Monday, December 5, 2011

Bringing the world to Chambana

Edition I- A Passage to India.

Ever dug your teeth into a mouth watering samosa (a pastry stuffed with potatoes and peas)? I certainly have and I can tell you it’s delicious! For all of you spice deprived people on campus, fear no more, I have a solution for you. Champaign-Urbana has an awesome selection of Indian food that can satisfy your quench. Not only do we have restaurants right on campus (Bombay Grill, Green and 4th), we also have 2 Indian grocery stores so you c

an even try your hand at cooking. I’m here to give you an idea of what to look out for and try at each place. I’m telling you what each place’s best asset is. Since I happen to be a vegetarian, sorry to all you meat lovers my suggestions are all veggie.

Best Restaurant food

A lot of you are probably thinking, “duh it’s the only restaurant” and though that is true, Bombay Grill is actually

a great Indian restaurant in general. It has some dishes that taste a lot like they would in India. Try the Saag Paneer or the Dal Makhani. Both of these dishes are famous Indian dishes and taste delicious at Bombay Grill. You can enjoy a nice lunch during a break from class or a nice and spicy dinner to satisfy your cravings. This is a restaurant so prices are higher, it is more a sit down place but you can order to go. Since it is more expensive, you may have to plan to go there.

Best Variety

I know how irritating it can be to go to one store and not find what you need and have to go to a few others to find it. The best part about Annapoorna, located on Springfield and Neil in the Royal plaza, is that it almost always has everything you need. I go there on a weekly basis to buy my Indian groceries. They have everything from Indian snacks to raw mangoes and spicy chilies. It also has a great assortment of frozen foods that are pretty delicious. Try uttapams and aloo parathas. Both of those come frozen. If you are looking to try something homemade, then you can pick up some s

pices and give cooking a shot. If you like spicy food, then buy some of their fresh chillies and your mouth will soon be on fire. Raw mangoes are a specialty in India. We buy them and cut them up and add them to salads for a little bit of a sour kick. Since we also love spice and nothing goes without it, we usually sprinkle some salt and some red chili powder on them and then add them to salads or just eat them plain. Annapoorna also has a wide array of dry foods and also

the best flavored chips on the planet, at least in my opinion. The chips are Lays chips, but the Indian version. It has a great flavor called Magic Masala which is like a crash course in Indian spices. Annaporna also sells Maggi which is an Indian brand that makes some great relishes like ketchup and sweet and sour sauce. Everything in India has an Indian touch, so if you are looking for a little kick try the Maggi brand. Maggi also makes an Indian version of Ramen. If you like eating Ramen, try some 2-minute noodles from the Maggi brand (the noodles cook in 2 minutes just like Ramen). There is also a delicious snack called Khatha Meetha (Sour and Sweet) which is also low in calories. If you like a tangy kick, then this would be great to try.

Best all in one deal

Like me, you may have occasions when you are starving and want food immediately but also need groceries. No worries, Mirsung on Green and Locust has a perfect combination for you. Not only do you have the option of buying groceries but you can also have a meal in the connected restaurant. Mirsung provides some awesome South Indian food, I believe the only place to do

so in the area and also has a grocery store so you can buy your spices and vegetables too. Try the Madhu Vada or the Chaat Puri both of which are delectable. Food items are decently priced but can be expensive.


For those of you that would like to try cooking here is an easy recipe. This dish is called Dahi ki Kadhi which translates to (yogurt curry).


Basmati Rice

Chick Pea Flour

Red Chilli Powder

Fresh Chillis

Curry Leaves

Fenugreek seeds

Cumin seeds
Asafoetida powder

Curry leaves

Cooking Oil

Turmeric powder

Yogurt- 1 can plain yogurt



Set up the rice to cook before you start making the curry, so that you can eat immediately after the curry is made.

First put the yogurt and two tablespoons of chick pea flour in a pan with a ¾ of a cup of water. Then blend it with a hand blender or manually.

