The Smoothie Project

by Naila Sheikh


I have finally gotten the time to sit down and write this Blog Post while the kids just shut the door and are heading outside (really, just now) to visit their grandfather. I can either continue to watch the episodes of '13 Reasons Why' OR I can keep on sharing my thoughts here ... what shall we choose? The idea of watching some TV by myself is really appealing but to "talk" to you guys after my very mundane and robotic house chores, definitely requires some interaction on my part ... and I so happily abide to the latter option. :) 

 

I can finally NOW take a breath of relief and say that I'm extremely happy for my kids to be eating as I 've always wished for them to have a healthy appetite but during these six, almost 7 years I've endured a LOT of stress and at times felt extremely lonely in their feedings and upbringing. Imaad never used to be picky and I thanked God for making it easy on me until the inevitable happened and all my dreams of an easy eater were crushed. He started (and still is) avoiding chicken and all kinds of veggies. Mehreen, my daughter, always the picky one - would even gag at the food I so lovingly made, causing me to seriously at times become very very upset...

 

As you can read, none of this has been easy for me ... nor am I dancing on the table today for my small victories, but I am keen on acknowledging the ease they're now finally atleast TRYING to give me for the sake of peace in the house. I have, at times, emotionally influenced them on how "upset mommy gets when you guys don't eat!" 🙎🏻Taking them to the grocery store to educate on various produce was always fun and I did my best to make the best out of it.

 

With the Grace of God, a mother's efforts and duayei'n (prayers) are never wasted 😭 -- as it still remains a humongous challenge for me, I am so grateful to Allah that we are making progress, even if it is the slightest improvement in our daily lives. 

 

Following Weelicious, a mommy health & foodie blogger from LA, for quite some time, I have occasionally tried to make fruit smoothies in the past. This would result in only Imaad drinking just a little bit and Mehreen turning her head in avoidance - thus, bringing me much disappointment ☹️ -- To still have them eat their fruits after school time, I implemented FRUIT TIME in their daily schedule in which they were allowed to tell me their fav fruits and I'd get it for them. The many trips I've made to the grocery store just for that reason alone, ha!  

 

This past week or two I've been very adamant about making fruit smoothies following Weelicious' approach and few of her ingredients. During a health family crisis in my in-laws recently, my mother-in-law suggested to force veggies on the kids until they'd get used to it. You see, I appreciate my elderly and I took her advice in good spirit, knowing that she wants the best for her grandkids. Although, it was my Ammi that gave me the practical solution to supplement Mehreen's diet with fresh organic fruits, like fresh squeezed orange juice . We slowly had her take a few sips until she liked the taste and approved of oranges, yay!!! Winning atleast one battle gave me confidence to carry on!

 

Weelicious' Smoothie Project is truly an amazing initiative and I'm super happy with the result as of now. I'm pouring a lot of my dedication and energies into this while looking up healthier options to supplement the kids' much-needed antioxidants. The making of small videos for my NailasKitchen instagram page keeps me excited & going and the kids tend to think of themselves as "actors" in my movie 😃 - I happen to love sharing my experiences with all of you as I believe that we're all trying to raise our kids to the best of our abilities - and believe me, it ain't easy. I truly believe that sharing my ideas & methods contains "happy powers" making me feel fulfilled and needed to my friends and community, even if the feedback is minimal. Not only does it keep me sane to go on and stay excited, but I'm also documenting my parental journey with all the ups & downs ... such is life. 😉

 

Stay with me in this journey; follow NailasKitchen on Instagram and let me know YOUR experiences and the solutions you've applied to make life easier.   

 

 

With ❤️, 

Naila ~ 

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Mutton Biryani

by Naila Sheikh


Today's bipolar weather called for cooking up a storm in the kitchen. With half a packet of goat mix left in my freezer, I decided to make mutton Biryani as comfort food on a relaxing Sunday. 

 

With thunder raging in the clouds and rain falling upon my precious garden, the process of making Biryani kept me busy in my thoughts and excited for today's dinner serving. A quick trip to the mall and the recording of my Vlog (which has now become a natural routine in my daily life), I was happy to see my goat meat marinating beautifully with its Tarqa companions. 

 

All there was left to do was the the boiling of my already soaked Basmati rice in my rice cooker and viola! 

 

Ingredients: 

 

 - oil 

- goat meat: 1 packet 

- one onion

- 2 tomatoes (you can opt out of tomatoes, but I prefer them)

- ginger & garlic paste - 1 tbsp   

- red pepper flakes - 2 tsp

- 1 whole jalapeño, slit in half

- shan's Biryani masala  

- cilantro and orange/red food coloring 

 

 Directions: 

 

- cut your onion thinly and fry it in a drizzle of oil, with red pepper flakes, jalapeño, 2 tbsp of Biryani masala. 

 - add the tomatoes once the onions are fried to a brown consistency.

