Category Archives: Health

Preparing for a Healthy Ramadan

As we get ready to welcome Ramadan, it is important to remember that the fasting experience has positive effects on our spirituality as well as our physical health. To maximize the health benefits offered by fasting, we should plan our Ramadan meals well and watch what we eat. Below are our tips and tricks for preparing for Ramadan, and we also have details of a fantastic contest, brought to you by Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills.

superstoreHealthy ideas for Suhoor

Ramadan consists of two primary meals, Suhoor and Iftar. Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, should be a wholesome meal that is filling and provides us with energy to get through the day. It helps to include slow digesting foods in Suhoor. Some healthy choices are barley, wheat, oats, beans, lentils, etc. These can be prepared in advance as soups or cereals to save time. You also need to stay hydrated during the day. Having milk and yogurt during Suhoor will help to curb your thirst while you are fasting. You can have yogurt with fruit and granola and also prepare milkshakes or smoothies for Suhoor. We have found that Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills are one-stop shops that are committed to catering to Canadian Muslims’ needs, making it easier for us to grocery shop during the month of Ramadan.

 

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Healthy ideas for Iftar

Iftar is the meal at the end of your fast. Your body needs immediate nourishment at this time. It is best to start your meal with dates as is the sunnah of the Prophet. Dates are extremely nutritious and refreshing. Eating fruits is also important as they replenish important vitamins and nutrients in your body to help you get through the hot summer. Other healthy foods to include in Iftar are fruits such as berries, melons and citrus fruits; vegetables such as olives, onions, cucumbers and pulses such as lentils. Some ways of having them are fruits salads, tomato and lettuce salads and lentil soups. These foods are good to have as they revitalize, nourish and hydrate you. It is also advisable to include healthy proteins such as grilled fish and Chicken in your Iftar meal. Remember not to over eat as it is unhealthy and may lead to indigestion.

Shopping for Ramadan

Prepare for Ramadan by stocking up on the foods you will be consuming every day. Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills – your one-stop grocery stores for Ramadan – offer a great variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. They also stock a variety of Zabeeha by hand options from Sufra. Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills are ideal grocery stores to do your complete shopping for Ramadan. The best thing about them is that you can get good quality food at low prices

Sufra Whole Chicken

Giveaway

To be in with a chance to win a $50 gift card to keep and another to give to a friend, we ask readers to share a social post explaining how a friend could benefit from our Ramadan tips and tricks (e.g. My friend @xxxxx has two little ones at home. I hope a gift from @RCSS @nofrillsCA and @MuslimMomsCa makes #Ramadan snack prep simpler for her!).  We look forward to receiving your entries, and we wish you all a successful Ramadan!

Healthy Easy Snacks For Toddlers

By: Marzia Shamsi

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 From the time I became a mother for the first time I have been very particular about what I ate while I breast fed my kids to what I fed them when they were young to now at ages 8 & 4. Both my kids started off with solids from 4 month on wards. Their diets included little portions from poached eggs,poultry,fish,fruits,vegetables,puddings & rice all boiled & mashed till the time they fully developed their tastes being able to decide their likes & dislikes. A lot of new parents are normally concerned &  reluctant to start off with solids. My advice to them would be we must understand that from the ages of 4 and 6 months, most babies are developmentally ready to get their first taste of solid foods. At this point, they lose the extrusion reflex that is beneficial for sucking a breast or bottle but can shove a spoonful of baby cereal right back out. It is very important for us to note that its the initial stages when they develop different tastes & textures slowly & gradually until they have entered the toddler phase. It is very important to balance their nutritional requirements since they need a little bit of everything  as they are crawling, learning to walk or already walking, running, playing, tripping & at the same time teething. There’s a lot going on in the little body. To balance it all the body requires a lot of energy .

When talking about different nutritional elements in the body fats have a pretty bad reputation, but it’s actually an essential part of every cell in your body. Dietary fat is a concentrated source of energy that’s necessary in a young child’s diet to meet those needs. Babies naturally get more fat because breast milk and formula are higher in fat. So when a child starts to eat more solid food and drink less breast milk or formula, the composition of her diet begins to change to a more balanced ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It’s all about balancing. I have designed few healthy & easy snack recipes for your toddlers that I hope you all will enjoy!

