A Collaborative Post: Back-to-school “Importance of Breakfast and Snacks”

Today we’ll be having a collaborative post with Christele Daccache, a nutritionist, yoga instructor and blogger at Health ‘n’ Horizons; on the importance of breakfast and snacks for school aged children and young adults. Christele offers at-home nutrition counseling for families in Jeddah, KSA where she helps them adopt a healthier lifestyle through a complete nutrition management program that suits their specific needs with kitchen makeovers, guided grocery shopping tours, and more. If you haven’t checked Christele’s awesome blog already, I invite you to. I am sure you will enjoy her writings and advice as much as I do!

Part 1: The Importance of Breakfast

Why is Breakfast Important?

Breakfast is one of the most important meals especially for school aged individuals (children and teens). As the term “BreakFast” shows that during breakfast we “BREAK” the “FAST”. Meaning, disturbing the sleeping night fast in the morning with a balanced diet, and that is essential for a healthy body.
Studies have shown that breakfast has an important effect on behavior, learning and overall school performance. On the other hand, it may help control weight and reduce the risk of weight related diseases, because when the child eats breakfast he/she will not feel hungry earlier during the day and more kely to eat less fat foods during breaks.

On the other hand, children who do not eat breakfast are often bad-tempered, impatient with bad attitudes toward school with less energy during the day. That in turn affects the child’s concentration and school performance ability.

As a conclusion, it’s very important to make breakfast a repetitive continuous behavior for ourselves and our children.

Now you might say: But we have a hectic lifestyle and no time to make breakfast for ourselves even. We say, nowadays we all have a hectic lifestyle; thus why not prepare the basic ingredients beforehand to make the “on the go” process fast, healthy and easy.

A balanced breakfast contains a source of carbohydrate, protein and fats along with vegetables and fruits.

To make it easier for you, we will share with some simple breakfast recipe ideas.

Breakfast Recipe Ideas

– Labneh Sandwich with a Banana
– Light Cheese Sandwich with an Apple
– Zaatar and Labneh Sandwich with Vegetables
– Broccoli Mini Omelets or any type of vegetable omelet (made in the shape of a muffin)
– Milk, Cereals and mixed nuts (that’s for the weekends)
Stress-free overnight oats recipe

Part 2: The Importance of Snacks

Snacks can be nutritional disasters if children are having sugary drinks, chips and all-they-can-eat candy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Good planning and some tricks can help you make sure your kid is snacking the right way.

Why do kids need snacks?

– Children have small stomachs; they need snacks to keep them going to the next meal – a midmorning snack to keep them focused at school and going till lunch and an afternoon snack to make them go to dinner. However, if the next meal is just within two hours, you wouldn’t want to offer a snack so as not to ruin your child’s appetite.
– Snacks make it easier for children to get all the nutrients they need.

How can you help your kid have the right snack?

Snacking is not equivalent to grazing. You don’t want your children to be eating every hour and they should not be allowed to have snacks in front of the TV or computer screen. They will be more likely to override their satiety signals and gain weight. Plus, you don’t want your children to consume extra calories they are not burning off with physical activity.
– Sit down with your child every week or every month and decide on what snacks to have. They will appreciate being treated as adults and will be more likely to go for nutritious and healthy snacks that they have come up with.
– If your child likes chocolate, include it in the plan occasionally just don’t make the mistake of calling it a treat. You don’t want your child to think there is something special about it.
– Midmorning snacks should be simple and appealing enough to compete with cafeteria junk or whatever other kids are having.
– Afternoon snacks can be a bit experimental. Since they are mostly offered at home, a new fruit or vegetable can be introduced.
– Cutting up fruits and vegetables into fun shapes works well with smaller kids.

What are some good snack ideas?

A snack should be nutrient dense; easy to eat, and low in salt, sugar and fat. You want to steer clear of prepackaged snacks that contain trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, additives and preservatives.

– Fruits are obvious snack foods. They can be served alone or paired with a source of protein: an apple or a banana with a tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter, grapes or watermelon with feta or two slices of halloumi cheese.
– Make your own fruit yogurt without the additives by mixing half a cup of yogurt with slices of peaches, plums or strawberries…
– A handful of dried fruits (apricots, prunes…), nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios) and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower).
– Veggie sticks including carrots, cucumbers, peppers … to dip in labneh, yogurt or hummus.
– Homemade baked vegetable “chips”. Forget store brought potato chips. Experiment with zucchini, sweet potato and squash. Cut them into thin circles, toss in a teaspoon of canola oil, add your favorite herbs or spices and bake in hot oven until crispy.
– A small bowl of plain popcorn.
– Half a small bagel or pita bread topped with a slice of turkey, low-fat cream cheese, or low-sugar jam.
– The occasional snacks (once a week): a small chocolate biscuit bar, a snack-sized chocolate bar, or two biscuits or cookies, or a small muffin (homemade is better like this Banana Oat Cake with chocolate or check the ingredient list for the most natural ingredients and serving size).

