Feta Zaatar Stuffed Whole Wheat Rolls

Feta Zaatar Stuffed Whole Wheat RollsFatayar are the Middle Eastern equivalent of freshly baked bread… and they are by all counts really DELICIOUS. As anyone living in the Middle East, or who has had Middle Eastern cuisine knows, fatayar are similar to calzones in concept but taste nothing like them thanks to their unique fillings – spinach, minced meat, feta zaatar and labna… OK who’s mouth is watering?

The only down side is they are always made with white dough, which does give them that light and fluffy melt in your mouth texture.

This is one of the main reasons I’m sure, for why it’s so impossible to find them in a more dense whole wheat variety. If you are a bread connoisseur, you’d be turning your nose up right about now and I totally get that.

But that’s exactly why this recipe is so great!

Feta Zaatar Stuffed Whole Wheat Rolls - YUM

These rolls aren’t meant to be fatayar, but they are soft and fluffy none the less and with a feta zaatar filling, they are a simply divine representation of the Middle East.

Feta Zaatar Stuffed Whole Wheat Rolls

Feta Zaatar Stuffed Whole Wheat Rolls

Now I should mention that they are a bit time consuming, albeit fairly simple, to make mainly because the dough needs to be kneaded and then has to rest, but they are definitely worth it!

So this is what you have to do…

Procedure for Rolls

Warm your oven to 200 for about a minute – you don’t want it to be too hot, it should simply feel like a warm summer’s day in there :)

Mix the yeast, sugar and water together and set aside for about 2 min.

In a mixing bowl, using a mixer with a dough arm, mix remaining ingredients together. You can do this manually if you prefer, you’ll just knead (hehe – I couldn’t resist ūüėČ ) to use some elbow grease…

Add yeast mixture and knead until dough is firm (about 4 min.), adding a little flour and/or water as needed until it is no longer sticky.

Using some olive oil on your hands or on a spatula, remove the dough from the mixer arm and form it into a ball, leaving it in the bowl. Place wax paper and then a damp towel on top of the bowl and let it rest¬†in a warm place (such as in the warm oven if it’s cold in your kitchen) for about 45 min.

Using flour dusted hands, make golf-sized dough balls (about 24 of them) and…

at this point you can simply drop them onto a greased baking sheet and let them sit in the warm oven for another 20 min. to rest before removing them, preheating the oven to 400 and then baking them for about 20 min. Brush them with a bit of butter once they are ready and keep them covered so you can enjoy them hot and fresh

¬†OR you can add the yummy feta zaatar filling…¬†(yes that’s my nephews cute chubby hand in the picture below – he couldn’t resist these rolls either ūüėÄ )

Feta Zaatar Filling in which case you would…

Procedure for Filling

Mix the filling ingredients together using a spatula and divide into 24 equal parts.

Flatten each dough ball with your thumb, put the filling in the middle and then pinch the dough closed around it.

Place the rolls in a greased baking dish and let them rest in a warm place (the oven again?) for about 20 min. before removing them and preheating the oven to 400.

You can brush them with a simple egg wash – 1 egg (beaten) mixed with a tbsp. water – and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if you’d like, and then bake them for about 20 min. or until they are a light golden brown.

Again, store them in a covered so they stay fresh until you’re ready to dive in!

Makes 12 servings

(Serving Size 2 rolls)

Feta Zaatar Out of the Oven

Nutrition Info:
plain whole wheat rolls: 119 kcal, 1.8g fibre, 4.4g protien
whole wheat rolls with filling: 148 kcal, 1.8g fibre, 5.4g protien

Colic Tea for Baby – Gas Be Gone!

Colic Tea for BabiesThis year we welcomed my little nephew to the world and it has been quite the roller coaster ride. For his part Omar’s been more than fantastic mashallah, sweet natured and pretty easy going for baby standards. So when I say roller coaster, I mean a 3 person adult household all of a sudden being littered with diapers, bibs, burpy cloths… you get the idea.

However, since he was a C-section baby, we were kind of expecting a few hiccups in the GI department – plus I think ALL babies struggle with a bit of gassiness, or more like an inability to easily pass gas, as their little intestines adapt to life outside the womb.

