The Sleepy Minion 

An excerpt from Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost- “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep” generally sums up and epitomizes our current lifestyle for the present generation of ‘millennial’. We work hard, party harder, love deeper, socially antisocial, and technologically slaved sleep deprived beings on most counts. Sometimes I wonder and wish for an additional seven hours to a twenty-four hour day to get the job done. It’s harmful. I know it. What am I doing about it? Nothing really. Well not until I met Calin from Nebraska at the recent Saturday Night Market.

Calin works in the ER and goes without saying is a workaholic. She works twenty-hour days and while we walked around the grounds admiring it in entirety she had a certain sense of calm about her. She quipped of having been at ‘peace’ in a very long time, with her mind not racing in a thousand directions and being socially disconnected not to mention mentally traumatized given her work area. Having suffered a panic attack and anxiety attack almost simultaneously made her take note of her body and listen to it carefully. That’s something we both had in common. I had a panic attack but recently and that made me sit up and focus on certain ‘lifestyle’ choices that were plaguing me both mentally and physically. Over a cup of tea, notes were swapped as well as our common love for Minions- those nubby yellow henchmen of Gru from Despicable Me. Still clueless, Kindly Google!

 Now while the earlier version of yours truly would literally kill a Saturday Night in quick succession with multiple venues and a crazy all night party working towards the wee hours of the morning, the new and improved one choose a homemade recipe and a conversation to lull out a perfect set rendezvous. That’s the exact moment when revelation hit in this preparation as thunderous as Thor’s hammer and Zeus lightening bolt in unison- Banana Cinnamon Tea. Did you know? Bananas are one of the more well known sleep aiding foods. Aside from tasting great and being full of fiber, bananas are a good source of potassium and magnesium, which both act as muscle relaxants. When your muscles are relaxed, you are able to let go of stress more easily and drift into a deeper sleep. They also contain Vitamin B6, an important micronutrient that aids in the body’s production of serotonin, a precursor to the other sleep hormone melatonin. While they maybe rich in potassium and magnesium, what most people do not know is that the banana peel has, even more, potassium and magnesium than the banana itself, and it is often thrown away as trash. That was a new discovery for this preparation. 

Imagine the numerous times stress calls on us. That depletes Magnesium as a mineral in ones body first. Cinnamon apart from tasting amazing is great because it is one of the best ways to balance blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are balanced, your hormones can function in a way that allows for better sleep. If your blood sugar levels are off, then you may have energy at night, or be tired during the day.

 How does one go about this preparation? All you need is one yellow banana; I had to use five elaichi bananas present in my kitchen given the lack of a normal one. If you were using the Moira banana half of the same would do just fine given the size. A pot of filtered water and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if you like. Cut off both the head and tail end of the banana and put the banana into a pot of bowling water. Boil for about 10 minutes and sprinkle some cinnamon into the water as well. If you’d like to add some stevia for sweetening, do so. Stevia helps to balance blood sugar levels, and will not spike blood sugar levels before bed.

 Drain the same and enjoy a hot piping cup of tea allowing you into slumber land shortly thereafter.

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Holi Jam 

 

Holi Hai; It is such a vibrant feeling when there is a mix of colour and celebration right in the midst of Lent. A blend of religion and beliefs between different faiths is something to marvel at in a country as diverse as ours. Hope you all had a fun filled wonderful celebration. While Lent has come to be known as more of a ‘detox’ to abstain from sweets by abstaining from the same as something given up in penance, not that I believe that food is the answer, (rather more a societal adherence these days), my first reality check with this deadly substance happened a few years ago when my sugar levels were alarmingly high.

 We, in Goa, love our sweet. Lets face it. Goa poses a high number of diabetic cases due to either hereditary or lifestyle choices and no one is safe from this deadly condition. With many family members and loved ones battling this, I am susceptible to it myself. However, I was given my warning bells that tolled a lot earlier to take drastic steps in regards to monitoring the same. Prevention and observation is the only way one can keep a check. My blood sugar count every month, periodic blood tests every 6 months and trying to maintain a stress free lifestyle by eating healthy are some of the remedies undertaken. It’s a tall order but something’s got to give, right?

 Speaking of which, my routine breakfast habit has a high calorie impact, where I normally splurge on a sweet product. Raw Honey has substituted processed sugars and at times the urge for a bit of Oreo Cadbury diary milk. Tea is boiled with readily available Stevia leaves for that added sweetness, though most folk prefer my lemon cardamom tea sans dairy.

The one thing that posed a challenge with was ‘Jam’ for my poi. I love Jam especially the Mixed fruit ones and they are one of the biggest processed harmful sugar contributors to ones blood count irrespective of what the label tells you. While in a conundrum over this I happened to meet a travelling Yogi from California. She happened to enlighten me on the simple process of making a homemade jam that got me addicted to the point of Dr.Victor Frankenstein where no fruit was spared. Experiment after another with many trials and errors had me select a few favorites and processes, which are rather simple to make. I’m assured of your gratitude a little later.

 The concept is RAW. Raw jams hold all the nutrients intact especially the good sugars and what’s more the process is really simple. To make a raw jam, one simply needs to puree your fresh fruits with ground chia seeds and freeze until ready to use. The chia seeds are what cause the fruity concoction to gel, completely natural. The general recommendation is 1 tablespoon of chia seeds per cup of fruit. I happened to receive this lovely packet of juicy strawberries that deserved some overall share.

 Here’s how I went about making compote in less than 15 minutes for all to savor on the dining table. 8 strawberries, 2 tsp of chia seeds, ½ cup of water. Chop up the strawberries. Add the Chia seeds and blend to a pulp. Do taste to see if the sweet quotient is apt. If not add a bit of raw honey, though try and avoid it. Refrigerate it for 30-40 minutes for the seeds and fruit to work their magic. If the kids wish it sweeter, a great PBJ- Peanut Butter and Jelly combination over toasted bread loaves would hit the spot and add the nutrition calorie count required in the process. It is one of my favourite combinations. Note, the chunky peanut butter jams. For those not convinced there is a cooked version as well. You simply cook the fruit down until it is a thick jam-like consistency. Freeze, and only thaw enough to use within a week or so. Do note that the less sugar there is in your finished product, the shorter your end product’s keeping time. Also since this would be a first time you try it, use common sense when you open up your containers of jam or jelly. If it doesn’t look, smell, or taste right, don’t take your chances!

 May you keep experimenting and whisking up a vibrancy of colours for months on end this year.