Quinoa and broccoli – easy vegan lunch

When my aunt sent me a link about the benefits of quinoa for vegetarians and vegans, I knew I had to try it for lunch.

Inspired by the article, I prepared a simple but tasty lunch using just 5 ingredients:

  1. quinoa – prepared on the hob just like rice, for 15 mins.
  2. broccoli – gently steamed on the hob for 3-4 minutes, slightly undercooked – perfect.
  3. water – to prepare the quinoa and the broccoli.
  4. salt – freshly ground rock salt.
  5. pepper – although meal would have been perfect without it too.

Cooking time: 20 minutes

The quinoa was a great substitute to rice – lighter and a slightly nutty flavour. Delicious and filling.

Quinoa and broccoli lunch

Alternatives to Mealtimes in Front of the TV

When a bachelor friend recently visited us, he was saying how, even though he’s bought a dining table and chairs, he has most of his meals in front of the TV.

Until recently, Heena and I have spent most of our mealtimes glued to the TV set too. Such a convenient distraction from life, and a shameful waste of valuable time.

It got me thinking about alternatives to the television during mealtimes either alone or with a partner:

– have a conversation at the dining table
– learn about each others’ day
– picnic in the garden or local park
– eating slowly paying full attention to each mouthful
– listening to music
– listening to inspirational audio
– reading a book
– reading a magazine
– writing lyrics to a song
– writing a blog post
– looking through a photo album
– watching a slideshow of treasured memories on a digital photo frame

Which of the above do you already enjoy doing? What alternatives would you suggest?

Vegan Pizza at Fire & Stone

Heena and I had a wiked vegan feast at Fire & Stone in Westfield London this week.

They had an offer: two pizzas for £10 – what a deal!

Heena ordered the Koh Samui: yellow coconut base sauce, roast sweet potato, crisp fried Thai shallots, red chilli & mange tout, baby sweet corn, basil drizzled with toasted sesame seeds. See photo above.

I ordered the Byron Bay: basil pesto, sliced field mushrooms, cumin roasted sweet potato, cherry vine tomatoes, green olives, topped with crushed macadamia nuts. See photo below.

We requested both pizzas to be without any cheese or other animal products.


Fire & Stone: Byron Bay pizza (vegan request)

Marrakech with the Missus

At the tail end of December 2009, Heena and I spent 5 days and 4 nights in Marrakech (Morocco) celebrating our 1 year anniversary.

It was much needed time in the sunshine. The days were sunny and warm, but the nights were very cold, although not as freezing as London.

Here’s what we did: we spent time absorbing the sights sounds and scents (+ sometimes yucky smells) of the Souks, which are the markets and small shops throughout the alleyways of the Medina.

We also did the touristy things such as visiting some ancient buildings but didn’t fully understand what they are as my French needs brushing up and we don’t understand Arabic.  I’m hoping Heena will write a post about it with researched detail soon on her blog so I can link to it.

[update: Heena has written a wonderful post with more details about our time in Marrakech – published on Valentines Day 2010]

We took an excursion into the Atlas mountains where we climbed up to check out the Ourika waterfalls.

The magic of the trip was the quality time we spent playing cards, board games, and some singing and dancing 🙂

Some tips and resources if you are considering a short vacation to Marrakech:

  • We stayed at the Dellarosa Hotel, about a 15-20 minute walk to the Medina
  • Our vegan meal at Earth Cafe was delicious – possibly the only vegetarian restaurant in Marrakech
  • We needed to get a taxi from the airport to the hotel.  The first taxi driver we met tried to screw us over for price.  Lucky I had called up the hotel the night before – they said it would cost 150 Dhirams.  The first taxi driver tried to take us for 300!  Lesson: always check with the hotel how much the taxi should cost.
  • The climb up the mountain to the waterfall could have been fatal if it wasn’t for my shoes which had some grip – I almost slipped a few times right off the slippery mountain rocks!  Pack sensible walking shoes with good grip!
  • Devise a strategy when walking through the narrow alleyways of the Souks – all the shopkeepers will attempt to lure you in to buy something.  We had a strategy – I would hold Heena’s hand and charge straight ahead with rhino-like focus while Heena would smile at them with a look of “I’m sorry but he won’t let me stop” – kept it polite whilst successfully getting from point A to point B in the shortest possible time.
  • We drank loads of mint tea, loaded with plenty of sugar – BEWARE: I’ve now become addicted to sugar in less than 5 days and have to start weaning myself off it in my hot drinks.

No trip’s complete without some holiday snaps:

Baking Bread at Home – No-knead!

I’ve been considering home-baked bread for a while now.

Seeing as I’ve chanced upon a VERY SIMPLE no-knead bread making recipe video, I thought I’d share it here.

Perhaps one Sunday this autumn, visitors to my home will be welcomed in with the scent of freshly baked bread.

May 2009 – a personal update – celebrations, bereavements, career & preparation

Dear family and friends,

The month of May has so far been one of celebration, bereavement, remembrance, family closeness, career progress and preparing for this summer’s events.

In the early May bank holiday weekend, Heena and I spent 3 days in Brighton to celebrate her birthday, where we feasted at several of Brighton’s many vegetarian / vegan restaurants. If you’re going to Brighton, I highly recommended the vegetarian restaurant Terre à Terre.

We held bhakti (devotional prayers) on Saturday 16th May in memory of Heena’s father who passed away 9 years ago and in memory of Heena’s kaka (father’s brother) who passed away 6 years ago, and a sadadi /prathna sabha (prayer meeting) on Saturday 23rd May for our dear nanima (my mum’s mum) who passed away in Nairobi earlier this month.

On Monday 25th May, a few of the family got together to write kankotris / invitations for my brother Sawan’s wedding which is taking place in August. It was a productive day, and with the recent bereavements in the family, it was wonderful to have the warmth of the family come together.

Preparation is coming along well for the session titled “Revealing the Gremlins” which I’ll be presenting at the Young Jains International Convention this July. It’s about recognising the barriers we face when working towards our goals, and explores what karma is really about. If you want to know more about this, you can read an introduction to the session ‘Revealing the Gremlins’ .

The convention is taking place on the weekend of 17th to 19th July in London, and is open to all ages (aimed mostly at age 16 to 35 and beyond, although there’s a special kids convention taking place alongside it). Do register to attend if it sounds interesting – the cost is heavily subsidised, and registration includes delicious Jain vegan meals! Let me know if you’d like to know more, or see www.youngjains.org.uk/convention for details.

Public speaking is also becoming an important element in my career, where last week I was invited to a conference to speak about digital marketing strategies to a room full of university marketing and communications professionals. This is really important for me because my role at Chameleon Net focuses on building relationships with existing clients and attracting more clients from the higher education sector. I received some very constructive feedback from the session I presented, which will help to make me a better public speaker over time.

Next month, Heena and I will be celebrating six months being married (and incidentally a year since I proposed to her). It’ll consist of more preparation towards the Young Jains Convention in July and Sawan’s wedding in August. Of course, June is also the month in which I’ll be growing a year older / wiser!

As you can see, the next few months will be quite action-packed, so thanks to all who have been patient with me about arranging to spend some quality one-on-one time together – this will happen September 2009 onwards…

With love,