Recipe: Vegan labneh (yes, really)

Helloooo my darlings!!

God, it feels like yesterday I became vegan. Remember when I was trying to blog it into existence in July? Haha!

I’ve been pretty good at finding alternatives to cheese and yoghurt – the only two dairy products I actually ate (the thought of eggs and milk have been making me heave for yeaarrrss). I still haven’t brought vegan cheese to the house and if I wanted some at home, I’d make it myself the way I made my own parmesan cheese.

I remember labneh was one of the first things that came to mind when giving up dairy. My whole childhood is characterised by labneh – from the way I used to love labneh mixed with olive oil in a zaatar, cucumber, tomato and olive pitta to feeling embarrassed when my mum made me labneh sandwiches at school and everyone else had standard ham and cheese that was too haram for my family’s liking. Giving it up wasn’t just giving up yoghurt, it was giving up an essential part of my childhood and my beautiful culture.

Dramatic? I’m Palestinian. We’re allowed to be dramatic after decades of exile, displacement, siege, etc. Being possessive of our food is one of the very ways we, especially in the diaspora hold onto our wonderful roots.

So, here’s the recipe – I have been experimenting a lot over the past few weeks and I finally have something I’m impressed with. The yield is what you see in the photo.

Ingredients:

2 cups of cashews – soaked
1 lemon
3 tablespoons of water to start and add more if needed (I ended up adding around 4 tbsps)
2 teaspoons of vinegar (just make sure the vinegar isn’t dark in colour so it doesn’t stain the labneh)
Salt to taste – I added 1.5 teaspoons of pink Himalayan salt and then added a crap load more because I love it salty

Method:

  • Soak the cashews in hot water for at least an hour – you’ll know they’re done when they feel bendy
  • Drain and add to the high speed blender or food processor
  • Add the wet ingredients to it and start blending until it’s creamy. I blended for around 5 mins

Guys, it’s really that easy. There are some catches and mistakes I made so listen up:

First of all, don’t use dark coloured vinegar. Mine turned out darker than it should because I used half apple cider vinegar and half malt vinegar because I was scared of it tasting too much like apple cider. Stupid mistake. In retrospect, I should have added more lemon and less vinegar or mixed apple cider vinegar with another vinegar. Here are some vinegars you can use:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • White wine vinegar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Brown rice vinegar
  • Cane vinegar
  • Coconut vinegar

Each type has different properties so be sure to look up the type of vinegar. Next time I do it, I’m probably going to either mix apple cider with rice vinegar or just use rice vinegar.

Almonds – ahhhhh! I remember when I first tried to make vegan cream cheese I did it with almonds. Huge bloody mistake. It is doable but it definitely wasn’t for my first time. Almonds aren’t as creamy as cashews and they take longer to soften up. Then you have to peel them if you haven’t bought them pre-peeled which is such a long process that it makes you want to peel your own skin off instead. You also risk breaking a nail regardless of the tool you use. Waah! So always start with cashews.

Mix the mixture! If you’re scared don’t be afraid to take the labneh out and put it back in to make sure it’s all well incorporated. You can change the texture if you don’t like it. When I made it at first it was really thick which I loved because it reminds me of the texture of when you spread labneh balls. Then I wanted to make it look like actual labneh so I put the mixture back in the blender, added a tiny bit of water and started blending again until it turned creamy af:

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Not the best quality photo but hey you get the idea – less is more. You can soften it if it’s too dry/not creamy enough easily but difficult to reverse if it’s too soggy

It really helped me to boost my confidence in the labneh because I saw how easy it was to change the texture.

Guys, keep trying. If you don’t get it right the first time, it’s okay. Analyse and learn from your mistakes and trust that you’ll make it perfectly the next time round!!

And once you learn how to make a creamy paste out of nuts, you can adapt it in different ways. Skip the vinegar and add nutritional yeast (or maybe turmeric) for a cheese spread. You can also make sweeter versions. I’m going to be experimenting with lots of different styles so if you want me to try something out, hit me up!

Good luck and love you all!! Thank you all so so so much for reading this and do repost and let me know if you made it. I absolutely love talking to you guys!

Diana xoxo

How gratitude soothes the anxious mind – my story

To put it bluntly, anxiety is a bitch. It is a crippling condition that controls literally every aspect of your life at any moment. It’s something that creeps up on you, it’s something that remains dull in the background as you try to live your life, it’s something that puts your brain in a kebab skewer and punches each part of it as your brain spins around, it’s just UGH.

Coupled with a side of tomatoes in balsamic dressing known as depression, your mental health is in for a ride.

