Blog

Eggplant Hummus Wraps

Meatless Monday recipe comin at ya !

This is so great to #mealprep and that’s exactly what I did ! You can just roast the eggplant and mushrooms and make the salad ahead of time! Then during the week, you can throw this wrap together whenever you need. Just make sure to have some good hummus on hand !
.
Here’s the recipe:
.
1 large eggplant 
1/2 container of mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder 
Salt and pepper
.
Slice eggplant into large 1/2 inch thick planks. Slice mushrooms . Season with oil and spices. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes . Remove mushrooms and set aside . Flip eggplant and put back in oven for another 15 mins till tender and brown in places !
.
Garlic and paprika fresh chopped salad:
.
1 small bell pepper, thinly sliced in long strips
1 small onion, thinly sliced 
2 scallions, sliced on the bias 
1 small tomato, thinly sliced 
1/3 cup chopped mint
1/3 cup chopped parsley 
1 clove garlic minced
.
Toss all together and add 1/2-1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, a little squeeze of lemon juice, and 1 tbsp olive oil and a good pinch salt ! Refrigerate.
.
Now heat any whole grain tortilla in a pan with some butter . Add 2-3 tbsp of hummus (I used a store-bought roasted garlic hummus), add a dash of crushed red pepper, some baby spinach , some eggplant slices, some mushrooms and then the chopped salad !
Wrap it up and enjoy.
.
You won’t miss the meat one bit! I like to use mushrooms and some sturdy veggie like eggplant because it adds like a thick meaty texture!
.

Prepping your body for Ramadan

Hello to my lovely readers!

Ramadan is a couple of weeks away alhamdulillah (All praise and thanks due to God). I wanted to share some little tips and tricks for you to prepare your body for a healthier and easier Ramadan inshaAllah.  Our eating habits can drastically change during Ramadan, so making small adjustments before can help you transition better. These are intended to help reduce any possible side effects of fasting. So, here we go!

  1. Start reducing your Caffeine intake – especially if you’re a heavy coffee drinker! This can ensure that your withdrawal symptoms aren’t as bad when you do start fasting. 
  2. Drink lots of water- if your body stays properly hydrated consistently, it will be better able to handle long fasts minimizing symptoms of dehydration. 
  3. Include more sunnah foods (the Prophet’s food) in your diet! All the sunnah foods have loads of nutrition in them along with being light and easy to digest. Plus, you get the reward of emulating the Prophet. Some sunnah foods are melons, squash, dates, honey, figs, cucumbers, grapes, olive oil, vinegar, eggs, fish, basil, and black seeds which can be great additions. 
  4. Reduce refined sugar- As soon as you do this, your cravings will decrease and your blood sugar will start to stay more stable which is especially important during the time you are fasting!
  5. Batch prep some healthy food and freeze them for Ramadan.  Things like kebabs, veggie patties, chutneys, chicken, etc can be made ahead. I know the deep-fried items like samosas and rolls are made ahead by the dozens in many South Asian households, but try to hold back on that! Have them as the occasional treat like when you’re invited at an iftar gathering. 
  6. Start cutting out snacks from your diet! Stretch out your meals longer by just sticking with breakfast, lunch and dinner. No grazing/snacking if you’re used to that. This way you will be getting your body used to longer periods without food!
  7. Start waking up a bit earlier to adjust your sleeping patterns. In Ramadan we wake up to pray and eat suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) super early. It can be difficult to do that, so these adjustments can really help some of us. When ramadan is in full swing, I even try to add in a power nap when I can because of getting less sleep during the month.

Now of course, I just covered the prepping you can do to get yourself ready physically for fasting in Ramadan, but as Muslims, the spiritual benefits are what we’re really after.  As a reminder to myself and you, let’s make this the best Ramadan, spiritually inshaAllah.  Make your intention and set realistic goals for yourself. All this meal prepping and eating healthy stuff is only a means to an end.  A means to having more energy and more productivity in the things that matter most in Ramadan like your worship and good deeds inshaAllah.

zesty asparagus masala

Zesty asparagus masala !

