Chickpea cucumber tomato salad – “Chole chaat”

Dishes of cucumber tomato and chickpea salad

Cropped image. Noblepig.

Born and brought up in India, I was raised a vegetarian and have never tasted meat in my life. In India, with a population of over 1.1 billion, more people are vegetarians than anywhere else on earth. Vegetarianism is more than a way of life; it is a kind of tradition.

You might be surprised to know that vegetarians can get more than enough protein from many sources, such as black beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), etc. Pick one and watch the protein grams add up.

To get my daily protein, I add one of the above sources to my diet and make sure that I get my required amounts.

Here is one of the quick recipes I usually make with garbanzo beans/chickpeas. I always keep canned garbanzo beans (use ones marked low sodium or no added salt) in my pantry. We call it “chole” in India.


  • 1 can (15 oz.) Garbanzo beans
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onions (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt (to taste)


  • In a large bowl, gently toss together all the ingredients and serve.

Protein content

  • One cup of cooked garbanzo beans contains about 15 grams of protein.

– Pooja Rampal is a Beaumont Dietetic intern with the Beaumont Health Center’s Weight Control Center. Learn more about the Weight Control Center.

The beauty in hearing “I’m bored”

Little boy playing with his cars by a tree

Summer is in full swing at our house. Late nights jumping on the trampoline, BBQs at the park, carpools to swim team practice, tubing on the lake, bed times pushed back — all the big and little moments that will forever remind my kids of summer.

Don’t get me wrong, not every summer day in our house is this busy. There are many, if not more, days that have no structure to them and I end up either battling the technology monsters demanding that they let go of my children or trying to call for a cease fire between battling kids.

I’ll admit there are moments where the peace and quiet that technology affords me is a beautiful thing. However I’m worried that it is also sucking the life out of my kids’ imaginations. So this summer, I’m trying to embrace the words “I’m bored” a little more thoughtfully and with a little less action.

Recently my boys were complaining that they had nothing to do. They were relentless in their complaints, but I held tight to not offering anything up. About 45 minutes later, I heard the boys outside in the yard. They had found a remote control toy truck in the attic and had created an obstacle course in the yard using logs, tree branches and pieces of flat wood. They rearranged the course in several different patterns and ended up playing outside until dark.

So the next time you hear your kids complaining, “There’s nothing to do,” try to resist the urge to step in. It may just be exactly what your kids need to jump start some great creative play.

– Andree Palmgren is a parent volunteer with the Beaumont Parenting Program and mom of four kids ages 13, 11, 8 and 4.

Allowances: First step to financial wisdom

 Piggy bank, wearing tiara, standing on dollar and coins

We hear a lot about reading literacy, but what about financial literacy? Money isn’t everything, but we all need to learn how to manage it and use it wisely. So much has changed in the financial landscape since we were kids, and technology makes things like paper money, coins, and checks seem old-fashioned to some.

Yet when we can order all kinds of goodies just by pushing a few buttons on our mobile devices, do we really have as close an eye on our financial health as we would if we were counting out bills or mailing checks? I’m guessing not. Better to learn about buyer’s remorse when you’re 12 than when you are 25! So, how to teach our kids to be financially literate?

One way to make money more “real” is to use an allowance system. Our family uses one inspired by Neale Godfrey’s book “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children.” I also liked Dave Ramsey’s ideas about teaching kids about money.

What works for your family may be a little different, but essentially Godfrey’s is a four-jar program (with actual cash in the jars):

  • Charity: Godfrey’s program takes 10 percent off the top for charity, letting kids pick recipients.
  • The remaining 90 percent is split evenly between:
    • Long-term savings: Usually for things like college or a car — big-ticket items that will take a long time to purchase
    • Short-term savings: Items that cost a few weeks’ worth of the short-term portion
    • Quick cash: This is the discretionary spending amount. Kids can spend it on anything they choose, provided it’s something you allow them to buy in the first place.

We chose to divide the four jars equally, renaming the charity jar “cash for others,” which includes charitable giving and gifts for friends or family.


Godfrey recommends one dollar per year of age, from 3 to about 15, when, she says, the teenager should have a job of his or her own. Regardless, you will have to decide what is reasonable and what expenses you are going to expect the teenager to take over with either allowance or paycheck.


Pick one day a week that you’ll pay allowances. We picked Friday afternoon because that is a common payday. I get a couple months’ worth of small-denomination bills and then paper-clip together the weekly amounts. I also get larger bills so I can change out some of the ones and reuse them.


