Be Your Own [Health] Advocate

By now, some, if not most, of my family/friends know that in the early months of last year[2014] I faced a pretty terrifying health scare — a possible/potential c-word diagnosis. 99.9% of the time referring it to as the c-word because it’s just that real still. Many tests, several biopsies, and months of uncertainty later: I had to go through the surgery route to find out with a 100% certainty. In fact, tomorrow marks one year since my surgery.

I can’t tell you how thankful/blessed I was to find out, post-op, that it was benign– that it wasn’t cancer. It was, for me, a stark reminder, to count your blessings, not your problems.

In the days leading up to the surgery, someone reminded me that God doesn’t give you more than he is certain you can handle and that He tests you only to your limits.

Allah does not place a burden to a soul greater than it can bear.” [2:286]

You just don’t realize it. Although, I won’t lie: sometimes, I feel like He gives me credit for more than I think I am capable of handling.

“Verily with Hardship comes Ease”.

While facing the uncertainty, in the months before the surgery, I’ll be honest: I couldn’t keep my mind off the possible “what if” scenario. It’s just not something you ever think could happen to you, unfortunately, until you are thrown into it. Especially at my age! Ironically enough, thyroid [c-word] is most likely to occur in twenty-something-year-old females. Me in a nutshell

One thing I knew for sure from day one: I wasn’t going to be just another statistic. I did my research. I asked questions [after questions]. I prepared myself for both of the outcomes. I was [and continue to be] involved 100% in my health[care]. From day one, I was my biggest health advocate. I’m detail oriented, a planner… and hate the unknown!

Without our health, we are nothing; and yet, most of us take it for granted and not care for ourselves nearly as much as we should. The time you spend on your external physical self [hygiene, makeup, grooming, etc]? That and more of a focus needs to be given to you internally and as a whole. Most of us, especially the younger generations, just don’t make our health a priority. Whether it’s not eating right, exercising [enough/at all], or making the trip to the doctors to make sure everything is alright. I can’t stress enough: preventative care beats the alternative a million times over.

Be your own advocate: make time for your periodical check-ups. Do your research and go in informed. Ask questions. Question them. And best of all? If you aren’t satisfied, seek a second opinion.

I avoided doctors [and OTC medicines] for the first 22 something years of my life like the plague, and then saw more doctors in a year than the rest of my life combined.

I was lucky mine was benign, but if it had been god forbid the alternative– think of this: I was asymptomatic. It was discovered by chance because I already had a thyroid issue that was closely being monitored.

Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?

***

On a side note: leading up to the surgery last year, I can’t tell you how many times I was blatantly told [by doctors, surgeons, and/or their nurses]: “honey, if anyone had to choose a cancer type, this is the one they would choose without a second thought”. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll choose to have NO type. Or “honey, this is the best type of c-word to get”. Yeah, no. Still sticking to the none. So thankful that He, above, agreed with me too.

I understand that this type has a great treatment plan, but cancer is cancer. The last thing anyone that is [potentially] facing it needs to hear is something like the aforementioned mindset. I can’t tell you how upsetting it was to hear that: a direct punch to my stomach. A stomach that was already in knots of nervousness, stress, fear and so much more. I’m not sure if they thought it was supposed to comfort me and put me to ease, but all it did was upset me even more than I already was facing everything I was.

Down Under

Down under.

Never in a million years did I imagine that I would be living in Australia. I guess I could have been a little more specific when I repeatedly said I wanted to see kangaroos… I should have specified that in a zoo would have been just fine. ;)

But alhumdulillah. He is the best of planners indeed.

I am pretty sure there are more types of creepy crawling creatures here than people… and they are well aware that I am a wimp. They are everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

I’ve been here only for about two weeks now, so I’m still slowly adjusting to everything.

It’s incredibly [and grossly] hot here [it’s their summer currently] and the time difference is whoa. 16 hours ahead of New Jersey. You drive on the opposite side [of the road and car] and you walk on the opposite side [left side as opposed to staying to your right on a sidewalk, stairs, escalator, etc.]. Pizza is a disappointment– I asked for a cheese pizza and I got just that: bread with cheese on top it. Where is my sauce??! If you know anything about me… I pick off the cheese and and like extra sauce on my pizza! :(

More updates soon.

Married

Married.

I am married. I am a wife. I have a husband. Oh, and I am in Australia. Australia?!  Never in a million years would I have imagined these turn of events in my life.

But alhumdulillah. He is the best of planners.

2014, indeed, proved to be the worst of times and the best of times.

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (30:21)

On a side note: Most people move from house to house. I apparently move from country to country. From Pakistan to Canada to the USA to now Australia. 

Please keep Faisal and me in your prayers/duas.

What’s for Dinner: Fish and Chips

For the fish part:

I took tilapia fillets and cut them into long thin strips before marinating them with salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, cumin powder, and lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, I took gram flour (besan) ans seasoned it with salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, a little ginger powder, a little cumin powder, and (about half a teaspoon of baking powder). Mix it well, and add water until it’s a thick liquid consistency.