Then set it to warm on medium to high gas.

Then wash 6-8 curry leaves and cut up or slit open 3-4 chillis (put in less if you are not a fan of spice) and put it in the pan.

Make sure that the yogurt does not separate from the flour so keep mixing it with a spoon or blend it if necessary.

Once you have set this up, then heat up 5-6 tablespoons of oil in a pan and once it is warm add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds. Once these have browned, add ½ teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. Once these have browned a little add ½ teaspoon of turmeric, ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder, and ½ teaspoon of asfoetida powder in.

While you are cooking the spices the curry should rise and once this occurs you should immediately lower the gas.

Then add the cooked spices in to the curry and mix them in.

Finally add 1 tablespoon of salt or more if you would like.

Then your curry is ready to be eaten. It should look a little something like this. The ladel in the image is used to cook the spices. You can do it in a pan but if you have something like this, it works better.

Now you have all you need to eat some amazing food. Whether it be to stop in and grab a snack, or eat at a sit down place, or make your own meal, please take any of the suggestions above and eat to your heart’s content. I wish you the best in your exploration of Chambana’s international specialties.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Physical Activity and Your Health

How much do you exercise?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it is recommended that the average adult gets at least two hours and thirty minutes of moderate exercise each week. Moderate exercise includes brisk walking, swimming, jogging, etc. It is also recommended that adults partake in strength training exercises are least twice a week. As a general goal, individuals should include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in their daily routine. If people are trying to lose weight, they may need to increase their activity levels above the normal recommendations. If time is an issue, try to divide the minimum 30 minutes per day into 10 minute intervals throughout the day.

Many people don’t know how many Calories it takes to make up one pound. The answer is 3,500 Calories. Losing one pound a week is an attainable goal for most people. A simple way to accomplish this is to cut 250 Calories each day from your usual dietary intake of food and also burn another 250 Calories each day through exercise, adding up to 500 Calories per day. Consequently, one pound will be lost in seven days!

What do you do to exercise and where?

People sometimes think that exercise has to be when you put on your running shorts and tennis shoes and hit the treadmill at the local gym. While this is definitely an option, there are many other ways to get involved in physical activity throughout the day. First of all, get outside! The weather is already getting nicer, so you have no excuse! Going along with this, you should walk to all of your classes. Plan ahead so you don’t have to take the bus. Grab some friends and a Frisbee and hit the Main Quad! Instead of watching TV for 30 minutes, go play Frisbee or toss around a football or baseball with your friends.

Also, try utilizing campus resources and venues. We have an Ice Arena located on Armory Dr. that has open skate times. Best of all, it is free to students with a valid I-Card; you just have to pay $1 for skate rentals.

Illinois’ campus also offers two state of the art gyms: CRCE (Campus Recreation Center East) and the ARC (Activities and Recreation Center). Both gyms have every exercise machine you could want, free weights, an indoor track, basketball courts and a pool. Personally, I am a big fan of the cardio equipment at the ARC. Each machine has its own TV and a hook-up for your IPod. Do you watch The Office every Thursday night? Then watch it while you walk and run during the commercials!

It’s easy to find ways to exercise and keep it interesting. All you have to do is utilize the resources you have available to you and maybe bring a friend along.

What are some barriers you face that keep you from exercising?

Time is one of the most common barriers to getting physical activity. This is understandable because we all have school, work, homework, sleeping, eating, hanging out with friends, and other activities that we need to fit into 24 hours each day. However, we shouldn’t think that we don’t have enough time to get our exercise in for the day. We just need to replace unproductive time with trips to the gym or by combining activities. Instead of watching TV or playing video games, spend 30 minutes at the gym. Or possibly combine events by studying with your flashcards while you’re on the stationary bike or convincing your friends to play basketball with you. One technique that can be helpful is to schedule work-out times in your planner. If you treat exercising like a class or meeting, you’ll be less likely to skip the gym.

