What's for lunch?

by Naila Sheikh

I am pretty sure the majority of people must contemplate every day what to eat for lunch. Back when I was working in Real Estate, I would buy myself a Subway sandwich or on some days, frequent Panda Express for much needed carb-cravings. Fast forward into present time: I have now the privilege to prepare lunch at home, for myself and the hubby on-the-go. I firmly believe that lunch really sets the tone of the day, more than breakfast - however, breakfast is vital to not overeating during lunch and one should have it as early as possible. 



My day begins before 6 AM: I try to become regular in my prayer, especially the Tahajjud & Fajr Islamic prayer, but most of the time, I'm unfortunately either too lazy to roll out the prayer mat, or it just skips my mind. I find it frustrating and it saddens me that I'm not strong enough to take out my time to worship God, talk to Him, rely on Him. I wasn't like this. Nor am I like this during the month of Ramadan. Why is that as humans, when a deadline or reward is given, we are more likely to respond? I feel like we haven't grown up in that regard or maybe life has slowed us down. Of course, the rewards of praying are infinite and I should really score those extra points with God as my heart pines for solace at times. 



Breakfast is as usual; crepes for my daughter and left-overs for me (this will be covered in another Blog Post) , and during drop-off, I drink my big bottle of mineral water with a squeeze of lemon, 1 tsp of organic apple cider vinegar (keeps the nasty flu 😷 away) - not only is it good for digestion but it also instills the habit of staying hydrated. 



Today marks December 1st - oh how fast time has flown! For us to embark on 2017 very very soon, and for Trump to be president, is a harsh reality we will have to live with. But one can not be disheartened by what the future might bring since we are unaware of the prospects. All we can really do is pray for the best and prepare ourselves to be stronger and better. 



To keep strong and not think of what I should have for lunch every day, I've made a pact with myself to eat fruit. I cut up all the fruits I have (gotta love organic bananas, apples and dates! Always have medjool dates!), I sprinkle chia seeds, fresh squeezed orange juice and some black pepper. Keeping it simple. I usually have lunch - my bowl of fruit salad - during my drive when picking my daughter up from school. My son eats it first, and only then I allow myself to have my lunch. 😊 The baby bird gotta be fed first! 🐣



By the time we reach home, I've finished my fruit salad, drank my water and feel happy with having my daily intake of fruits which I'd normally ignore. Unless the fruit isn't cut up and presented in a plate, we are often ignoring the good things we can eat and should eat. My daughter has her "fruit time" which I obsessively remind her of. Either slices of apple or a whole banana after school. I tell the kids that there is no way out - but they are free to chose the fruit of their liking. 



If not a fruit salad, then a regular salad with baked chicken nuggets and no dressing can suffice on days when it gets too boring or I've come back from an intense workout.  



It keeps me excited and going! 😃  

What's for lunch in your neck of the woods?  

 My fruit salad bowl on-the-go. It might take time to cut up the fruits, but the labor pays off!  

My fruit salad bowl on-the-go. It might take time to cut up the fruits, but the labor pays off!  



Naila - 

Confused/Infused Shrimpy Shrimp

by Naila Sheikh

To be honest, shrimp isn't my bestest of friend. I hold a love-hate relationship with these species of the sea. Love: they're fun to cook. Hate: not so gaga over the taste. The chewiness and inadequate content of meat does not satisfy my expansive appetite, but I'm all encouraging and cheery sitting on the sideline watching you inhale SHRIMP. Go for it. 


When I do happen to risk myself to enter the seafood section of the grocery store (the smell. cant help it...ok guys, yes i'm way too sensitive), I'll order freshly peeled shrimp, half a pound. The worker behind the counter sees me as a friendly lady strolling casually along the aquariums filled with living catfish staring at me for mercy. Either EAT ME or RELEASE ME! My every sense is amplified and all I want is to make a run for fresh air. *Note: the before-mentioned is NOT an exaggeration. Ask my kids.


When I do make it out alive and arrive safely in my Kitchen, trying to forget the lingering smell of deathly-piranha-looking fish - *def an exaggeration* - I am keen on removing the gory images of the day and making pleasant memories in my head with the help of music of course. 

