Category Archives: Health & Nutrition

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.

 

A Three Course Meal For Diabetics

By Marzia Shamsi

Beat diabetes

As we all are well aware an individual suffering from diabetes normally has to keep a very sharp and strict diet regime. But did you also know that their meals should vary as per 50% of total daily carbs, 20% calories from protein and 30% calories from fat  of which 7% should be from saturated fat?

A personalized diet plan has always been at the top of my priorities and caught my interests for the same, firstly as a daughter and then as a chef. Diabetes is a very common disease in my family; my grandmother first, then dad  and other elders in our family also suffer from  diabetes. Dad’s eating habits have always caused me concern and I researched for a long time on different ways to keep him under a strict special dietary plan without the food loosing its natural flavours. I have learned that it is never too late to learn and help a member of your family through this by introducing them to meals that are easy to make, delicious, very healthy, yet appetizing to your eyes.

Any individual suffering from diabetes should follow few of the point below while considering their routine meal plans:

  • Always include fibre contents,whole grain starch options and incorporating fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit the use of fat in general
  • Food options should vary, from grilling or sautéing using a fat free non-stick cooking spray. Or use a small amount of canola or olive oil.
  • Choose low fat dairy products, skim or a 1% milk, low fat yoghurt and low fat cheese.
  • Make sure you portion your meals properly.
  • Always include 15 to 30 grams of carbs in your evening snacks.

Here is my personalized special dietary 3 course meal for a diabetic patient keeping all the nutritional values in mind and trying to keep the flavours intact just like in any normal recipe.

Starter

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Clear Chicken & Vegetable Soup

  • 500 g skinless chicken breast
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 leeks, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 -4 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 8 cups water
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring water to boil.
  2. In the meantime, cut up all the vegetables into small cubes.
  3. Cut the chicken into 1cm cubes.
  4. Add in vegetables and garlic and stock and boil on high heat for 5 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add chicken and bring to boil for 2 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or longer.
  6. Soup is ready when all ingredients have sunk to the bottom!

Main Course

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Fish en papillote with brown rice

Papillote means paper in Italian,  ’en papillote’ is a method of cooking in which  food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. The parcel is typically made from parchment paper, but other material, such as a paper bag or aluminium foil, may be also be used. The parcel holds in moisture to steam the food while the pocket is created by overlapping circles of aluminum foil and parchment paper and then folding them tightly around the food to create a seal. A papillote should be opened at the table to allow people to partake in the aroma when it opens. It is by far one of the finest tasting baked fish recipe I have made.

  • Fish fillet of your choice, 1 to 1 1/2 lb. in four equal portions
  • 3 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs. minced lemon zest
  • 4 scallions (both white and green parts)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 tbs. softened butter (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat  oven to 450°F.
  2. To make the gremolata, mince the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest together. Set aside.
  3. Cut the scallions into 2-in. lengths and slice them lengthwise. Season the fish with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and spread the top with butter, if desired.
  4. Divide the scallions among four sheets of parchment, top each with a portion of fish, and top the fish with a portion of gremolata. Seal the packages and bake on a sheet pan until puffy and browned, about 8 min

 Desserts

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Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like cantaloupe decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes and heart disease while promoting a healthy complexion and hair growth, increased energy and overall lower weight. This  recipe is perfect in all aspects and not just for diabetics but for everyone. It is a healthy yet delicious way to finish of this three course meal.

Creamcheese filled cantaloupe bowls with strawberry sauce

  • Light tub-style cream cheese or mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon toasted and coarsely chopped pecans or almonds
  • 1/2 medium cantaloupe, seeded
  • 1/3 cup strawberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried lavender or dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries (optional)
  • Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions

  1. For filling: In a small bowl, stir together cream cheese, honey and nutmeg until smooth. Stir in nuts, set aside.
  2. Using an ice cream scoop (around 1/4 cup measure), scoop two large balls out of the cantaloupe (one side of each ball will be indented). Save remaining cantaloupe for another use. Set each cantaloupe ball in a small bowl or custard cup, indented side up. (If necessary, cut a thin slice from the bottom of each ball so it sits flat.)
  3. Spoon or pipe cream cheese mixture into the indentation of each melon ball.
  4. In a blender or small food processor, combine strawberries, honey, and dried lavender. Blend or process until smooth. Press through a sieve to remove raspberry seeds. Spoon strawberry coulis mixture around cheese-filled cantaloupe cups. If desired, garnish with the 1/4 cup raspberries and mint leaves. Makes 2 (1 portion cantaloupe, 2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture, and 2 tablespoons strawberry coulis) servings

Some day, I hope to convey this message to everyone suffering from diabetes, and their families, that you don’t have to give up on flavourful food to maintain your health. We need to educate everyone, not just those who are diabetic, but also those who are around them that Diabetes is not the end of the world, every problem always has a solution. We can bring back joy in their lives by little gestures and food is definitely one of them.

