Lets be breast friends!

Disclaimer 1: There is no need to scandalize the title of this post (or go all “haayey Allah!”) since it is not intended to objectify any part of a woman’s body. The aim is to raise awareness about the dreaded C-word when used in conjunction with breasts…Cancer.

breast friends - 1

October is marked as Breast Cancer Awareness month in various parts of the world. Fundraisers, events and health campaigns are organized to raise awareness about the disease which kills more than 40,000 women every year, in US alone[1]. Having said that, when detected and diagnosed at an early stage, breast cancer patients have a 5-year survival rate ranging between 93% – 100%[2]. Therefore, early detection and diagnosis is the key to fighting a successful battle and ensuring a better quality of life.

Being in my 30s, coming across these stats was highly disturbing for me. However, just fretting over the fact that I could turn into a stat one day, would not solve the problem. Therefore, this year I genuinely decided to think pink and be a good breast friend. Mind you, this doesn’t involve purchasing and sporting a pink ribbon or getting trapped into commercialization of this terrible disease. It quite literally involves walking the talk. Lets discuss.

How to be a good breast friend?

breast friends infographic - 2
Content, concept and design by My Spoonful Of Fun

Critical Illness Insurance 101

Disclaimer 2: Having worked a good number of years in insurance industry, I have gained a fair knowledge of how critical illness plans work. That being said, the plans listed below are a mere recommendation. Kindly do your own due diligence if you intend to get enrolled in any of them.  You would notice that my recommendations are limited to certain geographies. That’s because I have lived there at some point in time or am currently living there.

Different kinds of illnesses are covered under critical illness insurance plans. Make sure that the one you opt for has breast cancer covered. These plans generally give a lump sum cash amount on diagnosis of cancer. The patient decides if he/she wants to spend it on chemo, surgery, medical tourism, etc.

The list of critical illness insurance plans below will give you a head start on your search for the perfect plan that works best for you.

United Arab Emirates: WomenCare plan offered by Commercial Bank of Dubai and Critical Illness plans offered by Mashreq Bank and MetLife UAE.

Pakistan: Secure Critical Illness Plan by Jubilee Life and Critical Insurance Cover by EFU Life Assurance.

United States: Check with your insurance provider if your existing coverage covers breast cancer treatment. If you are a US citizen or a green card holder, you might want to consider Critical Illness Insurance by Liberty Mutual or plans similar to it.

Having a Critical illness insurance cover ensures that the financial aspect of breast cancer treatment is taken care off. Even if you never get to use this coverage, there is no price tag attached to having a peace of mind.

Final Thoughts 

Our success in reducing the number of deaths from this disease does not depend on the pink ribbons (or a lack thereof) on our shirts. It depends on making a concerted effort towards supporting research, prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

Since charity begins at home, be mindful of your own bodily changes first. And speak up about breast cancer. Please. Talk to your friends, family members, colleagues and domestic helpers (if any) and educate them. Set a date with your bestie to get a screening done together.

In most societies, it is still a taboo to raise voice about women’s health issues. When we are not ready to acknowledge a problem, how do we expect to find a solution for it?

Lastly, I would like to take a moment to honor all those beautiful women who lost their lives fighting this terrible disease; and to all those who warriored on and came out of it stronger. If you (the reader) are currently battling this disease or have a loved one who is, may the force be with you. Sending prayers and strength your way.

Here’s to being good breast friends!

P.s: If you liked this post, please feel free to share. If it drives even one person to get themselves screened, or make a donation towards this cause, you have done your bit in raising awareness. After all, little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Thanks.

Article Resources:
[1]NationalBreastCancer.org
[2]Cancer.net

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Nutella Ferrero Cake – Decadent and delightful

Nutella Ferrero Cake - 1

“The measuring and mixing always smoothed out her thinking processes – nothing was as calming as creaming butter – and when the kitchen was warm from the oven overheating and the smell of baking chocolate, she took final stock of where she’d been and where she was going. Everything was fine.”
– Jennifer Crusie

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they hit the pause button for a while. To slow down momentarily and think about the direction they are headed to, to put their priorities back in order, to finish off things left half-done somewhere along the way and to re-assess realities in a new light.

