An open letter to the prick who commented on my weight.

Last night I dined at the coolest sushi-train restaurant ever. It amazed me because between every 2 seats there was a touch-screen monitor where you could conveniently order your sushi/edamame/chocolate-parfait freshly-made. Then DING DING and the monitor would notify you of your picks shortly arrival at the same time as a variety of other tempting delicacies continued to shoo shoo by. Perhaps where you live, such sushi-trains are common but for me, this particular joint’s techno savviness was definitely a first. As the norm with sushi trains, I lost count of how many plates I snatched (in this case, ordered) and only felt slightly guilty later, after seeing my leaning tower of plates. However; I didn’t mind too much because not only was I filled with the creamiest avocado and the freshest salmon but also, pure bliss. I was so happy to be there! Until he opened his mouth, that is.

“Anisa, you’ve put on weight since coming to Japan…”

Then all hell broke loose and I tore out his “brain” (I use quotation marks here because obviously the brother don’t have any) using my chopsticks.

Seriously? What the frick. I suggested he take a “how to treat women” or better yet “how not to treat women” class. Yeah yeah, cultural difference; the Japanese are frank yadi yada – not good enough. Dear mothertrucker, who at the age of 28 is still living  off his parents and has never left his hometown (no judgement – okay maybe a little judgement), moving to a new country is hard. No, no one forced me to fly some 5000 miles from my family, friends and comforts but just because I chose to actively follow my dream, doesn’t make it any easier. In addition to changes in the obvious (food), moving to a new country means encountering and gradually learning to conduct oneself to new and therefore; unfamiliar, weather, work, people, daily routines etc. etc. As well as, having to find the nearest exercise facilities, farmer’s markets, health stores and so on. Or in my case, learning to live by myself, cook for ONE, shop for one and the number one culprit: STRESS. You know, from changing your entire LIFE. Since you’re yet to experience it, being unable to speak the language of the country in which you live can drive you mad. Performing trivial tasks like posting a letter, checking your bank balance or ordering a chai latte can make you sweat (obviously not enough in my case). Lastly, since you’ve traveled so very far to a so very foreign (but exciting) land, naturally, you want to immerse yourself in the culture, make the most of every day, if you will. So if that means immersing oneself in a bath tub of ramen – then so be it! When else are you going to live in Japan? They don’t even have ramen where I live!

I don’t know where I’m going with this – I’ve always struggled with structure (in English not life – shut your trap). I guess what I’m trying to say is, life is to be lived. What did Elizabeth Gilbert say in Eat Pray Love? “I have no interest in being obese, I’m just through with the guilt. So this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to finish this pizza, and then we are going to go watch the soccer game, and tomorrow we are going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans”.

But to answer his question, yes, yes I have. About 5.3kgs to be exact which at first I really struggled with (don’t all we girls?) but now realise is absolutely okay. A while back, I wrote a similar post on body image in which I shared this brilliance: “Our bodies are changing every second. Yet we take the body to be our Self; and, speaking in terms of it, we say, “I am hungry” or “I am lame;” “I am black” or “I am white.” These are all just the conditions of the body. We touch the truth when we say, ‘My body aches,’ implying the body belongs to us and that therefore we are not that.” In other words, not only is it okay for our bodies to change but NORMAL for our weight to shift. AND, we are not defined by it’s appearance for we/I am probably going to lose it all then put it all back on again and lose it and put it on and lose it – OK we’ll stop there (wink wink). Ya dig?!

Phew, glad I got that off of my chest.

Still angry at him.

AND a diet coke please

Yesterday, I came across a quote on the internet which really stood out to me.

