Cookbook author, TV chef and restaurateur Zahra Abdalla likes to start each new year with a healthy state of body and mind. Here, she tell us how she made sure she was prepared for 2021
For the past five years on 31 December, I have made a conscious effort to block a few hours for myself. I usually like to find a quiet place where I can look back on the year that has passed and plan and dream of what may come to pass in the New Year. It has become a tradition that I quite enjoy and over the years I have invited a few close friends and family to join me in this tradition of reflection, optimism and hope.
I wasn’t always this way. I was the kind of person that went with the flow. I thought I was being easy-going but it finally dawned on me that I actually wasn’t aware of what I wanted. I think there was a stage in my life when there was a lot of structure that came from school and work. I was perpetually busy and never took time to reflect and pursue the things that I wanted. All that changed when I had kids. The days and years seemed to pass uneventfully and I fell into a slump. I went from being an ambitious fresh graduate eager to pursue a corporate career, to becoming a stay-at-home mum.
In life, we get lucky and cross paths with people who inspire, motivate and guide us to make changes. My source of inspiration came from my dear friend Helen. I remember calling her one day asking for help. I had been following her personal journey for years and was impressed by her ability to make the impossible seem possible. I wanted to learn to have the same growth mindset. My meeting with Helen was the catalyst that pushed me to turn my life around. First and most importantly, I learnt to understand my own self-worth and to allow myself to dream, believe and to achieve what I wanted. The key focus is to dream.
When I plan my year ahead, I make it a point to focus on all aspects of my life including personal, financial, health, family, adventure, career, legacy, inner-self and circle of trust. I believe that when we set our intentions, we will inevitably find ourselves on the right path. It is important to note that I don’t always achieve all the goals I set, but I do work towards them. I think the most exciting part is to feel accountable and responsible for our own path – the idea that I am living proactively rather than reactively is very gratifying. I also apply this principle to my day-to-day life, especially my food. I strongly believe that food is my art, my therapy and my way of connecting with people. And for the new year, I like to start with a healthy state of mind and body.
This hearty roasted pumpkin, kale and freekeh salad is a feel-good recipe that I love to make. I toss the salad in a lemon and mustard vinaigrette and then garnish it with pumpkin seeds, pecans and dried cranberries. I also like to add a little white cheese, but you can skip this ingredient to make it dairy free, perfect for Veganuary.
With that, I wish you Happy New Year filled with lots of hopes, dreams and aspirations that get realised.
With love, Zahra