The Summer Dip 

The Heat is on”,- lyrics apt for the current weather situation. Glenn Frey definitely knew what he was talking about, however profoundly missed the gravity of the situation here, in scorching Goa. Normally, I would be on meticulously planned travel to a pleasant destination, the mountains up north perhaps- however this was the first for me back home due to a multitude of commitments in and around. With temperatures soaring enough to just ‘dip’ into my well, this is literal and -yes I have one of those in my yard at home. Futile and cumbersome, though exhilarating from a daredevil perspective if I may say so, it wasn’t merely enough to combat the double whammy of humidity and heat.

 I read an article somewhere, about research in relation to how hydration affects our mind, our mood, memory and learning, thinking and reaction time. What we are unaware of is the drastic impact; the external temperatures are having on us internally. Call it more of a ‘mute syndrome’ if not looked into carefully. It’s played havoc and had some rather adverse reactions to my metabolism from rashes to heat boils physically to mood swings and mild cases of depressive surges mentally- all warning signs for a rapid change in diet and water consumption. A human being on average consumes 3-4 liters of water a day. While that is great, the weather around is not really conducive for an appetite and eating is becoming rather cumbersome, more of a force-fed chore.

 At the local grocer store, I decided to list down a few home made dips that have been added to my diet to combat the ‘water shortage’ within with outstanding immediate results. It is great for the in-between meal cravings. Here’s a list of 3 food dips to make your summer a breeze, no pun intended.

 Mango Salsa Dip– Yes, I can see a smile on your face. While this is a sweet caveat in the making and should be had in moderation, given how heat retentive the king of fruits is, a cup of mango slices will rehydrate ones body with half a cup of water!! Do try and consume it moderately. Also the Salsa dip made with Yellow and Red Bell Peppers is an added bonus with more vitamin C than oranges as well as retention of also 92 percent water- a delicious hydrating addition to your summer diet. 

Tzatziki Sauce (Yogurt and Cucumber Dip)- The good old fashioned cucumber and yogurt; commonly known as ‘raita’ to many households. This is spin on the Greek version of the same- for that extra zing. Very easy to make and goes famously well with pita breads, chips and toppings. While the cucumber does its part with 96 percent of water to ones body, the yogurt has multiple benefits ranging from cooling the body to good bacteria for the gut. The process is simple; Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth and place it over a medium bowl. Place the yogurt on the cheesecloth and cover the colander with plastic wrap. Allow the yogurt to drain overnight. Lay grated cucumber on a plate lined with paper towel; and drain it for 1 to 2 hours. Combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, parsley, mint, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

 The Pineapple Cream Cheese Dip- With a name as sultry as Ananans, this dip is sure to make your taste buds tingle. All you need is 100gms of softened cream cheese and 200gms of crushed pineapple drained with juice reserve with 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed. A ten-minute preparation will have the entire family licking their chops and asking for seconds instantly. Mix the cream cheese and crushed pineapple first and allow it to breathe for a few. Mix the reserve juice from the pineapple to open the consistency and get the desired texture needed. Add the garlic and chill in the refrigerator until serving. Not only will you have friends and family asking for more, the pineapple delivers the compound bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and this tropical plant packs in 87 percent water. Best served with a hot toasted baguette.

 So the next time someone asks you to take a Dip, make sure you have more than your swimming costume on. As for me, I’m heading back to the well.

 

 

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A ‘Whirlwind’ Experience at Sea

Statutory Warning! The next 1282 words, describe a ‘Whirlwind experience‘ aboard a floating world in the middle of the ocean. Granted its not an apt choice of words and I got home all accounted for, it did feel like just that- the minute I boarded the Mariner of the Seas by Royal Caribbean – a colossal 138,000 tons cruise ship, with 15 decks of activity poised in serenity at the Singapore Harbor.

From afar, one would be misguided to underestimate the ‘fun’ hidden within. After all, it does look like any other cruise ship meant for the honeymooners of mush. Looks can be deceiving, and I happened to witness it first hand the minute I boarded. “There is something for everyone”- a line that has been used beyond reckoning and is rather staid these days, not to mention over promised, would be the apt title for this ‘cruise’ and it sure lives up to its name. Let me give you a few activities that left me spell bound and thoroughly engrossed enough to realize that 96 hours passed me by. Did someone mention the relativity of time in a Interstellar manner of speaking?