The quote was this:
“Our bodies are changing every second. Yet we take the body to be our Self; and, speaking in terms of it, we say, “I am hungry” or “I am lame;” “I am black” or “I am white.” These are all just the conditions of the body. We touch the truth when we say, ‘My body aches,’ implying the body belongs to us and that therefore we are not that.”
― Swami Satchidananda

Often in hospitality, I receive strange (to put it mildly) requests from customers. However; I’m not entirely blaming them as I myself, am also guilty of previously having altered a menu item (or ten). If you work in the industry or you’re anything like 99% of women, then you’re bound to be familiar with the following common requests:

“I’ll have a (insert meal high in fat and calories here) with a diet coke please”
“dressing on the side”, “no dressing”
“can I swap my potatoes for a side salad?” (as if eating potatoes is the ultimate sin)
The list is endless…

Arguably, the core of such requests is bad body image; a desire to be thinner in order to be more beautiful (a misconception, obviously, as recently highlighted by Meghan Trainor and co). I wonder, when did food change from a blessing, one to be savoured, looked forward to and most importantly appreciated, to a chore and/or burden which requires strategic planning to conquer? Intellectually, I understand it; media, photoshop, unrealistic beauty standards, celebrities with eating disorders, society as we know it (nothing easier than blaming society). That being said, we are all conscious beings. Ones who have the ability to think, problem solve and differentiate from the kinds of shit society forcefully feeds our brains on a daily basis and the “truth” or life as we know it.

In my mere 22 years, my weight has often fluctuated (as I’m certain so has yours). At times I have felt like a scarecrow and at others, I have not (to put it gently). Why? Because; life. In his book entitled Finding Your Element, Sir Ken Robinson states: “Life is organic, not linear”. Meaning; none of us can effectively predict our future as our lives are neither programmed nor deliberate. Instead, our lives (and our bodies) are in a constant state of transformation. Because; life. Deadlines. Heartbreak. Redundancy. Death. Bills. Assignments. Stress. Stress. Stress. Change. Change. Change. In my favourite book of all time, Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert also reflects on this process:

“I look at the Augusteum,and I think that perhaps my life has not actually been so chaotic, after all. It is merely this world that is chaotic, bringing changes to us all that nobody could have anticipated. The Augusteum warns me to not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve. Yesterday I might have been a glorious monument to somebody, true enough–but tomorrow I could be a fireworks depository. Even in the Eternal City, says the silent Augusteum, one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“One must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.”

“Our bodies are changing every second.”

Today, to be thin is to be everything.  Skinny is the ultimate aspiration. And. I. Loathe. It. Perhaps I would hate it less if I were skinny, if I were benefiting from the system, the game. But, you know, I could be skinny. I have been skinny before. I could devote all my time, thoughts, energy, life to it. But I don’t want to. Actually, I cannot afford it. YOLO (you only live once)? Heaven? Hell? Metempsychosis? Whatever your belief system, we can all agree life is inestimable, invaluable, precious, GREAT. Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging gluttony or ill-health but rather inviting you all to view your body with a different lens. You are entirely up to you. You are capable of endless wisdom, creativity, achievement. You are so much more than your ever-shifting weight. AK.


Grapefruit Creme Brûlée

I would like to apologise in advance for the deceiving title but these healthy foods sometimes really do require a little (or a lottle) dose of imagination!

When I was younger, I used to eat grapefruit with white sugar allthetime. I absolutely loved the sweet and sour (are you thinking of pork? Get off my page!) flavour combination – so good!

Perhaps, grapefruits are most well-known for their weight loss inducing abilities (don’t quote me on this). But seriously, they’re very low in sodium and very high in fat burning enzymes. This means, not only will grapefruits burn fat, but also help flush out excess water that is retained from high sodium diets. In short, if you ate a greasy big mac for dinner, wash it down with a detoxifying grapefruit breakfast the next day. The addition of coconut sugar not only creates a flavour explosion but also adds a teensy dose of vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium and zinc.

1 large grapefruit
1 tsp coconut sugar

Slice the grapefruit in half.

Sprinkle coconut sugar on top then immediately devour – it’s a no brainer, really.

