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Optimistic October

My October started on a happy note. I was finally able to submit my paper by the end of the first week. I ran into some major technical issues on the day and it almost felt like I wouldn’t make that day. But I was pretty determined to push through as I had set myself a goal to submit that Friday. I stayed back and submitted at 9:30pm so it felt like a big milestone!

With my last paper out of the way, I was able to focus on revising the remaining chapters. I still had 3 weeks of teaching left so I had to manage my time around this. I could sense the end was near so I found it much easier to focus and get through my tasks. I was able to make a lot of progress on the two chapters that required extensive revisions.

In other news, I was presented with some great opportunities this month. Unfortunately, some were things I cannot pursue right now due to my ongoing PhD commitment. It’s not easy to say no but I knew that taking on other projects/roles would delay my submission. My progress has been very slow since July so had no choice but to turn it down the ones that came with a deadline. Fortunately, I was able to postpone one and I cannot wait to share this with you soon. 

Overall, October was a relatively productive month. As the past few months haven’t been so great for me, I’d probably say that this was the best I’ve had in a long while. My month ended on an even better note as I received a positive response from the journal I had submitted to and started on the revisions.

Here are my October eats 🙂 now that the weather is warmer, I have been making a lot more smoothies this month. This month, I partnered up with Seastraws as an ambassador. I’m excited to be partnering with an Aussie brand that is focused on reducing the environmental impact and saving our oceans. In case you’re wondering how that’s possible: 10 million less plastic straws would be used daily if all of us in Australia were to swap to reusable straws! You can use the code ‘ANIKA’ to get 10% off your order 🙂

Excited for the smoothie season!
Broccolini, bean, snow pea and cashew stir-fry
Brunch with sunny side, wilted spinach, tomato and strawberry with choc coated almonds
Pasta with mushroom, spinach, asparagus, prawn and mussels
French toast with berries and almonds
Pasta with avo ‘pesto’, asparagus and capsicum
Prawn and asparagus curry
Sunday brunch
Pasta with mushroom, asparagus and spinach. Topped with pan fried mackeral

Bombay toast with wilted spinach and tomato
Pasta with asparagus and spinach

Slow September

I started this month feeling somewhat settled after a very eventful month in August. While I had adjusted to my teaching schedule, I still found it difficult to make substantial progress on my final paper. I still had some issues with my code that needed resolving. In the first week, I managed to get some results, with the help of a statistician. It was very exciting to be getting some sort of output and I remember feeling very optimistic at this point

It was a good start but it was only the beginning. I needed to do other add on analyses which took some time to figure out. Things had kind of picked up for me at the beginning of September but it went backwards again. There were times where I felt like I was going around in circles and not getting anywhere with my PhD or with my life in general.

Happy to say, the clouds eventually passed over and I ran my last analyses on the last day of September. I honestly cannot explain how excited I felt to be finishing up with the statistical analyses. This last paper has been the only thing that has held me back from submitting my thesis so I can’t wait to get this paper out of the way and start finalising my remaining chapters.

In other news, I became a plant mum this month which was pretty huge for me because I’ve never been into gardening. While I admired the idea of succulents, I haven’t been able to keep them alive when I’ve owned them in the past. Other than PhD and plants, food has been keeping me busy. I’ve picked up my food photography game which always excites me.

Overall, September was a pretty frustrating month for me but at least it ended on a good note. I can finally see the light at the end of the PhD tunnel which seems to be never ending. Let’s hope October will be a more fruitful month and will make up for my slowness from September.

Here are some of my September eats 🙂

Grilled tofu and zucchini marking the start of my new grill pan!
Pan-fried hoki fillets in a bed of brown rice and veggies
French toast with berries (used chia seeds and mashed banana to substitute for eggs)
Stir-fry tofu with beans, capsicum and cashew
Blueberry pancakes, topped shaved coconut with cacao nibs
Cacao porridge bowl with banana, berries, shaved coconut, pepita, walnut and honey
Sweet and savoury brunch with sunny side eggs, sauteed mushrooms, wilted spinach and toast two ways
Fruit custard using first mangoes for the season, yay!
Pan-fried salmon with potatoes (white and sweet), brussel sprout, spinach and cherry tomatoes
Blueberry pancakes topped with mangoes, shaved coconut and cacao nibs

Agonizing August

This month, I started feeling a real sense of disconnection from my thesis. I spent most of it in agony. It was quite an ordeal. To be honest, I probably spent more time worrying about it than actually working on it (physically). You might remember from my earlier post that I ran into some major issues with statistics. The code that I needed to generate for my analyses was a complex one and totally new to me. As I don’t have a coding background, I required support from a statistician and it took over a couple of weeks (still yet to resolve fully).

The other reason I haven’t made enough progress was because of my teaching commitments this semester. While I have really strapped for time since semester has started, I’m really enjoying my current role and it has been a rewarding experience. However, I haven’t worked this many hours since I started my PhD so I also felt like I haven’t had enough time to focus on my thesis. I’m still yet to figure out a way to balance the two but I’m hopeful that it’ll slowly fall into place!

In other news, I decided not to attend the DAA conference in Gold Coast. The sad part is that I had even purchased tickets a while ago and really wanted to go. But I realised that it would be best not to go with a hanging PhD. It felt a little weird because I‘ve attended and presented at all the DAA conferences since I graduated as a dietitian. It was a tough decision to make but maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t go as I was down with the flu around that time.  

Overall, it was a really tough month as I had to deal with numerous challenges (both personal and professional). Dealing with a single setback is somewhat manageable but it’s much harder when you’ve got almost everything going wrong in your life (it may sound like an exaggeration but it really isn’t all that easy to see light when you’re stuck in a dark tunnel). Happy to say, I ended August on a happier note- I recently moved houses and got myself a much-needed haircut. I was really stuck in a rut, so both changes have been very refreshing for me!

Here are some of my August eats 🙂

Baked potatoes (white and sweet), salmon and wilted spinach
Quinoa, mushrooms and broccolini with baked salmon
Sunday pancakes with berries
Red and white quinoa with veggies and baked hoki fillets
Porridge (plain and cacao) with banana, strawberries, almonds and chia
One pan meal with quinoa, mushrooms and broccolini
Couscous with mushrooms, broccolini and capsicum + topped with pan-fried salmon

Jeopardized July

My month started off on a good note as I took off to Fiji to attend a friend’s wedding. I was away for just over a week (blog coming up soon). Towards the end of my holiday, I was ready to come home and smash the rest of my PhD. I knew there would be an awful lot of revisions that would need to be done but I told myself that it was going to be okay. The motto I had in mind was to take it ‘one page at a time’. However, I soon realised the magnitiude of revisions that awaited me was going to be far more than what I had anticipated. I needed to redo parts of my analyses using a different method. As I wasn’t familiar with this method, I needed to start from scratch. I went back to the basics (did all the Googling I could, watched YouTube tutorials and tried to contact others). All of these did help to some extent as I was able to get close to reaching the final numbers. However, I was stuck on the last step and could not work out how to combine the results I had.

