Toasting 2015

Happy New Year everyone! Like me, I hope you all had a wonderful break. I am not the biggest fan of January and February, but I promised not to harp on about that this year, I know it’s cold but the sun is shining away today.

Christmas was really quiet (just me, as Ahmed was in Nicaragua). I feel like a lot has happened on the personal side, Dad turns sixty today, and my father-in-law turns sixty this week. They are both remarkable, I hope that when I am sixty, I too might have the grace and poise they possess. Given that such life events are happening at the moment, it has been a time for reflection indeed.

Ahmed and I had our first wedding anniversary, we hit the spa and then skipped going out on New Year’s Eve and had a lovely evening at home, which is something I have wanted to do for years.

I am feeling quite tired at the moment, which probably has something to do with being a bit lax with food selection. We got back to being alkaline with green smoothies, avocados on Kamut toast and lentils yesterday. Tomorrow I’ll be posting recipes for a three-day plan to get you glowing in no time!

Usually I skip resolutions, but this year I am a little more than taken with Pantone’s colour of the year, Marsala or more so the selection of it, to enrich our mind, body and soul. If there is anything that makes one glow inside out, it is seeking out such experiences, how ever big or small they are.

So that is what I’ll be doing and I hope you’ll join me in raising a glass to such a year. Here is my first recipe for 2015!


Power Green Smoothie

This concoction is a powerhouse of nutrients. I really slacked off the green juices over the past week, so definitely needed something strong and nourishing this morning. It’s breakfast in a glass, fantastic fuel for workouts and busy (or gloomy) January days!

One banana
A handful of spinach
1 Medjool date
1 cup nut milk (I used cashew)
1tbsp nut butter (I used cashew)
1tsp super greens powder
A few chlorophyll drops

Blitz all the ingredients together until smooth.


Merry Christmas


It’s been so much fun blogging this December and sharing the holiday season with you all. Hard to believe that 25th is already here. Hope you all have a wonderful day, wishing you a very happy holiday!

With love from me.

All I Want For Christmas

A few weeks ago, Oscar, a new innovative health insurance company more human than the others, wrote a lovely email, asking me to reflect on my past year and think about what I am most grateful for this year. Given everything that has happened over the course of 2014, only one thing really sprang to mind and that was the importance of health and wellbeing.


Last year, on Christmas Day, we had my Ubtan, a traditional event that takes place a few days prior to a desi wedding. My Grandma had recently died of cancer a few weeks earlier and all I wanted that day was for her to be with us. It can be hard looking back at those pictures knowing that such a big part of our lives had recently departed. It was sudden and unexpected, although it was bittersweet, the wedding helped us all to get through that loss, heal together and we have some beautiful memories of those painful days.

What does anyone want for Christmas? Having thought about it a lot recently, in the end I decided it was the health and happiness of my loved ones. What good would everything at Christmas be without that?

Putting up decorations, what fun is that if there aren’t happy, healthy people to do it with you? All the food we prepare, would it taste as wonderful if we weren’t enjoying it over the laughter of family members who feel well? How much would it suck if there were no smiling rosy-cheeked friends to huddle with on a cold day at the Christmas market?

Hunting down roasted chestnuts, braving the weather for gifts, ice skating, building snowmen, holiday lights, stocking fillers, ugly Christmas sweaters, an abundance of socks wrapped up under the tree, mince pies, festive films, an endless list of activities that would not bring half as much joy without the health and happiness of our loved ones.

This year I am grateful to my husband, family and friends for putting up with my adventures in food and life. For coming along to yoga, for supporting me in my health choices by bringing celery sticks with dips to girly nights, being the guinea pigs to my experiments in the kitchen, for getting me hot chocolate without milk, for encouraging my writing, sharing my food and recipes and for embracing all my quirks.

The greatest antidote to all ailments, the thing that keeps me smiling and feeling well, is the health and happiness of my family and friends, because without them, none of this would mean anything.