So before we knew it we were searching the aisles for something to ease little Omar’s uncomfortable bloatiness – I know that’s not a word, but that’s what he had – and were pretty disappointed with the fact that most of the over-the-counter remedies, even the natural ones, had¬†sweeteners like sorbitol in them! To me that’s a MAJOR RED FLAG especially since recent research suggests that a lot of the additives we once considered safe may be responsible for a rise in inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.

So a homemade version of gripe water was looking like our best option… and after doing some surfing on the web we found a few recipes that we blended together plus making some minor additions of our own – and VIOLA we got something that worked pretty darned well for our little guy…

So if you have a baby who is suffering from gas – like we did – than this homemade Colic tea for baby can really help:

Colic Tea for Baby Recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups water

3 in piece of fresh ginger

1 tbsp. fennel seed, crushed OR 2 fennel tea bags

2 camomile teabags (or 2 tsp. dried camomile)

Handful of fresh mint/ 1 pure peppermint teabag (make sure it doesn’t have black tea in it)

1 tbsp raw cane sugar or maple syrup (or to taste)

If your baby sweats when he sleeps – like my little nephew does then adding a bit of dried sage (roughly 3- 4 leaves) can help too!

Procedure:

Add ginger and fennel to water and bring to a boil, then gently simmer until it becomes a golden amber color (roughly 30 seconds). Cover and let steep for 1-2 min. Strain and keep in the fridge until ready to use. (Makes 2 cups).

You can give baby about 15 ml (1 tbsp) just before bedtime or anytime he’s gassy. I recommend using a bottle type medicine dispenser and warming it to just tepid in a bottle warmer – the same as you would for formula (test it on the bottom of your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot). On a side note, if you are breastfeeding, this tea can be good for you too. You may also want to read up on Gassy Foods You Can Avoid When Breastfeeding.

Omar Alshazly

 

Mmmmm… Carrot Cake

Basic Carrot CakeWe’ve been getting carrots in our organic box for the past few weeks, and thanks to the fact that both Imrana and I have braces – they aren’t the easiest thing to eat raw… so we’ve been coming up with creative ways to enjoy cooked carrots…

Which inevitably led to us digging out this Carrot Cake Recipe. Now as a child, I must admit, I’d walk right passed this humble cake and straight to the chocolate… but lately I’ve developed a love for the more subtle flavours of fruit (or in this case vegetable) based cakes.

Our Good Old Carrot Cake Recipe

We got a hold of this recipe way back when… from some obscure school cook book, but as simple as it is, it gets a five star rating from the family. In fact it happens to be Dad’s favourite!

The best part is it only takes a few minutes to throw together – grating the carrots is the only real time consumer. But thanks to our handy dandy Braun Hand Blender (did I mention I ABSOLUTELY love this little guy – but more on that later), even this takes no time at all!

So here’s what you’ll need:

 

Carrot Cake RecipeIngredients

Dry

1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. each baking soda and powder
1 1/3 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt

Wet

1 cup raw sugar (turbinado)
1 cup EVOO (preferably first-cold pressed)
2 cups grated carrots (YAY for our Organic Box)
3 eggs

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl beat all wet ingredients together adding eggs one at a time at the end. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients and then fold in wet ingredients. Bake for 40-45 min in a loaf pan. Makes 16 slices (250 kcal)

On a side note, we ended up using our bread machine instead. It took a little bit longer to bake but we didn’t have to heat up the entire oven and since our bread machine mixes the batter for us, we could be SUPER LAZY carrot cake makers!

Don’t Forget the Icing

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe - Carrot CakeBut hold on, everyone knows carrot cake is just not carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting!

Now I don’t know about you, but I always find that the icing is overly sweet on store bought carrot cakes. That’s why this recipe’s so great – you get to add just as much sweetness as you like!

Now here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

1 4-oz package light cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
icing sugar (we used about 2 tbsp…it was a bit sweet)

Procedure

Cream together cheese, butter and vanilla. Add icing sugar until soft enough to spread. Makes enough for 1 loaf of carrot cake – 16 slices (48 kcal).

On a cold day – OK cool day in our apartment – with a hot cup of orange ginger tea, this really hits the spot. ENJOY!

Mmmm Carrot Cake

Farewell 2014 HELLO New Year!

