Wednesday, 30 April 2014

AWESOME APRIL!




























HIGHLIGHTS.....

1. I was consistent with my blog post. *phew*

2. A fun night out with my girlfriends every Thursday.

3. I had more encounters with squirrels this months. To be precise, 3 squirrels on the same day. 

4. I am more at peace with myself and slowly learning to let go things which used to bother me.

5. Completed my Intermediate Yoga Instructor Course. Woohoo!!! That was a well spent 150 hours.

6. Created more healthy breakfast/snack ideas for my blog. Improving everyday to be a better cook.

7. Prioritize, prioritize and prioritize! Avoid overwhelming myself with too much to do.

8. Peaceful sleep every night. 

9. Surrounding myself with wonderful friends. Souls who truly appreciate my presence in their lives. 


LOWLIGHTS..... 

1. Some tough decisions had to be made in my personal life. Truth be told, it was no longer under my control.

2. Adapting to changes is always difficult.

3. I learnt to prioritize the hard way. No matter how many people choose to disagree with me.

4. Betrayal! Nuff said.

5. Broken heart, tears and sorrow.


SEE YOU ALL IN MIGHTY MAY!


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Where's My Water?

Wherever we go in this world, it's like an internationally agreed tradition to serve a glass of water/beverage with food. Be it at restaurants, parties or family dinners. Even I was brought up with this tradition. We are taught to offer a glass of drink to guests and we do the same when we visited others. Recently, I was told that it's not advisable to drink water 30 minutes before a meal, during a meal and at least 30 minutes to 1 hour after a meal. I have seen people who follow this religiously and people who claim it as a nonsense. I love to break traditions and being the curious girl, of course I had to do my research on this topic. First of all, I just thought about it with the basic science and yoga knowledge that I already had. These are some of the points that I can think of
  1. According to yogic science, digestion is associated with fire element. So can you imagine putting out the fire with the water that you drink while eating.
  2. Digestion starts at the mouth due to the presence of salivary amylase to hydrolyze starch. Digestion of food would not be possible without the presence of enzymes. Just like adding water to a juice concentrate, when you drink water while eating, the enzymatic juices in the mouth, stomach and intestines are diluted. 
  3. Diluted enzymes slow down digestion or you are left with incomplete digestion leading to heartburn and bloating. In the case of incomplete digestion, the nutrients and minerals available from the food are not completely utilized.
Then I began my research on ayurvedic guidelines of diet and eating habits. I came across Charaka Samhita. I was stunned. It contains amazing ayurvedic texts on diagnosis of a human body and diseases, remedies, preparation of medicines and special therapy. Now let's get back to the topic. Apparently, only half of the stomach should be filled with food, another one quarter should be filled with water from fruits and vegetables and the remaining quarter of the stomach should empty. If you really feel thirsty while eating, you can take a few sips of plain water during a meal. Cold and flavored drinks reduces the digestive fire, and reduces activity of enzymes at low temperature. This leads to incomplete digestion and accumulated toxins in the body.

Well I can't say this will be applicable to everyone because weather conditions, climate, physical activity level and type of food consumed also play major roles. Efficiency of digestion also may vary from person to person due to nutrition level, lifestyle, stress level and eating habits. I always stick to my master's words. "Listen to your body". Eat when you're hungry, drink when you're thirsty and sleep when your're sleepy. The moment you stop listening to your body and begin to go beyond your limits, you start to experience illness and pain.

~M~








Monday, 28 April 2014

Vegan Orange Muffins.


Time for another breakfast/snack idea. I think I did a good job by sticking to fruit based recipe ideas this entire month. Woohoo! So the last fruit to join the bandwagon this month are juicy oranges. I think apples and oranges are a staple at every home. I always have oranges lying around my fruit basket at home. So I grabbed 2 medium sized oranges and whipped up this easy yet yummy vegan muffins. No butter, no eggs and no refined sugar. Sounds good? 

Ingredients.....

