Overall, the trip was everything I expected and more. I learned a great deal of information and was able to truly experience the Indian culture. The people were really friendly, the food was incredibly delicious and most of all I learned that India will always be a part of me.
Before going to India we did quite a bit of planning and researching. I had read a lot of blogs and websites in order to prepare myself for the trip. After experiencing India myself, here are some tips for people travelling to India for the first time.
10 TIPS ON TRAVELLING TO INDIA
1. Pack a light bag, and buy clothes there!
I didn't pack very many clothes. I ended up buying Kurti tops while I was there. I blended in more and felt very comfortable. Dressing more conservatively was key to fitting in! Make sure to bring pants, a couple of t-shirts, two pairs of shoes and two shawls.
2. Make sure to bargain!
We were told that if the shop owners know you are not a local they will double or triple the price. Counter with less than 60% of the price and then work your way up to the amount you are willing to pay. Usually simply starting to leave the shop will entice the owner to lower the prices to make sure you don't leave empty handed.
3. Check your water bottles
Make sure that the water bottle seal is closed and there have been no signs of tampering. We were told that sometimes water bottles are resealed with tap water and resold.
4. Bring ear plugs!
It can get really loud outside. Having my ear plugs ensured I was able to get a good night's sleep!
5. Carry toilet paper everywhere you go
Most of the public bathrooms did not have toilet paper so we made sure to carry our own.
6. Stay hydrated
I brought an electrolyte powder and drank one packet each day. It was great because it kept me hydrated and I got my daily dose of vitamins as well! If I didn't have my electrolyte powder I had fresh coconut water on the streets of India for 40 rupees (~$0.80 CDN) :)
7. Delhi Belly is for real
Yup, traveller's diarrhea can happen. But there are a few things you can do to prevent it from happening to you. Make sure not to eat any raw vegetables or fruits without skin. I stuck to bananas, papaya, pineapple and mangos. Try and eat cooked food for every meal.
8. Set up a hotel pick up
Most hotels offer a hotel pick up from the airport. When booking your hotel, make sure to indicate your flight number and arrival time. Also, make sure to determine if the shuttle is complimentary or not. Usually there will be someone from the hotel holding a sign with your name at the airport to pick you up. We also got our hotel to call the next hotel we were going to to ensure someone was coming to pick us up.
9. Bring your supplements!
I brought quite a few supplements with me to India. Some of the key supplements I would recommend to bring are a traveller's probiotic (one that you do not have to refrigerate), Vitamin B, Vitamin C and grapefruit seed extract. The grapefruit seed extract was great to use when I felt kind of bad after eating food I was not used to. But I also used it to clean my water bottle and toothbrush on occasion since it is a natural antiseptic.
10. Last but not least - GO WITH THE FLOW!
India can be very chaotic and there were times where nothing went exactly as planned. There were delays, miscommunication and sometimes no rules. Be patient, take one thing at a time and go with the flow. Find ways to deal with situations but never let anyone take advantage of you. Keep in mind there are times where you may need to stand up for yourself and be assertive. Overall, have fun and don't take anything personal.
When I first heard the word “kombucha” I was quite puzzled. Sounds a little funky, right? I decided to find out for myself what kombucha was, exactly. Originating in Northeast China, kombucha is a fermented tea, which comes from a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast known as a SCOBY. Sounds a little more odd, but stay with me! Consuming fermented foods can have a multitude of benefits on your gut, including balancing your gut flora. Kombucha is known to be helpful to the gut because it contains 40 different strains of good bacteria and yeast.
Now, it may sound a bit weird to be drinking bacteria, but kombucha is a natural probiotic drink. Our gut is made up of trillions of good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are known as good bacteria, which work to coat the lining of your intestines and stop harmful bacteria from entering the body. Probiotics are considered to help maintain our immune system and help digest food. It’s important to ingest probiotics regularly as once their job is finished they are excreted through your bowel. A daily dose of probiotics will help to ensure you support the beneficial bacteria in your gut!
