Anniversary Blog -Holiday Favorites

1 year, 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours and an infinite amount of memories…

Happy holidays my friends! What a year it has been. Our journey began as I was preparing to embark on my study abroad trip, and now commences with the arrival of the new year. A warm thank you to all who have walked this journey with me. Starting this blog was just a figment of my imagination, but with your support has blossomed into a reality. I finally have a platform to share my experiences and for that I am truly humbled. A special thank you to my cousin, Ayesha, for inspiring me.

In the spirit of christmas where families are reuniting, homes are being lit with twinkling lights, and the true meaning of the holidays is recited, I’d like to share something I’ve been loving this winter season. As the year comes to a close, new aspirations are brewing, new goals are being set, old relationships are being rekindled and the joy of new beginnings is awaiting many around the world.

These past few months, as I wrapped up the last fall semester of my undergraduate education, I’ve made conscious decisions to continue my journey towards self-discovery and growth. It’s sort of become my self-identified ‘tagline’…

This semester I’ve realized that it’s normal to not have everything figured out. It’s okay if you haven’t set a 5 year plan towards success. Because the truth is, life doesn’t hand you a manual with step-by-step instructions. I’ve learned the importance of self-growth as I continue to do more of what I love, make mistakes, reflect on my actions and aim to do better each day forward.

I hope you all find your light at the end of the dark twisted tunnel, because my god is it reinvigorating!

On the note of finding your light and giving new opportunities a chance, I present to you my monthly favorites.

Netflix Original Documentaries: Chef’s Table & Minimalism 

  • Chef’s Table:

A grand opening with Vivaldi’s Winter -The Four Season’s hooks the audience into watching the beautiful cinematography featuring the stories of the world’s most renowned chef’s. Each episode is based on a different chef’s personal culinary story and their path towards becoming independent restaurateurs. Although I am guilty of binge watching my favorite sitcoms and series on Netflix, this series was about finding inspiration in the most mundane tasks and flipping traditional recipes on their head. Each episode was unique and worthy of glaring my eyes out for hours on end. My favorite episode featured chef Dan Barber. His approach to cooking went beyond taking ingredients to create a piece of art, it was more about providing his guest with an educational experience. Barber sheds light on the importance of sustainability and farming techniques that can be harvested for flavor, rather than mass production. An intriguing watch if you’re up to it on a lazy Sunday afternoon!

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-3-33-43-pm

  • Minimalism:

Can you tell I’m on a bit of a documentary streak? Aside from my favorite series, these short films are really wedging a home on my recently watched list. Minimalism is the perfect documentary to watch during the commotion of the holiday seasons. Hosts Ryan Nicodemus & Joshua Millburn open up their realities about living a minimalistic lifestyle. The documentary portrays a version of America where individuals have this insatiable craving for the next big thing, the newest fashion, the most lavish luxuries and this idea of a fulfilled lifestyle. A misrepresentation of the “American Dream,” through reality tv shows and social media outlets has changed the mindset of our younger  and older generations. These mediums constantly show us what we are “missing out on,” and how our main focus should be to obtain the most amount of things to make us happy. Now, I don’t want to spill all the beans so give this documentary a shot if you’re in need of a min-reality check.

“We need to start loving people and using things, not the other way around.”

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-3-34-34-pm

Musical Discoveries: New Age Solo Piano by Tim Neumark & Doug Hammer

I discovered the genre of solo piano about 3-4 years ago and fell in love. There’s a sense of peace that piano brings to my mind whenever I’m faced with a dificult situation. I usually listen to a piece before a big event, speech, exam, or simply when I need to meditate. This type of music stimulates your mind while simulatenously slowing your breathing and bringing you into a state of zen. I discovered Tim Neumark and Doug Hammer these past two months and was amazed. Their musical elements will take you on a roller coaster of emotions – from inspirational highs to teary lows-each piece builds upon each other beautifully. The experience is like crystal gold flowing through your ears.

Storm by Tim Neumark

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-4-30-10-pm Favorite Pieces: Anticipation, Ice & Transitions

Solace by Doug Hammer

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-4-35-35-pm Favorite Pieces: Unfolding, In the Fields, & A Dream I once lived

Vegan & Vegetarian Holiday Recipes: Three Bean Veggie Chili, Stir Fry Noodles, Granola Trail Mix Cookies

The holiday season is incomplete without cooking up a storm with your loved ones and trying out new recipes. Many of you may not know, but I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life and recently have started adopting a vegan lifestyle. Although the transition hasn’t been that difficult, I’ve found it really hard to give up cheese. My dietary choices are still a work in progress, but I’m glad  that I’m opening up to knew adventures. From thanksgiving dinner up till christmas dinner, these have been my go to recipes to dabble with. As always, the original recipes will be hyperlinked below the images. Trust me, even carnivores will enjoy these recipes as much as your vegetarian friends.