This misery phase lasted many days until I was finally able see a statistician. It turned out that the output I was trying to achieve didn’t work as SPSS doesn’t allow this function. In other words, SPSS was not sophisticated enough to perform this step. This meant that I needed to resort to a different software (SAS, R or Stata). I chose the latter as I had some exposure in my first year. However, what I didn’t realise was how complex the code would be. Luckily, I was able to get some help from the statistician but it still took me a really long time. Safe to say, I’m now somewhat closer to having a finished code.

Overall, it was a pretty terrible month. I know that I’ve probably had worst months in the past but the present really does seem like the worst. I also had to deal with some personal issues which made it very difficult to make progress. I thought this month was going to be the final leg of my PhD (the ‘writing up’ phase). But the truth is I have done very little writing this month. I haven’t been writing as the stats took the chunk of my time. This means that my draft chapters haven’t been touched for weeks so I’m putting all my hopes on August.

Here are some of my eats from August 🙂 I didn’t do much cooking as I was away for the week and things got crazy after that…

Sunday meal prep- roast pumpkin and capsicum
Sunday meal prep with panfried tofu (honey and soy), broccolini and capsicum (EVOO, garlic and ginger)
Rainbow vege platter with hommus and olives

Jammed June

This month has been one hell of a crazy month. I was very ambitious in setting my goals because I knew I would be taking some time off at the end of the month. My first task for the month was to finish writing up my intervention paper. I was hoping to have this ready by the first week of June but I didn’t get around to finishing until 15th June.

The other big goal I had set for myself was to finish a draft of all my chapters by 28th June. It seemed like an impossible and never-ending task. My progress was very slow at the beginning which left me feeling very anxious. I was getting frustrated and there were times when I felt very low. After much self-battle, I told myself that I was going to stick to my original plan and prepare a draft. I knew it would not be the perfect version I imagined it to be but I just wanted to have something. I was wrong to think that the finale was going to be a smooth ride as I realised that the end game is going to be wilder than I imagined!

Happy to say, I managed to print out my draft on 28th June. I had the longest day ever (finished at 9 pm) but it was such a good feeling to see it in print. I know that the draft I have produced is far from perfect but I feel pretty excited knowing that it’s now a step closer to getting better. Now it’s time for me temporarily switch off as I part ways with my thesis. I’m off to Fiji to attend my friend’s destination wedding.

Overall, it was a very jam-packed month but I managed to accomplish all I wanted to before going away. I also had my exit seminar earlier this month which was a 25 min presentation. Putting together my presentation made me realise just how far I have come in the last 3.5 years. The end is so near yet so far! But at least I can now see light at the end of the tunnel.

Here are some of my June eats 🙂

Iftar fruit, veggie and nut platter
Last platter from Ramadan
Okra, broccoli and sweet potato stir-fry
Milk vermicelli with almond, sultana and pistachio
Carrot halwa
A berry-some toast
French toast with smashed raspberries
Prawn and seafood risotto with mushroom and spinach

Meticulous May

I can’t believe we are in June. It is literally freaking me out because I am leaving to attend a friend’s destination wedding and had planned to finish all my chapters before the end of this month. I really did hustle hard in May but I’m not sure if it was enough to get me to where I need to be.

May was a pretty crazy but relatively productive month. I finished running my intervention in the first week of May. I had been running this since mid-January so I was really excited to close my intervention and get onto to the next step of analysing. I had made appointments with statisticians to help me guide my data analyses. While it was insightful to see two different statisticians, I also found it overwhelming because they had very different approaches and I needed to work out what would work best in my situation, and I hadn’t done anything similar involving a large data set of this sort. Most tasks have been taking longer than anticipated as some sections needed to be analysed multiple times or in different ways. There were times I felt too overwhelmed as there was simply too much to do! I tried to get around this by writing a clear plan of what needs to be done and changing tasks frequently (when possible) to overcome fatigue associated with data analyses.

In other news, I was away in Hamilton Island for a hens getaway (blog coming up soon) and also attended the 9 to Thrive Summit with Business Chicks. On the whole, May was pretty tedious but was a huge learning curve for me as I discovered new ways of doing things. Unfortunately, most of these were learnt the hard way after spending huge chunks of my time. But it was really useful to learn these techniques and has helped me feel more equipped to tackle similar analyses in the future (if there is a next time) 😛

Here are some of my May eats. Due to Ramadan, most of the photos I took this month were fruit and veggie platters.

Solo iftar spread
Chickpea chaat (click here for recipe)
Oat, almond and sultana biscuits (recipe adapted from here)
Prawn and calamari risotto with mushroom and spinach
Oat, cranberry and peanut butter slice

Chickpea Chaat

Ingredients

2 X 400g can of Chickpeas (drained)

1 X 400g can of red kidney beans (drained)

2 medium sized potatoes, chopped

2 tomatoes, finely diced

2 red capsicum, finely diced

2 green capsicum, finely diced

1 onion

1 tablespoon of EVOO

4 garlic cloves

Small knob of ginger

1 teaspoon of Shan Chaat Masala

Fresh chillies

Fresh coriander

Method

  1. Heat EVOO on a large frypan
  2. Cut up onion, garlic and ginger, chilli and coriander (I use a chopper). Add to pan once oil is hot
  3. Add potatoes and close the lid
  4. Drain and rinse lentils. Once potatoes are soft, add chickpeas and red kidney beans in one go.
  5. Add chopped capsicum and tomatoes
  6. Add Shaan Chaat Masala and mix thoroughly. Cook with lid closed for about 10 mins on low heat.
  7. Garnish with coriander. Can also be served in lettuce cups!

5 ways to have a healthier Ramadan

1.Hydration is a must

While you are fasting, your body will experience mild dehydration so it is important to replenish your body with plenty of fluids after breaking your fast. If you are struggling to drink enough, you could try having fluids in other forms such as in smoothies, shakes, infused water or herbal teas. Soup is another great choice but make sure to go low on the salt (salt stimulates thirst).

2. Wake up for suhoor

It certainly is no easy task to wake up before dawn but it will help you cope better with the fast. Suhoor is highly recommended as it will help you fuel your body for the day (you wouldn’t get in a racing a car without petrol; same concept goes with fasting). To make things easier, prepare your meal before you go to sleep. Include sources of protein (such as eggs, lentils, yoghurt, nuts fish, chicken and lean meat) and have carbohydrates that are wholegrain or low GI (such as basmati rice, oats, wholegrain bread or flatbread). These will keep you fuller for longer as they are digested slowly.

