Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eat Out for Life In Lebanon!

Eat Out for Life is a program in which you get to dine in Lebanon and in the same time contribute to the Children Cancer Center

It goes like this >> Between the 4th and 15th of February, whenever you dine in specific restaurants or pubs in the area, a percentage of your bill will be automatically donated to the center! The Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL) is a non profit organization that provides treatment to children suffering from cancer at no cost on their families. It usually depends on donations and various support of the community through fundraising programs.

So you see it's pretty easy!
Have a meal at Gem, Pepe Byblos Fishing Club, Chicken & Cow, Flip Side, My Bar, Razzz Jazz Club, Cello, El Rancho, Yasmina, Sushiko, Couquely, Sophie's Choice, Viola, Ginette, Duo, Zinc, Charlie's, Fiona's, Gou, Lakay, Hard Rock Cafe, and the list goes on, check it out the participants here!

Donation is easier this way, it'll only cost you a meal. Notice that the timing is just perfect: spring break & Valentine's day! You could also use my Eating Right when Dining Out article while you're at it!
Spread it around & Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gourmet's Guide to Sauces

When dining out, I find that the hardest thing to figure out - given that I am not a professional chef - is "what's in the sauce exactly?" Who is this Alfredo that is poured all over my pasta and what do they mean when they just mention the name of the sauce! It's pretty hard since most of the times, everyone assumes that you know what to choose with your pasta, meat, fish or chicken!
This is why using this list as a quick reference would make you a savvy restaurant patron!

Pasta with Alfredo sauce
- Alfredo - Creamy Italian sauce, typically prepared with butter, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese
- Bearnaise - Thick French sauce made with white wine, tarragon, vinegar, shallots, egg yolks and butter
- Bechamel - Basic white sauce made with flour, milk, butter and flavored with onion.
- Bolognese - Italian meat sauce made with ground beef and sometimes pork & ham, sautteed in a small amount of butter and/or olive oil with tomatoes, other vegetables, herbs, and sometimes wine. It is also referred to as a ragu bolognese sauce
- Bourguignonne - French sauce made with red wine, carrots, onions, flour and a little amount of bacon
- Beurre blanc - Thick, smooth, sauce whisked with wine, vinegar, shallot and cold butter
- Carbonara - Italian sauce made with cream, eggs, Parmesan cheese and bits of bacon
- Coulis - Thick puree or sauce such as tomato or squash
Salmon with sauce Hollandaise
- Demi-glaze - Reduction sauce that gets its intense flavor by slowly cooking beef stock and Madeira or sherry to a thick glaze
- Hollandaise - Thick sauce with white wine, vinegar or water, egg yolks, melted butter and lemon juice.
- Marinara - Italian tomato sauce made with tomato, basil and perhaps other seasonings such as onions, garlic and oregano
- Pesto - Uncooked sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and olive oil. And actually it is my favorite with Italian pasta!
- Reduction sauce - Sauce of broth or pan juices boiled down to concentrate the flavor and thicken the consistency. 
Sweet and sour chicken
- Sweet & sour - Sugar and vinegar added to variety of sauces. This is mostly famous here when added to Chinese dishes!
- Veloute - Light, stock-based white sauce. The stock is usually broth left from cooking meat, poultry, fish or vegetables. It is usually thickened with flour and butter but sometimes egg yolks and cream are added.
- Vinaigrette - Simple oil and vinegar combination.

Sauces like bourguignonne, coulis, demi-glace, marinara, reduction sauce, sweet & sour and vinaigrette are usually lower in fat than other cheesy/creamy ones. However, the ingredients tend to vary from one chef to another and so does the fat content!

This was brought to you from the ADA's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide book!

Monday, January 24, 2011

11 Tips for Regular Exercising!

Exercise is one of the keys to happiness. Research has shown that people who exercise often are healthier, happier, more energetic, perform better at work/studies, think more clearly, sleep better, decrease their risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and dementia. They get relief from anxiety, stress and mild depression.
Now, even though it is tempting to just flop down and be the couch potato you want especially when feeling tired and exhausted, exercise is actually a great way to boost energy levels. Feeling tired is in fact a reason to exercise more, not to skip physical activity.

