Happy Birthday Imrana! I love you and feel blessed that we get to celebrate another B-Day together I’m sure I’m not alone when I say the world would be a different place if there were no sisters – thank God it isn’t one we have to live in!
And since we are talking about birthdays, weight loss sisters and other important things like nephews – did you ever notice that no matter where you live or what ethnic background you come from special occasions – like birthdays – all have 2 things in common:
- FOOD and
- Family/friends aka loved ones
Now food is one of those things that we can’t live without and I think we – as a community – have become very aware of the impact that making good eating choices has on our health. But many of us don’t really realize just how important our social connections are to our overall well-being too. In fact I’d even venture to say they may be the equivalent of food for our souls.
So what does any of this have to do with weight loss?
Well, while some of us may be more social than others, as Maslow recognized, human beings are meant to be connected to each other in a way that nourishes our being. And while building strong healthy connections with family – like sisters and nephews – has been long known to have a positive impact on our mental health, we are now learning it also effects our overall well being too. In fact a recent study found that the more people interacted in an online group weight loss program the more weight they lost.
But it’s not just about having people to support and encourage you to meet your goals that makes a difference – as a holistic nutritionist I’ve learned that our mind has a very powerful influence on our body. In fact more and more research is supporting this idea that was once thought of as an old wive’s tale. For example, did you know that having positive social connections has the power to significantly decrease your blood pressure and your body’s overall inflammation? It may even increase your life expectancy by 14%!
You know, as a dietitian whose helped people improve their health over the years, I have seen just how much a person’s emotional/mental state is tied to their ability to achieve their goals.
So here’s my advice:
- Enjoy special occasions – they’re not what’s sabotaging your weight loss
- Take a look at your relationships and how they are affecting you – change the ones you can and decide to let the ones you can’t not take up so much of your emotional time.
- If you are a worrier – like most moms tend to be – learn to let some things go, trust me the stress and what it’s doing to you is just not worth it… Everything will work out just the way it’s meant to be
- And if you are a hard working bread winner make sure to take time to enjoy the things you are working so hard for
In closing, I’d like to mention that the best birthday gift I ever received is my nephew Amaan who was also born today – Happy Birthday Maanu!! We have to have our hug marathon when I get back 😉 That’s definitely going to help build my emotional well-being! Remember life may not be what you planned it to be but the universe is making sure the best things for you are happening – I see this in my life everyday and I am grateful for the many unplanned events that have brought me to where I am today.
P.S. I also want to CONGRATULATE our Boot Camp group for losing a phenomenal 114 lb. (that’s one whole me!) and 60″ in just 12 weeks – you guys are amazing!! Thank you for letting us be part of your social support group and welcome to our ever growing Nutriacs family
Since iHop has declared today, March 8, 2016, to be National Pancake Day this year I thought this would be the perfect time for me to share my all time FAVORITE pancake recipe. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate iHop’s initiative in offering free pancakes to the nation but unfortunately their pancakes are a bit lacking in the nutrition department.
Now you may be under the impression that whole wheat pancakes probably taste like cardboard – and could never compare to iHop but I would have to ask you to taste before you judge! In fact you may be inclined, after a belly-full of hearty pancakes, real maple syrup and bountiful fruit – to agree that these pancakes are actually quite heavenly!
So a little background on this recipe:
This recipe is an AllRecpies.com. one with a few tweaks, made by Imrana (yep – my twin sister, who happens to have inherited the good cooking genes from mom). And I will be quite honest with you, I try and have these pancakes ONCE A WEEK – that’s how nourishing and delicious I feel they are.
Ok so without further ado, here’s the recipe:
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 heaped tablespoon ground flax
- 2 eggs (preferably organic free range)
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk (preferably organic low-temperature pasteurized)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin first cold pressed olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Whisk whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, flax and salt in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs and then stir milk, oil, and vanilla extract into eggs.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture; stir until just combined. If batter is too thick, add more milk.
- Heat a skillet or griddle with a little olive oil over medium-high heat. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot skillet and cook pancake until browned on the bottom and bubbles appear in the top, 1 to 2 min. Flip the pancake and cook until browned.
