Healthy Eating

My Ego and I

Over and over, we experience the rise and fall of our egos. We ride the wave of superficial elation from being hailed as talented, superior, better, or more – only to experience the fall from glory as we are ignored, forgotten, and perhaps even insulted. Distracted by our thirsty egos, we fail at executing our roles within society with selflessness and, as a result, society crumbles under the weight of these elaborately constructed mental burdens. How do we escape this all-consuming wave of destruction inflicted by our very own egos, knowing that we can never be fully accepted or liked by everyone? How do we prevent the inflation of our egos in times of prosperity and cushion ourselves from the likely blows as different people interpret our “failures” and “successes” in different ways?

To accurately define ego it is necessary to look at what ego is not. Ego is not to be confused with self-confidence and self-respect. Ego comes about from comparison with others. Self-confidence and self-respect are independent of others; it is valuing yourself for yourself and without the need to compare yourself to anyone or put anyone else down. It is a positive feeling and is a necessary trait for both worldly and spiritual success. Therefore, for a full solution, we will need to keep our self-respect and self-confidence intact while diminishing our egos. Sounds tricky, doesn’t it?

The ego can be a player in two scenarios: One in which we are overly smitten with ourselves and our accomplishments or forms and feel superior to others, and the other is when we feel less than others, or broken, and dejected – our egos are hurt, and this pushes us into despair and even depression. Both are manifestations of ego that arise from an attachment to those things that are not our true Selves. These two manifestations of ego are not usually mutually exclusive in individuals; a person can dart between the two, some staying in one scenario more than others. Even the most pompous among us seek the endorsement of others and feel dejected when we do not receive it unequivocally, leaving us vacillating between the two scenarios constantly. When we follow our ego without discrimination, our paths are littered with pitfalls, and our minds are pulled towards manifestations of a false and temporary world – a world that depends on comparisons which are created within our minds.

To cast off the heavy cloak of our egos, we must acknowledge that we are not our bodies; we are not our careers; we are not our progeny; we are not our accomplishments – we are our Spirits. The rest are all temporary manifestations and, therefore, not true because truth is that which is permanent. I was a Perumal (my maiden surname), and then my name changed – but I did not cease to be; I was an engineer, and then I left work to be a mum – but I did not cease to be. I am a mum, and oneday my children will go off to make their own lives – but I shall not cease to be. I am the owner of this project, and if this project fails – I shall not cease to be. I am my body, but my body too will perish in death, and still I shall not cease to be. These are not what I am. These are merely names, forms, and roles. It is easy to say this in theory, but we often still associate ourselves with these things and, like heavy anchors, they weigh us down and keep us from swimming in an ocean of freedom and bliss – which can only be experienced when we acknowledge that we are complete and whole outside of all of these things. If we have accumulated or achieved much in a worldly sense, then we may become possessive, always thinking of how to maintain the facade of moreness; or we may become greedy, wondering how to accumulate even more to compete in our new social class. If we don’t have or have failed to achieve or receive, we are often anxiously obsessing over how to gain or regain respect, roles, relationships, or objects. And the cycle is endless. For peace, for true-fullness and satisfaction, we must break the cycle by breaking our association with these superficial definitions of ourselves. When our egos are in a slump, we must remind ourselves that our true Selves are not affected by the storms of the world; our true selves remain unscathed and perfect.

Contemplation: Contemplate on the impermanence of all the worldly things, positions, and titles on which we focus. Recognise that we are not our titles, positions, bodies, or names, as these are temporary manifestations and are not a part of our true-Selves.

Meditate on your Spirit, which is your real and eternal identity.




Ego arises from a sense of separation from God and others – in truth, we are all inextricably connected. To appreciate our connection, each of us has to acknowledge that we are all created by God, connected to God, and therefore connected through God. All others are also Spirit, and we should keep this truth in our awareness, not placing unnecessary importance on name, appearance, role, and position. This remains true regardless of differences in outward appearance, roles, or names. The scriptures of the Hindu religion are the Vedas, from which come the Upanishads. The Upanishads teach us that variety, and multiplicity is but a delusion caused by circumstances. The soul/spirit (or atma) is a fragment of God Himself and all are unified by this commonality. If we truly accept this, competitiveness will dwindle and fade, and we will begin to experience a sense of love and unity with all. By constantly reminding ourselves of this, it could enable us to let go of our egos and experience the true and lasting peace of oneness.

Contemplation: Contemplate that all others emerge from the same source and are constituted of the same stuff (both physically and spiritually). Acknowledge that all others are equally deserving of God’s love and grace based on this.

Meditation: Imagine a light within yourself. This light is your spirit, it is loving, it is joyous, and it is beautiful. Imagine this same light in your family members and friends. Now imagine this light in all others, in all parts of the world. Let the light within each of you grow till all the lights merge into one. Meditate on the oneness that you experience, as if you are everyone, and everyone is you. All are your limbs, and all are your eyes.

Activity: Serve those that are not in your family or social circle. See the goodness in these people: by acknowledging that other mothers/fathers love their children as much as you do yours, by seeing other children as your own, by breaking down the social barriers created in your mind through years of brainwashing, and acknowledging that all people, whether underprivileged, elderly, sickly, people of different religions, races, genders or social classes are all more like you than you previously took the time to appreciate. By serving these people in whatever way you can, however small, you can connect with them on a human to human level, and they can bless you with the appreciation of our inherent connection and oneness and broaden your ability to love all.



Jesus gives us another clue to overcoming our egos.

Mathew 16, verses 24 to 26 states:

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? “

Here, Jesus asks us to deny ourselves – which is, in my interpretation, a request for us to deny our egos. He then expands on this by asking us to forsake the world with its fleeting trophies, to take up a spiritual path, a path with a focus on God and our souls, because there is nothing that this world can give us that is of more value than our Spirits. Let us look closely at Jesus’ words, “…whoever loses their life for me will find it.”. The words, “for me,” indicate that the process of pushing out the world is to be performed with the intention of having God fill the void that the world will then leave. This could be the next clue to ridding ourselves of our egos – fill ourselves up with thoughts of God, and our egos will be pushed out.