 Creamy Potato & Carrot Croquettes

These potato & carrot croquettes are a slightly fancier version of the potato pancakes. This recipe can be incorporated with shredded chicken or other soft easily digestible veggies too.  All-time favorites with my kids when they were little. Easy to carry around and quiet filling almost replaces a meal than a snack.

  • 1.5 lbs potatoes (about 5 medium potatoes), peeled
  • 1lbs of Carrots peeled
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 oz. package of Cabot cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • Toppings: ketchup and parsley

 

Instructions:

  1. Boil potatoes & carrots  in water until tender, about 30-40 minutes depending on the size.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Mash both vegetables with a fork and add up to 1/4 cup of water if needed to make them stick together a bit more. Add the grated cheese, salt and pepper, and mix to incorporate completely.
  4. Form the potato and cheese mixture into 12 croquettes (these will be large but you can also make them smaller.
  5. Coat each croquette in flour, dip into the egg mixture, and cover in breadcrumbs.
  6. Place the croquettes on a baking sheet and generously spray each croquette with cooking spray.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and cheese begins to bubble out

 

Home Style Chicken Nuggets

I have been an anti towards frozen & processed foods  for a long time now. And after learning about its health risks in details at my culinary school it has helped me work harder towards creating home cooked snacks even more. This easy home style chicken nuggets is a favourites among toddlers & little kids

  •  1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1/2 cup (45g) bread crumbs
  • 1 (about 200g) chicken breast fillet, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 1 small (about 290g)  potato, peeled, cut into 1cm-thick slices
  • Salt & white pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • olive oil spray

 Instructions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 200c. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper.
  2.  Place the egg and bread crumbs in separate bowls. Marinate the chicken for half n hr with garlic powder , salt & pepper Dip a piece of chicken into the egg then in the bread crumbs, tossing to coat. Place on 1 prepared tray.
  3.  Use a 4cm-diameter star pastry cutter to cut stars from the potato slices. You can use any shape cutter you like.  Place on the remaining tray.
  4.  Lightly spray the chicken and potato with olive oil spray. Bake the potato for 10 minutes first then add the chicken and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the nuggets are cooked through and the potatoes is tender. Serve with your homemade dipping or tomato ketchup.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Roll Ups

Kids normally get bored easily especially when it comes to eating bread, butter & cheese so I thought why not make it more exciting for them.This  is a standard cream cheese roll ups recipe favourite among toddlers easy to digest &  appetizing in its own unique way.

  • 20 slices      white bread, crusts removed
  • 8 oz      package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large      egg
  • 1 cup      sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2      teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup      butter, melted

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven      to 350. Roll out bread slices with a rolling pin until flattened; arrange      on work surface.
  2. Beat      together cream cheese, egg and 1/4 cup sugar. Combine remaining 3/4 cup      sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl or pie plate
  3. Divide      cream cheese mixture onto bread, spreading about 1 level tablespoon on      each. Roll up bread to enclose filling.
  4. Brush      rolls all over with butter and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Arrange on      prepared baking sheets. (To make ahead, prepare to this step and cover      baking sheets with aluminum foil. Freeze for up to a week. Do not thaw  rollups before baking.)  Bake until the rollups begin to puff, 15 to      18 minutes. Serve warm.

Hope these easy snack recipes will make their way into your kitchens & into those little belly’s  leaving you with smiling faces & happy hearts.

About the Author:

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother to two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, a Canadian resident originally from India. A professional chef out of house while at home her first and last name is Mom. An amateur blogger who’s just started out, Marzia loves to share her thoughts and knowledge and dreams of owning her own restaurant some day.

 

How to Survive the Winter Blues

 By: Elaf Salim

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It is very common to experience low energy levels during the winter season. It usually stems from sensitivity to the lack of sunlight in the winter’s “shorter” days which disrupts our internal body clock. Your mood may become cold and dark when your surroundings are dark and bleak. Especially for moms, it sometimes borders on a mild depression and they can feel down and unhappy. You know the feeling but here are a few suggestions to lift up your energy levels and help you survive the winter slump:

 1-      Enjoy Sunrise and Sunset

Despite the fact that shorter days are the main biological cause of the winter blues, you can find a blessing in disguise. You can enjoy watching the gorgeous sunrise and sunset every day. Watching sunrise and sunset and reflecting on nature’s beauty is so uplifting. Just remind yourself to look at the sky and notice the beauty around you.