About the author:

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother to two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, she is 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.

Understanding PMS, That Time Of The Month

Dr. Madiha Haque

PMS that time of the month

Menstruation is a crucial part of every woman’s life that brings with itself a phase of discomfort and mood swings. It is easy to label them as mood swings or a feeling irritable but in reality it involves our bodies’ chemical imbalances that need serious attention. Most of the times these changes are gradual and women try to compensate with more exertion, and other times they are so sudden that it’s easy to identify that something is majorly wrong. Whatever it may be, it needs attention and treatment so a woman doesn’t have to compromise her quality of life.

What is PMS?

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a series of symptoms that occur consecutively every month just before menstrual cycle. The pattern is predictable, hence easily diagnosed. Characteristically the symptoms are diminished just when bleeding starts. If the feeling persists throughout the cycle, then problem is somewhere else. On average every 3 in 4 women experience this at least once in her lifetime, with its peak in late 20s and early 30s and it tends to get worse with increasing age.

Symptoms

In order to figure out if what is happening to a woman just before menstruation is really a disease to be treated, one has to know what supposedly the symptoms are:

Emotional:

  • Exaggerated Mood swings
  • Irritability and depression
  • Difficulty to focus
  • Depression

Physical:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Change in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Headaches and backaches
  • Tender breasts

Diagnosis 

To start with, the patient is requested to keep a ‘menses diary’ to identify a regular pattern. The symptoms necessarily are a hindrance for the woman in carrying out her routinely activities. Before one is labelled with PMS, all other possible diagnosis have to be excluded. These conditions may include thyroid disease, depression, migraine headaches and irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes the doctor may prescribe medicines that stop ovarian function, if that stops PMS symptoms as well, that will serve as a diagnosis.

 

Treatment

After firm diagnosis of PMS, treatment is planned according to patient’s needs. Doctors mostly want to start with less compromising measures as medications.
Regularity check: Once patient is aware of the pattern she can regulate her life events accordingly. Not much is  controllable but a number of studies have shown that when person is aware of the upcoming problems she is able to cope up better with it.
Dietary regulation: Emphasis on stress relieving is the key. Food that increase stress level such as alcohol, caffeine, high salt and sugar are to be avoided.  And ones that are good for your body including minerals like calcium and magnesium, and vitamins especially B6 are to be increased.
Medicines:
Pain medications such as Tylenol, Advil or Aleve will work for headache, backache, breast tenderness and other cramps.
Contraceptives that just regulate menstruation or ones that stop ovarian function, have a good control but are avoided because of side effects.
Diuretics like spironolactone work well to reduce fluid retention that might cause swelling of hands, feet or face.
Antidepressants like fluoxetine are considered most effective psychological therapy but have no effect on physical symptoms, also these have a number of side effects making them less compliant.

 

Exercise

It is best considered treatment as it gives more fruitful result both physically; in making your heart and body stronger and mentally; by releasing endorphin that boost up your good mood.
No matter how much impediment goes on with your mind and body you have to fight back good, stay positive and don’t let any bodily or brainy deterioration overcome your good sense of being woman.

 

About the Author: 
Dr. Madiha Masood is the mother of four children, two of which are twins. She has previously worked as an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lady Dufferin Hospital and has now undertaken the task of simplifying health issues in accordance with Islamic values.

