Food

Baked Salmon With Peach and Corn Salad

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For the most part I try eating healthy, which means I cut down on my sugar and refined oil consumption fairly easily. What I can never bring myself to do, however, is eat more salad. Coming from a kitchen where the base of no meal is complete without sautéing onion and garlic, it is no surprise that salads are rather boring to me.

But I can also not deny the importance of health benefits that salads offer, so I have been trying to actively and mindfully eat more greens. My struggle is that most salads available even at “health food stores” are often drowned in dressing filled with unhealthy fats and whatnot. So, I just ate a bunch of greens, but also ten times more fat and sugar? Umm, does not sound right…

Hence, I try incorporating my greens in smoothies, wraps, as a side for a brekkie of scrambled eggs or dinner of baked fish. Basically, the idea is to consume greens with foods that make greens irresistable without destroying their nutrient content.

In this post, I am sharing a combination of baked salmon with a corn and peach salad, which is to die for. The whole meal is a blast of flavors packed with tons of nutrition. Also, my god, it looks beautiful on the plate! The colors are just so appetizing together that you would not be able to resist no matter the salad.

So without further ado, follow the recipe below for a tasty and easy weeknight dinner, especially perfect in the summertime.

Ingredients for the salmon:

  • Salmon filet (1)
  • Paprika powder (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Garlic powder (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Lemon juice (to taste)
  • Olive oil (1 teaspoon)

Ingredients for the salad:

  • Your favorite green mix (1 cup)
  • Corn (1/4 cup)
  • Peach (1 – chopped)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Paprika powder (to taste)
  • Lemon juice (to taste)

Method for salmon:

  • Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
  • Meanwhile, marinate the salmon in paprika powder, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic powder. You could also do this hours or night before preheating the oven for optimum flavor.
  • Once oven is heated, bake salmon for 8 minutes.

Method for salad:

  • While the salmon bakes, toss the corn in paprika powder and salt.
  • Add the green mix and chopped corn.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice on top.

Put it all together on a plate and voila! Time to devour the best dinner salad you will have this summer.

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Food

Egg Fried Quinoa With Vegetables

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Sunday evenings are normally quite busy for me. I am occupied prepping meals and work outfits for the week ahead. Today, I was even more pressed for time because I had to make a quick trip to the city center to buy a present (from my team) for a colleague who has just bought a house.

When I returned home, the thought of meal prepping just put me off. May be also because all week I struggled with a neck sprain that got the best of me. Now, I wanted some downtime. So, I decided to make about two servings of this easy peasy meal that came together in under 30 minutes. I will take the second serving for lunch tomorrow. And for the meal prep…we will think about it tomorrow after work, I think.

Let’s get right into this recipe that is uber convenient and quick, so that I can go back to my downtime. 😛

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Ingredients:

  • Quinoa (1 cup)
  • Oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Onion (1)
  • Minced garlic (1 tablespoon)
  • Chopped Chillies (3)
  • Chopped carrot (1 cup)
  • Peas (1/2 cup)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Soy sauce (1 tablespoon)
  • Sriracha sauce (to taste)

Method:

  • Boil two cups water. Add quinoa to the pot and bring heat to medium low. In 8-10 minutes quinoa should be cooked.
  • Heat up oil in a wok/pan.
  • Chop onions and fry until translucent.
  • Add minced garlic. Fry for two minutes.
  • Add chopped chillies and carrots, as well as peas.
  • After the vegetables are 1/3 cooked through, push them aside, and scramble two eggs in the same pan.
  • Now add the cooked quinoa, Sriracha and soy sauce. Stir until everything is well combined! Serve with lemon wedges. 🙂

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Travel

Au Revoir, Mallorca!

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When I first started planning my summer holiday, I was more inclined to visit Ibiza for a week. I had not even heard of Mallorca until April this year – when I saw a cliff diving video captured in the Playa De Muro area of the island. I remember being awestruck. The stunning landscape, which is still somewhat exclusive unlike other Spanish islands that are swarmed with tourists, knocked my Ibiza plan out of the park.