Of course, we need that which we need to sustain our bodies, and God is not asking us to neglect ourselves or our duties when asking us to push out the world – but Jesus is referring here to the theatre of our minds and where our focus lies. The exaggerated focus on the body and its various roles in the world can distract us from God and our true and most pressing purpose. God accepts us as we are, He alone understands us, He forgives us for our errors – His love is truly unconditional and the only worthy love that can fill the void when we grow weary with the world and its temporary treats.

However, another egocentric pitfall lurks around the corner of even this solution, one that we must be wary of – the spiritual ego. When we do see benefit from focusing on God and start to have spiritual experiences, it must not then fill us with a sense of superiority – this will surely stop the progress that we were making.

Meditation: Breathe in and out deeply. With each deep breath in imagine God’s loving energy flow into you. With each breath out, feel your ego shrink. As more space is being made for God by expelling your ego with your breath, feel God infusing every cell of your being.

We know that it is God that gives us the energy, the life-force (known as Prana in Hinduism) to perform all our actions. It is God that gifts us with skills, talents, and abilities to perform these actions well. It is also God that enables us to “enjoy” the fruits of those actions. When starting new projects or engaging in your current ventures and tasks, have confidence in God’s ability and not your own. By doing this, you immediately shift the ego off yourself and onto God, turning your work into an act of recognition of God’s greatness – an act of worship. All good work can then be instruments of spiritual growth. This radical change in mindset could become more natural to you if you spend some time tuning into God to receive inspiration for your work. If it is not that kind of work, you can also pray to God to give you wisdom and strength to perform a high standard of work, with a spirit of gratitude for the opportunity to serve society. In this way, you can make the shift from thinking that you are the doer, to God is the doer, much easier.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please guide my steps in this project. Please inspire my thoughts, words, and actions so that they are in-line with Your own. Help me to be an instrument of Your will. Dearest Lord, thank You for guiding me thus far, like a lamp unto my feet. Lord, please give me the strength and wisdom to put the best-efforts into this work, and thereafter Lord, please take the results of this work – they are Yours . Lord, as You decide on the outcome, please give me the strength and wisdom to accept whatever that outcome is. I am Yours.



To lose attachment to our failures and successes, and free ourselves from the ego, it is effective to see all results as decisions of God. This means that in times when the odds seem to be in our favour, and we are on an upward trajectory in some sphere of our lives, we keep reminding ourselves that it is only through Gods grace that we see success, and not because we are better than others, or specially selected (we are all ultimately, equal and perfect), but because this assigned path is what is best for our development at this time and for the development of those in our spheres. We should also recognise that God can also take away as easily as He has given to us.

All results, positive or negative, are assigned to God and His will. Of course, we put in our best efforts to make sure that His will is realised in His time and then allow Him to choose what is best for all.

Sometimes though, best does not seem best for us, it may even seem worst. But we know we cannot view the future or the past; we have only a limited vision of the current scope or situation, and our “best” option may be a short-sighted one. When we fail, like with success, we know this may merely be the best route for our growth or an indication of whether our efforts were adequate and if more is required from you. Either way, “failure” is not something that should weigh heavily on us. It is a momentary and fleeting experience and should be judged with the indifference that we judge other life experiences. Easier said than done – I know. But when we can do this, we will free ourselves from “failure” altogether.

Whether it is success or failure that is the result, when we experience a sense of surrender in our worldly prospects (again, this does not mean no hard work – effort is part of our contract in this deal), then there will be less room for our egos to frolic in.

Contemplation: Contemplate on giving gratitude to God for all past results, whether successful or not. Thank God for the opportunities to be a part of these processes as well as the opportunities to learn, and benefit from them. Surrender all present and future works to God. Ask for strength and wisdom to accomplish any unfulfilled tasks, if it is His will for you to do so. Ask for God to take the burden of the results of the tasks onto His shoulders. Ask God for strength should the results of these processes be negative. Give up worrying about the results henceforth. If worry comes back, then repeat the contemplation.


By banishing the perception that pride and defeat arise from the results of our worldly endeavours, we can redefine the concept of success in our lives so that we no longer gauge our success based on the measurements of others in the world, but rather by the peace and joy we experience from within ourselves, and from the closeness we feel to God. This is the truest measure of success in this world and beyond.

Contemplation: Evaluate your levels of joy and peace. If you are not as joyful and peaceful as you would like to be, give-up the expectation that worldly events, achievements, or possessions will bring you this peace and joy. Rather devote more time to refining your mental stillness, your purity, and your connection with God and His creation. Go through the exercises in this book and other spiritual and religious guides with dedication to help you achieve the levels of peace and happiness that you desire.


Let the successes, achievements, and possessions acquired thus far be a reminder and indication of God’s immense and unconditional love for us and not a mental congratulations to our own ego’s, or our own efforts, then this shift in focus can allow even the enjoyment of these things to become a positive action of worship instead of a tribute to our egos. This small change in mindset could turn even the regular into the auspicious – terms and conditions probably do apply.

Contemplation: As you go about your day (or night), give thanks to God for the opportunity to have all your experiences, possessions, people, and roles. Contemplate on everything to be as a result of God’s grace and love.


And lastly, don’t take yourself so seriously. Be that guy that trips and falls and then laughs at himself. Shrug off that heavy burden of your ego and walk about lightly and joyously.



I have been fortunate to experience some great blows to my ego in the last short while, and these have been some of the most valuable lessons of my life. Now, it would be dishonest of me to pretend that this has been an easy process for me. Be that as it may, I know the uncomfortable situations have been necessary for my growth – a time to evaluate my weaknesses, face my desires, and those things that may distract me from my most righteous path so that I can walk towards the light of wisdom with greater speed. Indeed it is only at those times that I manage to resist the pull of my ego that I have access to the joy that springs from deep within me.