All purpose flour
2 cups
Brown sugar
2/3 cup
Vegetable oil
½ cup
Baking powder
1 teaspoon
Bicarbonate of soda
1/8 teaspoon
Freshly squeezed orange juice
2 medium sized oranges
Orange zest
1 orange
Vanilla extract
½ teaspoon
Salt
A pinch

*Yields 15 medium sized muffins.

Let's begin.....

  1. Zest a medium sized orange. Squeeze two medium sized oranges in order to get 1 cup of juice.
  2. Preheat the oven at 180°C.
  3. Add flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, orange zest and salt.
  4. Mix in the oil, vanilla extract and orange juice. At this stage, you will hear a fizz due to the reaction between the baking soda and orange juice. This creates air in the batter to make fluffy muffins.
  5. Only use a spatula or a wooden spoon to fold in the mixture to prevent the muffin batter from becoming too dense. I do not suggest using a hand mixer.
  6. Use a muffin tin lined with paper cups and fill it's 3/4 full. I used a muffin cup which does not require a muffin tin.
  7. Bake it in the oven for 15 to 17 minutes.
  8. Serve the muffins warm or allow it cool completely.




Give this easy muffin recipe a try and let me know how yours turned out. Store the muffins in an airtight container and keep them refrigerated. You can always warm it up in the oven or just leave it out for about 30 minutes for the muffins to come to room temperature. All the ingredients can be found at home and the entire process only takes up to 40 minutes. These fluffy muffins make a great evening snack for the kids. I'm sure adults will savour these muffins because it's not too sweet. If I can describe it in 3 words, I would say soft, fragrant and mildly sweet. Have a  muffin-licious  day!!

~M~



Saturday, 26 April 2014

Now?


I am sitting in a shopping mall as I write this post, Midvalley Megamall to be exact. Mystery Man is wandering somewhere. It's a Saturday. Need I say more. There are people EVERYWHERE. Everyone seems to be so engrossed in conversations, shopping, socializing, eating, dating and everything else you could possibly do in a shopping mall. Truth be told, it does feel a little odd to be here after 2 months. So much has changed and everything is happening at lightning speed. Alright, I'm dizzy now! Even the people around me are passing  by like wind. Am I too slow to process all these or people around me are ridiculously fast?  'Breathe M, breathe!' Aahh, much better! My head is clear now and let me get to the point. I'm sure everyone around here has pre-planned their Saturday before setting their foot here and had a rough idea of what they wanted to accomplish while being in the mall. So the pre-planning is a past and their agendas are the future expectations. What about NOW?

No matter how much we plan for the days ahead and hopefully expect for a better tomorrow, the only thing for sure is this minute that we have in hand. It's 12.53 p.m. and I wonder how many people are aware of this moment. Not the time on the watch but to be totally at present at this moment in their life. It's natural for us human beings to be caught up in a million thoughts of the past and the future. There are times when you really hate the present moment and feel better to dwell in the past. We have all been there. 'Happily ever after' is totally absurd. Not impossible but more likely to be impractical. In this case, we tend to lose touch with our present moment and eventually left disappointed. Fret not, I'm here to share with you a simple exercise to make you feel better even when you're a little under the weather.

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

Yourself, a mat and a silent corner.
Probably a metronome app on your phone would make life easier. It's alright if you don't have one. You can manually count in your head. Without a metronome, you are free to control the pace of your breath. 

LET'S PRACTISE...

1. Sit comfortably on your mat .
2. If you are using a metronome, set the BPM to 3.
3. Close your eyes and take a few gentle breaths to calm yourself.
4. When you're ready, INHALE for 5 counts. Follow the metronome beat while you mentally calculate.
5. Then HOLD you breath for 5 counts.
6. Finally, EXHALE for 5 counts. You have to exhale very slowly in order to complete the 5 counts. Could be challenging at first but not impossible with determination and focus.
7. Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 for another 5 to 8 times.

Nowadays, I practise this without a metronome. Probably because I'm able to 'zone out' myself from the rest of the world when I need to. I have realized how this easy yet calming breathing practise has enabled me to declutter my mind, stop dwelling about the past and worry about the future. A good time to do this will be before you sleep. It relaxes you completely before bed time. Try this out and tell me if it changed they way you feel about yourself. I wish everyone of you to feel more connected to your PRESENT SELF.