Turn to Frank Sinatra or Kumar Sanu for creating a nostalgic mood - listen to the oldies and let's make this SHRIMP will ya!


What you need:

- Shrimp (preferably peeled)

- 1 onion, 3 straws of green onions: you can slice it thick, no need for it to be looking thin.

- 1 red & 1 green bellpepper (or the color you prefer) : slice it long and thin

- Himalayan Salt: just a pinch- Red Chilli flakes: 2 tbsp

- A tangy garlic sauce: I prefer Maggie's Chilli Garlic Sauce

- Tartar Sauce: half a cup

- Jasmine Rice - 2 cups and 1 packet of Spicy Jambalaya Rice Mix (found at seafood aisle)

- As for Masalas: I use Shan's "Achar Pickle" : 1 tbsp



Drizzle your pan with olive oil. Pour in the onion and green onions with the Achar Pickle Masala. Add the red chilli pepper flakes. Keep an eye on it until the onions turn golden brown. I like hearing it sizzle. You can go ahead and pour in some of the chilli garlic sauce.  To make it a bit more spicier, I would recommend 1 tsp of red chilli powder. 

Add your shrimp and mix well. Put a lid on medium heat. After 2 minutes, add your tartar sauce. Put the lid back on. Let the shrimp soak it all up. 

See the shrimp all happy and gooey with its fellow-ingredients? Now, burst its happy bubble by adding the bellpepper slices, cuz its veggie time! This will add much color to your culinary creation...and perhaps to your life...just sayin'.

Put the lid back on, yo.

I'd say 15-20 minutes (i really do cook the shrimp until its officially dead in my eyes) let it be on medium heat...now, be aware; the last 5 minutes requires attention:

You turn up the heat, take off the lid and start stirfrying your Shrimpy Heaven. Just like  the cooks you see at Pei Wei or Panda Express working that wok! Go with the flow. Stand steady. Do NOT move. Texts and notifications can be checked later. Your mom calling? Yes, do pick up your mamma's call. I don't want that on my conscience! Now, you gotta multi-task but you can do it...let it fry...mix! Ask your mom how she's doing. How was her day? No, don't look at me. Look at your pan...you're almost there... Mamma aint happy with you ignoring her for all these days? Dude. you gotta call her. Let her vent. It's okay. Remember, she gave birth to you and you weren't the size of shrimp, ok! 



You did it. Smile. Say "love you" and end the call. Make her happy, be there for her. You did it. We're good. All's well. 

Uhmm, by the way: don't forget to boil your jasmine rice (add 1/3 of the jambalaya rice mix to your jasmine rice before cooking the rice. This will add color and flavoring to your pretty jasmine :)






Yes. I come up with my own titles.


Thanksgiving Hangover Cure: Eat Yo Salads!

by Naila Sheikh

Don't worry. I'm not adding kale to my amazing discovery, although, I should start incorporating it into my diet, hmmm.  


I feel as parents we tend to sometimes contradict ourselves and we possibly can't help it either: "Ah, finally, a break! No more school" 😄...3 days later: "I can't wait for them to go to school! They're driving me crazy!" 😬...On the first day of school upon waking up before that irritating bird in your Oak tree: "WHY do they even go to school?!?!" 😫


While we're all in it together, as parents or contributing productive citizens of society, the very first day of returning to the REAL world can be quite a shocker no matter how many years of experience you've gained in this game of Life & Survival. 


Why can't kids just grow a pair of wings and fly themselves to class? Why can't these beautiful angels actually act like angels - form a pact, start a Kid Uber service or something. I guess I must not be pessimistic in the prospect of my dreams becoming reality one day. Also, those who've already judged me, shaken their heads and "tsssk-ed" me as a bad parent while reading this dreadful paragraph - chill out - I'm justtttt kiddin'. 


It's all good. We love our children. If it wasn't for our hard work and sacrifice then everrrybody would probably be popping em out right? 😆 Oh. They do? In 2016?