At that point, add in the mixture to the fish and mix well. Let it sit for a few hours before deep frying your fish.

For the “chips” part, I have a few fries suggestions (like this or this), but this time I simply seasoned thin cut fries with a seasoning I have from Norway.

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

Thank you

Alhumdulillah what an amazing fun-filled extended weekend full of family and friends.

 

First and foremost, I couldn’t start this off without thanking everyone, far and near, that partook in the “pre-wedding celebration” on Sunday and all of the weekend’s celebrations. From the wonderful surprise bridal shower on Friday, the dholki/dinner event Javed Chachoo, Chotti Anna and Imran hosted on Saturday for me, and the absolutely amazing “Pre-Wedding Celebration” Sunday night to start off the festivities… it was the most amazing weekend full of so many memories. I appreciate it, more than I could ever articulate. Anyone and everyone who knows me know how much I cherish family time. And what a basket-case of emotions I am.

I have always said how much I absolutely love how close-knit our family is, alhumdulillah, but this year especially you all have made me feel loved and cared for in immeasurable ways. Your concern and duas got me through the toughest of the days. But your heartfelt joy in celebrating the good days with me have been just as strong.

I can’t believe in such a short time, alhumdulillah, I’ll be married [inshAllah].



To Abu and Ami: Thank you.

For always pushing me to do my best.
For letting me do things at my pace.
For giving me the space I need.
For always believing in me.
For never expecting anything less than my best.
For teaching us good morals from day one and the difference between what is right and wrong. And of course: what is right vs. what is easy.
For always asking why we got that one question wrong on a test in school. It might have driven me crazy over the years why a 98% wasn’t good enough, but it pushed me to always try that much harder.


For all the moments that count and matter, I never doubted that you were proud of us.
Thank you for being wonderful role models — as individuals, as a married couple, and as parents.


Ayaz and Faraz:
From the endless ridiculous quarrels to the countless memories: I am not sure how the time flew by so fast and the first of us three is [already] getting married soon. It seems like it wasn’t too long ago Faraz and I were building forts with chairs, cushions and blankets and using my toy cutlery set for picnics underneath the forts.

It seems like it was just yesterday Ayaz was shaking his head at something Faraz or I had said or done. Wait, scratch that, odds are that probably was just yesterday. [just kidding Ayaz… but we all know he is shaking his head reading this!]

You both have been my biggest bully but my biggest supporter all in one. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I couldn’t end this before addressing the young ones–

To my younger cousins:
I have loved being your built-in editor, proof-reader, and problem solver. I have loved that you have always trusted me enough to come to me for advice or ask me for my opinion. I have loved the fact that you knew your secrets were safe with me. I have loved [and will always love] being your older sister. For years growing up, I used to always say to myself that I wished I had a younger sibling. I didn’t realize until much later Allah SWT gave me many younger siblings in all of you crazies.

While Australia may be [literally] on the other end of the world, always know this: I am still never going to be more than just a phone call, text message, email, what’s app message, Facebook message, [etc.] away. You get the picture. Some things change, but others never have to.

Don’t Reverse Car in the Middle of the Road

Is that really something people need to be told or reminded?

Earlier today, my brother Ayaz and I were running a few errands when in the middle of the road, some guy decides to REVERSE his car in the middle of a busy intersection right by our house. On a jug handle.

This guy was driving a BMW so hopefully he at least values his car if not valued the lives involved when he decided to do something as stupid as REVERSE his car.

He hit our car but, alhumdulillah, no one was injured. In our car or his.

He had been driving annoyingly for a while leading up to the accident, but that was just annoying. It’s when annoying becomes moronic and stupid that I have issues with.

He told us he was trying to switch lanes and that he didn’t see us. I wanted to tell him ‘of course you didn’t see, you were busy being stupid and reversing your car in the middle of the road’!

It just doesn’t make sense to me. Just to save a few seconds, people risk their own lives and the lives of innocent bystanders.

We are all fine, but there could have been injuries. There could have been children in the car. There could have been so many other possibilities. Is it really worth causing an accident to save a few moments of your time? Why are people always looking for shortcuts?

Even the police was dumbfounded when we told him what had happened. When the other driver told him the same, the police officer essentially told the guy “yeah, you can’t do that”.

Apparently that’s not common sense.

Moral of the story: don’t reverse your car in the middle of the road. I thought that was a given, but obviously not …

A week from today [September 26]  marks eight years since Ayaz and I had the horrible car accident where our car was totaled :( … can’t believe it’s been that long.

What’s for Dinner: Chicken Burrito Bowl

On Tuesday, for my dad’s birthday, I made homemade Chicken Burrito Bowls for dinner. It was flavorful and delicious. One of the best part of this meal was that it was all cooked in one pot!

