Theme Reveal. #ATOZChallenge

Theme Reveal. #ATOZChallenge

 

After last year’s A to Z blogging challenge, I remember being in a dilemma. It had been an exciting month of drawing the letters of the alphabet, writing posts and visiting blogs. But, it had also been an exhausting month of writing and reading posts and replying to comments in time!

I had several ideas floating around in my mind about what I could choose for a theme for A to Z 2019, and at the same time, I was wondering if I would participate at all for all the burnout it could cause.

But, here I am!

You can’t keep a writer from writing, can you?

So, last month, while I worked on creating pins for Pinterest, an idea struck me about how I could blog about a topic that was tailor made for my niche. I jotted down a few points as and when I could and came up with:

 

THE A TO Z OF SELF-CARE

 

Self-care usually figures at the bottom of our priority lists. What with our family, job and Life taking centre stage, we hardly find time to indulge in ourselves, take care of ourselves.

I have been a witness to how my mom, my sis-in-law and so many women in my life hardly find time for themselves. And, if they do,  they feel guilty of spending it on themselves.

I understand how difficult it is making time for oneself in a packed schedule. But, it’s a necessity doing something just for oneself, even if for half an hour. It’s the welcome break women need, their mental health needs. And, if one is mentally healthy, one can find peace and happiness in every situation. That’s something I have learned over the past so many years.

Looking after our own well-being isn’t something one does once a month and then forgets about it. It’s something one needs to practice on a daily basis, without any kind of guilt hanging over one’s head.

Hence, this April A to Z blogging challenge, I will be sharing 26 ways to self-care in easy, doable ways, about things that, generally, get sidelined over other more “important” ones.

The posts will be short, quick-reads, with tips that will help you IF you treat them as RULES and promise to abide by.

It might sound like I am giving an ultimatum of sorts to you women out there about how you ought to follow my tips, or else….! But, trust me, girls, if we don’t care for ourselves, no one will. Ever.

For these 26 days, I will be sharing some ‘Points to remember’– a to-do list for us to follow each day. It takes 21 days to form a new habit, so, I guess following these tips for the next 26 days will get us into the habit of caring for ourselves.

So, beginning the 1st of April, do visit Metanoia for my tips on self-care and do share with me if you find these helpful. I will be happy for the feedback, dear reader, for it’s you who keeps me going!

 

Much love!

Take care, coz I care,

SHILPA…

 

If you don't take care of yourself, who will?

 

Taking tiny steps towards better health and a happier me!

Taking tiny steps towards better health and a happier me!

March begins in just an hour, now. How time flies! Precisely why we need to make full use of every moment we get–every single moment of every single day.

A new month also means new beginnings, although, you really don’t need to wait for a new month or a new year to make a new beginning. You can do it anytime you feel like you need to change.

Some months back, I decided to change my phone habits and a couple days back, my diet. It does feel wonderful, seeing how the changes are affecting my health and my life!

CHANGE IN DIET:

Earlier, my breakfast included a mug of chilled milk with a spoonful of Horlicks. It was something I looked forward to, the moment I woke up. However, it was also something that gave me gas. Yes, milk does that to me….Sigh.

So, to get relief from it, I switched to curd/yoghurt.

Now, curd+banana+raisins+oats (I know, I know..OATS!!?? But, hubby got it for me, so I have to finish the stock, right?) has been my breakfast, ever since.

I have also started having curd+rice for lunch, as opposed to no rice earlier. My lunch, which comprises of chapatis/ragi rotis, sabji, curd-rice, satiates me. No more hunger pangs within two hours of lunch!

The curd keeps me cool, helps with the digestion and I no longer feel like my tummy is a gas chamber!

The live bacteria (pro biotics) in the curd takes good care of my gut health. And, a healthy gut, is a happy me!

Its high protein content ensures I have enough energy to face a busy day.

I deducted rice from dinner, though, which now includes chapatis, sabji/dal, and a huge bowl of salad (cucumber+carrot+tomatoes). Makes me feel full, and yet, not uncomfortably full.