~M~

8 March 2014.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Healthy Banana Bread.



I wasn't a big fan of bananas when I was younger. It made me want to gag every time I was offered a banana. After all those years of having a restrained relationship with bananas, I tried them out again last year. NOTHING HAPPENED TO ME. Then I realized all these years it was in my head. I was mentally rejecting bananas when they did no harm to me, actually. In my quest to create a healthy breakfast that can be prepared ahead of time, I had an idea to make a homemade bread. Not just any bread but banana bread. It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to combine all the ingredients and after 40 minutes in the oven, you've made your own bread. Most of the ingredients are kitchen essentials. Whenever you have some bananas lying around, whip up this easy banana bread and you don't have to fuss about breakfast for a week. Okay? Okay.


Ingredients.....

Bananas
4 (ripe, medium sized)
Flour
1 ½ cups
Oil
2/3 of a cup
Brown sugar
½ cup
Baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons
Bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon
Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon
Walnuts (optional)
½ cup
Salt
A pinch

Let's begin...

1. Line a bread tin with parchment paper. I used at 9 inch x 4 inch bread tin but you can go one size smaller       or even a square cake tin.
2. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
3. Peel the bananas and mash them using a fork.
4. Add in the oil, brown sugar and vanilla extract.
5. Fold in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
6. Finally, add in the chopped walnuts and mix it even in the batter.
7. Transfer the mixture into your bread tin and bake them for 35 to 40 minutes.
8. Use a toothpick to check if they are done and allow it to cool completely before you slice them.




Time for a taste test! Of course I had to be the first one to test it. It tasted just like an ordinary bread with a kick of banana. Not too sweet and  not too dense like a banana cake. The chopped walnuts gave the bread a nice crunch in every bite. You can even leave out the walnuts or replace it with your favorite type of nuts and dried fruits. For me the walnuts only added a mild nutty flavor and I loved it and that matters to me because this is my breakfast for the next week. On the whole, this banana bread was easy to make with minimum ingredients. Give it a try and let me know how your banana bread turned out. Adios!

*To store this banana bread, place it in an airtight container and leave it in the fridge for up to one week. You can always warm it up in the oven at 150°C for 5 minutes and you're ready to eat.

~M~



Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Happy Earth Day!

Guess what?? Today is Earth day! I didn't know it existed until today. So I visited the website dedicated to celebrate Earth Day. This really caught my interest because I love nature and I support any efforts to create a cleaner environment. It's a day celebrated to appreciate everything Mother Earth has offered to us. Water, air, soil, wind and fire. All five elements present on Earth which helps us to survive from birth to death. This organization not only preaches to bring awareness but they have achieved 1 billion acts of green to commit citizens around the world to help make the Earth a better home for all of us.
Check out their campaigns here and sign a pledge or two and do your part to save our Earth. Here's a list of projects that you will be supporting when you sign a pledge on Act Of Green.

Please love our Earth.

~M~

Saturday, 19 April 2014

10 Forgotten SUPERFOODS.

1. SWEET POTATOES








2. CHIA SEEDS








3. PERSIMMONS 









4. BLACK EYED PEAS







5. RED CABBAGES 










6. ROLLED OATS










7. BRUSSEL SPROUTS










8. BEETS AND BEET LEAVES








9. FIGS 










10. BARLEY


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Crispy Apple Bites.



I had a packet of wonton wrappers lying in my fridge for about a month. I wondered what I could do with just the wonton skin. I wasn't in the mood to go through the hassle of making vegetarian wonton dumplings. Wonton wrappers are super versatile. They can be fried, steamed, boiled and baked. To make life easier, I thought of baking it. I had some granny smith apples lying around the kitchen as well, so why not make a quick apple pie with wonton wrapper crust. Technically, it's not an apple pie because there is no pie crust but I think taste wise, it qualifies to be termed as an apple pie. I have to say, these apple bites takes no time at all compared to making an apple pie from scratch. It's crispy, petite and sweet enough to satisfy your cravings. The perfect finger food. Mind you, they may fly off from your kitchen as soon as they are out of the oven. Well, who can resist the delicious aroma of apple pies. Yum!