- Repeat with remaining batter. Makes about 12 pancakes.
- Serve these pancakes with real maple syrup and fresh fruit. I love a mix of strawberries, blueberries, banana and mango. ENJOY!!
- NUTRITION INFO: 2 Pancakes are 440 kcal with 4g fibre, 9.6g protein and 48g carbohydrate, 23g fat, 4.5g saturated fat
Don’t forget to share pics and give me your feedback on how your pancakes turned out!
Happy Valentines Day everyone I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted – 2016 had me hitting the ground running and it’s been an adrenaline rush so far – I hope your year has started out on a really good note as well!
So here we are – month 2 of the new year, a time when those New Year’s resolutions are either coming along really well or you may be looking at climbing back on the wagon… Either way I hope the advice I’m sharing today will help you get/stay motivated…
Don’t worry – I’m not going to ruin your chocolate/gourmet dessert eating day – like many of my weight loss tips, this one has more to do with your head/heart than some quick fix extreme dieting solution that will get you in your pre-wedding attire for one night and one night only – something I’m not a big advocate of in general 😉
This one – quite appropriately – is about love, and it’s simply to:
Too many of us are so busy loving all the important people in our lives that we forget to love us. That and our society tends to make us believe that loving oneself is a vain and narcissistic thing to do and thinking about what you want is the same as being selfish.
NOT TRUE! In fact it can be quite the opposite – simply because if you don’t make time to love yourself enough to know who you are and what you want – nobody else can either. Worst case scenario – you’ll end up trying to be someone that you don’t want to be. And I say this from experience – I’ve done a lot of self-reflecting and growing in the past 6 years, something I was forced to do because I went through a divorce. Mind you this isn’t something I usually talk about – especially on a day that celebrates couples – but I did want to share my insight today, because it’s not about relationships as much as it is about being able to take a long hard look at yourself and accepting the person who’s peering back at you.
Part of the reason I dropped the ball in my marriage (it wasn’t all my fault of course ;)) is because I lost track of me and what I wanted from me.
So what I have learned from hindsight is that self-love is essential for success! The good part is being able to understand why I failed gives me the opportunity to pick myself up, brush myself off and try again.
To be honest I don’t think I’d be where I am today – putting my dreams in motion – had I not had the experiences I’ve had…
Positive Self-Affirmations are good for you
OK so what I’d like you to do today is to say the following to yourself:
“I accept me for me – I am not perfect, there’s good and bad things about me but I embrace the good and am willing to acknowledge and change the things I can”
It’s a self-affirmation – one you can follow with a “because I am…” (and then fill in the blank or several blanks for that matter) with a positive statement that speaks to you about who you are
I know it may feel weird, but once you acknowledge that it’s OK to be kind to yourself, you will be able to believe that you DESERVE everything you are trying to achieve… like the weight loss you committed to at the beginning of the year for example.
Now go enjoy Valentine’s Day and all the goodies it brings and then get back into gear by following your self-affirmation with some goals and how you plan to achieve them in the upcoming days, weeks and months!
P.S. You can learn more about self-affirmations here:
Just in time for the holidays, this banana bread is a crowd pleaser… and the best part is the ingredients are unbelievably good for you!
So let me give you guys some background on this – this recipe is one that has been developed with much thought and love over several years by my recipe guru Asma Rafiq… and I’ve been asking her to share it with all of you from the first day I tasted it.
You’ll understand why once you try it
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- a sprinkle of nutmeg
- 1 tbsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup yogurt
- 3 mashed bananas
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and eggs and set aside. Stir the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then add them to the creamed mixture making sure to whisk it all together well. And then stir in yogurt, mashed bananas and walnuts. Pour into a greased loaf pan, sprinkle with oats and bake @ 350 for 55 min.
- One hearty slice of this delicious loaf contains 330 kcal, 3 g fibre, 6.7 g of protein and is a good source of omega 3
Watch us make this recipe:
Everyone who knows me well, knows that I really LOVE this time of the year because of the good cheer it brings with it – I mean it feels like from now until New Year’s most people shift into their happy-holiday-moods which tends to be contagious
And I totally get that there is this longing to indulge in all the seasonal treats too.. after all they’re only available around this time of year, and then there’s that nippiness in the air that seems to really stoke the appetite fire as well!
