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madhugopalan

Life

March and April 2018


Hello! Here are my updates for the months of March and April!
 
1. I’ve started logging everything I eat. I’d tried it before too, but never managed to keep it up for more than 2-3 days. This time around, I’ve persisted with it. In the beginning, it was quite shocking to see how calorie laden even healthy foods are, but now I’m slowly getting the hang of it. I don’t try to be too precise – I don’t want it to ever become an obsession. In fact I don’t even log my meals on Saturdays and Sundays 😀 It is very useful as a rough guide to plan my meals, and also to see where those hidden calories are coming from. (I use myfitnesspal, fyi).
 
2. I don’t drink anymore. I think the last drink I had was probably in October last year, and I haven’t missed it even a little bit. I don’t think I ever particularly relished alcohol. So, in the spirit (haha) of letting go of what doesn’t serve me, I decided to stop drinking altogether. In situations where others around me are drinking, I stick to fresh lime water or soda with just salt and no sugar. Does it sound like a sad life? Trust me, it’s not. I’m just choosing to overshoot my calorie allowance with things I genuinely enjoy. I’d rather eat a big ice cream sundae with fruits and nuts than drink a bunch of cocktails, go to sleep feeling light-headed and wake up dehydrated with a nasty headache.
 
3. We’ve switched to eating fully organic. We were already buying only organic dry provisions (stuff like dals, etc), but now it’s vegetables and fruits as well. Is eating organic pricier? Yes, it is. But an overall healthier lifestyle saves us money too. For example, what we would have spent on 1-2 evenings out drinking and eating crap more than covers the difference.
 
4. I’m experimenting with making some products on my own at home. I made a hair oil, a facial cleansing oil and even a toothpaste. But I’m quite the junkie who loves trying new products in the market, so I don’t know if I can keep this up 🙂
 
So that’s about it for March and April. I’ve continued to do every single thing from my January and February updates. I’m so happy to be continuously adding to my list of healthy habits this year, and grateful to have the privilege to do so!

Life

February 2018

bougainvillea
Hello! My resolution for 2018 is to get fitter, both physically and mentally, and I’m posting monthly updates here. It’s time for my February updates. Here’s what I’ve added to my list of practices that I started in January:
 
1. The BEST thing first : I resumed music classes after MANY MANY YEARS! As I mentioned in this post long ago, I used to learn Carnatic singing as a child. Something about 2018 motivated me to get back in touch with my guru and start singing again! I used to learn in person from him back then, but now he teaches me on skype haha! I’m so glad I took the plunge, it’s been great for me – even a short practice session magically uplifts my mood.
 
2. I’m drinking herbal tea regularly. The funny thing is, I didn’t start doing this for the health benefits, but to work through my gigantic stash of teas! (People, stop buying me tea! Seriously!) I’m doing something interesting I learned from someone’s instagram –  adding a tiny pinch of salt and pepper to the tea, instead of something sweet. I know it sounds weird, but it tastes very nice, you should try it.
 
3. I’ve started getting my hands dirty again after a long hiatus from gardening. It really calms me like nothing else. Different things work for different people, but if you frequently feel stressed or anxious, it is definitely worth giving gardening a try.
 
That’s it for February! Being able to move forward on one’s resolutions is a privilege, and I’m very grateful for it.

Life

January 2018

Lantana
Happy New Year, you guys! I know, it’s February, but it’s my first post of the year and I couldn’t start it without wishing you! I’m probably being very presumptuous when I say ‘you guys’, because I really doubt if anyone is even looking at this! Do people read blogs anymore? I totally do, but I don’t know anyone else who does.
 
My last post was about breakfast bowls, after quite a while of blogging about travel! I guess it was a return to what I originally meant my blog to be – a little bit of everything – hence the name all mix fruit juice! And that’s how it’s going to be hereafter. (Something about the knowledge that very few people are reading your blog makes it easier to stop curating too much!)
 
2017 was very chaotic – a mixed bag of fun and stress. I am very grateful, though, because God has been extremely kind to us. My resolution for 2018 is to get fitter, both physically and mentally, and to lead a gentler lifestyle. I’m thinking I’ll do monthly updates here about how all of this is going.
 
So here are the things I started doing regularly in January:
 
1. Exercising regularly, 4 to 5 times a week.
 
2. Avoiding dairy most of the time, and eating clean overall.
 
3. Writing meditation – (it is the practice of repetitive writing, while sitting in silence. Look up likhita japa if you’re curious about this)
 
4. Wearing sunscreen every single day, whether I’m indoors or outdoors.
 
5. Going to bed earlier. (this is a direct result of exercise – the days I don’t exercise, I can’t fall asleep as easily)
 
I’m being pretty disciplined, and I’m happy about it 🙂

Food

how to build a yummy breakfast bowl

I’ve been posting some of my breakfast bowls on Instagram and Twitter. A few people DMed me to ask how I put them together, so I thought I’d do a small post here. These breakfast bowls really work for me because they take under 5 minutes to make, they can easily be made vegan (I’m avoiding dairy most of the time these days), I can quickly eat them even if I’m not hungry, they are FULL of nutrition, and they taste amazing.
 
These bowls typically have a base, and some toppings.
 

THE BASE

Some options for the base:
 
(1.) Oats or muesli, soaked overnight in a liquid of your choice – nut milk, regular milk, yoghurt, or even water.
 
(2.) Cooked oats – again this could be in water, nut milk, regular milk, anything.
 
