5 Reasons why I practice ‘the pause’

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  1. It helps me to refocus on my priorities- When I am frantically running from one activity to another, I suddenly stop, take a deep breath and sit down for 2-3 minutes. This is the pause. I ask myself, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this?” It brings back attention to the most important things.
  2. It helps to slow down my mind – In the midst of a busy day, my mind runs at breakneck speed. I am constantly focusing on the next thing to do. In doing so, the present moment loses significance–it only becomes a means of stepping into a future moment. This is senseless because the present moment is all there is to my life. The pause helps me to bring back attention to the present moment.
  3. It gives me a moment to ‘smell the roses’– When I deliberately pause, it instantly gets me out of my head and makes me more appreciative of the important things in my immediate vicinity–the blossoming jasmines in my garden, the billowing clouds in the sky, the smell of coffee, and if nothing else, the sight of my pretty painted toe-nails!
  4. It gives me insight–Sometimes when I pause, I realize that what is stressing me out is not even so critical anyway. These little moments to myself have helped me get over my intense desire to be popular. They have helped me get over the feeling that I need to be doing something productive with every moment of my life. Time “wasted” when I sit and just be with myself may count towards no tangible outcome but it has rewarded me with a richer inner life. And if I am rich within, does being ‘productive’ really matter.
  5. I am more content. Case closed.

All or Nothing

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Today is June 1, 2016. Today, I made a commitment to myself to exercise for 2 hours everyday until December 31, 2016.

My weight is hovering between 62-64 kg. My knee hurts when I walk for more than 30 minutes. My lower back hurts if I sit for very long. My neck and shoulder hurt if I work for long on my laptop. I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. My immunity is low–so I have frequent throat infections. My hair is falling and for the first time in my life, I am getting acne.I don’t sleep well at night.

I would get depressed that my body is acting like my enemy. But maybe it is screaming for help. For the first time in 37 years(did I just tell you my age?oopsie), I am turning my attention inward to pay attention to my body. And with a weaker body, my mind has also lost some of its sheen. It has taken years of neglect for my body to reach where it has, so it will take some time to heal. I have decided that I am going to take charge.

EXERCISE: I started with doing yoga for 1 hour. I have an app called Yoga Studio. It cost $5.98. But it teaches each pose step by step without me having to step out of my house for yoga class. I have been doing around 15 minutes everyday. Today, I did a beginner combination series–it includes poses for flexibility, back pain, strength, balance and relaxation. Well, its a start.

FOOD: I gave up sugar today.

GRATITUDE: I read a Quora response by an online gamer who was one of the top gamers of the world in 2007. Someone asked what it takes to be the best in the world? He listed out how he sacrificed going to high school, sleep, food and even going to prom so that he could become world number 1 player in a video game.Though I am not one for extreme measures, something he wrote struck a chord with me. He said “All or nothing. You have to sacrifice everything to be at the top of the world.” ┬áI don’t know whether I want to be the best in the world, but I do want to be the best in MY world. I am grateful for lessons learnt from random places.

There. I just posted a lesson learnt from a sleep-deprived, prom-sacrificing video gamer in my first post on commitment and responsibility and stuff. This alone guarantees the future success of my blog.

 

Valentine’s Day and Some Fishy Business

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Three Cheese Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Three Cheese Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Grilled Barramundi with Vegetables

Grilled Barramundi with Vegetables

I never got around to the kitchen today. I did wake up with fantasies of cooking up a storm for L. He has sacrificed going for movies for one year to keep me company while I recuperate. But sometimes, good intentions get crushed under the weight of the pillow and the comforter! I believe extra sleep adds to the well-being of the world, so that’s my contribution to Valentine’s Day.

We made do with early dinner at Bakerzin at Vivocity mall. I tried grilled barramundi with vegetables. The fish was fresh and crisp, the vegetables were crunchy and the sauce was perfectly light and flavorful. L had a three cheese chicken sandwich. I had to exercise iron will power to not take a bite of the cheese sandwich. And I nearly cried out of sadness when I couldn’t buy one of the fluffy macarons this restaurant specializes in. We take so many little things in our everyday life for granted. Its only when they are taken away from us that we realize how many precious blessings there are in each day. I swore on those pastel colored macarons beckoning me from the display that I would never again take them for granted. But I must say, I was very content with the fish.

I hope you find contentment too on this Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that why we look for love..so that we can feel content? Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. I did get some shots of miniature teapots at a stall set up at a Chinese New Year Festival in the mall. See you tomorrow.

Miniature Teapots

Miniature Teapots

 

Easy Breezy Mung Bean Salad

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Mung bean sprouts salad

Mung bean sprouts salad

I couldn’t post yesterday. I had a procedure at the hospital which lasted the whole day. Yet I did manage to rustle up a quick sprouts salad. The procedure had me knocked out for a good two hours. When I finally woke up, the nurse asked me if I wanted to eat something. She gave me options of cheese sandwich and rice porridge. Rice porridge is Chinese comfort food, like our khichdi. But Aunty had packed some peas fried rice for me. Just some rice fried with very little onion with onions, whole cinnamonn, cardamom, clove and a whole bay leaf. When something tastes good even when I just woke up from a chemically-induced stupor, means it goes into my trusted recipe book, my good friend for life. Just in case you are wondering, I am better today.

