Sunday, January 17, 2016

12 ways to glow: Week 2 - Inside Glow

You made it!

Through the 2nd official week back at work, and for those following the Shop Jom #12x12 Challenge - the 12 day workouts are done.

Now it's time to chill, time to rest and be quiet for a bit.

And since we're being still, let's work on that Inner Glow.
Gotta make that inner light shine a little more, to match the awesome Outer Glow we've been building up.

1. Build yourself a Vision Board
A good friend of mine teaches yoga, but much more than that - she practices mindful living. She does this with the help of an amazingly simple and powerful tool, a Vision Board. At the start of every year, she focuses on a few areas that she wants to work on, improve and bring out in her year ahead. Use whatever way you like to help remind you of these areas as you move along, but I love her way. She cuts snippets from books and magazine, puts them together on a board, and tacks the board up in her living room so she sees it the minute she enters the house. It's so much harder to lose sight when things are right in front of us.

2. You nailed it, don't you forget it
We're conditioned to push to achieve more, earn more, do better. While that's completely understandable - and some say, needed - balance is always key. Don't forget to acknowledge what we've accomplished at the same time. Go big with a promotion at work, or small and powerful, like meeting a weight goal or making a new good friend. Whatever the scale, remember it all took effort, and you nailed it.

3. Volunteer or do something kind
"We rise by lifting others." - Robert Ingersoll

We find a sense of bigger purpose when we do things not for ourselves. Numerous studies have shown that people who have a purpose, deal much better with challenging situations. Life becomes a bit more meaningful, and we become less self-focused and short-goal-sighted. Dedicate time to volunteer or do something kind, and try to make it part of our regular schedule to make it stick.

4. Find your inspirational hero
Everyone needs a mentor to help light the path ahead, to make it a little less mad. If you don't already have one, spend some time identifying someone who inspires you to aspire. Most of us have a work-driven inspirational figure - an entrepreneur, a Steve Jobs, a CEO, a glass ceiling-buster. But let's not neglect our personal life heroes. Nick Vujicic, Gandhi, the cancer surviver, the neighbour who makes time to help - anyone who inspires you to live a better life, and be a better person.

5. Start a food swap
The wins to cooking our meals are many, the most significant being the ability to decide what food goes into our body. But let's get real. Not everyone has schedules that allow daily cooking. So let's rope in other cooks and spread the food, and the love. Rustle up good friends and family, and take turns cooking in big batches. Pack up some portions (employ food portion strategies), and you'll soon find that food not only fills tummies with good things, but satisfies the soul even more when shared and swapped.

6. Fill the house with good smells
Smells of food cooking and desserts baking always remind me of home, it's impossible not to be in a good mood when you smell warm food. Since we're onto swapping food, let's bake up something sharable and portable. I love that this Banana Oat Cake is packed with oats and bananas, and sturdy enough to cut into logs for sharing.

Live well, eat well, be present.
Here's to bringing out the best of our Inner and Outer Glow!

Banana Oat Cake (serves 12)
Adapted from Bon Appetit

You'll need: 
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned/rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 bananas, chopped - you can use frozen bananas if you have them on hand, but let
                                  them come to room temperature first so they can be chopped

To make:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat an 8x8" baking dish/tray with
  butter and line with parchment paper.
- Whisk oat, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
- Whisk brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in another large bowl until smooth.
- Slowly stream butter into brown sugar mixture, whisking constantly until well blended.
- Add bananas to dry ingredients, toss to coat. Stir into brown sugar mixture (batter will
  be thick).
- Spread batter into prepared dish/tray. Bake until golden brown and edges start to pull
  away from sides of dish, 35-40 min.
- Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely in dish/tray. Cut up and serve, or store in
  airtight container on counter top for a couple of days.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Asia's flavours this Lunar New Year

There are a few occasions in a year that deserve my stomach's full attention.

Birthdays, Christmas and the Lunar New Year.

These are eating festivals, as far as my family and friends are concerned. People gathering round, sharing meals, swapping stories, indulging in festive snacks.

The stuff of good times.

Food plays such a big part bringing people together, and any excuse to break bread and clink glasses is wildly welcomed.

> But don't throw out your Outside Glow!

And this year, Petite Pops is embracing Asia's flavours in our Chinese New Year goodies.