Suhoor inspo: overnight oats with bananas, berries and chia

3. Incorporate fruit and veggies in your meals

These foods typically require a lot of chewing so it’ll help you eat slowly. This is particularly important at iftar as you may be tempted to overeat and overfill your plates because you haven’t eaten all day! If you are living in summer countries, opt for fruits that have greater water content such as watermelon or strawberries.

Fruit platter inspo for iftar
Veggie platter inspo for iftar

4. Stay fairly active

It is likely that your workout habits would be affected as it is difficult to exercise in the hours you are fasting. If you are struggling to keep up with your usual routine, it is completely okay to take a break from doing intense workouts. As an alternative, you could switch to lighter activities such as some brisk walking or yoga.

5. Enjoy small indulgences of your choice

You don’t have to completely abandon the foods that you love. It is okay to incorporate some sweet treats and fried items (the latter is particularly common in South Asian cultures). The key is to consume in moderation or making a healthier alternative, if possible.

Final tip: if you are feeling extra peckish even after eating large quantities of food, ask yourself if you have drunk enough water. We often tend to mistake thirst for hunger because some of the symptoms of mild dehydration (i.e. headache, fatigue, light-headedness and difficulty concentrating) can resemble symptoms of hunger!

Chickpea Chaat (get the recipe from here)

Agitated April

 My priorities for this month were to attempt first round analyses of the data that had come in so far and make big progress with writing. I met with statistician at the start of April which gave me a rough idea on what I needed to do. It took me a while to clean up data and work out how to report my outcomes in a table. I realised that it’s going to be some trial and error before I know what’s going to look best.

In terms of writing, I finished writing up Chapter 1 which felt like quite a milestone as I had wanted to get it ready since last December. I also started formatted two of my other chapters and completed my intent to submit form.

In other news, I turned 26 this month. I’m so grateful to everyone who made it special but let’s just say there were some highs and lows even though I have passed the official quarter life crisis. I also travelled to the South Coast during the Easter long weekend which involved lots of good food, beaches and hiking (blog will be up soon). It was really nice to get away and it definitely helped me feel calmer.

Overall, it was a pretty demanding month. I definitely felt like I had my thinking caps on more than usual. My mind keeps racing and goes places. I am finding it difficult to be in the present. I feel rather overwhelmed but let’s hope that I will be able to pull this through on time *positive vibes*

Here are some of my April eats 🙂 I have started investing a bit more time in the kitchen to cook dishes different to the usual. I am really enjoying it; photographing food brings pure joy to my soul!

Cherry tomatoes, spinach, edamame beans and goats cheese
French toast with strawberries and bananas
Avo toast with chilli flakes and lemon
Okra, sweet potato and capsicum
Creamy tomato soup (recipe adapted from Sanitarium)
Porridge with bananas, raspberries and chia
Vegan smoothie bowl with almond milk, bananas and cacao
Sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, red capcisum and cherry tomatoes
Chia pancakes with kiwi, stone fruit and grapes

Gulgong, NSW

We visited Gulgong in February to celebrate our two year anniversary. We started off our day by making anniversary pancakes (pancakes are very close to our heart) and then to drove out to Gulgong. It took us much longer than we anticipated due to a stopover for lunch and unpaved road surfaces around Gulgong.

We chose Gulgong because we wanted to experience something different. Neither of us had have stayed in a rural place, and this was our first time travelling to the Mudgee region.

Where we stayed: Owl Head Lodge

This place was in the middle of nowhere. We both fell in love when we saw photos of vineyards and countryside views. We instantly knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to experience Australian outback. The accommodation was lovely and very well kept. The view of the outback was definitely the highlight.

Where we ate: Thai to You + Haldi Indian Restaurant

Gulgong is a mining town to its core. The buildings and streets are a well-preserved example of a late 19th century/ early 20th century architecture. It is also a very small town and doesn’t have many options for eating out. It was kind of good in a way as it made it easy for us to decide! The food at both places was pretty average, definitely wasn’t something you’d remember.

As this was a short weekend getaway, we didn’t have much time to explore. We mostly took photos outside out cottage and at Gulgong Pioneers Museum. We loved being able to walk the streets of this gold mining town and learn about the heritage. Visiting the museum was very much eye-opening as we were able to see items from 19th century which made us realise how tough life would have been back then without the technology we have today. It definitely helped us appreciate all the little things we take for granted today like having a washing machine, electrical appliances in the kitchen etc.

Overall, it was a very short but memorable trip. I’d definitely recommend Gulgong to anyone after a rural experience or a secluded getaway. We stopped at Blue Mountains on our way back to reminisce as that’s where we went for our first year anniversary.

A 19th century classroom
Blue Mountains
Gotta love the mountains

Mediocre March

Cannot believe we are another month down! With my submission around the corner, I find it really scary that a quarter of the year is gone. In terms of my PhD, I’m still running my intervention and need to collect some more data. I closed recruitment this month which felt like a step closer to completion. I’m really looking forward to the next phase. I’ve started cleaning the data which feels rather tedious. But I know it’s going to get more exciting once I have my data set ready for analyses. The other good news is that the paper I resubmitted last month was accepted for publication. I have been holding onto this paper for the longest time (started data collection in early 2017); so, it felt really nice to get it out of my hands.


In other news, I’m back to teaching again. I’m doing less hours this semester as I wanted to allocate enough time for writing up. Speaking of which, I really need to work towards finishing my first chapter. I’ve been meaning to get it finished for some time now but I’m having trouble tying up my ideas. This is probably because I haven’t had the chance to block out enough time. Going forward, I need to ensure I allocate hours for writing every week.


Another highlight of the month was getting featured in the latest infuse magazine as a rising star. The struggle to keep Shenanigans of a Dietitian alive has been real while doing a full-time PhD. Maintaining my presence on the blog and Instagram hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to take lots of breaks. I’ve had to take lots of breaks every time I felt overwhelmed. So, it was really special to have this recognition from infuse. Click here to read the feature (page 32-34).


Overall, it was a relatively good month. It probably feels somewhat mediocre for me because I was rather ambitious and hoping to get a lot more done (mainly with writing). But it’s alright, we’ve got April to get on top of that!

Here are some of my March eats 🙂

Prawn risotto with mushrooms and spinach
Fruit and veggie platter with homemade tzatziki
Vegetarian pasta with mushrooms and spinach
Mixed stir-fry vege with mushrooms + using up leftover meat
Cacao and plain waffles with plum, grapes, passionfruit and chia
Breakfast bowl with blueberry Kefir (The Culture Co) + granola + kiwi + banana + topped with chia
Another fruit and vege platter
Fusion brunch with Khichuri (similar to khichdi) + sauteed mushrooms + wilted spinach and scrambled eggs
Making the most of plums before they are gone!
Risotto with risoni and pearl barley, mushrooms, pea and spinach
Pancakes with kiwi, grapes and chia
Weekend waffles with raspberry, strawberry, shaved coconut, nectarine and passionfruit

Frantic February

The start of this month officially marked 3 years since I started my PhD. This put me in a rather panicky state because it was scary to process how time just flew. But it was also exciting when I began to reflect on my achievements in the last 3 years. It was important for me to take on this reflection as I am often harsh on myself and tend to focus on failures or things that didn’t work out. This is why I find it beneficial to reflect at least once a month through writing this series.

