Tag Archives: Healthy

Healthy Fasting: Suhur Meals

By Marzia Shamsi

suhoor meal

As we all know we are approaching this beautiful blessed month of Ramadan & Fasting during this month is considered one of the 5 Pillars of Islam — five activities that shapes our life’s for eternity. Prayer occurs on a daily basis; pilgrimage is done once in a lifetime; charity and professing one’s faith are both ongoing. Fasting the month of Ramadan is an annual observance; every year, isn’t it beautiful that we are getting an opportunity to take an entire month out of our lives to observe it and rededicate ourselves in the path of Allah?

While we concentrate in observing our wajibats let us also keep in mind how important it is to keep our health on track & how fasting has some amazing hidden factors that can boost our health if we follow a right regime & take essential nutrients by eating healthy!  In a narration of Abu Nuaim,Prophet Mohammad(p.b.u.h) said, “soomo wa tsahhoo”, which can be translated to mean, “Fast and be healthy.” Even science has proven the health benefits of fasting in the month of Ramadan . The International Congress on “Health and Ramadan” which was held in Casablanca in 1994, covered 50 studies on the medical ethics of Ramadan and noted various improvements in the health conditions of those who fast.

If any negative effects were seen at all, it was in those who over-indulge in food at iftar or do not sleep well at night. You should also keep in mind that if fasting will be dangerous to your health, such as in Type 1 or 2  Diabetics,or other serious health risks you are not recommended to fast as your medical condition may worsen.

For those of you who can fast, especially for our young generation here are some of the incredible health benefits of fasting on our overall well-being that is sure to blow your minds away.1) Provides tranquility of the heart and mind 2) Improves your blood fat levels 3) Promotes fat breakdown and weight loss are few of the many benefits of fasting. I have created few fun & delicious suhoor ideas that should not just be delicious to eat but have the best health benefits too.

Veggie Quinoa Pilaf

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When preparing this colourful dish all it reminds me of is tropical freshness & spring combined together in one with all fresh ingredients such as mint,garlic,parlsey & fresh vegetable Quinoa Pilaf is packed with disease–fighting and immune–boosting substances called phytochemicals. These substances, along with nutrients in plant foods, are thought to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Fun fact: One cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Quinoa can add variety to your diet and contains more protein than other grains.

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow or red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1Cup Mushrooms (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 sprig of fresh parsley (julienned)
  • 1 sprig Mint (julienned)
  • 2 cups dry quinoa, washed and dried
  • 3 cups boiling water or vegetable broth (add 1 teaspoon salt if using water or unsalted broth)
  • Sliced Lemon wedges

Method

  • Sauté onion, green beans, mushrooms,carrots,and garlic until they start to caramelize or turn brown.
  • Add cumin, red chilli flakes and quinoa. Stir constantly and cook for about 3 more minutes to allow spices and quinoa to toast.
  • Add boiling salted water or vegetable broth. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has completely absorbed and the quinoa has ‘bloomed’ add parsley & mint.
  • Do not stir during cooking and make sure the lid is tight to prevent moisture from escaping.
  • Remove from heat and allow quinoa to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add cilantro or parsley, if using.
  • Fluff with a fork and serve with thinly sliced lemon wedges.

Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, leftover Quinoa Pilaf will keep for up to three days. 

 Spicy Cheesy Melts

Cheesy melts

This very easy cheesy melts recipe is an all time favourite & can be made with different variations such as different choices of beans & veggie of your choice it can also be topped with fried egg, shredded chicken or minced meat.

 Ingredients

  • 2 heaped tablespoons canned cooked beans
  • 1 thick slice organic white or brown bread, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon prepared salsa (available in jars) or made fresh
  • 1 tablespoon shredded cheese, such as Mexican blend or Jack

Method

  • Spread beans on toast. Top with salsa, then cheese.
  • Microwave on hightemperature until the cheese is melted and the beans are hot, about 45 seconds.
  • Serve at suhoor with mango juice or milk.

 Crepe suzette

crepe

Can be made by store brought pancake mix but I’d always recommend to make your own from scratch this crepe suzette recipe has it own zing. I can assure you that this citrusy yummy crepe recipe is going to make your kids wanting to wakeup to it before you at suhoor.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon      water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Butter
  • Orange syrup:
  • 16 tablespoons butter (2 sticks), divided
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 4 ounces Grand Marnier, divided
  • Fresh cream

Method

  • Whisk all the ingredients vigorously until the batter is completely smooth; allow itr to rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before making the crepes.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a crepe pan or large skillet over low-medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of batter to the pan and swirl until the bottom of the pan is covered with batter. Cook the crepe for 1 minute, or until the crepe is slightly moist on top and golden underneath.
  • Loosen the edges of the crepe, slide the spatula under it, and then gently flip it upside down into the pan. Cook for 1 minute and transfer the cooked crepe to a plate to keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
  • In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt half of the butter until it foams. Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle the half the sugar over the melted butter. Add half the orange juice, and then add the crepes to the pan to coat both sides in the orange syrup. Fold the crepes into quarters or roll them into cylinders.
  • Melt the remaining butter in the skillet, remove it from the heat, and then add the sugar and orange juiceto make more orange syrup. Place a scoop of  fresh cream next to each crepe and drizzle the crepe Suzette with the orange syrup.

