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Get your kids to help you so that healthy lunches are a family affair!

Get your kids to help you so that healthy lunches are a family affair! It starts by planning ahead and looking to include healthy foods from the five food groups. Add a dash of fun!

Here is a list of healthy, fun and creative lunch ideas for kids:

  • Get out the cookie cutters – no not for cookies, but for sandwiches. Kids love food in shapes. You can make a star-shaped sandwiches or even one shaped like a pumpkin. Surprise them with different shapes over the week.
  • Serve sliced ham, chicken, tuna or egg salad sandwiches. Some kids love mustard and mayo but some kids may just want a pickle with it. Go with what your child likes. Similarly, some kids don’t like peanut butter but will enjoy sunflower butter, cashew or almond butter as a spread.
  • Serve sliced meat rolled up into tubes and offer the bread separate (some kids just aren’t into sandwiches). Similarly, tuna salad can be offered with crackers. Remember, bread doesn’t have to be sliced bread; offer bagels or tortillas. Even just plain sticky rice or couscous can be a hit.
  • Toothpicks can add some fun too – kids love bite-sized food. So make a mini-sandwich and place a toothpick in it. You can get toothpicks with fun designs at party stores.
  • Other bite-sized food includes cucumber and avocado rolls (many grocery stores now have a section of Japanese food). Or make your own roll: Use Korean roasted seaweed (this has a nice sesame flavor to it) and sticky rice (these are simple versions of kimbap”. Just roll up the rice like into a mini-cylinder shape. Have your child help you make it the night before.
  • Tea sandwiches: These are bite-sized sandwiches. Although adult versions usually have spices and onions, you can make your child a cream cheese tea sandwich with very thin cucumber slices.
  • Use leftovers for school lunch. If your child ate the beef stew last night for dinner, serve it up for lunch. Either use a thermos after heating it up in the morning or just serve it cold (place an ice pack in the lunch box though to prevent food illness). Check out Easy Lunch Boxes Makes packing a lunch easy! Earth-friendly and safe no BPA, lead, vinyl, PVC or phthalates.
  • Have some fun and get creative with these tips from moms on how get started with bento lunch boxes for kids: Bento Lunch Ideas -Great for Kids!
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1 teaspoon of salt is more than enough

It adds flavour to any dish, can make insipid food taste better, has been used to stimulate taste-buds since ancient times, and is essential for maintaining good health. Yes we’re talking about salt – one of the most indispensable ingredients in our food.
But did you know that having too much can be bad for you? Mainly because Sodium in salt can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and strokes. This is why food experts suggest using restraint when it comes to consuming salt.

What do experts recommend?

We should eat no more than 6g of salt per day, i.e. about 1 teaspoon. This is the recommended amount when following a healthy diet that helps maintain a healthy circulation and heart.

What foods are high in salt?


1 teaspoon of salt a day may not seem like much. But remember that this not only includes the salt we add to cooking and salads, but also the salt already available in everyday food, such as:

  • Processed food such as processed meat (sausages, corned beef), canned food, soups, sauces, stock cubes, potato chips, popcorn, salty biscuits, tortillas, etc.
  • Salted nuts, pickles, olives
  • Condiments like barbecue sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard
  • Food additives like MSG (found in Chinese food)

What can I do to reduce the salt in my diet?

You needn’t stop eating foods that contain salt, but it is a good idea to reduce the amount you eat.

  • Reduce the amount of salt used in cooking.
  • Do not add salt to your food at the table. Remember that salt is an acquired taste, so try to decrease this habit gradually.
  • Limit high-salt foods such as canned and pickled products, processed meats, and salty appetizers.

How can I reduce the amount of salt in my cooking?