This is a spin off my aunt’s recipe for okra masala . I wanted to try and make asparagus South Asian style and this totally worked !  You can use okra instead if you like.

Asparagus can be such a great nutritious addition into anyone’s diet . It’s loaded with folate, fiber and vitamins A, C and K!

I love the combination of the toasted spice mixture in the end . The spices really help boost a persons digestion and metabolism .

Here’s the recipe:

Sauté one medium chopped onion in about 2 tbsp of oil (I used avocado oil) until golden brown.

Add 2 chopped medium tomatoes, salt to taste, 1/4 tsp turmeric , 1/2 tsp chili powder and 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper . Mix around and then lower heat to medium low, cover pan and let tomatoes cook for about 5 mins . Remove lid and cook on high till the tomato masala is a bit dryish (mash the tomatoes if you want!)

Add 1 bunch of chopped asparagus , stir around and then lower heat and let asparagus cook till tender (about 15 mins) .

While asparagus is cooking , in a dry skillet, toast 1/2 tsp each of whole coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds , and mustard seeds along with 1/4 tsp each of Kalonji ( aka nigella seeds in English) and fenugreek seeds (methi dana). Once the spices are a bit toasty, add to a coffee grinder and grind them . I got about 1 1/2 tbsp jor so of ground spices .

When asparagus is tender , raise heat to high and cook a bit more till masala looks done. Add all the toasted spice mixture and add some green chili’s . Mix, lower heat and cover pan for just a few more mins for flavors to come together. Done . Garnish with chopped mint and cilantro 💚

Again, follow me @healthwithafrina on Instagram to see regular updates from me and keep your eyes peeled for my first ever 6 week holistic health program in the works and launching VERY soon!

#asparagus #healthydesifood #realwholefood #iinhealthcoach #cleaneating #vegetarianrecipes #masala #nutritious #healthyfoodshare #healingspices

 

Beating the Winter Blues!

Winter will be here soon! The bitter cold and less daylight hours can have some of us feeling the winter blues. There’s even something called seasonal affective disorder which is basically a type of depression that occurs in winter! I want to share some holistic diet and lifestyle tips that can help you stay happy this winter.

1. Wear brighter colors – seriously! Color therapy is real. Different colors can help shift our moods. Brighter colors are associated with happiness and youth! In nature, spring, summer and fall have so many colors to offer and in winter, there’s generally more greys and a lack of color. So, add some more color to your own personal life to boost happy feelings!

2. Get outside early morning or afternoon when there’s actual sunlight out! Sunshine significantly goes down during the winter, so take advantage of it when there is some. Take a break from whatever you’re doing and take a walk outside. Light therapy is also very real. Natural light boosts mood!

3. Move your body! Anything that gets you more physically active. Exercise, yoga, dance, etc. One of the best ways to relieve stress and release those feel good endorphins is by exercising! Time and time again, exercise has been proven to decrease feelings of depression and improve mood.

4. Diffuse your favorite natural fragrances in your home! We find ourselves more home bound in the winter season staying cozy and warm indoors. Aromatherapy is very powerful! You can use essential oils like lavender, chamomile, sandalwood, rose etc to help you feel instantly relaxed easing any depressive moods. It’s a regular in our household and we love coming home to delicious smells!
Alternatively, you can create your own simmering potpourri! Basically all you do is simmer water in a pot on the stove with your favorite smelling scents like from spices and food/food scraps like orange peels, lemon peels, cinnamon, apple peels and cores, cloves, dried lavender etc. They will make your kitchen and home smell lovely uplifting your spirits. You can get super festive with it at this time of the year. Keep it going and just add water as needed.

5. Drink hot drinks! Nothing more comforting then sweet warm drinks that cozy you up on the inside! Hot chocolate is our favorite which we make diary-free with our favorite creamy home-made cashew milk. Our favorite recipe can be found here: https://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/14/luxurious-dairy-free-hot-cocoa/
I even read that just clutching a warm mug in your hand soothes us even before we begin to drink. Finding your favorite mug (lots of motivational ones out there!) makes it that much more special!