During the process of brewing kombucha, the SCOBY will feed on the caffeinated tea and sugar thereby creating a delicious nutritional drink loaded with beneficial bacteria (aka probiotics), B vitamins and antioxidants. After hearing the benefits and noticing all my friends drinking it, I decided to take the plunge and give it a taste. It wasn't too bad after all! Its unique taste comes from the combination of fizz and sweet flavoring from fruits. Store bought kombucha can be quite expensive, so making it at home can save you some money! The great thing about making your own kombucha is that you can experiment with the taste by adding various fruits and it’s a healthy and cost effective beverage you can enjoy on the regular.
My friend Aglaée Jacob got me started on this healthy kombucha journey, whom I am very thankful for! Check out her website at http://radicatamedicine.com.
1) SCOBY and 1/2 cup of Kombucha from a previous batch
2) Organic Cane Sugar
3) Organic Green Tea
4) 1 Litre Jar
5) Wooden spoon
6) Elastic band
7) Measuring cups
8) 1/2 cup of fresh fruit
Step 1: Add 1/4 cup of Organic Cane Sugar to your 1 litre Mason Jar.
Step 2: Boil hot water and add some to the jar. Shake the jar until the cane sugar has dissolved completely. Then add more hot water until the jar is 3/4 full.
Step 3. Include two tea bags of Organic Green Tea in your jar and let the tea steep for 20-30 minutes and then remove tea bags.
Step 4: Allow the tea to cool to room temperature. This is important, as you do not want to add the SCOBY to hot tea.
Step 5: Once it has cooled down to room temperature. Add 1/2 cup of a previous batch of kombucha plus the SCOBY. Make sure to always handle the SCOBY with a clean wooden spoon or your hands.
Step 6: Secure the top of the jar with paper towel and an elastic band. The SCOBY needs some oxygen to live and the paper towel will help prevent anything from entering.
Step 7: After placing the SCOBY into the tea, let it live quietly on a counter top at room temperature for between 9-20 days. After a couple of days it will smell a little tangy. At day 9, taste the tea. If it isn't sweet anymore you know it is ready. The longer you leave it to ferment the more sour it will become, eventually turning into a vinegar-like taste.
Step 8: You should now see two SCOBY's near the top of your jar. Once you feel like it is ready to drink. Remove both SCOBY's and place them into another jar and submerge them in some kombucha so that they can live.
Flavouring your Kombucha
Step 1: Flavour your new kombucha batch with 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruit (i.e. berries, pineapple, mangoes, peaches, etc.). Secure the top of your jar with your jar lid (instead of the paper towel). Let the new batch sit at room temperature for about 1-2 days.
Below is a picture of my mango and crystallized ginger kombucha!
Step 2: Strain the kombucha to remove the fruit and any yeast particles. Store your newly made kombucha in the fridge and enjoy regularly!
Step 3: Use new SCOBY and previous SCOBY to start two new batches of kombucha!
Guacamole is a staple in our house; we make it almost every week. I have to admit that this is my boyfriend’s recipe and everyone seems to love it! The healthy amount of cilantro and a hint of jalapeno really brings the recipe to life. Once you have ripe avocadoes, this recipe is simple and fast to whip up. Don’t shy away from avocadoes simply because they are known to be high in fats. The truth is, they are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats that have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. The recommended daily intake of fat is 20-35% of your total kcal consumption. This recipe is a perfect way to get some good healthy fat into your diet and is a delicious snack to add to your list!
HELPFUL TIP: The best way to get your avocados to ripe faster is to place them in a brown paper bag along with an apple or banana. The brown paper bag allows for the ethylene gas that avocadoes produce to be trapped inside, which speeds up the ripening process. The addition of the fruit simply increases the emission of this gas.
4-5 ripe avocados (should be soft)
1 small onion
handful of fresh cilantro
2 limes juiced
sea salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 jalapeno (optional for some spice)
1. Cut avocadoes in half, peel skin and remove core. Cut avocadoes into cubes and put them into a mixing bowl.
2. Mash the avocados with a potato masher or fork.
3. Finely chop onion and add to the bowl.
4. Finely chop about a handful of cilantro and add to the bowl (also finely chop jalapeno if adding)
5. Squeeze the juice from the 2 limes and add to the bowl.
6. Add some sea salt and ground pepper to taste.
7. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
8. Mix all together and serve!