MORAL: It helps having a light dinner!

CHANGE IN PHONE HABITS:

I did a post on my phone habits last year. I also did a follow-up post. Since the past two months, I have made furthermore changes in my phone usage.

I switch on my phone wifi in the morning at 8.00 to check messages/mail etc and switch it off within 10 minutes. I check it again for few minutes at 11.00 and then keep it switched off till 1.30 pm.

I use the Canva app on my phone to make images for Instagram and Pinterest after lunch for half an hour.

Evenings are usually spent working on laptop, or talking to friends on the phone. So, by 8.00 pm my phone wifi goes off to sleep.

The time I spend on social media has reduced substantially:

INSTAGRAM: 15 MINS. (Set the timer on Instagram and it will remind you when your time’s up).

FACEBOOK: 10 – 15 MINS.

WHATSAPP: 5 MINS. (I’d rather talk than text).

CANVA + PINTEREST: 30 MINS.

GMAIL: 2-3 MINS. (it’s also on my laptop, so makes no sense wasting time there).

Now, I have ample time to indulge in art, reading, blogging and planning.

Also, it saves my eyes from strain.

I have stopped watching TV during lunch time, too. I pay attention to the food in my plate and how good it tastes. TV viewing is for the evenings, for some time. That’s a lot less screen-time, right?

MORAL: Use the phone judiciously and you will have mastered the art of Time Management!

I keep an account of it all and intend to do a follow-up post on how well these changes help me in the long run.

How about you? Have you made any changes lately? How do you feel about it all?

Love,

SHILPA…

We need to change our habits for the sake of our health.

 

The 7 day detox – Smart Nights Challenge.

The 7 day detox – Smart Nights Challenge.

In September, I wrote a post on changing a habit that was taking up a lot of my precious time and energy–usage of the smartphone for nothing but passing time. It was taking a toll on my eye-health apart from wasting my time, which was leaving me irritated with myself.

I did a follow-up post after a month where I wrote about how I had worked on changing the habit and succeeded to quite an extent and benefitted from the experience. Of course, my love affair with the smartphone hasn’t completely ended, which is the reason I am participating in this Challenge along with my blogger friend Ashvini Naik

The 7 day detox — Smart Nights Challenge!

As part of this challenge, I will have to follow my own rules about phone use for 7 days. After that, I will have to make a conscious effort to stay true to my rules and make sure it becomes a habit. Thankfully, because of my earlier post, I could make some changes due to which my affair with the gadget isn’t a “torrid” one, anymore. I don’t need it by my side all day or night.

 

5 CHANGES I MADE IN MY SMARTPHONE USAGE:

 

1. I switch off the Wi-Fi of my phone by 9/9:30 pm and switch it on only in the morning, by 9 am, after completing some of my morning chores, my Yoga and breakfast.

2.  I never take the phone to bed with me, the reason being it is dangerous placing your phone on the bed, or under your pillow as you sleep.

3. I keep the phone’s volume to its lowest, and place it on a stool by my bedside in case mom or someone from the family calls up at night.

4. I carry the newspaper to bed, to solve puzzles before I sleep. Actually, it is solving the puzzle that puts me to sleep. Either that, or a book. Reading induces sleep faster.

The blue light that our phones emit keeps our brain awake and alert. And, to fall asleep at night, you need something that will calm the brain, not keep it on high alert! Not just the light, but the action on our screen awakens our brain.

5. During the day, I take frequent breaks from the phone by switching off the Wi-Fi every couple of hours. For example, while writing, reading, helping my nephew with his studies and in the evening, when I step outside for a walk.

 

 

I often see walkers peeping into their phones even during their walk. They hardly pay any attention to the world around or to their breathing! What’s the point of the walk if you can’t leave the virtual world aside for sometime and enjoy nature?

So, these frequent breaks from the phone do me a world of good. The constant pings of the numerous notifications, the constant need to check what’s going on out there, the staring at the images as I scroll aimlessly–the absence of it all gives me immense peace.