Here is my recipe for sprouts salad:

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 cup sprouted mung bean

1 tomato, chopped

1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped

Few sprigs of cilantro leaves, chopped

Dressing

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ginger juice

1 tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp black pepper

Method

Mix the sprouts with the onion, tomato, cilantro and green chilli. Add the dressing and toss the salad. Its ready to serve.

P.S. I saw a fortune cake at a neigbourhood bakery. The oranges on the cake signify good fortune, the whole fish signify long life and the symbol on the little square tofu representation is the Chinese symbol for wealth.

Fortune Cake for Chinese New Year

Fortune Cake for Chinese New Year

 

 

My Brave-heart Sandwiches

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I had no time to cook anything today. I had multiple doctors’ appointments. But I am here because I committed to writing one post everyday.

All I could do was practice some photography. So at 10 PM I brought out my cookie cutter and created these sandwiches. I then practised a few shots of taking food photos in artificial light. I have a long way to go, but at least its a start. After I finished my shoot, I convinced L to have them as dessert so that they wouldn’t be wasted.

I am calling these minis my brave-heart sandwiches. When one goes through a long-enduring difficulty, the heart must stay brave. These sandwiches are a reminder. You could also make these for your loved ones as Valentine’s day breakfast.

See you tomorrow­čÖé

Sugar Cravings and A Banana Cinnamon Snack

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Banana-cinnamon snack

Banana-cinnamon snack

Ironies in life are aplenty. I start writing a food blog when I can stomach very little food. My acupuncturist warned, “Less oil, no spices.” Therefore, I am compelled to cook dishes that I can eat without disobeying her.┬áI did text a friend to ask for a healthy marinade for grilled shrimp on skewers which I have been dreaming about since yesterday. She recommended marinating it in lime juice, butter and pepper. My friends are supportive like that. Not only does it NOT fit into my ‘less oil, no spices’ regimen, but now I will think about it for the next two days because it sounds delicious. Such cruelty.

The only way to get through food-deprivation, as with all other curve-balls that life enjoys throwing at us, is to take it one day at a time. The thought that I might have to deny myself spicy chettinad curry for a lifetime is appalling to me. But just for today, I can have bland lentils and rice.

And bananas. I have been snacking on bananas more than ever because they help with my sugar cravings. The simple sugar-free snack turned out so well that L thinks I can serve it to guests for dessert. I would agree, especially since I have lately been hosting very health-conscious guests, who balk at the sight of my home-made kalaakand and go running out of the door when I serve them my khejur gurer payesh. Next time, I warn you: you get bananas.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 bananas

2 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

4 tbsp Greek yoghurt

Method

1. Chop bananas and drizzle them with honey and cinnamon powder.

2. Bake in oven at 180C/350F for 10 minutes.

3. Serve warm with dollops of chilled Greek yoghurt.

P.S. I am working on improving my photography skills. Today, I bought a heart-shaped cookie cutter and went a little crazy on a few strawberries. Sharing my favorite photograph of the day. See you tomorrow­čÖé

Feb 10

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting the Blues with Cute Cucumber Tapas

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Cucumber Tapas

Cucumber Tapas

Today, I am not at my sunshine-y best. I have been battling a health issue for almost a year. I thought I would keep that out of my blog because I want this blog to be my happy space. But happiness cannot be disguised in denial. Sometimes, we have to squeeze in little morsels of sunshine and happiness into the gray canvas of a day.

When I saw photographs of these little cucumber darlings on Pinterest, I knew this is what I could create today. Its easy, fuss-free and light on the stomach.

Why should I bother rustling cucumber thingies up when I feel blue? Since I have been unwell for a long time, I feel as though my days are dissipating and vanishing into nothingness. I am committing to posting one healthy, simple recipe everyday. This is my attempt to give some structure and purpose to my day. Often, I reach out for that unhealthy snack simply because I cannot think of something quick and easy to eat when the hunger pangs strike. I am hoping to build a collection of healthy, yummy, go-to recipes that I can incorporate into my diet easily.

The cucumber tapas fits the bill perfectly.

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 large cucumber

6 tablespoons hung curd

Few sprigs of mint

1 slice of red bell pepper (capsicum), chopped

Salt to taste.

Method

1. Peel the cucumber with a vegetable peeler.

2. Scoop out the seeds halfway through to create a mini cucumber bowl.

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3. Sprinkle the cucumber ‘bowls’ with a little salt and set aside.

4. Chop mint leaves finely.

5. In a bowl, mix the hung curd, mint leaves and salt.

6. Pour in spoonfuls of the hung curd filling into the cucumber ‘bowls.’

7. Garnish with red bell pepper.

8. Chill and serve.

P.S. No matter how gray the day is, I always find a bright spot if I look hard enough. Today, a white hibiscus flower radiantly bloomed in my balcony garden. It felt such joy. I hope you do too. See you tomorrow­čÖé

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