2-      Drink plenty of water

Drinking enough water is so vital to lifting your energy levels. Replace coffee and sodas with pure water. It will bring your body to life and rejuvenate your energy. If you want something different,try infused waters… Delicious!

3-      Get enough sleep

Don’t cheat your body and try to get enough sleep. On average adults need 8 hours of sleep every day. Otherwise, you will feel exhausted, drained and grumpy. No one likes a grumpy mommy.

4-      Get some sunshine

Take advantage of bright sunny days and go out for a walk. Dress warmly for the cold weather. Experiencing more sun will help your brain produce chemicals to fight depression and sluggishness.

5-      Move your body

Regular exercise is the best to boost your energy. You may think it will consume your energy which is already low but on the contrary, exercise actually oxygenates your blood and fills your body with more energy.  Move around, jump up and down and stretch every now and then. Don’t surrender to the couch. The is a great way to get your kids moving too!

 6-      Eat high energy foods

Avoid the fast burning foods that your body quickly turns into sugar and are void of nutrition such as white starches and sugars. Instead, eat more greens and low burning carbs such as sweet potatoes and brown rice. Experiment with going gluten free for a while. Eliminating wheat from your diet drastically increases your energy levels (tested and proven by me). Eat smaller meals more frequently and try to enjoy the cooking process of healthy colorful snacks.

7-      Plan family nights

Take advantage of the extra time you have in winter to plan family fun nights. Watch some movies, play games and enjoy the company of your children and family members. Listen to uplifting music and have fun.

 8-      Indulge in learning and reflection

Consider spending some time reading books in bed every night. Allow yourself some home relaxing time where you get to enjoy solitude and indulge in self-reflection.

 9-      Think positively

Positive thoughts replenish your energy. Train your mind to think positively and be hopeful. Shift your perspective to the brighter side of everything. There is nothing better than praying and meditation to help you gain control over your thoughts. This will ultimately change your life.

What tips do you have for beating the winter blues? 

About the Author:  Elaf Selim is a Software Engineer, a Jewelry designer, a blogger and a Mom. She is the owner of SkiesAndSparkles.com, a handmade artisan jewelry shop. She loves photography, writing, historical architectures and nature in all forms.

Loneliness in a New Country; How to Cope Happily

By Saman Sayed

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“It’s too cold here, life is hard, I miss my family, I want to move back” , are the cries of most women when they first move to Canada. The change in culture, climate and lifestyle is hard to accept when you’re doing it alone.  Luckily Canada is home to people from all walks of life, so you’re bound to find the “comfortable fit”  of friends. Of course missing family and friends back home is inevitable, and certainly they cannot be replaced, but now it’s time to make new memories with some new friends. Here are a few ways for you to be the new social bug in town.

  • Take your little ones to the government funded mommy and toddler programs, like those held at the Public Libraries, Readiness and Early Childhood centers. You are sure to find a group of mommies who face the same daily struggles you do with kids.

  • Volunteer at your children’s school, the nearby mosque, hospital, or women’s center.

  • Join an activity , or register your kids for the amazing recreational sports programs offered at the community center. There are many mom n’ tot programs too.

  • Facebook has it all – from groups of Muslim mommies, to strong Muslim entrepreneur sisters

  • If the time is right, register at an educational institute for further education. No better place to make friends than school!

  • Attend to local community festivities such as the Eid dinners, masjid potlucks, or block parties.

  • Share your own culture and traditions with your community. Also, encourage your children to tell their friends and classmates about their favourite memories of their home country.

  • Keep in touch with friends and family back home. We have so many ways to make those thousands of kilometers feel much smaller. No matter the time difference you can find a few moments a day or week to send a message, a quick video or have a short chat with the ones you miss most.