Three Bean Veggie Chili: hearty, nutritious, packed with healthy carbohydrates, contains your daily value of fiber, and perfect for dinner on a chilly night. 😉 PLUS, the creamy avocado on top is to die for!

image3 image4   image2

Realleyla- Three Bean Veggie Chili

Stir Fry Noodles: the perfect recipe where you can throw together your favorite veggies toss in a bit of chili sauce and call it a meal. I came up with this recipe on my own, but don’t really cook with exact measurements, so the ones listed below are an approximate estimate.

Ingredients: (1) package of brown rice stir fry noodles, (1) red bell pepper & (1) orange bell pepper, (1 cup) of shredded carrots, (1 cup) snow peas, (1/2 cup) of frozen edamame, (1) package extra firm tofu, (1/2 tsp) minced garlic, (1 tbsp) olive oil/grapeseed oil), (2 tbsp) low sodium soy sauce, (sriracha/ sambal oelek sauce to taste), (2 tbsp) thai peanut sauce, (1 tsp) sesame seeds, (1/2 cup) toasted cashews for garnish, (few sprigs of cilantro for garnish)

  1. start by prepping your vegetables (wash/julienne), press out all the water in the extra firm tofu (allow 30-45 minutes to remove excess water, this will really crisp up your tofu when your fry them), boil your frozen edamame for 5-7 minutes, soak your rice noodles in boiling water.
  2. in a saucepan, add the olive oil and once hot add in the minced garlic and roast for a minute before adding in the snow peas. Saute the snow peas until soft & tender.
  3. once the snow peas cook down, add in the peppers, carrots and steam them for 10-15 minutes with the peanut sauce and few tsp of soy sauce.
  4. after 30-45 minutes the tofu should have drained all the water and now its time to cut them into 1inch cubes and marinate with chili sauce, soy sauce and thai peanut sauce. after marinating the tofu set aside in the refrigerator for a good 10 minutes so the tofu really soaks up all the flavors.
  5. whilst the vegetables are cooking down, drain the rice noodles and submerge them in a bowl of ice water so they don’t stick together in the pan. also drain the edamame and set aside.
  6. now that the tofu has been marinating for awhile, its time to fry them with a tbsp of oil for another 8-9 minutes. the longer you allow the tofu to press out the water, the shorter time it will take to fry them and get them crisp enough.
  7. after the tofu and vegetables are done cooking, toss them with the rice noodles, and edamame, in a large wok or saucepan. add your sauces to taste
  8. garnish with white & black sesame seeds, toasted cashews & cilantro sprigs.
  9. It’s time to chow down! 😉

image5 image4 image1 image3 image2

Granola Trail Mix Cookies: delicious and cheat worthy. these cookies are great to give as a gift to neighbors, friends or bring to a holiday potluck. and if you’re feeling really sporty, you can pack these for an early morning hike.

img_0025

img_0029 img_0033Granola Trail Mix Cookies

Now can you tell I’m a foodie? Nothing beats the feeling of discovering new recipes, cooking them in the comfort of my home and sharing them with my friends and family. I hope you give these a try and comment below if you’ve made any variation of theses.

Favorite Tea: Teavana loose leaf tea gifted by my sister Aanika. One day during the midst of final exams, my sister surprised me with these teas and I was completely shocked! It was such a kind gesture, which I enjoy and sip on every morning. These teas are a perfect gift for any tea lover in your life!! Flavors I love: Blackberry Mojito, Mint Majesty, & Peach Tranquility.

img_0020

Favorite Experience: Feeding the Homless

This month my family and I prepared over 100 lunch boxes early Sunday morning and passed them out to those in need in my city. A small act of kindness can make someone smile, can give someone hope and can brighten their day. It was a blessed day and I felt so grateful that god has given me the ability to impact others in a positive way. I encourage you all to find small ways to give back to your communities or to those in need around you. Even a hug or smile across the room can make a difference.

img_4197  img_4199   img_4200

“WE RISE BY LIFTING OTHERS.”

Well friends, that wraps up my holiday favorites. What a past couple of months it has been! I can’t wait to chat with you all again shortly. Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

Love,

Ashna

xoxo