I used:

  • Diced/bite size pieces of boneless chicken breastsIMG_2733.JPG
  • Seasonings: black pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of diced yellow onion
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of uncooked [extra-long grain] rice
  • 1 [14.5 ounce] can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 [15 ounce] can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups of [low-sodium] chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 cups of monterey jack cheese
  • freshly diced tomatoes
  • diced green onions

What I did was:

  1. I took my bite size boneless chicken meat and seasoned it with black pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne powder.
  2. In a pot, add in about two tablespoons of olive oil (approximately) and add in your diced onion. Saute your onions until they are softened.
  3. When your onions are softened, add in your chicken [over medium heat]. Let it cook until it starts to brown. When that happens, move it to the side of the pan.
  4. Next, add in about another tablespoon of olive oil and add in your [uncooked] rice. Saute your rice until it starts to brown [only a few minutes].
  5. At the point, add in your can of [drained] diced tomatoes, your can of [drained and rinsed] black beans, and your chicken broth. Let it come up to a simmer before you lower the heat to low.
  6. Cover the pan and let it cook over low heat for about 20 minutes [until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender].
  7. At this point, remove your pot from the heat. Add in the amount of cheese you want and recover your pan. This will help you melt the cheese. Remove the lid and mix everything.
  8. Serve warm, with garnishes of diced green onion and tomatoes.

Notes: for mine, I didn’t add cheese because I don’t like it– but I know my parents and brother add cheese when they get something similar from Chipotle.

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

 

What’s for Dinner: Pull-Apart Garlic Bread

IMG_1535IMG_1535IMG_1535I did another twist on a pull-apart bread that was similar in technique to my Garlic-Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread that I made last week. What I did differently this time was that I used the flavors of garlic knots/garlic bread instead. I essentially used the flavors of my garlic knots recipe.

I used a little less butter this time around.

What I used:

  • 16 frozen dinner rolls
  • 3/4th of a stick of [unsalted] butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of [grated] Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of [shredded] Parmesan cheese

How I made it:

  1. Take sixteen frozen dinner rolls and let it sit in room room temperature for about an hour. After about an hour, cut each of them in half.
  2. Combine your parsley, garlic powder, salt,oregano, and grated parmesan cheese. Mix with the melted butter before tossing it all together with the frozen dinner rolls.
  3. Add in a half cup of  your shredded Parmesan cheese and mix everything well. Make sure all pieces of the frozen dinner rolls are coated well with the butter, seasonings, and Parmesan cheese.
  4. Take a springform pan and line the bottom with all of your coated dinner roll pieces, covering the whole pan.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining half cup of Parmesan cheese on top.
  6. Season the top with more parsley, oregano and garlic powder.
  7. Next, let your bread rise. At least for an hour and a half to two hours.
  8. When you are ready to bake your pull-apart bread, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Bake in your preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown [and the middle in completely cooked through].
  10. Serve warm!

It’s one of those things that need to be eaten fresh as soon as it comes out of the oven for the best results, so serve it warm and quickly!

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

What’s for Dinner: Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread

IMG_1435-0IMG_1435-0What I used:IMG_1441.JPG

  • 16 frozen dinner rolls
  • 1 stick of [unsalted] butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon of parsley flakes
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup of [shredded] Parmesan cheese

What I did was:

  1. Take sixteen frozen dinner rolls and let it sit in room room temperature for about 45 minutes to an hour. After about an hour, cut each of them in half.
  2. Combine your parsley, garlic powder, salt, Italian seasoning, and onion powder. Mix with the melted one stick of butter before tossing it all together with the frozen dinner rolls.
  3. Add in a half cup of  your shredded Parmesan cheese and mix everything well. Make sure all pieces of the frozen dinner rolls are coated well with the butter, seasonings, and Parmesan cheese.
  4. Take a springform pan and line the bottom with all of your coated dinner roll pieces, covering the whole pan.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining half cup of Parmesan cheese on top.
  6. Next, let your bread rise. At least for an hour and a half to two hours.
  7. When you are ready to bake your pull-apart bread, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown [and the middle in completely cooked through].
  9. Serve warm!

It’s one of those things that need to be eaten fresh as soon as it comes out of the oven for the best results, so serve it warm and quickly!

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

 

What’s for Dinner: Pizza Pockets

These pizza pockets are delicious and so easy to make!

You can use either a store bought pizza dough, or make your own. Click here to see my pizza dough r20140802-121720-44240578.jpgecipe.

Roll your pizza dough out to be a rectangular shape. Cut them into squares. On one half of each, add marinara sauce, cheese [and whatever other toppings you want inside]. Fold over, diagnonally, and seal the edges to enclose the filling.

Next, brush olive oil on top of each pizza pocket, followed by oregano and garlic powder.

In your preheated 400 degree oven, bake your pizza pockets for about 12-15 minutes [or until the top is golden brown].

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.