Helga’s Folly

Its with great hesitation that I write this review. My initial thought was to not share a place this special. To safe guard it so it’s incorruptible. I promised the lady of the house I would leave a good review so here it goes. Helga’s folly is not a hotel – it transports you into another universe. A universe that sucks you in and you happily succumb. From the moment I stepped in I knew I would love it. With its high walls, painted from floor to ceiling, the quirky yet comfy armchairs and sofas, Helga’s is a place for dreamers.

I could go on all day about its wonders but its something to be seen to be believed.

Do not get fat in the first place!

… is easier said than done! If you are born in a typical Indian household you really are not brought up with the codes of nutrition embedded into you. You basically eat what you want and how much ever you want. You don’t think about the ingredients of what you eat if you go out or when you pick up packaged food. When I moved away from home to further my studies, I continued to eat mindlessly. A coffee with enough sugar and a chocolate twist everyday for breakfast for a year is obviously the worst idea but I really did not know it then. When I came back home to India for a family wedding, I remember everyone looking at me in polite shock! I was Miss Gigantoid herself.

Anyway, it took me a while to get into working out and running, eating mindfully and cooking. Its a habit now, I cannot imagine my life without a dumbellā¤!

I was listening through a physiology lecture the other day and the doctor who was taking it mentioned that when you become significantly large, and I’m not talking about being a bit over weight, but where your BMI is touching the obese range, it becomes excruciatingly hard for you to lose it. He was just rudely frank about the fact that while we do see people in our day to day life who lose a large amount of weight only a measly 10% can actually keep it off in the long run. To lose 40 kgs in a healthy manner you need to be on a diet for more than a year with NO cheat day! Basically live on 1500 calories, which is not enough, your body is large so it needs more energy, you end up starving and then giving in to your cravings. It is a vicious cycle.

Moral of the story being, educate your children or any kids that you know about eating right, so if its under their control(not a thyroid imbalance) they do not put on weight in the first place. Forming good habits when you are young is so important. Also – do NOT keep packaged snacks and biscuits at home. If you really want a cookie bake it! If you want to have a piece of cake, whip it up! Learn about the benefits of different foods so you can feel it nourishing your body as you eat it.

That said, I had an awesome workout this morning and wanted to share –

Do each exercise for 40 seconds or 15 reps, 4 times with 15 second break in between –

  1. Squat jumps
  2. Pushups
  3. Kettlebell or dumbell deadlifts
  4. High knees
  5. Bicep curls
  6. Weighted squats
  7. Burpees
  8. Tricep curls
  9. Weighted lunge

The Perfect Breakfast

I am honestly plain confused with the entire idea of breakfast. We have some people who swear by eating something 10 minutes after you wake up to kick-start your metabolism to those who tell you to fast till lunchtime for ultimate health. From being extremely bothered about all this information to giving 0 f**ks, I have come a long way. I now just listen to my body and common sense. If I have a morning workout, I usually eat something light as to have a more effective session. If I had a heavy dinner or ate late in the evening, I fast till around 2-3 hours from when I have woken up. If I’m on holiday – I indulge a bit( its good for the soul) while keeping portion sizes small.

What I have is a small collection of my choice of healthy, nutritious breakfasts that will make you look forward to your morning! Trust me egg and bread does nothing good for us!

Overnight oats

Image courtesy @katheats.com

Image courtesy @katheats.com

Ok – maybe this is not too Indian, but its light and fresh in the morning. Just soak a cup of your favourite oats overnight in fresh squeezed apple juice or soy milk, keep refrigerated. The next day, just add some nuts and/or fruits to make it extra tasty.

Steaming idlies

Image Courtesy @sharmispassions.com

Image Courtesy @sharmispassions.com

The best most nutritious breakfast on the planet. These light white pillows can be paired with almost anything. But in the morning, stick to non spicy white coconut chutney or fresh tomato chutney. See here for some nice recipes – http://www.yummytummyaarthi.com/2015/01/easy-onion-tomato-chutney-recipe-red.html

Banana chocolate pancake(vegan) with home-made peanut butter

Image Courtesy @marcussamuelson.com

Image Courtesy @marcussamuelson.com

This is left best for the weekend! Mash up some banana, coconut milk, cocoa, brown/organic non-polished sugar, a bit of baking powder, wholegrain wheat flour and a pinch of salt. I’m not going through the step by step. But check out this wonderful lady’s blog, pretty much the same thing, just modify a bit and bam! http://theprettybee.com/2015/01/vegan-banana-pancakes.html

For the peanut butter, grab a bunch of roasted peanuts and grind till the oil comes out or just be lazy and buy a bottle or whatever!