A few days back when I had fallen ill and my whole body was sore with fever, while laying on bed I realized something important. Realized what it is that really makes my world go round. And that’s when it hit me how ungrateful I had been all along. How utterly impervious to all the blessings that had been bestowed upon by the Big Boss up above. It was a much needed self-reminder that at the end of the day all that matters is that you are healthy (for the most part), have the means to live a decent life and are surrounded by your loved ones and friends. In the big picture, nothing else matters. Nothing does.

Nutella Ferrero Cake - 2

I made this Nutella Ferrero Cake for the first time a few months back on Stud’s birthday. Then I made it for a friend’s baby shower and got rave reviews. At the risk of sounding pretentious, ahem, reviews such as “this is the best chocolate flavored cake I’ve ever had”, “so soft, moist and yummy”, “never had a better nutella dessert than this”; the adulation went on and on. Undoubtedly, this versatile cake really boasts double the goodness of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher both.

Coming to the cake, I added a secret ingredient in the batter to give the sponge its signature decadent chocolate flavor. That secret ingredient is ground coffee (Keep it to yourself, ok?). The icing is not your run-of-the-mill nutella buttercream either. I used cream cheese and sour cream to give it a light, melt-in-the-mouth texture. And finally there’s ganache and Ferrero topping, which takes the yum index of this Nutella Ferrero Cake to the next level.

And you know the best part? It is very easy to put together the chocolate sponge (in a single bowl) as well as the icing. After all, there’s beauty in simplicity. And this cake is beautiful, simple and mouth-watering..all at the same time. So here it is, on popular demand: recipe of the ever-so-delicious Nutella Ferrero Cake.

You are welcome 😉

Nutella Ferrero Cake

Ingredients:
Cake
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/8 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (or take a cup with 4 oz. (or 1/2 cup) capacity, fill it with 1/2 tbsp vinegar and fill remaining cup with whole milk)
1/2 cup oil
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp ground coffee dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water (I used Nescafe instant coffee)

Icing
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup Nutella spread
1 1/2 to 2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cream cheese (I used Philadelphia cream cheese)
1/4 cup sour cream

Ganache
6 oz. (or 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup) semi sweet chocolate chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Decoration
8 to 10 Ferrero Rocher chocolates
Sprinkles

Method:
Preheat oven to 150C (300F). Prepare two 8 inch cake pans by lining it with parchment paper at the base and greasing the sides.

Cake
Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl. Whisk them together.
Add buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla and coffee-water mixture to the dry ingredients and mix together (I used my hand blender to do the mixing until the batter came together)
Divide the batter in half and pour it in the prepared pans.
Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out ‘almost’ clean. My oven took around 30-35 minutes.
Let it cool to room temperature before handling it further.

Icing
In the meantime, prepare icing.
Beat butter, Nutella spread, cream cheese and sour cream together.
Gradually add icing sugar and mix until smooth. If you feel that the icing is too stiff, you might want to add a tablespoon or two of milk to loosen it a bit.

Ganache
*Must be prepared once you are done icing the cake*
Place chocolate chips in a glass bowl.
Microwave heavy cream for 1.5 minutes or until hot.
Pour it over chocolate chips and whisk until loose.
Cover bowl and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it starts to thicken a bit.

Assembly:
Remove the cake domes with a serrated knife.
Place 2 tbsp icing on the cake board.
Place first layer of cake on it. Pour half of the icing and spread evenly.
Place second layer of cake and pour remaining icing on top. Spread it smoothly with an offset spatula.
Prepare ganache and pour on top of the icing layer.
Once the ganache firms up, decorate it with Ferrero Rochers and sprinkles and dig in!

Note:
– If you want to make this cake taller, you can double the recipe and use 4 8-inch pans.
– This recipe was a result of inspiration from multiple bakers, bloggers and my own imagination, therefore I am unable to give credit to any one person here

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