This crepes Suzette recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

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.

 

 

Warm Spinach & Bell Pepper Salad (Serves 8)

By Marzia Shamsi

My Work

This is a super healthy and delicious salad, which can be served in many different ways.  You can even add onion, mushrooms, tomatoes and other favorite veggies of your choice. Beef bacon, turkey ham or smoked chicken salami are other nice additions.

Ingredients

Beef strips                        5 to 6

Baby Spinach               1kg

Red Pepper                  1

Green Pepper              1

Yellow Pepper             1

Corn oil                        1tbsp (just a drizzle)

Lemon Juice              1tsp

Dijon Mustard          1/2 tsp (Very little)

Salt & pepper

 

Mise En Place

1-Wash the spinach removing the stem, dry them on a kitchen towel or a vegetable spinner.

2-Cut the Bell Peppers into julienne (thinly sliced) removing seeds.

3-Cut the beef  strips into lardon (very small thinly sliced pieces) and saute in a pan until golden. Add bell peppers and saute for 2 minutes more.

4-Remove from the heat and toss the spinach into the mix. In a small bowl add juice of a lemon,Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and mix well.

5- Add the mixture to the salad, toss it all together & serve hot.

 

Calories 153
Calories from Fat 23%
Total Fat 2.6g 4%
Saturated Fat 0.4g 2%
Trans Fat 0.0gms
Cholesterol 24mg 6%
Sodium  31mg  1%
Potassium 190mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates  4.5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0.9g
Proteins 9.3gms

Read more:  Calories in Spinach Salad | Nutrition and Health Facts http://www.caloriecount.com/spinach-salad-recipe-r758#ixzz3rrcn35Az

About the Author:

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother of two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, a Canadian resident originally from India. A professional chef out of house while at home my first and the last name is Mom. An amateur blogger just started off very recently. Love sharing my thoughts & knowledge through my personal real life experiences. Dream is to own a restaurant soon.

Healthy Pumpkin Bread Recipe

By: Khaula Mazhar

So it’s that time of year again when ( if you have kids) you somehow end up with pumpkins. I am the lucky recipient of three fine (and free woot!!) manageable sized pumpkins. They sat on my doorstep to welcome in the Fall and now they have come in. To be slaughtered, mashed and exposed to extremely high temperatures. For thus is the life of the noble orange pumpkin. To sacrifice itself for our gastronomical pursuits. Without further ado, I give you all le recipe.

 

Ingredients:

  • One small pumpkin.
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 cups of raw sugar (demerara)
  • 3 ½ cups of whole wheat flour (or a mix of white and whole wheat – I do both ways and they both turn out fine)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ half teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ or 1 teaspoon depending on your taste ( I use half a teaspoon) ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (dry)
  • Chopped walnuts ( as many as you like- the more the merrier!)

 

Steps: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 Fb11ee2b4-4ad5-4ded-99aa-9319506f8c4a

  2. Wash your adorable little pumpkin. Take a huge knife and cut it in half, clean out all the seeds. After you have dried your tears, stick your pumpkin halves facing down on a baking sheet or foil tray and bake them till very soft.

  3. I clean the seeds, sprinkle them with salt and bake those as well, they are good to munch on!

  4. When a knife goes in very easily you know your pumpkin is done. It usually takes about an hour or hour and a half, depending on the size of the pumpkin.

  5. Scoop out the pulp. Mash it all up well. This should make about two cups of pumpkin puree. You can use 1 ½ to 2 cups depending on your taste. Mine ended up just a little less than two cups so I dumped all that orange gooeyness right in.

  6. In a large bowl mix the puree with eggs, water, oil and sugar. In another bowl mix all the dry ingredients.

  7. Stir your dry ingredients into the pumpkin mix. Pour into two 9 X 3 inch greased loaf pans (or whatever size you have). You may need to use three loaf pans if your pans are small.

  8. Bake at 350 F for about an hour. Keep checking! When your knife comes out clean your glorious pumpkin bread is done. Enjoy!!

If you try this recipe, please be sure to share your thoughts, questions, or suggestions!

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About the Author:

Khaula Mazhar, author of Mama Loves Me, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.