THE Dreamworks Parade

Its an all star round up when life size characters of King Julian and Princess Fiona and Kung Fu Panda parade up and down the gangway to welcome one and all aboard this journey of Fun and Frolic. They even are amazing enough to click photographs with. Check out Gloria from Madagascar, she is a whole lot of hug and is quite supportive for ones weight ego issues, in a diminutive matter of speaking.

For the DareDevil in you

One realizes that moment of self proclaimed fallacies in regards to ‘physical fitness’ when the sign up for the adventure zone. You have a Rock climbing wall for the enthusiast such as ‘moi’ to climb atop and suspend oneself 25 feet above deck with unparalleled horizons of the deep blue sea and all that lurks within and shout out with arms wide stretched ‘I am the king of the world’ and play spectacle to all below who guffaw at your idiosyncrasies.

Or if that doesn’t cut it for you, try colour-coordinating footwear to match golf balls on the mini golf course during putting practice. Mind the wind and draft, it plays havoc on ones putting stance, or maybe it was the alcohol talking from one of the many bars around. For all the ‘insomniac hoopsters’ in the house, there is nothing like a great game of Basketball at 2am in the morning.

A Jacuzzi and Movie

Not all Fun and Games require physical exercise. After the bitter sweet realization sets in and parts of ones body, unheard of before- scream for attentive rejuvenation the best way to swallow ones bruised pride, no pun intended, is to catch a movie on a larger than life screen close to 70mm theatre sized format, in the middle of a bubbly Jacuzzi at 9 pm till midnight. I had a wonderful time watching a country western- The Magnificent Seven, with a beer in one hand and a shower of rain from above during the movie. A surreal experience indeed. Do remember to keep the towel handy, as the wind gets rather gusty in the wee hours of the morning. A definitive experience- with like-minded company, to redefine the term ‘Netflix and chill’. Goes without saying I wasn’t so lucky given three hairy men sharing my tub. Three more and I would be living my country western flick in real bubbly life, as a matter of speaking.

John Travolta meets Evgeni Plushenko

Contrary to popular belief, the ship while cruising is as stable as a Professor delivering a lecture on quantum astro physics on a cold winters day in Harvard. However, if some wish to get ‘Jiggy’ with it, allow me to suggest two multiple varieties on two different surfaces. For starters you could head to the neon lit discotheque at the far end of the ship, and boogie away to Saturday night fever Travolta style, and bust a move while you at it or be a vision on ice like the 4 time Olympian Evgeni Plushenko. Yes don’t look so baffled, I assure you I am not doing a Hemingway through this article and this piece is written and edited sober. There is an ice skating rink in the middle of the ship!!!! And you can learn the art of making a complete fool of yourself and redefining the term ‘Bottoms Up’ every few feet on twin blades. Whats more allow for the show to begin post ‘your’ practice rounds and see these graceful figurines make you feel inadequate and left footed every step of the way. Please wear full pants, I speak from experience having to break away follicles of hair like icicles due to the severity of the cold.

A Yankee and a show

Given all the vigorous and not so vigorous activity leaves one famished. What better experience than to dine at Johnny Rockets, one of the specialty restaurants transporting you back to the days of jukeboxes, hamburgers, hotdogs, sundaes and corn chilly fries. The Strawberry milkshake is best left to be sampled as words currently transport me to the chunky bits of fresh strawberry amidst goodness of brain freeze slush. Set in a 60’s setting of the American diner this is a fun filled experience for adults and kids alike with a set menu that includes some scrumptious mouthwatering fare that would appease the palates of adults and kids alike.

Consume the meal with gusto and don’t miss to catch the Musical at the indoor theatre Gallery of Dreams.

Its a world class production and keeps ones feet stomping through the spectacle.
Jackpot ‘Kaching!!!’

Right about now, the only infamous words coming to my mind is the sputtering of Clint Eastwood to the tune of ‘Feeling lucky punk’. No, I am not held at gunpoint nor am I in a Mexican standoff at the Roulette tables in the casino below deck. A full-fledged casino to satiate the appetite and wallet of the gambler in you, this gambler paradise has something for everyone. From slot machines to Blackjack to 21 one never gets bored. I even managed to win a little as a first time gambler. What can i say, beginners luck perhaps? After all, the house always wins right? Maybe not applicable in this case given it’s technically not a house? One would never know!! To question or not to question, that is the answer. Strictly for adults only.