Recipe of the Week: Ciabbata Bread

By Marzia Rizvi

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The history of bread goes back at least 30,000 years. The first bread produced was probably cooked versions of a grain-paste, made from roasted and ground cereal grains and water, and may have been developed by accidental cooking or deliberate experimentation with water and grain flour. Descendants of these early flatbreads are still commonly made from various grains in many parts of the world, including Armenian lavashs and Iranian sangaks, taboons, Mexican tortilla, Indian bread chapati, roti and naan, Scottish oatcake, North American johnnycake, Jewish Matzo, Middle Eastern pita, and Ethiopian injera. Flat bread of these types also formed a staple in the diet of many early civilizations with the Sumerians eating a type of barley flat cake, and the 12th century BC Egyptians being able to purchase a flat bread called ta from stalls in the village streets.

Today I’d like to share a recipe of one of my favorite bread the ciabatta bread that originates from Italy. This recipe is super easy to make and the best part about making your own bread is that you know what is going in it. If followed exactly the same way as the quantities given. It will turn out to be the best .If you are in a rush and you don’t have enough time for proofing (Wait for it to raise) I’d like to share a little trick with you all. Try to keep the dough at a stable temperature. We sometimes put a bowl of dough on top of the oven covered with a tea towel and on top of a folded towel. Also a preheated and switched off oven to about 30ºC (use a thermometer to measure the inside temperature as your dial on the oven will probably not be very helpful) will work great. Some people build their own proofing cabinet, using an old refrigerator or kitchen cabinet. With the help of a 40W or 100W light bulb on the bottom of the cabinet (warm air rises from bottom to top!) you can easily heat the inside of your cabinet. You can use a simple mechanical thermostat to switch the bulb on and off to control the temperature. Hope you’d enjoy this recipe as much as I do making & eating both. This bread makes amazing sandwiches or can be eaten on its own with simply butter.

Ingredients

Bread Flour   2 1/2 Cups

Fresh yeast     2 Tsp

Salt                  1 Tsp

Olive Oil       3/4 cup

Water             1 1/2 Cups

 

Procedures

Mixing

1-Warm the water to about 37 C. Dissolve the yeast in it.

2-Add the yeast to 1/2  cup of flour(At this point you only add yeast in 1/2 cups out of the 2 1/2 cups of flour and leave the remaining to be added later.

3-Mix the 1/2 cup of dough into a soft dough adding the entire water into the mix until the dough gets smooth.

4-Cover and leave at room temperature until it doubles it size

5-Stir down and add the rest of the ingredients for the dough. Beat for a few minutes to form a smooth dough, which will be very soft and sticky.

6-Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature until doubled in size

 Baking

1-Lightly oil your baking tray. Portion into 550 grams portion, shape into rough ovals, trying to avoid over handling the dough

2-Dust the top with extra flour. Proof at room temperature until the dough doubles in volume. Bake at 200 C for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

 

About the Author

Mirzia Rizvi is a single mother of two beautiful children. Lived in UAE for 25 years . Her passion  has been cooking since the age of 12. A graduate in Corporate Laws but decided to convert & become a chef . She is  now  a certified Chef from the School Of Culinary & Finishing Arts in Dubai along with a certification in food & safety from City & Guilds in the UK. Her dream is to own her own restaurant.

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.

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.

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.

Raw Food Diet

By Shaista Tariq

Raw Food Diet

We are seeing an increase in the number of people who are making a lifestyle change and turning to a ‘raw food’ diet. Raw food is food that has not been cooked or exposed to temperature over 118° F. At temperature over 118° F the natural enzymes in food are completely destroyed. Enzymes are the biological molecules (typically proteins) that significantly speed up the rate of all of the chemical reactions that take place within cells. The term raw food, is often confused with organic food, but raw food are not necessarily organic.

History from pre-historic times

The human diet originally was uncooked and plant based.  The food used to be 100% raw, till fire was discovered and humans began to cook food.  As the world headed itself into Industrial Age,  we began to eat more and more of overcooked and processed food. The cavemen did not have processed foods on hand like Twinkies, sugar breakfast bars, bagged chips and canned food. Mostly all the carbohydrates they ate came from fruits and vegetables. Pesticides didn’t exist and all produce was wild. Their diet consisted of two-thirds plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds and the rest came from lean meat and fish.

Benefits of raw food

Most foods have more nutrients when they are eaten raw than when they are cooked. Lightly steamed or stir-fried foods tend to have more nutrients than boiled or baked ones. It’s the high heat that makes food lose its nutrients. Unrefined foods like whole grains, dark green and yellow/ orange vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds contain a high concentration of antioxidants. These foods have been hypothesized as  possibly anti-cancer due to the synergistic effects of antioxidants and photo-chemicals in them.