Puttu with red banana(or any other colour is also fine, not as fun as red though!)

Puttu

Man! If I could eat one breakfast for the rest of my life it would be this. Its basically pressed and steamed rice powder mixed with grated coconut. To have it traditionally would be to pair it with a kadala curry or you can eat it like me which is the much better way, by sprinkling some sugar on it, drizzling it ever so slightly with some ghee andĀ  then mash a banana into it before tucking in. Its too yum to be true! This lady breaks it down here – make it with red rice powder though like in the image attached, much healthier – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muSoTCiYJEQ

Coconut stew with dosa/idli/idiyappams/appams

Image courtesy @kothiyavanu

Image courtesy @kothiyavanu

Plain and simple coconut stew, easy to make and tastes delicious.

In one tablespoon of coconut oil fry some onions along with some cumin, salt and whole ginger. Once the onions are translucent add cooked potatoes and coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle some jaggery powder to make it little better than it already is, but not a lot!

That’s all! I hope you all enjoy your breakfasts as I do mine.

Vegan Banana Chocolate Ragi Cake

I had an early start this morning which gave me the opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen doing one of my favorite things, baking a cake! I also wanted to use the ragi that has been lying in my cupboard for weeks now and my bananas were browning. I hate wasting food, over ripe bananas are perfect for cakes or to use as a conditioner for your hair. Ragi or millet flour is great for you, packed with iron and other nutrients, a piece of this cake could also be eaten as a pre-workout snack in the morning to kick start that metabolism.

Also, for those of us who need that dessert at the end of a meal its best to eat something home made than some store bought crap. So that said, I decided to go all vegan with this cake. As we all know deep down that, that’s the best way to go, good for the body and the soul. I

Amazeballs powdered jaggery powder, you also see the bananas in the background looking all mushy like they are supposed to

Amazeballs powdered jaggery, you also see the bananas in the background looking all mushy like they are supposed to

Lovely ragi flour in my blue cup

Lovely ragi flour in my blue cup

Fresh cinnamon powder, can smell this stuff all day or even smell like this stuff, both are good!

Fresh cinnamon powder, can smell this stuff all day or even smell like this stuff, both are good!

Ingredients

1 cup ragi flour

1 cup wheat flour

1 cup organic powdered jaggery

1/2 cup soy milk

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 bananas

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C
  2. Mix in the oil with the bananas till all smooth like a paste.
  3. Add in the jaggery till kind of dissolved.
  4. Pour in the soy milk and mix it all.
  5. Slowly add in all the dry ingredients, the ragi and the whole wheat flour, the baking powder, soda, cocoa and cinnamon powder. You could choose to be fancy and sift all the flour in like a good girl or do what I do, just throw them all in.
  6. Once you are happy with the batter, pour into a tin and cook for 30 minutes or when a fork inserted comes out dry. Let this cool a bit out of the oven before you eat or eat it hot or whatever, its your life and your cake!
Voila ze cake!

Voila ze cake!

That’s all folks. I’m going to store this cake and hope it lasts me a week.

Running in Cubbon Park

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Though not as big as Lalbagh, cubbon park is charming in its own way. It has numerous little trails all over or you can just run around smaller circuits, what ever floats your boat. Also on Saturdays there are so many people running, working out and stretching. Quite motivating to see so many people wanting to be fit in the city. Worked up a nice little sweat with high and low intervals, for around 30 minutes. Took a stroll over to Indian Coffee house only to find the waiters cranky and not fully ready to serve yet. Bummer!

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So what do we do next! hmm… head over to the Mariott breakfast buffet of course! Well not something you do every weekend. Maybe that one special weekend when you want to spoil yourself a bit. This was definitely one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve ever been to in a while. They had everything, from a well stocked fruit counter, to dimsums, pancakes and indian breakfast options. Key is to eat mindfully and stay clear of the pastry section, that’s just a waste of calories! Tip – Definitely go for the smoked salon on egg whites on rye bread.

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Dragon fruit and figs!

Dragon fruit and figs!

Quite the way to bring in the weekend!

