Sunday, May 24, 2015

Looking back at Food Revolution Day 2015

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. Helen Keller.

A little more than a week since the Food Revolution Day and though a part of me is happy and content that everything went off well (finally I can put up my legs on the coffee table and ponder about the beautiful memories we created together); if you were to ask me to be really really honest I am terribly missing all those days (read the last five months).

Endless planning, organizing, exchanging hundreds of emails, eating up each other heads, agreeing, disagreeing, sleepless nights because I was too excited to sleep before each of the events and those happy faces of all the little ones who made Food Revolution Day 2015 so very special.

Yes, I am missing it all. More importantly I am just missing being around all the wonderfully generous people who came together, who went out of their way and made this happen. Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much said Helen Keller. So true. None of this would have happened without them.

Thank you for being part of Food Revolution Day 2015. 
Thank you for going the extra mile.

Come with me for I want to take you with me through my Food Revolution Month 2015 which is what we did here at Dubai. We celebrated the entire month and we had a blast. This is going to be a long post so I suggest you sit down with a cup of coffee :)

3rd May 2015: We began the month with 100 tiny chefs from the Indian High School dancing to the Wiggles on the 3rd of May. We squashed, we took a pledge and we asked lots of questions on why we need to eat healthy food. Finally we ate our squash it sandwiches and we loved it. 

These children were all part of the Young Chef Club at the school and some of them were even food inspectors (you read it right!) These little guys go around the junior school checking their friends’ lunch boxes!! So I decided to make these chefs/leaders in the making my partners and not just participants. They are now telling everyone about Food Revolution and have this huge responsibility on their tiny but very strong shoulders to spread the love of real food and cooking. I am so proud of them.

Thank you Principal, Indian High School for joining hands and for food educating the students. Thank you Ruby for doing this with me and thank you team Jamie’s Italian for waking up much before your work hours and becoming a part of this event.

See the full album here.

9th May 2015: Next up were the subscribers of DinnerTime. Each month I work on a menu for their subscribers as a DinnerTime Chef but the menu in the week of 10th-16th  was super special for through this menu I shared with them another part of my life; the Food Revolution part of my life. We invited everyone to cook Jamie Oliver’s Squash it Sandwich along with us so we included that as the vegetarian recipe in the box that week. It was a great feeling to see the subscribers joining millions across the globe.

Thank you Anette and the entire team at DinnerTime for agreeing to my request not just this time but always. You have always supported me and it truly brightens my day when you encourage me and indulge me like this.

15th May 2015: The big day. The global day of action. We were all up really early smashing it up at Jamie’s Italian. 100 children alongwith their parents. It was like a mad mad carnival where we played with food. There was “humble water” to drink, fruity ice popsicles to lick, a flour station to get our hands messy, pasta machines to see how fresh pasta is made and ofcourse nonstop squashing. Tattoos too. 

We took a pledge to eat more veggies and fruits, we swayed to the Food Revolution Anthem and proudly collected our certificates. 

Wearing colourful food revolution T shirts it was a like rainbow decided to show up in the desert that day.

Thank you Mansij, Luis, Anish and the entire team at Jamie’s Italian. You guys are the best. Always ready to go that extra bit. I am missing all our morning “meetings” where I felt as if I was a part of your team.

See the full album here.

16th May 2015: It was a long day but we weren’t done yet. 120 kids and their parents joined us at Lafayette Gourmet the next day. 120 workstations were ready to welcome them; recipe cards and pledge sheets, ingredients and rolling pins. 

The children tasted and tested different types of new foods (purple carrots!), made their own recipes for orange, green and pink juices, made ravioli from scratch (big hit!) and after all this took their places at their workstations. 

The atmosphere was simply amazing (read: Goosebumps inducing); 120 of them reading the pledge out aloud and squashing the veggies and fruits.

Thank you Chef Russell and the entire team at Lafayette Gourmet for believing in this event. For those 1000s of emails we exchanged, for your time and for always-always teaching the children about food (not just that day but all year round). Thank you Tony Lootah for that wonderful produce. Thank you Team Tavola for the rolling pins and more.

See the full album here.

I made such lovely memories and those of you who know me well, will know how I like to capture the little and big moments in my life. Food Revolution Day 2015 couldn’t have been complete without this rolling pin.