It really does suck. This time last year, I was unable to even think properly without my anxiety and depression paralysing my thoughts. This year, I focused on my recovery and did almost everything that came to mind to get rid of this anxiety and depression that has plagued me for so long. Some things worked, others were a waste of time. But what I realised, one thing that consistently made me feel better was gratitude.

There are tons of avenues in our lives that teach us to be grateful. For Muslims and other religious people, we’re always taught to thank God to show that we aren’t demeaning him. Take God out of the equation and we’re still taught to be thankful because things could be worse, or to not seem ungrateful to what is around us. When we’re taught to be thankful in this way, we’re in a way taught to settle and are shamed for wanting to evolve. We’re blackmailed into being grateful, which is why we never see the fruits of it.

In reality, gratitude not supposed to snap us out of a self pity party in the slightest. Gratitude is food for the soul.

Gratitude teaches us to be present. When you’re thankful and counting your blessings, you’re snapped out of the regrets of the past and anxieties of the future. It’s just that moment. Look at this moment. Look around you. Nothing in this moment can hurt you. The future will always have its unpredictable nature that can put us in a whirlwind of emotions and the past will always make you look back and cringe, or drown in sorrow on what could have been, but those are out of your control.

I don’t entirely believe that the past and future are sources of negativity. I do believe you can look at them strategically to fuel you, but that’s another blog post for another day. It’s also something that you can only do when you master the power of being present.

Look at it this way: focusing on the present means you’re pooling all of your energy on what is. You’re not procrastinating by drowning in fear and regret. You thank yourself for what you do have, even if you’re not fully convinced that you’re thankful and you just live.

To be grateful also means you’re not so harsh on yourself. Think about how hard it is for you to find motivation when you have someone breathing down your neck, reminding you of your “incompetence” daily. Now think about it again in the context of your own internal dialogue telling you that you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not rich enough, etc.

These notions have a root. Somewhere throughout your life, you convinced yourself that you aren’t worthy of your desires, which is strange because we’ve decided that we have limitations that we didn’t even know about when we were born. That only means we learned them along the way as our lives progressed.

We’ve decided that things are tough – that it’s impossible to be at our healthy weight, that money is unattainable, that our jobs will always be suckish. We look at our present reality, which may not be the best and we decide that we’re stuck this way. There’s no progression.

We can lie to ourselves and pretend that everything is okay with the intention of hiding, but that only takes us so far. Something bad happens or we remember that we don’t have our ideal job/relationship/health/etc and we’re back down. What’s problematic is that people think this is how you “affirm” to get where you want to be.

Then there’s affirming what may not already be ours, but feeling like we’re lying to ourselves because we think the mere thought of us even edging closer to a dream is farfetched.

Keep going. Keep giving thanks for what is around you even when you don’t feel very grateful and you want to punch the universe in the face.

By practicing gratitude and affirming that you are where you need to be, you’re rewriting your story. You’re breaking connections in your brain that you’ve spent years cultivating. You’ll meet resistance and you’ll feel like you’re lying to yourself because the thought of you being good enough is so foreign to your brain that you’ll want to quickly fall back into old habits.

When you feel like you want to get back into those comfortable debilitating old thought patterns, thank yourself. Thank yourself for all of the hard work you’re putting in (even if you feel like there’s no work being put at all) and just keep going. Allow yourself to feel shit, but know it’s a feeling and it will pass. Don’t block it and don’t drown in it. Let it go through you. Whilst you’re doing that, keep doing the inner work. Eventually you’ll find your emotions, your thoughts, your feelings and even your actions align and take you to a much healthier place.

Yes, anxiety and depression may come and visit you, but eventually, you’ll be able to mentalise better when these ebbs do hit because you’ve been training your mind to look at a picture that extends your limiting beliefs.

Here are some affirmations you can use:

  • I am a magnet for money
  • All of my relationships are healthy and happy
  • I am more than enough
  • Daaaayuuumnn I look goooood today!
  • Kindness is oozing out of people around me
  • Everything I think about manifests

I’m going to be off now – but this post is just an overview. I’ll get into detail with each topic later on. Just let me know which ones you want!

Recipe: Healthy chia jam!

Hello everyone!

So, I absolutely adore jam. I love how sweet it is, how versatile it is, how you’re essentially having dessert for breakfast, just everything about it! But with my healthy eating, I’m trying to cut down on it, which is a huge bore for me.

Anyhoo, after a lot of experimenting and researching for healthier alternative recipes to jam, which is essentially fruit which is thickened with insane amounts of sugar, I finally found my favourite jam texture.

Instead of using sugar, I use chia seeds to turn the fruit puree into jam and if I want to sweeten, I would do it at the end with some maple syrup or honey. I’m of the opinion that honey is vegan, but I know a lot of people think it isn’t, so knock yourself out with different sweeteners and save the vegan debate for later.