Everyone admits that they feel better if they exercise; however, it can be very hard to adopt this habit. This is why these tricks could help you stick to your own personalized exercise plan!

  1. Always exercise on Monday - This sets your psychological pattern for the whole week!
  2. If at all possible, exercise first thing in the morning - As the day wears on, you will find more exuses to skip your exercises. Get it checked off your list first thing! You will feel energized for the whole day!
  3. Never skip exercising 2 days in a row - It is fine to skip a day, but you definitely must exercise the next day no matter how inconvenient it could be. This way you'll keep your psyche in the "exercise" mood.
  4. Give yourself credit for the smallest effort - Go ahead put on your running shoes. The first step to commit is the hardest, the step you need to do the most. Many time, by promising myself I could quit 10 minutes after I had started, I got myself to start - and then yes, I found that I didn't want to quit after all.
  5. Think about context - I thought I disliked weight training, turns out I hate guys who hung out in the weight training area! Could you be distressed from running in the morning just because it is cold outside? There are many factors that could make you reluctant and discourage you from exercising: examine them thoroughly, there's a solution for it all.
  6. Exercise several times a week - The best way to stay in tune with your exercising rituals is to exercise more than twice a week, meaning most days of the week! Twice a month is surely not enough.
  7. If you don't have time to both exercise and take a shower, find a way to it - Either find a way to exercise without sweating, kind of impossible OR cut your exercise time in half while increasing intensity and days of exercising!
  8. Look for affordable ways to make exercising more pleasant or satisfying - Think of upgrading yourself to a nicer gym, buying a new iPod, working with a trainer, getting a pedometer, trying a new sports you always wanted to adapt, etc. Keep in mind that exercise is a habit you want to keep for life. Make it a part of your lifestyle by making it something you enjoy.
  9. Think of exercise as part of your essential preparation for times you want to be in especially fine form - whether in performance (to be sharp for an important presentation) or appearance (looking gooood), or mood (to deal with stressful situations). Studies have shown that exercise does help and make you ready.
  10. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good - Please don't decide it's only worth exercising if you can run 5 miles or if you can bike for a whole hour! Know that going for a 10 minutes walk is worth it. You can start by doing 15 minutes of cardio before you shower everyday >> giving a total of 105 minutes per week, great start, no? So do what you can!
  11. Don't kid yourself - Paying your gym fees does not mean you go the gym. Or having been in shape in high school or college doesn't mean you are in shape now. And last but not least, saying you don't have time to exercise does not make it true!
Having enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and having plenty of exercise is the key to a healthier body, good psychological health and happiness. Too exaggerated perhaps? Well, research shows that it's a wise step to start there!

Originally published on The Happiness Project!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Not Happy vs. Very Happy?

 Click to enlarge &  get a quick glimpse of healthy vs. unhealthy diets.

What Happens if You Quit Smoking Right Now

This is not about food and nutrition but rather about health in general. Adapting a balanced diet is crucial, yes, but having an over all healthy lifestyle is what matters most. Now one of the main reasons it’s so hard to quit smoking is because all the benefits of quitting & all the dangers of continuing seem all very far away.

Well, here’s a little time line about some of the more immediate effects of quitting smoking and how that will affect your body RIGHT NOW.
  • In 20 minutes your blood pressure will drop back down to normal. 
  • In 8 hours the carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) levels in your blood stream will drop by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal. 
  • In 48 hours your chance of having a heart attack will have decreased. All nicotine will have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level. 
  • In 72 hours your bronchial tubes will relax, and your energy levels will increase. 
  • In 2 weeks your circulation will increase, and it will continue to improve for the next 10 weeks.
  • In 3 to 9 months coughs, wheezing and breathing problems will dissipate as your lung capacity improves by 10%.
  • In 1 year your risk of having a heart attack will have dropped by half.
  • In 5 years your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker. 
  • In 10 years your risk of lung cancer will have returned to that of a non-smoker.
  • In 15 years your risk of heart attack will have returned to that of a non-smoker.
So, you have more immediate things to look forward to if you quit now besides just freaking out about not being able to smoke. Quit now!

