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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Date with a Clause 

If anyone asked me how I envisioned my Christmas at the start of the month, I would have scoffed at the idea and barked of my role as the Grinch this coming season. Flashback to an impromptu meeting at a Saturday night market followed by a late night bike ride with a beautiful stranger had me chimney down a different tune. Whilst many you folk went for midnight mass with refreshments and cake post (yes, I ain’t no heathen, I went for one as well), to the festive Christmas dances around Goa till the wee hours of the morning- I had an agenda in place. For all the single guys reading this, listen up. An invitation to a home cooked meal for a lady is sure brownie points on any given Sunday, and a double whammy at that when it happens to be Christmas. Donning the apron I had a plan in mind. An aperitif, salad and dessert were on the menu. Pre-planned and decided on our first encounter itself.
 For the sake of coveted ambiguity- Annie hails from Norway, is ambidextrous, loves her veggies and on occasion meets Mr. Clause from time to time. Yeah, they are practically neighbors, proximity wise. Cooking up a meal required something quick and easy yet spelt chic and sophisticated. Keeping it traditional had me research and play around with the Eggnog donning the aperitif quadrant. Did you know- culinary historians still debate its exact lineage; most agree eggnog originated from the early medieval Britain “posset,” a hot, milky, ale-like drink. By the 13thcentury, monks were known to drink a posset with eggs and figs. Milk, eggs, and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health. The Coconut Eggnog had a local touch of Goa infused. A pack of full fat coconut milk, 2 cups light coconut milk, 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and always some extra nutmeg for service. I just combined all the ingredients in the basin of a blender and blended away till they were well-combined and frothy and chilled it. Why did I do this you asked? Compared to the traditional Eggnog recipe made with milk, cream and eggs, dairy-free nog made from coconut milk has about half the calories and a fraction of the fat. It’s surprisingly creamy, and the coconut flavor may trick you into thinking you’ve already added a shot of rum (saving you about 100 calories.) Yes, I’m considerate like that.

 Ever Dated a Carrot with Feta in a salad? No pun intended, I assure you. All one needs is 3 carrots, 2 tsp chopped coriander, 1.5 tsp of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsp honey, salt, juice of 1 lime, ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese, 2 tsp of chopped toasted almonds, 2 tsp finely chopped dates. A 20-minute parallel process has one thinly slice the carrots into ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandolin, including any remaining “stubs” of carrot. Its important to note that you have to soak it in ice water until the ribbons firm up and curl, about 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Whisk together the cilantro, olive oil, honey, half a teaspoon salt and the limejuice in a medium bowl. Add the carrots along with the feta cheese, almonds and dates, and toss until evenly combined

 That didn’t stop there. With Christmas carols for good measure, I topped it off with Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” and served her the piece-de-resistance- Poached Pears in spiced tea pudding. And people say, I’m not a romantic. Scoff! A 15 minute preparation required 50g golden caster sugar, 1tsp honey, 4 luscious strawberries, 2 spiced tea bags (I infused strawberry cream and peppermint), 2 pears halved and scooped with a spoon, little orange juice zest and yogurt. You start off putting the sugar, honey in a big saucepan with 600 ml water and bring it to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pear halves, then cover and simmer until the pears are just tender – do poke them with a skewer to check. Lift out the pears, then turn up the heat, throw in the strawberries and boil for a few minutes until syrupy. Serve them pears, with warm syrup poured over and a spoonful of yogurt. Move over to the simmering bonfire in my backyard on a nippy night with toasted marshmallows and a blanket for company, it definitely began to look a lot like Christmas for sure.