There are many ways to cope with the sudden loneliness if you are willing. Canada is full of beautiful places to visit, go out, explore with your new friends and send some pictures of your new memories back home to loved ones!

About the Author

Saman Sayed is a mother of two kids. She also blogs about traveling with kids:  www.teenytravelers.wordpress.com

Children with Special Needs; Finding the Support You Need

By Nadia Ali

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Immigrating to a new country can be a tough experience and more so when considering the needs of children with physical and developmental delays or disabilities. There are numerous programs and sources of funding available to improve the quality of life of disabled children however it is a tough experience to find all the resources available.

The first step would be to select a family doctor and get the child registered. Provide all past records and reports to the doctor. Depending on the disability / delay your child is experiencing, your doctor will refer you to a specialist for detailed testing and diagnosis. School-aged children with learning disabilities, speech impairment, ADHD, dyslexia, etc. who have had no diagnosis earlier, are identified by teachers when they struggle academically and referred to the school speech therapist or school psychologist for diagnosis.  

Funding programs vary between provinces; each province has different programs geared towards helping parents who have one or more children with disabilities. For example; in Ontario, the provincial programs are Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD), Special Services at Home (SSAH) and Provincial Assistive Devices Program (ADP). Application forms can be downloaded from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services website.

 

Children with delays / disabilities are also eligible to receive a monthly benefit in addition to Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) amount that parents receive for every child. In order to quality, a medical practitioner must certify on the prescribed form: Form 2201 – Disability Tax Credit Certificate (available on the CRA website) that the child has a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions. Ask your doctor to fill the form and send the completed signed form to your tax centre. CRA will determine whether or not you are eligible to receive the disability tax credit and the Child Disability Benefit. Both, physical as well as developmental, disabilities and delays are eligible. For July 2015 to June 2016, the CDB is approximately $2,695 per year ($224.58 per month) for each child who is eligible for the disability amount. This payment will come to you with your CCTB amount as a single check.

 

The Disability Amount Tax Credit (or the ‘Disability Amount’) is a non-refundable tax credit that can be transferred to a family member, who supplies some or all of the basic necessities of life such as food, shelter and clothing to the person. This credit provides tax relief for individuals who have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions by providing a credit against payable.  This amount is not a physical payment, like the CDB, but is a tax credit that can be used to reduce your tax / increase your refund at the time of filing taxes.

The list of medical expenses you can claim at the time of filing taxes is very long and extensive, and also includes amounts you have spent for speech therapy, physical therapy, tutoring services, talking textbooks, devices or software to help your child’s learning, etc. Please keep all receipts and submit them to your the person who will be preparing your taxes at the time of filing  to determine which ones you can claim. For financial assistance with treatment and therapy as well as costs of assistive devices, there are several agencies that help parents who may find it difficult to make ends meet. President’s Choice Children’s Charity, Jennifer Ashleigh Children charity, Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, Easter Seals, etc. are all agencies that will provide funding for those in need to help with the cost of therapies. Proof of income and cost of therapy needs to be submitted along with application. Finally be sure to reach out to other mothers whom are in similar situations as you. There are many support groups for mothers. There are many activities and programs which can help get you out meeting new families and making new friends.

About the Author

Proud mom to a six year old boy, Nadia Ali has earlier worked with Ernst & Young as an auditor. She is now a tax professional at H&R Block and is looking forward to another busy tax season.

Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden – III

By Sana Athar

Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden

This is the third and concluding part of our Gardening series and we hope that it may have helped you find your green thumb. Here are some more ‘greens’ you can grow and enjoy fresh right from your own garden!

Radish

Radishes are a hardy, cool-season vegetable that can produce many crops each season due toits rapid days to maturity. Radishes can be planted in both the spring and the fall, but growingshould be suspended in the warmer months. They are a very easy vegetable to grow.Direct sow seeds in the soil. Radishes need sun. If they are planted in too much shade—or even where neighbouring vegetable plants shade them—they put all their energy into producinglarger leaves. Plant consecutively every two weeks or so while weather is still cool for a continuous harvest ofradishes. Plan on a fall planting. You can plant radishes later than any other root crop in latesummer or early fall and still get a harvest.Radishes require well-drained soil with consistent moisture.Radishes will be ready to harvest quite rapidly, as three weeks after planting for some varieties.Do not leave in the ground long after mature stage, their condition will deteriorate quickly.

