? (is it coming), vachinda (did he/she come = he uses the same for both genders). I think his magnum opus is mastering this little rhyme (he knows many other Telugu rhymes as well, but this one was taught by a thatha in India)

“okati okati rendu, thiyyani mamidi pandu,
rendu rendu nalugu, tene vanti telugu
mudu mudu gaaru (aaru), musalayya gaaru
nalugu nalugu henimidi (enimidi), meka pilla chinnadi
ayidu ayidu padee (padi), aa pedda car maadi”

He is getting an understanding of tense and gender but I doubt he will fully master that. I have a feeling that when my mom leaves and we get a nanny to care for him, his Telugu won’t be that good any more Sad smile I will be lucky if he still speaks any Telugu.

I don’t want to jinx this but we can go through most days with just about 1 meltdown only and even when there is a meltdown there seems to be a reason always – hunger.  However, there are a LOT of arguments/negotiations all the time and at the moment I don’t have a good way of handling this except trying to gather all the patience I can. So hard!

He learnt to cut some soft  veggies with a dinner knife and is ever so careful about it. We are also thinking of introducing him to scissors because he shows a lot of interest practicing with a toy version. And one more thing, he knows to break eggs into the bowl now! There is some spillage but that’s not a big deal.

On gross motor skills, we got him a balance bike sometime last month and he was initially very hesitant to even touch it. Now he cruises throughout the home without accidents and loves riding it to his “office”.  May be it is time of some wheels, I think Smile

Imaginative play is reaching an all time high entertainment quotient. For example, this month -at any given point of time there are multiple dinosaurs chasing us and we scuttle together in our hiding place. There are red dinosaurs, blue, green…you name it. Recently though, we befriended one and I will report on our friendship in the next post.


DIY: “Sand paper” Letters



I love making Montessori type learning material for my little one. The process of creating something from everyday things is such a lovely experience and stress buster for me.

I bought all the materials from Michael’s craft store.


  1. ArtmindsTM Wooden discs (29c each) – 26
  2. Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint – Carribean shade – 1 bottle
  3. Sponge Brush – 1
  4. CreatologyTM  Glitter Foam Alphabet stickers – 130pc – 1 packet


  1. Paint the wooden discs:
    1. I painted them only on one side. the other side has this nasty sticker that was a pain to remove. Do a double coat to get that beautiful blue color (wait until the paint is completely dry before proceeding with a second coat).
    2. After double coating, wait until the paint is completely dry. Peel the alphabet stickers and stick them on to the painted discs.


It was really easy and I did it during lunch breaks and after-hours. So pysched to show this to V.



State of the Child

It has been a while since I blogged here. I feel sorry about not being able to chronicle our lives better. So this is going to be sort of a recap post (long one too).

Let me first tell the not-so-good stuff. In June 2013 my son had his very first episode of breathing distress. It is every bit as horrendous as it sounds. This was our first time and we had no clue how to handle it. On top of that we were not in Seattle at the time. A simple cold caused his lungs to inflame badly thus restricting oxygen intake. The doctors term this as “reactive airways disease” and generally don’t have a clue as to why it occurs. They only do incident management during a breathlessness episode by administering steroids. We were on oxygen therapy and steroids for about 24 hours before being discharged. Since then my son had 3 more episodes (as of this writing) and don’t know how many more. Because of this we decided to keep my son at home. We are trying a variety of arrangements (both the husband and I work) taking care of him. Currently my mom is visiting us but she leaves in another month so we will go back to our creative, whacky child care arrangements.

July 2013 – this month was all about getting him settled at home. We converted our formal dining/living room space into his play area and that was super fun.

Aug 2013 – We went to India and Varun had a blast! It was bitter-sweet for us because he fell sick twice both of which required hospitalization (reactive airways the first time and viral fever the second time).

Sep 2013 – Back from India and having fun with grandmom at home. More sickness.

Oct 2013 –  Celebrating Indian festivals Navrathri with his aunt and uncle in Kansas. Again too much fun was had. Some more sickness.

It is just soo much fun to be around him these days. It is equally frustrating because I feel like I am running around an energizer bunny that is severely opinionated and resolute about EVERY LITTLE THING! Oh my god, this thing called “independence”. That and self reliance.  Talking about self reliance…he has become very adept at making pancakes. He must stir all the ingredients – buckwheat flour + aalu oil (olive oil) + 2 spoons suggu ( 2 spoons sugar) + meek (milk) and pankeeek  (almond flour). and we have to mik mik mik (mix, mix, mix). If I even touch the edge of the mat he is sitting on while he is stirring there will be  mega meltdown.

I see that he is becoming very understanding… as in I can actually reason with him sometimes. His language and expressive skills are increasing and he always blows my mind with his keen memory. What is more fun is that he is picking up a lot of Telugu (my mother tongue) and it is so much fun.  You know this age where everything they talk is cute and funny…that! So entertaining.

He picks his own outfits and he critiques mine as well. Just yesterday I wore a traditional  Indian outfit and wore a black cardigan on top. He looked at me and asked me to take off the cardigan and then proceeded to give me a compliment that I looked good (“bavundi” = looks good)! I was speechless. Actually I realize now that at least once a day he leaves me speechless.