So here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

1.5 cup fruit – can be fresh or frozen, or both
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
Sweetener of choice to taste (if desired)

Method:

  • Heat your fruit on medium heat and the water from the fruit starts to come out
  • Once the fruit is soft enough, mash to your desired texture. I like having some visible fruit pieces in the jam to give it extra texture.
  • Add the chia seeds and mix it in fast. Then really quickly take it off the heat and let sit
  • When it’s almost cool enough to eat but still warm enough to allow other stuff to incorporate (after 7 minutes usually) add your sweetener of choice to taste. I didn’t think it needed anything so I left it, but I wanted my mum to have some so she can stop buying the ones on the shelf so I added some honey to convince her hehe.
  • Let sit until it’s room temperature, place in a container and it’s ready to eat! It’ll harden up once you refrigerate, just like normal jam.

Wallah, it’s really that easy!

If you feel like you’ve put too many chia seeds, don’t add more fruit straight away. Heat up more fruit in a different pot, or if you really feel like cheating, just put extra fruit in the microwave until soft and mash it into the mixture.

It should keep in the fridge for three weeks and you can freeze it 😌

Have fun my loves and follow my Instagram for some more food/lifestyle stuff! When I’m not blogging here, I’m posting there.

Also, if you make some, please send me some pics! I’d love to see!! xox

Filling my own cup – #BlogItIntoExistence September 2018

So, for the month of August, I didn’t blog apart from my #BlogItIntoExistence series! Sorry! Those who know me know it was a very hectic month. I was very uninspired most of the month and I didn’t want to write half-hearted posts that I’d rush just for filling a quota.

I also started my Instagram for my blog (mainly food) and I’ve been busy with it experimenting. So yeah, follow me!

View this post on Instagram

My loves, here’s an amazing breakfast idea for those with a sweet tooth. Healthy chocolate moose! I made this after I went for a blood test and needed an iron boost. 1 ripe banana 2 frozen dried figs 1 tbsp flaxseed 1 tbsp hemp seed 2 tbsp of raw cocoa powder Half a handful of pumpkin and sunflower seed mix 3 walnuts (or six walnut halves) Around 20 pieces of raw pistachio (enough to fit the palm of your hand Around 8 raisins A tiny tiiiiinnnyyy splash of orange blossom water (only if you like the taste of it – I’m obsessed) Around two to three splashes of almond milk (add more as you go along if needed) Put it all in a high speed blender or a food processor and whizzzzzzzzzz!!! And then add some fruits of your choice for topping. You can also add cinnamon, or nutmeg or vanilla or even zest like orange/lemon zest for flavouring either in the moose or as a topping. #vegan #breakfast #dessert #foodie #palestinian #healthy #iron #veggie #london #vegandessert #vegandesserts #vegandessertporn

A post shared by Diana Alghoul (@flowerknafeh) on

Anyway, this month, I’m working on changing my perspective. I’m working on trying to find the joy in life and chasing it in order to keep my focus.

What the f^%£?????

Basically, I’m working inwards to change my outward situation. There are so many things in life that I want to change at this stage. There are things that are a huge source of my anxiety and things that I am trying to manifest into my life. I know my energy is focused more on the anxiety of what I don’t have rather than trying to put in the spiritual and physical work to get what I want. It’s tiring, draining and disgustingly counterproductive.

I know with what I’m trying to manifest into my life isn’t a straight arrow the way manifesting everything else has been. Previously, I wanted good grades, so I studied hard. I wanted a nicer body, so I trained hard.

Then there were times I wanted to find my path and find out who I am, but it was nowhere near linear. I was stuck in my mind. I was floating between making choices, accepting fate and walking around with a blocked nose — I was able to see a road, but unable to smell it to know if it stunk or not. I just had to keep walking and hope for the best.

I’m in one of those situations right now. This time, however, I want to do it differently. I don’t want to stress about it. I don’t want to get scared. I don’t want anxiety to take over me. I want to be in control in this uncertainty and embrace it for the beautiful awakening journey it is.

I’ve been trying hard, but I recently came to the conclusion that the only way I do that is to quite literally “keep my eyes on the prize”. Everything above, below and around is just a part of the journey. I aim to embrace the journey, give thanks and understand that regardless what my situation may be, this is all prep-work for when I reach my destination.

I am letting go of the “how” and I am accepting that no matter what, I’ll get there. All roads lead to home. I will be okay, eventually. So why keep stressing? I believe that God will answer my prayers but I have tests to pass and lessons to learn on my journey. I need to be content without what I want in order to be in the healthiest and least co-dependent state to receive it.