New Year 2014-2015Can you believe 2014 is over? Is it just me or did it¬†seem to zip on by – and what a year it’s been! I hope your 2014 was filled with some great accomplishments though I am sure you must have had some near misses and even a failure or two¬†that hopefully helped you re-prioritize the important things in your life – I know I sure did… a relationship that went South, a permanent move¬†that turned into an unexpected return and of course all sorts of¬†craziness that often goes along with trying to run your own business…¬†but the absolutely best part of 2014 for me was the arrival of our¬†new addition to the¬†family – the birth of my nephew Omar Alshazly.New Year - Omar Alshazly

Farewell 2014

Some how the end of the year always makes me a bit nostalgic and I’ve always been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who I have had the opportunity to create long standing memories with… this year I’m spending New Year’s in Dubai with my twin sister and her husband who we’ve known from University days so memory lane goes back a ways :) . While we don’t celebrate Christmas, we do have some interesting traditions that have sprouted over the years for the holidays – like watching Home Alone on Christmas Day… and when we were younger we were all about heading to downtown Halifax to watch the fireworks but that tradition’s slowly morphed into spending New Year’s Eve on the couch in PJs with¬†a movie and board games along with take out or an ala carte style dinner that often resembles breakfast. Honestly looking back at it now I can’t imagine trying to get through traffic and standing for hours to get a terrible view of the fireworks here in Dubai versus sitting snuggly on the couch watching the countdown from front row seats on TV… yeah I’m OLDER and I’d say wiser :)

Hello New Year

But the end of the year also means the beginning of a BRAND SPANKING NEW YEAR and a stretch of 365 uncharted days ahead… opportunity, really to start fresh all over again. I’m not sure about you but I have a few incomplete 2014 New Year’s resolutions that have quickly been added to the top of my 2015 list of things to accomplish this year. With these comes gratitude for all that I’ve been blessed with including the opportunity to write this blog and share this little part of the web with all of you – Thank you for visiting me here, reading my ramblings and commenting on the things you find interesting. I hope to hear more from you in 2015 and look forward to answering your questions in the New Year!

 

Flat Abs Formula in 3 Steps

Flat Abs - no reason you can't have themI have realized that moving to Dubai is like starting University… Just like you have the Freshman 15 (lb. that is – or roughly 8 kg), we here in Dubai are all too familiar with our first year’s 10 kg (which is roughly 20 lb.) weight gain.

In fact one of the first things I noticed when I walked around Dubai is the fact that even the skinniest of people seemed to sport a little pooch… now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m obsessed with flat abs – though I wouldn’t complain about having them either – but I do care about being and staying healthy, and carrying weight on your midriff is a well-known indicator that bad things are sure to follow… so it perplexed me that most of us Dubains seem to carry extra weight on our abs… and¬†sure enough by the end of the year I had one of my very own little pot bellies to prove it too..

But then I’ve already been here for about 6 years, so why I am I writing this post now? Well because I recently left Dubai for good… And then came back unexpectedly… And it turns out you are not immune to this phenomenon the second time around either… Yep I just gained 10 lb. in less than 6 months – and it all happens to have gone straight to my tummy!

The good news is once I recognized it, I was able to figured out how to lose this weight fairly quickly the last time around – thank God I’m a dietitian who’s been working in the field for some 10+ years, it’s a skill that comes in handy every now and again ;)…

3 Step Flat Abs Formula

So this is what works:

    1. cut out the fried foods and desserts –¬†I would have loved to tell you that you could¬†eat particular foods to help give you¬†wash board abs, but unfortunately while this concept is plastered across the internet, its much more effective for you to cut out foods that add weight to your belly rather than eat foods that may increase your metabolic rate slightly. And as we all know one of the biggest changes we all get into when we move to Dubai is eating out more frequently… The lifestyle is so conducive to this mainly I think because it’s so much cheaper (or more affordable I guess regardless of what socioeconomic strata you’re in) and there’s so many delicious options to choose from. In Dubai it’s easy to indulge your tastebuds. But eating out doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat unhealthy. Just remember to pass on the fries, limit the amount of free pita you ingest, opt for still water instead of drinks and save desserts for once a week. See it’s not so bad :)

 

    1. take up an activity – the other huge change we all go through when we move here is how much activity we actually do. Now I’m not a gym junky by any means… Quite the contrary in fact gyms just make me feel so out of place, but I am a walker. I can literally walk anywhere and not feel it, except for here that is… Unfortunately with the weather in Dubai, I can HARDLY walk ANYWHERE without feeling it so I usually DON’T walk as much as I normally would. But building regular activity into your day is not just good for your abs it’s good for you PERIOD. So pick an activity you enjoy, whether that’s swimming or walking, playing tennis or going to the gym, and try to do it regularly. Now that the weather’s nice I go for a 45 min. evening stroll with my sister and my little nephew on the weekdays – it’s also a great way to catch up with her and de-stress. While cardio – something that will make your heart pump a bit faster and make you sweat – is one of the best ways to lose belly fat, ANY type of additional activity is beneficial so make sure to do whatever works into your lifestyle regularly.