6. Make sure you’re getting enough of all those mood-boosting nutrients you might be deficient in! Vitamin B complex, Vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids can help fight depression. Also, eating complex carbohydrates releases serotonin, a feel-good chemical in the body, which can temporarily enhance mood!

So, yes, these were some self care tips from me for the winter to keep your spirits up! Of course, there’s a gazillion things you can do to cheer yourself up and you know yourself best! Of course, if you have serious mood/depression issues than make sure to get the professional help you need and do the deeper internal work that needs to be done. I love journaling and find it extremely therapeutic. Whenever my thoughts and emotions are nagging and getting the best of me, I pull out my journal to make sense of it all, gather perspective, shift from negative to positive and move on. It’s like an emotional detox! Try it 🙂

Don’t forget to follow me on IG @healthwithafrina to get more frequent tips and inspiration from me!

HOLIDAY SEASON: HEALTHY EATING TIPS

Holiday season can be a little tough for people who are trying to eat healthy and clean, lose weight or those who have any dietary restrictions. I have 6 tips to help you stay on track while STILL fully enjoying the holidays!

 

  1. Make sure you’re well fed BEFORE the holiday party.  No skipping meals!  I know many people who really don’t eat all day before the party in anticipation of having a larger meal at the party.  Basically, they try to save their calorie intake for the party.  Although that might sound smart, it really sets you up for failure in two big ways.    It will slow down your metabolism which is NOT helpful for weight/belly issues and 2.  Your increased hunger level and cravings will just get the best of you leading you to stuffing your face into a food coma! So, make sure your body is “nutritionally fed” before the party.  Have eggs with greens for breakfast or have a loaded green smoothie.  This will prevent you from overeating!
  2. Eat your FAVORITE foods at the party! You don’t have to eat everything or sample (putting it mildly here) everything. Whichever dish is your favorite to eat or whichever dish you are in the mood for, eat that!
  3. Eat SLOWLY and SAVOR each bite! Don’t mindlessly eat while rambling on.  Fully enjoy your meal by chewing more and loving every bit of it.  You can try putting down your fork in between bites to help slow you down.  Remember, it takes time for our brains to get the signal that we’re full, so if you eat slow, you won’t over eat!
  4. Enjoy the company and the entertainment! There’s MUCH more to holiday gatherings than just food!!  Connect with others and just have a good old time.  That can nourish and comfort you on another level aside from food!
  5. Bring a healthy side dish to the party if you feel like that will help keep you getting too off track with your healthy diet.
  6. Lastly, practice moderation. Try to get in a light exercise the day of the party.  This will keep your body more insulin sensitive which can help with weight management. Drink lots of water throughout the day, so again you body feels more balanced, satisfied and at ease!

 

And if you still go “overboard,” know that it’s OKAY!  You can pick right back up again the next day.  No need for immense guilt.  It will be a new day where you get to make healthier choices all over again.  Take a deep breath and just THANK God for all the abundance you have around you!

Yummy Bowl of Oats- 2 Ways!

Sometimes, I love a good old creamy comforting warm bowl of oatmeal in the mornings.  Below, I have 2 delicious recipes for you!

Vanilla-date sweetened oatmeal with fresh peaches, roasted sunflower seeds and coconut butter drizzle!

2/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup vanilla cashew milk (I had homemade, but you can use any store bought milk really, ex: almond/coconut/cows milk etc)
2/3 cup water
couple drop vanilla extract
1 big chopped date
dash of cinnamon
pinch sea salt

Add all of the above in a saucepan and let come to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then scoop out into 2 bowls, top each bowl with fresh peach slices, 1 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds, drizzle with 2 tsps coconut butter* and 1 tsp maple syrup. Sprinkle more cinnamon if you like and splash some more milk if you like.