Today, my day was completely made because I bumped into an old school friend (apart from parking being BRUTAL in London, this is one of the reasons I prefer public transport over driving any day) on my way to meet a current friend, whom I absolutely had an amazing time with. When this old friend and I saw each other on the train platform, we literally just hugged and spoke about everything that there is to talk about in the short time we had.

Him and I both had perceived unconventional career paths (I won’t be giving the details of the conversation out of respect for his privacy). He had a clear goal in life and a clear passion when he was at school and so did I. Writing was my passion from childhood and his passion was one I immediately remembered him by.

At school, we were both told that we wouldn’t amount to our passions and we should find something more realistic. With me, race was a huge obstacle because being 8 when 9/11 happened and feeling the first wave of post-9/11 style institutionalised Islamophobia in the Western world as a Westerner myself, I was told my view was one that could not be vocalised in the media.

For the longest time, I thought my only hope in journalism was if I left the UK and became one in a country where my views were more “accepted” — or just sell out where I’ll still find difficulties because my middle name is Mohammed.

Despite this, we both manifested our dreams. Alhamdulillah. I was so happy for him. The common denominator? I think it was love. Love for our hobbies and passions, which later turned into our careers. Because we were working from the heart, our hearts led us to our destination. I didn’t even study journalism and I was applying for safe jobs. I got rejection after rejection and found a way to do what I always wanted to do.

I’ve decided to take this lesson with me.I learned it a long time ago, but I never really processed it. When it comes to my latest goal, I want to experiment with having tunnel vision. I will be open minded with the “how” part, but I will not settle for anything less than the prize that God has written for me.

I will not lie, right now, it seems like nothing really is happening for me with this goal and this part of my life feels so incredibly stale. This moment is irrelevant though because it’s a moment in a greater journey. It’s a moment I have taught myself to appreciate because I’m learning to fill my own cup.

I’m going to start posting regularly again. Sorry for the unannounced hiatus!!

Love you all xoxox

Affirm: You are worthy #BlogItIntoExistence

I actually cannot believe I fell through with July’s Blog it into Existence!! I am absolutely loving the plant based life. I thought it would be a month of moping without cheese and yoghurt but I don’t even miss cheese. I have no desire to even buy vegan cheese! I’m learning so much about cooking and I’m learning how to make vegan meals that I can de-veganise easily and quickly if I’m cooking for non vegans.

Anyhoo, even though these Blog it into Existence posts don’t get much traction at all, I’m going to carry on with them because they’re good for me. Life isn’t always about clicks and retweets after all, right?

This month, I’m embarking on a conscious journey of healing. Without going into detail about my personal life, there have been things I have been struggling with, with one in particular being at the centre of my worries. 2018 has been characterised by healing the past misconceptions I carried on this one thing I’m trying to heal from. Now it’s time for me to superspeed this healing. I’m going to accelerate the process so much that I will shock myself with the results I’m setting myself up for.

I will read this blog post either half way through the month or in September with a smirk. I promise myself. I will remember the moment of sitting in the garden and drinking my aloe vera, strawberry and cucumber green tea and promising myself justice and smile at my own success.

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Hi future self – remember this? 🤗

The way I will do this is through self love. I have spent so many (necessary) months of beating myself up for something that has been so out of my control. I loathed myself into my own demise, though I thank myself or doing so because I stuck myself into a rut so deep that I had to do something about it.

I spent so long trying to “fix” things that I broke myself. I spent so long trying to ask God to rectify the situation in a way that would have belittled me that I undermined my own worth. I spent so long trying to find outside solutions that I threw away my inner self. Then came that time I tried to fix myself only to fix what is outside of me. Does that even count?

So if none of that worked, why not do this one selfish act and try to heal for myself? I will undo all of the debilitating thoughts in my head. Try it with me. We all have them. Think of something you want but can’t have, write down the debilitating misconceptions you fuel yourself with and come up with opposite affirmations.

For example, if you can’t find a job – you would most likely be telling yourself that the job market is difficult.

If you’re finding it hard to make money – you could be telling yourself that it’s hard to make money and that the rich have monopolised it all.

If you’re finding it hard to find love – you may be using the phrase “men are trash” everywhere or “women only want ….” and you’re embedding thoughts that you can’t have a good partner because there are none. I know “men are trash” is a more political phrase, but for the purpose of this, try to undo these thoughts. You’ll find yourself laughing at yourself and cringing, but you’re also cringing at the thought that there are no good men out there. This is an exercise for you.