 

    1. drink water – I know I keep telling you this, but water REALLY does do amazing things for your body and your metabolism. I mean people weren’t kidding when they said water is the life force that differentiates earth from all the rest of the planets in our solar system. Plain and simply we need water to function – not just fluid from juice and soup or tea – so drink at least 2 L of it straight up every day.

 

Oh yeah, and as Colombo would say “there’s just one more thing…”and that is be patient – it will¬†probably take me about 2 months to lose this weight… Now that may seem like a long time for some people, but in the big picture it really isn’t. In fact it’s less time than it took for me to gain the weight. Plus if you’re planning to procrastinate on the couch for the next 3 months+ while you’re looking for that quick fix I can guarantee that it will take you much longer to reach your goal.

Now, if I wasn’t a hijabi I’d totally share pics of my incredible inflating and deflating tummy with you to help inspire you (they certainly keep me focused) – but it’s probably a good thing that this would be completely awkward and inappropriate in the current context ūüėõ

Good luck my soon to be flat ab’d nutriacs. Do let me know how you’re doing or if you have any other suggestions to share by leaving me a comment below.

Bonus: My Daily 5 min. Flat Abs Toning Routine

Flat Abs - Yoga_PlankPose Work up to holding this plank pose for 1 minute.
 Flat Abs - Yoga_SidePlank Work up to holding this side plank pose for 1 minute. Repeat on other side.
 Flat Abs - side-plank-rotation Work up to 10 reps of this side plank rotation. Repeat on other side.

When It’s Worth Seeing a Dietitian for Weight Loss

Seeing a Dietitian for Weight Loss - HelpAs a dietitian, who also happens to be a family member and a friend, I often find myself in an interesting position in my personal circles. The position in which people often want to talk to me about nutrition and get advice on losing weight, only to tell me they know all there is to know about eating healthy.

You know I get it, it seems really simple Рcalories in have to be less than calories out and eating healthy and adding activity are key.  And to be fair, thanks to all the great information available on the subject these days, to a certain extent we all do know a lot about nutrition. In fact I know a whole bunch of extremely nutrition savvy individuals who have learned everything about nutrition based purely on their own interests. And I also know a lot of people who have decided to lose weight and then done just that in a way that would make any dietitian proud.

However, there are times when even though you know everything there possibly is to know about something – you’d still benefit from having an expert on your team. Just like you would consider getting a photographer for your wedding or seeing the doctor when you need antibiotics, seeing a dietitian for weight loss could¬†just be the key to success you’ve been looking for.

That’s because while it sounds easy, we all know that¬†there is much much much more to losing weight¬†than just what goes into your mouth and how much you’re working out (like just not having enough time or not knowing what to make at 5:00 when the kids are crying for dinner, etc.). ¬†In my opinion, and I’m not saying this because I am one, there is nothing quite like having a personal nutrition expert – in particular, a dietitian – to guide you through your daily food challenges.

At the same time, when you’re paying out of pocket, which is usually the case, it may seem like an expensive luxury with the average cost per session for a dietitian running between AED 250-500 (roughly $70-140 USD) and the average weight loss package requiring that you have 12 consultations here in Dubai.

Seeing a Dietitian for Weight Loss - Keep Calm

When Seeing a Dietitian for Weight Loss is Worth It

So when should you consider shelling out the cash for counselling?

If you:

  • have been planning/trying to lose weight for a long period of time (you need to judge what this length of time is for you) without results.
  • have lost and gained the same weight over and over again.
  • are willing to put in the work but aren’t sure where that work needs to be put in exactly.
  • have a medical condition (like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, PCOS, hypothyroidism) which makes it more challenging for you to figure out what you need to do.