Courtesy of Global One .

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eating Right When Dining Out

Everybody loves eating out and there's not reason why you shouldn't - except the fact that most restaurant-foods are high in fat, salt, sugar or calories in general!
New health care legislation in the States will require (some time during this 2011) that big restaurant chains indicate how many calories each of their food items contains; however, it's not always possible to get the information you want.  

- Some fats are good for you while other are not - Monounsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, olives and olive oils, can help lower your LDL and maintain your HDL and polyunsaturated fats in vegetable oils, fish, mixed nuts, edamame and seeds could help decrease your cholesterol in general. So ordering grilled seafood when you go out will offer you taste, heart healthy benefits and omega 3 fatty acids. Meanwhile, the fats you should be aware of are trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol. These are found in greasy cheeses, palm oil, coconut oil, shortenings, butter, creamy sauces, stuffed with cheese, meats and whole dairy products. Fried foods  are the main concern here. Foods that are labeled as "golden crispy" to induce your mouthwatering appetite are fried with trans/saturated shortenings, ghee (clarified butter) or lard (pork fat) that will in return make your blood cholesterol spike!

- To make foods more palatable, salt (sodium) is the key. Restaurant foods can be very high in sodium. Now whether or not you are medically required to decrease your sodium intake because of high blood pressure for instance, research has shown that a low sodium diet can benefit any healthy youngster. However, the point here is to know how to spot high sodium foods. Foods that are pickled, creole sauce, smoked, marinated, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, cocktail sauce, bacon, MSG (monosodium glutamate) added to meats or Chinese foods to give them their umami taste and canned foods are all high in salt. Therefore, don't add any table salt, ask your food to be done without extra salts and learn how to spot salty ones.

- Most restaurants label foods with extra symbols on the side: All you have to do is look for "Heart-healthy" or "Light" symbols: these are usually a red heart, a green butterfly, etc. These offer low fat, low salt and low cholesterol items making it easier for you to know which foods are the best to choose from. Watch out not to mistaken them with flags symbolizing most popular food choices.

- Don't be afraid to ask how the food is prepared and what ingredients are used. Tell your server that you are staying away from high caloric foods, high fatty/salty ones and ask for special requests for a lighter version of that meal. You can ask the chef to prepare foods using less oil, no butter, less sugar, less syrups, less salt, you name it! It's actually easy to be done so go for it next time you're eating out. You can also ask for healthier substitutions such as:
  • baked potatoes instead of a side french fries order
  • low fat milk instead of whole milk in your coffee
  • fresh salad instead of glazed or sautteed vegetables
And if there are no substitutions, eat smart:
  • peel off the chicken skin
  • ask your server to skip putting fries in your plate
  • skip the butter, cream, cheese, fried/sautteed vegetables, fatty fressings and dips
  • know your meats: skip high fat meats, rib-eye, pork, bacon, lamb, T-bone steaks and go for leaner ones
- Ask for your sauces, dressings, gravy or dips on the side! This way you can skip them or dip less than you would have if it were already all mixed together. In addition, know which dressings to order with your salad and which not to.
  • Ask for balsamic dressing, lemon-oil, light mayo, lemon, vinaigrette, citronette, mustard,tabasco, marinara with your pasta (tomatoes, garlic, onions), primavera without cream or small amounts (2 tbsps) of guacamole or low fat sour cream.
  • Skip dips and dressings: heavy creamy ones such as heavy lemon, heavy vinegar, thousand island, Caesar's, cocktail, tartar, bechamel, tempura, mayonnaise and  homestyle dressings.