*You can easily substitute any nut/seed butter like amond/peanut/and even tahini (tahini is a bit bitter, so then you would need to increase the maple syrup a bit, but nonetheless, delicious!)

Also, this made enough for me and my 2 1/2 year old daughter.  If you need 2 servings for adults, you can increase oats and water/milk to 1 cup each!

Carrot and date oatmeal with apples and almond butter

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coconut milk
1 ½ cup water
1 large carrot, grated
1 big date, chopped
Splash of vanilla exract
¼- ½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch sea salt

Bring all of the above to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Mix in 2 tsp of maple syrup. Then scoop out into 2 bowls and top each bowl with fresh apple slices, 1 tbsp almond butter, and some chopped pecans. Sprinkle with more cinnamon if you like!

Try these out and let me know what you think !  Usually the base for my oatmeal bowls are pretty much the same.  The toppings are everything and really, I’m in it for ALL the toppings !! 🙂

Sometimes, I mash in some banana into my oatmeal and sweeten it that way instead of dates.  and then you can just top with blueberries, walnuts and some good healthy fat like organic pastured butter/ghee, nut/seed butter, etc.   I like using spices like cinnamon, cardamom or even a little ginger because it helps with digestion !  Enjoy!

 

How to Stay Balanced with the Changing of the Seasons?

Summer to Fall edition!

Fall has officially started! Cooler weather is clearly setting in. The squirrels are super active, leaves are slowly changing color and very soon crunchy leaves will start to cover the ground, and there will be pumpkin and apple treats everywhere soon!

So, how do we transition from the high energy, warmer and longer days of summer to the more cozy, shorter and cooler days of fall?  We might still not be dressing warm enough, still adjusting to new routines and demands with school/college/work in full swing, staying up late as we’re still used to the more carefree summer schedule, still enjoying ice creams and sundaes even as the weather gets cooler etc. These things can take a toll on our health with seasonal changes, weakening our immune system (NOT great for flu season coming up!) and causing us added stress. Here are some tips to help you stay balanced with the changes that come from summer to fall.

1. Get out those cozy sweaters! Chillier weather calls for a bit of layering up or wearing some light outerwear. Some of us might already have reorganized our closets putting away summer clothes and bringing out the warmer ones . The cozy feel of sweaters can feel like warm snuggles on a cold day. Preserving our body heat in cooler weather especially in our core is an important energy saver for our bodies believe it or not. It also adds to your trendy fashion flair if that makes ya happy!

2. Start your day with a warming spiced drink- it could be infused waters/herbal teas, matcha lattes, golden turmeric milk, chia tea etc! Swap your cold juices, iced teas, sodas for warming drinks. (If you drink too many smoothies, swap some of them also!) Adding warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom etc will boost your circulation, metabolism and immunity in the colder months.

My favorite thing is to make a warm ginger and lemon tea in the morning. The way I make it actually CONVENIENT for me is by pureeing some ginger with some water in a blender/food processor (I do 2 cups chopped ginger and 2 cups water) and then freezing it in ice cube trays. Then in the morning, I boil some water, throw in one of the ginger ice cubes, squeeze some lemon juice in it and mix in a little honey.

3. Eat more seasonal foods- the harvest of fall is abundant! Reach for the squashes, root vegetables like carrots and beets, apples, pears, etc. These are nature’s comfort foods for this time of the year. Eating more warming soups, stews, breakfast porridges and roasted vegetables in cooler weather will be more nourishing for the body.

4. Go to bed earlier! -As the sun starts to set earlier, the days are getting shorter and nights, longer. Be in tune with the natural rhythms and head to bed a bit earlier getting more restorative rest. The cold forces us to slow down a bit, stay home and cozy up with our loved ones. This slowing down actually promotes optimal health and energy in the colder months.

5. Drink lots of water! – make sure you’re adequately hydrated since colder weather is drying. Dryness can lead to achy stiff joints, dry skin, constipation, headaches and weak digestion. Sipping on water throughout the day preferably room temp or slightly warm is very rehydrating. If you constantly feel dry mouth, add a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and squeeze of lime in your water.