There are 2 caveats though:

  1. An expert can give you the road map but you’re the one who has to do the work to get there – and it will require you to make changes; so do it when you are mentally READY to put in the time¬†and embrace change.
  2. Not all nutrition experts are alike – and not all of us have the same experience or expertise or personalities¬†so you need to find the right fit for you. My clients have told me I’m really nice, I’m pretty firm and everything in between. And while some of us need the nice guy others prefer having a drill sergeant. The important thing is you need to be able to connect with someone that you can develop¬†a comfortable relationship with.

The reason I say this is because, while I’ve helped my clients lose a little over 6,000 lb. and counting so far in my career, not everyone I’ve worked with has had success – mainly due to one of these 2 reasons. That being said, I personally¬†feel¬†that just like¬†I work¬†hard for my money, my clients should see/feel that their money and time are also being well spent, which is why I offer a 30-day money back guarantee and a free initial consultation. And I am sure there are other nutrition experts¬†who do the same¬†too. So make sure to ask!

At the end of the day, when¬†you add up all the money you’ve spent on supplements, diets, books, exercise equipment, etc. as well as all the times you were determined to lose weight or fit into that dream dress or pair of jeans you love without success; you may just feel that the money and time you spend with a dietitian¬†will in fact be¬†worth it for you.

The best part about seeing a dietitian for weight loss in my opinion is, unlike solutions like healthy meal delivery, you get to take all the valuable knowledge you learn in the process with you. After all it’s like the saying goes “give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.”

PS. Don’t forget to check and see if your medical insurance provider covers the services of a dietitian as this is becoming more common now.

Organic Produce Home Delivery in Dubai

Organic Produce in Dubai - Ripe
Now that the organic foods movement has been around for a while, a lot of us are familiar with the benefits of choosing these foods over regular everyday grocery store alternatives.

However, the biggest challenges with  buying organic produce have and  (while this has improved a bit over the past few years) still are how much it costs and how much effort it takes to find it.

The question is, is it really worth it? Honestly speaking, the jury is divided even though there are a whole array of opinions ranging from those who feel its a waste of money to those who won’t put anything in their mouths unless it’s certified organic and everything in between.

While scientifically speaking there is still little evidence to suggest that organic foods are necessarily more nourishing than their non-organic counterparts, in my opinion if you can afford it, I would say for the most part yes it absolutely is. Truth be told, I’m not a gung-ho organic advocate. In fact there are times when I feel local is a more sensible choice than organic, but if it’s available and the price isn’t significantly restrictive I do opt for organic produce whenever I can.

That’s because even though both conventionally grown and organically grown produce may have the same amount of nutrients based on lab results, I’d venture to say that the quality of these nutrients is more than likely different. Furthermore not having the added cancer-causing chemicals, and the use of more humane and sustainable farming practices all add up to something much better for us and Mother Earth in my opinion. And my hope is that if enough of us use our consumer buying power to support the production of organic foods, then soon all food will be organic by default.

But this post isn’t about convincing you to spend an arm and a leg on expensive organic produce that’s hard to find (there are many discussions across the web that weigh out the pros and cons of these for those who are interested)…

Its about buying organic produce that is in fact affordable and super-convenient too. The amazing thing is that in the last few years Dubians, like their North American counterparts, have been blessed with a number of local farms who deliver organic produce ¬†straight to the doorstep. And the cost – a mixed vegetable box that weighs about 5kg – costs only between AED100 -175. I’d say that’s pretty comparable to the average amount one might spend at the grocery store¬†on a week’s worth of produce, wouldn’t you agree?

Comparing the Organic Produce Options in Dubai

Organic Produce in Dubai - Greenheart
Organic Produce in Dubai - Greenheart
Organic Produce in Dubai - Ripe
Organic Produce in Dubai - Go Organic
Organic Produce in Dubai - Go Organic
Now, from my own research I found three companies here in Dubai that offer organic produce home delivery and wanted to give you guys feedback after trying all of them in case you are thinking of doing the same. I tried ordering the:

    1. Ripe Large Vegetable Box (AED 155) approximate weight 5.5 kg plus 2 herbs.

 

    1. Go Organic Large Veggie Box (AED 175) approximate weight 6 kg plus 2 herbs.

 

    1. Greenheart Organic Mixed Box Classic (AED 100) approximate weight 4 kg plus 2 herbs.

 

And while I plan to do a more thorough post on each of the three in the upcoming weeks, here’s a summary of what I found:

    • All of these companies offer similar organic produce in their vegetable boxes and the great thing is you get what grows seasonally in the region.