    - Know menu linguistics for healthy and unhealthy foods: Restaurants often describe foods using specific words that aim to lure your appetite while explaining how the food has been prepared. 
    • Watch out for: fried, batter-fried, au gratin, in cheese sauce, marinated in oil, double crust, sauteed, braised, crispy, glazed, golden, deep fried, prime, rich, buttered, buttery, breaded, creamy, beurre blanc, bearnaise, with mayonnaise sauce, creamed, escalloped, cheesy, Hollandaise, pan fried, rich in butter sauce or pan roasted. 
    • Whereas go for foods that are: baked, braised, cooked in its own juices, dry boiled (in wine or lemon juice), lightly sauteed, stir-fried, broiled, barbecued, roasted, boiled, grilled, poached and steamed.
    Extra Dining out Tips:
    • Always start with a green salad on the side, it will help make you fuller for longer. Keep in mind that peas, corn, croutons, olives, avocados, couscous, cheeses and meats could be part of a salad but are not considered as greens (which have the least calories in your meal, thus will help you make full without extra calories).
    • Downsize portions: always think small. A double cheeseburger is around 600 calories while a cheeseburger is 340. Also, super fries could contain 540 calories whereas a small one accounts for 210 calories.
    • Ask for whole wheat/brown/mutli-cereal breads, pasta and doughs. 
    • Order a thin crust pizza, no cheesy stuffings, with extra sauce, half the cheese topping, vegetables as toppings and skip the meats. Moreover, it's best if you stick to 2-3 slices max.
    • Occasionally have a small portion of lighter alternatives for desserts: a scoop of diet ice cream, 1/2 cup of fruits smoothies, a cup of fruit salad, leeches and avoid high fatty, creamy and sugary ones. 
    • Try to decrease fluids intake with your meal. However, if you choose to have a drink go for water, unsweetened tea or sugar and alcohol-free drinks.
    • Go for a small or medium portion of a meal or share a big one with a friend. Most meals nowadays are huge so don't over-indulge.
    1st pic from Healthy urban kitchen, the rest of the pictures & info from WebMD.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Richer Tea From Now ON!

    Tonight, it's cold outside and as much as I love cold weather, all I'd want to have is a warm cup of tea. I usually boil water and just place a sachet of tea to blend in, simple and quick.

    However, tonight I bumped into a rich mixture of green tea Satya suggested in her Super Yummy Recipes blog and decided to give it a shot. It was a wise thing to do because that's how I want my tea every time: simple, delicious and quick!

    • 1 tsp honey
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
    • 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 1 cup hot water
    • 1 sachet green tea
    • 1/2 tsp anis, aromatic seeds (this one was an improvise)
    The cooking procedure is actually simple, and better yet: it takes the same time you would actually take to prepare a simple - plain tasted cup of tea!
    • Boil water with the anis seeds and set it aside
    • Put the green tea (or plain tea whatever you prefer) in it, and let it blend in for 2-3 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, mix your honey and cinnamon well in your favorite mug.
    • Pour the green tea water into your mug and stir nicely till the honey & cinnamon paste mix well.
    • And last but not least, pour in your lime juice, serve warm and Bonne Appetite!
    We usually don't put much input in simple warm drinks like tea; however, this recipe is simple and gives tea such a rich & sharp taste.