Finding the motivation to exercise is difficult. Why would you want to go run for 30 minutes when you could sleep or watch another episode of Glee? Well, one look at the leading causes of disease in the United States and you’ll have your answer. America is becoming more sedentary with each generation and it is causing some serious health problems. Most of these health issues can be prevented with an active lifestyle. Need more motivation? One word, my friends: endorphins. Endorphins are released in your brain when you exercise. It can lead to the “runner’s high” effect and in simple terms, they make you feel great! Exercising makes you look good, feel good and stay healthy! Don’t let anything stand in your way from achieving your health goals!

More about physical activity and your health!

Physical exercise has been shown to benefit the body in many ways. Physical exercise contributes positively to maintaining a healthy weight, building and maintaining healthy bone density, muscle strength, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening the immune system. Exercise reduces the levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that builds fat in the abdominal region. Cortisol has been linked to many physical and mental problems. By reducing the release of cortisol through regular exercise, you can reduce gaining weight around your waist, the most dangerous area to gain weight due to the fact that important organs are in the same vicinity. Stay healthy, be active!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Nutrition and Healthy Eating in Champaign-Urbana

What is a healthy diet? According to, the definition of a healthy diet is: one that provides enough of each essential nutrient, contains a variety of foods from all of the basic food groups, provides adequate energy to maintain a healthy weight, and does not contain excess fat, sugar, salt or alcohol. The responses from students on the University of Illinois campus correlated very well with this definition. The overall student consensus of a healthy diet included eating a variety of foods and not overindulging in anyone food group. Students frequently mentioned following the food pyramid and using common sense when making food choices.

What is nutrition?
The definition of nutrition varies greatly. Basically, nutrition is the science that studies what nutrients our bodies need and why. Nutrition is still a relatively new science, with new discoveries each year. When interviewed, the majority of students defined nutrition as consuming the foods required for normal functioning and maintenance of the body. Some students’ definition of nutrition was similar to that of a healthy diet. This makes sense considering that good nutrition and a healthy diet go hand in hand and are closely related.

Restaurants in Champaign-Urbana suggested by students:

Aroma Cafe

118 North Neil Street, Champaign

(217) 356-3200
No nutritional information is given on their website.

Cafe Kopi

109 N Walnut St, Champaign
(217) 359-4266

Known more as an espresso and coffee shop, this cozy cafe also has no nutritional information given.

Cafe Luna

116 North Chestnut Street, Champaign

No nutritional information is available online, but you can view their menu from their website.

Jimmy Johns

601B West Green Street, Champaign - (217) 344-4443

807 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, IL- (217) 328-3100

These are only 2 of the many locations Jimmy John's has in the Champaign-Urbana area. The famous Turkey Tom sub is 515 calories and about 22 grams of fat.

Outback Steakhouse

2402 N. Prospect Avenue, Champaign


For the Outback Special 12 oz steak, a house salad, and dressed baked potato, the total calories come out to a staggering 1454.3 calories and 81.3 grams of fat.

Panera Bread
616 East Green Street, Champaign


The Chopped Chicken Cobb sandwich has 500 calories and 36 total grams of fat. However, if you eat the salad without the dressing, the meal is a mere 280 calories and only 12 grams of fat.

Pita Pit

611 East Green Street, Champaign

The average Club pita goes for about 385 calories and 9 grams of fat.


402 N Race St, Urbana

There is no nutritional information given on their website, but they do have vegetarian and gluten-free options on their menu.

Subway Sandwiches
616 E Green St, STE A, Champaign


A six inch Ham sub without cheese comes out to 290 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

*Sweet Tomato

2801 E. Main St., St. Charles, IL


One serving (one cup) of their fabulous Greek salad is 120 calories and 9 grams of fat.

*There are no locations in central Illinois but there are 6 locations in the Chicagoland area, including the one listed in St. Charles above.