Once you’ve made your affirmations, write them down and keep saying them. Keep telling yourself that you’re worthy, that you’re enough. We’re automatically programmed to belittle our worth and potential and it hasn’t been helping us, so what do we have to lose if we do the opposite?

I will do daily exercises to track my progress and to make sure I stay on track. A lot of them will be writing stuff down, creating a vision board and believing in the vision board and finding the happiness that my vision will give me in myself at that particular moment.

The thing is, we can experience the happiness we want without the things we think we need to achieve it. The irony is, without this happiness and conviction that we deserve what we want and it is possible to attain it, we will never reach it.

So for me, I am going to believe in myself. Believe in my power and believe in my happiness. I am going to give myself what I am seeking and I am going to watch it flow into my life. I may not need it to, because my trust in God’s plan is like no other, but I know it will.

Excited!

By the way – don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already! You won’t regret it, I promise 💕

Click here to learn more about the Blog it into Existence series and here to view older posts

Hard truth: People see what you see in yourself

Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. Life taught me this lesson the hard way. Thinking back to how I got to where I am is so traumatic but at the same time I am so thankful because God knew the only way I could learn this is if he put me through so many trials. I was always told that I am what I think I am, but I never believed it until I hit rock bottom and had no choice other than being positive. I had nothing to lose and was already used to disappointment, so whatever if this whole thing ended up fake and I disappointed myself even more.

It wasn’t fake.

I’ve proven this to myself time and time again – we all have. It’s just, our confidence came naturally and things started working out for us. The trick is when you’re feeling down and you have to get yourself out of a spiral through affirming what you ultimately question or don’t believe about yourself.

Trust me, I know how shit it feels to tell yourself you’re successful when you feel like you’re at the bottom of the pit. I know how it feels to tell yourself you’re loved when you feel lonely. It’s a joke. But the irony in which is beautiful because the joke becomes your reality.

This is the power you have.

Your words have matter and have the ability to quite literally change your life. Your words dictate your relationship with God (or the universe or whatever source of life you believe in). It’s not a coincidence that everything you’ve faced difficulty with are the things you told yourself would be difficult, or have shown a form of lacking in. It’s no coincidence that when you tell yourself money, love, etc are hard to come around, they become and remain hard to come around.

These views are not something that come out when you face difficulty. These views are embedded in you from past traumas, events and experiences that have shaped your life experiences. They are a product of things you have been told from childhood. You know yourself, you know where your insecurities lie and you know your own story. Stop running away from all of these things — face them head on and defeat these thoughts. Fight them. Tell yourself you are worthy of love, you are worthy of abundance, you are worthy of financial stability, you are worthy of your customers/clients taking you seriously.

It can be as simple as affirming your professionalism if you are a businessperson and you want a friend to take you seriously and not expect discounts from you because of a service. Before seeing this friend, you will refer to them as a client in your head. You will keep reminding yourself that your products/services are worthy to be sold. You will keep reminding yourself that you are professional and you will act on all of these things. Yes, you may want to go into gossip mode during the meeting, but that’s your insecurities telling you to do so because you’re afraid of not being taken seriously enough if you do attempt at putting on a more strict mask.

Hence, affirmations.

I know I’m always banging on about these, but they are so important. Be kind to yourself. Fill your personal internal space up with kind words. Even if you don’t believe the kind things you’re telling yourself, even if you feel like everything is spiralling away from you; be kind to yourselves and believe. Eventually, what you want will manifest.

Take each day and each moment as it comes. Be thankful even when you’re in a rut, not because it’s the “positive” thing to do, but because you know you will come out stronger no matter what.

Last week, I was walking from the gym in Strand and I thought to continue walking until I got to King’s College (my old University). I kept walking towards Temple Station and I remembered all of the times I took this route with heavy weights on my shoulders, considering dropping out, fearing failure and feeling like an incompetent piece of shit. It never occurred to me that four years on, I would have passed my Masters, I would have been in a job that I’m happy in, yet still managing to blog and I would never in a thousand years considered myself a failure.

Moments like this will keep happening. Things will recycle and repeat themselves. You’ll find yourself walking paths you currently walk, weeks, months and years down the line and smiling at how things panned out.

But to trust that this will happen, you need to trust yourself. To trust yourself, you need to be kind to yourself.

How to reclaim your power with repetition

If there’s one thing we underestimate, it is the power of repetition. Because our minds register absolutely everything, without realising, we absorb information that our conscious doesn’t know exists on a daily basis and unfortunately, whether we like it or not, have a huge role in forming our opinions.

I noticed this in myself recently when I saw myself giving into a form of pressure without realising. With everyone around me wanting me to “hurry up and get married before I expire”, and me being told by various people on an almost daily basis that I am going to end up alone if I don’t take advantage of my beauty and youth while I still have it to secure that part of my life, I almost felt myself starting to believe them and panicked for a tiny bit.