Spinach

This super-cold-hardy vegetable is a tender crop that can be planted in very early spring as wellas fall and winter.Although seedlings can be propagated indoors, it is not recommended as seedlings are difficultto transplant. Spring plantings can be made as soon as the soil can be properly worked. It’s important to seed as soon as you can to give spinach the required 6 weeks of cool weather from seeding to harvest.Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Successive plantings should bemade every couple weeks during early spring.Water the new plants well in the spring. Keep soil moist with mulching. Water regularly. Spinach can tolerate the cold; it can survive a frost and temps down to 15ºF (-9C).Keep an eye on your plants. Harvest when leaves reach desired size. Don’t wait too long toharvest, or wait for larger leaves; bitterness will set in quickly after maturity.The whole plant can be harvested at once, and cut at the base, or leaves may be picked offplants one layer at a time, giving inner layers more time to develop.

Tomato

Tomatoes are America’s favourite garden vegetable (fruit). This vine plant is fairly easy to growand will produce a bumper crop with proper care.If you’re planting seeds , you’ll want to start your seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the averagelast spring frost date. Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. It is VERY important thatyour site receives at least 6 hours of sun. Transplant after last spring frost when the soil is warm.Water well to reduce shock to the roots. Water generously for the first few days. Water wellthroughout growing season, about 2 inches per week during the summer. Keep wateringconsistent!

Leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as possible. If any fall off before they appear ripe,place them in a paper bag with the stem up and store them in a cool, dark place.Never place tomatoes on a sunny windowsill to ripen; they may rot before they are ripe!The perfect tomato for picking will be firm and very red in color, regardless of size, with perhaps some yellow remaining around the stem. A ripe tomato will be only slightly soft.If your tomato plant still has fruit when the first hard frost threatens, pull up the entire plant andhang it upside down in the basement or garage. Pick tomatoes as they redden.Never refrigerate fresh tomatoes. Doing so spoils the flavor and texture that make up thatgarden tomato taste.

Squash & Zucchini

Squash is a seasonal vegetable. It is very susceptible to frost and heat damage, but with proper care it will produce a bumper crop with very few plants. There are many varieties of summer squash to choose from, including zucchini.If you wish to start seeds indoors due to a short gardening season, sow 2 to 4 weeks before lastspring frost in peat pots. However, we recommend direct-seeding for squash because they donot always transplant well. If you do transplant, be very gentle with the roots.The outside planting site needs to receive full sun; the soil should be moist and well-drained, but not soggy.For all type of squash, frequent and consistent watering is recommended. Water most diligently when fruits form and throughout their growth period. Water deeply once a week, applying atleast one inch of water. Do not water shallowly; the soil needs to be moist 4 inches down.Harvest summer squash (zucchini) when small and tender for best flavour. Most varieties average 60 days to maturity, and are ready as soon as a week after flowering. Check plants everyday for new produce. Cut the gourds off the vine rather than breaking them off.

Enjoy fresh harvests and remember to share your gardening experiences with us! We look forward to hearing from you!

About the author:

Sana Athar is a stay at home mom to her three little angels. She lives in Milton, Ontario where she works on her passions: gardening and cooking for family and friends. An MBBS from Karachi, Pakistan, Sana is currently working on obtaining her license to be able to practice medicine in Canada.

Gluten Free and Fasting

By Sameera Ali

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Six months ago, while getting an adjustment at my chiropractor’s office, I  was complaining about how much pain I’m in all the time and that no matter how little I eat, I always seem to be bloated and lethargic plus losing weight is such a battle for me. After hearing me out, my chiropractor suggested I try going gluten-free for a week and see how that works! Well six months in and 15 pounds down, I’ve never felt better!

Benefits of being gluten free are numerous and immeasurable but it does come with its own set of challenges, mainly getting used to new and different flavours and letting go of wheat, and since Ramadan is here, a new challenge for me is to find filling and nutritious gluten free foods I can use for Suhoor and Iftar. The fasts will be long and time for replenishing lost energy and nutrition will be very little. You can literally call it the proverbial “race against time”!

