Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Please note: I will now be posting at www.plumpetals.co.uk

The website still needs tweaking and refining, but the basic structure is up and running. Hope you'll follow me there! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Açai Smoothie

Açai is a berry that grows in the Brazilian rainforests. Having roots in Brazil, the Açai bowls and smoothies are popular among the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community. It's something that I have become quite fond of! You can read more about the berry here.

Açai berries are normally found in frozen fruit packs. Some of those fruit packs contain additives and preservatives, so when you're looking for one, make sure to read the ingredients so that you find one that has just the frozen berries with no additives.

There are many fruit combinations you can have to create an Açai bowl/smoothie. I keep mine quite simple though. However, by adding 3 bananas to it (yes, I know, 3!!), it becomes quite filling and is the perfect breakfast or post-workout meal.

açai, bananas, grapes, and raisins - pure and simple 

blended in a glass

poured into a bowl and topped with some homemade granola

1 Açai pack
3 bananas
1 cup of frozen red grapes (I wash them right after buying and then put them in the freezer so they're ready to use)
1/4 cup raisins (rinsed)

1. Slightly thaw the Açai pack and then add to a blender/smoothie maker
2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend.

I sometimes sprinkle coconut flakes on top or some of my homemade granola.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Garlic Shrimp with Zoodles

During the Whole Life Challenge I eliminate a lot of foods from my diet. With no grains, starches, dairy, etc. it can seem like my food will be boring and tasteless. However, it was because I gave up all those things that I have been able to actually taste the foods. A few fresh, organic ingredients prepared simply = a great tasting meal.

This was tonight's dinner.

garlic shrimp with zucchini noodles (zoodles) 

3 zucchini, spiralized
600 g shrimp
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of red chili flakes (optional)
1/4 cup of parsley leaves (optional)
salt to taste

1. Heat a pan, then add 1 tablespoon of EVOO
2. Saute the garlic in the oil until lightly colored
3. Add the shrimp to the garlic, saute for 3-5 minutes until tender and then remove the shrimp from the pan
4. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the same pan and then add the zoodles. Cook for about 5 minutes, until tender but a little crispy. Add the salt.
5. Add the shrimps back to the pan and combine well
6. Add the chili flakes and parsley if using


Friday, June 5, 2015

Adjustments and Attitude

My week feels like it's been sandwiched between positivity and stress. The most frustrating part for me is that I know there were things I could have done earlier to help avoid or at least minimize my stress.

Earlier this week I wrote about making necessary adjustments to my schedule in order to accommodate what was important in my life at that point in time. I do believe this is important. After all, we can't control everything, so it's good to be flexible so as not to feel like you're not getting things done or making progress (towards whatever you hope to achieve). At the same time, I have to admit that sometimes it feels like making adjustments is something that I'm always doing.

I'm trying to stay positive and optimistic, but there comes a time - like this morning when a sudden burst of coughing had me up at 5 am - when you think, 'Enough is enough!! I just want things to be normal.'

So this week didn't go as planned, but it definitely had some good outcomes.

- I enjoyed my yoga class at the new gym. I'll definitely be continuing.
- I passed my driving theory test with flying colors. I'll confess, I found it tough. Even though I studied hard (crammed for 72 hours to be honest), I walked out of the test room not feeling very confident at all. I was super relieved when I got my results. I could literally feel the weight being lifted off my shoulders. Now to prepare for the practical test.
- I've been on eBay and various other sites trying to sell furniture and other things that I realize are just not needed anymore. It's tedious, but people have been buying. It's been great to see things go!

Things to work on:
- This week, dinners were a struggle for me. Aside from Monday evening, I found myself just throwing things together without taking much time to cook, which is something I love to do. I spend a lot of time making food for D and so I get a bit burnt out and don't focus on foods for me (we're doing different levels of the Whole Life Challenge). I need to find more time to cook proper meals for myself. Mindless eating, even if it is eating healthy foods, is not something I want as part of my routine/life anymore.

- Lack of planning and major procrastination is what led to my mega cram session for my driving theory test. Part of me is glad I did it this way as I don't know how I would have retained so much info over a longer period of time. That being said, I was upset at myself for not being a better planner. I knew that this test was coming up - I should have made daily studying a priority (hmmmm I remember telling myself this years ago when I was in school). It was an unnecessary stress I put on myself.

Even though I do have a lot going on, I need to be better at prioritizing and working efficiently. I don't want to get so bogged down in things that I neglect to do things that make me happy -- focus on my own training, cooking good meals for myself, sorting through my things (and not just things for the house). I guess it all sounds a bit selfish -- need to focus on me, me me. I don't plan on neglecting all the other things, I'm just don't want to lose myself in the process. Does that make sense?

The biggest challenge with this will be for me to actually be at peace with my choices. I don't want to take an hour for myself for yoga class and then be lying on the mat thinking - Oh man, I should be home unpacking more boxes.

I wish it was easy - after all, I'm the only one putting these pressures on myself. You'd think it would be simple for me to tell myself to relax. I just need to remember that doing things that make me feel happier and calmer lead to overall productivity and satisfaction.

I'll say that again: Doing things that make me feel happier and calmer lead to overall productivity and satisfaction.