Godfrey argues that some chores are “citizen of the household” chores: things everyone needs to do to keep the house running smoothly. These are things like clearing the table, putting your laundry in your bedroom hamper, or picking up toys from the family room floor. Other chores can be assigned, with allowance contingent on completing all the chores, by a certain time, to an agreed-upon standard. Ramsey also recommends that allowances be earned, not given. However other experts disagree with payment for chores. We decided not to pay for chores unless they are special/unusual, with the understanding that any time we ask the kids to do something or assign a chore, they do it. See what feels right for your family; you can even try out different systems for a month or so.

Yes, teaching your kids the value of money is going to take some effort and energy. Deciding where their financial responsibilities begin and end is an individual decision for each family. But starting early will help your kids be financially wiser, and also learn the enjoyment of saving up for something special, or giving of their own money to causes they support.

– Lori Warner, Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, Director, HOPE Center at Beaumont Children’s Hospital

I’m tired

Silhouette of woman covering the sunshine

I’m tired of repeating myself. Tired to the bone.

I was going to write this post about raising my son to be a gentleman in the wake of the Stanford University rape scandal. I was going to write about teaching respect. Yeah, mostly it was about respect.

But since then, the shootings in Orlando happened. Then Minneapolis. And then Dallas.

I try not to watch the news with the kids in the room. It’s a helicopter parent move, I know. But on the day of the Orlando shootings, I was watching with my son in the room. I couldn’t turn it off and I also didn’t think he was paying attention. But then he started asking questions: What happened? Why did he hurt those people? Did they die? Did he shoot them?

I am exhausted from these questions. They’re being asked way too often and by children way too young. And I’m running out of answers. Or I’m not. I’m just repeating the same thing over and over and over. “A bad guy hurt a bunch of people. I’m sorry, Buddy, but I don’t know why. No one does. Yes, some people died because the bad guy shot them with a gun.”

It’s depressing.

I imagine the worst thing in the world to a parent isn’t to hear your child was in a mass shooting, but rather your child perpetrated a mass shooting. It’s happening to too many parents.

For now, I’m trying to use these horrible events as teaching moments when the kids get wind of them. Judge me if you like, but I don’t let my kids play guns. In my mind, given the world today, it’s distasteful and unnecessary. Also, it seems hypocritical: teach them to be kind, but condone play violence. It’s just not for me. However one of my kids is trying very hard to do it anyway, so recently I was able to help him understand better that guns aren’t toys and they actually hurt people. Seeing the news that day helped it sink in.

I’m furious that this is the world my kids will grow up in — this is the legacy we’re leaving them. Where evil minds plot the best way to reap the most casualties all playing out live on TV.

The best I can do now is to make sure my kids don’t become them. I need to lead by example and show kindness, generosity and compassion, or at the very least common courtesy. To everyone. I will explain that yes, that person looks different from you and because of that difference, they may have experiences that are different from yours. Different is fine. It’s good. It’s necessary. Learn from them. Ask your questions respectfully. Don’t assume.

This post was supposed to be about raising a gentleman. Just that quick it turned into something more. Enough. We’re all tired.

– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.

Talking about transgender

Stack of friends' hands

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community has been in the spotlight and amidst controversial topics, not only in Michigan, but across the country. In the past couple years, the transgender population has received both positive and negative attention with the emergence of Caitlyn Jenner as the first transgender person on the cover of Time magazine and with Laverne Cox as the first openly transgender person nominated for an Emmy.

With social media being so easily accessible, it’s difficult to shield your children from things that as adults or parents we don’t understand or don’t want to have to explain. Regardless of your position or views on this topic, hopefully you will find some of the tips below helpful or things to consider when talking to your children and teens about transgender people.

What does “transgender” mean?

Transgender is about gender identity not sexual orientation. Everyone has a gender identity and most people identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, male or female.

Gender identity isn’t visible to others. Gender expression, however, may involve roles that are typically associated with a particular gender. For example, girls may wear makeup and paint their nails, and boys may prefer to play “cops and robbers” and be more aggressive. Such behaviors aren’t set in stone and there is some flexibility (girls may want to play “cops and robbers” too, but this doesn’t suggest transgenderism).

However, for persons who are transgender, they may feel uncomfortable in their body and with the gender they were born with. People who are transgender identify with the opposite gender and can feel as though they are in the wrong body.

When did Aunt Jackie become Uncle Jim?

Transgenderism has existed for several years and history is full of heroes and “sheroes” fighting for equality and justice. It is also full of people living in shame and embarrassment, and trying to avoid hate and violence.