    Now when you have this delicious cup of tea, not only will you get a warm up effect, but you will also get some nutritive benefits out of it! 
    • Warm green tea has a warm and calming effect to start with. In addition, it's rich in anti-oxidants that help your body fight diseases and may help protect your body cells from damage done by free radicals. Different blends of tea offer different combination of antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids. Tea may also supply fluoride which helps strengthen tooth enamel! Moreover, it aids to hinder cavity forming bacteria thus it reduces plaque formation.
    • Honey is 80% natural sugar, 20% water and 2% vitamins and minerals such as vitamin c,vitamin B 6, riboflavin, manganese, calcium, iron, copper, zinc and potassium. These are in small amounts so think of them as bonus! Natural honey has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial potential; however, you should keep in mind that it has the same effect on blood sugar as any other sugar and there are 22 calories in 1 tsp of honey.
    • Adding lime juice or any citrus juice adds up for flavor and smart nutrition! Tea's flavonoids partly inhibit the absorption of nonheme iron. A squeeze of Vitamin C rich lemon, orange or lime in your tea can counteract some of this action. Lime also contains a bit of potassium, folate, magnesium and vitamin B 6.
    • Cinnamon powder and anis seeds both contain lots of anti-oxidants and have a cleansing effect on your body so having a small pinch of each will add taste and health to your cup! Cinnamon also offers a bit of manganese, iron, calcium and Vitamin K; whereas anis seeds are rich in anethole and limonene antioxidants with a pinch of many vitamins and minerals such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper.

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    ALL you need to know about HIGH Cholesterol!

    Cholesterol, HDL, LDL…we often hear about them but what are they really?? It may seem confusing at first but challenge yourself and learn more about them because they come in hand to protect yourself and lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes!

    What is cholesterol?
    Cholesterol is not something to fear. It is found in every cell of the body and is actually essential for many processes like digesting fat and producing many hormones. But when it becomes high, either from overproduction by the liver or from too much dietary cholesterol, well, I can’t but say that it’s serious.
    There are two types of cholesterol:

    • HDL: This is considered to be the “good” cholesterol and it stands for high density lipoproteins. They help carry cholesterol through the body so it can be broken down. A higher number is better.
    • LDL: This “bad” cholesterol is short for low density lipoproteins. They are part of the plaque that forms and block your arteries. The lower number in the range, the better.

    Now what are we comparing against? These are numbers, I know, but they are numbers you should be aware of just to know where you stand.

    Total Cholesterol
    LDL cholesterol
    HDL cholesterol
    Below 200 mg/dL
    40-100 mg/dL
    50 mg/dL and higher
    200-239 mg/dL
    100-129 mg/dL
    40-50 mg/dL
    240 mg/dL and above
    130 mg/dL and above
    40 mg/dL and below

    Now what causes high cholesterol? Every person in nature inherits genes that influence his or her cholesterol level, now we can’t actually control that. However we should know that a diet high in saturated fat and trans fat can also increase blood cholesterol as can obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. We will talk about the risk factors shortly, but the big question here is: Why this huge fuss about high cholesterol?

    The problem with high cholesterol! The problem lies in the deposits of cholesterol called plaque that sticks on the inside of you arteries and block the blood flow. This buildup is called atherosclerosis, it sure is a big word, but in fact it’s a state that increases the risk of blocking your coronary arteries that increases the risk of heart attack and/or that blocks the blood flow to the brain and would lead to a stroke.

     As we said, there are risk factors to high cholesterol. In fact, these are divided into 2 categories, those you can control and those you can’t.
    Those you really can do nothing about:
    • Age: Cholesterol levels rise with age. After age 20, you should get a cholesterol test at least once every five years and your doctor may recommend more frequent testing is he finds that you have other risk factors.
    • Gender: After menopause, women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
    • Heredity: If high cholesterol runs in the family, well these are your genes talking and it is best if you get frequent testing.

    But what about what you CAN control?!
    • Excess weight: Being overweight can increase your cholesterol.
    • Sedentary lifestyle: “Couch potatoing”, if I may say, is not OK whereas regular physical activity helps lower LDL and raise HDL.
    • Diabetes: High blood sugar increases cholesterol levels and damages the lining of your arteries.
    • Smoking: Cigarette smoking lowers HDL and increases the likelihood of blood clots.
    • Medications: Certain medications can cause high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking just in case!

    So…What can we do??