“First position please”


We had our last ballet class of the the year over the weekend and while looking forward to some weeks off, I am also excited for next term, in the New Year. The barre is my happy place.

My first attempt at ballet was a disaster. I ended up at a clueless downtown Toronto dance studio where the quality of teaching was so poor I’d be at my chiropractor in agony every week. Then I discovered Ballet Espressivo and so much has changed since then.

Having always epitomized a ballet dancer with grace, elegance, beauty and an incredible physique, the dancer’s body is something I have always been in awe of. It’s movement to music and life is something I have coveted and even dared to dream about but never quite had.

Amateur dance is something most people find themselves doing throughout life. My first introduction to dance was in an expressive class at high school where I couldn’t touch my toes in a stretch and was made to feel quite inadequate by a teacher for my size and shape.

While her remarks didn’t deter me from dancing and choreographing Bollywood routines in the privacy of my room, it did rattle my confidence and restrain me from asking to attend dance lessons.

Years later, I became a cheerleader at university, after losing a bet with the boys and found myself enjoying it. Dancing in a group of girls was so much fun and I loved our coaches and even went on to become cheerleader of the year. Finally inspired by Shakira, I took to belly dancing.

Yet the videos on YouTube of ballet dancers taunted an unrequited dream, their ethereal moves impressed upon me an art form I craved to explore but never had the courage to try. Then earlier this year, I finally watched Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Natalie Portman’s stunning performance stole my heart.

I started to research ballet and came to learn that as well as being a beautiful art form, that the study of it could help me to strengthen my weak and aching lower back. What I needed more than anything was the internal and infinite strength of the core and this was enough to push me to finally pursue ballet.


If there is one thing I have come to appreciate more than anything in this wonderful practice, it is a teacher who values her students and puts their wellbeing at the top of her list. That is why the hours spent at Ballet Espressivo under the instruction of Donna Greenberg, a teacher who believes in the deeper connection between art and wellness, have been the most enriching experience to my health this past year.

“When you come to class and do barre, it isn’t an escape. It’s not therapy but it is development and that development can help you through the hardest times in your life, because one has made a commitment to themselves.”

Greenberg’s style of teaching has been a progressive experience. It stems from having met a mentor early in her training, who, although strict, understood and encouraged a holistic sensibility towards learning dance and movement, one that Greenberg felt, she had a natural inclination toward. Greenberg has expanded upon that over the years in her own artistic journey.

What I find most inspiring, is her holistic approach to teaching. Greenberg gets student to work hard and try their absolute best by encouraging them to be mindful. In other forms of exercise and movement, my brain often wonders, when doing ballet, for that full hour or so I am totally focused.

You work hard; she doesn’t treat you with any less reverence than she would a professional. Just because we aren’t going to be prima ballerinas, doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the same respect or quality of education.

Greenberg believes strongly in adult education because there are many people who didn’t have the support or means to do it as a child and that is why she offers classes to adults specifically. There are up to three evening classes everyday, at a variety of levels as well as strengthening floor barre and a modern dance class (which is my favourite).


If there is one thing Greenberg wants students to take away from her classes it is a love for ballet and the confidence to pursue dreams and goals. Not everyone is supposed to be a professional, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn the art form.

“The beauty of ballet and dancing is that you get to express yourself, build strength and learn a discipline that helps to develop a higher sense of yourself, a better sense. Even if that is unattainable, it doesn’t matter because the benefits are there for you.”

Amongst the benefits of doing ballet, beyond the more obvious ones like, being toned and stronger, are a responsive body, improved balance and co-ordination. You can also have greater extension of limbs, more connection to how you move in general and in particular, much better posture. Greenberg feels that people with good posture look younger and more vital and I totally agree. I aspire to people who know how to carry themselves and are comfortable in their own skin.

Posture is our greatest weapon against ailments as we age. Sitting is said to be the new smoking. Learning how to use our muscles efficiently and hold ourselves correctly while we sit protects the spine (the key to our central nervous system) and can protect us from so many things later in life.

