Fitness, Wellness

Gym Wear Edit

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This post is long requested by the insta fam, so here it is finally. My workout routine is quite simple, so inevitably my gym wear is too. I do not have separate clothes for running and training. My outfits fit the bill for both. I spend approximately 40-50 minutes in the gym three times a week. More on my full (very simple) routine later. First let me walk you through my workout wear essentials.

NIKE bottle

Credits: https://shop.nordstrom.com

Water Bottle

Before I list my favorite gym wear, let me say that a BPA-free water bottle with a straw is an absolute essential. I prefer straws because they make it easy to drink water on the treadmill and cross trainer. In the past, I have used bottles with caps and such, and I find that with a built-in straw, I don’t have to pause or slowdown my running program. I use this bottle from Nike, which is BPA free and contains a straw for easy drinking.

Adidas Bra

Credits: https://www.zalando.nl

Sports Bra

A well-fitting sports bra is an definite must in my book. It makes a ton of difference in how you perform. Previously I used a bra from Lululemon and experienced back pains due to the lack of support it provided. Also, the material was too thick for my liking. Now I wear the Adidas Performance Techfit bra, and I have never felt better during my workout.

The mesh-jersey material is thin, airy, and sweat-wicking. The fit is snug, which makes running significantly more fun than a bra that is loose fitting. Instead of coming in the generic XS, S, M… sizes, the techfit bra comes in separate band and cup sizes, hence finding the perfect fit is easier. Out of the sports bras I have tried on and bought, this is by far my favourite! If that changes in the future, I will update this post and my insta story.

To find the perfect sports bra, I would suggest looking for a) a snug fit [try doing a few jumps to assess this] b) a band that rests on the same level all the way around your chest and does not ride up in the back c) the presence of any scratchy seams and/or tags that can cause irritation during a workout.

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Trainers

A good quality pair of trainers is as important as a well-fitting sports bra to achieve a great workout. Depending on what type of workout (weight-lifting, running, aerobics, etc) you do, the shoes you opt for may be slightly different. Considering I spend most of my gym time running, I like to wear shoes that are most suited to running.

The pair I have been using for two years now (time for a replacement!) is from Nike’s Free Run Flyknit range. It is foot-hugging, light-weight, breathable, and ideal for short runs. The only aspect I do not like as much is the relatively thin sole of the shoe. When I will purchase a new pair of running shoes, I will look for a style that offers more support than my current one.

Tops & Bottoms

For this category, I am a fan of Nike’s Dri-FIT range. I find the Dri-FIT material a) provides ample support for all types of physical activities b) is stretchy enough to be comfortable c) is sweat-wicking d) is opaque to allow bending without being transparent. I also find that the Dri-FIT range is offered at a great price point and many different colors and designs for anyone looking to have more fun with their gym outfits.

The tights and top that I use are pictured above, and available here and here respectively. The tights come with a drawstring waist, which I initially thought was odd but have grown to love overtime as it prevents the tights from slipping and sliding (people with small waists would know what I mean).

I do not like wearing shorts in the gym because I am a germaphobe. I find the most flattering tights styles to be high-waisted (up to my belly button) and 7/8th in length (slightly above the ankle). The high waisted styles also ensure that you can bend and sit as you please without worrying about the tights riding down. When you try a pair of tights, also look for any excess fabric around the crotch–that would be the reason for a potential camel toe and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Socks

I like ankle socks that are made from synthetic materials. Natural materials like cotton can cause scratchy, irritated skin during movement. The material also has to be sweat-wicking and thin for a lighter feel on the feet. Some people prefer thick socks for more cushioning, so if that is your preference, you do you. My favorite pair of socks is this.

Care for Gym Clothes

Lastly, I thought I would also include a few tips on caring for workout clothes. After every workout session, I throw my clothes in the washer on a gentle, cold cycle that lasts about an hour. In addition to the normal detergent, I also use a small amount of the Dettol Antiseptic Liquid. Fitness centers carry so many germs considering the number of daily visitors. Not everyone practices the best hygiene, so I hope using an antiseptic liquid rids my gym clothes of potential viruses and bacterias.

Bonus tip? Keep a dryer sheet in your gym bag or whichever bag you use to carry your gym essentials and your clothes will always smell fresh. 🙂

I hope this post was helpful! I am planning a full post on my workout routine, so keep a look out for that. Meanwhile if you have any questions, feel to comment below, email me, or send a direct message on my Instagram. Have a great rest of the Sunday and a fabulous week ahead!

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Chia Pudding Breakfast

I am rather late to the chia pudding bandwagon, but I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying this discovery for breakfasts. Last night, I decided to make some overnight chia pudding to take with me this morning. It literally takes two minutes to make and in the morning it is ready to be thrown into the bag before closing the door behind you.