Peanut Butter And Banana Smoothie Bowl

I wonder if it’s possible to get through summer on a purely smoothie bowl diet…

So what’s so special about this one? Apart from it’s yum-factor, it’s secret ingredient is probiotic yogurt.

Probiotics are beneficial to our overall health in many ways. Some of which include:
-Supporting healthy gut flora, which boosts immunity, and helps assimilate nutrients that nourish skin, hair and nails
-Aiding digestive function, which remedies excess gas and bloating
-Encouraging better elimination, taking a significant burden off of our skin.

2 frozen bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened probiotic yogurt (dairy-free versions available)
1/4 cup milk of your choice
2 tsp all-natural smooth peanut butter
2 tsp ground LSC (linseed, sunflower and chia seed)
1 tbsp soft oats (gluten-free available)
1 tsp honey 

Simply blend all ingredients in a food processor then top with whatever your stomach desires!

Sorry to state the obvious but if you’re blind wondering, this one’s topped with coconut chips, chopped peanuts and fresh berries.

Blend It Like Beckham

This is my ‘light’ (in both senses of the word) green smoothie. Because no one actually likes green smoothies. And if they say that they do, they’re lying. Packed full of nutritious goodness, your body and tastebuds will love you for it. 

Avocados are one of the healthiest sources of natural fats. They’re high in Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant vitamin that keeps skin cells strong and hydrated and B vitamins like niacin, which assists in detox and DNA repair and also reduce skin redness and inflammation. In addition, avocados fire up the natural detox processes of the liver, which helps our skin to stay clear. Although packed with goodness, avocados should be eaten in moderation (1/4-1/2 an avocado per day is a good limit), but don’t get too caught up in this as avocados burn easily for energy. In addition, avocados fire up the natural detox processes of the liver, which further helps our skin stay beautiful and clear.

Kiwifruits are insanely high in Vitamin C. Just one liddle widdle fuzzy kiwi gives us a day’s worth of C for less than 50 calories!

Pumpkin seeds are extremely rich in zinc (one ounce contains more than 2mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is beneficial to our bodies in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, our sense of taste and smell, eye and skin health and insulin regulation.

So what are you waiting for?

Blend it like Beckham.

1 frozen banana
1/2 avocado 
1 green kiwi fruit
1/2 cup almond milk
handful of pumpkin seeds

The Insanely Powerful Health Benefits Of Cinnamon

This morning, I cheated on my smoothie bowl infatuation with a bowl of cinnamon oatmeal. Not only did my oats take less than 3 minutes to prepare, they were also incredibly delicious and insanely nutritious, too. Why? How? Cause, cinnamon is a superfood homerun, yo!

Once upon a time, cinnamon was more valuable than gold. Seriously. In medieval times, cinnamon was considered a panacea, used to treat various conditions such as sore throats, indigestion and cramps. It was also believed to help improve energy, vitality and circulation, too.

Turns out modern research agrees:

Cinnamon is a natural food preservative. Because of its anti-fungal properties, it has been said that candida cannot live in a cinnamon environment.

Cinnamon keeps blood sugar steady, making it a suitable choice for diabetics and hypoglycemics alike. More importantly, (just kidding) cinnamon helps reduce wrinkles and blemishes by preventing insulin spikes.

Cinnamon reduces LDL cholesterol levels. LDL is also known as the harmful cholesterol. Reducing it may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cinnamon reduces pain linked to arthritis. Cinnamon has been shown in studies at the Department of Internal Medicine, Kangnam Korean Hospital, to reduce cytokines linked to arthritic pain.

Alzheimer’s disease. Tel Aviv University researchers discovered that cinnamon may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. According to Prof. Michael Ovadia, of the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University, an extract found in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, contains properties that can inhibit the development of the disease.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). As a digestive, cinnamon dramatically reduces the uncomfortable feelings associated with IBS especially the bloating. It does this by killing bacteria and healing infections in the GI tract and enabling the gastric juices to work normally. If you’ve been suffering from an upset stomach, a cup of cinnamon tea 2-3 times a day will dramatically reduce your pain.