In terms of progress with my PhD, my accomplishments included submitting my paper revisions and recruiting around over 100 people in my intervention. Earlier this month, I was really excited to be moving closer to our target. However, I have had major setbacks since then. Towards the end of January, I submitted an ethics modification which incorporated a new mode of recruitment. I was really hoping to get better results but unfortunately, it did not work out for me despite getting approval. It was frustrating because I had seen others gain success using the same technique. So, I had no other choice but to resort to existing old-fashioned methods (i.e. putting up flyers).

I also worked on another ethics modification (hopefully this will be the last one). I was hoping to submit abstracts to present my results later this year but I am still in the middle of collecting data. I was disappointed in myself for not being able to prepare a submission on time because I have always been successful in the past (the conference deadlines have always pushed me to get my paper ready). However, I was quick to remind myself that everything happens for a reason (I constantly tell myself that when I miss out on opportunities). It’s a bit different now because I am dealing with a much larger data set, and my priorities have changed. My current priorities are to finish running this intervention, write up my final paper and submit my thesis. Speaking of which, I have made some progress with writing but not to the level I was hoping.

In other news, we went on a rural getaway to celebrate our anniversary (blog coming up soon). My month ended with a desk move. It was really exciting to be upgrading after 3 years but also a little sad because my PhD journey is coming to an end.

Here are some of my February eats 🙂

Spaghetti with prawn, lentil and vege
Mini pancakes with coconut and blueberries
Pumpkin, spinach and prawn curry
Risotto with prawn and mushroom (V-day special)
Brunch with mushroom omelette, wilted spinach and tomatoes
Stewed stone fruit
Toast Tuesday with stewed stone fruit (from above), chia and coconut
Stir-fry with green beans, prawn and tomato
Banana and cacao pancakes, topped with blackberries and breakfast topper (The Chia Co)
French toast with breakfast topper (The Chia Co), bananas and kefir (The Culture Co)
Penne with seafood marinara and vege

Bali, Indonesia

Our approach: We travelled to Bali at the end 2018 to celebrate New Year. We had just moved in together so we did not get a lot of time to plan this trip. We relied on Instagram and a few good friends for recommendations. We booked our day trips using Bali Sun Tours which made it a lot easier. We also planned in rest days as we wanted to make sure we relaxed rather than travelling every single day.

Where we stayed: Astagina Resort and Spa

Where we ate:

Places we visited

We landed in Bali around 9pm. By the time we checked in to the hotel, it was 10pm. We were told that most outside restaurants would be closed so the only option we had was to dine at our hotel.

Day 1

We were super excited to head out to the streets to explore. We looked up a breakfast place that was about 30 mins away by foot. We loved the vibe at Crumb and Coaster. We visited Ground Zero memorial from here and later drank coconuts at Double Six Beach. We explored the streets near our hotel and ended up walking about 15000 steps. Later that night, we attended a NYE gala at our hotel which was pretty nice. We got a chance to watch Balinese dancing and a band play. We were getting too sleepy to stay as our Aussie time was 3 hours ahead. We came back to our room, got ready for bed and turned off all the lights. Then we watched the fireworks from our bed. The view wasn’t spectacular but it was pretty good.

Day 2

We left the hotel just after 8:30am in a private taxi booked with Bali Sun Tours. The first stop was Bali Swings which was about 1.5 hours away from our hotel. We chose this spot because we had seen too many Instagram pics at this location. We loved the drive to Ubud where we got to see the Balinese countryside and small towns/ villages. The rides were incredible but some were very crowded. We spent a lot of time waiting for our turns at one of these spots and decided to go for the ones that had a shorter queue.

We had a Balinese breakfast and lunch here. It was getting very hot so we cooled down with a coconut. It started to rain just as I was waiting to go on my last swing. Soon enough, everyone had to duck indoors because the rain got too heavy. We were pretty drenched but decided to continue our journey to Blanco Renaissance Museum. We had chosen a museum with the hope that it’ll be an indoor space. On our way there, the rain cleared and we were able to get some decent pictures here which involved parrots sitting on our hands. The last stop for the day was Saraswati Temple which was literally a 3 min drive from here. This was our first time visiting a Balinese temple so we loved the experience here. We went to a sip a drink afterwards while starting at the Lotus pond behind us. At this cafe, we sat on the floor with a lower table which was a unique experience. We had dinner at Blue 9 Beach. I loved trying a dish called Pepes Ikan which was fish cooked in banana leaf. We headed home early as we had an early start the next day.

Day 3
We woke up at 4:45am and managed to get ready by 6am. We got dropped off at Sanur wharf and waited for the jet boat to arrive which was a rather long wait. Then we went to Nusa Penida. We were put in groups of 5 or 6 and had a driver with us to show us around Kelingking Beach, Angel’s Billabong and Crystal Bay. Unfortunately, there was a big crowd and it took us a long time to get photos. We had lunch at a local restaurant where I had the best guava juice. On the way back, I started feeling sick. We got off at a restaurant near our hotel to grab some dinner. I was too sick to eat so I packed up my food. I went to bed early with the hope to sleep it off.

Kelingking

Read more at: http://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/kelingking-beach.htm?cid=ch:OTH:001

beach, Angel’s Billabong and Crystal Bay. Unfortunately, there was a big crowd and it took us a long time to get photos. We had lunch at a local restaurant where I had the best guava juice. On the way back, I started feeling sick. We got off at a restaurant near our hotel to grab some dinner. I was too sick to eat so I packed up my food. I went to bed early with the hope to sleep it off.

Angel’s Billabong (Nusa Penida)

Day 4
I spent most of today recovering in bed. The good thing was that we had nothing planned for today. I wasn’t too well by lunch time so we decided we get room service. By evening, I felt well enough to go out so we went to Made’s Warung. This restaurant was recommended to me by an Indonesian friend. The atmosphere here was lovely. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting to try authentic Balinese or Indonesian cuisine

Day 5
We had booked a day tour with Bali Sun Tours which was a Green Luminious tour in Ubud. We left around 8:30am. We started our day with watching batik and jewellery making at a factory. This was followed by visiting a coffee and tea plantation where we tasted multiple drinks. Next, we visited Batuan Village Temple where we tried on a sarong for the first time (they are compulsory at most Balinese temples). Tegenungan Waterfall had the most spectacular view. It was a very busy time so we didn’t many good photos but we loved being able to go all the way down. It felt like quite a workout in the humidity but it was very much worth it. Other highlights from this tour included Tegalalang Rice Terrace and lunch at Boni Bali restaurant. Here, we had lunch with the best view of Tegalalang. We were the only ones in the restaurant which felt like a very special treatment. After coming back to our hotel, we went for a long walk to a store that was recommended by a Balinese friend.