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Today when I posted this picture of my chia pudding in my insta story, I received a ton of messages asking for the recipe of the pudding. I honestly was not anticipating this much interest that is why I did not take blog-worthy pictures of the recipe with my DSLR. So, I am just going to share the pictures I took from my iPhone 8 plus this morning—they are not too bad either, and it is the taste that counts, right?

Let’s keep this post short and simple since it is Monday night, after all. On that Monday note, hope you all had a lovely start to the new week, and will try this chia pudding recipe as a breakfast option. The recipe includes how I make the base for the pudding. Read tips to learn more about customizing the puddings for variety. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Chia seeds (2tbsp)
  • Fat-free milk (1/2 cup)*
  • Vanilla essence (1tsp)
  • Maple syrup (1tsp)*

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in a container and place in the refrigerator overnight or until chia seeds swell up (about four hours).

Tips:

  • You could use any milk, including dairy and plant-based varieties.
  • Maple syrup was my choice, but you could use agave syrup or honey as well.
  • This chia pudding can be topped with any toppings of your choice. I used fresh banana and blueberry before, but this time I thawed ¼ cup frozen cranberries in the microwave for 1 minute and added them to the chia mixture before refrigerating it. Overnight, the juice from thawed cranberries released into the pudding making it extra delicious. You could try this with any kind of berries.

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Black-Eyed Beans & Chicken Stuffing

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Black-eyed bean and minced meat curry was a staple in my mom’s Pakistani kitchen. She batch-cooked the beans and froze them in little packets. These packets would be her saviour on busy days when she could not fathom what to cook. Served with hot chapatis, my mom’s black-eyed bean and minced meat curry was a favourite of mine.

A few days ago, I was casually strolling through the shelves in the supermarket when I noticed neatly stored cans of black-eyed beans. That instigated a much need flashback of my mom’s delicious recipe. Inevitably, I stocked my cart with multiple cans of the beans.

I knew I wanted to replicate the taste of my mom’s curry, but I also knew that I had to make it more like stuffing than curry. My busy lifestyle has little room for curries, especially on weekdays because I can’t afford to have curry spill in my bags or put me in a food coma after lunch. Stuffing on the other side is perfect to make a wrap with. It can also be tossed with some quinoa or brown rice with a chutney or sauce on the side. No fuss, right?

In addition to making my mum’s recipe corporate-career-proof, I also made it slightly healthier by keeping oil to a minimum and replacing ground beef with ground chicken breasts that I minced in my food processor at home. You can also buy minced chicken from the store. I couldn’t find organic variety in my supermarket.

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I made the black-eyed bean and minced chicken stuffing over the weekend and stored in the fridge. During the week, it was rather easy to stuff a wrap with the stuffing and take it with me to work. I even added a little water to it one night and turned it into a more curry consistency to have with hot whole-wheat tortillas that are the closest it gets to mom’s hot chapatis in Amsterdam.

Without further nostalgic blabbering, I will list down the recipe.

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil (1tbsp)
  • Onion (1 large—chopped)
  • Garlic cloves (4—minced)
  • Tomatoes (2—chopped or ½ cup canned)
  • Green chillies (3—chopped)
  • Chilli powder (1tsp)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/2tsp)
  • Garam masala (2/3 tsp)
  • Ground chicken, organic (250 grams or two organic chicken breasts minced in a food processor)
  • Black-eyed beans, organic (400grams/16oz can)
  • Lemon, juiced (1)
  • Coriander springs (16-20)

Method:

  • Sauté the onion in oil until golden brown.
  • Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. If onion and garlic stick, use a splash of water to deglaze the pan instead of more oil.
  • Now add tomatoes and green chillies, as well as all the spices. Cook for a couple of minutes. Again, add water to deglaze the pan if needed.
  • When the oil separates from the mixture, add ground chicken and cook until the chicken changes colour, about five minutes. You can add more at this point if you’d like the consistency to be more curry-like.
  • Add the can of beans (washed & rinsed). Stir until everything is combined and turn off heat.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and lemon juice.

nuitrition

 

 

 

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Quinoa Crusted Chicken Fingers

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I recently mentioned on my Instagram that I am on a mission to healthify (I know it’s not a real word, but let’s get on with it) some of my favorite foods. Chicken fingers are definitely something that I not only love for their taste, but also love for their versatility and convenience. As in, they can be eaten on their own, stuffed in a lunch wrap, or chopped for a hearty salad. In whichever form I choose to eat them, they remain fuss free—for instance no leaking out of the lunchbox into my pampered work bags.

And so, like every new mission, this mission of healthifying chicken fingers started with research (read: typing “healthy chicken fingers” into Google). I was baffled to learn that breading chicken fingers with quinoa was a thing in the healthy eating world.