His imaginative play is becoming a little more sophisticated these days. He enacts things and tells stories to his toys and it is just such a delight to watch his imagination run wild. He is huge helper (if you can call that) in kitchen. He measures out rice, pasta, water, flour and other ingredients. But some days I just can’t deal with the mess and don’t let him help me. Oh well! And oh, ever since we stopped sending him to the daycare, he does not sleep before 11pm.

As messy as it is, as tiresome as it is..I still think I love the two’s!


Toddler dinner plans– Sample menu 1

My son goes to school during the day full time. So as such, evening snack and dinner are the only meals he has at home on any week day.  Here is a sample 5 day dinner menu.  He gets through about 50% of his dinner meal at any given day and the parents are near-passed out by then. Smile with tongue out

A note about the meal sizes: My son is very light eater – he gets full easily. So we feed him as long as he is willing to eat. The portion sizes here are for sample only. Please adjust according to your child. My emphasis is to offer  a combo of carbs + fruit/veggies + protein with every dinner.


One slice of veggie pizza (small)
mandarin orange
1/4 cup coconut water


1/4 cup cooked white rice + ghee
Cheddar cheese – 1 slice
mandarin orange
diced and fried potato – 1/4 cup


Spinach and cheese quesadilla Steamed broccoli
Strawberry, diced – 1/8 cup


Spinach and carrot risotto
Sweet potato fries


Deep fried wheat bread (Indian puri)
Cheese slice
Blueberries – 10


Cough related tips, remedies and medicines

Persistent cough is the bane of our existence. It is very painful to see my son cough badly and it goes on for months. We give him a lot of honey (and other home remedies from my mom and mom-in-law) but that does not help. It gets so bad that he throws up almost every night during the peak bouts. We have been on Flovent and Albuterol for god knows how many months now (on and off) and I hate using those medicines. I was looking for alternatives. Here is a compilation of my research so far. Will keep adding more to this list.

This has been divided into 4 sections:

  1. Non-medicinal: this is more like things you can do to his environment, topical applications of oils/etc., dietary changes
  2. Homeopathy: covers homeopath medicines
  3. Home remedies/medicines: compilation of home remedies and other medicines
  4. Ayurveda: list of Ayurveda medicines

Disclaimer: Please use these at your own risk. Please apply discretion while administering these medicines. These have not been tested in any way and some of them may aggravate cough or induce other complications.


  1. Humidifying the room
  2. Cutting out dairy
  3. Check for mold
  4. Sunny weather – taking him out on a sunny helped a child
  5. Avoid cold foods and drinks
  6. Apply baby Vicks on his feet and put socks on
  7. New stress in life might be causing his cough too…check if any new changes are in his life
  8. Get checked out by an asthma/allergy specialist
  9. Avoid cold yogurt
  10. Rub warm mustard oil on chest and back
  11. Put 2 drops of eucalyptus oil in child’s bath
  12. Keep the child hydrated to loosen the mucus
  13. Try a homeopath
  14. Take away the humidifier – contrary to popular suggestion
  15. Install an air filtration system (central filter/etc.)
  16. Mix camphor and coconut oil. Warm the mixture and have the child breathe in the fumes (avoid this remedy when using homeo medicines, the strong smells acts as an antidote to homeo – thanks M! for pointing this out)

Homeopathy Medicines:

  1. Hyland’s cough syrup
  2. Similasan with cold cough fever variations

Home Remedies and Other Medicines:

  1. Dabur Honitus available in India
  2. Warm broth in a sippy cup
  3. Warm water + honey + lemon
  4. Fish-oil and probiotics for general immunity (not cough related)
  5. Black Elderberry Syrup
  6. Cinnamon + honey
  7. Little spoonful of roasted ajwain (don’t exceed more than that) to be given to the child. Ajwain = carom seeds available in indian grocery stores. If it is too strong mix it with organic jaggery (available in indian stores)
  8. Milk + turmeric
  9. Pinch of karkaya powder in honey (karkaya is an indian spice)
  10. Give the child lots of fluids. Watered down juice, broth, etc
  11. Honey + powdered dried ginger
  12. Honey + roasted and powdered cloves
  13. Honey + lemon + ginger


Kasturi pills (available in India)


Recipe: Carrot + Cottage Cheese Idli

I mentioned before that my son is allergic to legumes. He is more allergic to some legumes than others. The only safe legume we can offer is Urad Dal or Black Lentil. Sometimes I make these idlis and I like that he gets his fat, protein, veggie and carb in one go!


  1. Idli Batter – 1/4 cup (There are many sites online that explain how to make idli batter)
    1. I make mine by using equal parts of whole black lentils and idli rava – available in Indian grocery store. I soak whole black lentils for 24 hours, grind and mix the idli rava and ferment for about 12 hours.
  2. Cottage Cheese – 1/8 cup
  3. Carrots grated – 1/4  cup
  4. Salt – 1tsp


  1. Mix all the ingredients together
  2. You need small molds to make idlis. Also, silicone cups work too. Grease the mold/cup with lots of ghee, spoon about 2 tbsp. of the mixture in each mold/silicone cup and steam cook for about about 10 mins or until a fork inserted comes out clean
  3. Add about 2 tsp. of ghee to each idli before serving/feeding