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The Benefits of Meal Planning


Hot and Spicy: A Dinner Date with Yoga and Indian Food

By By Alex Conde

Nothing makes an evening more awkward than poor planning, so an easy way to break back into dating is through a themed date. By combining an activity as well as a meal, you get an opportunity to bond over a new experience, learn about each other over the meal, and show off your cooking skills as a handy addition.

For this date, we will be looking at an Indian theme. The activity will start with Yoga, and move on to a delicious meal. The theme is hot and spicy.

Yoga has moved from an edgy pass time into a mainstream form of exercise in the Western world. Yoga was first developed in India thousands of years ago as part of the Vedas, which are holy scriptures of the Hindu religion. Yoga roughly translates as ďto yolk or harnessĒ. It was used as a religious practice to help move towards wisdom and enlightenment.

While the religious aspect of Yoga has dropped from the consciousness of many people, it still serves as a low-impact and high-benefit form of exercise. With the focus on postures and smooth movements, yoga helps many people slow down their hurried minds and relax. There are a large number of yoga styles which focus on different postures. Some are more intense than others. Like any form of exercise, you should do a little bit of research before you jump in. A key element of yoga is not pushing yourself past your comfort level, so if a posture or stretch hurts, youíre over exerting. Remember, this isnít a competition, respect your limits.

Now that we have a little background in yoga, letís look at how you can arrange this as a date. You should start with the yoga class, since yoga is best done without having recently eaten. There are two options that you can use to set this up:

1. Go to a Yoga Class: Most yoga schools that Iíve encountered are very open to beginner students. A quick look in your phonebook and a telephone call will help you find a place that you can stop into for an introductory class. Many yoga schools have drop in classes on weekends that you can easily get into.

2. Get a Yoga Video/DVD: If you want to stay home for any reason (watch over the kids, etc), there are a large number of introductory yoga DVDs out there. These tend to focus on a specific body area or goal such as the abs or on stress relief. Many videos offer a workout in the twenty to thirty minute range, which is generally a good length for beginners. From personal experience I recommend the Gaiam line of DVDs.

If you choose the exercise at home option, make sure to get a room with a large amount of floor space so that you both can fit. Whether you go out to a class, or work with a DVD, be sure to check on the equipment youíll need. The DVDs often have instructions just for this purpose. Most commonly, you will need a mat and a yoga brick.

So, now that youíve broken the ice with a good exercise session and gotten the blood pumping, where do you go? Well, back to the kitchen of course, were you can cook yourself some curry chicken.



    1 tbsp. Vegetable oil
    1 Large shallot
    1 Small clove garlic
    2 Firm plum (Italian) tomatoes
    2 Sprigs parsley (about 1 tbsp. chopped)
    2 Small green onions
    1 Large red potato
    1 Large chicken breast
    1 cup Water
    1 to 2 tbsp. Curry powder
    Salt (to taste)
    Pepper (to taste)

Preparation:   Slice shallot into thin strips and mince garlic. Dice tomatoes, potato and parsley. Remove skin and bone from the chicken breast and slice the meat into large bite-sized pieces.

Cooking:   Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add chopped shallot and garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently so garlic does not burn. When shallots begin to turn clear, add chicken pieces and saute for one minute. Add the rest of the vegetables and spices. Stir and cover. Cook on low to medium heat 15-20 minutes. Open and stir periodically. Curry is complete when potatoes and chicken are cooked.

As you can see, this is a relatively simple and healthy recipe, so itís not too hard to cook this while maintaining a conversation. A great deal of the preparation can be done in advance, leaving simply the cooking.

Now that you are in an Indian state of mind from the yoga, you can enjoy the food and relax in the company of your date. If you want to prepare in case the conversation continues after dinner, rent a Bollywood film (Bride and Prejudice would be my suggestion) to continue with the mood.

Exploring and learning about other cultures can be great fun. It gives a great topic of conversation for the date, and a great chance to broaden your culinary horizons. Though, as one warning, if this is your first time eating curry, be sure to have lots of water handy!




Other Options

If Indian curry sounds a bit hot, try Thai inspired dishes.

Do the prep in advance, just like for the curry and the meal will be just as exotic.