Salt adds flavour to our meals; trying to stop salt suddenly will result in you and your family not enjoying the taste, so slowly reduce the amount of salt that you add to your cooking and make your low-salt recipes tasteful by:

  • Using spices like white or black pepper to enhance flavour
  • Adding richer flavours to your recipes like vegetables such as garlic, onions, ginger and fresh pepper. Vegetables are naturally low in salt and rich in potassium, which is important for a healthy circulation.
  • Using natural herbs such as parsley, basil, coriander, mint and thyme as much as possible to season dishes and boost flavour
  • Marinating food using lemon and vinegar to enhance the flavour
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How to make eating out with your child both fun and healthy

Life is getting busier and busier, and that means people are eating out more and more. While this often is a necessity for some families, it's always a special treat for the kids. But can eating out, even occasionally, be healthy for your child? 

How to choose the right restaurant for your family

o   Choose a restaurant that caters to children
o   Match your eating-out schedule with your child's meal schedule
o   Before ordering food, ask how it is prepared
o   Let your child choose what he wants to eat
o   Instead of trying a new dish, order your child's favourite food

Tips on how to make healthy menu choices when eating out with your child

o   Start with a salad, and ask for lemon and oil salad dressing
o   Avoid mayonnaise on burgers and sandwiches. Use ketchup, mustard or barbecue sauce instead
o   When ordering pizza, go for the thin crust and vegetarian topping
o   Order milk, fruit juice or water instead of a soft drink
o   Ask that beverages be served with the meal and not beforehand
o   Stick to baked, grilled or boiled items. Avoid fried items. Ask to substitute fries with a baked potato or salad
o   Avoid high-calorie, high-fatfood
o   If regular portions are too big for one child, share the order between two children, or with a parent
o   Choose healthy desserts like fruit salad or vanilla ice cream, instead of cakes and chocolates

How to order home-delivered foods that are healthier

Ordering food for home delivery has become common, especially because it's convenient if you haven't cooked that day or want a change of menu. In such situations, it's easy to get carried away and order foods that are not healthy. Here are a few menu items that are healthier:
o   Side salad
o   Grilled chicken sandwiche
o   Small hamburgers with vegetables (skip the mayonnaise and fries)
o   Thin crust vegetarian pizza
o   Baked potatoes, baked beans, corn on the cob or mashed potatoes

Always remember that it's easy to be tempted by unhealthy foods when eating out or ordering for home delivery. Try to minimize fried foods and calorie-laden sweets, and order more vegetables and fruits. This will help make your family healthier and prevent diseases in the future.

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Check out how much water you need!

Your body has approximately 60 to 70% of water: blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs, and brain all contain a lot of water. Water is essential because it helps regulate body temperature and enables nutrients to travel to all your organs. Additionally, water also transports oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs.

But the simple question still remains. How much water should you drink each day?

Actually, the recommended quantity of water you need to drink differs according to age, body weight and physical activity. The weather also plays a role in your water needs; hot and humid weather means your body requires more fluids.



Children (one year and above):

Usually require about 0.8 to 1.4L per day depending on their age. It is important that you make it a regular habit.

Adolescents:

For adolescents, at least 1.6 Liters per day. But remember, with more physical activity, the requirement will increase.

Adults:

The amount ranges between 1.5 and 2 Liters per day, which is equivalent to 8 glasses of water. This will be sufficient, if you're living in a moderate climate.

When exercising:

Regularly drinking water is essential when exercising. It is recommended that you drink 1 glass of water prior to exercise, and half a cup every 20 minutes throughout your workout. After finishing, try to drink water or fluids to compensate for the water lost from your body, especially if you were having an energetic workout.

When following a diet for weight loss:

If you are on a diet, it is important to remember that an increase in your intake of water is necessary. This isn't only to satisfy your body's needs, but also because it's been associated with aiding weight loss. So drink 2 to 3 Liters a day and you will discover that water can make you feel full and help control your appetite too!

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5 tips to have a healthy Eid this year

Eid is a festival celebrated after a month of fasting i.e. Ramadan. It is the time when families come together to pray and celebrate this occasion. Food is an important part of any kind of celebration. After a month of fasting, people have to return to their pre-Ramadan eating schedule or normal eating habits. This may lead to heartburn or indigestion in the beginning as it takes time for the body to adjust to any sudden change in eating habits. For this reason, it’s important to start with meals which are not too hard on the digestive system. 