So my 7 stroke plan to abolish the ego is summarised as follows:

  1. Recognise that we are Spirit and not our titles, positions, bodies, or names. These are temporary and not a part of our true-Selves.
  2. Acknowledge that all others are also Spirit, emerging from the same source and constituted of the same stuff – equal and equally deserving of God’s love. Do not compete with your brothers and sisters.
  3. Have confidence in God’s abilities instead of your own. Acknowledge Him as the power, inspiration, and energy behind all noble efforts.
  4. Place little importance on the mirages of the world and focus our attention on attaining that which is most valuable – communion with God.
  5. Assign all results to God. Do not take credit for success or blame for failure. But do seek to learn from these experiences and better yourself.
  6. Redefine success. See success as a measure of joy and peace.
  7. See all that we have as a result of God’s grace and love and remove ourselves from the equation so that our ego is not artificially inflated.

Jesus is the model of egolessness as He sacrificed all when He was very publicly humiliated, violently abused, and crucified for the good of humanity. Let us learn from His example and drop our “I”ness to develop selflessness and act for the common good.

Split Pea Soup

A hearty and delicious soup with earthy flavours from green split peas and creaminess from potatoes, balanced by sweetness from cabbage and leeks. Great for babies and everyone else! Add some zing from lime or lemon and a creamy topping of choice, and we are in soup heaven! A favourite in our home. Ingredients need only be roughly-sliced since they are eventually blended.

Free from: Nuts, Sugar, Wheat, Gluten, Dairy. Vegan. Serves 6


1 onion, 1 celery stick (optional), 1 tsp grated ginger, 3 garlic cloves, 2 medium potatoes, 1 carrot, 1½ cups dry green split peas, 1 large sweet potato, 1 baby white/green cabbage – or equivalent piece from a large cabbage, cup chopped leeks (or more cabbage), 3 tomatoes, 1 bunch mint (optional), lemon/lime/sumac, choose something fatty (yoghurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, coconut milk, butter etc.).

Preparation: Soak 1½ cups of green split peas for 8 to 24 hours. Rinse every 8 to 12 hrs.


  1. Chop 1 onion and 1 stick of celery (optional) and fry in a dash of oil on medium heat in a large pot till translucent. Add 1 tsp of ginger and 3 garlic cloves. Fry for another minute.
  2. Rinse the soaked split peas and add to the pot with about 1 litre of cold water. The 1½ cups dried split peas should have swollen to about 2¾ cups of split peas.
  3. Add the following to the pot as you get them ready, in the following order: 2 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced), 1 carrot (sliced), 1 large sweet potato (peeled and sliced), a baby cabbage (or the equivalent from a large cabbage), about cup of leeks.
  4. Add salt, cover the pot and allow all ingredients to simmer on medium-high heat till potatoes are almost soft.
  5. When the potatoes are almost soft, quarter and de-seed 3 tomatoes and add them, as quarters into the pot. (We leave them as quarters so that when the tomatoes have melted, we can easily fish out the skins from the pot.)
  6. When the potatoes and green split peas have softened, remove the tomato skins from the pot and transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and blend (or use a potato masher instead, for a more rustic texture). Blend with 20g of fresh mint if a minty flavour is desired (optional).
  7. Serve with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice or dried sumac.
  8. This dish so far is very low in fat, so choose your source of fat to lift the flavour. You can choose from a dollop of yoghurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, coconut cream or butter. If you are reducing fat in your diet, try a hot sauce or chopped chilli (for those that can tolerate some heat). Also good with freshly cracked black pepper.

By Natasha Subbiah (Unity Mama)

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Science and Religion

This morning on the day we received the first close up images of Pluto (Yes, I wrote this article a while ago) I read an article that made me realise that people perceive science and religion to be at odds with each other. Scientific minds often think that proving the capabilities of science is in turn discrediting the revelations of religion. In my experience with religion and science, I find that this is often not the case.

There are religious theories that fit very well with what science accepts and there are many religious and spiritual philosophies that are based firmly in logic. Religion however, takes this logic one step further to the realms that science has not yet reached and it is here that we often have to rely on faith.

Let us look at a few examples of religious philosophies that tie into scientific laws and experiences.

Let us look at the law of Karma, concisely explained in the Bible by, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”. The scientific equivalent, Newton’s third law, states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In comparison to Newton’s Third Law, the Law of Karma can be described as: for every action (including thoughts, words and deeds) there is an equal (in energy) and opposite (where the actor becomes the acted upon) reaction. One can see that the physical law (Newton/s) and the spiritual law (Karma) mirrors and therefore validates each other at least to an extent.

However, the law of Karma is much more complex, with the resulting action not necessarily manifesting immediately. Maybe our results are stored as potential energy such as that in a compressed spring, only to be released when our infinitely wise Heavenly Father lifts his finger off the “spring”. The laws that govern the result and timing of the resulting action may not be as easy to uncover by us mere mortals as it would be with our related law of motion. Given that there can be a time lapse before a result is manifest, it is important to note that an impending result can be changed by performing actions with the opposite motive.

The defining differences between the two laws in my mind is that the Law of Karma is governed by motive which is a subtle energy that is difficult to observe and quantify; whereas the Third Law of Motion is governed by physical energies of motion (such as Kinetic and Potential energy) which is more easily observable and quantifiable.

But the main reason the Law of Karma may be difficult to observe is that we may not be able to observe the period over which results of actions are manifest. The world may appear very unjust if the law of Karma is not viewed hand in hand with the philosophy of reincarnation. Hindu’s believe that the fruits of actions will not necessarily materialise in your present life but may only come to pass in future lives if the said soul is reborn. If the soul is not reborn and merges with God, then that souls Karmic debt has been fully repaid. However, people of the Christian faith do not believe in reincarnation but rather in a final judgement after death. Maybe this is where we reap our balance of negative or positive thoughts, words and deeds… ? Whatever the case may be, it is easy for me to believe that the law of karmic energies mirrors the laws of physical energies. Most importantly, this law serves my hope for a divinely built in universal justice system.

