One of the things I enjoy about living in Singapore is the abundance of new restaurants and food options – from local delights to exotic cuisines, there’s always something new to try. But of course,
being a health nut like myself, the real challenge in discovering good food, is finding GOOD, HEALTHY FOOD.
So I heard about this Mediterranean joint that just opened a second outlet in Singapore after the success of its first one at Marina Bay Sands. Pita Pan is spreading the message of healthy, vegetarian eating, through Mediterranean inspired food. The new outlet at Marina Square opened its doors in August with new items added to the menu further increasing the array of healthy options available.
Presented in a casual bistro style, you can create your own healthy pita pockets choosing from a selection of up to 35 salads and sauces. The wholesome pita pockets can be enjoyed while on the go or at either of the 60-seater bistro, located conveniently in the city for busy executives.
As I wasn’t able to come for their food tasting, Pita Pan had thoughtfully pre-packed lunch and delivered it straight to my home so I can have a taste of what they had to offer before checking out restaurant itself.
One my favorite treats is a piping hot batch of sweet potato fries. Now we’ve all heard that sweet potatoes are somewhat healthier than white potatoes. How much healthier? The main difference depends on the way it is cooked, of course. Nutritionally, sweet potatoes have more soluble fiber and its carbs have a lower glycemic index compared to white potatoes.
The sweet potato fries served at Pita Pan was fried so it’s not exactly a healthy choice if you’re trying to watch your waist. But if you’re in for a treat, I’d say it was worth the calories!
A favourite at Pita Pan are the “pockets”. Full pocket or half pocket, you can enjoy crispy, savory green, red or plain chickpea falafels, wrapped in your choice of freshly baked pita bread in plain, wholemeal, za’atar or sumac and topped with one or more of their signature salads and sauces.
Don’t you hate it when you get takeout and the food gets all soggy? Surprisingly, the food stayed fresh and the broccoli was nice and crunchy. I was almost full by the time I finished the half whole wheat pita pocket with falafel and sweet potato fries, but the spicy red shashuka looked too good to save for later. So I took a pinch of the pita bread and dipped it in the red shashuka. It was pretty spicy, but really good!
A great place to check out if you’re looking for a quick, healthy meal in the city center. It’s good to have a full vegetarian meal at least once a week, don’t you think? #mearfreemondays
Pita Pan @ Marina Bay Sands
L1-87, Bay Level br, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands,2 Bay Avenue, Singapore 018972
Pita Pan @ Marina Square, 6 Raffles Blvd Marina Square 02-183A
(if you’re coming from City Hall MRT, exit at Marina Square and walk towards One Raffles Link. Take the escalator up two floors from the MRT to the second floor. You will find Pita Pan 2 just across the connecting bridge).
Operating Hours – Sun – Thu 11am to 11pm / Fri and Sat 11am to 12midnight
When life gets too hectic in the city center, plan an escape and go on a little island getaway. Take the time to relax your mind and heal your soul. Even if it’s just for the weekend…
A couple of weeks ago, I ventured to Koh Samui for the first time and did a 3-day yoga retreat at Vikasa. Vikasa Yoga Retreat is set in a spectacular ocean cliff side environment which gives you breathtaking sea-views throughout the resort, be it from the yoga salas, the rooms, the infinity pool or the restaurant.
Although Mother Nature doesn’t always follow the rules, Southeast Asia weather is somewhat predictable with two distinct seasons: wet and dry. I was aware that the ‘wet season’ in Koh Samui falls around mid-October to mid-December, but I wasn’t going to let a little rain dampen my spirits. I couldn’t spend another weekend in a concrete jungle.
Charlie and I booked our tickets on Bangkok Air and arrived in Samui on a Friday night. It started to pour just as we were leaving the airport but we had already planned to spend the night in anyway. Rainy weather makes staying in on a Friday night all the more cozy!
Much to our surprise, when we arrived in our room, we were welcomed with fresh fruits, coconut drinks and a bottle of white wine. A thoughtful complimentary gift from Vadim, who had invited us to stay at Vikasa.
The next morning at 9am, I attended the Hatha Flow yoga class conducted by Betti. The word Hatha means willful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your posture, muscles and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many energy channels of the body so that energy can flow freely.
Hatha is also translated as “Ha” means Sun and “tha” meaning Moon. This refers to the balance of masculine and feminine aspect within all of us. Hatha Yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility, reflected in our minds as well, making us more calm and kind to others. Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation, or evolution. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in each moment.