But it’s also at this time of year, when we start thinking of being with family and friends and more importantly dressing up, that the little voice in our head starts us fretting at the idea of fitting into that perfect outfit we’ve picked out for the occasion.
Now I know there’s only a few more weeks before Christmas, so I thought I’d share my most effective top 3 weight loss tips for the holidays with you, which should help you slim down just in time to avoid those dreaded spanx:
My 3 Most Effective Weight Loss Tips for the Holidays
1. Drink up
water that is… in the form of broth-based soups, teas, or straight up as is. You see as the weather cools down, we tend to forget to keep hydrated and often don’t feel as thirsty as we should. But the worst thing about it is, a lot of the times we end up confusing hunger for thirst which means we’re eating more even though we don’t need to! Solution: keep a measured bottle with you and make sure to get at least your 2L in every day from now until X-Mas. You’ll be happily surprised with the results, I promise.
2. Step away from the whipped cream
I know all those gorgeous hot drinks are calling your name at Starbucks, and I say go ahead and treat yourself… A BIT, that is. What I mean by that is, some of those concoctions have more calories than you should eat in a day! Solution: think about skipping the whipped cream and sprinkles and consider asking for just one pump of the flavour syrup when you place your next order. I’m not one to really advocate counting calories, but in this case – when we are looking at foods that aren’t all that nourishing – I’d say aim to keep your additional treats in the 200 kcal/day zone from now on, whether that’s an indulgent hot beverage, cake or other seasonal delight
3. Up your feel good endorphins
I know it’s the end of the year and it’s crunch time… not to mention the cold may stop you from being as active as you usually are… but this is the time when you really need to up your game in the exercise department – and the only way to do that is to COMMIT to doing at least 30 min of something (yoga, dancing, walking, treadmill-ing…) EVERY DAY! Coz you really don’t want the end-of-the-year-stress to = binging (the other way to up those feel goo hormones). And YES you really DO HAVE a 30 MIN window you can devote to yourself in a 24 hr timeframe. Solution: check out some of these super quick workouts you can do in the comfort of your office/living room or where ever you like really:
To give you a little background, this 10-30 min workout is by one of my favorite youtubers when it comes to exercise – Cassey Ho. What I love about her workouts are they are moderately intense and can really be done anywhere… and this SnowBunny Blast video is NO exception:
Adriene Mishler is another youtuber that I adore when it comes to workouts. What I love about yoga is it feels much less intense but it is a real workout, not just for the body but for the mind – and Yoga with Adriene certainly captures that essence. If you’re having the winter blues don’t reach for the sugar just yet, try this practice instead:
And for those of you who are looking for high intensity, this is the workout that’s calling your name, it’s 15 min so you can handle the burn:
We posted almost a month ago on FB that we’d be doing this recipe for you… and then Asma was unexpectedly swept off to Turkey for her Anniversary (may Allah bless you two always isA ameen ) – so well what can I say…
But the good news is we’ve been able to have our version of Apple Roses ready for you just in time for Thanksgiving!
So for those of you who haven’t seen the original:
Gorgeous and oh so simple, right? Well we’ve taken this recipe up a notch for you guys:
1 apple, sliced
1/2 lime’s juice
1 sheet of puff pastry, rolled out
3 tsp ground flax
6 tsp St Dalfour Apricot Jam
A sprinkle of cinnamon
1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped and divided into 6
first cold pressed extra virgin oilve oil for greasing the pan
well it’s just easier to watch it…
Each hearty rose is about 250 kcal and loaded with omega 3 fats thanks to the added flax and nuts.
And now you know what our secret weapon is for getting perfect petals every time – A MANDOLIN SLICER. I think Asma said it best when she said “this is the best kitchen appliance in the world”.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!
Let us know what you think of our changes and if you try making these share your pics with us.
Should trick or treating be banned? Or is one night – OK maybe one month – of having a sugar high really all that bad for the kids?