Another interesting example that links Science and Spirituality that comes to mind is the big bang theory. Hinduism has spoken of the Universe coming to being with a “big bang” long before science as we know it even began. Hinduism goes further by describing the actual sound of the big bang as Aum or Om. The frequency of this very first vibration still resonates in all parts of the universe according to Hindus. God is believed to be the source of this sound that energised the universe. The Aum is therefore the most basic sound also described as God itself in the form of sound energy and is believed to be the form (in the form of sound) of God Himself. This Big Bang Theory may also be reflected in the Bible if my interpretation is correct with the words: (John 1:1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

The most basic shape is worshipped by the Hindu’s as an ellipsoid or Shiva Lingam. The ellipsoid symbolises the duality in nature and also forms a fundamental part in the workings of nature since the planets chart an elliptical course around the sun and electrons in an atom move in an elliptical shape around the central nucleus.

Science and religion can and do support and validate each other. Yes, it is probably impossible for our limited minds to try and fully understand and explain this amazing and complex existence of ours. It has to be enough to just experience the love of God and appreciate that which He reveals to us through science and religion.

I would love to hear of more examples of how Science and Religion relate in your religion. Please drop me a note in the comment section below if you can enlighten us further.

by Natasha Subbiah

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Brinjal Pasta

A combination of white sauce with tomatoes and brinjals creates an indulgent deconstructed lasagne. Like lasagne, this dish takes some time to prepare but is absolutely worth it!

Free from: Nuts and Sugar. Vegetarian. Serves 4


2 large brinjals (or 8 small), butter, 1 large onion, 1 carrot, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp paprika (or ¼ tsp chilli powder), 3 tsp coriander powder, 6 medium tomatoes (or 500g plum tomatoes), 4 tablespoons flour, 2 cups milk, 400g pasta.

For the brinjals:

  1. Chop 2 large brinjals (or 8 small brinjals) into bite sizes. Coat in 1 tablespoon of ghee or butter and a sprinkle of salt.
  • To fry on the stove: Pan fry on medium heat with the lid on, stirring regularly. Keep the lid on when not stirring. Cook till softened.
  • To fry in an air-fryer (preferred method): Fry for 5 minutes on medium heat. When the air-fryer stops, do not open the air-fryer for a few minutes to allow the brinjals to steam and soften. Then turn the air-fryer back on for a further 5 minutes. Repeat cooking and steaming until golden and soft.

 For the sauce:

  1. Chop 1 large onion and 1 carrot. Fry with a drizzle of olive oil on medium-low heat till browning.
  2. Add 2 garlic cloves – chopped or crushed. Fry for another minute. Add 1 tsp paprika (or 1/4 tsp chilli powder) and 3 tsp coriander powder.
  3. Peel, de-seed, and chop 6 medium tomatoes (see page 49 for methods of how to peel tomatoes). Add the tomatoes to the pot and salt to taste. Allow to cook with the lid on till tomatoes soften.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and puree (or use a potato masher).
  5. Add 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 4 tablespoons butter to the pot. Fry the flour until it smells toasty (about 2 minutes). Keep stirring. Add in 2 cups of milk, a little at a time. Allow the milk to absorb into the flour before adding more, to prevent lumps from forming. Keep stirring vigorously.
  6. Combine white sauce, tomato sauce, brinjals and 400g of cooked pasta. Best served a side green salad.

by Natasha Subbiah

For more recipes and tips on how to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, follow me on Facebook.

Chickpea Korma

A mild saucy curry made with cashew nuts.

Suitable for young children and up.

Free from: Sugar, Wheat, Gluten and Dairy. Vegan. Serves 5


  ¾cup cashew nuts, 1½ cups chickpeas sprouts, 1 medium onion, 1 bay leaf (optional), 3 cloves of garlic, ¼ tsp chilli powder, ½ tablespoon cumin powder, ½ tablespoon coriander powder, ½ tablespoon garam masala, 4 tomatoes, 1 red or green bell pepper, 6 sprigs coriander (aka. cilantro – optional).

Special Equipment: Blender, food processor or grinder.

Preparation: i.     Soak cup of cashew nuts in water for 2 to 8 hours.

  1. Sprout chickpeas to yield 1½ cups of chickpea sprouts.


  1. Boil chickpeas till soft. Alternatively, use a pressure cooker to save time.
  2. Fry 1 finely chopped medium onion in oil/butter/ghee on medium heat with 1 bay leaf (optional).
  3. When the onion starts to turn golden, add 3 cloves of garlic – minced or crushed, with tsp chilli powder, tablespoon cumin powder, tablespoon coriander powder, and tablespoon garam masala. Add more oil if necessary and fry on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leafy and add in 1½ cups of boiled chickpeas, a red or green pepper (chopped) and salt. Allow it to fry while preparing the tomatoes. Add a splash of water if necessary.
  5. De-seed, peel and blend 4 medium tomatoes. Add in the tomatoes, and salt. Allow to cook on medium heat for just a few minutes while prepping the cashew sauce.
  6. Add the soaked cashew nuts to a blender with ¾ cup of water and 6 sprigs of coriander (optional) and blend. Add the cashew cream and cook with the lid off for a few minutes to intensify flavours and thicken sauce. Taste to correct salt.

Best served with a side green salad and rice. Smash chickpeas for babies.

Recipe from “How to Get Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables” by Natasha Subbiah

For more recipes plus tips on how to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables, follow Natasha Subbiah’s page on Facebook.


Butternut Fritters

From the book: How to Get Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables by Natasha Subbiah

This is a healthier (and I dare say – tastier) version of a time-honoured South African treat – pumpkin fritters. The recipe is sugar-free, but with the combination of butternut, banana and, raisins, it is so sweet, you wouldn’t miss sugar. The amount of flour you use can vary based on how moist your butternut is. This recipe works well with gluten-free flour as well as regular flour.

Free from: Nuts, Sugar, Wheat, Gluten (choose gluten-free flour) and Dairy (choose oil or butter). Vegan or Vegetarian. Makes about 12 fritters.


1 medium-sized butternut (500g – 1½ cups mashed), 3 tablespoons butter (or ghee or oil), 2 bananas, cup raisins, 4 tablespoons desiccated coconut (optional), 2 tsp baking powder, tsp bicarbonate of soda, tsp salt, 7 to 12 tablespoons flour.