And so, I booked my flight and hotel for a six day stay. I ascertained to book a hotel within 100 meters of a beach (fun fact: there are over 200 beaches in Mallorca) because the primary purpose of this trip was to unwind from the recent whirlwind of busy life changes. That’s also why, I chose to stay in Can Picafort , which is a comparatively quiet neighborhood in the North East of the island, not yet discovered by drunken college tourists

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Mallorca’s coastline is at least 547 kilometers long and is lined by bustling shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. The crystal blue shore waters deepen into various shades of blue and green which stand as a spectacular contrast to the golden and white sand at the beaches. The island is a heaven for cyclists due to its beautifully hilly topography offering some of the best road-riding in Europe. For walkers like me, footpaths interlace between orange-pink groves and hilltop mansions covered with Bougainvillea.

In the six days that I was in Mallorca, I spent most of my daytime bumming around in sunbeds, basking in the glorious Spanish sun, sipping fresh watermelon juice and coconut water, and playing in the waves. The beaches in Mallorca’s North East have shallow waters and gentler waves, which become slightly violent as the sun begins to set.

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Oh, the Mallorcan sunsets! I cannot describe the beauty of a sky that is torn between unexplainably deep shades of pink, orange, scarlet, and blue. When you look from a distance, the waves thrashing at the shores are a stark match to the troubled sky. One evening, I was dumbfounded at this glory and could not escape despite the cool wind repeatedly swaying my torso, sending shivers down my spine.

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As I tried swimming deeper into the water, the waves fiercely lashed my chest. I remember looking back and being awed by an aura of the pink sunset on the golden sand peeking through clear turquoise waters. Most people had already left the beach and the noise of the waves was more profound than ever. I do not know when I began singing, “Chhookar mere man ko kiya toone kya ishaara, Badla yeh mausam lage pyaara jag saara.” And I do not know for how long I was singing this exact line…may be a good fifteen minutes until my husband called me back from the beach.

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One of the days, I ventured into a larger, more happening part of Mallorca called Alcudia, which has an intricately preserved old town. This town is historically walled and can be entered through its rather imposing gates that lead to narrow, topsy-turvy streets lined by houses from the 14th century. Most of these houses have been turned into restaurants and cafes providing a contemporary characteristic to the area. Strolling alongside the houses that have survived the tourist wave, and boost their historical architecture, is truly like time traveling. The colorfully painted renaissance style mansions are dotted with vibrant potted plants and decorated with family crests and other local cultural heirlooms.

Due to limited time, I did not venture into Mallorca’s countryside, but I hear that even in the peak of summer holidays, it is peaceful; surrounded by vineyards, small villages and ranches, some adapted into bucolic retreats. I also did not have the time to visit caves, forts, and vantage points that are extremely popular in tourists visiting the area. Considering I plan to revisit Mallorca, I am not terribly sad about it.

When it comes to food, you have to be careful in Mallorca like any other tourist destination. There is an abundance of the usual pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, fries – most of the times the routine food is not bad. But if you want to taste true Spanish, more specifically Mallorcan, cuisine then you have to do some research in advance.

Since I ate most of my meals in Can Picafort, I can only speak to food options there. I had my best meal at Don Denis, which has a killer tapas menu and a great selection of local and popular wines. It’s located at the Can Picafort harbor and offers stunning views and impeccable service! Café Horizto also deserves a mention because of its delectable lunch sandwiches (tuna with caramelized onions was my fav!) and extensive cocktail offerings. Lastly, while the overall dining experience at Gran Bahia restaurant was disappointing, I was awed by the unusual flavor combination of my entrée of sea bass filets served over saffron cream and wild rice!

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This post would not be complete if I did not mention that I was pleasantly surprised at the finding of a restaurant in Can Picafort run by a man called Ali from Sahiwal, Pakistan. The restaurant is called Sabores De India and offers the most authentic Pakistani food I have had anywhere in Europe. His excitement at the sight of rare Pakistani visitors in Mallorca was almost endearing. Putting aside the usual menu card, he said that we just had to say the word about what we wanted to eat and he will serve. We left the restaurant stuffed with onion fritters, aloo samosas, chicken biryani, and doodh patii. During our stay, we did once return to eat some aloo palak and chicken kadhai as well.

Speaking to Ali, I discovered that Ali’s restaurant was an extension of the larger Pakistani Punjabi small business community that is thriving in Mallorca for over a decade. His revelation helped me notice many familiar faces at shops and restaurants, as I further explored Mallorca – what a rare and unexpected coincidence that briefly connected me to my roots!