Whether you love the costumes or think this is a ploy for candy companies to cash in, Halloween is probably one of the most debated holidays in North America – well at least it is for dietitians… especially us Muslim ones (since we have a philosophical disagreement with the concept of it – but that’s a whole ‘nother ball game isn’t it)!
So if you’re that parent, aunt, uncle, neighbour (or fill in the blank) whose sitting on the fence spinning the roulette wheel and waiting to see which side to join this year, I hope this will help you make a more informed decision… on the CANDY part of things anyways…
To treat or not to treat
If we look at the simplest version of the facts, then it is safe to assume that:
more candy = more caloriesand more calories = more fat
and if a=b and b=c then a=c
which means theoretically
more candy = more fat …
unless of course we look at calories in vs. calories out, in which case:
more candy + more running around from a sugar high may not necessarily = more fat, right?
OK – on a more serious note, I think it is safe to say that we all know that OD’ing on candy really isn’t such a hot idea. At the same time, if you live in any neighbourhood in the US or Canada at least than you are sure to be faced with a battle between the kids – who just want to dress up and come home with loot – and your common sense.
So is Halloween really responsible for making our kids fat?
What if I told you that Halloween may just be more of an opportunity than you think…
Here’s the thing, when all is said and done, CANDY IS SIMPLY CANDY at the end of the day – and it only has as much power over you and your kids as you allow it to. At the same time showing your kids how to manage treats is one of the most important skills you can teach them in this easy access, processed food world that we live in.
So if you ask me, Halloween, like everything else, should really be less about candy and more about finding balance. Whether you decide that means you’ll be the house on the street that gives out tooth brushes or not, if when all is said and done you know you’re kids know that candy is not part of the food guide then I wouldn’t sweat it all that much.
Halloween Yin & Yang
Here are 3 tips I think will help you find your Halloween Zen:
- Make Halloween more about socializing and less about candy – go trick or treating with friends/neighbours or have a little party with some pals
- Set Limits – Make sure your child knows that they have a quota of candy they can have for the day and that there is a difference between full-size and mini candy bars
- Feast before you treat – It’s always a good idea to remind kids that candy can be had after meals just like dessert and make sure your kids are full with a healthy wholesome dinner before they go trick-or-treating
If you want to find more ways to make Halloween a little bit healthier, you can check out these great ideas from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
and don’t forget to check out our Pinterest Celebrate Board
Hope you all have a Happy Halloween!
One of the things I see parents struggle with around this time of year is picking snacks that are as quick to pack as they are nourishing to eat. Something that’s really important when it comes to keeping our little Einsteins fuelled and alert throughout the day.
So here’s a list of some of my favourite lunch box snacks:
fresh fruit is nature’s original snack as it’s perfectly packaged to travel, especially fruits like apples, bananas, peaches, plums, pears, oranges, grapes… you get the idea But if you or your kids want to slice and dip, then nut butters (know your school’s policy on these) and cheeses (cottage or cream) are great sides as well. Dried (like raisins, figs, dates, apricots) and canned fruit (packed in 100% juice) are also good snacking choices.
roasted and lightly seasoned or as butters nuts (and seeds) are a snack with staying power. Make your own trail mix by adding dried fruit and cereal, or use the butters as a dip with fresh fruit/veggies (apples, bananas, celery) or whole grain crackers/bread.
