Sunday, September 13, 2015

5 teas to try if you’re over Green Tea

As someone who loves her cuppa-chai, I’m quite finicky about the tea I drink. But I’m also willing to experiment. I’ve tried some very interesting blends. And some that are incredibly underwhelming. 

In my endeavour to health it up, I started drinking more green tea, substituting my second and third cups of sweet, milky tea (that’s as many as I’m willing to admit to) with their healthier avatars. But I’ll be honest; I’m not the biggest fan of green tea. It’s ok. And for a tea lover, ‘ok’ just doesn’t cut it. 

So after many tastings and testings, here are 5 teas I discovered are super alternatives to green tea and are best enjoyed sans milk and a sweetener. 

1.    Chamomile Tea: Trouble sleeping? Tough day? Or just need a happy warm beverage. Chamomile is the way to go. Just the smell of chamomile makes me happy. It has mild sedative properties and is also good for immunity. And while many save it for their sundown cuppa, I think it’s the perfect tea for any time of the day.

2.    Lemongrass Tea: This one’s light and fresh, and a good lemongrass tea is one where the flavour isn’t overwhelming. Everything about this tea feels healthy. You can either opt for adding your own lemongrass stalks to a green, white or first flush tea base or buy a lemongrass variant of white tea.

3.    Lavender Tea: This white tea, is subtle and mildly fragrant. I prefer to drink this light (2 minutes steeped in hot water). It’s soothing, and like chamomile, a great tea to enjoy in the evening or before bedtime. A lavender iced tea is also quite lovely on a summer afternoon.

4.    Mint Tea: This one’s a complete pick-me-up. I prefer mint white tea to mint green tea, because it’s so much more subtle, and happier on my taste buds. This is also a great tea for when you’re feeling sluggish or too full from a big meal.

5.    Jasmine Tea: Served with love in most Asian restaurants, this naturally sweet, floral infusion is familiar and comforting. I like my Jasmine tea really light and enjoy both its brewed and iced avatars. Again, I prefer jasmine tea with a white tea base.

White teas and green teas come from the same plant. White teas are harvested earlier and are processed lesser than their green cousins. It has also been claimed that white teas are healthier than green. White tea has a more subtle and gentle flavour, which makes it a favoured base for flavoured teas.   

Image source: Shutterstock

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I like to move it, move it… (and the importance of a kickass workout playlist)

Every time the movie Madagascar plays on the TV, I wait eagerly for the dance bit and do my moves to ‘I like to move it, move it’. It’s not a pretty sight.

But in that moment, I’m just enjoying the music and letting it drive me, without really thinking of how hard it is to heft my body around.

I can’t say enough about the power of music during a workout.

Some of the best group instructors in the business are known as much for the playlists as much as for their exercise mojo. You just have to walk into a packed class to know what I’m talking about.

You may not be master of the music is a group class, but when you’re working out by yourself, spend a little time playing DJ before you hit the gym. Here’s why:

Music is a super workout buddy: A great set of songs will keep you company through a gruelling workout. And you’ll wonder where the time went.

Add variety to monotony: If you’re walking or running or doing an activity that's mostly one dimensional, music can make all the difference. Alter your mood, speed, tempo and pace with a quick flick of the ipod.

Ditch the timer, turn on the tunes: Music is a great way to change from one exercise to another, to increase the intensity of your reps or simply to count down to the end of your workout. It’s more fun than looking at a clock.

If you feel it, you’ll show it: Doing some bag work? Try Eye of the Tiger. Yes, it’s a cliché, but it works. Legs day? How about some rock? Cardio? EDM can be your best friend. Music is a great motivator. And the right kind of music will help you have the best kind of workout.

P.S. Don’t ever depend on the gym’s music. There’s nothing more off putting than trying to match your moves to someones else’s groove. But, prepare your playlist in advance. You don't want to be spending all your energy and attention on the music player. 

Hit the gym with some sexy tunes. I guarantee you'll like to move it, move it. 

Since I said it, here's team Madagascar with an encore. Watch and enjoy :)

Image courtesy: Google baba
Video courtesy: Youtube

Because muffins are healthy

Image courtesy: the internet :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pass the Pasta

A very unlikely friend taught me this recipe. Unlikely, because he didn’t really look like he knew his way around a kitchen, let alone Italian cuisine. But clearly he did, and his recipe has become one of my favourite ‘healthy’ comfort foods.