Here are some tips to celebrate Eid in a healthy way

Avoid heavy meals: Meals with a high content of fat and sugar often cause digestive problems. As these meals take longer to digest, they remain in the stomach for a long period of time and causes gastric upsets, indigestion, flatulence and heartburn. When getting back to normal eating habits, start with lighter meals and choose healthy cooking options and ingredients. 

Eat small, frequent meals: Eating large, heavy meals at one go can create gastric problems. The larger the meal, the longer it takes for the stomach to digest it. Consuming short and frequent meals makes it easier for the stomach to digest it and this also stimulates metabolism. It is better to keep short gaps between meals, such as 3-4 hours rather than long gaps such as 6-7 hours.

Choose healthy ingredients: Non-vegetarian foods are most popular at this time and are likely to form the bulk of your diet. Always select leaner cuts and remove the visible fat properly before cooking. While making sweets, avoid high amounts of condensed milk and be cautious with your use of sugar. Another good idea is to add foods that contain natural sugars such as fruits or dry fruits.

Opt for healthy cooking methods: Instead of frying foods, they can be baked, grilled or barbecued. For example include foods such as chicken tikka, roasted chicken, baked fish/chicken with herbs, grilled sandwiches, grilled chicken or paneer, poached fish with herbs. Also avoid overcooking fish and vegetables, as excessive heat will lead to loss of important vitamins and minerals.

Consume less salt: Do not use excessive salt in any recipe. It can be substituted with herbs and spices such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, coriander powder, pepper powder, chilli powder and lemon juice. These herbs and spices are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, healthy oils and some also have anti-bacterial properties. This makes them a better option as compared to salt.

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How to avoid gaining weight during Ramadan

Fasting during Ramadan can cause weight gain in some people. And if you are one of them, regulating your food intake in the evenings can help you control your weight. And consuming less food, will in turn decrease the calories consumed, allowing you to lose or maintain your weight during this holy month.

What are the reasons for weight gain during Ramadan?

  • Eating continuously, especially between Iftar and Suhour, which is sometimes accompanied by tiredness because of the feeling of fullness
  • Inactivity and lethargy after Iftar
  • Consuming large portions of food, more than the usual
  • Eating fried food and high fat and calorie foods (kunafa, katayef, pastries and samosa) in big amounts, especially in the evening
  • Going out for Iftar or inviting guests over putting you within reach of large varieties and quantities of food

Ways to help improve nutritional habits and control weight gain

  1. Avoid overeating: Have a light Iftar that includes reasonable food portions
  2. Chew your food slowly to avoid indigestion
  3. Have your soup and salad first; as these are low in calories and make you feel full
  4. Drink at least eight glasses of water during the non-fasting hours
  5. Have fresh fruits and fresh juices without added sugar, instead of the readymade ones, which may contain high amounts of sugar
  6. Choose low fat dairy products and lean meats
  7. Eat a fruit salad instead of Arabic sweets every now and then
  8. Walk everyday for at least half an hour to one hour in order to burn the extra calories

Healthy cooking also plays a role in managing your weight!

When cooking, make your favourite Ramdan recipes healthier by avoiding deep frying whenever possible. Instead, reduce the amount of fat in your meals by cooking your food with a little bit of vegetable oil, baking, roasting, steaming or grilling. Keep in mind that reducing fat in your cooking does not necessarily mean reducing its flavour. You can enhance the seasoning of your dishes by using fresh vegetables, fresh herbs and spices, which add taste without adding calories.

And now, with so many tips to help you control what you eat and resist the temptation of over indulgence, you can make sure that this joyous season is happy, healthy and filled with goodness.

Besides, eating moderately, slowly and sensibly is the perfect way to – avoid getting lethargic, stay active and spend time with your family and friends. Whether it is shopping, meeting loved ones or simply watching the TV, a healthy meal will make sure that your Ramadan is filled with loving memories and a better-looking you.

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