6. Take walks outside and soak up all the fall beauty, enjoy the beautiful colors, breathe in the crisp fresh air and listen to the crunchy leaves while you’re walking. Experience with all your senses. This will just bring you into the present moment, bring you into gratitude and have a calming effect on your mood and body.

We should celebrate the good of every season. We definitely have fall-themed activities planned like apple-picking, going to the pumpkin patches, corn mazes, baking fall treats, doing nature themed arts and crafts, etc.   Also, October is my birthday month ! I hope your fall goes fantastic!

What brings you joy and happiness?

What brings you joy? What brings you happiness?

I’ve found these to be very important questions to ask ourselves.

It’s weird because when I thought about the answer to this for myself, it was hard for me to come up with answers! I really had to sit, ponder and reflect to come up with specific things or else I was going down the very general, very vague route of answering with “oh, my family and friends”. After journaling a bit, I realized some of the things that I know for sure bring me happiness, I wasn’t doing ENOUGH of them! They were things I did once in a while unfortunately.  We all just get so busy with our to-do lists that incorporating things that give us joy and happiness on a consistent, regular basis is a challenge.

So, now I want to share 20 things that make me happy with you.  I’ve also added in parenthesis how I’ll actually be incorporating some of them into my life. Now, I encourage you to write down your own list of 20 things that make YOU happy.  They don’t have to be grand things, but just simple little pleasures! And once you have your list, make sure you actually DO those things that make you happy.  Schedule them in, into your life, daily, weekly and/or at least monthly depending on what it is.

Why is this important? Are we being selfish and self-absorbed by wanting our happiness? NO way! Because doing what makes us happy is THERAPEUTIC!! It enhances your WELLBEING which encompasses mind, body and soul health. When we are not happy in our lives, the effects of that will show up as toxic and negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  Many people who have hard addictions are actually using that as an escape route from their depression or anxiety.  On the contrary, when we have positive feelings more often and then we make decisions and choices from this place of happiness rather than a place of frustration or anxiousness, our overall quality of life increases.

Here is my list:

  1. Going out to eat at different restaurants and enjoying gourmet meals (definitely love to do this 3x a month or so)
  2. Going to the farmers market and picking out fresh seasonal produce (summer is here, yay, so this more feasible now!)
  3. The sunshine and warm weather (Being out in nature and the outdoors more when the weather is like this)
  4. Watching squirrels! Because livening in NY, they’re everywhere (You might think I’m weird but they are pretty entertaining lol and for me it’s a sign of God watching them dig, harvest and munch away all by God’s design)
  5. Exploring Manhattan (have to plan this out more, maybe once a month)
  6. My kids saying the cutest things EVER (this happens daily alhamdulilah and now I seek it out even more by engaging in interesting conversations with my kids where they and their imagination takes the lead along with their cutest work-in-progress grammar skills).
  7. Going to brunch or a nice café with my friends (Also, need to plan this once a month. As a mom, this has gone down considerably!)
  8. Quiet post-dinner night time walks around the block with my mom and kids (aim for daily, but most likely be 4-5x a week)
  9. Connecting with my creator in a very SINCERE prayer (every late night prayer inshallah)
  10. Having picnics outside (once a week with my girls, doing lunch outside)
  11. The color rose gold with light sparkles! (adding more to my wardrobe and accessories)
  12. Snuggling with my babies!! (every night inshallah)
  13. Laying in my moms lap and watching a good TV show with her
  14. Dark chocolate with almonds anything especially homemade chocolate chip cookies!
  15. Avocado salsa and tortilla chips while watching a good movie
  16. Vacations with family and friends
  17. Going for a light run and feeling the wind on my face (aiming 3x a week)
  18. Lavender mist spray on my pillow every night before sleeping
  19. Being confident and speaking up for my truth gracefully
  20. Waking up to having my breakfast pre-prepared like a yogurt parfait or overnight oats!