 

    • The vegetables all arrived fairly fresh and were easy to clean and store. It was actually quite nice to open the door to a box full of colourful vegetables – it kind of felt like Eid/Christmas. In fact Go Organic put ice in their box to ensure their produce survived the heat during delivery (though it made a bit of a mess as it made the produce and the box a bit soggy). Also, considering they are coming fresh from the farm there is a bit more dirt (Greenheart had the most out of the three the first time I ordered from them – but thankfully since the amount of dirt has become less) on the produce compared to what¬†you get when you buy it at the grocery store. The good news – NO BUGS.

 

    • While the boxes are filled with pre-selected veggies based on what’s growing around the region, you can ask to have items substituted. All three companies were happy to make some changes without any additional charge. The only thing is, of the three companies, only Ripe remembered to make the substitution for me.
    • On that note, all three seem to have pretty good customer service too – in fact Greenheart gave me a free box (100 AED value) for missing my substitutions – how often will a company do that?!

 

    • You do pay a deposit (5 AED) for the box with Greenheart unlike Ripe and Go Organic, but all companies will collect their boxes for reuse.

So what’s the verdict?

Overall, I would definitely recommend getting an organic produce box delivered to your doorstep. I ended up going with Greenheart because as a small family of 3 adults their box lasts us about 2 weeks, which is perfect for us.

On a side note, while I considered getting organic fruits delivered as well, the fact is most of it comes from Europe and North America. When I think about the environmental impact of shipping fruit all the way to us here in Dubai I felt that buying local produce makes more sense, especially considering a lot of farms around the region may in fact still use older farming practices.

Oh yeah, if you’re looking for organic produce delivery in America – check out www.localharvest.org.

5 Immune Boosting Foods to Ward Off Colds/Flus

5 Immunity Boosting Foods
It’s that time of year – the weather’s changing, school’s back in session and people are coming down with runny noses, coughs and sneezes.

While we all know that there is no real cure for the common cold or the flu mainly because there are so many unique viruses that hijack our own cells to spread and reproduce that it’s impossible to keep track of them, boosting our immune system can really help stave off these pesky invaders.

On that note, here are 5 immune boosting foods that have been proven to do just that:

1) Culinary Mushrooms –¬†They may look humble, but mushrooms are ninjas when it comes to boosting your immune system. In fact, like garlic and onions, they have been shown to increase your white blood cell count, due in part to the selenium and glucans they contain. But that’s not all, they¬†have also been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
2) Garlic –¬†While it’s most notoriously known to keep vampires away, garlic also keeps your immune system
running at it’s optimum. It’s the sulfuric compounds like allicin, also found in onions (cabbage, brussel sprouts
and kale), that give garlic it’s pungent odour and are responsible for wiping out bacteria, viruses and fungi. While the most effective way to get garlic’s benefits is to have it raw (2 raw cloves a day¬†can give your immune system the boost it needs),¬†¬†this is not always very practical! The good news – incorporating¬†garlic into your meals several times a week is also helpful.

Need some inspiration on how to add mushrooms and garlic to your diet? Try out this Garlic Roasted Mushroom Salad.

3) Onions –¬†Loaded with nutrients like quercetin, selenium and allicin, onions don’t just add great flavour to everyday cooking, they also¬†¬†work hard to ward off invaders like viruses. While there’s no real recommendation on how much you need to eat to boost your immune system, including them in the diet on a daily basis isn’t difficult.

Now, while we all use onions in our cooking, you may also enjoy Pickled Onions.

4)¬†Ginger – is especially good to fight off upper respiratory viruses, which is exactly what you need at this time of year. This is partly due to it’s high manganese content, but it also contains shagaols and gingerols that help open up the sinuses. Because it can cause mild irritation if eaten in excess, you shouldn’t have more than 4g (about a tsp.) of fresh raw ginger a day.
5) Turmeric Рthis yellow spice that gives curry powder its distinctive color is
loaded with curcumin. Among many other properties like preventing inflammation and oxidative damage, curcumin has immune boosting properties as well. ¬†If you’re not an Indian Food fanatic don’t worry, this mild (almost tasteless) spice can be added to pretty much anything you’re making.