  1. Peel and chop a medium-sized butternut. Place in a microwavable dish with lid on and microwave till soft. For a speedier alternative – buy a 500g pre-chopped butternut (even easier if it comes in a microwavable bag).
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Drain out any excess water from the butternut. Portion out 1½ cups mashed butternut. Add 3 tablespoons of butter (or ghee or oil). Melt the butter first if the butternut has already cooled.
  3. Add 2 mashed bananas, cup raisins (chop the raisins if they are large), 4 tablespoons desiccated coconut, 2 tsp baking powder, tsp bicarbonate of soda and tsp salt.
  4. Add 7 to 12 tablespoons flour (gluten-free flour mix or wheat flour) – the number of tablespoons of flour you will need to add will depend on how moist the butternut is. The batter should still be quite fluid, somewhere between a pancake and cake batter consistency. Adding too much flour will dilute the sweetness.
  5. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Spoon 1 heaped tablespoon per fritter onto the baking sheet. Bake at 180ºC till golden. Then flip the fritters and bake for another 5 minutes.

From “How to Get Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables” by Natasha Subbiah

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Mom of The Month in STEM Moms Club

Hi All

I was recently featured as Mom of the Month in March 2020 for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Moms Club. Thank you to STEM Mom Club founder Kamentha Pillay for this feature. The Link to the website is:

The interview went as follows:

Name: Natasha Subbiah Age: 33 Location: South Africa

Job title: Former chemical engineer, stay at home mum, aspiring author, and blogger.

What does your everyday work entail? 

My current work entails teaching, mentoring as well as overseeing many, many trips to the toilet, i.e. being a full-time mum :-). In between this, I have just completed authoring a non-fiction book dealing with children’s nutrition. This has entailed research, experimenting, recipe testing, food photography, and of course, writing. My previous work entailed optimisation and troubleshooting of operations at a boiler feed water plant within the Sasol Synfuels complex.

What career path led you to your current work?

Now, as we brace for coronavirus, we know that being free of non-communicable diseases and keeping a strong immune system can assist us in fighting against this deadly virus. The time, effort and money that go into a healthy diet and lifestyle are becoming increasingly necessary and worthwhile investments. Fortunately, our bodies are extremely forgiving, and changing bad habits can result in rapid renewal and healing. My upcoming book goes into details of what the principles of a healthy, balanced diet are, however, I will be posting an article onto my website with some pointers soon.

After experiencing a miscarriage and struggling to fall pregnant, I was desperate for a child to come into my life. When my first son did eventually come safely to us, I felt very much at home with my new role as a mother. I had every intention of going back to work though, possibly for half a day, but while I was on maternity leave, divine intervention seemed to come into play. My husband, who is also an engineer, secured a job in Johannesburg (we were living in Secunda at the time). The timing for my exit from engineering could not have been more perfect for us, everything fell into place far better than if we could have planned it ourselves. Soon after moving to Johannesburg, I learned that my son suffered from severe food allergies and I was pushed to cook everything from scratch. Then baby 2 came along. I used the awareness brought to me in my days of optimisation and troubleshooting to try to optimise my family’s health, and through the years we went through a diet evolution. My son is now largely free of food allergies. Although many factors that influence health, such as pollution, stress, genetics, and use of medications, I have found that convincing my children to eat a predominantly plant-based diet, has served us well in the past years. I also find that moderate exercise and stress control techniques such as prayer and meditation are crucial for health. I observed the struggle mothers face in convincing children to eat healthily and found myself assisting mothers with how to help their children or grandchildren eat more fruits and vegetables, so when a paediatrician told me that I needed to make this knowledge into a business, and with some pushing from a friend, I got started with a book dealing with how to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables. Through my eating practices, I have also managed to help the older people in my life, better manage their health issues, even turning around pre-diabetes.

How did you decide to move into this career path?-was it a certain person or moment which initiated it all?

Both my parents have influenced my choices greatly. My father is the one who pushed me into engineering. He was a physical science teacher and my high school principal. He made science come alive to me. Everywhere we went, he would have fascinating stories of how the world around us worked, and why it worked that way. It was real-life magic. For my “show and tells” at primary school, I would take test tubes from my dad’s laboratory and make bubbling, fuming potions to enchant schoolmates. Science was very much a part of my life. One day, in the back seat of my dad’s car, driving home from shopping, I learned that chemical engineers made toothpaste…. wooow that seemed like the coolest thing in the world to me and I decided then, that that was what I wanted to be. Although I am not in engineering anymore, I have used many of the tools learned to systematically and methodically address many of the challenges I face, including in the research and analysis of data for the future benefit of my readers.

It was the example my mother set, by sacrificing her career to home-school her children up to ages 5, which gave me confidence in my decision to leave engineering. My siblings are also in engineering, which stands as a testament to her methods. She was researching parenting even before the ease of Google. She eventually taught hundreds of children how to read when she worked as a Grade 1 teacher. However, it was my Guru, my eternal parent, who gave me the drive and confidence to pursue my latest project, my book, with zeal and determination for the last 2 years.

Was there ever a time that you recall wanting to change paths & what convinced you to continue on your chosen path?

Making the decision to leave engineering and mother my children full time was such a natural and seamless decision since I was already on maternity leave and I have not regretted it since. I did find full-time parenting challenging. There are overwhelming moments because I am solely responsible for the children’s wellbeing, which can be intimidating when they are completely dependent on me for physical, emotional and academic development and because I am so emotionally invested in the outcome of my “job” as a mother (and this is the case for all or most mums – working or non); but the rewarding moments far outweigh these stresses. I find that having a growing spiritual life helps to relieve the tensions and enjoy the moments that I have with the children more. Having projects such as my book and blog has helped give me a sense of being productive even in the sometimes tedious routine that entails nurturing children. It has been a few years of self-discovery which I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to indulge in.

Give us a brief description of a normal/extraordinary 24hours in your life.