Active weekends – Nandi Hills

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Rolling with the clouds

A nice way to spend a saturday morning is to get an early start to catch the sunrise up in Nandi hills for all those Bangalore folks. Though be warned, a weekend morning means an annoying crowd of tourists and the like. All in their cars and bikes jamming the way up to the hill. Best is to park your cars down and take a nice walk up – around 1.5 km only. Don’t just stick to the roads! Make a workout out of it and explore the pathways going up and down the hill. A lot of people cycle up from the city as well or as I saw even run up! Not easy to run up the steep winding hill but kudos to those who try! The view itself is quite breathtaking if you zone the noise out around you and the million people taking selfies! I mean seriously, why you have to take 50 pictures of yourself! why why!

Anyway, the view of the clouds rolling down the hills is quite surreal.

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Rolling with the clouds

Running in Lal Bagh, Bangalore

Who doesn't love water lillies

Who doesn’t love water lillies

The lake in Lal Bagh

The lake in Lal Bagh

Green

The endless green

Being in Bangalore is great for runners as it has so many parks. Lal Bagh in the morning is insanely special. Everything is fresh and entrance is free. You can run around the little lake, run up the hill and run around the entire circumference. The runners high also lasts longer.

I was always of the belief that I couldn’t run long distances. Short sprints are ok, but long runs with my flat feet were a huge pain. My arch would stretch and get chafed from the friction, more than being tired I would just be in a lot of pain for the next couple of days. Enter my Nike Free Runs around 3 years ago. They didn’t have an arch support, its sole was more or less flat. I could now, run for an hour without having to limp in pain after. What I think helped is that, when you run without an arch support the muscles in your feet naturally become stronger the more you exercise it.

What also makes running so much better is doing it outdoors. You are doing yourself a huge disservice if you run on a treadmill. It really makes you no more than guinea pig on a wheel, running without reaching anywhere. Boring!

White Mantra – Spa Review

-165White Mantra 1 Beauty-Parlour-Bangalore-White-Mantra-Spa-Salon-1289899874744_regularEveryone loves a bit of me time and to be honest I would love it if it was me time all the time! So there is no place better to enjoy your own company or the company of that someone special than at a spa. My hunt for the perfect spa began. I wanted some place private yet beautiful and not stupidly expensive. Enter White Mantra! They are so obscure, that I found them only after several googles of best spa Bangalore.

They are tucked away in a corner of Rustam Bagh off old airport road on a gravelly lane. Their property itself has a quaint Zen feeling to it. Their treatments are quite unique, some really nice sounding Hawaiian therapies that I definitely should try next time. This time around, I just wanted a good ol’ fashioned deep tissue. Ah the sweet sweet pain of knots being released!

I chose the therapy room that came with a beautiful white tub and a sun roof. Picture this – you are dazed and and blissful after your massage and then you are immersed warm water filled with rose petals, firangi paani flowers and tulsi ( which you can chew on if you are hungry after your massage – they are good for you!), lit candles around. You’re then given some lemon water to zip on. This is what heaven must feel like. Could be even more heavenly if you have someone to share the tub with!

On a side note – there is no lock on the door, so no hanky panky!

The massage was good, the ladies were nice and strong and did their job well. Only feedback would be that the music in the background was downright weird and distracting. There was actually some talking/narration going on there. Keep it simple people! Just the sound of ocean waves will do the trick. They can instantly transport you to a place of calm!

All in all great way to bring in the weekend. I will definitely go again.

A different kind of morning! – Chennai

IMG_20150829_073947I was in Chennai for a quick weekend at my parents’ and true to form, on Saturday I got in a 30 minute run around the neighbourhood. Long distance running in Chennai can get a bit uncomfy as you sweat like a dog and need constant hydration. So best short workout for me is interval training, run at full intensity and then slow down to a jog, never walking! I did this for around 4kms and then the last 200m sprinted back home.

As a reward for being so good – I gifted myself the most amazing morning treat. A swim at the Park Hyatt pool followed by a good steam+sauna+jacuzzi. This is something I thoroughly recommend if you want to do something different and luxe in the city.

When I was there, I kept thinking how cool it would be if the Hotel combined this with a nice breakfast. So say for Rs. 2500, you could get a swim and a breakfast. This offer could be valid on weekend mornings only. Ah well, maybe someone will read this post and decide to set it up!

Apart from the swim itself, there was not a single soul in the jacuzzi area. So we could just run free! Just kidding – there was no more running! Just leisurely sauntering into the warm jacuzzi and then into the steam room and then for a good sauna sweat. What also needs a special mention is their aroma bath products, my hair continued to smell like heaven for the whole day. I’ll miss it when I have to wash again.. sigh! IMG_20150829_081241 IMG_20150829_084507

If you don’t mind dishing out more money and time. You could also try their Spa, which also offers some great treatments. Nothing beats a good old pampering!