Matcha and Wolfberry, both native to Asia, are packed with age-old health beliefs, perfect for turning festive feasting into good-for-you snacking. Osmanthus adds a delicate, subtle fragrance for barely-there flavour layers. Just the kind of natural sweetness I like in my snacks.

Share the Lunar New Year love with double goodies in the Twin Baskets, or go solo with the Osmanthus Honey Loaf.
> Details in image above

A wonderfully prosperous and blissful Year of the Monkey to everyone!

What do you get with Petite Pops desserts?
• Small batch baking      The only good way to do quality control.
• Good ingredients          Real and delicious, no further preservatives added.
• Fresh                              Made only when orders come in.
• Balanced                       A little naughty and a whole lot nice. Less sugar & fats,                                            while balancing the yum.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

12 ways to glow: Week 1 - Outside Glow

It's so much fun collaborating, like a left shoe finding its right shoe to make a snazzy pair of happy feet.

To kick off the brand new year, I'm partnering Shop JOM in their 12x12 Challenge, which started Monday. 12 minutes of workout, over 12 days (ready, sweat, glow!). 

Arms, legs, abs - you name it, they've got it covered in their daily workout challenges. 

Photo from Shop Jom

With all that huffing and puffing, there must be a day of rest. The 7th day - kinda like the sabbath. To be good and kind (to your body). 

So I'm sharing my 12 little tips on Glowing, over 2 Sundays - starting today. 

This week's about the OUTSIDE GLOW. Small little steps to help your body glow, all ultra achievable. 

1. Be kind to your body
Tidying guru Marie Kondo says thanks to her socks at the end of each day, because they've worked so hard supporting and carrying her around. She never balls them up, and doesn't crowd them in the closet. Now if she be that kind to her socks, our bodies deserve better. Start with an easy skin regime that we can realistically upkeep, like this Honey Avocado Mask. Yummy. 

2. Eat foods with ingredients you can pronounce
This takes some discipline so let's keep it real - start this with weekends, since we have more control over our food away from the office grind. Look at the ingredient list on what you're planning to eat. Spy something unpronounceable? Or something you can't spell on first try? Put it back, and walk away. Those are usually additives and other funky additions to chemically enhance or preserve foods. 

And don't look back. Real foods usually have simple, real, pronounceable ingredients. 

3. Be smart, engage portioning warfare
There is a universe you can eat your fave foods, heck even indulge a little. But military-style strategising is needed to fool the enemy - over-eating. Take out a small portion of that dish, and put the rest out of sight and reach. Once you're done with your portion, move on. Ain't no seconds in this battlefield. 

4. Time out
Grab a towel, fave playlist, happy-day drink or nibble, an eye mask, some candles and a huge do-not-disturb sign. Hang that sign on the door, close it after you. Now you have your spa-at-home. Set the timer for 30 min (you don't want to add stress having to constantly check on time), and do not emerge before then. You need to chill a little, for your body to repair and glow. 

5. You gotta move it, move it
Always have your workout gear and bag packed. Towels, socks, shoes, mats, tights, cropped tops, weight lifting gloves - make sure fresh ones are packed the minute you reach home after exercising. No excuses, less procrastination and frantic annoyance when you head out for your next workout. 

6. Make switchel
Popular in the 1800s among woodsman pioneers, this apple cider drink has made a comeback. Gaining favour as an alternative electrolyte and energy boost, this scrumptiously crisp drink is perfect for our insanely hot weather, beating manufactured isotonic drinks any day. 

And with a 4-ingredient list of pretty pronounceable items, this is definitely a keeper. 

Maple-Ginger Cider Switchel (4 servings)
Adapted from Bon Appetit

You'll need:
6 oz fresh ginger
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup - honey will work as well
1 tablespoon fresh lime/lemon juice
4 cups water/club soda

To make: 
- Pass ginger through juicer, or grate and squeeze by hand - you'll need about 1/2 cup. 
- Combine ginger juice, vinegar, maple syrup and lime/lemon juice in a pitcher and stir until maple syrup is dissolved. Chill until cold. 
- To serve, dilute with water/club soda and pour into ice-filled glasses.

Next Sunday, we'll work on our INSIDE GLOW .

To a brilliant 2016,  let's get glowing!

More on balanced living and eating:
> Eating with family, lazy day bread
> Whimisical yoga, balanced desserts
> YOLO = granola
> Food Revolution Day
> Treats for the journey, it's 2015!