Why? I don’t believe in their crap. I never have and I never will. I believe naseeb is naseeb and I believe that we should never turn such matters that are out of our control into something we stress about.

The reason their mentality started to creep into my mind is because of how often I hear their reasonings and the conviction they use to express them with.

Essentially, repetition is key.

Thankfully, I unlocked that quite fast because the thoughts that have begun to creep into my mind are so out of my actual opinions and have a clear source. So why not use the power of repetition to my own advantage if it’s this powerful?

What we tell ourselves is so important. The inner dialogue we have with ourselves not only manifests itself because the conversation dictates the kind of energy we put out to the universe, but because it tells us what we can and can’t do. We physically limit ourselves based on the limiting beliefs we impose on our mind.

Dictate your own story

We’ve been telling ourselves the same story about ourselves for years; some which we can trace the source of, some we can’t. Some that we’ve had since childhood, some because they’re just comfortable to say because we’re too scared to set ourselves up for disappointment. Ironically, this is what holds us back.

Make conscious decisions to leave your mental comfort zone and tell yourself stuff that you don’t usually tell yourself. The power of repetition has been used against us since birth, telling us that we aren’t good enough in so many ways. This only proves how powerful repetition is, so use that power to your advantage instead.

It’s easy to tell ourselves that we’re unfit when the evidence is in front of us, but it’s painfully difficult to tell ourselves that we are fit and we are getting closer to our goals every day, especially if we don’t feel it. Why? Because we lean to what is comfortable and the discourse that we’re used to. Deep down, we don’t believe we can reach our goal, which is why it’s so hard for us to affirm. Let go, take the risk of being kind to yourself and watch yourself move forward.

Tell yourself amazing things, even if you don’t believe them. Allow yourself to feel silly telling yourself that you’re beautiful, fun, fit, radiate attractive energy etc and watch everything manifest into your life.

When you affirm your positive attitude to yourself through repetition, not only do you eventually start to believe what you affirm to yourself, you become more patient in attaining what you want. You know it’s coming, so you won’t resist it as much. You know you deserve what you want and you know you’re not standing in your own way. You know you’re good enough for it, so it’s just a matter of receiving it at the right time. You know a kind, merciful omnipresent higher power dictates such timings. It always turns out okay.

Self-sabotaging blessings

One of the reasons we self-sabotage our blessings is because we believe we don’t deserve them. We don’t think we’re good enough. We believe we don’t have what we want because we think don’t we deserve what we want – the moment we get it, we ruin it because we don’t think we deserve it.

This is how powerful our thoughts are. Not only do they dictate what we manifest in our lives, but they dictate the course of how they manifest. Prepare yourself for your blessings by not only believing they will come, but believing you deserve them.

Honestly, relax. This moment can’t hurt you. When you feel yourself regretting the past or worrying about the future, reconnect yourself with your breathing and absorb the moment. We may not always be able to control how we feel, but we can control what we tell ourselves to dictate our future later on. Even when you’re feeling like shit and you would never believe the positive stuff you’re telling yourself, while you’re connected to your breathing, affirm as you breathe in and feel the release of your tension when you breathe out.

In the morning, even if you don’t believe it, just tell yourself that you’re going to have an amazing day. Keep doing it even if you don’t actually have an amazing day.

Forgive your past self, be kind to your present self and know your future self will appreciate it.

Good luck xox

♡Blog it into Existence – July 2018

Hello! We’re over a week into July and it’s been an amazing month so far. I’ve been growing, detaching and steering myself into healthier habits. It took me a while to figure out how I want to grow this month because last month was so turbulent with Ramadan, travel and trying to get back into the swing of things after returning to the UK.

So for June, despite everything, I managed to fulfill my aims. I’m reading a lot more and focusing on my nutrition. I went a bit downhill when I was on holiday because I ended up eating a lot of meat in Kuwait and I didn’t read much, but when I returned, I was in full force exercising, transitioning to veganism and reading.

I feel like I’m slowly but surely getting there and I’m taking small steps to build sustainable habits for a better self.

So, let’s start with this month! I have one pretty big one this time:

  1. Have a vegan month

    I am in love with veganism. Today, my colleague (who is also Arab and vegan) and I went out and we made the most amazing nutritious vegan tortilla wrap with a creamy cashew basil pesto sauce.