(3.)  A thick smoothie – you basically make a smoothie that is thicker than the ones you drink, so you can eat it out of a bowl with a spoon. You can choose solid ingredients like fruits, vegetables (beetroot, palak etc work amazingly well and add a beautiful colour), oats, nuts, avocados etc. and blend them with liquid ingredients like nut milk, regular milk, yoghurt, fruit juices, coconut water, etc. Many people add acai, matcha, kale, protein powders and various supplements, but I haven’t tried any of those yet.
 
If these smoothies sound like a lot of work, that’s only because I’m listing so many options. Most of the time, I stick to oats, coconut or almond milk and one or two fruits. But you can make your smoothie as simple or as elaborate as you like!
 

TOPPINGS

And now the fun part – the toppings! Here are some ideas:
 
* Fresh fruits
* Nut butters
* Chia seeds (a friend on twitter pointed me to this article that says there’s a choking risk with chia seeds – I thought I should just put it here. I continue to use them in my bowls, but you should make your own choices)
* Goji berries
* Flax seeds
* Melon seeds
* Pumpkin seeds
* Dry fruits and nuts – cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, figs, dates, apricots
* Coconut flakes
* Chocolate chips
* Bee Pollen
 
I don’t add sweeteners to my smoothies because the fruits are sweet enough for me. If I am making cooked or overnight oats, I add a pinch of coconut sugar. You could also use honey, jaggery, palm sugar, stevia, etc.
 
Hmmm that’s all I can think of. Just get creative, put whatever you want together, and enjoy! Here are some of my breakfast bowls that I’ve shared on Instagram.
 
1. Oats cooked in almond milk with a pinch of coconut sugar. Toppings: goji berries, bee pollen, chia seeds and pistachio butter.

 
2. Blueberry, Custard Apple and Oats smoothie. Toppings : bee pollen and chia seeds.

 
3. Banana-Oats smoothie. I added a small piece of beetroot to get this colour. Toppings :  pomegranate, chia seeds and mixed dry fruits and nuts.

 
4. Oats cooked in Almond Milk. Toppings : drizzle of pistachio butter, bee pollen and goji berries.

 
5. Millets Muesli soaked overnight in Almond Milk. Toppings : banana slices and chia seeds.

 
6. Pineapple, Banana, Oats and Coconut Milk smoothie. Toppings : banana, chia seeds and a drizzle of coconut milk.

 

The best way to find cool recipes for your bowls is to scour Instagram and Pinterest. Let me leave you with a link to this board where I’ve pinned a few ideas I’ve come across. Happy eating!

Travel

Bhongir : where history meets geology

A pleasant 50km drive from Hyderabad takes one to a small town called Bhongir, where history meets geology. Long before you enter the town, its trademark egg-shaped hillock looms into view. The hillock is actually a giant rock, called a batholith. A batholith is a huge igneous rock that is formed when molten magma cools and solidifies, often running kilometers deep into the earth. The Bhongir batholith is said to be comparable in size to the one in Uluru, Australia, a World Heritage Site.

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir was named Tribhuvanagiri after the Chalukya ruler Tribhuvanamalla Vikramaditya, who is believed to have built a fort on top of the rock in the 12th century. Tribhuvanagiri became Bhuvanagiri, which eventually became Bhongir. Later, the fort passed through the hands of the Kakatiyas, the Bahmanis and the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda. Most of the present structure dates back to the Bahmani and Qutb Shahi era, and you’ll notice similarities with the forts at Golconda, Bidar and others built by the various Deccan Sultanates.

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir FortBhongir Fort

The climb to the top was lovely the day we went – there was a light drizzle throughout, like a gentle spray. On a blazing hot day, I’m not sure how fun it’ll be! There are steps hewn into the rock for the most part, and railings for support when the slope gets steeper. It takes about an hour, plus or minus, maybe longer if you stop frequently to take pictures.

 

At the very top, there is a pavilion that looks strikingly similar to the Balahisar Baradari, the topmost pavilion in the Golconda Fort. When you reach it, you realize it’s a bit larger than it appears from below, dwarfed by the huge hillock. The panoramic views of the countryside are breathtaking, and you can’t help wondering what it must have been like to be a ruler standing up here and surveying your kingdom. In reality though, the Qutb Shahi kings did not actually stay here. They stationed a governor in Bhongir, and used this fort to imprison people who tried to grab the throne.

Bhongir FortBhongir Fort

Since the hillock is almost egg shaped, it has sheer drops all around,  attracting adventure sports enthusiasts. Bhongir even has a rock climbing school that teaches bouldering, rock climbing and rappelling.

Bhongir Fort

You can combine a trip to this fort with a visit to the famous Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple in Yadagirigutta, just about 14kms away. Also combinable is Kolanupaka, home to a stunning Jain temple, only 30 kms away.

 

Culture

Ganpati Bappa Morya

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of my favourite times of the year in Hyderabad – everything is so colourful and happy. I loved it even when I was a very small kid, except that I’d never let my parents immerse the idol we bought for our home because it made me too sad.

 

On the morning after Visarjan (for those who haven’t heard of this – the Ganesh idols are immersed in water on the 11th day after the festival) day this year, I took some pictures at the flyover near Tank Bund. These are the Ganesh idols that couldn’t/didn’t get immersed on the actual day of immersion. It was a really long line of trucks – we must have seen at least 50, probably more, in the 25 minutes or so that we spent there. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with drums, Bollywood songs and a LOT of dancing. And also a bit of napping, for those exhausted from all of this!

 

I’m always torn between enjoying the gorgeous idols and the vibrant atmosphere and feeling sad about what this does to the Hussain Sagar lake. Anyway, here are some pictures (shot with my phone). You can also check out Visarjan pictures from 3 years ago, on my other blog, Aadab Hyderabad.

Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad

ganesh-visarjan-7Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad

Ganesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan Hyderabad Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad Ganesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan Hyderabad