 - make sure to stir, add the meat and stir again. Put lid on pressure cooker. Keep on low heat. Lock the lid.

- Soak 2.5 cups of Basmati in water, rinse the rice a couple of times. Now, do yourself a favor and watch an episode of your fav show.

- Done? 😄 

...stop smiling. We ain't done yet, ok. Turn on the rice cooker, boil the rice, add peas if you want (I do for the sake of my kids), a pinch of salt and a little olive oil. Let the machine do its magic. 

 

- Check on your meat in the pressure cooker. Add some water. Lock the lid again and turn up the heat jussttttt a little bit (I prefer the temp setting between 3 & 4).

 

- Once the rice is almost done, you can add a pinch of yellow or orange food coloring with a small cube of butter so that the rice can glisten in all its glory ✨ 

 

- Meat is tender? Turn off the heat. Keep the lid on for the steaming to take over. You just step back and relax. Okay, the hard part is done. Bravo!  

 

- Find a dish in your cabinet in which you'd like to see your Biryani served. That one? Great! Start layering your rice - cut some cilantro while you're at it - with meat curry and rice , meat and rice ... you catch my drift 😆 -- done? Put a lid on. Let it sit. Microwave for 2 - 3 min and serve! 

 

 

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Salad, please.

by Naila Sheikh


One can never go wrong with salads. It's the best option when at times, we feel overwhelmed of our hectic schedules and simply don't want to prepare a whole meal.  

 

I always keep Organic Spring Mix Salad in my refrigerator when desperate times, like today, force me to whip up something easy and quick for myself (hubby doesn't do salads). It requires no work, and it's always filling.

 

I also keep a pack of frozen Organic Spinach & Cheese Ravioli in my freezer, purchased at Sams club. Boiling the ravioli, draining it and adding it to my mountain of Spring Mix is all it takes! You can add your favorite dressing/sauces to this mix, or go crazy and add cucumbers and tomatoes while you're at it. I tend to keep it simple since the ravioli is very filling. 

 This is GREAT stuff and easy to prepare! 

This is GREAT stuff and easy to prepare! 

 Can't live without... 

Can't live without... 

End Result:

 

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A minimal salad makes a great meal!  

 

 

With ❤️️,

Naila - 


Cheesy Cheese Fries *revamped*

by Naila Sheikh


It's a cold day outside and I'm not planning on leaving my residence. My backyard offers enough sunshine for the day and I make sure for the kids and I to have plenty of fresh air even on very wintery days. 

Outdoor activity is my number one emphasis when it comes to spending the weekends. Staying home doesn't mean staying indoors at all times - one should make an effort to soak up the sun and embrace the skies.

 

I was able to sleep in today, yay! The moment I woke up I imagined having cheese fries for either lunch or dinner. The visual of fries drowned in cheeses 🧀 and all other yumminess, made me look forward to just stay at home and not be bothered...AT ALL.

 

"Cheese Fries" 

 INGREDIENTS: 

 

• 3 to 4 potatoes sliced in a handheld fries maker  / or use frozen fries from the store.

• poppy seed dressing 

• deli sliced pepper rings - sliced thinly

• 3 sundried tomatoes cut (you'll get oily fingers👋🏽, but it's ok)  

• a handful of Spanish manzanilla green olives, sliced thin

• green onions - 3 to 4 stems cut in thin rounds

• Heinz sweet relish - 3 tbsp

• red pepper flakes - 2 tbsp

• Shredded cheeses: I used Muenster and Mexican Cheddar Jack. 

• a pan that can go in the oven ( spam spray  or butter it a little bit )

 

 INSTRUCTIONS: 

 

  1. I used a cake pan, buttered the bottom and sides.  
  2. I poured a generous amount of Poppy Seed Dressing to cover the bottom. It doesn't have to cover all, since it's quite runny: see below👇🏽...
 Next time, I'll probably cut down on the poppy seed dressing. It was delicious but that much isn't needed.  

Next time, I'll probably cut down on the poppy seed dressing. It was delicious but that much isn't needed.  

    3. I add the rest of the cut-up ingredients, one after each other, starting with green onions, deli peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. 

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    4. I top it off with the cheeses covering the fries. If you want, you can add relish to this but some may find that too much (it also tends to get liquidy with relish, so be aware.)  You can finish by adding the rest of the fries laying it in the other direction: either horizontal or vertical. 

     

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    5. Put it in the oven for about 30 min. in 350 degrees temperature.  

    I turned off the oven but let it sit for a while as I was tending to the kids, my cheeses turned browner than I desired but the crunchy layer of cheese and the bits of sundried tomatoe, olives, really make for an appetizing and non-stop edible lunch!  😋

    ...just as I imagined and dare I say, much better? 

     Cheesy fries READY to be DEVOURED!  

    Cheesy fries READY to be DEVOURED!  

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    With ❤️, 

    Naila ~