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One-Year Anniversary Giveaway

It was last year in June when I decided to start My Quarter Life Surprise. Since then, it has been an amazing ride—thanks to everyone who decided to join me. 🙂

Over the past year, the blog has evolved into something I did not anticipate. I started the blog with a focus on food and wellness, but soon I noticed an interest in my work life. Questions about what I wore to work and how I prep my work lunches on the weekends became routine. That’s when I switched gears to provide my followers what they wanted: a peak into the life of a young career woman trying to do it all from putting together professional but cute outfits to meal-prepping on the weekend.

This wonderful first year of the blog was impossible without your support. The kind messages I have received everyday have motivated and inspired me.  To express my gratitude, I wanted to giveaway something that would add value to your life. I couldn’t think of anything better than a Daniel Wellington watch. I have worn mine every single day for the past two years and loved it.

To mark the first anniversary of My Quarter Life Surprise, I am giving one of you a Classic Petite Reading Daniel Wellington Watch. This giveaway is by no means sponsored by Daniel Wellington or another party. I have purchased the watch myself. 🙂

If you would like to enter the giveaway then:

  1. Follow me on Instagram.
  2. Tag two friends who you think would like my content in a comment on the giveaway post on my Instagram.

You can tag up to ten friends. Each tag will ensure an additional entry. The giveaway is open internationally and closes on the Friday, 30 June 2018 (CEST). 

Once again, thank you. And here is to hopefully many more years!

 

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Food

One-Bowl Healthy Banana Muffins

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The sight of fully ripe bananas calls for baked banana goodness. So, I had to oblige when I saw a bunch of bananas in their full glory on the kitchen counter. This time, however, I wanted to try something different than banana bread. As heart-warming as a loaf of banana bread is, sometimes I am too lazy to slice it and then individually wrap each slice in cling wrap for breakfast on the go. Muffins, on the other hand, are easy-peasy for this lazy girl–especially if they require just one-bowl.

I used this recipe with a few tweaks of my own like switching to coconut oil and reducing the honey content. It turned out pretty darn good–the muffins were dense, hearty, and sufficiently sweet and moist from the honey and mashed bananas.

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • Wholewheat flour (2 cups)
  • Oats (1/4 cup)
  • Baking soda (1 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 tsp)
  • Sea salt (1/2 tsp)
  • Mashed bananas (3)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Organic honey (1/3 cup)
  • Cocount oil, melted (1/3 cup)
  • Fat-free milk (1/4 cup)
  • Vanilla extract (1 tsp)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil or line with liners.
  • In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas, eggs, honey, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla extract.
  • Add flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl. Give it a good mix, but don’t over-mix. You could fold in chocolate chips, dried fruit, or nuts if your heart desires.
  • Divide the batter into 12 muffin moulds. You could sprinkle oats, cinnamon, and/or sugar on top if you want to be extra like yours truly.
  • Bake muffins for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

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Food

Chicken Tikka Drumsticks

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Without complaining about how the South Asian diaspora has transformed my childhood favourite BBQ item chicken tikka into a saucy, messy staple takeaway item “chicken tikka masala,” I shall begin writing this post.

As a child, chicken tikka with paratha (fried flat bread that looks like this) was my most anticipated meal all week. My father used to honk the horn after reaching home on Friday evening, and myself, my three siblings, and my mother would quickly get into the car and be on our way to eat some BBQ. As we grew older, we would also BBQ chicken tikkas for family picnics by the beach or on cool winter evenings at our roof terrace. Such beautiful memories!

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I have always loved the charred flavor of a delicious chicken tikka. Full disclosure, this recipe will not give the taste of a Pakistani streetside chicken tikka because a) it is not made in open air on a charcoal grill b) it is meant to be clean so it does not use a lot of oil. That said, I think it comes pretty close to the taste of a juicy BBQ-ed chicken tikka, but with a lot less mess and time, and a ton more convenience.

I use drumsticks for this recipe instead of full chicken leg quarters because drumsticks are easier to work with. And I like to pair them with brown rice and some yogurt or coriander chutney. The meat from the drumsticks can also be used to make a killer chicken tikka salad (see tips for more). It was actually this salad that I posted in my insta story, prompting several requests for the recipe. So without further boring you with my incoherent stories, I will get down to the deets of how you cook up this deliciousness.

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Don’t mind the Fresh face mask container…I tend to recycle pretty much everything and these little containers are best to carry sauces for lunch to work.

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How delicious does that look? I love myself on days that I have healthy lunches at work. Yay to Sunday meal-prep.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • Yogurt (3tbsp)
  • Tandoori masala (2tbsp)*
  • Garlic powder (1tsp)*
  • Organic skinless drumsticks (4)
  • Lemon, juiced (2)
  • Olive oil (1tsp)

Method:

  • Mix the tandoori masala & garlic powder in the yogurt.
  • Place diagonal slits on the drumsticks.
  • Marinate the drumsticks in the spiced yogurt. Also add oil and lemon juice at this point.
  • Leave in the refrigerator overnight for maximum flavor, or for at least half an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 425F/220C and bake for 40 minutes flipping the drumsticks halfway through.

Tips:

  • I used this store-bought tandoori masala, but I have also tried this recipe with homemade tandoori masala and it works just fine. The recipe for the homemade tandoori masala is here.
  • If you don’t have garlic powder, you can use two garlic cloves minced.
  • The meat from the drumsticks is delicious with mixed greens, quinoa, and some greek yogurt as dressing for a “chicken tikka salad.”
  • In a food processor, pulse 1 cup of mint and coriander, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 lemon juiced, and 2 green chillies. You will have yourself the best chutney to serve with these chicken tikka drumsticks.

