Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan is one of the Holy Months in the Hijri (Lunar) Calendar in Islam. During this time Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and we mark the end with the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr (Literally means to break fast). During this time we will be releasing a few recipes that are healthy and delicious, which are perfect to have for Iftar (breaking the fast). Traditionally, one should break their fast on a Date, and then continue to have their prepared meal. We will post everything from Mezza to Dessert, all traditionally eaten during this month. Growing up our Ramadan experience consisted of decorating the house with beautiful decorations, and as we grew older it meant spending a little more time preparing meals each day. You’d think it would be difficult to fast and prepare a feast, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Each day our menu included a soup, salad and side of samosas, baked pies or something special that our mom would cook up. This year we can’t wait to share those recipes with our readers!

Any requests can be left in the comments, or on Facebook 🙂

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

Cards from http://www.pathoflightdesigns.etsy.com

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Cards from:
http://www.pathoflightdesigns.etsy.com
http://www.facebook.com/PathOfLightDesigns

12 easy ways to snack healthy!

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Being a student, or having a full time job (that includes stay at home moms!) can often mean a significant compromise in our eating habits, particularly our snacking habits…I know I become a sporadic grazer! If you’re anything like me, you love to snack while in lecture, while studying or reading a book, watching TV, replying to emails, or while doing just about anything else. Having healthy snacks in between your main meals does in fact help keep your metabolism consistent- which is a good thing for weight loss, but more importantly for weight maintenance. The problem is, snacking is a double edge sword. Snack right and you reap benefits, snack wrong on the other hand…and you definitely suffer the consequences, in inches- and inches don’t lie!

When you start munching on the wrong munchies, it’s time to pause and re-evaluate your diet!

I know it takes great brainpower to come up with different snacking idea’s each and every day. I also know how much effort it to prepare these snacks. Like I tell every one of my consults, no pain no gain! Snacking healthy does require commitment, and here are 12 easy ideas to get you started!

Tip: If you have children keep in mind that good food role-modeling is an important determinant of how a child’s eating habits and health will develop as they grow. Children love to snack, especially when they are going through growth spurts. Helping them develop healthy snacking habits from a young age by snacking healthy yourself is an important step to helping them build healthy lifelong eating habits.

1. Baby carrots and Dip
Calories: 35 calories/10 baby carrots, 70 calories/tbsp Ranch

Simple enough? I think so! Carrots are extremely low in calories and ranch is very reasonable calorie wise. If you want to cut more calories, buy the low fat ranch. Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a precursor for vitamin A, which promotes healthy glowing skin, aids in cancer prevention, is an important contributor to good vision…and I could go on all day. Crunch away!

2. Apples/celery and peanut butter
Calories: 65 calories/apple, 5 calories/stick, 180 calories/2tbsp. Peanut Butter

One apple will contribute some vitamin C and dietary fiber to your diet. Celery on the other hand is way more impressive in my opinion; Did you know you expend more energy digesting celery than you gain eating it? This effectively makes celery negative calories. Don’t trip over yourself now as you run off to the grocery store to stalk up! (pun intended). Celery is also a source of Vitamin K, and as a bonus it is SUPER fun to fill up the middle cavity of celery sticks with peanut butter. Peanut butter is a different story when it comes to calories but it is jam packed with goodness. A whopping 12g of hearty unsaturated fats, 8 g of protein and a good amount of vitamin B6 and Magnesium. Now that’s what we nutritionists like to call nutrient-dense calories.

3. Crackers and cheese with grapes
Calories:
113 calories/1.5oz cheese, 60 calories/cup grapes

This is the kind of snack that most of us eat in our childhood. One serving of cheddar cheese (1.5 oz slice the size of your middle and index fingers together) equals around 113 calories of saturated fats, unsaturated fats and calcium.  Crackers on the other hand can differ depending on type so make sure to check the box before you take a generous helping. Whole wheat/whole grain are definitely a more nutrient dense option and they can provide you with a few extra grams of fiber if you choose carefully! As for grapes they are about 60 calories/cup and oh so fun to eat. With numbers that low, make it 2 cups. Bring on the grapes.

4. Yogurt and all bran buds with strawberries
Calories:
150 calories/cup low fat yogurt, 80 calories/0.33 cup all bran buds, 25 calories/0.5 cup strawberries

The snack industry seems to be all about yogurt these days. Probiotics are definitely the benefit of snacking on yogurt, they provide healthy gut flora and promote regularity. Aside from that, yogurt will provide you with calcium, vitamin D, healthy fats and even protein (12 g/cup); for all the goodness it contains, these calories are well worth it. All-Bran buds, what some would call ‘bird food’, are actually an extremely high source of dietary fiber, the highest I’ve seen in a food BY FAR! 1/3 cup will provide you with half your required intake of fiber for the day.  I bet you those numbers are going to make you reconsider? No? Just give it a try. Topping your yogurt and all bran buds with strawberries will add a splash of color, make for a pretty instagram worthy photo and of course add a little vitamin C and antioxidents to the mix.