There are times, though, especially when hubby is to return home late and I have no book to read or movie to watch and still have to stay awake till he arrives, when I do scroll through the Facebook News feed, or Instagram. But, because it strains my eyes and bores me after a point, I put it away soon.

Now that I have taken up this 7 day challenge, I will get an opportunity, and some motivation, to work harder at keeping the phone away. I know I need to do this– for my eyes and for my peace of mind.

As part of the challenge, I will continue doing what I have been doing these past couple of months and some more, and then do another follow-up post next year on how helpful the detox has been for me. Why don’t you join me, too, dear readers?

If I haven’t been able to convince you to make some changes in your phone habits by all that I shared above, let me highlight the reasons why you need to give yourself a break from your phones at night.

 

5 reasons why you need to put the phone away at night

 

1. Our brain is used to sleeping at night. It needs some rest, too, you know? But the blue light that the our gadgets emit can awaken the brain.

2..Falling asleep after scrolling through can get difficult because not only did the light awaken the brain, but the moving scenery in front of your eyes leaves the brain asking for more such excitement. Have you noticed how you get pulled into the whirlpool once you begin mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed? How the time flies and before you know it, you have been staring at your phone screen for an hour!

3. Due to the above reasons, the brain finds it almost impossible to calm down and fall asleep and you tend to stay awake longer even as the world around dozes peacefully.

4. This sleep deprivation leads to a dull and dazed you who wakes up with a heavy head and an irritable mood.

5. The strain on the eyes caused by all the staring at the blue screen in the darkness shows its effects in the form of dry eyes, blurred vision and a pain around the eyes. To learn how staring at the screen constantly leads to pain, move your eyes in a circular motion and you will know.

 

Our wellbeing is our responsibility. If we don’t understand how our habits affect our health, who will? If we don’t take precautions now, we will be the ones to suffer from the ill-effects at a latter stage, when rectifying the issue might not be possible.

Let’s make a pact to take control of our lives, make changes in our lifestyles and lead healthier lives. After all, this is the only life we have!

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

Using the smartphones for long, can have an effect on your health.

 

 

Vegetables that supply us with anti-oxidants.

Vegetables that supply us with anti-oxidants.

Nutritionists have always advised us to add more colour to our food palette. 

Red, orange, yellow, green, purple…foods that belong to this colour group make for the most nutritious foods. Vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, beetroots, spinach, broccoli, green peas, red cabbage, fenugreek etcetera come under this category.

Packed with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and low in calories, these veggies should be included in our diet everyday. Be it in the form of salads, soups, curries or juices, a few helpings of these veggies on an everyday basis is sure to keep our health in a superb condition.

So, sharing today, two recipes that I make using 3 of the most colourful vegetables–

Tomatoes

Beetroots

Carrots

Tomato-carrot-beetroot soup.

Tomatoes

These contain  high levels of lycopene ( a red carotenoid pigment) that makes them good for our skin. The Vitamin A and C present in tomatoes act as antioxidants that nullify the effects of harmful free radicals in the blood. The lycopene also helps to lower the bad cholesterol.

Carrots

Are also good for the skin as the antioxidants present in these too help keep skin healthy. The vitamin A in carrots works in taking care of our eyes,  and, their fibre content helps in digestion as well.

Beetroots

Are low in sodium and fat. The high content of iron, manganese, potassium and copper in beetroots makes it one of the most nutritious veggies. Beets lower blood pressure, boost energy, are great for heart and liver and promote brain health. They also help treat anaemia, have anti-ageing properties and aid in weight loss. Do consult with your dietician/doctor in case you have high sugar levels, though.

Ingredients:

Tomatoes, carrots, beetroots:  2-3 medium sized, or as per requirement.

Garlic cloves: 5 -6

Salt and pepper powder to taste.

Chop the tomatoes and carrots, peel and chop beetroots. Add an onion, if you wish to. You could add a potato to make the soup thick. Add the garlic cloves and cook  all of it in the pressure cooker for 2 whistles.

Once cool, blend all the cooked veggies in a blender.

