The Three Most Important Changes In My Wellness Journey

akansha-agrawal-fitness-blogger

akansha-agrawal-fitness-blogger

I’ve learned a lot about myself ever since I started my health & wellness journey five years ago. Five years ago fitness, nutrition, and mental health were not top of mind. My overall well-being was not a priority.

Luckily, the tables have turned but the changes have not easy nor straightforward.

When I first started exploring the realm of fitness, I discovered influencers in bodybuilding who would lift heavy, count their macros, and “cut” for a few weeks after “bulking” for a few months. I briefly fell into that trap and was told to try competing in a bikini competition (yeah no thanks).

Another example is I when I tried to steer towards a vegan diet: I added more soy-based proteins to help supplement my diet (yikes) and never really felt satisfied. It took me a while to realize that it’s okay to eat (good quality) meat and I should eat what my body craves.

These are just a couple of examples of things that didn’t work for me in the end (but hey it may work for others!). Here are three things that do work:

Meditating: Yes again, I know. How cliche right? But guess what guys, even 5 – 10 minutes of breathing, sitting, and doing nothing has helped me so much with my stress and anxiety. Whenever I fall off from meditation I feel my anxiety creeping back again.

Working with a nutritionist: I didn’t start seeing a nutritionist for what most people would think — losing weight. I actually consulted a nutritionist when my digestive issues became too much to bear. My nutritionist Mary Vance has helped my heal my gut (almost!) and has helped me see nutrition in a different light. I promise to post on this topic soon because there is so much to be said here!

Finding fitness buddies: Having friends or people you can workout with has been life-changer! When I first started I’d almost always workout alone for two reasons: 1. I didn’t know many other people who made it a priority (clearly I wasn’t looking hard enough) and 2. I was afraid others would judge me. Once I got over that fear, my life was changed. I started training with Fleet Feet for half marathons, met girls from the Tone It Up Bay Area community and was also more willing to try different kinds of group fitness classes with friends.

So obviously, this is what works for me and those “a-ha” moments may be different for others. Regardless, I do think there are certain take-aways for all:

-Try meditating with Headspace. It’s only 10 minutes long!
-Pay attention to what you eating. Does it make you feel good? Are you eating mindfully, eating whole foods? A nutritionist can be expensive but if you want some basic guidelines on nutrition, the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan is a good start.
– Find a local running group (Lululemon has one, or check out The November Project), or try different group fitness classes with friends. It’s always easier with a buddy :).

It’s like something finally clicked in my mind when I started doing each one of the three things I mentioned above. I’d love to know what works for you in your own wellness journey.

This Saffron Tea Could Be The Next Golden Milk (Recipe)

saffron tea almond milk

I don’t consider myself to be a food blogger (there are tons out there that are much more skilled than I am) but I do find happiness in creating simple, no-BS recipes every once in a while. Plus I get a lot of requests to share more recipes!

While I was in India earlier this year I went to a yoga studio in Mumbai called The Yoga House. Attached to the yoga studio, there was a really cute café which served American classics —like a PB&J — to traditional Indian food with a healthy spin (think quinoa upma).

I saw that they had saffron tea on their menu and I was intrigued because I had never heard of anything like it before! I was surprised how good yet simple it was. Plus I felt like a queen drinking it because saffron ain’t cheap.

I recreated the original recipe and also added my own twist by making one with almond milk and honey. I loved the creaminess of the second one!

Move over turmeric, there’s a new golden milk in town.

The New Golden Milk (i.e. Saffron Tea with Almond Milk):

Serving size: one

  • 4 oz water
  • 4 oz Califia Farms Almond Milk, original (it adds the perfect amount of sweetness)
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp of honey (optional)

mortar-pestle

Instructions:

Boil water in a saucepan. Crush cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle (other option is to wrap cardamom pods in a paper towel and crush it with a glass jar if you don’t have a mortar and pestle) and add to the saucepan. Let it boil for a minute or so and then add the almond milk.

Add saffron strands then turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Place the almonds at the bottom of the tea up and pour in the tea. Stir in honey if desired. Enjoy!