By all means, this is not an exhaustive list! For example, my mom’s biryani also makes me so happy, watching the clouds slowly moving is almost therapeutic for me, watching tennis with my dad and wrestle mania with my brothers (like we did in childhood together), apple-picking and other autumn activities bring me joy, etc. I hope you get the idea!

Of course, ultimately, happiness is an inside job.  External circumstances shouldn’t dictate your happiness, but they definitely can give you the much-needed boost.  We are a combination of internal and external factors, nature and nurture, body and soul right? So, lets do this.

Let me know if you make your list of 20 things that make you happy and if you want share it with me or on your social media and tag me @healthwithafrina 😊 You can also use the hashtag #20thingsthatmakemehappy

Making Desi food healthier!

South Asian Food (Desi food)

After becoming a health coach, do I still eat desi food? I often get asked this question now. (Desi is collectively referred to the people from the South Asian subcontinent which includes India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). The answer is YES, of course! All ethnic cuisines have their share of health benefits. For example, Desi cuisine utilizes lots of healing, anti-inflammatory and digestive aiding SPICES. We also have a variety of lentil-based dishes that are amazing for health. With that being said, our desi cuisine is notorious for using lots of oil and carbs with not enough fresh vegetables.

So, how do I healthify my desi food a bit more? By making sure I have lots of VEGETABLES on my plate! By using LESS oil and preferably better QUALITY oil like a coconut oil (I use refined coconut oil since it’s neutral tasting and smelling), avocado oil, or the traditional Ghee (making sure the Ghee is pasture-raised since it’s cleaner and most nutritious then).

Also, I try not to overcook the HECK out of our vegetable dishes. I’ll usually make the masala (spicy sauce) first fully and then add the vegetables, so they don’t have to be cooked for too long on high heat.

I’ll serve my desi food with a light, refreshing salad (cucumbers, tomato, onions, mint, cilantro and lemon is my favorite with desi food) to balance out the meal. I also do this to make sure I have that extra anti-oxidant loaded, phytochemical loaded goodness in my meal just so that if I’m consuming something along with it that isn’t optimal (like let’s say non-organic meat or like a curry dish cooked in a lower quality oil like canola-because let’s be REAL, these things can happen when you live with other family members and it get’s expensive or very inconvenient for you to include the higher-quality versions of these all the time), I’ll have those fresh vegetables to kinda detox and offset any negative effects of those non-optimal items.

In the picture above, I have daal (lentil soup/stew), chawal (rice) and karahi gosht (a spicy goat curry) along with some sautéed kale (I didn’t get enough greens that day, so had to have my daily share!) and a fresh side salad of cucumbers and bell peppers (with a simple dressing of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, paprika and salt). The addition of the greens and salad also has you eating less carbs like the white rice over here because it really helps fill up your stomach. Some of you, I know might be cringing at the idea of sautéed kale with your beloved karahi gosht, but I prormise you when you mix some into the curry, it all still tastes very good! Our desi sauces and curries are SO flavorful on their own that they can easily handle extra greens in there. Sometimes, I’ll add in roasted vegetables instead of the greens or salad, or like a quick sautéed/stir-fried vegetable side like my sautéed green beans with lemon zest recipe posted here on the blog.

And there you go, healthy eating is really not that complicated. Just make sure you’re using higher quality ingredients and lots of veggies. It’s always ideal to consume organic meat in moderation of course, so limiting meat intake and having more vegetable-based dishes is the way to go. Higher quality fish like wild salmon, tuna, cod, mahi mahi, etc are all GREAT choices as well!

Simple Sauerkraut Salad

Great for sauerkraut newbies who wanna reap the benefits of probiotic-rich fermented foods but are not used to their VERY distinct tangy/sour flavor . Sooo good!

1/2 chopped bell pepper
1/2 chopped medium onion
Heaping 1/3 cup sauerkraut (I used the Trader Joe’s brand which has garlic and pickled cucumbers)
Toss together
Drizzle in 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp honey, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch salt and some pepper
Mix it all up and serve
(Makes 2 servings)