The basic reasons why people follow a raw food diet include losing weight, detoxification, health reasons, physical performance, and also fitting in with a green lifestyle. Juicing and blending ‘green smoothies’ often are part of raw diets. In the late 18th century and well into the 19th century, the monks and nuns of France and Germany employed raw-food-eating and fasting to gain greater physical and spiritual health.

Raw Food diet

Risks of eating raw-food

For the most part, you can eat vegetables raw, and can even obtain the most nutritional. In some cases, however, some raw vegetables should be avoided, because they contain chemicals that may be harmful to health, e.g. eggplant contains the compound solanine, which inhibits the absorption of calcium. Solanine poisoning are primarily neurological and gastrointestinal. Potatoes also contain solaine, A green hue may mean a high amount of solanine and the accompanying toxin chaconine.

Food poisoning is a health risk for all people eating raw foods, especially raw meat, fish and shellfish, raw milk, and raw eggs. Due to the risk of food poisoning, a raw foods diet isn’t recommended for pregnant women, young children, seniors, people with weak immune systems, and those with chronic medical conditions.

Suggestions to boost Nutritional intake of raw food

Eat foods that are as close to the way nature made them as possible. processing, canning, over-cooking, etc. all take away nutrients.

Include as many raw leafy greens as possible.

Instead of buying processed, sugared veggie or fruit juices, experiment with whole fruits, veggies and nuts to see how many you can add to super-charge your fruit smoothies with nutrients.

If you prefer a greener, vegetable taste, either for a smoothie or a power juice, then spinach, powdered greens, mint, carrots, kale, watercress and broccoli are great gifts from the earth that blend beautifully.

Include raw protein and fats from plant sources. These proteins and fats are in a form that the body can easily make use of (because they are unaltered, the way nature made them) and are needed by the body for many functions e.g. Flax seeds have the essential omega -3 fatty acids and our needed by the body.

Eating raw food is necessary for good health and is an important feature of a healthy diet. Raw food is necessary for digestive efficiency, proper peristalsis and normal bowel function. Certain foods, especially fruit, avocado and nuts undergo significant change with cooking and are best eaten raw. But that does not mean that one’s entire diet has to be raw to be in excellent health.

It is healthier to expand your nutrient density, your absorption of plant protein, and your nutrient diversity with the inclusion of some conservatively cooked food in your diet. Baking, frying, barbecuing and other high heat cooking methods that brown and damage food form acrylamide, which is potentially carcinogenic. Cooking techniques like steaming vegetables, stewing foods in a pressure cooker and soup making, do not have these drawbacks. They do not brown foods or form acrylamide. Enourage the family to eat raw food by this statement – the salad is the main dish.

About the author:

Shaista Tariq is an M.Sc., B.Sc. in Applied Science in Nutrition and a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.

Images: 123RF

What’s In Your Food?

By Rumina Rizvi

Image: Freeimages

Image: Freeimages

When I took Food Science as a subject in my O’ Levels, little did I know how much I would benefit from it in years to come. Eating a healthy diet means eating the right amount and variety of food. Eating well plays an important part in maintaining good health. Our eating pattern should emphasize on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as low or no-fat dairy products, and lean animal proteins. What really matters, though, is knowing yourself. You need to make responsible eating choices within the context of your preferences and lifestyle.
Having an understanding of nutrition basics can be extremely helpful. To compliment a healthy eating habit, an active lifestyle is also essential. Below is a quick run-down of nutrients in our food and the pivotal role each one of them play for a healthy balanced diet to meet our body’s needs.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate-rich foods are the primary source of energy for all body functions. Your body breaks down carbohydrates, or carbs, into fuel for use by your cells and muscles – that’s why eating a moderate amount of carbohydrates is necessary for most people. There are two types of carbs – sugars and starches. Sugars are simple carbohydrates that can be easily digested by your body and include foods like cake, soda, candy, jellies and fruits. Starches are complex carbohydrates that take longer to be digested and include foods such as breads, grains, pasta, tortillas, noodles, fruits and vegetables.

Many carbohydrate-rich foods are loaded with other nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are not only great carbohydrate sources, they are also excellent suppliers of vitamins A and C and many other vitamins and minerals. Most dairy products are also great sources of carbohydrates.