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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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Food

Yellow Split Pea & Spinach Dal

When I started this blog in June last year, the very first recipe I posted was of dal, a South Asian lentil stew that can be enjoyed with bread or rice. I used yellow and red lentils for the recipe–that’s how my mother cooked the staple dal during my childhood. Recently, however, I have been experimenting with different kinds of lentils to create a recipe which is more forgiving in terms of oil. You will know what I mean if you have seen your mother temper the dal with copious amounts of ghee (clarified butter) or oil because “that is where the taste lies.” One cannot argue with a Punjabi mother about ghee, but one can create her own recipe.

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And I think I have finally nailed down the balance between clean, tasty and the oil requirement. The lentils I used in this recipe are the yellow split pea lentils, which are packed with protein (20 grams/1cup) and a ton of flavor. I also snuck in some spinach into the dal, and that only enhanced the taste. This dal recipe only uses 1tbsp of oil yet the result is creamy and hearty. 🙂 It is also low on salt and relies on lemon juice for the flavor. You may add table salt if you like, of course.

To make the yellow split pea dal, or chana dal as Pakistanis would know, I pre-cooked my lentils and refrigerated them. This saves me time on week nights and helps make the recipe in about 20 minutes. If you prefer, you could also use canned lentils, but if you do, make sure to buy great quality ones without the synthetic taste and chemical treatments. If you boil the lentils, just boil with a sprinkle of salt until tender–about thirty minutes–and drain the excess water. I prefer soaking the lentils for an hour or so before cooking them–that reduces the cooking time and also removes anti-nutrients that may cause gas and other digestive issues.

Below is the recipe with a full nutrition profile. If you have questions, feel free to share in the comments or direct message. I hope you will give this simple, flavor and nutritious recipe a try. 🙂

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Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil (1tbsp)
  • Onion (1 chopped)
  • Garlic (2 cloves–minced)
  • Ginger (1tsp–grated)
  • Tomatoes (2 chopped or 1/4 cup canned)
  • Green chillies (2 chopped)
  • Red chili powder (1tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Himalayan pink salt (generous sprinkle)
  • Baby spinach (1 cup packed)
  • Yellow split peas (1 cup boiled/canned)
  • Water (3 cups)
  • Lemon (1–juiced)
  • Coriander sprigs (6-10–chopped)

Method:

  • Sauté the onion in oil until golden brown.
  • Add ginger & garlic and sauté until fragrant. If the mixture sticks, 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 this mixture (about 2 minutes), add the cooked/canned lentils and the baby spinach.
  • Stir for about 2-3 minutes, add the water, and let it cook covered for 5-8 minutes until everything is well combined.
  • Garnish with lemon juice and coriander and serve alongside bread, rice, or quinoa. I had mine with brown rice and a mixed greens and cucumber salad. 🙂

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Egg & Veggie Muffins

Muffin purists will likely roll their eyes over this recipe since it is a savoury take on the traditionally sweet muffins. But I promise these are worth a try, if not for their convenience and deliciousness then for their nutritional value (hello there, protein). If by the end of the post, I still have not convinced you that these Egg Muffins are worth trying, you could check out these one-bowl Carrot Cake and Oatmeal-Blueberry muffins I previously posted on the blog.

I do not remember when I first became acquainted with the idea of egg muffins, but it sure has been life changing. When I started working fulltime, I could no longer find the time to make a nice omelette or egg scramble in the morning. As much as I would like my mornings to be calm and peaceful like those morning routine videos on YouTube, reality is they are not. Consequently, I try to simplify as many of my morning tasks as possible, breakfast included.

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If I anticipate my mornings to be rushed due to early meetings or travel then instead of prepping my usual smoothie bags, which would still need blending with milk, I prepare these egg muffins that I can grab and go without any fuss. These especially came in handy last week after my Nutribullet of two years decided to bid farewell. Sigh.

Besides their convenience and nutritional value, I also love these muffins for their versatility. You can choose whichever vegetable and cheese options your heart desires and the end result will still be delicious. You could also create a variety to choose from in the mornings–as a cheesy friend of mine used to say “variety is the spice of life.” I divided half of my batch into broccoli and cheddar and the other half into onion, bell pepper, and spinach. Yum, right?

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Below is the recipe I follow to make 8 egg muffins. You can be as creative as you like with seasonings and stir-ins.

Ingredients:

  • Organic eggs (6)
  • Fat-free milk, or any milk of your choice (1/4 cup/60ml)
  • Salt, black pepper, garlic powder (to taste)
  • Red bell pepper (1/2cup chopped)
  • Broccoli florets (1/2 cup)
  • Shallot (1 chopped)
  • Spinach (3/4 cup packed)
  • Cheddar (1/4 cup shredded)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1tsp)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F/200C.
  • Beat the eggs together with milk until well-combined.
  • Season with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. You could leave out the garlic powder, but I love a garlicky undertone in my eggs.
  • Grease 8 muffin moulds with oil.
  • Cover 2/3rd of the moulds with the veggie & cheese combo of your choice. I used broccoli and cheddar as one combination and the rest of veggies as another.
  • Pour the egg mixture in all 8 moulds. Try to keep it at the 2/3rd mark because the eggs will rise and fluff up.
  • Bake for 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven.

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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.

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