Ingredients.....

  • Small granny smith/ gala apple - 1
  • Wonton wrappers - 10 sheets
  • Butter - 1/4 teaspoon
  • Brown sugar - 1/4 cup
  • All purpose flour - 1/2 tablespoon
  • Cinnamon powder - 1/8 teaspoon
  • Vanilla extract - 1/4 teaspoon

Let's Begin.....

  1. Chop the apple into little cubes and add it to a bowl of salted water. This way, the apple does not turn brown quickly. You can also grate the apple skin if you prefer.
  2. Drain the apple cubes add it onto a pan. Add cinnamon powder, butter, brown sugar, all purpose flour and vanilla extract.
  3. Place it over a stove and give all the ingredients a good mix on a medium flame. Once the butter has melted, turn the flame to low and continue cooking the apples till they become soft.
  4. Allow the apple filling to cool while place the wonton wrapper on the baking tray. To make cleaning much easier, I would recommend to place a sheet of baking paper on the tray.
  5. Place a dollop of the apple filling at the center of the wonton wrapper. You can either fold it lengthwise or do it like mine, fold to make a triangle. Use water to seal the wonton wrapper at the edges.
  6. Place the baking tray into a preheated over at 200°C. Bake one side for 10 minutes, then turn them over. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Allow them to cool and your crispy apple bites are READY!




I certainly had fun making my apple bites. I am quite impressed with myself for coming up with my own recipes and creations nowadays. I hope to keep the spirit up in the kitchen. Feel free to use my recipe or make little modifications here and there with what you already have at home. These apple bites are a great evening snack and did I mention how your entire house smells like you baked an apple pie in 30 minutes. Enjoy and have a great day everybody!

~M~



Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Brahmari.....Buzz like a BEE!

'Bee Closeup on Peach Blossoms' by Tammy Puntti




If you have read my post dedicated for Women's Day titled Embracing Womanhood, I did a brief overview on a breathing technique called brahmari or humming bee breath. I thought I should do a follow up by discussing further on the correct technique and benefits. In Sanskrit terms, the word brahmari itself means bee. The vibration from the sound produced during this practise also imitates the sound of bees.


BRAHMARI

Difficulty level: Beginners.


Who should do it?

ANYONE except people suffering from severe ear/ENT(ear,nose,throat) infection.

When to do it?

The best time to practise is late at night or early in the morning before sunrise because there are fewer external noises. Practising at these times awakens your psychic sensitivity. However, bramari may be
practised at any time of the day to relieve mental tension. For beginners who are starting out this practise, 5 to 10  rounds are sufficient. In cases of extreme agitation or anxiety, to assist the healing process, practise for up to 15 to 20 minutes.

How to do it?

There are two ways to do this. Refer to the pictures below to choose your preferred way of sitting. 





















1. Sit comfortably in either position, preferably the first position unless you are pregnant. This is to ensure your arms wouldn't feel tired after a few rounds of practise.
2. Close your eyes and relax the body.
3. Raise your arms and use your thumb to gently press on your ear flap.
4. Inhale deeply through your nose.
5. As you exhale, make a steady humming sound like a bee. Feel the vibration at your throat. The humming should be smooth, even and continuous for the duration of the exhalation.
6. At the hand of exhalation, without removing your hands, focus on the sound that you hear within you.
7. When you are ready, continue with another round the same way.

What are the benefits?

Brahmari relieves stress and cerebral tension. Also helps in alleviating anger, anxiety and insomnia in order to increase the healing capacity of the body. It strengthens and improves the voice. Bhramari induces a meditative state by harmonizing the mind and directing the awareness inward. The vibration of the humming sound creates a soothing effect on the mind and nervous system.


~M~

Reference: 'Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha' by Swami Satyananda Saraswati






Saturday, 12 April 2014

10 Things Money Can't Buy

Birth and Death

Extra Time

True Friends

 A peaceful home

 A good night's sleep

 Tomorrow

 The ability to forget and to remember

 A good laugh

 Perfect health

 Something free


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

GO GRANOLA!