Suhoor Tips

Here are my tips for Suhoor.

I plan to continue with Protein Smoothies/Shakes as my first meal of the day as I find them to be most filling and satisfying. Here some of my go-to Protein Shake recipes guaranteed to keep you full for 4-5 hours straight!

Banana and Date Protein Shake

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 scoop of your favourite Vanilla flavoured protein powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk/plain milk
  • 2 dates
  • 1/2 cup ice

Directions

Blend everything together and enjoy!

Mixed Berry Protein Shake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 1 scoop of your favorite Vanilla flavoured Protein Powder
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 cup ice

Directions

Mix everything together and enjoy!

For days I won’t have time to make a shake I plan to make ahead these delicious and easy to make protein bites!

Make Ahead Mocha Protein Bites

Ingredients

1/2 cup of almond butter

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp hemp seeds

2 tbsp shredded coconut

3/4 cup of vanilla protein powder

1 teaspoon melted coconut oil

2 tablespoon crushed raw almonds

1 tsp cocoa powder [optional]

1 tsp instant coffee powder [optional]

Directions

Mix almond butter, protein powder, honey and coconut oil until smooth.  Then add remainder of ingredients. Roll into 1 inch balls and place in an airtight container in the fridge for storage.

These can be made with many different ingredients and proportions to create custom protein balls to satisfy your personal preference!

So far all my efforts at baking a gluten free bread have failed but just the other day I saw a new gluten-free blend in the store and I plan to bake some loaves of bread and freeze them to use as needed if the bread turns out good! Please share your tried and tested gluten free bread recipes if you have any in the comments section!

For Iftar Ideas, check out my blog at positiveidentity.blogspot.ca as I log in my tried and tested recipes throughout the month of Ramadan so everyone can benefit from them. Bon Apetit et Ramadan Kareem!

 

About the Author:

Sameera Ali is a full-time freelance content writer /SEO expert and a mom of four wonderful kids who keep her busy and thankful always.

Vacationing in the Caribbean- the Halal Way

By Anisa Tayab

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I always wanted to go away somewhere down south, sit on a warm beach and enjoy a mocktail!  I was always afraid to take a trip because I didn’t know what to expect and if it would be appropriate for my kids to be around people drinking and in swim wear all day.  I just didn’t know how my kids would react to so many “new” experiences around them.

When my boys were 5 and 3, we decided to take the plunge and took a trip to Mexico.  After weeks and weeks of researching we chose a resort that we thought would accommodate our needs the best.  We wanted to have a relaxing time while not comprising our beliefs or having to explain the actions of others to our kids.

Location, Location, Location

Cancun is known to be a party city in Mexico.  The hotel zone is full of hotels, clubs and lots of party goers.  It is a popular destination for spring breakers.  We knew we wanted to stay far away from that environment.  We chose a five star resort in hopes the other guests at the resort would be mature guests and not the party crowd.  This made a huge difference in my opinion.  Once we got there, most of the other guests were mature adults, young families or extended families vacationing together.  We also chose a resort that was away from the hotel zone.  We were not able to walk to another resort on the beach so it was completely private.

Dining

I have yet to find a resort that offers Halal options (wouldn’t that be great?!) but most resorts do have a variety of seafood and vegetarian options.  If you mention your dietary concern to your wait staff immediately they may even be able to “cook” something special just for you.  Mention your dietary concerns at check in so there is a note on your file in case you order room service.  From my experiences I found that most staff is more than willing to help you out to make sure your stay is enjoyable.

Since most resorts are all inclusive, you’ll find a lot of people drinking around you.  Your kids will see multi-coloured drinks and want to order them.  Keep in mind, almost everything you see can be made “virgin” which means non-alcoholic.  Some of our favorites are Mud Slides (Banana and Chocolate Milk), Virgin Pina Colada (pineapple and coconut) and Miami Vice (strawberry and pina colada).  Keep in mind the juices are fresh so we would order pineapple juice and mango juice all day.