I had never practiced yoga outdoors and I must say, the sound of the ocean made the whole experience truly enjoyable. The Hatha Flow class helped me tremendously with stress, relaxation, anxiety and overall well-being.
After class, I headed to the Vikasa Restaurant for a hearty breakfast with a breathtaking view of Samui. The organic restaurant serve a combination of vegan-friendly, international, fusion, western, raw, Thai as well as non-vegetarian dishes.
I love oats for breakfast. Maybe it has got to do with a happy childhood memory I have of my granddad who used to make me Quaker oats when I spent weekends in his home. The wholesome oats served at restaurant had raisins and honey in it, sweet and delicious!
It rained again on Saturday afternoon. In fact, it was storming! We took the time for ourselves and talked about subjects that were difficult to deal with at the time. We opened up to each other about childhood memories and things that really affected us in our lives. When faced with pressure (be with work or personal) and stress, we tend to supress certain thoughts and emotions. This can really affect our behavior and actions in the present. Perhaps it was the yoga session that morning that really inspired me, but I felt clarity that day. I was in the moment. It was a beautiful day. Stormy seas, but calm underwater.
* * * * *
I woke up the next day to blue skies and serenity. It was almost as if it never rained. I could say that day was destined to be sunny so at least I got to see the glorious sun and the beauty of Koh Samui just before we had to leave.
I tried meditation for the first time. There’s a free meditation and pranayama session every morning from 8am to 8.40am. It was a perfect way to get in the right frame of mind for the 9am yoga class. The class I attended was conducted by Sergio.
Meditation isn’t just about relaxing or sitting there and zoning out.
It’s really concentrating on emptying your mind and stopping it from running. That’s not easy when we’re trained to constantly be multitasking. Doing nothing is harder than it seems.
When your mind is relaxed, you can take in information with less distortion. You’re connected to your emotions, but rather than being overwhelmed or randomized, it’s more like using your emotions as input. When your mind is ready, you are responsive. You are able to easily see the situation and respond with skill instead of react out of fear or anxiety. When your mind is resourceful, you are able to easily think the thoughts that serve you. Your creative mind is ready to solve problems with you instead of work against you
After the meditation class, I headed to the other yoga sala located nearer to my room,next to the swimming pool.
The Vinyasa Flow class was also conducted by Sergio. A mixture of slow, dynamic asana, specific sequences performed with short hold times, typically for 1 or 2 breathing cycles followed by a series of asanas with special breathing awareness techniques and a longer hold 5-7 breathing cycles).
This class was milder in terms of physical effort but the subtle energetic effects can be deeply felt if you’re able to follow the instructions and precise breathing. The session went on for a little over an hour and by the end of it I was hungry for some breakfast!
A trip to Koh Samui wouldn’t be complete without visiting the spa. The Vikasa Ocean Spa offers a range of luxurious services that will leave you feeling relaxed and refresh. They specialize in authentic Thai massage as well as Swedish and Indian massage styles. The spa is open air and constructed on a natural ocean cliff side.
It was a truly unique experience to get a massage in the open air that allows fresh breeze to flow and the sound of the waves just makes you feel at ease. We did the Swedish massage, which was relaxing but also revitalizing.
I wished we had more time to explore Koh Samui Samui. However, I found comfort in knowing that I will definitely be back soon. After checking out, we caught up with Vadim and Kosta for lunch at W Hotel.
Konstantin ‘Kosta’ Miachin and his pioneering brand of yoga called Vikasa, represent the ‘evolution of yoga’. His practice and teachings have brought him to all corners of the world. Vikasa yoga center is dedicated to the study of yoga, holistic health and consciousness evolution.
The vision for Vikasa yoga was born on Koh Samui with Kosta’s realization that the deeper dimension of yoga is a spiritual journey and a conscious evolution of the individual. Seeing this as the ultimate human endeavor, he committed his life to supporting others on this path.
Thank you for inviting us to stay at Vikasa. The yoga and meditation classes were inspiring, and as mentioned in my interview for Livefitter and Shape magazine, I plan to take up a yoga teacher training course next year. Hopefully this brings me back to Vikasa. I have a good feeling it will!
Do you love yoga?
Would you like to take your practice to the next level?
Would you like to have a freedom of choice?
Are you ready to set yourself free?
Do you want to be a yoga teacher?
If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, then you are ready to go deeper into your practice and experience of Yoga. Vikasa is holding an online contest which offers 1-month Yoga Teacher Training in Koh Samui for the winner. Check out the website for contest details.