    • Start by 150 minutes a week of exercise and distribute them however you like as long as you increase your heart rate. Quick pace walking, swimming laps, riding bikes, all are considered to be aerobic and helpful.
    • Go for weight loss. For each 2 ½ kg you lose, you increase your HDL by 1 mg/dL and trimming 500 calories a day if you are overweight you help decrease your LDL by 5 to 20 percent. Just know that losing weight and maintaining it would help you no matter how modest it is, keep it up!
    • Food, food, food!
      -To increase your HDL: Avoid tans fats and hydrogenated fats that are found in commercially baked goods, eat monounsaturated oils like olive oil and eat 2 to 4 servings of baked fish!
      -To decrease your LDL: Eat foods rich in sterols like bran, oats, whole wheat, brown rice, peas, beans, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, broccoli and apples. Moreover, limit your cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet found in fried foods, whole dairy products and non lean meats. Another nutritional tip would be to increase your intake of fibers! 25-30 grams of fiber found in vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits are always a plus!
    • Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and limiting alcohol drinks to no more than 2 per day would help as well.
    • And finally, medications prescribed by your doctor and your doctor only would help as well.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011


    Well, I'm a huge movies fan. I came across this last month after I saw the lovely Despicable me movie. However, I find that this short movie fits perfectly in my blog. Just let it buffer and check it out! I personally think we should all act this way around fruits: take them as snacks to work, school, university, wherever. They are trans/saturated fat/cholesterol/refined sugar- free and this way you will increase your intake of various minerals, vitamins and fibers!
    Just so that you know, bananas contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and manganese in addition to lots of fiber! Check these Top 10 ways to enjoy Bananas!

    BANANAAAA... papple?

    (Oh and "papples" have other kinds of minerals and vitamins, so variation of fruits in your diet will give you new and different health benefits every time!)

    Five Ridiculously Good Foods!

    These smooth, buttery fruits are a great source of not only "good" fats such as mono-unsaturated fats but other key nutrients as well. One Ohio State University study found that when avocado was added to salads and salsa, it helped increase the absorption of specific carotenoids, plant compounds linked to lower risk of heart disease and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. “Avocados are packed with heart-protective compounds, such as soluble fiber, vitamin E, folate, and potassium,” says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet.
    However, they are a bit high in calories. To avoid weight gain, use avocado in place of another high-fat food or condiment, such as cheese or mayo and always keep in mind that, after all, it's a fat.  

    Fiber-rich oats are even healthier than the FDA thought when it first stamped them with a heart disease–reducing seal 10 years ago. According to new research, they can also cut your risk of type 2 diabetes. When Finnish researchers tracked 4,316 men and women over the course of 10 years, they found that people who ate the highest percentage of cereal fiber were 61% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

    To reap the benefits, eat 1/2 cup daily—preferably unsweetened. For a versatile breakfast, top with different combinations of fruit, yogurt, and nuts. You can also use oats to coat fish or chicken or add texture to meatballs. Check my more detailed article about Oats!

    Salmon is a rich source of vitamin D and one of the best sources of omega 3s fatty acids. These fats have a wide range of impressive health benefits: form preventing hear diseases to smoothing your skin, decreasing inflammation, aiding weight loss, boosting your mood and minimizing the effects of arthritis.
    Moreover, omega 3 aids in decreasing memory loss and slows the rate of digestion, thus, making you feel fuller for longer! Watch out to get plenty of fish - at least 2 to 3 servings per week, this way your body will take its needs of proteins and omega 3 altogether! 

    One of the healthiest fruits you should be eating or you probably already are, hence the saying: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!" Fortunately, it's abundant in Lebanon. The Iowa Women's Health Study, which has been investigating women for nearly 20 years, names apples as one of only 3 foods (along with pears and red wine) that are most effective at reducing the riskof death from heart disease among postmenopausal women. Other massive studies have found the fruit to lower the risk of lung cancer and type 2 diabetes, even help women lose weight! Apples are rich in fibers, vitamins, minerals and water, so it's actually a win-win situation when you have yourself one of these!

    However, keep in mind that one thing can make an apple unhealthy is when it's mixed with caramel, sugar, flour, butter or/& stuffed within a pie or on a tarte! Instead, have a fresh crunchy apple as a dessert or even added to salads!