My current routine is fairly new since I was home-schooling my eldest until only this year. My day usually starts at 4: 30 am which is when I get to pray and work on my book while my little loudspeakers are snoozing. Then I get everyone ready and usually send my big boy off to school with his dad. With the morning rush over, I get to do a session of ashtanga yoga and then my 3-year-old and I have a home-schooling session in which he is learning how to read, count and write. When the little guy is napping, I recite Vedic chants (ancient Hindu scriptures) and cook or at least prep for cooking. This can take some extra time if I’m doing recipe testing. Then it’s time to give the little guy lunch before we are off to fetch big brother from school. After big brother gets lunch, I usually do some home school of some sort with the boys. It usually takes the form of reading practice, a meditation session, education in human values, homework or storytime. I also like for us to get into the garden once a day, weather permitting, to prevent Vitamin D deficiency (studies have found most South African’s to be deficient in this vital nutrient, which is predominantly acquired from the action of sunlight on the skin). Then it’s the supper, and bedtime routine. When the little guys are sleeping, I get to whatever is left of the cleaning up, followed by some work on my book or blog, and a session of meditation and reading of spiritual material. I usually try to fit work in, whenever I can steal a moment; but these days I have been making a lot more time for prayer as our planet is being engulfed by covid-19. I hope that my prayers, together with yours, will lighten the impact on humanity.

Name the one thing which excites you about your field of work.

The one thing that excites me in all the roles I’ve had, engineering, motherhood, and writing, is the potential to make a positive difference, whether it’s to ensure the safety of my colleagues, or reducing environmental impact, or helping my or others children to thrive; every positive change I make excites me and makes me feel more like my true self.

What has your experience been like being a women in STEM?

Very positive. When starting work, I was lucky to have filled the role of a strong woman, Karen Naidoo. She paved the way for me in a way, by reducing the shock to the plant personnel when little, young me strode in. I was also surrounded by other confident and well-respected women working in the plants around me. By contributing positively, I believe I earned the respect of the predominantly male personnel. I did have run-ins with difficult personalities, who I believe were difficult to anyone, regardless of gender. My job did involve physical stamina and exertion, having to climb up and into vessels, and I believe I handled these opportunities as well as any man (and I dare say – better than a few – given the advantage my diminutive form and relative strength gives me). With age, I can now reflect to say that I do believe I lacked confidence at times when I had to encounter new environments within the very large plant complex. It can at times be intimidating for a new female employee in a male-dominated environment, partly because of my inbuilt reservations and because it is difficult to break into social structures that are made completely of males, especially males outside my racial group, but I overcame those reservations increasingly as the years passed. I was lucky to be surrounded by gentlemen in the environment I worked in, which eased that transition, and by the time I left, I felt valued in my workplace.

Do you find that there are still barriers within the STEM field?

I believe that management portfolios in certain large companies still lack diversity. I hope that, since we see increased diversity in the lower rungs, diversity will filter up to management in time. Johannesburg seems to me to have a refreshingly diverse workforce, at least in the companies I have observed and I have a positive outlook for the future if all parts of the country adopt the Joburg culture.

Did becoming a mom change how you experienced your field of work?

Well, yes completely, it pulled the rug out from under me in terms of career path, however, it has also opened up my mind about the possibility of other career opportunities that could be had. I believe parenting should be seen as a qualification on its own (especially when you are in teaching and management positions), by virtue of the many hard lessons it teaches us, lessons in patience, in anxiety management, in people management, in compassion, in team-work, in perseverance, a strong sense of responsibility and duty, and in time management and so I believe that when I re-enter the formal workforce, I will be better equipped for many of the challenges. Parenting also pushed me to be a better person so that I can exemplify what I want my children to aspire to be. Learning to love like a mum is something that can’t be taught in university but, when applied to other people, can be beneficial in your career, in dealing with people and in life as a whole. In this way, being a mum has changed how I experience most aspects of my life.

How do you think organisational spaces could be improved upon in order to better support women in STEM?

Although I have not worked in a traditional environment while being mum, some of my favourite people are working mums. From their experiences, I would love for breast milk- pumping rooms to be provided to mums. Nourishing children is one of our greatest duties and it must be supported for the good of humanity as a whole. Meetings that overrun, mums that are forced to work well over normal hours, this sort of thing saddens me. This is something I see happening in the finance world more than engineering, something I would love to see addressed. Now that more and more women are in the workforce, parenting must be seen as a joint social responsibility of employers as well as parents. Employers must consider their employees’ family commitments.

What do you hope to achieve within your career, whether in the short/long term?

Well now that my book is complete, I am in pursuit of a publisher. My short time goals are to publish and make this material available to the many women that are waiting for it. I am also planning to offer free workshops to parents at schools, companies, and religious institutions (when Covid-19 is done shutting society down, of course), to teach families how to better nourish their children. I am also going to plunge into a new book soon which will be a non-fiction narrative based on the contents of my blog, which looks at interfaith relationships.

Would you encourage your little one(s)& other young girls to move into a career similar to your own & why?

I would love for my children and others to follow whatever career their interests are in, whilst considering social or market needs at the time, as well as family life balance, if they plan on having families. I would not discourage them from engineering; it is a rewarding profession for males and females alike.

What’s your favourite mom&kiddie activity?

I love taking my kids on hikes. It’s something I grew up doing with my parents. My little one has to get carried most of the way, but we can still summit a koppie or 2 with him in our arms. It is a wonderful adventure. Our second favourite activity would have to be reading, especially new books. I love to see the thrill and amazement on their sweet faces. Oh, and I love the giggles… so much.

Please could you give fellow STEM moms some advice on how to navigate the challenges within our field.

The role of a woman in society is more unique, essential and complex than the modern world has yet acknowledged. Be unapologetic about fulfilling your roles as a woman. Being a feminist should not mean being forced to be more like a man, or under-valuing a mothers role in her family and in society; it should rather mean being freely allowed to choose what kind of life you would like to lead and showing people (little ones and big ones) the benefits that our feminine natures can bring to our families, professions and societies along the way.