Summer is such an eventful and joyous time in Europe. Most people take up to three weeks off to escape the daily mundanity and spend time with their families. Whether or not you live in Europe, I believe it’s crucial for our mental health to disconnect, and what beautiful time than summer to plan an Island getaway. If you are looking into exploring an island in Europe, I promise the understated history and splendor of Mallorca will not disappoint.

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Career

What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School: Book Review

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Like an astute mentor, What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School details vivid business situations to help us get a grip over the “real world.” In this master piece of sorts, Mark H. McCormack , the legend who birthed the sports management and marketing industries, teaches us how to use “people sense” in negotiation, time management, and reading ourselves and others.

The theme of What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School is that even graduates of the most esteemed business school in the world often do not have “people sense,” which is critical to successfully navigating business situations aka “people situations.” In his book, McCormack anecdotes the lack of people sense he observed in Harvard graduates, as well as successful business executives in various industries during his career. In the light of McCormack’s experience, What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School intends to fill the gap between the curriculum of prestigious business schools and street knowledge, and it does that with reason and eloquence.

I believe the strength of the book rests in its simple, clear, and straight forward writing. McCormack is not afraid to call bullshit what it is, so it may at times appear harsh, when really it is just honest. The quote below from P, 42 of the 2014 edition published by Profile Books Ltd in London gives a taste of McCormack’s honesty.

The Most Important Personal Asset in Business

Obviously, the real answer is common sense. But if you don’t have it already, you probably never will, and there’s nothing I can say here that is going to change that.

More than a few times, my husband caught me smiling like an idiot while reading this book – I would credit that to McCormack’s writing and storytelling style.

On the flip side, the book’s weakness lies in its lack of placement in the present time. As in, it was published in 1984, which means it could do with an edit of how current technology affects “people sense” and “people situations” – both positively and adversely. One example that stood out to me is the criticism of visual aids on P, 130. In today’s age, a Snapchat, YouTube, or Instagram guru could seriously challenge McCormack on his following observation.

I’ve never seen a bad idea sold because of great visual aids, and I’ve never seen a good idea good unsold because of lack of visual aids.

What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School is divided into three parts: People, Sales and Negotiation and Running a Business. Personally, I found the first part to be the most relevant to my everyday job responsibilities and short term career goals. Sales and Negotiation also packs a punch, but Running a Business resonates the least with me. Nonetheless, it is an insightful read and a great resource for someone entertaining the idea of starting an entrepreneurial venture.

Some ideas presented in the book are fundamental in navigating the first five years of one’s career, that is why it could be mandatory reading in college. McCormack presents most of his ideas alongside concrete and insightful examples, which allowed me to recall and reflect on similar situations I have come across at work and in social gatherings. Through his vivid writing, McCormack compels his reader to reflect on daily business and social communications, and learn from them. Bonus: he does that without trying too hard.

Some of the concepts that stayed with me are: don’t be a “time thief,” focus on the “listen talk ratio,” observe “fringe times,” avoid “business immaturity,” get over the “love-me-for-myself-syndrome,” “find a star and make them a friend,” “negotiate backwards,” and “turn crisis into opportunity.” All these ideas were supported by examples that are truly sharp and thoughtful, but lengthy to be quoted in this post.

All in all, I would give What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School a 4.6/5, and I would definitely recommend young adults to read (and understand) this book. After reading, not only will you start identifying crucial “people situations” around yourself – whether you’re working in a F100 company or sitting in an undergraduate gender studies class – you also will begin applying “people sense” to become the best version of yourself. It truly is a win-win.

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Food

One Pot Mixed Veggie Galore

First of all, sincere apologies for not posting in nearly two weeks. I had to unexpectedly travel to London for work just before taking a week off for a holiday in Mallorca. It got busy! But now I am back and kicking things off with this absolutely delightful mixed veggie recipe that I learned from my father. 🙂

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Growing up, my father rarely cooked vegetables, but come winter and he would be cooking this recipe for the family. I have fond memories of going grocery shopping with him and then watching him be a “chef” in my mother’s kitchen while me and my three siblings acted as “sous-chefs.” It was a wonderful time when the whole family sat together relishing the rare delight that is my father’s “finger lickin good” mixed vegetables with hot naans out of the local tandoor.