Some foods rich in carbohydrates have fewer nutrients. Foods made from sugar (white, brown, powdered and raw) as well as corn syrup, honey and molasses are simple carbohydrates that provide little to the diet except extra calories, and that can lead to excess body fat. Use the top tier of the Food Guide Pyramid as your guide, and limit your consumption of sugary foods – even if they do contain carbohydrates.

Image: Freeimages

Image: Freeimages

Fibre

Fibre is an important kind of carbohydrate that comes only from plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains. The two types of fibre are soluble and non-soluble. Soluble fibre helps control blood sugar and may also lower cholesterol. Non-soluble fibre doesn’t appear to lower blood sugar or cholesterol but may help reduce the risk of colon cancer. It also helps maintain bowel function.

When choosing packaged breads, grains and cereals, use food labels to determine how much fibre a food contains. The fibre content of manufactured foods is listed on the Nutrition Facts label. Adults need between 20 and 35 grams of fiber every day.

Good sources of fibre include wheat bran, whole wheat, oatmeal, beans and legumes, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries and bananas.

Proteins

Proteins are responsible for growth and maintenance of all body cells and structures, like bone, muscle, blood cells, skin and hair. They are also the primary component of enzymes, proteins which help facilitate many of the chemical reactions within the body, including digestion. A healthy diet should include 2-3 servings of lean protein each day. Try baked or grilled chicken, fish and beans. Some grains are also very high in protein. Mixing quinoa with grilled vegetables makes a very satisfying lunch or side dish. It’s important for women to eat enough calcium in their diet. Low-fat dairy products are also excellent sources of protein. Try reduced fat yogurt, cottage cheese and milk.

Image: Freeimages

Image: Freeimages

Vitamins & Minerals

Fruits and vegetables are key in providing many of the vitamins and minerals that are essential for health. For e.g. iodine,  in iodized salt which prevents goitre. Women between the ages of 19 and 30 should consume 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day.

Among the different types of vegetables, current dietary guidelines recommend 3 cups of dark green, 2 cups of orange, 3 cups of dry beans and peas, and 3 cups of starchy vegetables each week.

There are many easy ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Eat a salad with each meal. Try having an egg white omelet with mixed vegetables in the morning. Substituting cut vegetables or a piece of fruit in the afternoon for a snack instead of chips or processed snack is an easy way to cut calories. Fruits and veggie smoothies are also an excellent choice for a healthy lifestyle.

Fats

Fats, or lipids, are an important part of our diet and shouldn’t be eliminated altogether. In appropriate quantities and types, fats will provide much needed energy to get us through the day. Additionally, they support and cushion our internal organs, protecting them from harm. Fats are found in almost all types of foods, from butter and oils to dairy products, meats and processed foods.

It is recommend that hydrogenated and trans fats be avoided. Other fats should be minimized whenever possible. Generally speaking, fat should be restricted to less than 30% of your caloric intake each day, and saturated fats should be less than 10%. Try grilling vegetables or chicken instead of frying them. It’s an excellent way of cutting back fats. There are so many marinades and spices that you can use to flavour your food, you won’t even miss the fat. Instead of using fattening salad dressings, a little olive oil with some balsamic or other vinegar is an excellent dressing. Also, try some of the lower fat varieties of foods like milk, cheese and mayonnaise.

Water

Finally, one of the staples of a healthy diet is sufficient water and fluid intake. In addition to regulating body temperature, it is found in every cell in the body and is necessary for their maintenance. Water is an essential component for many chemical reactions and aids in digestion and excretion of waste products. While the body does produce water as a by-product to many chemical reactions, it must be taken in regularly to maintain important body functions. It is important to maintain adequate hydration through regular consumption of water.

For more information, click here to read the labels and nutritional value of any processed food you consume. This will give you a clear guideline on what’s good or bad for you.

 

About the author:

Mother to two wonderful kids, Rumina Rizvi works for an Islamic Education Academy, catering to a large community of Muslims, conducting Quranic and Islamic studies. She also works with New Muslim Care Halton Chapter for our New Muslim Revert brothers and sisters and feels privileged to be living in this part of world, learning and exploring knowledge of Deen and contributing to her community.

Do you refer to nutrition labels and plan your meals according to nutrients? What kind of foods are staples and what are avoided in your home? Share with us on our forum!