Tegallalang Rice Terrace
Balinese fish curry and rice
Hello from my nest!

Day 6

We had another day tour booked with Bali Sun Tours which included Parasailing at Tanoa water sports, visiting Uluwatu Temple, Padang-Padang beach and Jimbaran Bay. It was our first time parasailing and both of us really enjoyed it. Next stop was Uluwatu Temple which was absolutely breathtaking. We saw a lot monkeys around here but we were scared to interact after witnessing a tourist lose her shoe to a monkey! We stopped to have lunch at a Balinese place recommended by our driver. The last stop for our day was Jimbaran Bay which is famous for its seafood.  Unfortunately, we had just eaten lunch before coming here so we had no space to try any. So, we took our time to explore the area and cooled down with a drink before leaving. We were very exhausted after coming home and fell asleep without dinner.

Loved the view from Uluwatu Temple

Day 7

We went for a long walk to find breakfast because we wanted to take our time deciding on the last day. We returned to our hotel to check out and went out buy souvenirs. We still had a lot of time to kill so we treated ourselves so a massage and pedicure at our hotel. For lunch, we chose a Balinese restaurant near us where I tried Ikan goreng jahi. Then it was time to head to the airport. My upset stomach had worsened by this time so I was really happy to be coming back home. TIP: exercise caution when eating out. Bali Belly is more common than you think!

From Bali, with love

Final thoughts

While we did have a few negative experiences, we absolutely loved Bali! My highlights were Bali Swings, Tegenungan Waterfall and Tegallalang Rice Terrace. And let’s not forget the food and drinks. We loved the fresh juices. Here are 3 tips for any future travellers:

  1. Be wary when talking to strangers as some locals may try to take advantage of you; having said that, the majority of the Balinese people are lovely! On our first day, we had an encounter with a guy which turned into a rather strange experience. Initially, it looked like he was advertising or handing out flyers; however, he scratched off two cards in front of us and told us that we had apparently won a prize. I had won a t-shirt and my partner had won the first prize which was a stay at their hotel and cash to spend. He asked us to go there with him in the taxi to claim the prize. I told him that we’d go on another day as it was close to where we were going later. However, he said that he offer was only valid on that day. He was rather pushy with his approach. Luckily, for us we knew that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is!
  2. The prices of items can vary a lot depending on where you go and who you buy from. Any shops located around the touristy area will charge you more. Feel free to haggle if you can. We have very little skills to bargain so we only bought things from places that had a price tag.
  3. Don’t worry about withdrawing large amounts of cash before you leave as they have plenty of places to exchange currency. If you’re staying in the touristy area, you’ll find places to multiple places to exchange at every street! We initially found it hard to get the large currency conversion in our head but soon realised that 100 000 Rupiah equates to about $10 AUD.

Pre-wedding / holud ceremony

So, it has been about two years since I posted my wedding blog. We did have two other events but I never came back to write about the remaining. I do have a bunch of reasons for not posting about it but to cut a long story short, that year was a very overwhelming year for me. I had thought about writing it after I launched my website properly. But things got really busy with my PhD and a new job. The other reasons are rather dramatic and long so I will spare you the details.

As we were in January, I had social media and family reminding me of the events that happened two years ago. I couldn’t help but reminisce the past. I started wondering whether I should post the blog or if it is too late. I pretty much spent the last few weeks thinking about it and told myself that I’m just going to do it. So here it goes!

We had our pre-wedding function a week before our wedding. This event is a chance to put haldi / holud (turmeric paste) on the bride and groom. Applying turmeric paste to the bride and groom is seen as an act of blessing. Traditionally, haldi (Hindi) or holud (Bengali) holds a special place of honour as the colour is thought be auspicious and provides a natural glow.

Prior to the event

There was a lot of gift wrapping that needed to be done as this event also included a gift exchange from both parties. My family spent the whole day preparing the foods and presents, as per tradition. I wanted to help out but I was told to rest and enjoy being a bride.

I could have used that time to start getting ready earlier. But I was a hell of an enthusiastic bride who also wanted to wear a photographer hat. Here are some shots I took:

At the event

The theme for our event was yellow, green and red. The guests were asked to wear these colours. The venue was at Wright’s Road Function Centre in Castle Hill.

We had several dance performances by our family and friends. But we also had a local Bengali band come in to perform live music. The stage and table setting were done by QES-Qanitaz Event Solutions.

The entrance song I chose for myself was Teri Ore (an all-time fav). The groom’s entrance was performed by a Punjabi dholok player who just came in to cover the entrance.

Some of the other décor included a high chai stall, mehendi/ henna stall, DIY photobooth and Bangle stall. We did not want our guests to be sitting down the whole time (and get bored) so we set up a few stalls. The idea was to get them to move around and have fun on their own. The mehendi stall was managed by Supriya from Glam You.

The Instagram frame for the DIY photobooth was ordered on Etsy. Other items ordered from Etsy included a customised guest book and a cake topper for reception. Speaking of which, I will include some other details as I’m not going to be posting a reception blog. We hired a professional photobooth for the reception. The customised photobooth was done by Create a Booth which included unlimited prints and the option to send the photos to their email.

Wedding favours were saved for the final event. We had initially planned to order on Etsy but we realised the products we liked had long shipping periods or did not have enough in supply (we needed ~200). In the end, we decided to keep it local by purchasing candles from Ikea and ordering customised labels on Vistaprint.

That’s pretty much it. Here are some shots captured by BV photography:

Jagged January

I cannot believe the first month of the year has left us already! Time is flying away like crazy. It really scares me sometimes because I am due to hand in my PhD in a couple of months. I was away in Bali for the first week of January (blog coming up soon). Coming back to work was initially overwhelming but I was also excited to be back. Happy to say, I was able to finally start my intervention from mid-January. Honestly, it was so surreal because this is something I have been planning for the longest time. In fact, the majority of my PhD has been about planning this intervention. Unfortunately, we are a little behind with recruitment so I have recently submitted another ethics modification. So, I’m really hoping that the recruitment situation will improve when the approval comes through.

In other news, I haven’t been able to do much writing this month as I was so preoccupied with other tasks. I was doing major revisions on one of my earlier papers which took me a lot more time than I anticipated. I had hoped that this would be finished by mid-January at most. As a result, I have fallen rather behind with my thesis.