As I sign off, I would like to harp upon the activities NOT covered in the gambit of Fun and Frolic aboard. Time did not permit me in a 19 hour day of whirlwind madness to indulge myself in the VitalitySM Spa with 100+ treatments with medi-spa treatments and acupuncture or the 4 pools including the Solarium that is an adults only retreat.

Nor was I privy to the state-of-the-art Fitness center with classes that included Tai chi and yoga or indulge my shopping delights in the duty-free shopping on the Royal Promenade including a Coach¯ store, jewelry, perfumes, apparel and shopping etc. Time also did not permit me to enjoy my stateroom with ocean facing balcony that had a flat-screen television with touchscreen way finders and digital signage to get the digital geek in me fed and be happily content. However having witnessed it all, I am eager and ready to get on my next cruise for a longer duration of time to plan my schedule more meticulously to experience all that it has to offer.

Boredom is never an option aboard the vastness of the ocean thanks to Royal Caribbean and Tirun Marketing.

Picture courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Images shot on IPhone6

The Easter Egg Hunt 

Nearing the end of the Holy period, my Instagram feed is cropping up temptations aplenty. From White & Dark Chocolate coated bunnies and decorated eggs to Minion shaped marzipan ones, each has me impatiently counting down the days till Easter Sunday. During this period of abstinence, many friends around gave up the consumption of eggs as part of the diet and it got me thinking about the historical significance of the Easter egg also known as Paschal eggs. Did you know? Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility and rebirth, in Christianity, for the celebration of Eastertide, Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus, from which Jesus resurrected. Quite fascinating. One ancient tradition was the staining of Easter eggs with the colour red “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed as at that time of his crucifixion. This custom of the Easter egg can be traced to early Christians of Mesopotamia, and from there it spread into Russia and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, and later into Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches.

 Speaking of history- I have my own history with eggs, not the Easter kind but the white ones with the ‘yucky yolk’ in the middle. I wouldn’t say a bad one but rather an unpleasant one. For the longest time I was harangued for leaving the yolk on my plate and at times subjected to be force-fed. Then as I grew older armed with half baked knowledge of the perpetual medical debate of cholesterol and how the ‘yolk’ was bad for you, had a bitter sweet remedial victory to the likes of “I told you so” to said authority. Memories are made of collective experiences and this had me stray far away from the goodness of protein found in them.  

 However eggs have been gradually shedding their bad reputation and gaining in popularity among health-minded eaters of all persuasions, from egetarians to protein-seeking athletes. Most experts now agree that eating eggs in moderation-up to one whole egg per day- doesn’t increase heart disease risk in healthy people.

 I am of the firm belief that mixing things up and eating a variety of foods is the best way to ensure you’re getting enough of all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function optimally. So it pays to alternate egg dishes with other healthy options, like fiber-packed oatmeal or yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts. Eggs are high in protein, which appeals to people looking for morning meals that have staying power. But there are plenty of other breakfast-friendly foods that accomplish the same end: Yogurt, soy and cow’s milk, beans, nuts, seeds, and certain whole grains like quinoa all deliver a nice hit of protein in a naturally nutrient-dense package. Here are a few egg free breakfast hacks for the busy bee in you.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal- This is my all time favourite, just for the peanut butter that adds dimension to the meal. Cook 1/2-cup oats with 1-cup soymilk, and stir in up to 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter. This serving gives you for 21 grams of protein!!!!

White Bean-Avocado Toast- Mash 1/4 of a ripe avocado with 1/2-cup white beans plus fresh herbs if you so desire, and spread over a hearty slice of toasted whole-grain bread. Prep time- 5 minutes and throws in 14 grams of protein.

Banana Bread Smoothie- A simple blending of 2 cups Soy Milk ¼ cup Walnuts, 2 large, very ripe Bananas, 1 tsp pure Vanilla Essence, 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon, 3-4 seedless Dates, a dash of Sea Salt and 2 handfuls of Ice and voila that’s 35 grams of protein in ten minutes.

As for self, I know what the near future holds in the form of sweets and meats galore. Here is the big question plaguing me- What size of the egg shall I buy? Will it be Chocolate- the way it was in 1873 when J.S.Fry & Sons introduced the first chocolate Easter egg in Britain or would it be the Minion shaped Marzipan eggs with semblance to the ones I tasted in the Philippines ‘mazapan de pili’, all those years ago from ‘pili’ nuts? 

Heres wishing you all a Happy & Joyous Easter ahead!!

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