yogurt, cheese, milk, laban…. many of these can be found in individual serving sizes and are an excellent way to ensure your little one is building healthy bones and teeth plus much more. By the way I am a very strong advocate of whole organic homogenized dairy products when possible… unless it’s cheese/cream than low fat is OK
as crackers (Annie’s and Goldfish are good choices), or granola (like Jordan’s and Kind), in cereal bars (Quacker’s Chewy bars aren’t bad) or even in the form of bread for sandwiches – remember snacks can also simply be smaller sized meals (e.g. a sandwich made with one slice of bread as opposed to two) or things like dosa, idli, sushi…
carrots, celery, broccoli on their own or with dips are surprisingly a big hit with kids, and don’t forget dehydrated/freeze dried veggies like snappea crisps… you can also make them at home or buy them in bulk from any organic grocery store like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fresh Market
this is just a fancy word for beans… and while they may not seem like something kids would reach for, don’t underestimate the tastiness of this group of protein packed foods. For example, chickpeas can be eaten as hummus or roasted and seasoned to a delicious crispiness and what about edamame, or another variation – soy nuts, lentil or bean chips…mmmm
And combining these 6 items (as I’ve tried to do for you) will give you endless snack options: dried fruit, nuts and/or cereals= trail mix, milk goes great with fruit or cereal, as does yogurt and cheese which also goes great with veggies…
The best part is as great as these are for your kids’ lunch boxes they are just as great for your work lunch box too!
Can you believe it’s already been a week since Ramadan started? That’s 1/4 way through the month! And for those of you who are joining me, 1/4 way through our Ramadan Detox – which so far has been pretty good…
Well that is of course with the exception of those darned Herxheimer reaction symptoms, and I mean not just the headache and fatigue type symptoms (which are expected when you’re not eating anything all day) but the stomach bug type of symptoms if you know what I mean 😉
To be honest I was a bit caught by surprise to have detox symptoms since I believe I eat fairly healthy throughout the year but then it also made me feel like “YAY, my body is doing some much needed house cleaning”…
Common Detox Symptoms
Now if you’re new to detoxing and have been feeling not so great this past week but didn’t really put 2 and 2 together, some common detox symptoms you may have experienced include headaches, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, intestinal disturbances (gas, bloating, cramping), flu-like symptoms (congestion, runny nose), fatigue, body aches and pains. In fact it’s not uncommon to experience psychological and emotional upset, for instance mood swings, intense emotions, strong cravings for foods and strange dreams either.
The severity of your detox symptoms really depends on how many toxins you have built up in your body. In fact those that need to detox the most usually experience the most symptoms, so hang in there if you feel like you’ve just been hit by a bus, remember this is normal…
And while these symptoms often get worse before they get better – this usually happens around day 3-4 of the detox – so since we’re already on day 7, the good news is that the WORST IS OVER!
In fact your symptoms should be beginning to subside right about now… And aren’t you glad I didn’t tell you you’d feel miserable until just now – in this case I think ignorance is bliss – YOUR WELCOME
That being said, in case you do have some lingering symptoms like I still do, remember the most important thing you can do is to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and resting as much as you can so that your body can focus on the work of detoxing that it’s so busy doing.
Keep in Mind
Now although we aren’t doing a super intense liquid detox or anything, it is always important to keep in mind…
• If you feel your symptoms are too strong, if your symptoms show no signs of improvement or if you are unable to work because you feel sick, dizzy or faint, it could be that the detox is too much for you too soon. You may need to add more nutrients to your cleanse in order to slow down the detox process and allow your body more time to adjust. Again make sure to drink lots of water to help eliminate the toxins from your body. If you ever feel like you require medical attention, please call your doctor ASAP!
• If you are constipated, it may be wise to slow down your detox a bit as well. That’s because during detox, your organs are releasing toxins which are circulating in your bloodstream before being eliminated into your stool and if you’re constipated then these toxins have no where to go. In order to make sure you stay regular, I highly recommend that you have at least 1 tbsp. of flax daily – just mix it into your yogurt and enjoy. Exercise is also important as it helps your lymphatic system expel toxins, hence my recommendation for the detox yoga practice that I hope you’ve been doing.
NOTE: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is not recommended that you undertake a detox at this time.
Now I must say that as much as detoxing has become some what of a craze and the “trendy” thing to do, it really isn’t EASY or, thanks to those good old detox symptoms, the most PLEASANT thing either! It definitely requires mental focus, so kudos to everyone who’s trying to eat as clean as possible this month and DOUBLE KUDOS to everyone who’s following a detox for purely personal reasons – KEEP IT UP because it will pay off!!
HAPPY DETOXING EVERYONE!
*If you’re brave enough, it’s not too late to join my FREE Detox Program, simply subscribe to my mailing list and I’ll send you weekly updates!