Overall, January was a pretty rough month but I am super positive that things will pick up in February. I didn’t take much food photos this month which is a little sad. This is definitely something that I want to make time for in the coming months. Here are some of my January eats 🙂

Been having lots of egg sandwiches this month with a salad on the side
Black Forest and Ferrero Rocher cake (a birthday special)
Eggplant, potato and tomato curry
Waffles with banana, chia and strawberries
Long melon and prawn curry

Desperate December

Happy New Year! I’m a little late in posting this. December was a very busy month. I had set myself a very long to-do list which included all the bits and pieces that I hadn’t finished. I also really wanted to finish writing chapter one of my thesis to feel a sense of completeness. I had told myself I’d finish everything by the last working day (21st December) and allow myself to switch off after this.

Unfortunately, it did not go as I had planned. I did get very close to finishing some tasks but not to the extent I had hoped. This resulted in much anxiety which lasted even after my holidays had started. After a few days, I managed to convince myself that I didn’t need to fret over the things I didn’t get done. It will eventually be done next year. I was able to relax after this and had the best time. We had nothing planned for the first couple of days so it was nice to be doing nothing.

In other news, I finally went on a hike to Wedding Cake Rock after wanting to go for over 4 years. Sadly I was not able to go close as it has been fenced off for safety reasons. Nonetheless, the view was worth it and it was nice to have something ticked off my bucket list. I then travelled to Bali for an end of year holiday (blog coming up soon).

Overall, I just want to end by saying I am so grateful for all the wonderful things that happened in 2018. It has taught me to be more resilient, chase bigger dreams, keep hustling and more importantly, trust the timing of things. If I were to describe the past year in one word, I’d say GRATITUDE. Here’s to a bigger and better 2019.

Here are some of my December eats 🙂

Pancakes with chia, coconut and strawberries
Toast with yoghurt, raspberry and The Chia Co (Breakfast topper)
Cause mangoes make a better summer 😉
Waffles with bananas topped with chia and chocolate coated strawberries
Banana cake with almonds and sultanas
Banana, peanut butter and chia toast
Oat, banana and sultana cookies
Plain pancakes with bananas and cherry
Slow cooked chicken haleem with barley and lentils (similar recipe here)
Pancakes with coconut, raspberry and strawberry

A sweet summer without the guilt

This time of the year is all about celebration which often involves numerous sweet treats. Some of us tend to overindulge while some may feel overly conscious or guilty about eating certain foods. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fortunately, there are plenty of fine-looking fruits in season this time of the year and you can use these to fuel your body with energy and nutrients, help cool you down and stay hydrated. Here are some ways to incorporate summer stone fruits:

  1. Mangoes are a great source of fibre, vitamins A and C and contain potassium, folate, B6, iron and vitamin E. Despite containing lots of vitamins, minerals, fibre, phytochemicals and antioxidants, this fruit often gets a bad name for being ‘too sweet’. Many will avoid it for this reason or think that they are cheating on their diet if they eat one. Yes, mangoes are higher in sugar compared to most fruits but this is natural sugar. There is no need to be scared of mangoes because the sugar naturally occurring in fruits are perfectly okay. As the sugars are present with other nutrients (such as fibre for mangoes), it changes the way our body digests and absorbs the natural sugars. In this case, the sugar (fructose) in mangoes are encased in fibre which helps slow down the absorption and affects the way it metabolises in our bodies. This means that it doesn’t get fast, direct access to the liver like it does when it the sugar is ‘free’ (i.e. added sugar).

Some healthy ways to eat mangoes include using them in moderation in your milkshakes or smoothies and smoothie bowls. You could also make them part of a main course by tossing them into a green salad, adding them in veggie skewers, grilling on the barbeque or adding into your curries. Click here to read about other sweet and savoury ways to get more mango in your life. Some Christmas recipe ideas include a mango tiramisu AKA mangomisu, Christmas trifle using mangos and mango chia pudding. 

  1. Apricots are packed with vitamin A and rich in fibre. They are a good source of vitamin C, copper, and potassium. You could chop apricots and add them to your morning cereal or yoghurt, add them to your batter when making pancakes and in your salads. Apricot goes well with green leaves, feta, and almonds.

Apricot also has a great potential to shine at the Xmas table by including them in cakes, tarts or pies. You could also use them to make a gluten-free stuffing or in a chutney that can be served with bread.

  1. Some other stone fruits in summer include peaches, plums and nectarines. These are rich in vitamins A, C and E, as well as dietary fibre, potassium and antioxidants. One cup of sliced plums or apricots can provide you with a quarter of your daily vitamin C needs. Two small peaches have the same amount of potassium as a medium banana. Plums are good sources of vitamin K; two of these purple fruits can give you around 10% of your daily vitamin K needs.

You could add these in your salads or desserts or include them as a Christmas fruit platter. Click here to find some more inspo using stone fruits.

Christmas party ideas

The holiday season is upon us, so I thought I’d share some of my holiday favourites. All of these photos were taken last year during Xmas season, except for the custard.

Veggie platter- for those that know me well would know how much I love colours and eating the rainbow. I am still a newbie at putting together platters but I have so much fun every time I do one. It’s such a great starter to serve as your guests are coming in. It’s relatively easy to put together and keeps your guests busy!

Garlic, butter and chilli prawns – I’m a big lover of all things seafood. Chilli and garlic are two of my favourite ingredients in cooking. And cherry tomatoes marry well with just about everything. I’m not a big user of butter in savoury dishes but you need to be a little on special occasions like these!

Roast chicken and veggies- although I’m a big fan of plant-based diet, some occasions are celebrated better with meat. And I truly feel that Xmas is one of these. I have a small family but feel free to upgrade to a turkey if that’s what you prefer. I also added baby chat potatoes and pumpkin here. It’s super easy because it gets cooked in the same bag.

Quinoa pilaf with veggies – this is a great dish for any vegetarians you might have to cater for and wholegrains are something we should be eating more of. Quinoa is one of these. It is technically a pseudograin but has the properties to classify as a wholegrain. I love the touch of seafood flavours in this dish. Quinoa is very versatile, so free to add any other seafood if you like.

Stir-fry veggies- I have used fresh cauliflower, broccolini, mushrooms and zucchini here but you can go with frozen veggies for convenience. I have added a small amount of chicken but you can leave this out if you prefer a vegetarian dish.

Fruit custard- this one is probably one of the easiest desserts to whip up. The best thing is that you can prepare this ahead of time. All you literally need is milk, custard powder, sugar and fresh fruits. I chose to use a sugar substitute which were sent to me from Nuvia. It is a natural sweetner made from the Stevia plant.

Yoghurt barks-this is another relatively easy dessert to make and you get to pick what toppings you like. The original recipe I had looked up had used rose petals and pomegranates but I did not have these at home. So, I chose to use some stone fruit (apricot and nectarine), pistachio and white chocolate chips.