Alternative recipe: follow the same instructions but omit the almond milk to create the original saffron tea I tried at The Yoga House in Mumbai.

saffron-tea

Health benefits: Saffron is known to have anti-oxidants

The hardest part of these recipes is making sure you have saffron because it’s not something everyone have lying around in their spice cabinet. Luckily, you can find it easily at any Indian grocery store or even on Amazon.

Like this recipe? Well then I’m sure you’d also like try this one for a raw turmeric latte!

This herbal saffron tea with almond milk and honey may be replacing your turmeric lattes, aka golden milk

Registered Dietitian Dixya Bhattarai Shares Her Nutrition Tips!

I am so excited to present this interview with blogger and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dixya Bhattarai! I met Dixya through an online blogger community and I was thrilled to meet another South Asian blogger. I also could not stop drooling over her food pictures on Instagram (find her @foodpleasurehealth). I finally tried her vegan pots de creme recipe for Valentine’s day and from then I knew she was the real deal. A little bit about Dixya: she’s originally from Nepal but currently calls Dallas home. She has a really balanced approach to food & nutrition and I am all for that :).

I’ll let her tell you guys more!

Easy Vegan Pots de Creme

+Introduce yourself to us please 🙂
Hi everyone, my name is Dixya Bhattarai – Registered Dietitian & Food Blogger behind Food, Pleasure, and Health. I am also a daughter, sister, girlfriend, and a chronic tea drinker (among many other things) currently based in Fort Worth, Texas. When I am not at the hospital working as a Clinical Dietitian, I love to cook, read books (with interesting pretty covers), or hanging out with my 4 year old fur child. I used to run regularly but within the last 2 years or so, I have picked up yoga, weight training, and brisk walking.

+How did you get interested in nutrition and then later get a degree as an RD?
When I first moved here [from Nepal] I had no idea what I was really interested in so I took general classes to begin with. My cousin was pursuing her nursing degree at that time and told me about a major in nutrition. I don’t recall if I did any research or anything on becoming an RD (it was long time ago), I simply signed up for a basic nutrition class and loved it. I took couple more nutrition classes and a career as an RD just felt right. I had an excellent academic advisor (Laura Mcknight) and internship director (Golda Ewalt) who has helped me tremendously to become an RD I am today.

+What is one change a person can make to their lifestyle to focus more on their nutrition?
Making health and wellness as your top priority is probably one of the challenging yet simplest thing one can do in order to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Once you prioritize your health and treat it like an important appointment (such as going to the gym at 7 pm, meal planning every Sunday afternoon, or going to bed at 10 pm), you will naturally start paying attention to nutrition.

Sprouted Mung Bean SaladSprouted Mung Bean Salad

+What can one do to make South Asian food a little healthier?
Growing up in a household where rice, daal, and vegetables were eaten twice a day and few snacks in between, I know we can definitely do better at using less oil while cooking vegetables and less sugar in tea especially if you drink tea 3-4 times a day with snacks.

South Asian food can be well-balanced and really nutritious but we tend to fill our plate with more carbs (rice, bread) compared to protein, vegetables, and fruits.

A lot of our snacks are deep-fried, sweet laden, and salty so we can perhaps replace some of those with healthier alternatives such as fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds.

+What’s your favorite on-the-go snack?
I love trail mix, granola, energy bites, or fresh fruit.

+Can you share some of your favorite recipes with us?
I am not a chef or a culinary expert so I do a lot of non-traditional weeknight-friendly wholesome recipes that are delicious. Some of my fav recipes include:

Tofu Palak
Chicken Tikka Lettuce Wrap
Tandoori Roasted Chickpeas
Sprouted Mung Bean Salad
Golden Milk Popsicles

Tofu Tikka Masala

Please do let me know if you try her recipes! I’m particularly craving the Tandoori Roasted Chickpeas :).

My Thoughts on the Turmeric Latte

turmeric-latte

turmeric-latte
photo credit: Kruti Shah

If you’re South Asian, it’s likely that you’ve seen this article (or a version of it) on the turmeric latte. The turmeric latte is a fancy name for what we’ve been drinking since childhood, haldi ka doodh.