Ok. That's my mantra for the upcoming week. Let's see how it goes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Coriander and Chili Chicken Curry

I had a craving for coriander - isn't that a strange thing to crave? I just couldn't get the smell of coriander out of my mind, so I decided to include it in our dinner. The spicy kick from the jalapeno balanced out the sweetness of the coconut milk and carrots. I added lots of fresh coriander towards the end, which gave it great flavor as well as fragrance.

the curry simmering in the pot

on a plate with a small baked sweet potato 

1 onion, medium size, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

400 ml coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons curry powder
salt to taste
pinch of cinnamon

4 chicken breasts thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 bunch fresh coriander

1) Sauté the onion and garlic in the extra virgin oil until slightly colored
2) Add the jalapeno to the onion and garlic mix and sauté for 1-2 minutes
3) Add the chicken to the pan and lightly brown the breast strips
4) In a separate pot, add the coconut milk, coriander, and spices. Mix and bring to a simmer.
5) Add the chicken and onion mixture to the coconut milk mix. Cook for 5 minutes.
6) Add the chopped carrots and coriander leaves. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes on low heat.

I would have loved to have had this with a bowl of rice or some warm naan, but since I'm on the Whole Life Challenge, I opted for a baked sweet potato instead. Again, the spice from the chili helped cut through the sweetness making it a nice mix of sweet a savory.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Hello June!

Last week's enthusiasm about joining a gym was thwarted by the onset of a chest infection + hay fever. It was mega-frustrating to deal with, but by now I'm totally used to things not going according to plan. The thing is, even if I can't get through my day doing exactly what I want to do, I know by now how to stick to the basics -- drink lots of water, get in some exercise, and take care of what needs to be taken care of.

In the past I would really let setbacks get in the way of my overall progress. Now I know that I don't need to do that. One setback doesn't mean failure - it means that the plan for that day needs to be adjusted.

Realizing this and being able to follow through with making necessary changes has really benefitted me - not only in terms of me taking care of my health but also in terms of how I approach things in life in general.

Today was a much better start to my day and to a new month. To be honest, when I looked outside and then looked at the calendar I was a bit taken aback that it was June. Seeing the wind, rain, and overcast skies did not make it feel like summer was approaching at all! It was a bit disorientating. Nonetheless, the weather is the weather, and whether it feels like it or not, June is here!

I feel like the months have just passed me by, but when I take a look at it, it's not like I wasted the days away.

From my trip to Los Angeles for my Jiu-Jitsu instructor certification in January to earning my Pink Belt to starting to teach my own Women's Self-Defense class to buying a new house ... the days have been busy and productive.

At the same time, things like my weight lifting and my blogging have not been given as much attention as I would have liked. I hope June is the month for me to turn that all around and it started off right with a lovely yoga session at the new gym.

Although the yoga session itself was great for my stretches, it sometimes felt a bit overwhelming as it was an hour full of instructions -
'Now lie down, point your toes towards the mirror, raise your arms above your head, point your fingers towards the back wall, look right, stretch left, inhale, exhale ... ...' so on and so forth for a whole hour! Kind of made my head spin. Still, the instructor was good and I will definitely be back to her class.

I've found that no matter how much food prep I do on Sunday, some of the prep tasks spill over into Monday, so I spent most of the day in the kitchen plus doing errands around the house before heading out to teach our Bullyproof class. It's so great seeing the kids progress!

So, June started off well. My big task of the week is to pass my theoretical driving test. To say that I should have started studying sooner is an understatement! That's going to be my focus for the rest of the week - with stretching, lifting, running, and Jiu-Jitsu-ing whenever I can :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Chapter

Yesterday I celebrated my 1 year anniversary of moving to England. I have to say, it's been quite a year. From packing up my belongings and saying good-bye to the country I got used to calling home to settling down in a new country -- so much has happened. The biggest change has definitely been shifting from teaching in a university to teaching Jiu-Jitsu. As I continued to get more involved in Jiu-Jitsu training it was definitely something I wanted to do, but it wasn't something I saw becoming a reality so quickly.

celebrating my 1 year anniversary - I thought it would be fitting to wear a traditional Kuwaiti dress as a reminisced about Kuwait and planned for my future in London

The move and my adjustment to this new life has been good. I've taken it all in stride and I'm happy with where things are headed. That being said, I don't really feel like I've been myself over the past few months. I was kind of moving from one day to the next without really feeling fully focused. I'm hoping that now that I've moved into the new house and things are finally starting to fall into place that all that is about to change.

Today was the perfect day to start that change.

My 2nd year in England started with a renewed commitment to myself. I've spent a LOT of time trying to get the house sorted, doing tons of cooking, and running errands. While that aspect of my life will not change, what I want to do is reorganize how I'm handling everything. I found too many days to just pass by without me taking the time I need to get my own things done (studying, lesson planning, blogging, etc.). I also spend so much time prepping food for D and the household that I don't often take time to prepare proper meals for myself. I need that to stop. I am committed to eating 3 proper healthy meals a day. No more snacking as meals, even if it is on healthy foods. I need to eat properly.

In addition to all that, I joined a new gym! I actually went and signed up last week but today was my first day there. It felt good to be back to weight training.

The new gym is close to my house so that's quite convenient. It's fairly large - huge cardio section, a spin studio, an aerobics studio, several resistance machines and an ok size free weight area. They've got a lap pool as well as an indoor basketball court. It definitely has all the basics for a good workout. I think what it's lacking is a bit of character and atmosphere, but I'm going there to get in my workouts so I guess that doesn't matter too much. I'm also not too keen on the fact that I have to wear a wristband while I'm at the gym -- but that's a minor inconvenience too.

 a glimpse of part of the cardio section
I didn't want to take too many photos on my 1st day. 

 the wristband - is it really necessary?

I started off with a basic workout today -
dynamic stretching
warm-up on the treadmill
45 minutes weight training
cool down on the treadmill
cool down stretching

decided to wear a new pair of trainers to my new gym

It felt good to be back in the gym.

I'm hoping that this renewed focus and commitment to myself will help me reach my next set of goals.