Before I end this post, I also want to share how everyone from media supported Food Revolution Dubai and me.

Thank you Suzanne and Linda for inviting me to Dubai Eye 103.8 and to your show and giving me chance to tell everyone at Dubai about Food Revolution. (Podcast part one here and part two here). We also made the squash it sandwich in the studio.

Today is Jamie Oliver's birthday & yesterday we had his food revolution ambassador, Prachi Grover from Dubai in our studio teaching Mohit how to make the 'SQUASH IT' sandwich in exactly 3 minutes
Posted by Radio Mirchi UAE on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Thank you Mohit and Tamanna for inviting me to Radio Mirchi UAE and to your show. It was a lot of fun squashing that sandwich. Listen to the show here.

Thank you Dina & the entire team Mother Baby Child for the write up.

Thank you Cindy & Team Good Taste for sharing the events with your readers.

Thank you The Indian Trumpet for sharing Jamie’s letter with all your readers. 

Thank you Liz and the entire team at instagram for sharing my story on the Food Revolution Day with all of your followers. This was incredibly special and overwhelming. Read the complete post on their blog here.

Thank you Libby, Jo and the entire Food Revolution Team for bearing with all of us, for answering our innumerable questions and for bringing it all together. Thank you Jamie for inspiring. 

Last but not the least. Thank you parents and thank you little ones for celebrating with us. 

Keep cooking, keep trying out new things and keep making faces (because making faces and rejecting is also a part of growing up).

Give yourself a pat on your back for you are all AWESOME.

At the last event one little girl came and told me she really really had fun today and when would be the next Food Revolution Day. I whispered in her ear, guess what it is tomorrow ! That’s right. Every day is a Food Revolution Day!

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Food Revolution Day 2015 : Fighting for Food Education

15th of May 2015 is the Food Revolution Day; a global day of action for people to make a stand for good food and essential cooking skills. 

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is a movement that allows people who love food to come together to share talents and resources, pass on their knowledge and bring food skills to life. Each year the Food Revolution Community celebrates this day with an aim to raise awareness about the importance of good food and food education and I have put together a number of events with the support of some very enthusiastic supporters for all of you. 

Before I share the details with you I need you to do something for our children.

This year, Food Revolution Day's global campaign is to put compulsory food education back on the school curriculum. Jamie believes that by educating children about food and cooking, we can equip them with the basic skills they need to lead healthier, happier lives, for themselves and their future families.  

We’re currently facing a global obesity epidemic, with 42 million children under the age of five either overweight or obese across the world. The bottom line is the next generation will live shorter lives than their parents if nothing is done to rectify these alarming stats.

So I am asking that you do two simple things if you haven't already – first, please sign this petition to show your support for compulsory practical food education in schools across the world, then, most importantly, share it via your social networks. 

In just about a month more than 740,400 people across 182 countries have signed it. Lets make this happen people.

I am celebrating Food Revolution Day 2015 throughout the month of May. Here are my plans:
  • Sunday, 3rd May 2015: We begin the month with the children at the Indian High School . The children will be making the squash it sandwich, taking a pledge to eat healthy and interacting (This event is only for the students of the school).

I'd also like to invite all the children (6-12), along with their parents for a morning of tasting, cooking, sharing and eating:
  • Friday, 15th of May 2015 from 10.00 am-12.00 pm: Join Food Revolution Dubai & Jamie's Italian in celebrating Food Revolution Day 2015.  We will be:
    • Making Jamie’s "Squash it Sandwich"
    • Taking a pledge to eat healthy
    • Trying our hand at making fresh pasta
    • Getting our hands messy baking bread
    • Beating the heat with fruit ice lollies
    • Tasting new fresh foods
    • Colouring and more.
    • Complimentary meals for the children on the 15th.Terms & conditions apply.

This event is FREE but since there are limited seats registration is a must. 
You can register HERE.

