Thursday, 16 January 2020

Building Memories

I opened up my blog today for the first time after almost a year. I want to keep up with it more regularly this year. I took a peak at my older posts and was so shocked to see that my most recent one had been viewed over 1600 times! I'm so touched that people are interested. A part of me felt like nobody wanted to read any of this, but just seeing that number really humbled me. I am just a stranger on the internet, but I am shocked people actually want to hear/read anything I have to say!


A few years ago I had seen this wonderful and inspiring post on social media of creating a memory jar on January 1, and not opening it up until December 31st. I loved this idea so much. Instead of remembering all the bad times, collect all the good memories and remind yourself how blessed you are. I did one a few years ago and am so glad I did. I remember the warm and fuzzy feeling I got when I opened up my box and relived my favourite memories of that year. My dad always taught us to be grateful for everything in life because it helps us stay positive and reminds us how much God loves us. I decided to start one again for 2020. The year has only just begun, but I am excited to see what 2020 has in store for me Inshallah!

My 2020 Memory Box

Sunday, 6 January 2019


I am generally known by my loved ones as someone who is friendly, talkative, easy going and often smiling. However, in recent months I have felt this part of myself slowly fading away. After a very crazy year full of big changes and big adjustments, I am finding myself overwhelmed by the many ways life has taken a turn. I will spare you the unfortunate details and just say: sometimes it is okay to not be okay.

The funny thing about life is that it never goes the way we planned. This is God showing us His infinite power. We can mentally prepare ourselves for what's about to come all we want, but there will always be curveballs along the way. It's not always bad. Life can surprise us in very positive ways too. We must take lessons from all aspects of life; good and bad. The healthiest thing we can do for ourselves is take everything in stride.

Don't be afraid to make changes in order to look after your own mental health. You have the right to cut out toxicity from your daily life if you feel it is hurting you. Whether it's a toxic habit, form of entertainment or even another person. Think outside the box and remind yourself that sometimes it is God's way of helping you. He may be enlightening you and opening your eyes to new and better possibilities. Even though you may feel like something was good for you, He is making you aware that maybe you never needed it in your life in the first place. The only person who can care for you is you. There is no shame in talking about your fears, feelings, and/or worries. Get outside help from a professional (i.e., therapist) if you must. Never let anyone dismiss your concerns, because your thoughts and feelings matter. They are important. Let the past be the past, and move forward. Allow yourself to heal from pain, Never be afraid to add new things to your life, and say goodbye to old things. It won't always be easy. More often than not, it will even be painful. Making drastic changes in life takes a lot of courage. Quoting Mitch Albom, "All endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time." (The Five People You Meet In Heaven).

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Travel Diaries: Madinah, Saudi Arabia; Makkah, Saudi Arabia

Travel Diaries Part 3: We took a flight from Istanbul to Madinah and arrived at their new airport. The Madinah airport is designed to give you the feel of Masjid-e-Nabwi. The ceiling architecture mimicks the umbrellas that are strategically placed through out the mosque. Until one has visited this blessed mosque themselves, it's difficult to describe it's beauty in words. We stayed in Madinah for eight days, which gave us plenty of time to meditate, as well as go out and do a bit of sight seeing. All the staff at our hotel were really kind and welcoming.

Finally, our last stop was Makkah, where we also stayed for eight days. The drive from Madinah to Makkah was about six hours. We saw countless camels along the way! Makkah, Saudia Arabia is where the religious pilgrimages take place (Umrah and Hajj.) After we had completed our tawaf (walking around the Holy Ka'bah seven times) and sahee (walking between Safah and Marwah seven times), we spent the rest of the seven days praying in the mosque, doing a bit more sight seeing and our last bit of shopping during our trip. One day we took a trip out to Ta'if, which is a mountainous region about an hour and a half out of Makkah. At the top of the mountains, we were greeted by some very frisky babboons!

Saudi Arabia is a desert so there were days when it was 40 degrees out there! Other than the dry heat, the trip was overall amazing and unforgettable.

Madinah Umbrellas

Madinah Museum

Madinah Museum



Me petting a baby camel!

Madinah Airport

Masjid-e-Nabwi door

Mosque Entrance

A hungry and smelly cat my mom and I used to visit daily after every prayer =)

Ka'abah in Makkah

Baboons in Ta'if

Inside Haram (mosque)

Meeting more cats in Makkah!