    Dark Chocolate
    Yes, yes, dark chocolate! It is filled with flavonoid anti-oxidants that help keep platelets from sticking together, consequently clogging your arteries. It also can help decrease the risk of cancers with its anti-oxidative abilities. And there's more to add! According to a study from Denmark, it may also help you lose weight by keeping you fuller for longer! Researchers gave 16 participants 100 grams of either dark or milk chocolate and 2 hours later offered them pizza. Those who consumed dark chocolate ate 15 % fewer calories that those who had milk chocolate!
    So not to make a huge fuss about it, have a small portion of 70 % cocoa or more from time to time! Desserts should not be banned if you are trying to watch your diet, just know what and how much to have!

    Wait for more! Brought to you with amendment from Prevention website!

    Safe Handling & Storage of Breast Milk

    For all the mommies-to-be & breastfeeding mommies out there, just like you've heard, breastfeeding is very important. But as much as this is true, it’s also vital to handle breast milk with super extra care. So here are quick yet essential tips for you and your baby.

    Safe Handling& Storage

    • To start with, wash your hands and breasts before expressing your milk.
    • If you are using a breast pump, carefully review the operation and cleaning manual.
    • If you are going to store the milk, it’s best to be put in plastic bottles specific for storing breast milk and refrigerate them. Make sure that the containers are totally clean even from their caps.
    • Store milk in moderate amounts; around 55 to 115 mL in one container. This will help avoid wasting milk after feedings.
    • Refrigerate milk if you are going to store it for maximum of 24 hours, otherwise it’s best to freeze it.
    • If freezing is your choice, plastic or glass bottles are good.
    • Either way, make sure to put a label on each container with the date of expressing the milk. This will ensure the FIFO rule: First In, First Out is followed and you will use the oldest milk you have first.
    • Now if you are a working mother or you need to be away for a certain period of time, consider freezing a large amount of breast milk supply especially during your maternity leave.
      If you are freezing for
      • Up to 2 weeks: put the milk bottles inside your freezer at -15 degrees Celsius (not in the door since it’ll be opened quite often)
      • Up to 3-6 months: if a special compartment having its own separate door inside the freezer at -18 degrees Celsius
      • 6 -2 months: freeze it in a separate deep freezer at – 20 degrees Celsius

    Safe Thawing

    • Before thawing, shake the bottle gently to mix layers because the cream rises to the top.
    • If time allows it, thaw frozen breast milk by putting it in the refrigerator, by putting it under warm running water or by putting it in a “bain marie”; that is using a pan of water on the stove.
    • Avoid using the microwave to heat or thaw breast milk because it might lead to uneven thawing of the milk leading to either scalding the baby or damaging the milk. Moreover, excess heat may destroy nutrients in the milk.
    • Don’t just put it outside the fridge to thaw.
    • Once the milk is thawed, make sure not to refreeze it again and discard milk that stays more than 24 hours in the fridge.

    You can also find this article published in Moms and to Be Magazine.
    1st image courtesy of order valtrex
    The 2nd is courtesy of 

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    New Year’s Drinking Fiesta

    New Year’s is a big deal in Lebanon! Actually, it’s a big deal everywhere. Spending time with friends and family is a great way to celebrate a new year coming, and for most of us, that means getting together and sharing dinner especially with a few cocktails. And yes, holiday drinking is enjoyable, but not for those of us who are trying to watch our waistlines because even few drinks can set that diet back!

    All alcoholic drinks contain calories, whether we like to admit it or not, and for those living in denial that drinks are just like water, I hate to burst your bubble. Whether the calories come from alcohol containing 7 calories per gram or from mixers added like soft drinks, fruit juices, sugar or cream, they all definitely count!