    Okay, so this is going to sound weird, but I was eating a Dairylea dunkers dip on Saturday and on the package, there’s a really cute drawing of a happy cow. The irony sunk into me as I was dipping the breadstick into the cheese that in reality, the cows aren’t actually happy because of the cruel factory farming industry. It broke my heart and I swore myself off cheese that moment.

    dunkersYou guys do not understand how guilty I felt finishing it! Haha! It’s a similar story to my vegetarianism, to which I have committed myself to for four years (minus some exceptions once or twice a year), because I swore off meat whilst eating it.

    I don’t want to label myself a vegan per se because that’s just putting a lot of pressure on myself and I can’t quite divorce the misconception that veganism is somewhat of a cult from my mind. It’s stupid, I know.

    For now, at least, I want to experiment with different recipes and have fun. When I made a vegan mac a few days ago, I genuinely enjoyed cooking it. It’s really made me rekindle my love for being in the kitchen and has helped me become more creative.

    Today, I went for lunch with my fellow newly-converted Arab vegan colleague (shoutout Alex and the mother of the world Egypt) and we continued our mini tradition of making salads. This time, we wanted it to be vegan and he was craving bread, so we got whole wheat tortilla wraps. It actually reminded me of eating a shawarma, haha!

    IMG_2332
    We stuffed the tortilla rap with jalapeno hummus, a vegan creamy pesto (made by blending cashews, chilli sauce, basil and lime until it’s creamy), edamame beans, seeds and random veggies we got. along with the pesto and flavoured hummus, we seasoned the veggies with vinegar and olive oil. Simple, fast, filling and nutritious!

    Even our non-vegan colleagues who were initially sceptical liked the pesto sauce and wanted the recipe!

    Trying out the vegan life has really helped me with my mental health, physical health and has taught me to trust my instincts, because most of the time, I make up recipes myself. I’ve also learned to compromise with adapting my food to meat eater palette because I come from a meat eating household and I don’t like to shove my lifestyle down anyone’s throat.

    I’m going out on Wednesday and when booking the lounge, I actually checked into the dietary requirements and saw that you can request a vegan meal in advance. I’m sure this is the first of many!

    I’m going to blog this experience, with recipes and tips on eating out. This is going to be very exciting!

Alright, I’m out for now!

See you next week my loves! xox

Click here to learn more about the Blog it into Existence series and here to view older posts

The 3aib-ness of being female, happy and single

I was on holiday recently visiting family and naturally, being in my mid-20s, marriage was on the table. More than ever, people would politely pray I find a “good Arab man” so I can move back to the Middle East and live happily ever after with 46 kids and cook a pot-full of rice every day.

Even in the UK, my parents are growing increasingly impatient, asking what is “wrong” with me, bringing up proposals I’ve rejected and fearing my lifestyle, which is basically almost vegan will deter a suitable husband.

“You need to start eating meat because your future husband will not accept your diet”

“It’s good you go to the gym, but don’t expect your husband to want to be healthy too”

“I don’t understand how ….. is engaged/married and you’re not! You’re so much prettier than her!”

“If you didn’t reject …. you’d be in a different situation right now” [I know, which is why I don’t regret following my gut instinct]

“You have until the end of this year to find someone or I’ll get involved and make sure you marry the next person who comes to you”

I’ve noticed not caring about our relationship status as such and leaving everything to God is something that scares elders. They feel as though us being happy with where we are is a form of us getting too comfortable with our single-ness. We’re building our lives so much that we may be unable to accept just anyone.

For them, marriage is central. I understand why. I feel sad when I see my mum genuinely feeling worried that it hasn’t happened to me yet. I look at myself and I see myself getting fitter, stronger, happier each day. From our discussions, however, she looks at me and sees me getting old. It’s a mentality that is so deeply rooted in our culture that you can’t really blame them when they see us going against the grain.

We do things differently. Yes, some get married early and some get married late. Some get engaged or married early and then break it off only to realise it’s not worth marrying the wrong person and then start to take their time when they are ready (me). Generally, the anxiety of getting married was very much prevalent in our early 20s, but as women reach their mid-late 20s, the concept doesn’t become less appealing per se, but we learn that life can be enjoyed because God has blessed us in the best way for us.

Our society refuses to accept this and want to pile the pressure on us not because they want to see us happy and settled, but they want to make sure we’re “normal”. We’re supposed to accept God’s decree to prove ourselves as women of faith, but at the same time we’re supposed to drown in misery because we’re not conforming to societal norms. It’s not our situation that is threatening, but the way we deal with it; when we’re not worried, we’re transcending normative cultural expectations of us, which is deemed threatening.