While I was in Mallorca for my holiday, I ate a variety of different foods, but as cliche as it sounds, nothing matched the taste of a home cooked meal. So when I returned last night, I made a mental grocery list of everything I would need to make this warm, spicy, and hearty mixed vegetables with minimal gravy that is so reminiscent of family time and cold weather in Karachi. This recipe could also be served as a side dish alongside my all time favorite daal.

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So while the clouds covered Amsterdam skies, instead of being grumpy, I enjoyed this warm meal in the cosiness of my bed with the noise of rain falling on the windowpane, all while watching the first two episodes of Suits Season 7. Do not judge, I am returning to work tomorrow! 😛

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If you fancy a warm and cozy meal such as mine, follow the recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • Oil (1/3 cup)
  • Onions (2)
  • Ginger garlic paste (3 tablespoon)
  • Tomatoes (2)
  • Green chillies (4)
  • Chili flakes (1 teaspoon)
  • Chili powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Garam masala (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Cumin powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Potatoes (400 grams)
  • Cauliflower (500 grams)
  • Green peas (2/3 cup)
  • Carrots (1 cup)
  • Salt (1 1/2 teaspoon)

Method:

  • Finely chop onion, chillies, and tomatoes.
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry onions until golden brown. This would be a good time to chop the potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower if you have not bought pre-chopped vegetables.
  • Add ginger garlic paste to the onions and sauté for two minutes. If using store bought paste, lower the heat prior to frying the paste. That prevents the oil from splattering.
  • When the garlic and onion are fragrant, add chopped tomatoes and chillies.
  • After a minute or so, add all spices and stir until oil separates from the mixture.
  • Now add the potatoes and carrots and cook/stir for 10 or so minutes. Then, add the cauliflower and peas. Stir on medium heat for another 10 minutes.
  • Add half a cup of water and blast the heat until everything is sizzling. Cover the pot and bring the heat to medium low. Let cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Serve with boiled rice or naan. Better yet, make a wrap out of it and bring it for lunch! That is what I do. 🙂

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Food

Banana & Berry Smoothie Bowl

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Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. On weekends especially, I love to take a few extra minutes to eat a healthy and nutrition packed breakfast. During summertime, nothing screams delicious, refreshing, and nutritious more than a beautiful smoothie bowl.

The best thing about smoothies is that they come together in less than five minutes without the hassle of cleaning up pots and pans later. The second best part is that I can play with seasonal flavors and toppings, so smoothie breakfasts never get boring (wohoo!).

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The banana & berry smoothie is a classic in my books. It is minimal yet decadent and keeps me full for hours!

Ingredients:

  • Bananas (2)
  • Strawberries (4)
  • Greek yogurt (3 tablespoons)
  • Rolled oats (2 tablespoons) < this can be omitted if you like your smoothies runny*

Method:

  • Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender!
  • Add your favorite toppings. I used shredded coconut, chia seeds, nut granola, raspberries, strawberries, and banana.

Tip 1: if you like your smoothie bowl extra cold, use frozen banana and berries instead of fresh ones. 🙂

Tip 2: If you like your smoothie sweeter, add a tea spoon of honey or maple syrup while blending.

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There you have it! The most fruity, nutritious, and colorful breakfast bowl to start your weekend. Enjoy! ❤

 

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Career

8 Tips To Set You Up For Success At A New Job

Most of us have felt the adrenaline rush that is characteristic of turning a new leaf, especially if it is something that we’ve diligently worked to attain. Recently, I started a new job. Not only did I wait a long time for this perfect opportunity to come by, but I also had to go through an extensive interview procedure, which comprised of verbal, numerical, and logic assessments, as well as business cases and numerous rigorous one on one meetings.

It is no surprise that when I received the job offer, I was giddy with excitement and could not wait to start in my new role and company. As a person, I love to be prepared and organized, especially when charting into unfamiliar territory – this time around, a different business function and industry.

To prepare myself for this new endeavor, I brainstormed by reading articles regarding what practices will ensure that I have the smoothest start. As a side task in my previous job, I led training for the new starters in the company. So, I also reflected on what were some of the best practices I had observed new hires follow while working at my old company.

