THE COMMUNAL TABLE

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Although fairly novel in Sri Lanka, communal dining or the concept of sharing a table at an establishment is currently trending in many parts of the world. A practice that was most common during the French Revolution has received a facelift lately with many budding eateries following suit; however, it has earned a fair amount of criticism. Café Kumbuk’s communal table has received both criticism and praise; but to us it is the absolute heart of the café.

When conceptualizing the café, we had a few main concerns – we didn’t just want to create a café, we wanted to come up with a space where people could vibe and connect with each other. This was a mammoth task considering the square footage we were working with and the one solution that was almost obvious was a communal table. Although hunting for a specimen to fit our milieu was a nightmare, we stumbled upon the best fit for us at an antique warehouse. We had to fill it in and do a little DIY before we could place it in the café, but it fits right into our cosy space, so it was worth it. This dining situation not only livens up the environment and gives Kumbuk its distinct look, but is also economical for a small business like ours. We have been able to do more covers in the same space with the presence of the large table. These same numbers would have been highly unlikely had we placed several smaller tables down the middle instead.

Although communal dining has been at the brunt of many smear campaigns by many fine dining aficionados, we were determined to build our community café around this very table. The communal table has been a hotspot for interactions since day one; friendships have transpired between our regulars seated around the table; travellers in passing have had many an exchange with their fellow patrons around the same table too. In a culture that focuses more on the food theatrics (stemming from Benihanas, that coincidentally also started the communal dining experience in the 80s) than the dining experience itself, the negativity regarding communal dining is at a minimal. It is especially true of cafes and casual dining spots. After all, I would rather share a table and experience the food than wait an unascertained amount of time for a table.

Although mostly positive, we do get a fair share of puzzled or disgruntled looks when guests have been seated at the long table. We’ve come to realize that more than being displeased at having to share a table, it is the intimidation of having another party staring at you while you silently chomp away that makes people shy away from it. As a rule of thumb, remember that regular dinner party etiquette applies – acknowledge each other with a simple Hello or a nod of your head, take cues from their body language and dive in! You might pick up a few nifty tips and tricks in exploring the island, food and music! Sometimes a communal table can also be a great workstation to set up laptop and get alone time together. With the foodie culture rapidly developing, people also enjoy meeting and getting to know others like themselves that enjoy fine foods, good coffee and a pleasing aesthetic. In these instances the communal tables have brought about many networking opportunities for such individuals too. However, if you’re still not phased by this new and modern gimmick that restaurants are using these days, give it a shot – unless you’ve experienced it, you might not be able to acknowledge it and give it the recognition it deserves. Luckily for you, Café Kumbuk is a chilled out spot to trial this out for the first time!

The Movement

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We’ve heard and seen a lot of The Movement over the past few months and almost everyone we know seem to have gone there at least once. Give us a bit of background on The Movement.

Well we've all been really interested in working out since we left high school, and sports weren't really an option in university. We were quite unsuccessful at working out and never really made any substantial 'gains' for years because we didn't have the basics of eating and lifting down. Once we figured that out we made much more consistent progress, and wanted to pass that on. We always wanted to do something in this space and we started talking about it seriously last year. Thankfully it has worked out great so far!

Have you guys always had a penchant for working in the Fitness Industry? What inspired you to get into training?

Well I wouldn’t say we have. One of us is a barrister; the other is an engineer and one a mathematician, by degree at least. I don't think we seriously considered working in the fitness space until well after graduating from university, mainly because we didn't have the credibility that comes from training for 10 years and all the trial and error that goes with it. What inspired us was just that. How difficult it is to get this right: in terms of making body progress. We've all been there- too skinny, working out every day and not seeing any results. Once we realized it was a lifestyle that included eating right, sleeping well and lifting with correct form - our bodies changed. That inspired us to help other people shorten this learning curve; one that most people give up on before they see results. We also wanted to help people achieve bodies they felt comfortable with in Sri Lanka WITHOUT unhealthy crash dieting, which we see a lot of, and is terrible for your body and health. The key to this is communication. Telling people the why? of something as opposed to just to the what? and the how?  We feel like we're in a good place to express this to people.

What would you say is the mission of The Movement?

Results! Not just in appearance but strength and endurance too; in a group setting that is fun, motivating and sustainable. Like I said you may see results from crash dieting to a 1000 calories a day but that is not sustainable. You will falter eventually and feel bad about yourself. We want you to see slow results, but consistently. We want you to feel good while your body is changing, and not constantly feel depleted. Fitness and aesthetics is a lifelong process, it isn't just for 3 months. You are always improving and changing, so thinking about it in a narrow sense and burning out fast seems futile to us. We want to make this a part of your lifestyle.

You guys follow an alternating mix of cardio and weights training at The Movement, would you say that this is the most effective for a modern day busybody lifestyle?

For sure! We do tweak it for different body types and goals though. For example if someone is trying to gain weight they won't do as much cardio. But in general a combination of both is best for appearance and fitness levels. People sometime don't realise that lifting weights at a high intensity is more cardio than actual cardio like running. Weight training has so many minor and ignored benefits like keeping our skin tight, or improving circulation. Also working out in short intense bursts is obviously the most time effective way to train, and because our work outs always change, hopefully that stops boredom from setting in. I can’t stress this enough - you have to enjoy your work outs  to see tangible result! Same with your diet. 

What else would you say apart from exercise and working out regularly that contributes to getting fit?

Your diet of course! I'm sure you've read that it's more about diet than what you do in the gym. That is 100% true. We have the different struggle to most. We find it hard to gain weight, so we have to keep eating food even when we don't feel like it sometimes or are pressed for time. There is always that pressure to have your fifth meal, you know. In the same way if you are looking to lose weight and tone up you really have to strike the right macro nutrient balance between consuming enough protein to help your body repair, healthy fats; and carbs, and being in a healthy caloric deficit at the same time. To be honest, it’s much easier to eat healthy now in Colombo, great healthier restaurants coming up.

After a late night or a long day at work, it takes a lot of willpower to get myself to the gym, how do you stay motivated?

First have a coffee. Second, think about how much worse you'll feel knowing you didn’t work out. There is a crazy feeling of satisfaction knowing you made it to the gym even though you didn’t feel like it and killed your workout. We've all had that endorphin rush post work out, and you’ll end up having a really productive day. We all have a body goal. Keep that in mind and work towards it constantly. What would –your insert body goal name– do? They'd go work out!

Do you thing age is a limiting factor when it comes to getting in an intense and effective workout? Is The Movement geared towards a specific age group?

Age can be a limiting factor if you have injuries or certain conditions. But if you are a healthy older person there is no reason why you can’t do our work outs or any work outs. Obviously we will try and tailor our circuits a little better when there are older people in the class. There are certain exercises (mainly our more intense cardio) that may be unsuitable for older people, but you will be surprised how ridiculously fast some of them progress. One of our oldest clients couldn't do a squat when she first joined but now that she is much stronger and slimmer; she squats deeper, and breezes through the workout that 21 year olds can't complete. It's just a question of sticking with it and being safe and measured in your approach. Obviously don't go straight into doing 60 seconds of burpees on your first day, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try a couple. Once the pounds melt off you'll see how much better your knees and achy joints feel!

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s not happy with their body shape or size?

Make a change. Don't plan it. Don't procrastinate on it. Just do it today!! In this day and age of the internet every bit of motivation and information is at your finger tips. You have no excuse.  

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.