Port Stephens and Nelson Bay

Duration: 3 days

Where we stayed: Riverside Motel, Karuah

We chose to stay here because the majority of places were booked out around Port Stephens and Nelson Bay. Unfortunately, we were late to join the game which meant we had to find an accommodation that was further out than what we would have preferred. The motel was lovely, very neat for a 3 star place. However, it took us about 50-60 mins to drive to any place of interest.

Where we ate:

Places visited:

Day 1

We left Sydney around 1pm. We faced huge traffic getting out of Sydney. We reached at 5:40pm. We were so exhausted, we showered and rested. Soon, we realised we had no restaurants near us and would have to travel for almost one hour and it may even close by the time we reach. We rushed and got ready and managed to arrive by 8:30pm. We were starving as we had an early lunch. The heavy pasta for dinner was very satisfying.

Seafood spaghetti

Creme brulee

Day 2

We woke up late and drove up to Nelson Bay. Getting there late made it really hard to find a parking. We got parking at 12pm and we had a lunch/ brunch. We tried oysters for the very first time. Then we shared a seafood pizza which wasn’t very ‘seafoody’. The next activity we had on our list was to go ride camels. We excitedly headed towards Oakfield Ranch Camel Rides. Unfortunately, the lines were extremely long. It was almost like the whole of Sydney had come to ride camels in Nelson Bay! We waited for almost an hour and gave up. We decided to hang out by the beach at Anna Bay and watched other people ride camels from afar. We were starting to get a little hungry as we only had brunch. We decided to try more oysters from the local farm.  Then we watched the beautiful sunset from D’Albora Marina while enjoying ice cream because it’s everything in moderation. For dinner, we had tried to make plans at Little Beach Boathouse which is supposed have amazing water views. Unfortunately, no tables were available here so we went to The Point instead which turned out to be lovely, to our surprise.

There’s always a first time!

Oysters fresh from the farm

 

Dinner at The Point

Day 3

The next morning we set out to Tomaree Head for a hike. We tried to start early this time but we still found it incredibly hard to find a parking. We got lucky because a lady approached us and told us that she was leaving (GOD BLESS HER-  she made our day). We went for a hike which was absolutely breathtaking. We treated ourselves to ice cream as a post-hike treat. We grabbed a quick lunch from a small cafe (most stores were closed for Easter Sunday or closed by then). We then headed to Gan Gan Lookout to watch the sunset. This was another popular spot and luckily, we managed to secure ourselves a parking by coming early. The last stop for the night was a buffet dinner which did not go down so well for me.

Sunset from Gan Gan Lookout

A sunset to remember!

More seafood at V Buffet

Day 4

We enjoyed the last day of sleeping in and checked out of our hotel. We went to The Greenhouse Eatery in Medowie. The vibe at this café was pretty unique and we loved the green scenery.  Then it was time to head back to Sydney. We faced quite a bit of traffic on our way back and stopped for lunch at Biwon in Hornsby.

Our neverending love for kimchi

Navigating November

Gosh, what a month it has been! It started off with my final progress review which really made me realise what a long way I have come over the last three years. I still can’t believe that was my last one and how fast time has flown. I am in my final months of writing up now and it feels like I have been stuck on chapter 1 forever. But I have been told by others that chapter 1 is the most difficult chapter to write but it does get easier as you go on. So, there is hope! For now, I have decided to focus all my energies into writing as it looks like I won’t be starting on the last part of my PhD until early next year.

On a related note, I decided to try out a pair of glasses from Baxter Blue this month. Since I spend a lot of my hours behind the screen, I thought it’d be good to give these glasses a go. These are designed to protect your eyes from the dangers of blue-violet light which can also lead to digital eye strain. These glasses basically help to filter out the harmful blue light while allowing the good blue light in. What is great about the company is that for every pair of Baxter Blue glasses, they donate a pair of reading glasses to someone in need. And they are an Aussie born and designed right here in Sydney. Use the code ‘ANIKA’ for an upgrade to Free Express Shipping if you are ordering in Australia.

In other news, I did a Mental Health First Aid course this month. I came across the opportunity in October which was the Mental Health Month in NSW.  This course teaches adults to provide initial support to a friend, family member or a co-worker who may be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. I’m so glad I was able to take part in this course. It was very empowering and informative. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma associated with this topic and many of us don’t realise how common it really is. Given that it affects 1 in 5, it’s so important to promote mental health discussions and invest in developing these first aid skills.

Overall, it has been a pretty mediocre month. There are times when I have struggled to write as I am still learning how to navigate around my thesis. It has felt rather slow at times but I am positive it will get easier. The good news is that we have finished setting up our little home. Honestly, it feels so great to be able to settle down because our weekends had become more hectic than weekdays. We are slowly falling into a routine with things like meal prep and all things adulting.

Here are some of my November eats 🙂

Sunday pancakes with banana and cacao

Stir-fry with asparagus and carrot

Roasted veggies and leftover salmon pasta

Stir-fry with broccolini, asparagus and capsicum

Salmon and veggie pasta for a meatless Monday

Work lunch with roasted veggies: potato, carrot, asparagus, carrot and tomato

Stir-fry with rainbow veggies and prawn

Sunday pancakes with cacao, blueberries and a sprinkle of The Chia Co

Gourmet pasta with prawn, broccolini and parmesan

Rajma with red kidney beans and tomatoes

Blueberry and almond clafoutis

Roast pumpkin, capsicum and onion

Onerous October

My month started with responding to reviewer comments for one of my papers. As always, I was overwhelmed when I initially got the comments. Unfortunately, the deadline was very tight which meant that all my efforts were focused on this paper. To make things more eventful, I was also preparing to move in with my partner after almost two years of long distance. I ended up going on a long hibernation from social media because I needed to focus on doing major revisions on my paper.

It has been rather difficult to juggle the move and PhD life. At times, I felt like it took away all my excitement I had for the move and I even felt that it was bad timing. But as the saying goes, sometimes, you just have to ‘trust the timing’. So, that’s what I did and it eventually worked out okay in the end. Happy to say, the paper was published a few days ago!

I have also been working on finalising my content for my intervention which has taken a lot of refining. We were  granted with ethics approval on our modifications. It was very exciting to be able to finally start recruiting. The response so far has been a little disappointing, but I am aware that it is a busy time of the year with semester ending and upcoming exams.

In other news, I had the opportunity to do a one-day media training in Melbourne (cover photo taken at Oaks on William). It was quite overwhelming but it was so incredibly useful. I’m so glad I was able to tick this off my list because now it means I can take on requests as a DAA Spokesperson.

In summary, it has been a rather challenging but productive month. I feel a little overworked because the lines between my working hours/ weekdays vs. free time/ weekends have been blurred. The other reason I feel overworked maybe from setting up the new house and other duties associated with adulting. The whole process of moving has been very exciting but it has been a huge adjustment at the same time. We have realised that it’s going to take much longer to settle than we anticipated. So, we’re trying to make peace with that and be content with what we have (I still continue to document in the gratitude journal I started back in March).