5. Pretzels and Labne
Calories:
125 calories/20 pretzels, 60 calories/2tbsp. labne

Pretzels are one of those snacks that nobody seems to ever crave, but once you put a bowl out everyone enjoys them. They do tend to be a better snacking option since they are baked and not fried. Calories can differ depending on the brand so make sure to check the bag. Pretzels can contribute some B-vitamins, Iron and fiber to your diet, but overall their best feature is that they are generally fat-free. Labne is a delicious dipping option, it is high in calcium and vitamin D, so the calories can be guilt free.

6. Cucumbers, zaatar and labne
Calories:
8 calories/0.5 cup cucumbers, 60 calories/2tbsp. labne, 10 calories/tbsp. zaatar

Cucumbers are juicy, fresh and who doesn’t love them? Did I mention the calorie count is practically negligent and they are made up of 95% water? If you are like me and just aren’t a ‘water person’, try eating vegetables that will hydrate you instead! Again, dip your cucumbers into labne and for that extra zing, roll it into dry zaatar…trust me, you won’t regret packing this snack to school.

7. shredded carrots with lemon juice
Calories:
45 calories/1 cup shredded carrots, 3 calories/tbsp lemon juice

I think at this point I already discussed how absolutely wonderful carrots are for the soul…and health! Grate them (I use my food processor to do this), squeeze some lemon juice on top, and garnish them with a dash of cumin. Voila! Get this, 1 cup of shredded carrots is only 45 calories. Take that in. The lemon juice calories are not even worth counting, but the vitamin C is! Each tablespoon of lemon juice will also give you around 15% of your daily requirement for vitamin C.

8. Dried fruits and nuts eaten with plain yogurt on the side
Calories: 
150 calories/cup low fat yogurt, 200 calories/0.33 cup whole almonds or whole walnuts

Dried fruits are an excellent source of fiber, depending on the type, they can provide a few grams for just a small handful. Nuts, are also a great addition to any diet, they are also high in fiber, high in unsaturated fats including omega 3’s, high in Vitamin E and depending on the kind they can be high in minerals such as calcium (Almonds) or Magnesium (Almonds and Walnuts). That said, there is some bad news when it comes to eating nuts, they are hefty in their calorie count so don’t go overboard here. A nice handful of two of mixed nuts and dried fruit should do for the day. Need I talk about the goodness of yogurt again?

9. Fresh salted Snow peas
Calories:
100 calories/cup

As simple as that. 1 cup of these gives you about 100 calories as well as some vitamin A, C, K, protein and B vitamins. Add a dash of salt and crunch on these for a healthy alternative.

10. Baba ghanouj and baked pita chips
Calories:
200 calories/0.5 cup baba ghanouj

I just love Baba Ghanouj! The best part is, the canned version is surprisingly good making this snack literally as easy as 1-2-3. Baba Ghanouj will give you jam packed goodness of Manganese, Folate, Vitamin K and B vitamins from the eggplant and of course vitamin E from any the sesame seed oil used. I make my own baked pita chips too to spare myself the excess sodium and fat found in store bought ones! Here is the 411- Simply brush some pita with a tiny bit of olive oil and put it in the counter top grill for a minute or two. While you’re waiting, open the can of Baba Ghanouj and pour it into a plate. Dip and eat, and thank me later.

11. Peppers and Hummus
Calories:
30 calories/cup peppers

The more I write, the more  I can’t decide which snack is my favorite. Most people wouldn’t think to pair hummus with peppers, when it is in fact delicious, and nutritious! Plus, peppers are just beautiful to look at. As for hummus, see our post on 10 reasons to eat more chickpeas to learn about just how nutritious they are.

12. Cherry tomatoes and feta cheese
Calories:
30 calories/cup tomatoes, 100 calories/0.25 cup feta cheese, 10 calories/tbsp. zaatar

Last but most definitely not least, cherry tomaties, feta cheese, and a sprinkle of oregano or mint…or both! This is a flavorful combination, it is pretty to look at and yes, it is nutritious. Tomatoes contain cancer fighting compounds called Lycopene. Cheeses tend to be higher in calories, but to be fair, this snack needs only a small mount of feta cheese to provide the necessary flavor! Feta cheese will also add calcium and vitamin D to your diet.

