Vegetarian CousCous Salad with Beetroot and Veggies

Beetroot Rainbow CousCous.jpg

Hey folks! How are you? 

I always get asked by my friends to share easy weekday meals, which are quick to make and healthy to eat. So, I am putting together a series of recipes which will solve this. 

Today, I want to share one of our favourite weekday lunch / dinner –

Vegetarian CousCous Salad 

CousCous, as you might be aware, is a kind of pasta made from durum wheat and semolina. It is a staple food throughout the North African cuisines. It has a light fluffy texture with no specific flavour of its own which makes it such a versatile dish. I literally make it with hundreds of other ingredients to give it a different taste each time. 

Today’s version has loads of veggies and an extra dose of grated beetroot to give it a beautiful colour. 

So, let’s get down to work. 

Beetroot Rainbow CousCous.1.Nia.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup CousCous 
  • 1/2 cup grated Beetroot
  • 1 cup chopped Cherry Tomatoes (whichever colour is available). I took both Yellow and Red. If you don’t have cherry toms, you can even use a plain chopped tomato. 
  • 1/2 cup chopped and roasted Bell Peppers (Again, feel free to use whichever coloured bell peppers you have in your pantry.) (Chop the bell peppers and pan fry them on medium heat stove with 1 tablespoons oil) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped Cilantro 
  • 1/4th cup sliced red Radish 
  • 2 tablespoons dried Raisins (or Blueberries or Cranberries) 
  • 8-10 chopped toasted Almonds
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon juice  
  • Salt and Black Pepper to Taste 
  • 2 tablespoons Cooking Oil and 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon Honey 

Method:

  • Take 1.5 cups water in a cooking pot. Add 2 tablespoons cooking oil, 1 teaspoon salt and half cup grated beetroot. Bring this water to boil.
  • Once the water starts boiling, add 1 cup couscous, mix well and turn off the heat. Cover the couscous and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. You can also add dried herbs like Thyme or Parsley or even fresh herbs like Cilantro, Mint or Basil to give it an extra flavour.  
  • After 10-15 minutes, remove the cover and check. If the couscous is still crunchy and hasn’t absorbed all the water, then let it sit for some more time. 
  • Next, remove the couscous from the cooking pot and place it in a large salad mixing bowl. Take a fork or spoon and gently break it apart to make it more fluffy. 
  • Now, add Extra Virgin Olive Oil, all your chopped veggies, pinch of salt, black pepper and lemon juice, honey (optional), balsamic vinegar  and mix all. 
  • Throw in a few dried raisins (or cranberries or blueberries) and chopped almonds. Garnish with fresh cilantro. 
  • Mix everything and you are good to go. 

 

Cool. So do try this and let me know if you liked it. 

As a personal update, the little one is going to be out next week…so the countdown is on! I am afraid I will not be able to write and update the blog regularly over the next month and half or so. At the same time, I am so excited and really looking forward to the next phase of sleepless nights and adventurous days. 🙂 

Sending you all love and inspiration,

Nidhi / Nia ❤ 

 

 

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24 Hours Only – How to Make the Most of Your Time

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Hey my dear folks! How are you? 

I am doing pretty well and trying to pack as many things as I can in the next two weeks before the little one arrives. It got me thinking about how I can increase my productivity without stressing me out. So today, I want to share with you some thoughts I had written on this topic a little while back for an online publication. This article first appeared on “Sharp Heels” – a fantastic online publication for career, fashion and lifestyle for professional women. 


 

“The bad news: time flies. The good news: you are the pilot.” — Michael Altschuler 

Time seems to be the scarcest “commodity” of the 21st century. Friends, family and clients I know have more than often complained about the lack of time in their lives to do the things they want. And so have I. What got me to really thinking about this further was the conversation I had with one of my clients last week.

He said: “I know that there are all these things to be done to build my executive leadership brand. But where is the time? How do I fit all this in my calendar? How do you manage?”

So his question got me thinking: is there a solution to end this war with time?

How to Find More Hours – and Stay Unflappable

It has to be said, for a long time I fought with time. I made to-do lists. Read time management books. Used fancy planners and calendars. Checked off items from my list. Multi-tasked. I did all that I could to save — and steal — any precious minute from my day.

However, instead of making me more productive and giving me the feeling that I was managing time better, it only made me more frantic. I found myself wishing for more hours, worrying about every minute that I “wasted” — and still feeling that nothing was getting done. My relationship with time strained further after the arrival of my little baby girl, when I began to feel that I had no time for anything.

Until one day, when I decided to befriend time. I made little changes to what I had been doing for years and finally found my secret to getting more things done in a day. Here are some tools from what I learnt.

1. Pause and Prepare

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

This is the first step. Whenever you start entering a phase when you feel overwhelmed by the pending tasks and lack of time, pause and take a moment to reflect. Here are some pointers for doing that on a regular basis in the most efficient – and serenity-inducing! — way:

  • Pour all of your thoughts, ideas, pending projects and tasks, errands etc. onto paper (or your computer).
  • Then review this comprehensive list to prioritize. Do this exercise at the beginning of every month.
  • Next, break down bigger projects into smaller action steps. This will help you pick daily goals for the rest of the month.
  • Lastly, extend this step to a daily habit: before diving straight to the routine on getting up, take twenty minutes to plan the rest of your day. 

2. Write Down a Daily “Must-Achieve List” instead of a “To-Do List”

To-Do lists are supposed to help us manage time better. However, their effectiveness decreases when they become long, unrealistic, and never-ending.