The novelty of using quinoa instead of breadcrumbs was enough to inspire me to create a recipe of my own instead of using someone else’s recipe. I like my chicken fingers to have a subtle spice kick (you’d know what I mean if you’ve eaten fried chicken at Pakistan’s KFCs), so this recipe has that + it is oil-free. Basically what I am giving you with this recipe is an opportunity to glorify the most boring of proteins, chicken breast, without adding unnecessary fats (oil) or carbs (breadcrumbs). I call that a miracle and it is being passed on to you.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • Organic Chicken breast (1)
  • Chickpea flour (1 tbsp)
  • Chili powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Chili flakes (1/4 tsp)
  • Egg (1/2)
  • Cooked quinoa (1/4 cup)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 375F/200C.
  • Slice the chicken breast into thin strips.
  • Mix the flour and spices.
  • Coat chicken strips in the flour.
  • Beat an egg (you will use only half of it).
  • Coat strips into the egg.
  • Press cooked quinoa into strips coated with flour and egg.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the chicken strips on the tray, and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  • Enjoy on its own or in salads and wraps! 🙂 And to view the full nutritional profile of this recipe, see the end of the post.

Tips:

  • Chicken breasts can vary in weight. Organic chicken breasts tend to be smaller. The one I used was around 100 grams.
  • You may use any flour. I had chickpea flour on hand that’s why I used that one.
  • If you do not have individual spices as listed in the ingredients, you could also just use a spice mix like cajun/jamaican.
  • If you line the baking sheet with foil instead of parchment paper, I would grease the foil to avoid having quinoa stick to the foil.
  • To ensure chicken fingers crisp on both sides, flip them over halfway through the baking time.

 

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This is the first time that I have calculated the full nutrition profile of my recipe. I am adding it to this post. Please let me know if that is something that you find helpful. And have a wonderful weekend!!

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One Bowl Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins

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More often than not, I succumb to a banana for breakfast because mornings are so rushed. And that is why having something that’s more decadent than a banana—banana bread or muffins or sorts—are a saviour to my chaotic mornings.

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Not too long ago, I tried the Pick Up Limes One Bowl Oatmeal & Blueberry muffins, and that was truly a hit in my work life. Every weekday morning I could just pop one of these in my handbag and either have it as breakfast on the go during my commute to work, or have it at my desk after reaching office.

My recent breakfast muse, however, were these delicious and decadent 1 Bowl Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins by Nikole from Healthnut Nutrition. Nikole is one of all my time favorite bloggers out there, so I was beyond excited to try her recipe without messing it up.

IMG_0606Honestly, I do not think I messed up. The muffins were dense, but soft. Also, perfectly sweet. I only made one major tweak to her original recipe. Instead of using almond flour, I used oat flour, and that was simply because I did not have almond flour in my pantry.

So without further blabbering, I will list the recipe below.

Ingredients:

Dry

  • Spelt flour (2 cups)
  • Oat flour (1/2 cup)
  • Baking soda (1 teaspoon)
  • Cinnamon (1 teaspoon)
  • Nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Shredded carrots (1 cup)

Wet

  • Eggs (2)
  • Coconut oil (1/4 cup)
  • Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • Apple cider vinegar (1 teaspoon)
  • Unsweetened soy milk (1 cup)
  • Unsweetened applesauce (1/2 cup)
  • Coconut sugar (3/4 cup)

Method:

  • Mix the soy milk with apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 10 mins. Meanwhile preheat oven to 375F/200F.
  • Now in a large bowl whisk together the remaining wet ingredients.
  • When everything is well-combined, add all dry ingredients except the shredded carrots.
  • Once the batter is smooth, mix in the shredded carrots.
  • Transfer batter to a muffin tin. It will fit in approximately 12 moulds. Top with crushed walnuts & place in the preheated oven for 18 mins.
  • Voila! Enjoy with a cup of tea, hot cocoa, or your fav coffee. 🙂

Tip:

  • You can top with sugar, too, like recommended in the original recipe. I liked them more without extra sugar.
  • Soy milk can be swapped with any other plant based milk. Don’t try dairy milks or the apple cider vinegar will curd them.
  • Coconut oil can be substituted with avocado oil.

 

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One-Bowl Oatmeal & Blueberry Muffins

Even though I wake up early to give myself enough time to kickstart the day, I seem to always be in a rush. And as much as I love breakfast, I cannot bring myself to cook anything on weekday mornings.

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On most Sunday evenings, I make a loaf of banana bread to eat for breakfast. My banana bread recipe is healthy-ish, but not completely clean. Therefore, I would rather not have it everyday. As a consequence, I had been on the hunt for an alternative which would be clean, light, and make a portable breakfast.