Pour in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.

Add salt and pepper powder to taste.

Serve hot with a dollop of home made ghee instead of butter. The flavour that ghee brings to a dish is unparalleled!

 Tomato-carrot-beetroot juice

img_20171121_150959.jpg

Like soups are for cool winters and monsoons, juices are for hot summers when we need some drink or the other to quench our thirst. So, it’s during summers that I prepare this juice, and usually have it in the evening before heading out for my walk.

Ingredients:

Tomatoes,  carrots, beetroots – 2- 3 or as per requirement (depending on the number of glasses  you wish to prepare.)

Amla (Indian Gooseberry)- 1 medium size – if available.

A one inch piece of ginger

Black salt (rock salt), lemon juice to taste.

A sprig of mint.

Chop tomatoes and carrots, peel and chop the beetroots and put it all in a juicer, or a grinder. Use a sieve to filter the juice. Add black salt and lemon juice to taste. Garnish with mint and drink it up when fresh.

So, isn’t that an easy to make health tonic? You can change the cooking method as per the season and reap its benefits!

Do try it out and let me know if you liked it.

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

 

Bright coloured vegetables that protect your health

 

What’s your comfort food? #flavoursometuesdays

What’s your comfort food? #flavoursometuesdays

Image source: PIXABAY

Hello, people, and welcome to yet another #flavoursometuesdays!

So, how’s life? Mine is fine, thank you! After having gorged on  sweets during the Diwali week (apart from the spicy, chatpata chaat) life has gotten  back to the same old routine.

And, same old routine consists of  work, chores, a busy schedule, and yes,  food, too, that apart from filling the bellies and providing nutrition, also gives comfort to our overworked nerves.

I find that comfort in the humble dal and rice. Or, varan-bhaat, as we in Maharashtra call it. Just the utterance of the food cheers me up. First of all, it hardly requires much cooking time. And, secondly, the sheer simplicity of this recipe gives our taste buds and our tummies a chance to relax.

I enjoy food, really. I relish all kinds of recipes – mostly veg, which I can experiment with – but there are times, when all I want to do is give some time off to my digestive system. It too needs its break!

I love dal rice – as in the dal with the tadka and steamed rice. The sputtering mustard seeds and the cumin seeds,and the asafoetida, bring flavour to the humble dal. Apart from these, the curry leaves, the green chilly and the freshly chopped coriander that we use to garnish the dal with add their own unique flavours and aroma, making it heavenly to taste.

Accompaniments are a necessity, of course.  So, the thing I love seeing in my plate is the mirchi ka achaar, or the chilly pickle. At times, the aam ka achaar, or the mango pickle also join in the fun. And, yes, a dollop of ghee. Now, that is a must!

No papad for me, though. I dislike it as it sticks to my teeth which can be rather irritating while eating.

I also find comfort in curd rice, or dahi bhaat. Along with the tadka of cumin seeds and dry red chillies, it tastes out-of-the-world – this humblest of foods. But, at times, when laziness is at its peak, then I just mix curd with rice, add some salt and some mango pickle and devour it as if it were a delicacy!

Rasam rice is another of my favourite comfort foods. The piping hot, spicy and tangy rasam poured on a mound of steamed rice, the aroma that wafts from the plate…all of it makes me drool. Although we call these “comfort foods”, I can have these daily.

The most common comfort food, Khichdi, is not something I count as a favourite. It does take lesser time to cook, and caters well to the lazy me (Boy! I must come across as a sloth to most of you!). But, I would much rather have it on the rarest of occasions. I find it too bland and my taste buds don’t seem to favour it much.

Could you share with me your Khichdi recipe if it is something that is not only easy to make, but tastes awesome, as well? I would be glad if you do!

That’s all for today.

Do join me and Sunita Rajwade at #flavoursometuesdays with food tales of your own. We would love the company! Food does need company, isn’t it? Friends sharing interesting anecdotes add to the gay atmosphere  that FOOD can often help generate.

 

So, what’s your comfort food?

 

Love,

SHILPA…