We hope you enjoyed it! If you have any questions regarding the topic don’t hesitate to connect with us 🙂

Photo Source:


Additional References


Can I eat Fish when I am Pregnant?

Can I eat Fish when I am Pregnant?

I’ve been asked this question several times, especially that we are in the summer season, and people eat lots of fish. I’ve discussed this issue of fish and mercury in a previous post but I would prefer to re-post the subject again. Before answering the question here’s a general overview about the health benefits of fish.

Health Benefits of Fish

Most kinds of fish are highly nutritious, containing large amounts of vitamins, minerals and highly beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids (the good fats), good quality lean proteins and are also low in saturated fats. Some fish are also rich in specific nutrients such as calcium for example in salmon and sardines.

Due to the highly nutritious content, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, fish has been highly correlated with preventing heart diseases (by preventing blood clots), enhancing infant’s neurological development (intellectual ability), reducing mood swings and depression, reducing blood pressure, and preventing Alzheimer.

It’s highly recommended to eat around 2 servings of fish per week (always consider steaming, baking etc. over frying cooking techniques). As for pregnant women, it’s highly recommended to eat fish, because fish provide the infant with a specific type of omega-3 fatty acid named DHA that is, as stated previously, essential for brain development.

Alert: Fish contains Mercury

Talking about pregnant women and fish, it’s very important to be alert that despite fish is a highly nutritious food, it might contain some unhealthy toxic substances, mainly mercury. Mercury, coming from sea water contamination, can accumulate and sit within the fish meat, specifically that large in size fish such as tuna; thus if eaten can pass through the placenta to the infant causing a disruption in the nervous and brain development.

That’s why as we always say, it is all about moderation, pregnant women ought to consume fish due to its highly beneficial nutrients yet, must avoid the high mercury containing fish especially the shark, king mackerel, swordfish and tilefish; tuna can be eaten yet in restricted amounts, as for sardines, they are safe (due to their small size).

Note: Mercury can accumulate in our bodies, thus it’s highly recommended that women planning to get pregnant also restrict the highly contain mercury fish before the phase of conception.

More info from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/omega-3/HB00087

Photos Sources: http://bit.ly/NX1oN2; http://bit.ly/Ptbc3Q

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diet

Question: What is the best diet plan for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS is a problem with the intestines. The intestines either compresses too hard or not hard enough thus food may move either too quickly or too slowly through the intestine. That’s why it’s common to see an alternation between constipation and diarrhea, some may have one of them some may have them both.

General Guidelines:

– Eat small frequent meals
– Drink lots of fluid (1500 – 2000ml daily) specifically water
– Follow a high fiber – low fat diet with constipation symptoms
– Follow a diarrheal diet with diarrheal related symptoms
– Limit caffeine, alcohol, high sugar drinks and sweeteners such as sorbitol because they may worsen symptoms.
– Limit the intake of gas-producing foods: cabbage-family vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), dried peas, lentils, beans, onions, garlic etc. and carbonated drinks
– Avoid chewing gum or drinking through a straw as more air will be swallowed

Constipation Symptoms

High Fiber and Low-Fat Diet

– Increase the intake of bran grains such as whole grain breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables.
– Always read the food label: ex. whole grain or whole wheat. For cooked and ready-to-eat cereals check for products with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
– Drink plenty of fluids, at least 8 cups per day especially water; but unsweetened fruit juice and decaf drinks also are fine.
– Eat more slowly
– Exercise at least 2 to 3 times per week to boost up your digestive movement.

Diarrhea Symptoms

Low Residue diet

– Eat plain cooked foods ex. Pasta, rice, potatoes
– Eat white bread or white whole cereals
– Decrease your intake of raw fruits and vegetables (especially those with inner or outer seeds) ie. If you want to have a pear for example make sure it’s peeled without seeds
– You can have boiled peeled carrots or ripened banana (high potassium foods are essential due to diarrheal electrolytes loss)
– Decrease fat intake
– Avoid caffeine and foods that cause gas

Related References


Photo Source


Spain, Mozaic and Jamon

A couple of weeks ago I had dinner with some friends at Mosaic Restaurant, Phoenicia Hotel Beirut. It was a lovely gathering with lots of great food.

But, the most interesting part was that the day we visited it was Spanish Night. The Buffet was full of Spanish food; from seafood salads, meat, chicken and fish stews.

Check out the exotic mango, pinapple, coconut and shrimp salad it’s just delicious.