Quick and Healthy Snacks for Kids

By Elaf Selim

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Once upon a time, there was a lovely mommy who had a little 7 year old girl. Every school morning, mommy would open her fridge and stare for 5 minutes not knowing what to put in her daughters lunch box. She wished she had ideas for quick and easy snacks that are also healthy and nutritious. Most of the packaged snacks for kids provide little to no nutrition value and include preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. Here are some ideas for all the lovely mommies who struggle with the same problem.

When it comes to packing a snack, which gets eaten and not returned back home, you need to be a bit crafty.

Variety is Key

Don’t pack large quantities of the same item but different items in smaller quantities. Children get bored. Also change the combination of items every day.

Include More Drinks

Some mommies forget this but children get very thirsty at school. In addition to adding a water bottle, you can add something to drink such as a yogurt drink, flavored milk, or juice. Try to choose juice made from natural sources with no added sugar.

Include Finger Veggies

Children need vitamins and fiber but lots of them don’t like veggies. Get crafty and choose vegetables which can be easy to eat, fun and colorful. Try some or a combination of mini carrots, cherry tomatoes in different colors, cucumber slices and celery sticks. If your child likes dips, you can add some ranch sauce or ketchup in a small container. You can even make your own yogurt dips.

Fruits are Dessert

Instead of adding candy, baked pastries or jam sandwiches to lunches;  fruits can provide the needed sweetness. Children love strawberries, apple slices, different berries, pineapples and bananas. Make sure you wash them and put them in a plastic container so they are not mushed in the lunchbox.

 Protein is Most Important

Include easy-to-eat options such as Grilled chicken cubes, Tuna mini sandwiches, Cheese sticks, all beef burgers cut in wedges, chicken wings. You can cook them in batches and store them in the fridge or freezer so you have a variety at hand.

Choose Healthy Treats

You can still add some fun treats but choose the healthy alternatives. For example, choose vegetable crackers instead of regular ones, pop-corn instead of chips and rise crispy bars instead of candy bars (if they are even allowed in your school).

Make it Fun

When you choose veggies and fruits, add a colorful combination so it’s more fun. You can also use some fun containers with colorful cartoon images.

Add Love Notes

For that special warm touch, add a sticky note in the lunch box with some love encouraging note to your child. It will make a difference, believe me. Write from your heart and keep it short and simple. Ex: “Mommy loves you”, “You are a good girl J” or even “Eat healthy and have fun!”. You can also try a fun riddle or joke to make them smile.

What are some tips you have for packing quick and healthy lunches?

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.

Green Cleaning for You and Your Home

By Rahila Ovais

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These days clean means the unmistakable smell of chemicals and then we wonder why there are a growing number of kids and adults who are increasingly suffering from several different sorts of allergies.  There is a reason why environmentalists and ecologists are telling us to reduce the chemicals used in our daily life and adopt more eco friendly green practices when it comes to our homes and families.

 

Cleaning products for your home

 Here are some of the common household items from your kitchen you can easily utilize to make your own cleaning products.

Vinegar

  •    Did you know that white vinegar can kill about 80 percent of household germs?
  • A mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water is a great green cleaner for your mirrors and windows. Spray and then wipe down with newspaper or lint free cloth for a streak-free shine.
  • Add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water and mop your floors with this solution.
  • You can also use citrus peels (Lemons, limes and oranges) to add some scent to the vinegar/water solution. Just collect some citrus peels in a jar, add white vinegar to cover, store in a cool dry place for a few days. Voila! Now you can strain the vinegar, dilute it with water and its ready to use as an all purpose cleaner. 

 

Lemon

  • Freshen up your wooden cutting board by giving it a good rub with half cut lemon or rinse it with undiluted lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle salt or baking soda over the cute side of half a lemon, rub your tarnished brass or copper items, and leave on for a few minutes before rinsing the item off with water for a bright shine. 

 

Olive Oil

  • Dab some olive oil onto a rag and rub your stainless steel appliances to get rid of smudges, follow up with a dab of vinegar on the other side of the rag, wipe and let air dry.
  • Mix two tablespoons each of olive oil and lemon juice (or vinegar) into two cups of water in a jar or spray bottle and use it as a furniture polish. 

 

Baking Soda

  •  Remember that volcano experiment from your school days?  Well the same can be used to unclog your kitchen sink. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down the drain.  Run some hot water after a few minutes and watch the magic!
  • Sprinkle baking soda on your carpet to freshen up and deodorize before vacuuming.
  • You can even make your own dishwasher detergent with ¾ baking soda and ¼ salt with a couple drops of your regular dish washing detergent. (disclaimer: try at your own risk)

Salt

  • A mixture of 1 cup salt and 4 cups white vinegar can be used to fight soap scum in your shower.

 

Banana Peel

  • Rub the inside of a banana peel to give a new shine to your tarnished silverware.

 

Do you have any tips for keeping our homes Eco- friendly AND clean?

About the Author:

Rahila Ovais is a Pharmacy Technician working at the Ontario College of Pharmacists. A mother to four, she’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself.