In the wake of the Boxing Day Tsunami

 
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Christmas was still fresh in the air and families were gathered together when news of an oil tanker about to topple off the coast of Colombo perked concerns nationwide. Not too long after this news, the waves of the Boxing Day Tsunami hit the nation’s coasts destroying absolutely everything it came into contact with. The Eastern and the Southern coasts were completely washed off while the North and West suffered considerable damage. The families in the east that had lost everything due to the prevalent civil conflict at the time lost what little they had for a second time when the ocean went against them. All in all, the Boxing Day Tsunami shook the entire world, killing nearly 225,000 people and displacing another 1.74million. The Humanitarian response reached an astonishing US$14billion pledged by superpowers and other countries alike to help restore the damaged nations – one of the few times, the world stood as one.

The devastation in Sri Lanka with a loss of 35,000+ lives and displacing 515,000 others was only second to Indonesia, closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. Nonetheless, it was a dire time and a somber welcome to the New Year ensued. Many organizations, governments and individuals then started the long and arduous process of rebuilding and rehabilitating the displaced. Among the many projects that followed, AMI Tsunami Children’s House Foundation was established in 2006, by Premela Wijemanne, a veteran Montessori teacher who owned and ran her own Montessori in Kansas, USA. With the idea of creating a safe space and providing quality education and care to the orphaned children, Amitsu has grown ever since.

Home to 22 children currently between the ages of 4 – 15, Amitsu sees to their education, healthcare and general wellbeing. Spread over a compound of 4 acres, the home has separate dormitory facilities, kitchen, matron quarters and ample space for the children to utilize. The compound also houses an in-house Montessori to educate the youngest, a sustainable vegetable patch, a jungle gym and a large playground for sports. Café Kumbuk has been supporting the Wijemanne family in this noble task from a very long time – even before the café’s inception. This year too, Café Kumbuk is organizing a fun evening for the kids in light of the Christmas season; a time for good food, enjoyable company and exciting presents.

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We have made it our goal this year to provide these little children with Christmas presents to celebrate the season of giving and would like for our lovely patrons to be able to help in the process. We are looking for donors to take up the responsibility to sponsor a child’s gift – that means you can buy them anything you please and pack it with love. You can get more information from our flagship café, where you will also find that we’ve replaced the décor at the front shelves with photos of the Amitsu kids. Help us help these children celebrate the season while also commemorate 13 years since the waves of the Boxing Day Tsunami.

By Ashan Wijesinghe

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF THE KUMBUK HOMEMADE RANGE

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If you visit the café regularly or follow us on social media, you’re probably aware that Kumbuk does an interesting range of delectable Homemade Products. With Christmas around the corner, the list has grown longer; and this year we took it upon ourselves to create enjoyable gift hampers made from the best of local produce and packed with lots of love and care. If you’ve been contemplating getting one for your loved ones or have been gifted one, here’s a little guide on how to use it.

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The Kumbuk Seasonal Gift Hamper undoubtedly packs Christmas in a box; with cinnamon pancake mix, brandy butter, poultry rub, mulled wine mix and cranberry and sour cherry chutney – this couldn’t be more true. The poultry rub has all the necessary ingredients to flavor your Christmas Roast, and most importantly that bottle is enough for 2-3 turkeys so you might as well have Christmas Roast for the next few days too! The cranberry and sour cherry chutney too has a spot at your Christmas Roast Lunch, it is divine served over a well seasoned turkey. The mulled wine mix smells like Christmas in a bottle and is great to entertain your guests, day or night. Empty the contents into a saucepan add one bottle of wine, bring to a simmer, serve warm and enjoy in good company. The brandy butter – a strikingly British treat – is generally served over warm Christmas pudding, it melts and oozes into the pud to bring out the exquisite flavours with just a tinge of alcohol. If you’re feeling especially festive you could even set it on fire while it melts.

We love our Christmases so it might seem like we get carried away with all things Christmas in December, but we actually have a decent lot of other products still available all year round. We’ve got our granolas bottled up – all you gotta do is top it with fruits and milk of choice and dig in. We’ve also got pancake mixes that can be easily made at home and a range of flavoured salts and sugars. Many people ask us how to use these salts and sugars. In the case of the salts, it works perfectly as seasoning on meat (especially rosemary and garlic salt) or just add some of the salt into your everyday foods to make it interesting. Similarly use the sugars to sweeten everyday drinks like tea/coffee (lavender sugar adds an interesting flavor to black tea while hazelnut sugar accentuates the flavours of coffee).  Alternatively, sprinkle them over bakes and enjoy!

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If you ask what my favourite among the lot is, it would be the Spiced Feta. It’s particularly useful around the household in flavouring salads; smash the feta over the salad and drizzle some of the infused olive oil to give your greens a bit more flavor. Top it off with some balsamic vinegar and your salads will be a lot more tempting. Alternatively you could make an interesting dip out of it to go with your chips or to go on top of toast. The superseeds mix is another list topper; it’s easy to make and can be breakfast or dessert! Just add warm water, mix it well, leave it over night and dig in when peckish.

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In keeping with the ethos of Café Kumbuk, we strive to make most of our products with locally sourced produced, but are always fresh and with zero chemical additives – we even avoid refined sugars or use palm sugar substitutes. We also have a strict no plastics rule so most of our packaging is recyclable or reusable around the household. If you haven’t tried our products yet, swing by the café and grab some or place your order via email cafekumbuk@gmail.com. Celebrate this season of giving by gifting gourmet treats, or a carefully curated box of treats – we are taking Hamper orders until the 13th of Christmas so be sure to get yours in right away!

By Ashan Wijesinghe

What a Sloppy Joe!

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The Jackfruit Sloppy Joe introduced to the Kumbuk Kitchen menu earlier this year has won hearts far and wide with its delectable flavours and adaptability to almost any palate. The young jackfruit or polos as we know it got a facelift with this new dish that enjoyed a brief cameo at Café Kumbuk as well. An ideal meat substitute for vegan and vegetarian diets, Jackfruit is loaded with nutrients, minerals and vitamins; amma (mother) certainly approves!

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The jackfruit at its different stages is used for a variety of sweet and savoury dishes in Sri Lankan cuisine. Young jackfruit (polos) is prepared in thick, dark gravy accompanied by steamed rice, a good dhal curry and a greens mix. Ripe jackfruit (kos) is cooked in coconut cream to a thick consistency and enjoyed with dried fish and rice. The seeds of the ripe jackfruit are also toasted and tossed with coconut and jaggery to make a local version of protein balls that are enjoyed by the young and old alike. Slightly overripe jackfruit (varaka) has a sweet, tropical flavor that is enjoyed on its own as a snack or after a meal. With easy access to a fruit that is so versatile, we couldn’t resist giving it our own Kumbuk twist!

To make KK’s Sloppy Joe, young jackfruit is par boiled with local spices, seeded and pulled just like you would meat. The pulled jackfruit is then mixed in an Asian inspired BBQ sauce (a combination of tomato, apple juice, pineapple juice, onion and lemongrass) and topped with a generous serving of bell pepper ketchup and gooey cheese! We serve it on a vegan bun so all you gotta do is ask them to hold off on the cheese if you’re vegan.

Among its many health benefits, jackfruit is loaded with essential vitamins (A, C, E, K & B6), minerals (copper, manganese, magnesium), antioxidants and folic acid. This means that jackfruit has the ability to improve blood production, regulate blood glucose, reduce chances of cancer and improve bone health, eyesight and immunity in general. The seeds especially, have the ability to detoxify your system resulting in healthy skin and hair. Another reason jackfruit deserves a dietary medal of honour is because it is one of few fruits that has absolutely no saturated or trans fats (this however, does not mean that it does not have calories or sugar)! It is also super easy to grow in our climate, and thrives, given the right attention and care.

If you’re jackfruit crazed or looking for a good vegan burger, head on over to Kumbuk Kitchen on Reid Avenue (across the road from the Colombo Racecourse) to grab a good one! We’d encourage you to savour fresh Jackfruit as much as possible while you’re here; you won’t be allowed to take it home because fresh jackfruit is banned from airports!

By Ashan Wijesinghe

MAKER OF THE MONTH: NEESHA FERNANDO

 
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Introduce yourself and what you do

Hello! I’m Neesha Fernando - a freelance Graphic Designer & Illustrator, currently living and working in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

How did you get started?

As a student at the University of Tampa, studying Advertising and Public Relations, I found myself more interested in the design side of the industry. Curiosity drove me to sign up for more and more design classes, which eventually is what led me to my current career path.

After graduation, I worked for the Tampa Bay Rowdies professional soccer team as their Graphic Designer & Social Media Representative. Following a two-year stint, I found myself craving a change of scenery, at which point I moved back to Sri Lanka. Upon arrival, I was drawn to Ruby Studio, particularly for their work on Tripin magazine - given my love of travel and affinity for editorial design. After gaining valuable experience under Subha Grassi there for three years, I decided to venture off on my own.

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Who and what inspires you right now?

With my expansion into the world of freelancing, I've been trying to diversify my scope of work, particularly with experimentation in illustration and typography. Given this, I regularly frequent online resources such as Doodlers Anonymous and Creative Bloq for both inspiration and tips & tricks. Sophie Roach, Barry Lee, Mulga and Steven Harrington are a few of the illustrators I currently follow closely on social media.

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What was a challenging aspect to getting started?

While drawing cartoons was always a fond pastime for me as a child, I never really thought of design as a profession. I was never the master of figure sketching or a genius with a paintbrush in art class. I thought that my lack of formal art education meant I could not venture down this path. As a result, getting past that initial fear and doubt in my skill was probably the most challenging for me.

Art is not just what most people typically think of as “art.” It’s not just sketching, paintings, sculptures and music. I think it’s very important to remember: everyone has creativity within them – even those of us that think they can’t draw a straight line without a ruler.

Where can others find your work?

You can find me online at: www.behance.net/neeshafernando and on Instagram @justferyou

 

MAKER OF THE MONTH – DILUSHI PRASANNA

 
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Introduce yourself and what you do?

I am Dilushi Prasanna, a Graphic designer and Illustrator. I was born and raised in Kuwait, but decided to venture design as well as devour my motherland, Sri Lanka.

How did you get started?

My father who is a Graphic Designer himself encouraged me to follow his footsteps. Initially as a child I was keen on becoming a Fashion Designer. Later during my 1st year in university I was still skeptical about my Graphic Design major. It didn’t take me long enough to develop an interest in the subject and knew that it was my expertise.

 
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Who and what inspires you right now?

I come from a legacy of artists, all the way from grand parents to my father, mother and brother. At home I was always encouraged to be creative whether it was school homework or getting dressed, so my biggest inspirations naturally came from home itself. Other than family I absolutely love VICE and their entire sub network such as Viceland, Broadly, Munchies etc. Since fashion has also played a major role in my life I try to fuse my interest in it as well my skills in graphics when creating designs. Currently I eyeball on Hypebeast and i-D for fashion related inspirations. I also follow some needle and poke tattoo artists on Instagram that have incredible artwork and have a culture of their own.

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What was a challenging aspect to getting started?

The most challenging aspect was being able to visualize an idea and not being able to execute it. It was like I knew everything I needed to know but wasn’t able to prove it. It took me a good while to know Adobe Illustrator for my digital artwork and now it has become my backbone. I still have a long way to go but to evolve from all the terrible fonts and designs I’ve made, I’m grateful!

Where can others find your work?

You can see some projects I’ve done on Behance: 

https://www.behance.net/Dilushi

You can also see my daily posts and styling I do as a hobby on Instagram: 

https://www.instagram.com/dilush

SETTING OUT: BASED ON THE ‘MONOCLE GUIDE TO GOOD BUSINESS’ MANIFESTO.

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1 UNIVERSITY IS A GOOD THING

I never truly knew how much I had learnt in my undergraduate degree course until I started Café Kumbuk. I studied Advertising and it was never really on my agenda to work in an advertising agency – I mostly did it as it was a solid degree to have under my belt. It was in my final year of university that we were asked to create a brand for our final project, for me that brand was Café Kumbuk. I never thought for a second that it would become a reality and I thank my lucky stars everyday that my degree taught me all the skills necessary to build, brand and market my very own café.

2 PEOPLE CARE ABOUT PROVENANCE

Where and how things are made. It’s super important to me for my customers to know where we source our ingredients, the faces and hands behind it and document each and every process for them to see. I am proud to work with each of my suppliers and will continue to shed light on the amazing things they do.

3 PAY PEOPLE A DECENT WAGE

Keep your team inspired and motivated. My team is the foundation of Café Kumbuk and they work tirelessly everyday to meet our customer’s expectations and make them happy. Paying my team well allows them to look after themselves and their families and keeps them striving for more. If my team isn’t happy, motivated and inspired then the whole chain falls to pieces.

4 PEOPLE NEED OTHER PEOPLE TO DO THEIR BEST WORK

‘Good ideas and businesses are made through debate – of the face-to-face variety. And people are much more motivated when they work among like-minded types.’ It’s a good thing to share ideas, talk about the things that work and be honest about the things that don’t. Celebrate other people’s successes and don’t be afraid to ask how they did it! Some will share, some won’t – those who do you will most certainly learn something valuable from. Stick together.

5 REMEMBER HUMAN NATURE

In the same way as its important to pay your team well, its also important to look after them in other ways. Every few months we find a way to bring our team together outside of the work place and allow them to let loose and bond with us and with each other. ‘Give people a good desk, a comfortable chair and a welcoming light. And then let them do their work.’

6 BUT THIS IS NOT TO DENY FLEXIBILITY

‘Be open to change’

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7 NEW COMPANY NEW RULES

‘Working for yourself should be fun, rewarding and allow you to shape a company that matches your beliefs and life. Be cautious of falling in with how your rivals do things.’ Competition is inevitable and instead of focusing too much on what others are doing, get inspired and go a mile further! Find ways to reinvent your offering and get creative.

8 TRAVEL

‘Just as vital: you need to see who else is benchmarking quality in your field. Go see your competition in action.’ Okay so this point and my last may be slightly contradictory but not if you omit the word competition. Its important to know what others are offering and how they are offering it so you can better your own business. Don’t look at it as competition, look at it as a chance to get inspired. I often travel to get inspired, to see how service is elsewhere and to try and implement specific learnings in my own café.

9 COULD YOU RUN YOUR COMPANY FROM ANY CITY IN THE WORLD?

‘Choose an HQ capital that also delivers the quality of life you want; balance urban efficiency with pleasure. But remember: a company should be part of a community it sits in. Come out from behind those walls.’ I am happy to be here, living in this tropical paradise and it suits me just fine. I have lived in the UK for most of my life and London for the latter part before moving here and although I loved it I also didn’t feel as happy as I do here. Find your happy place.

10 DESIGN GOOD SPACES FOR PEOPLE TO WORK IN

‘Make spaces that people like to visit, linger in and be creative in.’ Its important to me that my team enjoy the space as well as café customers. I felt inspired to create the space and I hope people feel inspired within it.

11 SPREAD THE WORK

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‘When things go wrong you need to be there but otherwise let people grow rapidly in their roles and even keep you a little tested.’ The first six months of Café Kumbuk was especially a learning curve for me. I felt like without me there my team wouldn’t be able to manage and what I eventually realized was the opposite. Without me there pushing everyone and micro managing they were able to feel more relaxed, happy and in turn do their job better – much better than I could have imagined. Often I feel compelled to get behind the front desk, talk to customers, clear tables and that’s OKAY but make sure you aren’t hindering the processes put in place by you and your team. Find balance, find space.

12 RESPECT TRADITION

Respect the culture of those that you work with. Everyone comes with their own ideologies and beliefs, work with it and although you may not agree with certain things try and broaden your horizons and learn from it.

13 CREATE COMPANIES TO LAST

‘Too many businesses are created by people looking for the exit strategy before the paint has even dried on their shop sign. We need to honour people who are in it for the long haul.’

14 KEEP YOUR COOL

More often than not you will face situations that are difficult and totally uncomfortable. Every week or so I face a customer complaint or perhaps a harsh online review. Remember you cannot please everyone and when dealing with difficult people always keep your cool. Kindness costs nothing and is always much better received.

15 ENJOY THE PROCESS

Anyone can do business, but doing good business is tricky and can take a long time to get the formula right. Remember through it all to keep learning, keep asking questions and keep enjoying the process. Remember passion fuels purpose.

Post Workout Food in Colombo

We thought we’d compile this list because we are ever so familiar with the hunger pangs that supersede a good core-crunching workout. Especially when you just want to eat up a mountain but don’t want to lose those workout gains! These are the places we like to hit when we want to dig in without feeling too guilty (note: they are in no particular order).

1. LIFE FOOD

Nestled on the lakefront in Col. 3, Life Food is a cozy little café serving up super good, healthy meals for the food fanatic. If you’re hardcore, you could even try running over there, build up your appetite and then dig in! Our favourite is the ‘Honey Honey,’ a salad bowl with avo, honey-mustard chicken, feta, cherry tomatoes, salad trimmings and a killer dressing! It really is a treat, honey! There are loads of other great dishes on the menu too, including some kurakkan roast paan sandwiches; try the ‘Smooth Operator,’ a sandwich of basil, chicken and avo mayo. As you may have picked up, these guys are one of the few places that go crazy with the avocadoes and we just love it.

Life Food is open from 7:30am to 9:30pm (8am to 9:30pm on weekends and on most public holidays), so that’s definitely a plus! They’re also the only place we’ve seen in Colombo that serves up Kangen water with the meals. If you know the science behind these ionized waters produced through electrolysis, then you know what the craze is all about.

2. CALORIE COUNTER

With a couple of branches around town and in the South, Calorie Counter is a health food giant. One peek at the menu and you’ll realize they do live up to the name! The number of calories in each dish is highlighted next to the dish so you can actually count the calories you ingest just as the name suggests! They have a wide range of options to choose from, including fresh salads, open-faced sandwiches and some nice steak options! Go for the salmon steak, one of the best fish dishes in town. Some might say the sandwiches are a tad dry, but then again they are counting calories, so we’re not complaining!

Calorie Counter too, is open from 7am – 10pm which is great for us busy bodies that tend to hit the gym at all odd hours of the day. With a branch in Galle, it’s also easily accessible on vacation, lol.

3. KUMBUK KITCHEN

Our cozy 2nd outlet on Reid Avenue serves up some of our signature dishes all day round. In front of the racecourse, inside the Lakpahana compound, right next to the Good Market Shop is where you’ll find Kumbuk Kitchen; it’s really not as complicated as it sounds though! The best part is, it’s easily accessible from most places that we usually go to workout, be it running around the track surrounding the Independence Square and Racecourse or TRX next door. They too go crazy with the avocadoes, pairing it with hummus, prawn salads, tex mex dishes and classic avo on toast (a brekkie dish at Café Kumbuk). Or you could head over for a high protein bowl of Peanut Butter Granola or Beet Hummus; great to replenish the energy used up at your workout.

Kumbuk Kitchen stays open till 7:30pm on Wed/Thurs/Fri but is generally open from 8am – 5pm 7-days a week, including most holidays!

4. MILK AND HONEY

Having recently launched a new and improved menu, which we are absolutely raving about, their foods are mainly plant based and they have a huge variety of vegetarian and vegan options all of which are super affordable. They use healthy, high quality ingredients and make everything in house or through artisanal local suppliers. They also have a lovely kid’s menu which helps tremendously when traveling with the babies. We love their new fishcakes and poached egg breakfast dish – its filling, ever so tasty and totally guilt free! If you’re looking for a super healthy lunch then definitely try one of their salad bowls, our favorite is the one with spinach and sweet potato fritters – SO GOOD. Their juices and smoothies are perfectly blended and always taste fresh. Milk and Honey café is a great place to help you keep up a healthy diet throughout the week.

Heads up tho, their kitchen is only open from 9:30am – 6:30pm (all week round), so you gotta make it in time for that post workout meal if you’re an evening person.

5. THE GOOD LIFE CAFÉ

There’s nothing we crave more after a workout than a good juice and Good Life Café does that oh so well! You can expect to find plenty of pre-made cold-pressed juices in their chiller for a quick grab and go. The apple-pie juice really does taste like apple-pie without all the extra calories of course and the lemongrass and pineapple is energizing and zesty fresh. Their mango tango smoothie bowl is the perfect wholesome healthy breakfast – you can call and pre-order! One of our go to smoothies of theirs is the choco-loco which is great when you’re craving something sweet but still good for you. If you’re looking for almond milk and Greek yoghurt then you can find it at Good Life Café but best to call up and pre-order just to make sure.

They’re generally open Tue – Sun from 8am to 8pm. It’s a Good Life with Good Life, really!

How Two Girls from Sri Lanka’s Plantation Slums Went From Dropping Out of School to Passing on Their Love of Learning

 

As you drive past the lush green plantations of Hatton, known for its Ceylon tea, you can’t help but roll down your windows to smell the tea leaves wavering in the fresh air and gaze at the rolling landscape around you. You might see the smiling faces of the tea pluckers, many of whom live in crowded conditions on the estates. In spite of the beauty surrounding them and tea being one of the Sri Lanka’s most profitable cash crops, families who work on the estates are among the nation’s poorest, with one in three children classified as underweight and 40 percent of babies born with extremely low weight.

“These disadvantaged children often grow up to be disadvantaged fathers and mothers,” said Ranjani, a social mobilizer, or mentor, in Room to Read Sri Lanka’s Girls’ Education Program. “In most cases, the girls drop out of school and marry young because their families can no longer provide for them.”

Four years ago, best friends Prashanthi and Mogandashi, both raised in the “line-room” slums of Hatton’s tea estates, faced a similar fate. At 14 years old they had to drop out of school to help their families survive and didn’t have much more to look forward to than an early marriage. But what happens when girls like Prashanthi and Mogandashi are given a chance at education and the support they need to finish school?

Girls’ Education Program alumnae and best friends Prashanthi and Mogandashi walk home together. Inspired to pass on what they learned, the 18-year-olds began tutoring children living in the line-room slums.

Prashanthi’s father, a tea plucker who earned less than two dollars a day, died when she was four years old and her mother lost her ability to walk soon after. “I was a school dropout. I did not understand why we should study and I did not have the money to go to school anyway,” said Prashanthi, who is now 18. “It was important I stay at home and take care of my mother while my brother worked on the plantation.”

When Ranjani heard Prashanthi had stopped going to school she began visiting her at home. “Ranjani wouldn’t let me drop out,” said Prashanthi. “She would come to my home several days a week and just talk with me. She was persistent in the most sisterly way and her encouragement was inspiring.” In 2009 Prashanthi returned to school and joined Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program.

The program, which helps ensure girls can stay in school and complete their secondary education, provided Prashanthi with funding for transportation, pens, books, and even meals, as well as life skills education and continued support from Ranjani. Five years later Prashanthi graduated from school and is hoping to start at the university next year. “Throughout the program, Room to Read helped me realize the value of education, how it could help me help my family. It was a difficult time for me,” Prashanthi said through her tears, “but I did it!”

Prashanthi’s best friend Mogandashi also had to drop out of school when her family could no longer afford it. Mogandashi’s mother is a tea plucker and her father works as a laborer in Colombo where he struggles to earn a living for the family. “My father works very hard and we rarely get to see him,” Mogandashi said as she wiped her tears. “We barely have enough money to eat and the little money he earns he sends to us.

Just as with Prashanthi, Ranjani began visiting Mogandashi at home to convince her to return to school as a Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program participant.

Room to Read came into my life and provided the support I needed,” said Mogandashi. “My life changed.” Mogandashi is now a proud graduate of secondary school and is determined to go to university next year to become a bank manager.

In only four years, Prashanthi and Mogandashi went from being 14-year-old drop outs to the first in their families to graduate secondary school. Today they are creating a better life for their families and a better way for their communities by passing on their love of learning.

The good news is that Prashanthi and Mogandashi are far from being outliers. Educating girls has an empowering effect on their communities because girls reinvest their knowledge and income back into their families and communities, helping to bring an end to poverty for themselves and for the world.

This is why we are thankful for partners such as Café Kumbuk who are #ActiveforEducation with us! Join us. Educate girls. Make a difference.

 

SUPERFOODS FOR SUPERBODIES

Bee Pollen is made by honeybees, and is the food of the young bee. It is considered one of natures most nourishing foods as it contains nearly all nutrients required by humans. Bee-gathered pollen are rich in proteins (approximately 40% protein), free amino acids, vitamins - including B-complex, and folic acid. Bee Pollen is one ingredient we have found hard to source here in Sri Lanka; but when we travel we bring back little batches, which we use to top off our Peanut Butter Granola bowl at both Café Kumbuk and Kumbuk Kitchen.

Chia Seeds are plant proteins that contain all the essential amino acids, as well as essential fatty acids and minerals such as magnesium. For a very long time Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds to increase energy levels during hunting. We also use ‘kasa kasa’ or basil seeds, which are considered a superfood similar to chia with even more health benefits and fewer calories. We use both chia seeds and basil seeds in our Kumbuk Homemade Superseed Jars and our Kopi Fix smoothie – both available at Café Kumbuk.

Raw Cacao has more than 300 nutritional compounds and is one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any food on the planet. We use raw cacao in most of our pastry items, in our chocolate sauce that will soon be available for purchase by the jar and also in our Pick Me Up smoothie.

Coconut Water having super hydrating qualities is often loved by athletes. It’s loaded with calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, manganese, boron, molybdenum, ascorbic acid and B group vitamins – making it a fantastic electrolyte drink. Coconut water, known as ‘thambili’ in Sri Lanka, forms the base for most of our smoothies at both Café Kumbuk and Kumbuk Kitchen.

Turmeric otherwise known as ‘kaha’ here is a blood purifier and is beneficial for many different health conditions ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease to hepatitis and more. It also equalizes blood sugar levels and heals stomach cramps and indigestion. Health studies have also shown that turmeric can be three times more effective at easing pain than aspirin. We use turmeric bread in our Avo Toast breakfast dish, in our Vietnamese Fried Rice on our Saturday dinner menu and in the sauce that goes on our Pan Fried Salmon on the Café Kumbuk lunch menu.

Raw Honey is considered a holy food. In general, honey is good for the health of the throat, lungs, liver, chest and especially the blood. Honey, when used topically, is a powerful wound healer. Honey de-natures at high heat, which makes it toxic to the body. Its best to always purchase raw honey for this reason and never heat it in cooking.

Coconut Oil Vs. Palm Oil

First we must understand both products: the coconut is an important member of the family Arecacaeae (palm family); Palm oil is from the African oil palm. Coconut oil is extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconut, harvested from the coconut palm. Not to be confused with coconut oil, Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit.

Renewable Source – when coconuts are used, it is considerably easy to replace them. Coconut trees can grow in almost any kind of soil, even in sandy soils on the seashore. More so, they live and bear fruit for up to more than 60 years. It is considered a “three-generational tree” which can support a farmer, his children and his grandchildren. Coconut oil is regarded as a renewable resource, which can be grown again unlike fossil and mineral raw materials such as crude oil, coals etc. whose occurrence is limited and finite.

Healthiest oil on the planet – Many people find it hard to believe that a fatty food could be so good for you, but coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils on the planet. It consists of 90+% raw saturated fats: a rare and important building block of every cell in our human body.

AMMA Sri Lanka – mother made, naturally dyed textiles. Handcrafted in the Sri Lankan highlands.

 
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Here we talk to the couple behind AMMA Sri Lanka - about their project here in Sri Lanka and their plans for the future.

1) Hey guys, tell me a little about yourselves!

I grew up between London and Wales, thinking about it now it was the perfect balance between city and coast. Once I had the chance, I was back to London for university where I studied Textile Design at Central Saint Martins. I specialized in weaving, and spent a lot of time in the dye room experimenting with colors - dyeing yarn to use in my work. Understanding the time and dedication that goes into producing a piece of fabric has given me a new respect for how our clothes are made and the people who make them. I have always been interested in the social aspect of textiles, and how ancient skills like weaving or natural dyeing can be revived and harnessed to create sustainable employment. 

2) How did AMMA Sri Lanka come about? What made you guys move to Sri Lanka?

I first came to Sri Lanka in 2010, which massively influenced my decision to study textiles. I was really inspired by the colors, texture and vibrancy, it was the first time I thought about textiles' place in the world and how fundamental it is to both Sri Lankan heritage and also its economy. 

I have a friend who helps direct a charity called Child Action Lanka, which is based in Kandy. Once i finished university she mentioned that CAL were looking to start various social enterprises to help generate income and rely less on outside funding... and if there was anyway I could start something amongst the mothers focused on textiles that would be great! So myself and my husband visited in 2016 to see if the Sri Lankan lifestyle would work for us... and it (mostly) did!

3) Your website says 'Mother Made' so who are these mothers? Where do they live and how did you get involved with them?

Yes, the best bit! We welcomed two mothers into the workshop last week 'Priyadarshani' who's 23 and 'Chandraleka, 29. Both drop their daughters off at the CAL pre-school, then come downstairs to work with us 9.30am - 12.30am, before collecting them once school is finished. They live on the local tea estates. Its Priyadarshani's first job, but she's picking everything up really quickly and Chandraleka used to be a nurse before having her daughter. The way we work celebrates motherhood, and makes space for them to earn a fair wage and learn new skills whilst also getting quality time with their little ones. 

4) You guys got in touch with Cafe Kumbuk and asked for us to keep aside any avocado stones that we have - what do you do with the stones?

Avocado stones are a great source of natural dye, I started to experiment with them in the UK but was limited as their expensive to buy - so working with you guys is a total dream. Avocado stones are high in tannins which means they produce dyes with good color fastness, you can also use the skins but these are harder to transport and store. 

Once I've collected the stones from you, I soak them until the brown outer layer comes away - this reveals a beautiful orange/peachy color on the inside. I have found the best way to store the stones is to dry them out, this also deepens the color and richness of the dye. Once black marks start to appear i place them in a saucepan, cover with water and gently boil to release the color. Out of all the dyes we use avocado takes the most time to develop. I've also found it one of the trickiest to get consistent (I'm still working on it) as water quality and acidity plays a big role. It takes around 2 hours simmering and another hour the next day to extract the full color once this is done you can add the yarn or cloth - we tend to do this in a bucket off the heat as it saves energy but you can do either. 

If you interested in learning more about avocado dyes take a look at rebeccadesnos.com I’ve learnt pretty much everything about avocados from her! 

5) What other foods do you use to extract colour? How did you learn how to extract colour?

We use carrot tops, onion skins, tea waste and pomegranate skins plus some plants like eucalyptus, madder and chamomile, I'm always on the look out for local dye plants next on my list is marigold flowers, bracken fern and indigo. 

I learnt how to extract color at university, its very similar to making tea - the tricky bit is adapting to the changes in each plant. I regret not concentrating in chemistry because its all to do with the water PH. Lots of trial and error, even more so now we are trying to do it on a larger scale. Sometimes something just doesn’t work how you expect - but its nature, its unpredictable. 

6) What are the next steps for AMMA?

A few different things, we are working with some local brands who are interested in using naturally dyed materials in their designs this is a really exciting challenge for us and good opportunity to train our mothers up on the job. 

We also want to start developing our own range, we don't know exactly what this will look like - but we have been so encouraged by people’s reactions to the little steps we have taken so far, its great to see people valuing a more sustainable eco friendly way of dyeing.