It seems that in Spain they are well known to have cold soups, we tasted several types, here’s the cold tomato soup, it was really good.

As we moved around the buffet, we noticed a special meat display. Spain is well known in it’s meats, specifically the Jamon.

Here comes the question: What’s Jamon?

Last year I had a couple of friends visiting Spain and I had the chance to get some pictures of this Famous Jamon. Some say it looks like hanging bats, other say it looks like dried leg of lamb…

But what is really Jamon?

It’s a widely know Spanish pig ham, that is cleaned and dried with salt. The fresh pig’s meat is covered with salt for a couple of weeks to remove all the water content (mainly preserving the meat); after wish the salt is washed away and the dried meat is hanged (looking like hanging bats) for few months. This is known in the mountain areas of Spain.

See for yourself…

Related References

Photo Courtesy: Strawberry Blu; Nayla Abi Yaghi

Strawberry Blu: Chapter One

Dear Friends,

Today I will not answer a question, talk, narrate or share any story related to food. Ending the month of May, I decided to share with you my story…

On Sunday May 29, 2011 afternoon, Strawberry Blu was born. My personal blog that was created to share personal experiences about food was transformed into a Q&A social online space that is aimed to answer questions on health, wellness, nutrition, dieting and cooking.
You can check out the first post here: “Strawberry Blu Answers your Questions!

Why Strawberry Blu?

Going back to my university days I was continuously flushed by thousands of questions related to food such as the specific benefits, related health problems, related diseases, recipes, advice etc. Most questions were related to our own ethnic foods, cultures and traditions and in most of the time people’s conception was wrong.

I started compiling a list of all those misconceptions related to food, and I was continuously encountered by “We can’t find any information about Mloukhiyeh, we can’t calculate the calories within our traditional foods, honey is excellent for diabetes, bread makes you fat etc.” All was inherited from mothers, grandmas, community etc. I sensed lack of knowledge and lack of resources within my community.

Moreover, people wanted instant, inexpensive, relevant and credible answers to their questions; they didn’t want to go through the process of visiting a dietician or a professional along with spending a considerable amount of money and time. So I decided to open my personal blog to share my own food experiences tackling the above mentioned issues.

Yet, and with the help of a good friend, that’s currently Strawberry Blu’s advisor and mentor, we decided to transform this personal blog into a social interactive one where anyone can ask real time questions about food and get instant qualified answers; and as a result increase awareness within the Lebanese community and hopefully within the Arab community as a whole.

As a start it was a hard decision because the mass efforts were directed towards sharing information and advice about issues that directly affects health thus, the biggest challenge was to communicate in the simplest, most comprehensible and correct way. So if this information is applied it’s applied correctly. Today, I look to the future seeing Strawberry Blu up in the sky, fulfilling this mission in spreading out the knowledge and shaping out a food- health-conscious community.

Time flies I know, it was a great year and I am grateful for every moment spent, shared and experienced through this online space. Strawberry Blu team was able to answer hundreds and hundreds of questions via the Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Twitter, Blog and through emails.

Since it’s a Q&A type targeting a specific topic, Strawberry Blu was featured in several magazines (Ragmag, The Gate, Hayatouki), TV shows (Future TV, Aynak Ala Sohtak, LBC TV, Helwe Beirut), blogs (Pearl’s Powder, Paty M Nutrition World, Beirut Spring), it got reddited with over 200,000 viewers in 1 day with a global buzz (Strawberry Blu Incident), was ranked as the top 3 food/nutrition blogs in Lebanon and in the top Lebanese Blogs (the 7th out of the 700, 2Famous ).

Moreover, it featured in-house several professionals from athlete, nutritionist, food scientist, speech and language therapist and strawberry genomics professionals to share and answer related food questions.

In addition, to participating in several social media conferences and entrepreneurship events: Social Media Changing Lives, The Execution, The Pinterest and Path Experience, Cook and Eat Lebanese Gathering.

Thank You!!

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every single one of you for all your support; but I would like to thank some specific individuals and parties that made the journey come true:

– Strawberry Blu Advisor and Mentor: Samer Karam, Founder of Seeqnce and his beloved team.
– Strawberry Blu Graphic Designer: Josianne El Helou, Founder of Artifect Design
– My friend Pauline Kafrouny for all the business support
– My friend Naim Zard, founder of Zima System, for all the technical support
– My foodie bloggers: Loulwa Kalache and Patricia Moughames
– Finally, my own family specifically my lovely mother for the continuous support, cooking tips, original recipes and of course kitchen

It’s just the start, this was chapter one of my story, thank you all for the visit and don’t forget to share your thoughts, questions or concerns we will be waiting.

Sincerely yours,

Cynthia Bu Jawdeh.


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