  • Saturday, 16th of May 2015 from 10.30 am-12.00 pm: Join Food Revolution Dubai & Lafayette Gourmet in celebrating Food Revolution Day 2015. We will be:
    • Making Jamie’s "Squash it Sandwich
    • Taking a pledge to eat healthy
    • Trying our hand at making fresh pasta
    • Whizzing up a smoothie
    • Tasting new fresh foods and more
    • Complimentary fresh food for all participating children. Terms and conditions apply.
This event is FREE but since there are limited seats registration is a must. 
You can register HERE.

Also all participating children at BOTH the events will be getting certificates of achievement.

  • Friday, 1st- 15th May, 2015: Food Revolution Virtual Squashing and Smashing at Orange Kitchens.

This is what I ask of you. We are all in different parts of the world but we can all make a difference this sitting right where we are. Our Homes.

Simply sign up HERE and Join the Orange Kitchens Virtual Food Revolution get together. Download and print the recipe and here are some ideas on what you can do.
    • Make the Squash It Sandwich with your children 
    • Host a potluck dinner with your children and their friends and cook and eat the sandwich together 
    • Or perhaps teach the kids at your home/community.
It is that simple. Whatever you’re planning, I want to know how you are planning to getting involved. 

Remember to post your picture on the event page. Invite friends & families to join and inspire others to cook.

Can I ask that of you? Can we make this happen? I know we can :)

So let's food educate our kids. Raise healthy and happier children. 
Children who will thank us later for they ate real food and learnt a life skill; Cooking.

Before I end this post I must thank all the people who have come together to make this happen. Big thanks to the entire team at the Indian High School, DinnerTime, Lafayette Gourmet and Jamie's Italian. Without their enthusisam, support and generousity none of this would have been possible. Thank you ever so much.
This month is going to be exciting!

Images: Personal album, approved stills from the Food Revolution team and logos from the respective partners.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Food Revolution Ambassador Monthly Challenge: February 2015

Good Bye February. You promised to be short and sweet and you were. Crazy too. But I am not complaining. I like this kind of a crazy. Infact crazy is my new normal. Before I say hi to March tomorrow morning a look back at the February monthly challenges.

If you are new here: At the beginning of each month the challenges are announced. These challenges are for inspiring the entire Food Revolution team and to make deeper connections with everyone (fellow food ambassadors, friends and family, anyone who wants to be a part of this challenge too), share our stories , whether we failed or conquered and more. The idea is to complete as many challenges as one can (Read about the October , November , December and January challenges).

For February:

Challenge 1: Cook for loved ones this Valentine’s day. Do you have a special recipe you cook for your loved ones? Whether it’s your kids, partner or a close friend, we want to see what dishes you make to win the hearts of your nearest and dearest. Find some sweet inspiration here

One doesn't really need a reason or a day to celebrate love. It needs to celebrated, acknowledged and respected each day of the year. But when the year gives you the 14th of February to tell those special people in your life that you love them , you should. For very often we love them but we don't tell them and sometimes it gets too late. Someone very wise (Read:Pooh) when asked, How do you spell LOVE? answered "You don't spell it, you FEEL it", he said. 

What is your LOVE LANGUAGE? Mine undoubtedly is FOOD. Nothing says I LOVE YOU louder than a rose kulfi and that is what I made for my loved ones this Valentines and hey rose does represent love.

Challenge 2: Embrace wonky veg! Jamie has been on a mission to cut food waste and get wonky veg back into our shopping basket. This month, we want you to embrace all leftover, wonky veg out there and try to reduce your food waste. Find out more here

A weird looking squash, a deformed potato, crooked get the idea. Did you know that as much 20-40% of produce gets wasted because it doesn't look perfect. Hard to believe but true. Such a huge waste of fresh produce just because they don't look the way we have been used to seeing them in the supermarkets. Round, glossy, clean, perfect lines. 

But who is to decide what is perfect? As far as I remember WE WERE BORN TO BE REAL AND NOT PERFECT. A quote that holds true for both people and produce. 

I came across this wonky sweet potato at the local organic store. Sad and forgotten because no one was picking it up. I decided to give it a home and it was unlike most sweet potatoes I had worked with before. A gorgeous purple from the outside with "curves" and black and sticky from inside. After I baked it with some olive oil, rosemary and some grated cheese it tasted like a cross between a sweet potato and banana chips. A texture we loved.