The day Trump picked up the Bible…

It is a time of great sorrow as we confront the reality of racism. Whether it is subtle or overt, as was the case in George Floyd’s murder, it is always destructive and always painful. Many of you would have seen the video clips of the U.S. president brandishing the Bible in front of a church for a photo op, after clearing out peaceful ‘Black Lives Matter’ protestors. Following is what I think President Donald Trump should have said when he picked up that Bible…

“Churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship represent much of society, that seek to foster peace both inwardly and socially. Religious doctrines are useful tools to help us find that peace and to help us reflect it in our actions. This Book is one of those doctrines that embraces the philosophy that we all embody the Spirit of God, and it attests to the fact that our bodies are only temporary coverings of the divinity within it, and that the differences that arise in the body, due to race, environment, and circumstances are all inconsequential. Jesus assured us that the Holy Spirit is installed in all of us – irrespective of outward differences. That the spirit is divided between us, and yet is one, proves that we are all joined in spirit under a loving and protective God. It does more than prove our brotherhood and sisterhood, it proves our oneness. If we could take the time to acknowledge that He who loves us so much abides in each of us, how then could we hurt each other? If we could start seeing ourselves and others for what we are, an embodiment of spirit, of divinity itself, this country and this world could become a haven of peace, joy, equality, equal opportunity, non-violence, and love.

The events around George Floyd’s murder have brought the pain of racism to light and it can no longer be ignored, excused or accepted as the norm. Many white Americans may have learned some poor lessons growing up, where different rules of social ethics applied to different people, but, like many other White Americans, it is time to use discrimination to unlearn these false teachings and undo these false practices. It is time to see people for what they are, their fears, their ambitions, their loves, their preferences, their sadness, their potential, and their spirits. It is time to drop the irrational thinking on which racism is founded and embrace Jesus’ message of love wholeheartedly. Each of us must feel valued in this deeply connected society for us all to find our true worth.

I ask the black community for forgiveness for not actively taking up the cause of social inequalities sooner, and I hope that I can do much more for you, with your help and guidance, through what is left of my term. “

… and I wish he said all of this with the protestors still present. The day Trump picked up the Holy Bible could have been a significant day in the history of the world, but alas, it was only a photo op. My hope is that this failure by a group of police officers and a president, which represents a failure by society, ignites a lasting change in America, here in distant South Africa and the rest of the world. May we be united, as we are in spirit.

By Natasha Subbiah

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The Truth about Truth

When I was a child reading religious materials, I glossed over the word Truth. It seemed to lack the drama that would captivate the attention of a young mind. In my youth though, I began recognising its contribution to my peace of mind and I became dedicated to upholding truth in my personal capacity. But it is only now in my 30’s, that I am beginning to grasp the enormous weight the truth (or lack thereof) has on our lives, and quite possibly, every single aspect of it.

My understanding of truth is that which is unchanging, eternal, and for the context of our physical reality, fixed for a given time and space. Truth is, it’s as simple as that. But today we have several “truths”: the perceived truth, the widely accepted truth, the politically correct truth, the economically viable truth, the convenient truth…

Scientists driven by a passion to uncover the truths of the world are often directed to study only what big money-driven companies request them to. Even the health industry whose aim should be to promote health… instead has their focus skewed and “facts” blurred by the magnetic pull of where the money is; creating “truths” or at least confusion out of poorly devised studies which aim to conclude only what their sponsors wish to see – impacting our health system, our food system, and resultingly our life spans. As a result, even those studies that expose truths are ignored, because the “accepted truth” is already too deeply rooted in society.

Wars started under the guise of bringing stability and upholding human dignity have succeeded only in degrading these very things.

Prejudices of all kinds, race, religion, gender, are often based on ill-founded misconceptions and twisted truths.

Much of politics has been pushed and pulled by “moving truths” that are spewed out without logic, fact or data, to suit what are sometimes narrow objectives, influencing millions of people none-the-less. The word honourable, used to address members of parliament, had become a meaningless rule instead of a reflection of an individual’s character.

But, despite the destruction caused by lack of truth, we are encouraged not to speak the truth, not to upset the proverbial applecart, not to inflame the influential, not to break the ill-founded norms. “Leave it be.”, they say.

The truth is our world pivots on what we perceive to be the truth. When that truth is skewed, the damage is real. But as COVID-19 breaks on our shores, I see a shift. I see many loud, threatening, prejudiced voices being forced into their homes, their messages becoming outdated and irrelevant. I see well-meaning politicians working hard, with openness and frankness. I see road-blocks for good work being removed. I see humanity coming “together” in thought, word, and deed; I see us acknowledging injustices and searching for ways to share compassion and love. I hope that force and violence will be retracting in areas of war with the personal safety of all aggressors coming under attack by an invisible enemy. I see social media platforms and government being more energetic about damping untruths. And I foresee that scientific integrity will start to find its rightful place because it is not in anyone’s best interests to ignore human health at this time. Is this the dawn of a new age of truth? I suppose it is for each of us to decide before every word we speak or write and every action we take. And as we decide, let us keep in mind that the consequences of untruth are far-reaching, so let us promote a culture of truth because our very existence may depend upon it. And, when we consider our spiritual journeys, which the seers of old describe as being the realisation of truth, it may be true that truth is the reason for our existence itself.

By Natasha Subbiah

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Attaining Stillness, Peace and Joy in times of the Covid-19 Crisis and Beyond.

Attaining stillness, peace and joy in times of the covid-19 crisis and beyond.

True stillness is a mental state and not a physical one. We could be physically isolated, only to have our thoughts jumping from place to place, person to person, and memory to memory. Yet there are those who have developed the ability to be fixed on God or the inner Self, remaining peaceful and still despite being surrounded by people and yoked by work and responsibilities.