So I haven’t just learned to dance; I have also learned how to heal and not just physically but emotionally. Greenberg is an intuitive teacher and understands her students in a different capacity and you don’t get away with much in class. She sees your shoulders hiking up before they even do, an elbow dropping before you even realise it’s fallen.

Beyond that, Greenberg recognizes when we are afraid of old wounds and pushes us gently towards them, through dance, we learn to accept the parts of our bodies and selves that we don’t always want and find a way to connect to them once again. Really all we are doing is trying to mobilise our limbs and work with scar tissue, but it always feels like we doing so much more that that, going deep into those places that have suffered the hands of time.

A dancer’s body is not always about being the perfect size. It is about being strong and having a connection, knowing how to use your body efficiently not just for dancing but to move and breathe throughout your life.


That in actual fact, a dancer’s body, is a beautiful thing to behold, because what it gives you is optimum health, wellness and awareness and it is seriously good fun, especially with Greenberg. If you are looking for something to enrich your mind, body and soul in 2015, seriously consider ballet.

Find out more:

– Photos by Zeeshan Safdar

Follow me in merry measure

The 25th of December is just four days away! I am almost done with all my work and can’t wait to have a week off to just bliss out with my hubby when he gets back from his trip with the boys. We are off to a spa this weekend for our anniversary and I can’t wait. If there is one thing I love to do, it’s pampering myself just as hard as I work and play.

The other day, a bit over whelmed with all the deadlines on my plate and trying to balance festivities, I decided to switch off for a while, play some music, pop a face mask on and on close my eyes for a while. I didn’t realise I was all out of my favourite GLAMGLOW, so improvised with some wheatgrass powder and almond milk.

Lately I have been seeing spirulina masks on my Instagram feed, inspired by Deliciously Ella’s homemade masks, I did a little research of my own research and found out wheatgrass is just as good. Get glowing for Christmas with this quick and easy green beauty!


1tbsp wheatgrass powder
1tbsp almond milk

Mix them together into a paste, apply and leave on for 10-15 minutes.


I actually had a different post for today on my blog, it was about how to make avocado pâté for festive get-togethers. Just at the weekend I was saying it’s nice to write about food for a change given what I used to write about when I was a journalist in Pakistan. Today I have no appetite.

I have no words. I have no words today. So then, why even try to write an article talking about the devastating attack in Peshawar that took the lives of innocent children? I’ll tell you why, so I can make myself feel better. You heard me, so I can make myself feel better. You won’t find any apology for my apathetic existence here.

I won’t disrespect the mothers and fathers by saying I am sorry for their loss. Of course I am, I don’t think my heart has hurt like this for a while. My heart goes out to those parents who will bury their children tonight but I will go back to my life in a week or two.

Am I sorry for that? No, I am so grateful that I didn’t lose someone I love today, I am so thankful that a life, I cherish beyond my own, like a parent does their child, is not something I had to experience today. I think that pain would cripple me. Why does someone else have to go through that? That question is burning a hole through my heart as hot tears pour out of my eyes.

Because an apology would be selfish, it’s just another way to make myself feel better about the fact that I will move on from this tragedy and my heart won’t be broken forever.

I don’t even have anything scathing to say about all the Twitter and Facebook updates. Seeing them makes me feel better. It feels like I have someone to mourn, someone to comfort with a response or an acknowledgement.

Because what I can’t do is comfort those mothers and fathers. Nothing will comfort them other than their child coming home from school with tales of the day. Instead they come home from school in a shroud. I wish I could make that happen, I would give anything to.

I feel united with Pakistan all the time, but today it is in my anger and in my sadness. Just the other day I was saying after a year in Toronto I was missing Karachi more than ever, just last night I was telling my husband I want to move back. Today I wish I could be in Peshawar doing something for the families who have truly suffered from this horrific tragedy.