So let the new mantra be I AM NOT WEIRD I AM LIMITED ADDITION. Lets pledge to pick up that "imperfect" vegetable/ fruit and give it a "perfect" recipe ; one that promises to make our taste buds sing.  

Challenge 3: Start planning your FRD! If you haven’t already, now is the time to start thinking about what you’ll get up to on Food Rev day. Sign up for the day and get your friends and followers to do the same at Maybe you’re hosting a potluck dinner with your friends? Or perhaps you’re going into your local school to get cooking with kids. Whatever you’re planning, we want to know how you’ll be getting involved on the day! 

With the big day just a little more than two months away I am really excited. The month was spent thinking, planning, making contacts with people who "care" about what goes into the bodies of our little ones and want to give children the life skill called cooking.

So since there are so many wonderful people and opportunities out there instead of a Food Revolution Day it is going to be a Food Revolution Week. We are planning to celebrate food education through the entire week and the plans are just about taking shape. 

We already have a school on board who have shown great enthusiasm for bringing about a Food Revolution amongst their little ones (They even have a cooking club!).  We are going to sit down March end and make this happen together. More children will join us in making the Squash it sandwich at Galeries Lafayette’s Gourmet wing. The Culinary Director there strongly believes in cooking from scratch and is as excited as us about the Food Revolution Day. Also on the big day will be an event for Jamie’s Juniors; where else but at Jamie’s Italian!  The team at Jamie’s and I are looking forward to be working on it together.

Hopefully before the the end of the next month you will hear about more collaborations and I will have more specifics to share. 

To food revolution and to putting our heads and hearts into this, together. 

Also if you haven't signed up till now, do it here. There is something that I have planned for all you lovely readers for the big day as well and I promise you it will be a lot of fun. Invite your friends and family to sign up as well :)

EXTRA CHALLENGE We want to follow you! If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest account that we don’t know about, let us know so we can see all your amazing work and share it with others! 

Find me here : 


Get ready to welcome the third month of the year. Happy March everyone!

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

My little chefling turns six : The Little Mermaid.

I clearly remember the day when my little chefling decided to come into our lives. Two weeks early. I called up DH in the middle of the night warning I would disown him if he didn't make it in time for the birth of our little monkey (He was travelling that night).

That day and last Saturday, 31st of January 2015.  Six beautiful years.
  • From being a part of my right arm where you spent hours sleeping to moving into your own bed
  • From not even being able to keep your head straight to becoming this young confident girl standing on the stage to recite a poem
  • From teaching you ABCs to you teaching me alif, be, te
  • From slipping your little fingers into mine to be able to walk to mastering the violin strings
  • From me picking up the hundreds of toys strewn all over your room to you asking me to sit down while you set the dinner table
  • From me feeding you apple puree to you making me a sandwich 
  • From me planning your birthday parties to you announcing the theme for your next
  • From pinafores and baby rompers to princess gowns and jeans
  • From pink soft booties to silver ballerinas
  • From soft baby hair pony tails complete with ribbon to long glossy untamed hair you wanting to always leave open
  • From not leaving my hand for even a second to running away without looking back when seeing friends
  • From mamma surprising you with lunch box notes to you leaving me a card for all of my special days
  • From me tying your shoe laces to you asking me to change my heels for the other ones looked prettier
  • From scribbling on papers to painting a canvas for our room
  • From me asking you what you did at school to you coming back and inquiring how was my day
  • From ten page board books to eighty pages stories
  • From having tea parties with dolls to hosting your own real ones 
  • From being a pint size to now reaching my waist and very proudly so
  • From being my little baby to being my partner in crime
  • From Dora and Barney to princesses and mermaids
To happy and tearful memories of the past, to precious moments of today and to all the unseens of tomorrow.

Happy Happy Birthday to you. My little chefling. You'll always be my little girl.

Always be your funny, mad, curious self. Always leave some room in your heart for the unimaginable. Always believe in mermaids and secrets that come in a bottle.

The girl has moved from pink to blue. From butterflies fluttering in the sky to mermaids swimming in the sea. 

It had to be a mermaid party. 

I was happy to oblige. Enough pink for the last five years. Bring on the blue.