    So here are some tips to follow when choosing your drinks:
    ·         Keep your limit to no more than 1-2 drinks for women and 2-3 drinks for men. Actually, guidelines are 1 drink for women and 2 for men, but since these are the holidays, one more drink is OK as maximum.
    ·         Avoid mixing your drinks with sweetened mixers which only contain huge amounts of calories.
    ·         If you choose to go for a beer, choose a light one.
    ·         Drink out of tall skinny glasses.
    ·         Mix drinks with water or diet soft drinks since they don’t add extra calories. A can of regular soda can add 150 calories to your drink while a diet soda has around 4 calories total, but we’ll discuss these in few seconds.
    ·         Know the percentage of alcohol and calories in your drink.
    ·         Fill your glass with ice cubes and then pour your alcohol, this way you’ll get a smaller amount of chilly, diluted alcoholic drink.
    ·         Drink a glass of water between drinks for 2 reasons. One, to fill up, but more importantly to re-hydrate your body since alcohol can make you lose your body water.
    Now let’s take a look at popular drinks you will have to face during that party! I gathered the most famous drinks, whether wine, beer, hard liqueurs, cocktails and their mixers we have in Lebanon.

    ·         Wine in 114 mL as a serving size
    Type Calories per serving
    Red 85
    White 80
    Rose 88
    Sweet 105
    Cabernet Sauvignon 88
    Chardonnay 88
    Light 50
    Sherry 128

    ·         Beer in one bottle, around 340 mL as a serving
    Type Calories per serving
    Regular 150 to 160
    Light 90 to 110

    ·         Hard liqueur with a usual serving of 43 mL
    Type Calories per serving
    Bourbon 98
    Brandy 98
    Gin 104
    Rum 84
    Scotch 105
    Whiskey 104
    Kahlua 161
    Tequila 100
    Vodka 100

    ·          Mixed drinks
    Type Serving Size Calories per serving
    Frozen Margarita 240 (1 cup) 404
    Champagne 114 mL 91
    Sangria 240 mL 169
    Gin and Tonic 240 mL 195
    Bloody Mary 240 mL 196
    Screwdriver 240 mL 210
    Bacardi Breezer lemon Light 1 bottle 96
    Creme de Menthe
    58 mL 250
    Cosmpolitan 150 mL 327
    Martini 150 mL 322
    White Russian 170 mL 374
    Tequila Sunrise 58 mL 75
    Daiquiri 58 mL 112
    Baileys Irish Cream 43 mL 108
    Manhattan 58 mL 178
    Black Russian 58 mL 162

    ·         Mixes
    Type Calories per serving
    Red bull energy drink 110 per can
    Mineral water 0
    Perrier 0
    Diet soda 0
    Regular soda 150 per can
    Tomato juice 25  in 114 mL
    Dr pepper 100 per can
    Bloody Mary mix 25 in 114 mL
    Nestea Iced tea lemon 86 per can
    Orange, pineapple, grapefruit, apple 60 in 114 mL

    One more thing that could come in handy is this equation:
    Calories in your drink = (milliliters / 28.4) x (% of alcohol x 2) x 0.8.

    Let’s say you are drinking 50 mL of whiskey that has 40% alcohol (as indicated on label) thus
    Calories in that drink = (50/28.4) x (40x2) x 0.8 = 112 cals!
    Or let’s take Arak; 70 mL of this 80% alcohol!
    Calories = (70/28.4) x (80x2) x 0.8 = 315 calories!
    So now you have actual information that will definitely help you assess whether your drink is high in calories or not. But know that even though you hear that alcohol has benefits, they just go down the drain once you exceed the guidelines we talked about earlier! 

    Moreover, keep in mind that it is best that some people avoid drinking alcohol even in big parties such as New Year’s. These include women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, people with specific medical conditions and people taking medications that may interact with alcohol.

    Coffee or a cold shower will not eliminate alcohol from your blood; time only clears it, so it’s best to stop drinking 2 to 3 hours before you drive. But if you feel dizzy just sleep over wherever you are or hand in the driving responsibility to a non-drinker.
    Never drink and drive!