Maybe most of them are ignorant of sexually active consequences, just sayin'. Yes, I do believe in the sheer innocence of the human spirit and I'll stand by my own naivety even when I'm faced with hard evidence. Why, you ask? Because it's fun to live in a bubble that's why. Argh. Now don't annoy me further okay. Let's get to business and complete this Blog Post with a conclusion. (note: the sarcasm is derived from my throbbing migraine, so pls don't cry. I'm not trying to hurt you, it just so happens subconsciously *accept apology*) --


So yes, salads! The one that I can't live without...(grab a pen, make a note, add onto your grocery list) ... ***drumroll*** I hereby present:



This packet is available at Sam's Club and it's truly my Asian Aunt/Top Chef/Nutrionist all in one coming together on plate. I'm serious. I add left-over meals to salads or some other green leafs, olives - basically anything that can go or sets my mood. 

This. Is. Awesome.


okBye. Gotta put my monkeys to sleep💤.  

Below is a pic of my daughter actually wearing wings during outdoor backyard play:  



Naila - 


Post-Thanksgiving Appetite

by Naila Sheikh

The holidays are here with stores decked in Christmas decor (already!). Time doesn't walk slow, does it? It runs faster than your Fitbit counting your steps, ha! Nor does it stand still to make us fully analyze and realize the upcoming Presidency😬...


While we appreciate our enormous blessings during Thanksgiving, we are also aware of the historic significance and might I say, horrific events that took place in the cleansing of the indigenous people. We all celebrate our own version of giving Thanks, whether you pray furiously, give charity, help your community or serve your elderly - the coming together of families and friends is truly a wonderful occasion. Thus, life should be celebrated. 


Our Thanksgiving break has been a simple affair of staying home, organizing, healing (from the nasty cold & cough), playing/sunbathing in the backyard and watching Netflix! I had planned a Thanksgiving lunch at my house but due to everyone's schedules, we were unable to make arrangements. However, our get-together on Friday, feasting on Pakistani kababs, really warmed our hearts with gratitude and love for one another. 


As a homemaker, the beauty of presenting a meal whether small or fancy, knowing that my love went into creating something special for my loved ones, brings me immense joy. So, today, with most of us under the weather, I decided to make use of the marinated chicken tikka in the refrigerator. 


Chicken Tikka Tortilla Soup  


•Challenge: say "chicken tikka tortilla soup" ten times in super speed.  

 Shredding a leg of chicken tikka with my hands and sautéing it in oil and cumin seeds (with masala already marinated on the chicken).

Shredding a leg of chicken tikka with my hands and sautéing it in oil and cumin seeds (with masala already marinated on the chicken).

• I then proceed to cut 1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic, and sautée in olive oil until golden brown. Puree this consistency in your food processor with 3 ripe tomatoes. 


• Once the chicken tikka bits are fried lightly in the pressure cooker, I go ahead and add my tomato puree, mixing it well. Put a lid on and cook for 18-20 min on low heat. Water can be added to make the soup soupier/thinner/runnier (I'm outta words). One can also substitute the chicken tikka (meat) with chicken stock. 


• I like adding a can (or half) of gorbanzo beans to this soup. Don't be afraid. Gorbanzo won't hurt you. 


• Sit down. Talk to me. Can you believe it! Lauren Graham is 49 years and my goodness, doesn't she look amazing! So, I completed one episode of the Gilmore Girls last night and oh my, Stars Hollow is still as magical as we left it years ago. Also, who is looking forward to see Jess, Luke's nephew? 😍  

I'm hoping for Sooki to make an appearance. It's fun to see Paris still so hyper and ambitious. How about Rory, at 32? She's 35 years old in reality (had to look it up) - but still looks as fresh as before. A good diet and fitness makes one ageless I suppose...(Hollywood translation: money & Botox) --


• 18 minutes passed! Whatcha doin' talking girl, get up!  

Now, let's see...open the lid, stir, close the lid. Turn off the heat, let it all simmer in steam.  


• Chop a handful of cilantro. Grab some shredded cheese and tortilla strips. And while you're at it: grab a nice bowl. Easy, right? 


• Pour your soup in the pretty bowl, garnish with cilantro, cheese and tortilla strips/chips.



With Love,

Naila ~ 

 Enjoy! "Eet smakelijk" as we say in Dutch! 

Enjoy! "Eet smakelijk" as we say in Dutch!