Need some inspiration on how to add turmeric and ginger to your diet? Try out this Glowing Sesame Ginger Turmeric Dressing/Dip.

I’d also venture to say all of these foods together would make the basis for a delicious stir-fry.

Who knew boosting your immune system could be so simple and delicious?

Frozen Fruit: The Perfect After School Snack

The Perfect After School Snack - Frozen FruitThere’s only one thing I love more than sweet summer fruit:

FROZEN sweet summer fruit

Depending on whether you prefer sweet or tart – fruits like oranges, mandarins, tangerines, cherries, grapes, I’d say any fruit really – can be magically transformed into fresh fruit popsicles without all the additives or the work. All you really need is some space in your freezer. Simply let them thaw on the counter for a few minutes and they are ready to eat.

And this time of year, they serve as a perfectly refreshing after school snack or after dinner dessert.

As for how to pick what fruits to freeze, remember to choose ones that have thin skins and tend to be juicier. For example juicing oranges are a better choice than oranges meant for eating. Similarly large berries like strawberries are a better choice than smaller ones like blueberries.

BTW ready to serve frozen fruit (like pitted sweet cherries, pineapple, mango, etc.) can be an even easier (and sometimes more nourishing) short cut too.

P.S. For those of you who like tart/sour stuff, frozen jamun (aka syzygium cumini or jambul) thawed overnight in the fridge will tickle your tastebuds.

3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Count Calories

I enjoy¬†7 Days, and if you read it, you know that they often write interesting articles about nutrition – some of them very good and others not so much…

So last Monday’s (Sept 1st) ¬†had this on the front page:

Which made me go¬†“Oh no… this does not sound good… “ And sure enough I had a “HMMMMM” moment:

You guys know that I am anti-crash diets like most people in my field, but what my clients also know about me is I am seriously anti-calorie counting too. And I think this article, especially points 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 9 (i.e. pretty much all of them), do a great job of illustrating exactly why.

While I’m happy to report that one savvy reader made the comment that partly covered what was on my mind the following day:

 

I think there are many more reasons why counting calories is a bad idea, 3 of the most important ones being:

1) At its core eating is about nourishing your body – and while I appreciate that when your trying to lose weight, sometimes it becomes a numbers game, the simple fact is you CANNOT categorize foods based simply on how much energy they provide you with. If you did, a slice of white bread (75 calories/ 30g (1oz) slice)¬†could be considered a better choice than it’s whole grain counterpart (81 calories/ 30g (1 oz) slice) and we all know this is far from the case. The fact is there’s much more to food than simple mathematics, which brings me to my second point…

2) Keeping your focus on counting calories alone can lead you to nutritional imbalance – what I mean is yes you can have a cookie or a piece of fruit for the same number of calories but these choices are hardly similar from a nutrition point of view. If you’re thinking “what’s wrong with a cookie once in a while?,” your absolutely right there’s NOTHING wrong with it at all. What is problematic though is when you substitute your fruit for dessert. In actuality it’s much better for you to eat a few more calories one day and have your cookie and your fruit instead of saving a few calories and missing out on good nutrition.

3) And finally, counting calories plain and simply takes the fun out of eating, especially when it becomes an obsession – which it easily can!

When you keep these points in mind, then you understand why I have an issue with the 7 Days article:

1) Yes lattes have more milk in them but milk is part of a wholesome diet.

2 &7) Bananas, apples, peas and broccoli are fruits and vegetables that are each loaded with their own unique blend of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and other nutrients that are essential to good health. And in this case, variety is much more important than how many calories these foods contain.

4, 6 & 9) As for sandwiches, salads, pasta, rice, soup rolls and oat cakes, all of these foods are fundamentally wholesome albeit how they are prepared is an important factor to consider, even when it comes to comparing them to each other. What I mean by that is a sandwich could in fact be less or MORE nutritious than a salad depending on what’s in either of them. And the same goes for rice, pasta, oatcakes and soup rolls.

The bottom line is your focus should be on eating healthy rather than worrying about the numbers – if you do this, the numbers will automatically go where you need them to.

About Moi :)

I am a well-seasoned (pun intended) Registered Dietitian with over 10 years of experience in the field and a love for all things YUMMY - I want to share what I've learned about EATING and staying SKINNY with you through this blog. I'd also love to hear from you so leave me a comment and I'll get back to you!

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