Like each year we kept it small. She was surrounded by the the friends she loves, in the company of her family and we hosted it at home.
Whats a mermaid party without treasure bottles with secret messages inside.
So the invitations were mermaid treasure bottles. With tricoloured sand, a scroll carrying the invitation, a tiny blue star for every mermaid needs some sparkle and a name tag with a ribbon to complete it.
Tons of blue balloons and paper flowers that I handcrafted were decor. 
I also put together this shadow box with one of my favourite quotes that I just mentioned above. A bottle similar to the invitation, some shells and loads of sparkly white and blue stars. A shadow box is such a great and versatile medium to personalize any wall and makes for a pretty centerpiece too, Isn't it?
We welcomed the tiny mermaids and the pirates with this rubber tube on our front door or the "mermaid wreath" as Sara likes to call it.
Once everyone settled down a bit the mermaids and the pirates played three games. 
The first one was a take on pin the tail. Pin the fin. The little guests were blindfolded and were handed a fin each and then asked to pin the fin. I did cheat a little to ensure that each one did it correctly and won themselves a sea creature note pad. Can't have disappointed upset faces on such a happy day, can we? We can keep fairness aside for today :)

For this I used a free printable of a mermaid and added a personal touch to it by adding glitter to her tail, a tiara on her head and a moon for the night sky. A rock made with some white sand and some starfishes completed the picture.
The second game was take on the very popular limbo. We played under the sea limbo. I printed and cut out pictures of several sea organisms and the kids were asked to pick one from the lot. They then had to enact like the sea organism on their chit and go under the sea waves. We played the song "Under the sea" from the movie The Little Mermaid. 

This was such a happy game to play. The children were in giggles seeing their friends become jellyfish, octopus, dolphin and more. 

For this game I saved a brown paper tube the one that comes with giftwrap rolls and covered it with a white crepe streamer. On that were added several white and blue "waves" made from white and blue streamers. I twisted each of the streamers after every two inches so that the final thing looked twirly and wavey. This can take time but trust me it looked really pretty.

The mermaids got mermaid artprints to colour as prizes.
The third and final game was treasure hunt in the sand pit. Since we had the party at home, the sandpit was this container. Each mermaid/pirate had to find one fish eraser, one glitter box and a pair of blue rubber bands ( replaced with little dinosaurs for the boys).

After three games and some free play the kids were hungry. So we brought out the cake and served some kid friendly party nibbles.
Cake is one thing that I never even attempt to make for Sara's Birthday. My cakes can be best described as "rustic" :) not acceptable by little children who want pretty mermaids.
Elna from Cake Witch made this beauty. Multiple shades of blue, ruffles for waves and my little girl sitting there on the top as the little mermaid. Thank you Elna you made our day truly special.

The menu for the party was:
  • Star fishes (star fish shaped sandwiches with grated carrot, cucumber and cream cheese filling)
  • Conch shells (shell shape pasta with red sauce made with tomatoes, carrots, celery and leeks)
  • Mermaid rocks (puff pastry vol au vents with a corn pesto filling)
  • Seaweed (green grape mini skewers)
  • Oysters with pearls (homemade butter cookies with a light blue frosting and white buttons for pearls)
  • Shark's teeth (Mini cheese triangles)
  • Seawaves (Store bought  multigrain waves with homemade yoghurt dip)
  • Goldfish (well..just because and the kids didn't touch these..don't know whether to be happy or sad :)))
  • Mermaid magic potion (orange and mango juice)
  • Seawater (water)

We had quite a splash that day and Sara thanked her little guests with these blue beach buckets.
Each bucket carried a little thank you note that read "May you always have a shell in your pocket and sand in your toes".
The last activity of the day was the pinata for which I took a paper lantern and added white and blue crepe steamers (pinched every two inches) to resemble the tentacles of the jelly fish. We filled it up lots of little goodies.
The party could not have been complete without the yearly ritual of asking the guests to write down a little something for Sara for us and her to look at and smile years later. Each year right from her first birthday this is something that I always look forward to.

With that the FIN-tastic evening came to an end and like each year my little girl has already started the countdown for her next one :))

Before I bring this super long post to an end a quote Sebastian from The Little Mermaid is a must.

"You've got your own style, 
now let it shine through 
and remember no matter what, 
you got to be you". 

Birthdays from the past: First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 
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