I write this at a time when the world is in the clutches of the Covid-19 virus and we face anxiety and fear from all spheres of life. How do we maintain stillness and peace of mind in these turbulent times? The mind has to be trained to focus on the inward Self, much like muscles that require exercise. Physical solitude and isolation (when used correctly), can help us to make a start in practicing stillness when those mental muscles are still weak. Many saints and sages have turned to solitude, at least for parts of their lives, to strengthen themselves spiritually. The imposed physical solitude that most of the world now finds itself in, is an opportunity for many to tap into the peace that true solitude can offer. One’s mind is like a torch that darts from object to object. If we remove the number of “objects” that we are surrounded by, it can be easier to focus on God and our inner realities. Physical isolation can help by removing distractions, and by giving us the time to evaluate ourselves, iron out our faults, catch our wandering or negative minds and plant it back where it should be.

But despite the advantages of solitude, the changes, threats and fears that plague us at this time can easily overwhelm us and leave us lost and unsettled. How do we master our minds and use this time to find stillness when the world seems to be walking on shaky ground? In this time of physical isolation, replacing our usual worldly distractions with new worldly distractions, such as a continuous stream of Covid-19 news, may rob us of the mental benefit that physical isolation can afford us. It is important to use discretion in choosing our mental and emotional inputs, at least for those times when that choice is ours.

If you are finding it difficult to be joyous or still at this time, read on to find out if the following tips could be useful to you.

  1. How can we be calm in a time of heightened fear? In my experience, the single most helpful tool to beat fear, under any circumstance, is through surrender to God (in whatever form is dear to you). Surrendering to God is only truly accomplished once we hand over the results to God for Him to decide what is best for us. In a situation such as this one, where we cannot guarantee our safety by any reasonable means, we have to trust in the strength and wisdom of God. This may be difficult to do, but once accomplished, allows God to work and allows us to be free of worry, knowing that He knows what is best for all of us, always. This does not mean that we are not responsible for our actions or efforts, but after choosing to act wisely, handing over the results should free up mental space so that we can re-focus and get to our place of peace.
  2. In my efforts to write a book whilst managing a young family, I experienced the negative effects of trying to be constantly productive. Being in a mental-space that is always hurried can be detrimental to health and spirituality. There is great value in being productive and contributing positively to the world, but we can add even greater value when we are connected to the inner Self. To be able to do this, we should be able to slow down and switch off at the appropriate times to make mental space for meditation and prayer. It is therefore important to spend some time acknowledging that spiritual exercises deserve our attention and time.
  3. Take care of your body. If your body is ailing or even just dulled, then your mind will struggle to achieve the clarity that a vibrantly healthy body produces. See my guidelines for a healthy diet here. All parts of our being are connected in some way, and we should care for each aspect of our selves for the whole to be well.
  4. Constantly remind yourself that you are not this body or this mind; that your true Self is Spirit and that this Spirit is part of God who is all. It was Sri Aurobindo that said, “Learn to live within, to act always from within, from a constant communion with [God]. You must persist and establish the habit of living in your inner being, which is your true being, and of looking at everything from there.”
  5. Your mind usually follows your heart. First, fill your heart with God and with the desire to commune with God so that your mind easily revels in thoughts of Him.
  6. Practicing manthra chanting is an effective tool to train the mind to be still. A manthra is a word, phrase, or more that is recited repetitively. It usually focuses on God, an aspect of God or something positive. The name of God (whichever name is dear to you), is said to be the most powerful manthra in this current age, having potent purifying and transformative powers. It is a tool used by all major religions in some form or another.
  7. Surround yourself with positive influences, positive media, devotional music, and positive literature; all these things can lift your energies and assist you with keeping joyful and silent.
  8. Be pure. Choose to speak (and write) kindly and truthfully, do not engage (directly or indirectly) in actions that will cause harm to other beings. Purity will set you up for a peaceful mind.
  9. In this era of human history, even in isolation, we have access to many platforms to interact with the public and friends such as on social media. It is important to support others and to show love in this trying time. However, to guard your peace whilst sending out your messages and positive and truthful contributions, especially on public platforms, make sure not to desire the approval of others. Love unconditionally, regardless of the opinions of others, these things are only superficial and we are all ultimately connected as one. Desiring to “own” others by means of their approval prevents your love from flowing freely and distracts you from your true purpose.
  10. Meditate (or pray meditatively). Only through meditation can we discover the vast world that is beyond our senses; only through meditation can we discover our true Selves, and only through meditation can we connect to the Source of true and limitless joy and peace. Worldly joys are shallow and fleeting; joy from our source is far more wonderful than we can imagine. Only through experience can we know this joy and we can experience only by going inward. There are many techniques that can be used for meditation. Effective meditation techniques that I practice include Jyothi (light) meditation and Phyllis Crystal’s, Cutting Ties methods. However, meditation should not be a once a day exercise but a constant habit of stilling oneself and connecting with God even whilst we are going through our day.
  11. Detachment is a necessary tool to bring us peace. We need to constantly remind ourselves of the impermanence of the physical world, including objects and people. This will help us not to become attached to the attractions and distractions in our lives and will help us to operate from a more logical standing. All our relationships and all our belongings will eventually not belong to us (and truly, never do). That being said, we must also remind ourselves that the only thing that is permanent is the Spirit (God), which is also what unites us with all things.
  12. Forgiveness is necessary for sound health and peace of mind. Go through the exercise of forgiving everyone who you have had unpleasantness with, and feel yourself grow stronger. Forgiveness allows channels of love to open up and allows your positive energies to flow more freely. It is far more important to forgive than to hold anyone to account for their wrong actions.

I wish each of you all the best with finding inner peace at this time and beyond it. Remember that your happiness adds to the happiness of the whole.

I leave you with an extract from the preface of a book titled Solitude, by the Central Chinmaya Mission Trust in Mumbai. (The author of the preface simply signs off as V.B. Please contact me if anyone can provide me with the full name of the author so that I can give him/her due credit. )

” Living in solitude is living with a fresh open mind that rejects memories of the past and anxieties of the future. In solitude, the external supports are abandoned and we are alone, facing ourselves. No distractions entwine the mind or sedate it’s natural urge to understand the purpose of existence. If understanding seems immanent, we thrive on our solitude, and are unwilling to allow any other thought to invade and deter our quest for experiencing the fullness of our being. ” V.B

By Natasha Subbiah

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