This exercise enabled me to compile a long list. In this post, I am sharing the most important points from my list which can help you be on top of your game from day one at a new job. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

1. Reflect On Past Performance Reviews

You should be doing this on a regular basis, but especially now that you will be starting fresh at a new company.

Reflect on feedback that was provided to you in the past by fellow classmates, professors, mentors, colleagues, and friends on your skills and behavior. Use your reflections to devise a plan on how you will use the feedback in a constructive way at the new job. If you received feedback regarding weak data analysis skills, it is true you cannot become a data analysis expert overnight, but you could still learn the basics in an online course, such as that offered at Lynda.com. Similarly, if you have been told previously you need to become a better listener or better team player, this is the time to act on that advice.

Take note of all past feedback provided to you, including your strengths, and write action points that you should remain mindful of from day one at the job.

2. Dress A Notch Up

Do not underestimate the power of first impressions. Personally, it takes me no longer than five to ten seconds to form my first opinion on a person I have just met. Most of that opinion is of course based on appearance, so appearance is important, more so if you work in a client-facing environment.

During your interviews, notice how people in the company are dressed. Based on that observation, dress a notch up in your first few weeks.

3. Take Initiative

I cannot stress this one enough! Don’t fool yourself that just because it is your first day or week in a new setting, HR or your line management will spoon feed you. You must take control of your arrangements from day one (read hour one). For example, need to request a laptop? Find out who in IT is responsible for it. IT does not respond? Find out alternative contacts and keep on top of your request by constantly following-up.

Ask questions instead of keeping them to yourself. Nobody will help you if they do not know and understand the problem you have. My philosophy is that in your first week you have full discretion to ask as many questions as you want.

4. Source All Resources

It is possible that you require a corporate credit card, locker, laptop, phone, etcetera from your company for your role. Find out the appropriate procedures to request access and follow-up until you have the resources you need. Personally, I do not think you should let this stretch any further than a week otherwise it will begin impacting your daily performance at work.

5. Sort All HR Matters

Almost always, you have to provide copies of several documents like your ID and diploma, as well as complete forms, such as those related to pension and income tax. It is best to make a list of all your actions due toward HR on your first day and complete them all within your first week to avoid any hiccups in your work later on.

6. Take Notes And Review Them

It is critical that you take notes during your initial days. You will be inundated with information that you naturally will not absorb immediately. But if you take extensive notes then you can always return to them for answers in the future.

Allocate a few hours after work to review the notes you made during the day. This helps retain information and will help make you look sharp when a colleague says, “Remember we discussed that earlier this week?”

Instead of saying, “Oh, let me look through my notes” or “There has been so much information, I forgot,” you will say “Yes, I remember!”

Do not take notes to never look at them again. Take notes to regularly review them.

7. Create A Spreadsheet of Key Contacts

This is particularly important if you are starting in a large corporation with a complex matrix structure or have a role that requires widespread stakeholder management. During your first few days, you will meet many new people at work and some of them you will be expected to work with more closely than others. Therefore, it is crucial for you to know these people and vice versa.

I recommend sitting down with your buddy or manager for a few minutes and creating a spread sheet of key contacts/stakeholders with their full names, titles, and departments. If you know specific projects/office locations associated with these people, write that down too. For face recognition, in case all people are not in your home office, run the names on a LinkedIn search. You will find pictures for most of your contacts.

This exercise will not only help you learn the firm better, but also will show your initiative and make you look informed.

8. Understand Personal Development Objectives

Often companies will provide you with a list of probation objectives for the first month or a development plan for the first quarter – you get the idea! Whether or not you have been provided something along those lines, schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your personal development plan and objectives of the role for short periods like first month, first three months, and first six months.

This will help you understand both short and long term goals clearly. Clarity will allow you to remain focused and prioritize better in the coming months.

From this point onward, it is really common sense…be polite, sociable, curious! And, don’t be afraid to show your funny bone – envious if you have one because mine is missing since circa ’92.

If you have additional tips that you would like to share, please leave them in the comments so we can all learn from them. And if you would like me to research any other aspects of the working life and write about them, feel free to drop me a message. Good luck!

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