I’ve had a handful of friends & family share this article with me because they know it’s very relevant to this blog.

My thoughts on it? Eh. It makes me shake my head a little but not much more than that.

Some points are a little frustrating, like how Irene Arango tells us how we should make turmeric milk (with cold pressed turmeric juice apparently). Turmeric milk is a something mothers & grandmothers have been preaching to us as long as we can remember and I feel a little uncomfortable being told how to make it by someone who didn’t grow up with it. Ya feel me?

But, in the end, I don’t think it’s worth making a fuss because we have probably taken other health trends for granted.

For example, quinoa was a staple grain in the Andean region for over 3,000 years. Kombucha has been around Asian culture since the ancient times. Matcha is a type of tea used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.

Let’s face it, Western culture is influenced by so many people of different backgrounds, I’m sure we’ve benefitted from the mix of different cultures it in someway without realizing. Frankly, I enjoy being able to order a Matcha Green Tea Latte from Starbucks.

I mean in the end, I think it’s ironic (oh heey Alanis Morrissette) that something we used to hate as kids is now so trendy. I spoke to another South Asian health & wellness influencer, Kruti Shah (who also took the amazing picture up top), to see what she thought and she said “Personally I think it’s so funny how it’s trendy but I’m glad a lot of people are seeing the benefits of turmeric & how great it is for the body.”

We can only be optimistic that these health trends will bring awareness to tips and tricks that have been around other cultures for centuries. Trends in health & wellness can be great as they bring us different ways to treat our mind & body. But let’s make sure to look at these trends with a critical eye.

Thoughts? Opinions? Would love to hear what others have to say.

P.S. If you like posts like these, I would be super duper happy if you can subscribe to the to the blog! Promise I won’t spam you 🙂

The turmeric latte is a new wellness trend but it's been around in Indian culture for ages. As a South Asian wellness blogger, here are my thoughts on it.

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Muffins

pumpkin-spice-muffins

I have a confession to make…

When I take a break from blogging, whether it is a week, two weeks, or a month, I have to fight so much inertia to get my next post published. It’s not that I am lazy; I am more than happy to put in the work. Rather, what holds me back that is that I strive for perfection. I mean, I don’t know why, I’m doing this for fun…it’s not like I’m writing for the New York Times.

I also have another confession: I am super hesitant to share recipes when I thinking they aren’t absolutely perfect.

Like…I almost didn’t post this recipe for these pumpkin spice chocolate chip muffins because I didn’t know if they were good enough. Did I like them? Yeah I ate 3 in a day but will others even give this a chance when it seems like there’s a new Martha Stewart around every corner?
Read more

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)

easy-chocolate-chip-cookies

easy-chocolate-chip-cookies

Yep it’s still possible to enjoy chocolate chip cookies even when you’re told to cut out all things that make a delightful cookie.

Okay I exaggerate a bit, but if you read this blog post, you know I’ve been told to cut out coffee, dairy, gluten and soy for a while. This is hard for someone like me who loves food and baking.

Food is fuel but it’s also much more than that. Food influences memories, friendships, and overall happiness! It would be great (and easy) if I could be happy with eating chicken, salads, and rice but that’s just not possible. I still want to be able to treat myself every once in awhile.

So here I present to you cookies that can be eaten happily on a gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free diet! I can’t take credit for this amazing recipe – all credit goes to the creators of Primal Palate.

For convenience, here are the ingredients and instructions:

Ingredients:
3 cups Blanched Almond Flour
1/2 cup Virgin Coconut Oil, unrefined
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
2 Omega 3 Eggs
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine dry ingredients.
  3. In a small mixing bowl beat eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and beat with hand mixer until combined.
  5. Melt coconut oil, pour into batter, and continue to blend until combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop balls of cookie dough, about a tablespoon in size.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Let cool and serve with a cold glass of almond or coconut milk!

These cookies come out moist and chewy, unlike most gluten-free cookies. This will definitely become a regular treat at my apartment!

Pin It for Later!

paleo-chocolate-chip-cookies