Follow your own path

It must be understood that being put in this environment doesn’t encourage us. It’s counterproductive because they want us to feel enough guilt and shame until we somehow get married, creating negative correlations in our heads. Whether we realise this or not, shame is subconsciously internalised and it needs to be fixed with inner work. While you may not back down from your principles, the ongoing “what is wrong with you?” comments do whether you like it or not have an affect on you. That’s completely okay.

It’s fine to recognise that certain comments can make you question your path because when you bury the effects of them, they internalise in ways that become difficult to reach. I remember when I put on weight in my early 20s, I was always told to lose weight or I would never get married. This piled onto my self esteem issues and is one of the reasons I’m still fixated on the illusion that I am overweight.

It’s okay to realise that when people say “why not you?” triggers your insecurities, even if it’s not insecurities on your relationship status. While I laugh “why not you?” comments off when people discuss marriage with me, the “why not you?” mentality in other aspects of my life.

Get out of your way and trust your instincts

Allowing the negativity around you to internalise stops you from manifesting what you want. If you refuse to commit until your needs and standards that you’ve set for yourself and your S/O are met. If someone tells you that your standards are too high and you don’t actively counteract that, you’re not going to find someone to meet your standards because you automatically have your mind set on the negative.

You don’t need to be ignorant of your worth, you can very well know your worth, but if you don’t focus on your worth, knowing your worth will do nothing for you. Knowing your God-given gifts will take you nowhere if you don’t focus on trusting yourself and walking your own path securely, rather than because you have no other choice.

Don’t shut down the criticisms you’ll get because they’ll build up in your unconscious mind. Remember, your mind records absolutely everything without you realising. Bring the criticisms and comments to the surface and counteract them with affirmations and prayer.

Ignoring may do wonders for the ego, but we’re trying to break that shit down here. We’re here to be proud of who we are, love the paths we’re on but understand that we’re human. It’s okay to be sensitive. Being in touch with our senses is what our bodies have been programmed to do.

Their 3aib-nagging comes their ego, which is why it’s so toxic to hear and absorb. Don’t fight their ego with your ego. Rebel by flowing with God’s plan from your heart instead.

Peaaaaaceeee xox

♡Blog it into Existence – June 2018

Hi guys! Welcome to the first post for the Blog it into Existence series!

So what I’m going to do is each month, I’m setting a list of goals that I want to achieve and steer directions into how to achieve them. I initially wanted to start a series reviewing the last month, but we really should be focusing on the present and future. Leave the past in the past.

We should all get into the habit of being present and thinking about the future in a positive way. Retrospectively reflecting on things is a good idea, but if we find ourselves worrying about the future, that means we’re stuck in the past. These are habits we need to actively undo.

A lot of my goals are very general and they are useful for others, so you’re probably going to find some useful things if you want to set similar goals. I have two this month 🙂

  1. Balance exercise and nutrition

    So before Ramadan, I was exercising at least 3 times a week. During Ramadan, I began doing well with my exercises, but I just began to lag. I also gave myself a leeway to relax a bit. But my nutrition was terrible; which I fixed in Ramadan. I taught myself how to make quick breakfasts in the form of last minute suhoors, I stopped eating junk food and I’m currently relying a lot on salads.

    I know when I get back to the gym, I will be completely motivated again (shoutout to Charline) and I know that I can balance my nutrition and not eat crap. So what I want to do is bring them both together so I can be superwoman.

    I’m going to meal prep, I’ll measure out and plan my snacks on days I’m at work and always have healthy nibbles in my bag for when I do go out. But with not eating or drinking for 19 hours a day, I’ve kinda proven to myself that I don’t need to eat when I get hungry. It’s a mental olympic.

  2. Read more books

    So, I’ve always loved reading and I don’t really have much space for more books because of the sheer amount of stuff I read (even when my mum throws out my books secretly as if I won’t notice that fiction book I read in 2012 has gone missing). I also don’t have as much time anymore. I switched to e-books last year and downloaded books on my iPad which did help, but I realised with that, I only ever read when I’m at home.

    It was difficult for me to read outdoors on a sunny day because of the glare and taking a huge arse iPad with me everywhere was inconvenient. So, I invested in a Kindle which is much lighter, puts less strain on your eyes and means you’re less likely to procrastinate because sometimes you can’t help going on Twitter in the middle of reading a book (sorry!). It’s also amazing because Kindle connects to Goodreads which means it’s easier to keep track of the books I’m reading and I can find stuff to read on the go at the same time.

    I’m really excited because I know I’ll be reading  a lot more this month. I’ve downloaded The Emotion Code. I can’t wait to review it.

    Feel free to add me on Goodreads and update your book journey with me: SuperKnafeh. If you guys want, I’ll do an Amazon idea list as well for recommended books and products.

Click here to learn more about the Blog it into Existence series and here to view older posts