So, instead, pick your battles:

  • Instead of writing a massive to-do list, pick 3-5 ‘must achieve goals’ from your comprehensive list every morning.
  • Don’t do anything else that day until you complete these tasks. This way you can make sure that the most important things get done before they become stress-inducingly “urgent.” It will also increase your productivity, as you will not take up tasks in a haphazard, ad-hoc way.
  • Also, schedule at least one easy task for a day which is not urgent, but is important. I put these tasks under the “A minute to win it” category. This way you will feel more accomplished at the end of the day.

3. Say “No” More Often 

In many societal and organizational cultures, people have struggled to say the simple word “No.” However, research shows that the inability to say out loud these two simple syllables can lead to stress, burnout and even depression. Whether it is a “yes” to help a colleague on a project, attend a meeting or go shopping with your friend, you are agreeing to add to your load — and therefore reducing your time to address your priorities.

So, practice saying no more often and you will have much more time for what you want to do, when you want to do and how you want to do. Here are some techniques you can use to say no more effectively. 

4. Follow the 80:20 Rule 

The 80/20 Rule can be applied to most life and time situations.

What is means: Identify the 20% of your top tasks, projects and customers that will lead to 80% of your business achievements and results. Then follow it most of the time. This way you can focus on what really matters, increase your productivity, and get more things done.

In your personal life: identify the 20% of your wardrobe you wear 80% of the time. Keep it organized, clean, and in good shape. You will save time every day deciding what to wear, and then the time spent looking/searching for it.

On another personal note: Note the 20% books, websites, or blogs that contribute to 80% of your information, entertainment, then make sure they are always easy-to-find and at hand.

It does not mean that you have to never venture beyond your “top 20% everything,” and repeat the same thing. Experiment every now and then, and keep discovering your new top deliverables. However, following this in your busy and stressed weeks will save you lot of time pondering over small stuff.

5. Breaks and Buffers 

Another technique that has helped me is breaking down a long, lengthy project into smaller achievable tasks, and taking quick, 2-5 minute breaks between these tasks. It helps me stay focused and energized. Whenever I achieve each smaller objective leading to the bigger goal, I feel happy, motivated and more productive.

Also, you might have planned a perfect calendar for your day or month, but realize that there will almost always be curveballs thrown at you: unexpected client requests, troubleshooting, traffic delays, etc. Therefore, buffer time for these activities, and avoid planning the entire day down to the last second. If you have anticipated these unexpected things, you will be less stressed when “time-disruptors” appear, and feel more productive and creative to handle them.

To sum up: at the end of the day, to make the most of it, it is more important to be aware and conscious of your time, rather than to try to frantically “manage” it. We all have only 24 hours, no matter how many smart calendars we use on our phones and computers.

And most essential: make time for people and things you value most. Remember what high-powered social entrepreneur Zita Cobb has said:

“The most important thing is to make sure that the most important thing remains the most important thing.”

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How do you stay more productive? Would love to hear your ideas and challenges in in the comments below.

I will be back next week again (or earlier) with another thought. 

In the meantime, take care, stay awesome and make the most of today. 

Loads of love and inspiration,

Nidhi 

Every day is a new Day

 

Pink Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) NiceCream

pitaya nicecream Nia

Hey friends, Happy New Month! 

I can’t believe it’s July already and we are just about 20 days away from the most awaited event of this year for our family – the arrival of Baby Jr! Wohoooo!!! Surprisingly, I am quite relaxed, happy and at peace. No worries. No anxiety. Well..most of the time at least. So far. So good. 🙂 

So let’s celebrate this with a quick sweet treat. It looks gorgeous, tastes delicious and is super healthyicious (just wanted to make the word rhyme ;)). 

It is no secret that I am big fan of this fruit. It does not have a very distinct flavour of its own and that is what makes it so versatile. Use it in a savoury summery refreshing drink or a smoothie or an Ice-cream. 

Presenting to you – 

Pink Pitaya (Dragonfruit) Ice Cream

pitaya nicecream3nia

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Pink Dragon Fruit 
  • About 1 liter Milk of your choice (I took around 800 ml.) (Vegan Version – Coconut Milk / Almond Milk )
  • 3 tablespoons Honey (Vegan Version – Maple Syrup) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped Pecans 
  • 1/2 cup Blueberries 

Method:

  • Take your milk in a saucepan or a pot and place it on stove with slow – medium heat. 
  • While the milk is being heated up, take a large pink dragon fruit. Peel, chop and blend it into a puree. 
  • As the milk comes to boil, turn off the heat, add the fruit puree and blend using a hand blender. 
  • Let this mixture come to cool and then add 4 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup and chopped pecans and mix well. Adjust the sweetness according to your taste. 
  • Transfer this blend to a freezer safe container and freeze for 2-3 hours. Just before serving, bring out the ice cream container from the freezer and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so that it becomes easy to scoop out. Top it up with blueberries and dig in! 🙂 

 

Yay! So that’s all for today. I am going to keep it short and simple. Will be back with another thought and recipe soon. 

I had posted this recipe a little while back on my Instagram page, and one of my dear friends from university days – Zeal, tried it out and sent a picture to me. It just made me sooo happy. Thanks a ton Zeal, muaah! 

If you try it out, do let me know and post a picture. I would love to hear from you and see your creations. 

Ending our chat today with a beautiful quote by one of my favourite authors – Paulo Coelho, 

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine – it’s lethal.”

Go ahead and try something adventurous this weekend, even if it is something as simple as trying out a new recipe! 

Sending you loads of love and inspiration,

Nia ❤