Tomatoes:  1 kilo chopped small
Garlic: 1 pod chopped fine (or more if you’re a fan)
Fresh cream: 2 tbsp
Salt: To taste
Olive oil: 1 tbsp

Mushrooms, babycorn
Bacon/bacon bits

Start the sauce first.

Heat the olive oil in a pan. Before the oil gets too hot, put in the chopped garlic. (I love garlic so I always use a lot.)
Don’t let the garlic get brown. When you see a hint of gold on the garlic, throw in the tomatoes.
Mix the tomatoes and the garlic well and then seal the pan with a lid.
Now put the gas on low and wait.
Pour yourself some wine and listen to some music.
Whatever you do, don’t open that lid.

Distract yourself from wanting to sneak a peak, by getting the pasta going.

Boil water and salt.
Add the pasta.
Cook to al dente or soft (basically the way you like your pasta).
Drain, add a few drops of olive oil, mix well and leave aside to cool.

Back to the sauce.

If you’re adding veggies or prawns (or any other extras) to the sauce, boil or cook them ahead. Cook them simply with just salt, so that the extras can take on the flavour of the sauce. The sauce is quite delicious by itself, but the extras do make the meal heartier.

The sauce needs to cook under a closed lid for at least 30 mins .

When you lift the lid, the tomatoes should be nicely cooked through. When you stir the sauce, the tomatoes should mix into a chunky wholesome consistency.

Turn off the gas.

Add the fresh cream. It adds a great kick to the flavour and enhances the texture of the sauce.

Add salt to taste. Add in the extras.

Mix half the sauce into the cooked pasta.

Add the remaining sauce, just before serving.

Serve with love and a fresh salad. Yum yum.

Buon appetito J

Image courtesy
Title courtesy Uma Nair on a very memorable party night :) 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Yoga and Breathing

'I never know how to breathe during Yoga'.

I've heard this so many times, and I'm sure my fellow Yoga teachers have as well. So here's a simple guide to inhaling and exhaling your way through Yoga asanas. 

The worst thing you can do during your yoga practice is to hold your breath, if not specifically instructed to. Your body may feel discomfort or stress at being in a position it's not familiar with. Our automatic instinct is to hold our breath when we're tense. But this reinforces the physical discomfort. So teach yourself to bring your awareness to your breathing as much as your body. Your breath helps your body to relax in poses.

No. 2: When you're expanding your body, INHALE:
Many yoga postures create expansion in our torso/chest giving the lungs more space. The general rule of thumb is to inhale while doing this. Some common postures where you would do this are Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Vrikshasana (Tree Pose), Veerbhadrasana (Warrior Pose), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Bhujhangasana (Cobra Pose), etc. 

Notice how the chest is lifted in these poses, creating space between the ribs. There's more room for the chest cavity to expand and the body's natural inclination should be to breathe in. Just like when we yawn.


But let's go back to Point No. 1 for a second. The inhale is to help the body to get into the position. But if you're going to stay in the position for more than a few seconds, then keep breathing. This will help the body relax and accept the pose better and will, over a period or time, increase your strength and flexibility in these postures. 

No. 3: When you're bending or compressing your body, EXHALE:
Several yoga postures require us to fold or twist the body. Try to exhale while doing this. Some common postures where you would do this are Padahasthasana (Hands to Feet Pose/Standing Forward Bend), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), Naukasana (Boat Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasna (Half Spinal Twise), etc. 

See how the lungs have less room here. The physical compression of space guides the way to an exhalation.

Ardha Matsyendrasana


Again, when holding the pose, always keep breathing unless your teacher has specific instructions for you.

No. 4: When breathing in Yoga, the magic is in the Exhalation:
Too often, we focus on just the inhalation, whereas the trick to breathing like a Yoga pro lies in the quality of our exhalation. To begin with, try and make your exhale at least as long as your inhale.  A long and even exhalation will help you rid your lungs of all the stale air more effectively than a short and shallow out-breath. The better you exhale, the better your next inhalation will be.

Finally, if you're new to yoga, when it comes to breathing, just do what feels natural to your body. Just don't forget Point No. 1. BREATHE!