There is no right age or specific time when one knows for sure that they are transgender. There are reports of children expressing discomfort with their assigned gender and there are other individuals who acknowledge their authentic self in adolescence or adulthood.

Transgenderism is not a choice that a person decides to do or be. Transitioning into being identified by society from one gender to the other is a process that can be complex and involve medication, surgery and even sex reassignment surgery. It is a process that is deemed necessary by that individual to live the life they believe they were always meant to live.

I don’t get it

So even after reading this or other information about individuals who are transgender, you still may scratch your head in disbelief or confusion. That’s OK. We don’t have to understand everything that we encounter in life. However, what is important is respect. It’s possible to disagree with someone but still show and have respect. Different doesn’t mean bad, vile or disgrace. As humans, we sometimes have a tendency to show hate when we are confronted or shown things that don’t make sense to us or that go against our own personal morals and values. Before reacting to something that you disagree with, ask yourself what your intention is, what do you want to accomplish, and let this lead you.

What do I tell the kids?

The difference between kids and adults is that kids will ask questions when introduced to something new. With kids:

  • Be honest. If you don’t know how to answer a question, then let the child know that. State that you will get back with them.
  • Stick with the facts. Opinions without facts can be confusing for kids.
  • Take yourself out of the answer or conversation unless your child asks you what you think.
  • View this as an opportunity to shape your child’s moral compass: one of tolerance and respect or hate and discrimination.
  • Listen to what your child has to say about the topic. This gives an opportunity to see your child as their own person.

– Carnigee Truesdale-Howard, PsyD, ABPP, Pediatric Psychologist with Beaumont Children’s Hospital Divisions of Hematology/Oncology & Gastroenterology

Sad news? You can say that again.

Young girl crying on shoulder of a young man

Over the years our Beaumont Parenting Group has given us so much. Lifelong friendships for parents and children alike. Countless hours of helpful tips and just that comforting feeling knowing we can pick up the phone, or send an email to get a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on.

Recently an email titled “Sad News” rocked our small group — our extended Beaumont family — to the core. We lost a member. You may wonder why we’d get an email about such a sad subject and not a call. Nor did we head to the house to comfort our friend’s husband. Well, we had the pleasure of meeting an amazing family from Germany when they were assigned to our group while the dad was in the States working for one of the Big Three.

We learned of our friend’s death via email, one of the toughest emails a husband would have to write about his wife. The email was as straightforward, yet kind, as the person who wrote it. He didn’t sugarcoat anything; he ripped the Band-Aid off fast, told us of the news, and proceeded to answer all the questions he knew we’d have because he had them two days earlier.

How? Why? Are their two daughters OK? How can we help from half a world away?

He answered them as best he could. They didn’t know why, but suspected a heart attack. The girls were at their grandparents’ when the tragedy happened. And the family is working with the doctors to make sure this doesn’t happen to other families. He even took the time to let us know that he and his wife kept up-to-date with everyone via social media; he was trying to comfort us when he just lost his wife. I both love and hate him for that because if there was a time to be selfish, this was it!

Learning that someone who’s going through exactly what you’re going through — two daughters, great spouse — has died puts things in a different light. You try to relax a little more, you squeeze a little tighter on hugs, and you get frustrated quicker when you don’t see people making the most of things.

Soon after we got the sad news, I went camping with my college friends like we have for over a decade. As I walked into the cabin, I overheard someone ask how our neighbor was doing and his response was, “Just another day.”

Any other time, I would have just kept walking, but it gave me pause. I wanted to run over and scream at the guy and say, “That’s right it’s just another day. Go make the best of it!”

We only get one shot at this life thing, so why not make the best of it? Take that walk, start that hobby you’ve always wanted to. Our kids mirror us in so many ways, let’s make it the best reflection.

Rest well, friend. We all miss you and celebrate that our paths crossed for a reason. And to those you left behind, we love you and you’ll always have family waiting for you in the States.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

Baby’s first super food

Mom nursing baby and older daughter practicing with doll

Cropped image. Leigh Blackall, Flickr. CC license.

Despite fears of toxic chemicals such as lead polluting breast milk, it undeniably remains the most important first food for babies.

Breastfeeding. If you’re one of the millions of moms who breastfed, you know there are challenges. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes your workplace, family or community-at-large aren’t supportive. And sometimes you just want your body back after nine months of sharing it with another human. It’s easy to feel discouraged.