That said, I am not advocating you start wolfing down the cinnamon – as it has been found to be toxic in large doses. LOL. Instead, I am merely encouraging a little pinch (or stick) here and there in places you might otherwise have overlooked (in your hot bevvy, added to savory dishes, etc.) – if not for the health benefits, for its undeniably lush aroma and high yum-factor.

Cinnamon oatmeal
1 cup quick oats 
2 cups almond milk 
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp honey 

Bring all ingredients to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a minute or two (all the while, stirring constantly) then serve with your favourite toppings. Recipe makes for 2.

Let wholesome, delicious food be your beauty secret!

Do you think it’s possible to get through Summer only eating smoothie bowls?! Yes, if they’re filled with this much healthy. This delicious choco berry smoothie bowl is jam-packed with natural goodness and flavour. In addition, it’s naturally free from dairy, gluten and refined-sugar. Forget proactive, for beautiful skin, eat wholesome, nutritious food instead!

Below, I’ve added some proof/excerpts from Jolene Hart’s incredible book Eat Pretty: Nutirition for Beauty, Inside and Out for more info: 

On banana:

“Bananas contain an amino acid that boosts healthy hair and nail growth and protects the body from ageing free radicals. They also contain silicon, an essential element for strong hair, nails, and collagen. They’re easily digested and soothing to the lining of the stomach, and they feed good bacteria in your gut.”

On raw cacao:
“This beauty superfood has a higher concentration of antioxidants than any other food we now know of, thanks to its powerful phytochemicals like epicatechin that block the formation of wrinkles. The catechins in cacao throw a one-two antigaing punch: they turn off age-promoting cell mechanisms while activating protective cell mechanisms.”

On oats:
“Oats are mineral-rich breakfast staples. They’re extremely high in manganese, which helps maintain healthy hair and hair colour and supports mitochondrial health. They’re also rich in the beauty mineral iron for strong hair and nails.”

On unsweetened almond milk:
“When you pour a cup or so over your oatmeal, you get about half of your daily dose of vitamin E, the beauty vitamin that keeps skin moisturised and protected from the sun, plus about 45 percent of your calcium and 25 percent of your vitamin D. Unsweetened almond milk is low in both sugar and calories, and it’s free of the hormones and antibiotics found in conventional dairy.”

And, last but not least, from my previous posts, you should know blackcurrants are insanely good for your health (containing higher levels of vitamin C than any other commercially available fruit or vegetable).

So what are you waiting for? Toss out that processed crumpet and instead, simply whizz together:

2 frozen bananas
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp gluten-free oats
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup organic frozen ViBeri blackcurrants

To finish, top with whatever your heart desires! (My heart desired silvered almonds, strawberries and blackcurrants.)

A Beauty Post

Today, I’m going to let you in on a family secret! You see, although my beautiful mother, a trained beautician is now 50 years old, she is often mistaken by strangers as my sister! Why? Because her skin is FLAWLESS – I swear I’m not over exaggerating nor am I being bias. Good ole Hippocrates once said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – a simple statement but a very profound one to which I wholeheartedly agree! Okay, okay, I’m stalling… what’s the secret you ask? The answer is: CUCUMBER.

For the past hour, I have been contemplating how I can genuinely promote the health benefits of cucumber without sounding like an advertisement and unfortunately, I am slowly running out of ideas. All I can really say, is that for my family and I, cucumber has done wonders! Simply massaging your skin with a thin slice of raw cucumber can help moisturise dry areas, fade dark circles, reduce puffy eyes, improve complexion, reduce wrinkles, treat sunburns, fight acne and tighten open pores. It is honestly that simple. No chemicals, no bull**** just 100% mother nature – Sorry, that totally sounded like an advertisement.

Seriously though, don’t bag it till you try it! – Argh, there I go again.

Fun fact: our skin is our body’s largest and fastest growing organ hence why it is so important we take extreme care of it.