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I stumbled upon the Pick Up Limes One-Bowl Oatmeal & Blueberry Muffins recipe, and was immediately drawn to it because Sadia’s recipe is dairy and gluten-free. I knew I had to give it a try. So, last Sunday, first thing in the morning, I baked these clean and delicious muffins.

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Because the recipe does not use wheat, the texture of the muffins is not dense. They are slightly crisp on the outside and soft inside. The blueberries give the muffins a nice tartness which is balanced by the sweetener used in the recipe. These muffins have my 100% vote for a healthy, portable breakfast or snack. 🙂

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I used an airtight container to store the muffins, and they remained fresh for five days. You can find the recipe here or follow the the instructions below (courtesy: Pick Up Limes). I hope you will like them as much as I did!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp (14 g) ground flax seeds
  • 6 Tbsp (90 mL) water
  • 1/3 cup (8 mL) soy milk 
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (63 mL) coconut oil, melted 
  • 1/3 cup (85 g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) sugar, or sub agave or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (160 g) old-fashioned rolled oats blended into a flour*
  • 1.5 cups (150 g) blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tbsp (7 g) white whole wheat flour (if using frozen blueberries) 

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C) and lightly grease a muffin tin.
  • Whisk together the flax seeds and water and allow it to sit for 5 minutes until the flax gels, stirring once after a couple minutes.
  • To the flax gel, add the soy milk and vinegar, whisk, and allow to sit for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, blend the oats into a flour.
  • Add the oil, applesauce, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk.
  • One at a time add the baking soda, baking powder and salt  stirring after each addition. Then gently mix in the oat flour until just combined.
  • Gently stir in blueberries until just combined. If frozen, do not and thaw. Toss first in flour until coated and then stir into the muffin batter until just combined. Divide evenly into the muffin tin.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Tip:

  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can buy oat flour. If you opt for this, use 1+3/4 cups (160g). ​

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Thai Prawn Fried Rice With Tofu

I often try to recreate food I eat at restaurants; this recipe I am about to share dates back to a lunch I had almost two years ago in Thailand. I went to Phuket for my honeymoon in January 2016 and during that trip, the delicious Thai cuisine was irresistible to the point I was ready to have Green curry for breakfast.

One afternoon, after visiting the famous Chaithararam Temple, we decided to walk to a roadside joint, incredibly similar to a Pakistani dhaba. That is where I first had the authentic Thai edition fried rice , and was smitten by the layers of flavour that every grain of rice carried. Since after that experience, I have made countless online searches for the perfect “Thai fried rice” recipe, but nothing really worked until recently.

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Most online recipes for Thai fried rice for some reason ask you to add soy sauce, and that is one ingredient which is not as common in the Thai kitchen as it is in the Chinese. Once I stopped adding soy sauce to my Thai fried rice experiments, the taste started becoming increasingly like the fried rice I had at the joint in Phuket.

I think the recipe I am sharing tastes at least 90% same. 🙂 I have added tofu to it – that is because I am anemic and I try to eat iron rich foods like Tofu in as many of my meals as convenient. You may omit Tofu.

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Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Ingredients:

  • Oil (1/4 cup)
  • Minced garlic (3 tablespoons)
  • Onion (1)
  • Green bell pepper (1)
  • Tofu (100 grams)*
  • Prawns – frozen or fresh (250 grams)
  • Fish sauce (2 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Oyster Sauce (3 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Sugar (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Crushed thai chilli or the regular one (1 teaspoon)
  • Green chillies (5)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Rice (4-5 cups)
  • Sriracha (3 tablespoons)

Method:

  • Heat some oil and sauté mince garlic.
  • Meanwhile chop the onion and green bell pepper. After the garlic is fragrant, add veggies and cook.
  • When the vegetables are 1/4th cooked, add prawns. Cook on high heat so the water from the prawns evaporates without making the bell pepper soggy.
  • Once the shrimp is cooked through, add both sauces, chopped green chili, crushed chili pepper, sugar, and salt to taste.
  • Push aside the whole mixture, and scramble two eggs on the side.
  • Add cooked rice and Sriracha. Mix until well-combined. 🙂

Tips:

  • If using tofu, slice and marinate it in one teaspoon each oyster and fish sauce. Before heating up oil, pan cook the marinated tofu. You don’t need oil for browning the tofu in a non-stick pan. Remove from the pan after cooked, and add it just before adding the sauces.
  • Garnish with crushed peanuts, basil leaves, and/or cucumber if you have that on hand. I did not. 😛
  • To keep the meal healthy, you could easily swap the rice with quinoa or bulgur.
  • Boneless chicken also will work great in this recipe.

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