Chillis and My Indie Dog Are How I Stay Healthy

Dancing Elephants Book Project — Exercise and healthy eating tips/recipes.

Anjali Joshi
Dancing Elephants Press
5 min readJul 2, 2022

--

Photo by Martin Dalsgaard on Unsplash

I’m sure most of us had been forced to sedentary lifestyles over the past few years, thanks to the pandemic and changed work patterns. It was forced, while some of us did it unwillingly, some were pleased with the outcome.

I had mixed feelings. One, because I’m naturally introverted and loved avoiding family events. Staying in without consequences was offer I’d take any day. Two, as much of an introvert I am, I can’t stay in all day staring at screens. I need the oxytocin from nature walks, I like seeing the open sky and above all, I love fresh breaths of open air.

Two things came to my rescue during such a point in my life — and I shall talk about both of these little findings that made a huge impact on my daily life. The first one that came to my rescue was kitchen gardening. With kitchen gardening also came a new recipe as an addition to my diet. The second experience was taking my dog out regularly for walks. Both of these activities turned out to be extremely enriching, something I’ll keep close to my heart.

Kitchen Gardening

It made a great hobby and a good reason to stay active. We tried to grow whatever would grow easily on our soil — legumes, okra, brinjal, chillis, cauliflower, spinach and so on.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Gardening is a lot of work and in my honest opinion, it is a very underrated form of exercise. I’ve noticed how I stay healthier and motivated to keep that level of health whenever I get into gardening. No gym or diet culture has had me hooked to the extent that watering, weeding and fertilising soil does.

This is also how I ended up with a variety of green chillis growing in our backyard — Bird’s Eye chilli, Wrinkled chilli, Jwala chilli and Kanthari chilli. You can guess how important chilli is to our diet!

What’s lesser known is that chilli is great for weight loss and for someone who struggles with cravings on a daily basis, a small snack combined with the humble, yet fiery chilli keeps me sated and healthy. So here’s a low-cost, hassle-free recipe that my mother recently introduced me to:

Recipe: Spicy Flattened Rice with Onion

Ingredients required for this include half a bulb of a medium-sized onion, a pair of chillis (according to your spice tolerance), a cup of flattened rice and salt.

Dice your onion into very small pieces. You can cut your chillis depending on whether you’d like to pick it out of the snack later. I like them cut in small circles, rather than along its length. Doing the former is preferable if you want to eat your chillis with the snack, but do the latter if you prefer separating it after its preparation.

Take all of these in a bowl and put that cup of flattened rice in it. Sprinkle a little water over this mixture and add salt to taste. Toss it back and forth with a spoon. Alternately, you can use your hand for better mixing.

Voila!

You have the goodness of flattened rice combined with the satiating crunch of onions. Spicy food enthusiasts who crave a bag of Doritos or instant noodles during that evening food craving can always have this and feel satisfied. It’s fast and simple.

Walking My Dog

My pet Indie Achoos has been a part of my family for almost 8 years now. Throughout our ups and downs, he has been a constant presence, not actively doing much but being there for us no matter what. Wherever we go, we know we can come back to his wagging tail and excited bark at the end of the day. Achoos is not the brightest of boys, so we sort of gave up on training him beyond the very basic requirements. He is an excited and confused mass of fur during walks, not knowing what to do or where to go.

Achoos on a rare good boy day. Photo by author.

My father is the only one with enough patience to take him out for his daily run. In the back of my head, I’m always aware that I need to do it too what with him being the dog I badly wanted as a 14-year-old. But other things in life constantly take precedence over bonding with Achoos over a walk. Sometimes it’s that paper for college that I procrastinated on, or helping with the kitchen work at home, laundry, calling up that friend you haven’t talked to in a while — there are infinite reasons, albeit meaningful ones why I pushed walking Achoos further down my to-do list.

Eventually I got around to taking him out for a walk one evening and realised it was the much needed break from academic work. The best part was probably that he enjoyed it more than I did, which made the effort much more satisfying. But you know what they say about forming habits — it’s all in the persistence. Unfortunately, this story of taking Achoos out to walk does not end happily. I kept at it for two days in a row after which the million reasons to not do it took over.

But here’s the important takeaway: today, I know that the improvement my life needs is that regular dog-walking. I liked it while I did it and there’s a long way to go considering how irregular I am. But here’s to finding new and alternate ways of getting that daily quota of exercise done. It’s not always hitting the gym or starving on a keto diet that keeps you healthy. Health comes from other fun and interesting ways.

--

--

Anjali Joshi
Dancing Elephants Press

Indian. Lazy English major and part-time book hoarder |Currently grappling with my student and writer alter-egos.