To avoid any confusion with our order, we always take our own tumblers with us.  Tervis and Contigo make great ones.  The staff will rinse it out between drinks and they will learn that your cup means no alcohol!

Staying Cool

Can’t wear a bathing suit? No problem?  We all know about the burkini but you don’t have to invest in one.  I always wear a bathing Anisa iPhone-04262013 1046suit and cover it up with a rash guard on top and active wear (tights or lounge pants) on the bottom.  This gives me the chance to change my outfit every day.  There are so many rash guards to choose from and they protect you from the UV rays.

I also found by lounging around the kid’s pool you see more modest swim wear since it is all families.  Most moms have the same concerns as each other.  What surprised me was that my kids didn’t even mention anything about the exposure around them because they were too busy playing and having fun.  I think adults tend to pay more attention to those around us than kids do.

The sun in the Caribbean is very hot! I didn’t think I would burn (I’ve never burnt in my life) but not only did I burn but my entire family did.  It’s so important to wear a strong sunscreen and keep re-applying.  There is nothing worse than burning on vacation. Always wear sunscreen and a hat!

Nightly Entertainment

Most resorts offer entertainment at night.  We asked for the show schedule at check in so we could pre-plan our nights.  Most resorts have family friendly shows: Michael Jackson, Circus themed and Fire Acrobats are some of our favorites.

Relax and Enjoy

An upcoming vacation is a great time to teach your kids about different countries, the currency used there and the culture of the country.  We always try to learn the native tongue of the country we are visiting together as a family before our trip.

Don’t forget why you wanted to take a vacation.  Sometimes it’s hard to just relax but it’s important to take a break from our daily routines and enjoy our families and make memories.

 About the Author:

Anisa Tayab is a working mom to 2 boys.  She enjoys taking trips to expose her sons to various cultures and sites.

 

Easy Workouts to do on Vacation

By Paige Aziz

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Working out on vacation doesn’t need to be hard, and can actually help make your vacation even better! Getting activity when you get to your destination is a great way to beat jet-lag and to increase your energy so you can thoroughly enjoy your vacation. In addition, it will help you feel good when you come back to know you kept up with your fitness rather than feeling like you “fell off the wagon.” Check out these tips to feel fit and fabulous.

Do your homework

 research where you are going. Some hotels have gyms or even offer fitness classes or walking groups. Find out what parks or trails are available, if there are local gyms that offer day passes, or other local active attractions.

Be creative

 There are ways to be active and get exercise without confining yourself to a gym. Check out hiking, kayaking or rock climbing. Run along the beach in the sand – it is harder than it sounds and provides a great cardiovascular and muscular workout. You can also rent a bike to do your site-seeing while staying active and make some incredible memories.

Pack it up

 Before you seal your suitcase throw in some resistance bands or TRX straps. These are lightweight, easy to travel with exercise equipment to help you get your workout in where ever you, in hotel room.

Plan Ahead

 The best way to ensure you keep up with your workouts while on vacations is to plan what you are going to do and times when you can do it. Have a realistic expectation, you may not be able to do 100% of what you can when home, but some is better than none. Before you head out, decide what equipment you have (or don’t have, you don’t always need equipment to work out), how much time you have, and what you plan to do. Need some ideas? Check out some of the mini-workouts below!

 

1. AMRAP Circuits 

AMRAP stands for As Many Rounds As Possible. Select 4-5 exercises, a rep scheme, and a time limit. Your goal is to complete as many rounds as you can in the specific timeframe while taking rest as needed (but the timer keeps ticking, so when you feel ready start again) This type of workout works great when you only have bodyweight to work with.

BODYWEIGHT AMRAP:

10 Bodyweight Squats
10 Pushups
10 single leg hip thrusters per leg
10 mountain climbers
10 V-sits
*Repeat for 10 minutes, resting as necessary

2. Tabata Rounds

Select an exercise, preferably a bodyweight one, and perform 20 seconds all out activity for as many repetitions as you can safely accomplish. Rest for ten seconds and then repeat for 8 total rounds (4 minutes of total time). This works great for full body activities such as burpees, planks, and kettlebell swings.