Thursday, 7 June 2018

Travel Diaries: Cappadocia, Turkey

In part 2 of my "Travel Diaries", I will be chronicling our time in Cappadocia. After spending two nights in Istanbul, we took a domestic flight to Cappadocia, where we stayed for one night, and two days. The city of Cappadocia is known for it's picturesque scenery. Most of the city is built into caves, (including many of the hotels). Although we did not stay in one of those, our hotel was still designed in such a way to give off a "cave vibe." We did, however, have a gorgeous view of the caves from the hotel dining hall terrace.
We had tour guides booked for both days of our trip. The one we had on day one was amazing. He was funny, friendly and taught us so much about Cappadocia's history. There was another family with us on our journey as well, who had come from Sydney, Australia. We exchanged contacts so we could keep in touch through e-mail and social media.
Cappadocia is world famous for their hot air balloon rides. They launch very early in the mornings, so you could watch the sunrise from up above. We were planning to check them out on day two, but unfortunately they got cancelled, due to extreme wind. The tour guide we had on day two was a bit rough around the edges! Other than that, we enjoyed seeing more of Cappadocia's beauty. Our day ended with a one hour hike through the valleys. I cannot even put into words how beautiful it was. It was unreal, and looked like a painting had come to life. Finally, we said goodbye to Cappadocia and took the last flight back to Istanbul. We stayed in Turkey for another 5 days, before embarking on our journey to Madinah, Saudi Arabia. (Stay tuned for Part 3 of my "Travel Diaries", where I will tell you about Madinah).

Hotel Dining Hall, where we often saw cats hanging out!

Dining Hall overlooking Hotel Swimming Pool
Hotel pool during the day

Hotel Courtyard #1

Hotel Courtyard #2

Turkish culture is known for their teas. Here is one of the first apple teas I was served in Cappadocia. Yummy!

Stray dogs overlooking the city

Hike #1

Hike #2

Hike #3

Panoramic view from our hike
Cave restaurant where we had our last meal


Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Travel Diaries: Istanbul, Turkey

A few months ago I took a beautiful trip with my parents to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Makkah and Madinah. Our very first stop was Istanbul, where we stayed for about a week. One of the first sounds I heard there, was the sound of the adhan (call for prayer), right from our hotel room. It was one of my favourite things about our trip. How I miss it! We heard it five times a day, right before every prayer. Istanbul is known as the "city of mosques." There are mosques everywhere! There was even a very small and modest one right across the street from our hotel. Another nickname for Istanbul is the "city of cats!" It is overrun by stray cats! There is even a famous kitty that lives inside of the Hagia Sophia museum, who has his own instagram account. =) I spoke with locals asking them who takes care of all these strays (FYI.. there are also stray dogs.). Our tour guide told me that locals and tourists are responsible for them. If you look closely, you can even see that some of the dogs have tags on their ears. These tags indicate that the dogs have been vaccinated, vet checked, and released back onto the streets. (Similar to the North American Trap, Spay/Neuter, and Release program). In my experience, I never once saw anyone be mean to any of these animals. They live peacefully amongst the humans and nobody seems bothered by them. It was really heartwarming to see how kind everyone was to these animals. Amongst the stray animals and mosques, we also saw most of the main tourist spots of Istanbul; The Hagia Sophia, the famous Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace and such. The weather was a bit cold, so we had to take our winter clothes with us. Besides the cold, it was a lovely trip Allahumdulillah. We came back with various souvenirs of course, including Turkish Delight! Which as it turns out, is actually from Turkey, not Narnia! ;)

Blue Mosque
Inside Blue Mosque

Inside Hagia Sophia, featuring cat! =)

CATS! =)
Continental Breakfast at Our Hotel

Pierre Loti Look Out Point
Turkish Delight! My favourite!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Ramadan Struggles

Muslims are currently in the midst of their fasting month of Ramadan. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is significant for many reasons. One of those reasons being that the Holy Quran was revealed during this month. Muslims spend 29 to 30 days fasting from dawn till dusk. The Islamic calendar doesn't coincide with the Gregorian calendar. The months are based off the sighting of the moon. Therefore, Ramadan doesn't always occur at the same time every year. In recent years, Ramadan has been taking place during the summer months, which calls for much longer fasts.