I am well aware of what happened yesterday in Australia and Philadelphia, it was awful but please don’t berate me for crying out with my home country today. Please don’t point out all the faults with this post and everything that is wrong with it in the comments. I know, I already know, but I just want to make myself feel better. Because this morning I woke up to children, in their school uniforms, being carried to hospitals and I have never felt more ashamed of being a human being in this world. Because I have been crying since I read my best friend’s status update, whose birthday it is today, with whom I have spent the most amazing years of my life in Pakistan.

“On this day of my birth, nothing brings home the transiency of life more poignantly than the incident in Peshawar, where scores of children breathed their last. My only wish is for this insanity to end…now and forever. If there were anything I could do to give these families their little ones back, I would give my very last breath to make it happen. Words aren’t enough to describe the depth of this pain! I mourn with them…for their loss and for the unlived lives of their children. My day is dedicated to them.”

Because today, this is what being Pakistani looks like.

‘Tis The Season

There are many things I find tricky in life but balancing health with party season is not one of them. Let’s be honest though, unless you have the willpower of Gandhi, the weekends are going to be a bit of a challenge. Who wants to eat a salad every time they go out this time of year?

I am totally against that mindset of ‘let’s pile on the pounds in December, because from January I will be on a diet,’ and I also believe in not stressing about eating yummy holiday food. Follow the 70/30 rule of thumb and you won’t have to worry about it at all.

The only thing I’ve found since cutting down salt, sugar and wheat from my diet, is when indulging at the weekends, I really struggle with water retention and bloating on a Monday. I’ve been doing a few things every week for a while now to help combat those side effects and it leaves me feeling much better.

Now is a great time to make these tricks part of your weekly rituals to feel fabulous inside out during the festive season and all year round.


Sunday Night

Psyllium husk. While this isn’t the easiest thing to consume, it is worth trying it out. Growing up in a Pakistani household I’ve known about the husks of the incredible Plantageo Ovato plant my whole life, as it is native to the region of Pakistan and India. I keep it in my pantry in a powder form.

It promotes intestinal health and I drink a tablespoon of it mixed with lots of water and follow it up with a cup of peppermint tea before I go to bed on a Sunday night. You could also take a bath with Epsom salts which can help to alleviate bloating and flush toxins from the body.


Monday Morning

Oil pulling. You can read in detail about the numerous health benefits of oil pulling here, but in a nutshell, oil pulling is an ancient 5000 year old Ayurvedic method from India. Within weeks you will discover how wonderful this simple and priceless treatment can be for your general health and wellbeing as it aids with removing toxins.

It is a process of swilling oil around your mouth, thoroughly, as you would a mouthwash. It is best done in the morning on an empty stomach with a teaspoon or two of coconut oil for about fifteen to twenty minutes.

After this I have my usual cup of hot water and lemon and then proceed to dry body brushing. Which is an excellent way to get your circulation and lymphatic system going (encouraging the expulsion of toxins) and to energise your self on a Monday morning.

Don’t skip breakfast, have a green juice, some avocados or poached eggs on gluten free toast or how about this quick and easy chia seed pudding you can throw together the night before? Chia seeds are high in nutrients like manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium, so they are the perfect way to start the week after an indulgent weekend.


Serves 2

1 cup of dairy free milk of your choice
3tbsp chia seeds
2tsp coconut palm sugar
1 cup of raspberries
1/4 cup of raw almonds

Mix the chia seeds with half of the milk, 1tsp of sugar and set aside.

Mash the raspberries with a 1tsp of sugar.

Roughly chop up the almonds by hand.

The chia seeds will have absorbed some of the liquid and started to swell, mix well and add the rest of the milk and leave in the fridge to set for about thirty to forty minutes.

Once the chia seeds have set in the milk you can assemble your pudding. Spoon some raspberries into your jar or bowl and then top with some nuts and then the chia seeds. Repeat layers in this manner until you have two even portions.