If you're guilty of skipping breakfast every morning, you're in for a treat today. I have also had those mornings and I know, it's not fun! Unfortunately, time is just not on our side on some days. For many years, I had to depend on store bought "stuff" as I would like to call it, shove it into my huge bag and munch on it while I drive. It's a pathetic situation and we just have to roll with it. I know many people can relate to this scenario because we just get busier by the day. I no longer sacrifice my quality time with breakfast because my schedule is way more flexible now. But for those of you who are still battling with breakfast, I came up with something to cheer you up. Well you know what they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Let's learn to make this easy on-the-go energy bars a.k.a GRANOLA BARS. You may have seen these in the supermarkets and whenever I try to grab one, my eyes just pop out of my socket. It's unreasonably overpriced for the size of the granola bars. You should have known by now that I have a thing for making everything at home. Obviously, I wasn't going to let these granola bars escape out of my sight before I get my hands on them. I wish I could have learnt this recipe years ago and I could have treated myself to a better breakfast. Better late than never. Either breakfast or a snack on-the-go, these granola bars are easy to make, nutritious and most importantly, delicious! Would you believe me if I told you that these granola bars can be kept in your fridge for 3 months.


Dry Ingredients

Rolled oats
2 & ½ cups
Desiccated coconut
¾ cup
Chopped hazelnuts
¾ cup
Dried blackcurrants
½ cup
Brown sugar
½ cup
Vanilla extract
½ teaspoon

Wet Ingredients

Butter
100 grams
Honey
½ cup
Salt
A pinch

Let's begin.....

1. Line a 8 x 8 inch square tin with baking sheet.
2. In a small saucepan, add butter, honey and a pinch of salt. Place the pan over low heat and allow the butter to melt completely. Then, keep aside and allow it to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
4. In a mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients.
5. Add the melted butter and honey mixture. Mix everything until the dry ingredients are well coated.
6. Transfer the mixture into the square tin and firmly press it down. 
7. Place the tin on the middle rack and set the timer to 25 minutes.
8. Allow the granola to cool down to room temperature. If you find the granola being too soft, place it in the fridge to firm up. 
10. Cut the granola into squares once it has firmed up. Place it in an air tight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 months.



You don't have to follow the recipe exactly. You can replace hazelnuts with almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds or pistachios. The dried blackcurrants can be replaced with mixed fruits, dried apricots, dried figs or anything you wish to add. Even the butter can be replaced with peanut butter or almond butter. Customize according to what you have in hand and according to your preference. The possibilities are endless! Different combinations will result in different taste. Give this easy recipe a try and I hope you will no longer skip your breakfast once you have mastered this granola recipe. I would love read your feedback, so feel free to drop a comment. You can also share with me your modified version of this granola recipe, so that I can try out something new. GO GRANOLA!

~M~

Saturday, 5 April 2014

When life gives me lemons.......


I add them to my water. This is a fairly new trick that I learnt earlier this year. About 2 months ago, I was watching a cookery show and saw this couple serving glasses filled with water and lemon wedges. It certainly looked interesting. If you still haven't noticed, I like to experiment all the time. So, I immediately bought a lemon the next day to give this 'lemon water' a go. I sliced my lemon into 2 to 3 disks, lightly squeezed them and dropped it into my water bottle. I removed the seed while slicing and left the rind on. You can cut them into wedges if you prefer, there's no right or wrong in this. My lemon slices were left in my bottle from morning till night. I drank this citrus potion throughout the day. As I am typing these, I wonder if you can do the same with oranges. I know you can use lime instead of lemons, but haven't heard of oranges. Orange water?? I don't know if it exists, but I did think of it myself. Let me play with those one day and I will share the story if the attempt becomes successful.