Food & Nutrition 101: Micronutrients

As a follow-up to our post on micro-nutrients, it’s only fair if we also discuss micro-nutrients, they are just as important after all!

Although they don’t provide us with food energy (calories) micro-nutrients are nutrients that we need to facilitate all types of physiological functions within our bodies. They help with all the biochemical reactions that take place within us, effortlessly. Functions such as muscle movement, heart beats, breathing, digestion, vision, nerve impulses and the list goes on, it’s endless really! Not only do micro-nutrients ensure healthy body function, but they also play a large part in beauty. Yes, yes, it’s true. Want strong healthy nails? shiny hair? radiant skin? sparkly eyes? Having a healthy intake of all of the micro-nutrients will help you achieve optimal health and radiance in no time. After all, our bodies are walking, talking, breathing miracles.

So, first things first. Lets break down the micro-nutrients into manageable categories.  There are two types of micro-nutrients and they are:

1. Vitamins- 13 main types discovered to date

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalmins)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

2.  Minerals
-Major Minerals

  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Sulfur
  • Sodium
  • Chlorine
  • Magnesium

-Trace Minerals

  • Iron
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Molybdenum
  • Iodine
  • Selenium

It is important to include adequate amounts of all of these vitamins and minerals in your diet to maintain good health. Micro-nutrient deficiencies often lead to many diseases, fortunately for us most are not common in developed countries. Since there are so many micro-nutrients I will be making a separate post for each category so we can go more in depth about basic functions and food sources of each of these essential life supporting nutrients. Hopefully this will help you all avoid information overload. Stay tuned!

For dietary reference intakes (DRI) of vitamins and minerals please visit:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/alt_formats/hpfb-dgpsa/pdf/nutrition/dri_tables-eng.pdf

Lazy Hummus {5 Minute Recipe}

Now that school’s back on, you don’t have all the time in the world. Here’s a quick pictorial on making hummus in your food processor! Who doesn’t love a one-bowl recipe and easy clean up?

Continue reading “Lazy Hummus {5 Minute Recipe}”

Hummus {Lebanese Style}

Hummus is the arabic word for Chickpeas, or Garbanzo beans. Hummus is traditionally eaten in all parts of the Arab world, and each region makes it a little differently. This is the Lebanese style hummus that we grew up eating, usually with pita bread. Have you ever had a hummus sandwhich? Cause if you haven’t you are missing out – big time. Hummus was definitely not popular as we were growing up, but now you find people eating hummus with everything, and you find it everywhere! You could pretty much walk into any grocery store and buy some hummus, but it probably won’t be as good as this recipe. Actually we’re confident it won’t, because nothing beats home made. Also, packaged hummus doesn’t taste anything like the hummus we know.
Continue reading “Hummus {Lebanese Style}”

Food & Nutrition 101: Macronutrients

I’m sure you’ve all heard of macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients at one point in your life, and if you haven’t, then your elementary school science teacher definitely didn’t do his/her job. This post will be dedicated to macro-nutrients, the main building blocks of our food! To understand how to make healthy food choices and more importantly, why- you first need to understand what your food is made, so let’s go back to the basics, shall we?

There are three macro-nutrients, and they are responsible for providing you with food energy in the form of calories to perform numerous bodily functions that keep us alive and well:

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….andddd THIS is why high fat foods are so high in calories


1. Carbohydrates
. Ahh, what would we all do without this poor demonized nutrient!? Carbohydrates happen to be our primary source of energy. Carbs are made up of building blocks (molecules) called monosaccharides (simple sugars). There are hundreds of mono-saccarides, but the three main ones are:

  • Glucose        ….I’m sure you’ve ALL heard this one
  • Fructose     ….main sugar found in friuts
  • Galactose     …one of the sugars found in milk

Now, just for those of you who find this interesting: What happens when we put two monosacharides together? Well they become disaccharides, (duh!) So, just for the heck of it…

  • Glucose + Fructose = Sucrose                      …which is our very own table sugar
  • Glucose + Galactose = Lactose                     …the culprit behind lactose intolerance
  • Glucose + Glucose = Maltose                        …also known as malt sugar

…and the list goes on., ya dig?

The take home message here is that mono and disaccharides are SIMPLE sugars, they digest fast and have the ability to increase your blood sugar levels at a fast rate (hence sugar rush), which isn’t that great for your health. (The rate at which a food can raise your blood sugar at is called a glycemic index- more on this in a future post!). At the end of the day, we want to aim to eat more complex carbs, also called polysaccharides (such as whole grains) to maintain good health. Polysacharides are none other than much MUCH longer chains of monosaccharides, that will take longer to digest and therefore help you maintain even blood sugar levels throughout the day. Carbohydrates are just as important as any other nutrient, and when you make the right choices you won’t ever have to think about eliminating them.

2. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids that are arranged into long chains. There are 20 amino acids found in the human body, some of which we make, while others we get from food. The primary function of protein is to produce, maintain and repair body tissues, including skin, hair, nails, organs…you know, just everything! Basically, you need it to grow, which is why undernourished children who don’t eat enough protein tend to experience stunted growth and other health issues. The secondary function of protein is to provide us with a tertiary (3rd) backup source of energy (just in case we go on the Atkins diet and run out of our primary source!)

3. Fats, the most demonized one of them all, Fats serve as a secondary source of energy, they give our bodies an efficient way of storing excess energy (although seen in prudent light!), they provide cushioning for our organs, they provide body insulation to regulate our temperature and to regulate our neural impulses. Just like proteins and carbs, fats also have building blocks called fatty acids. There are three main types, saturated, unsaturated and trans.

  • Saturated fats are animal fats, they are solid at room temperature, BAD
  • Unsaturated fats are plant oils, liquid at room temperature, two types, GOOD
  • Trans fats are manmade fats, STAY FAR FAR AWAY!

Now, there are two types of unsaturated fats, mono-unsaturated fats and poly-unsaturated fats (the name is associated with how many double bonds are present in the fatty acid chain, mono being one and poly…well you get the point). You may have never heard these exact terms before, but who’s heard about how good olive oil is good for the heart? And who’s heard about how great Omega 3’s are? Well-there you go! Olive oil is high in mono-unsaturated fats which are shown to have health benefits, and omega 3 is a poly unsaturated fat that is also very good for you. So you see, unsaturated fats are good in moderation, saturated fats are essential but only in small amounts and from healthy sources (like avocados and nuts) and trans fats are the devil, just don’t.

This may have been a lot to digest (no pun intended), but if you’ve learned about these before then this will have surely refreshed your memory. Having this basic knowledge will get you well on your way to making healthier food choices for both you and your families. Remember, healthy eating means eating a variety of foods with different colors and textures in moderation.

Please refer to the tables below for references on how much of each macro-nutrient you should be consuming!
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http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/alt_formats/hpfb-dgpsa/pdf/nutrition/dri_tables-eng.pdf

To learn more about healthy food options check out the Health Canada website  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/choose-choix/index-eng.php

Welcome and why we chose to start this blog.

The Tabouli Bowl is here to bring you nutrition & lifestyle blogging from the perspective of five sisters.

A little more about why we started this blog:

Emma:

When I first got married, I thought I knew enough to cook and bake good Lebanese-fare without any help, but I soon learned that I was quite mistaken. While living at home it was easy to ask my mother about quantities, cooking times, procedures and all that, and I did not realize how much I relied on this quick tips from my mother being in the next room. I learned a lot while helping my mother prepare feasts on occasions and day to day meals. Apparently, no matter how much you know – unless you practice constantly you will need a written reference for future attempts. Eventually, you get the hang of it, and like any good chef or mother you learn the recipes and techniques by heart. I was lucky to grow up with a mother who taught me all I needed to know for when I would be on my own – and I could always call when I needed something. Sometimes said mother was busy, or at work so I would have to fend for myself. Now I have grown up in the “google everything” age, and I would do just that. However because some foods have Arabic titles/words I found little to no information about them. The foods that I did find were either a random recipe posted years ago – or very poorly written, with ingredients and steps missing. I used to think, “how great would it be if there was a website with all the Lebanese traditional recipes on it?” I won’t say I didn’t find attempts at those types of sites, but they were not easy to navigate or had recipes that called for ingredients that we do not use in our cooking.

From then, I began to keep text files on my computer with recipes and steps. I found my mother’s old notebook that she used to write recipes in that our grandmother taught her. It’s amazing how much historical importance and culture food can carry, isn’t it? You think it’s a simple recipe, but food is something that all humans need. Food is also something that is used in every culture to promote congregation and community. An old recipe handed down, withstanding the test of time. Anyways – I digress, back to why this blog was a good idea. It provides a quick reference to newly weds or young ladies, or even non-arabs…really anyone who want’s to cook Lebanese cuisine! There will also be tips that we find useful, and any other ideas we can think of.

We are aiming to include traditional Lebanese recipes, but more than that, because we are such a diverse family we decided to include lifestyle posts. Each one of us took a different path in life and thus have so many different ideas to offer! We hope we can also show you the nutritional aspects of Lebanese cuisine. We really just want to share what we love with the world. W

Hopefully our readers will enjoy the content and share it with friends & family to spread the word. Let us know how we are doing by leaving a comment on the post or on the Facebook Page or Twitter!