3. Hotel Room Workout

Even in a tiny hotel room you can use it to your advantage. You can use the edge of the bed as a bench for performing tricep dips or a chair for your feet while doing decline pushups to help you take it to the next level. To be efficient in your time, perform supersets (2 exercises back to back) or giant sets (3 exercises back to back). If you bring a TRX you can hook it up over your hotel door without causing damage to your room, or bring resistance bands.

HOTEL ROOM RESISTACE WORKOUT

Perform 8-15 reps of A1 then 8-15 reps of A2, rest if needed and repeat 2-3 more times. Then move on to B1 and B2 etc.  If the band feels too easy you can make it harder by wrapping it around your hands or stretching it out a little more.

A1) Chest Press
A2) Seated Row

B1) Band Squat and pull
B2) Band Lunge with press

C1) Bicep curl
C2) Tricep dips or band extensions

D1) Band woodchoppers Right
D2) Band woodchooper Left

Too many people take holidays knowing fearing will get fat, become overweight, and lose a level of their fitness. By being prepared you can combat this feeling and actually feel fit and fabulous during your next holiday. Just remember to have fun with it! Whether you have a gym or not, there is always something you can do to stay active.

About the Author: 

Paige Aziz has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here.

Eating Clean on Vacation

By Paige Aziz

Eating clean on vacation

Whether road tripping around the country or jet setting to exciting places, it can be challenging to stay on track when it comes to maintaining your clean eating lifestyle. Check out these tips to help make it easier to eat clean on the go.

A room with a kitchenette

By choosing a room with a kitchenette you can better control the food you and your family are eating. In some parts of Canada and the US, Halal restaurants are not available, so this way you can still manage to eat to your preferences. Even if you cannot afford a room with a kitchenette, as long as it has a refrigerator you can store healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, cottage cheese, yogurt, roasted chickpeas, peanut butter, whole grain bread, sliced chicken or turkey, and mixed nuts.

Location

Before you hit the road jump on Google Maps and find hotels that are near grocery stores, gyms, or other important places ghat can help you stay true to your healthy lifestyle. That way even if you don’t rent a car you can walk to the store to pick up healthy food.

Restaurant menus 

You are going to eat out, you are on vacation after all! Many restaurants now have their menus online, so check them out and find restaurants with a menu that fit your needs. If the restaurant doesn’t have online menus, you can ask them to send one to your hotel for when you arrive so that way you can plan before you head out.

Pack a snack

Don’t be caught when hunger hits, always be prepared by packing easy healthy snacks to carry in your bag to tide you over until mealtime. Depending on your activities this could involve investing in a cooler bag to carry your snacks and water. This will help prevent over eating when you finally get to the restaurant and keep you satisfied (and sane) should you be experiencing delays, especially if you have young travelers in your sight-seeing group.

hangry

Portion your plate

Be mindful of how much you’re eating by portioning your plate. On your plate aim for 1-2 fistfuls of veggies, 1-2 palm size portions of protein (meat, fish, poultry etc.), a thumb of healthy fats (cheese, olive oil, ect.) and 1-2 cupped hands of grains. For larger servings have them bag the rest of it up for later. In addition do not be afraid to ask for modifications, more veggies, or less potatoes, or for sauces and dressings on the side.

Bring supplements

For some, they may find themselves too busy to get a meal in, or be stuck on a long drive between stops. Bringing a protein supplement can help increase your dietary energy and see you through until your next menu. If getting adequate vegetable intake will be a challenge, you can also consider a powdered vegetable supplement such as Greens+. These are ok solutions for short term challenges and are not meant to replace fruits and vegetables in the long term. It is always better to eat real food.

Relax and Have Fun

Remember, you are on vacation! So don’t stress out over food, enjoy it! Plan and be prepared but also plan for some free’ mealtimes where you can relax, enjoy and savour the food and the company of people you are with, and the beautiful place you find yourself in!

About the author:

Paige Aziz has been in the fitness industry for a decade, specializing in helping women achieve their health and fitness goals. She offers 1-on-1 training in her private studio, small group boot camps, and online training and nutrition coaching. Her Lifestyle Studio is in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. You can also reach her on her Facebook page here.