Now let's discuss about how the whole experience was. Truth be told, the taste of the lemon water was like a shock to my taste buds. It was tart and slightly bitter. Peculiar taste but in a good way though. I am an avid water drinker. I grew up with a bunch of friends who always carried humongous water tumblers and I was certainly influenced by them to gulp liters of water throughout the day. Hey, I wasn't complaining because water can be your only best friend in a sunshine paradise like Malaysia, where heat and humidity are unwelcome guests. It may sound creepy, but I can actually taste different types of water. Don't ask me how, but I can identify bottled water, tap water and filtered water. I admit, if you are a water addict like me, the taste is something you have to get used to. By the way, I don't drink lemon water everyday, I only prepare this drink either once or twice a week but I drink it from morning till night. Anything in MODERATION is the way to go. Guess what, if you leave the lemon wedges/slices in your bottle for an entire day, the lemon scent actually stays in your bottle for a couple of days even after several washes.
'Lemon scented bottle' ....ooohh laa laaa.

I may not be the best person to talk about the science behind lemon water. There are hundreds of websites that you can find to read on benefits of lemon water.  But I came up with a list of benefits of drinking lemon water using my common sense.

1. It's packed with Vitamin C.

Lemon is another citrus fruit just likes limes, oranges, tangerines and grapefruits. Any fruit that comes from the citrus family contains ascorbic acid  or in other words Vitamin C. Vitamin C is probably the most common vitamin needed to boost your immunity, protect yourself from cancer causing free radicals and prevent scurvy (bleeding gums).  Instead of buying vitamin C supplements (which I think are highly overpriced), why don't you get it in the most natural way through a fruit.

2. Let's talk pH.

Lemon juice by itself is acidic because it contains acids. Well what do you know, it becomes an alkaline when it goes through your system. If you don't already know, high acidity levels in the body damages proper functioning of organs. Imbalanced diet, stress and pent up negative emotions contribute to increase in acidity in your body. In order to neutralize excess acid and to maintain an optimum acid level, we need to consume alkaline-forming substance like lemons.

3. Keeps bacteria away.

Starting from the mouth up to your colon, bacteria are always breeding inside us. The reason we don't get affected by these bacteria is because they are at a healthy level. Lemon has anti-bacterial properties and it can certainly prevent infections when bacteria level goes up in our body. That is why you can always see lemon extract in detergents and hand soaps which can fight airborne bacteria. Lemons can also treat throat infections, not that you will get one if you are diligently drinking your lemon water.

4. Fresh, lemony breath.

Do I need to say more. Lemon is the most common flavor used in chewing gums and breath fresheners. Lemon water cleanses your palate and you can enjoy fresh breath. If you're concerned about lemons making your teeth sensitive, fuss not because enamel corrosion only happens if you bite lemons directly. If you are still worried, use a straw to drink your lemon water and don't let the lemon water linger in your mouth for too long.

5. Flushes toxins.

I'm not sure if you can really shed the weight with lemon water but I'm pretty sure you can flush out toxic materials out of your body. Lemon acts a diuretic to increase the rate of urination while releasing more toxins out of the body to maintain a healthy urinary tract.


That's a wrap for this post. Even if you choose to ignore the benefits of lemon water, think of adding a natural flavoring to your regular drinking water which will surely cut down your cravings for soft drinks and synthetic flavored drinks. Ladies, mind you that lemons are vital for your diet to maintain your reproductive health. And who doesn't want to get clear and glowing skin. Lastly, I would suggest you to get organic lemons if you choose the leave the rind on the lemon wedges. You don't want chemicals and wax covered lemon rinds to be floating in your water the entire day. Just to be on the safe side, remove the rinds completely if you're in doubt.


Squeeze some lemons for your health!


~M~

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

World Autism Awareness Day

I hope everyone survived April Fools' Day. I know I did. Last Friday, I got to know that today is the World Autism Awareness Day. I don't know much about autism. I've read about it but I will still claim I don't know much about it. Autistic or not, I love children and today is the day to celebrate these special children. Every child is a valuable gift and let's cherish their presence on this special day. Anyone who has a child, a sibling or a friend who is autistic, try your best to spread the awareness to the people you know. Treat these kids equally as you treat others. If they are nurtured and given proper attention, they will be great kids. Try not to resent or give up on these children, instead be the better person, be patient and loving towards them. Unconditional love and patience can never go wrong with kids. Be kind to one another. 

~M~ 


To read more on World Autism Awareness Day, visit http://www.autismspeaks.org/