Countless other reasons can tip the scales in the other direction: cost-savings, convenience (no need to go to the kitchen and make a bottle at 2 a.m., then again at 4 and 6), and the benefits of bonding and skin-to-skin contact. But above all are the health benefits for mom and baby.

Health benefits for mom

Breastfeeding reduces your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The American Institute for Research on Cancer found breastfeeding to be “convincingly linked to protection against all-age breast cancer risk.” Research also shows a decrease in ovarian cancer risk for breastfeeding moms. In both cases, the longer a woman breastfeeds, the greater the reduced risk.

Breastfeeding moms also tend to lose baby weight more easily and have a 10 – 20 percent lower risk of diabetes, hyperlipidemia (high fat levels in the blood), and cardiovascular disease as compared to moms who birthed but never breastfed, according to a review in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Health benefits for baby

In 2005 the American Academy of Pediatrics declared, “Human milk is species-specific, and all substitute feeding preparations [formula] differ markedly from it, making human milk superior for infant feeding.”

The list of known health benefits is long and includes a reduction of the incidence of pneumonia, inflammation of the inner ear, SIDS, stomach flu in infancy, childhood obesity, hypertension, asthma and some malignancies. Breast milk also contains substances “… that appear to influence brain development and increase resistance to chronic diseases such as asthma, allergies, and diabetes,” according to a 2002 mini-monograph on chemical contaminants in breast milk, which appeared in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Wow! A reduction in SIDS and serious illnesses as a baby and preventing diseases in the future? That’s nothing to sneeze at. And speaking of sneezing, breastfeeding can help that too. Tiny amounts of a baby’s saliva (and germs) are passed back to the mother during nursing, enabling the mother’s body to customize antibodies in the milk to fight off the baby’s cold or infection.

Lead in breast milk

What about moms exposed to contaminants such as lead? The lead crisis in Flint raised questions about the possibility of mothers passing undesirable substances onto nursing babies.

In response to the ongoing crisis, the non-profit Michigan Breastfeeding Network (MIBFN) released the publication, Breastfeeding & Lead Exposure: Issue Statement and Recommendations. The co-chairs of the organization and authors of the statement (and medical professionals) note that, “Lead in maternal plasma is indeed transferred to breast milk, however, the most recent studies indicate that very little maternal plasma lead is actually transferred to the milk…”

Therefore, only nursing moms with exceedingly high blood lead levels (BLL) of above 40 mcg/dL are encouraged to temporarily interrupt breastfeeding (but continue to pump and dump) and resume when their BLLs are 40 mcg/dL or below. This level, however, is extremely rare; no one — man or woman — during the Flint crisis recorded a BLL higher than 27 mcg/dL. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and MIBFN encourage parents to have their nursing infant’s blood tested for lead levels as well if the mom has a BLL of 5 or higher.

Other toxics

We are exposed to other environmental toxic chemicals every day. Things like Bisphenol A (BPA, a plastic component), PBDEs (used in flame retardants), perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs, used in floor cleaners and non-stick pans), phthalates (used in plastics) can end up in our blood, tissues, and even in mother’s milk. But medical associations and researchers agree: The benefits of breastfeeding are so vitally important that they outweigh potential risks from environmental toxics.

Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, puts it this way: “Given the documented short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice. The American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with the continuation of breastfeeding for one year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant. Medical contraindications to breastfeeding are rare.”


Formula contains contaminants too, sometimes at levels much higher than breast milk. A 2011 study tested 437 individual samples of infant formula, oral electrolytes, and 5 percent glucose solutions and found average levels of aluminum to be about 9 – 14 times higher than the highest levels found in human milk. Researchers found levels of cadmium, a heavy metal, to be slightly higher in milk-based formula than in human milk, while lead levels were on average, marginally lower. BPA, perchlorate and phthalates have been found in infant formulas too, and all without the immune-boosting benefits of breast milk.


For some families, however, breastfeeding may simply not be an option. The Ecology Center’s First Food program suggests prioritizing secondary feeding options in this order:

  1. Mother’s own expressed milk
  2. Screened and pasteurized human donor milk
  3. Infant formula

To learn more about human donor milk visit Human Milk Banking Association of North America or read Sharing Breast Milk: Donation and Co-Nursing by What to Expect.

Learn more about how the Ecology Center’s First Food and Healthy Stuff programs are working to keep toxics out of breast milk and consumer products.

– Melissa Cooper Sargent, Environmental Health Educator with LocalMotionGreen at Ecology Center. For more information, you can email her at or visit



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