I've previously wrote about my struggle adjusting to my IBS. I did an entire year of a full "detox" diet. I was eating strictly vegan/vegetarian/grain free meals only. If I had eaten any of my trigger foods, I would be in a lot of pain and discomfort. Despite how painful it was for me to consume meat, dairy or grains, people still liked to pester me and make comments like "just eat a little", "stop making yourself so weak", "you can train your body to be okay with that food."

The truth of the matter was that my diet bothered others more than it bothered me. Sure, it was an adjustment to my lifestyle. I had to pack special homemade meals when I went out to social gatherings (even weddings), and eating out at restaurants was limited. However, I had accepted it for what it was. Lots of people liked looking at me with pity and sadness. Quite frankly, it was others' reactions to my diet that frustrated me more than my actual diet did.

I learned to be creative with my meals and did lots of research on what kinds of delicious recipes to try. I never sacrificed flavour in any of my meals. Actually, now that I have added lots of things back into my diet, I still eat many of the vegan foods I used to during that entire year.

I visited with a dietician shortly before Ramadan 2016 to get some advice on how to make sure I got enough nutrients in my body, despite giving up so much. She gave me some really helpful tips. The biggest things she told me I needed to do was: slowly re-introduce foods back into my body, increase my water intake and take probiotic supplements. Which is exactly what I did, and those three things made a huge difference.

Unfortunately, my body did not settle in time for last Ramadan. My doctor advised me to give my body some time to heal before forcing it to go through 19 hour long fasts. I consulted with a mufti (Islamic scholar) to make sure it was okay for me to skip my fasts last year. He said I was exempt, as long as I made my fasts up in the future when my body allowed me to do so.

Despite getting both medical and Islamic advice on the matter, the critics were back. I had many people chastise me for not fasting. They put me on guilt trips making me feel as though I was committing a huge sin. However, I also had those who supported me. I remember my brother telling me that there are lots of people who wish to fast during Ramadan, but for various reasons are unable to. He also reminded me that fasting is not the only form of ibabah (remembrance of Allah SWT) during this blessed month.

One thing I learned in the last couple of years was that no matter how many people wanted to criticize me or pity me, there was only one person I had to listen to: myself. The only person who knew how painful it was after I ate a trigger food was me. People could easily say "have a little cake" but in the end, it would be me who would suffer. It would be me running in and out of the bathroom all day long with endless cramps. Furthermore, my inability to fast during last Ramadan was something between me and Allah SWT.

By the grace of Allah SWT, my body has settled now. I am able to fast this Ramadan without consequences. Although the fasts are long, as long as I drink enough water and/or lemon water with my meals, everything runs smoothly. I am now aware of what foods my body reacts to the most. I just have to keep my trigger foods limited. My dad always taught me to be grateful for everything, no matter what the circumstances. So Allahumdulillah for the grueling year I did my strict diet. If I hadn't gone through that, I wouldn't have found all these wonderful new recipes to try, taste (and share!) And Allahumdulillah for being able to add some of my favourite foods back into my diet. No matter how difficult it was for me to adjust to my IBS, it was not the worse thing that could have happened to me.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Vegetarian and Vegan recipe ideas.

Although I have a pretty good idea of what kinds of foods I am able to eat, I am still in the process of getting to know my body. I've discovered that I should avoid most grains for now, until my body settles. So I am strictly eating a vegetarian diet now. I have been doing a lot of online research on IBS and found some really informative videos on youtube. I've also been cooking a variety of vegetarian/vegan dishes which I found to work for me. I wanted to share some of the recipes which I have tried and tested so far that can potentially help someone else with digestive issues. Most of the recipes I use are either from or from youtube.

Cowboy kale -

I made some alterations to this recipe. I didn't have any bell peppers at the time, and I used white onions instead. The result was still quite delicious. I completely forgot to serve it with the vinaigrette, but even as is it was flavourful. I cooked kale again last week, but this time I had lightly cooked the kale, and added (raw) cherry tomatoes, avocado pieces, and whole almonds. Also another great way to eat kale.