 

KINETIC FITNESS MOVEMENT – A WORKOUT THAT WORKS.

 

I was finding it quite tricky to find a class that works for me! I wanted trainers that would keep me inspired and motivated. I also wanted a workout that would leave me feeling exhausted but also incredibly good. I found all the above in Tanuja and Hasithas Kinetic Fitness classes. I was curious to find out what her fitness motivations are and how she stays on track – which I personally find quite tough to do!

Tanuja started her career as a trainer in 2010 when she got her personal training license from Premiere Fitness in London, UK. She then went on to work with an exclusive gym called Gymbox before moving on to train artists from the TV show The X Factor (UK). She grew up in London, spent a few years in New York and is now living in Sri Lanka. We are certainly lucky to have her! Apart from fitness, if you haven’t heard her already – Tanuja is an incredible singer.

1) Tanuja were you always interested in working in the fitness industry? What inspired you to get into personal training?

I was always an athletic person and enjoyed competitive sports and sprinting. However what lead me to becoming a trainer was losing my father and brother at a young age. I hit an all time low and used physical training to help me out of what then seemed like a black hole of depression. The training literally changed my life and I decided at that point I wanted to help other people to live to their full potential. I went back to school, re educated myself and have never looked back.

2) What is the mission of Kinetic Fitness?

Our mission at Kinetic fitness is not simply helping people to get muscles and get fit.  We are trying to help people to achieve a feeling of overall wellness. We use a number of resistance training systems as well as yoga, meditation and pranayama and dietary consultation to help you to understand how these things are all connected and when used in coincidence will help you to achieve an all around feeling of wellbeing. Most importantly no matter at what point you are in life it is never too late to start and become the best version of yourself. 

3) I saw you in the studio boxing the hell out of your partner the other day haha! What is your personal favourite workout? What is effective for your body?

I personally have a number of different ways that I workout and I feel this keeps me most balanced. I try to do a little yoga and meditation everyday as this really helps me to stay focused and connected and helps to release a lot of the tightness I have, which helps me with my other training.  On certain days I lift weights, on others I do TRX training and then sometimes I love to box. 

4) They say getting fit is 80% diet and 20% exercise - do you agree? Is there anything specific one should cut out to achieve their body goals?

I agree that diet plays a huge roll but I do also feel that working out is essential not only for physical but for mental wellbeing. I personally think sugar in all its forms carbs, sweets, booze should be reduced in order to keep bodyfat low. I also don't think it is good to eat red meat in huge quantities. A lot of people are getting on this paleo diet thinking they need to eat their body weight in red meat and this makes them healthy. But I think there are a lot of health risks involved in eating in this way especially cholesterol and heat disease. I think loading up on the veggies and lean organic chicken and fish as well as beans and pulses as forms of protein are far more sustainable over your life. 

5) How do you stay motivated? On hangover days its the toughest thing in the world for me to pull myself out of bed and get to the gym - do you find yourself having days like this and how do you combat it?

I stay motivated because working out not only makes me look good but also feel good. Hangover days are tough but getting a good sweat on post drinking binge works wonders. But if you don't make it out to the gym on some days don't beat your self up. We are all human. 

6) If you're working hard to achieve your fitness goals - do you think cheat days set you back?

Cheat days don't set you back. They are essential for your physiological wellbeing. If you were constantly not allowing yourself to eat the things you love you will end up falling off the wagon and gorging yourself. If you eat healthily the majority of the time and allow yourself a day where you eat what you want you are more likely to stay on track and sustain it over your life. But don't cheat a little every day. Pick a day and stick to it.

7) Whats one piece of advice you could give to women who are not happy with their body shape and size?

The one thing I would say to anyone who is unhappy with their body is change it. Your muscles and body are dumb. You are in control and as soon as you make the decision to start working out and eating properly your body composition will change. If you want some advice on how to do that then come to Kinetic fitness. 

8) Recently you did your Quantum Yoga training - what exactly is it and how does it differ to other forms?

I recently did the quantum yoga teacher training course. Quantum yoga is different because it uses Ayurvedic assessment to help you through your practice. I first help you determine your dominant dosha (body/mind composition). In quantum yoga there are certain sequences that help bring the doshas into balance. 

There are a number of classes daily at The Kinetic Studio inside the Prana Lounge. You can get updates about the classes by checking their website at kineticfitnessmovement.com or @kineticfitmove on Instagram as well as pranalounge.lk. They’ve got plenty of new fun classes starting in May like THUMP (boxing class) and Quantum Yoga! See you guys there.