Here are some of my October eats 🙂

First meal at our new home (of course, it had to be a salad!)

First brunch in our new home (Sunday brunch #1)

Ricotta, chia and coconut bliss balls

Salmon penne with veggies and chickpea

Home may be basic at the moment, but salad has gotta be extra AF 😛

Cacao, banana and blueberry pancakes (Sunday brunch #2)

Rice noodles with vege, chicken and cashew

Meal prep: roasted pumpkin + asparagus, carrots and cashew

Sultana and oat cake

Meal prep: roasted veggies

Sunday brunch #3: mixture of plain and cacao pancakes

Pasta bake for Meatless Monday

Sluggish September

September has been a slow month for me. I’ve had some minor setbacks this month as I realised that I required an ethics modification for my next project. Initially, I was a little disappointed as my original plan was to start recruiting this month. However, I strongly believe that every delay happens for a reason so I’m completely at peace.

I am calling it a slow month as I didn’t achieve what I had hoped to. While it certainly wasn’t what I hoped it would be, I still managed to get a few things ticked off. I submitted a paper, an ethics modification and presented an oral at a uni symposium. I’d like to think that this delay has been a blessing in disguise because it helped me refine the content for my upcoming intervention.

In other news, I have been very busy planning a personal milestone. It is something that I have been dreaming about for a long time now, so it was incredibly special when the good news came through. I am now patiently waiting for this long-awaited phase to unfold. Living in the present has never been so wonderful. I cannot wait to share the updates with you next month!

Here are my eats for September 🙂

Pear, teff and oat muffins (Father’s Day bake- recipe coming soon)

Black bean brownie with walnuts (recipe from Caroline Trickey)

Chia Pudding with strawberries and kefir (recipe from The Culture Co)

Rice vermicelli, snow pea and carrot ribbons with leftover lamb

Yoghurt panna cotta (recipe from The Culture Co)

 

Eat the rainbow!

Sweet potato bake with EVOO and thyme

New York Cheesecake

Work lunch with Viet Paper rolls, cheese toastie and salad

Salad with dried apricots and walnuts

Coconut panna cotta, with pistachio and strawberry

Ricotta cheesecake (Mum’s birthday special)

French toast with Kefir (recipe from The Culture Co)

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Gain a Healthier Gut

Our gut holds over 500 million neurons which connects to the brain and 95% of the serotonin (also known as the key hormone of happiness) is found in our gut.

The gut seems to be a hot nutrition topic these days. There is a lot of new research happening which is showing that gut is related to our mood, mental focus, immune system and even conditions like depression.

Given the importance of a healthier gut, it may be worthwhile to incorporate a few changes in our diet. Here are some simple ways to gain yourself a healthier gut:

  1. Go high on wholefoods

If there is one message you are taking away from reading this article, it should be this. Eat wholefoods when you can and give refined carbohydrates or processed foods a break. Eating wholefoods will reward your body with the goodness of fibre and other essential nutrients our body needs for regulation of gut health.

  1. Go slow on the sugar

While we have known for some time that too much sugar is not good for our body, recent research is revealing that it may also be changing our gut flora. Having lots of sugar in your diet will promote the growth of sugar-loving bacteria in our gut and can result in cravings for more sugar. Depriving them of sugar often produces bacterial toxins which can leave you feeling poorly.

  1. Swap to better fats

A diet which is high in saturated and trans fat (also known as bad fats) has been linked to many chronic diseases, including gastrointestinal disorders. Polyunsaturated fats (which includes omega 3 and 6) help promote the growth of a healthy gut microbiota.

  1. Drink water

Water is our lifeline as it flushes out toxins and maintains fluid balance in our body. As a rule of thumb, an average adult needs about 8 glasses of water per day. If you are struggling to get enough in your day, you could try squeezing in more by adding citrus flavours such as lemons.

  1. Don’t expect changes overnight

Recognise that this will be a long term process. Think of it as planting seeds in your garden today and expecting fruits in a couple of years. Much like a garden, your gut needs to be nurtured and looked after before you see the fruit.

Adapted August

The year is flying away like crazy! I’ve continued to spend a lot of time hibernating this month which really helps with writing (at times). It only works at times because I suffer from Writer’s block on some days. I managed to get somewhat close to finishing another paper. I say ‘somewhat close’ because I am not sure how much work it will require. I worked on revising another paper which is almost ready to go.

In other news, I’ve started doing a bit of teaching again and taken on an admin role at journal club. Sometimes, it really helps to change up tasks and expose myself to other activities. I’ve also been finalising the finer details of my last project which finally received ethics clearance last week. Obtaining ethics approval was definitely the highlight of the month as it has taken almost two months to come together. I am so looking forward to starting the next chapter of my PhD.

There are still a few things I need to set up but I can definitely see light at the end of the tunnel. I have written up a monthly plan for the rest of the year which is a little unusual for me (I only write one at the beginning of each month). While I know that things may not fully go according to my plan, I still find it really useful to write as it helps me stay focused. It is so easy to get caught up in the little project and lose sight of the big picture!

Overall, it has been a pretty productive month. I have tried to get around Writer’s block and adapt to the situation by constantly telling myself that the output I am producing towards my PhD will never be consistent. Some days will be super productive while other days won’t be. It is okay to have both.

Here are my eats for this month 🙂 I’m currently obsessed with strawberries!

Dessert with yoghurt, fruche, ginger, strawberry, kiwi and almonds

Teff and pear teacake (recipe coming soon)

Khichdi or khichuri with a twist (recipe adapted from here)

Sourdough with peanut butter, strawberry and chia

Lunch on a sunny day 🙂

Vegetarian lasange with ricotta

Ingredients⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

6 sheets of Latina Fresh lasagne sheets
2 garlic cloves ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1 large onion ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1 chilli ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Drizzle of EVOO (I use Cobram Estate)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
EVOO spray
100 g smooth ricotta ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
280 g broccoli
Italian diced tomatoes (2 cans)
415 g frozen mixed veggies
60 g grated parmesan ⠀

Method
1️⃣ Heat EVOO on a saucepan. Add garlic and onion
2️⃣ Cook until soft. Add diced tomatoes and cover with lid
3️⃣ Once mixture has thickened, add broccoli (this will take longer to cook) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
4️⃣ Add remaining mixed veggies 5 mins later
5️⃣ Spray baking dish with EVOO. Layer pasta sheet followed by veggies then ricotta
6️⃣ Cover top layer with ricotta and add parmesan
7️⃣ Bake for 35-40 minutes
8️⃣ Stand for 15 mins ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
9️⃣ Serve + pack away for work lunches ⠀⠀

Nutrition information per serve (serves 6) 🤓
1315 kJ or 314 cal, 17g protein, 4g sat fat, 37 g carbs, 270 mg sodium ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