Cowboy kale served with baked salmon. I wanted to try the fish to see if I could handle it. I later learned that it's best to avoid all meats for now, including seafood. However, if you are able to eat couscous or quinoa, this kale recipe would pair nicely with it!
Grilled Mediterranean Vegetable Sandwich -

Since my body can't handle the store bought breads, I made homemade (whole wheat) roti and had this Mediterranean mix in a roti roll. I am not a huge fan of eggplant, but in this roll it was really good. The garlic mayo was what topped it off and gave it an excellent flavour.

Fabulous Zucchini Grinders -

Another vegetable that I don't particularly like. I made this before I realized I couldn't have breads. I served it in casserole form, as opposed to sandwich form. Also, I eliminated the cheese.

Spinach and Ricotta Calzone -

This was one of the first recipes I tested out on myself. I have my own pizza dough recipe which I used and I made the dough out of whole wheat flour. Although it was extremely delicious, the crust and cheese did not agree with me. I used only mozzarella cheese.

Spinach and cheese calzone made with all purpose flour
Spinach and cheese calzone made with whole wheat flour
Roasted Brussel Sprouts. with apples, golden raisins and walnuts -

I made this recipe as is but I eliminated the brussel sprouts, raisins and wine. It was so simple yet so delicious. the apple slices gave it a really nice sweetness.

Baked Eggs in Avocado -

I find that avocados are a hit or miss for most people; you either love it or you hate it. This is a great breakfast idea which is very filling, if you haven't re-introduced grains back into your diet yet.

I baked these in the toaster oven. I did find them to be very mess to eat. However, delicious nonetheless.

Almond Milk Ideas

So far I've tried sweetened vanilla, unsweetened vanilla and unsweetened original. Personally, I like the unsweetened vanilla but there are many other flavours of (non-dairy milks) out there. Like chocolate almond, coconut/almond blend, coconut milk, cashew milk, and soy milk to name some. It's important to remember almond milk is watered down compared to cow's milk, therefore you would have to make some adjustments to how you use it. However, it is fortified with the same nutrients as cow's milk. I do not like the taste of soy milk, so almond milk is what I found to be right for me.
  • Use it in cereal. My cereal of choice is Shredded Wheat because it's high in fibre.
  • Cook oatmeal with it. Oatmeal made out of almond milk has an acquired taste. It won't be as thick as oatmeal made out of cow's milk and slightly less flavourful. You can add your choice of sweetener or fruits such as apples or bananas to adjust the flavour.
  • Use it in teas. I usually make my tea with 1/2 part water, 1/2 part milk and heat it up with my choice of tea bag. As previously mentioned, almond milk is a lot more watery, so you are required to use 3/4 part milk and 1/4 part water.
  • Latte. My husband and I both wanted to try the almond milk with coffee but it didn't seem to be working. The trick is to do the same thing with it as you did in the tea: use 3/4 part almond milk and 1/4 part coffee. Make a little bit of espresso and in a separate cup, heat up the almond milk and foam it with a frother. If you don't have a frother, your latte will taste great but just won't have the foam on the top.
  • Milkshakes. The great thing about milkshakes is that there's no right or wrong way to make it. You put what you want in a blender, blend and you have your milkshake! My favourite type of milkshake is made with ripe bananas and some cinnamon powder. Since the bananas are already sweet, you don't even need to add sugar. I've also tried it with strawberries but didn't like it very much due to the tartness of the berries.
  • Hot chocolate. I warmed up the milk, and mixed in some cocoa powder and honey for sweetness.
Vanilla tea made with almond milk. I used a vanilla earl grey tea bag and vanilla almond milk for this 

Vanilla almond milk latte
As you can see, almond milk is extremely versatile and a great alternative for anyone who may have a sensitivity to dairy. Furthermore, it adds a hint of nutty flavour to your food and/or drinks.
When adjusting to a new diet, the most important thing to remember is: be patient with your body! Don't get frustrated when you get flare ups because it most likely will happen. Our bodies are funny and need time to change. As much as we wish they'd change overnight, they won't! Furthermore, we are all designed differently. Some things may work for me, but won't work for someone else. It is important to be observant and see what food works best for you as an individual. Reading so many online forums, I found that most people feel the way I did; frustrated. When doctors keep suggesting "add more fibre to your diet" and nothing seems to be helping, you really feel helpless and like giving up. But there is hope! We are lucky enough to live in a world where there are so many alternatives that there is something out there for everyone. I will continue to post about my journey as much as I can, in hopes of helping out anyone out there who may feel alone, frustrated or helpless.