Hummus: The Star of Lebanese Mezze

A guest post, written by Christian Manasci. Christian is a Lebanese blogger with various interests ranging from social media to food and music.”

Hummus Recipe

Hummus Recipe

Hummus is a very popular food in Lebanon/ Middle East that is well known for its nutritional benefits. It was traditionally consumed solely in the region (it is a great example of traditional Lebanese food) but has recently been in demand throughout the globe.

It is made using chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), Tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds), lemon juice and oil. It is usually eaten with pita bread or other types of flat bread and is known to be an inexpensive food that is easy to eat on the go.

According to certain sources, Hummus first originated in Ancient Egypt where locals would regularly consume chickpeas. The latter was a common food in ancient Rome as well as Mesopotamia and ancient Palestine.

In terms of nutritional values, Hummus is rich in vitamin C, B6, thiamine and folate. It is quite popular amongst vegetarians. Indeed, chickpeas are high-protein vegetables that contain no cholesterol or saturated fats. Also, the sesame seeds in Tahini contain proteins, calcium and are known to stabilize the blood.

As strange as it may sound, some studies have shown that Hummus can be an effective treatment against anxiety and depression. So, if you needed any more incentives for consuming this dish, that last point should be quite convincing!

Check out this great Hummus recipe for an authentic taste of Lebanese/ Middle Eastern food. It’s quite easy to make: just serve it in a plate, top the dish with some olive oil and enjoy!

Guest Post: Food for Great Skin

Today we’ll be having a guest post with Chantal Akkary from Le Blog De Chanty. Le Blog De Chanty is a personal blog mainly sharing topics about Chantal’s passion for cosmetics, fashion, and events happening in Lebanon. She has been blogging for three years now and created the dedicated blog Facebook Page in March 2011. For her it’s been a great experience till now.

After the discussion on the use of rose water and tea for the eyes; several thoughts arouse concerning the use of food in terms of beauty health specifically the skin. Chantal will tell us more about the subject 🙂

1- Pomegranate

With its incredible antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties and ability to encourage radiant skin, pomegranate has been incorporated into skin care; especially anti-aging and sun care products. It can help with a number of skin care issues that women of color can face, including dry skin, age spots, hyperpigmentation, acne flare-ups and acne scars.

A compound in pomegranate may help reduce the breakdown of collagen, the protein that gives skin its useful vitality – and prevents wrinkling and sagging.

One word of warning. Only use pomegranate extract in conjunction with your regular sun protection. Pomegranate extract is not a substitute for sunscreen, but it may offer some additional protection against skin aging that a sunscreen can’t provide.

2- Acerola Cherries

The Acerola Cherries also known as the Barbados cherry or West Indian cherry, contains an astounding amount of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is extremely beneficial for your skin; keeping it strong and youthful. Your skin needs vitamin C to produce collagen, one of the main structural building blocks within your skin.

Acerola Cherries supply an ample amount of vitamin C so that your skin has the ability to produce collagen quickly and efficiently. This will help your skin stay firm, tight, and wrinkle free 🙂

3- Tomatoes

A German study found that lycopene-rich tomato paste helped participants prevent sunburn when they combined it with olive oil, daily for ten weeks. Besides being a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes are considered a high-carotenoid fruit. These nutrients may help slow down cellular damage from free radicals.

4- Mangoes

Mangoes have more than 80% of your daily requirements for vitamin A, which is why they’re such a great face food. Vitamin A maintains and repairs skin cells; a deficiency will result in a dry, flaky complexion.

As an antioxidant, vitamin A also fights free radical damage that can prematurely age the skin. And with fewer than 70 calories per serving, this succulent fruit is the perfect pick for your figure, not just your face.

5- Avocados

A good source of biotin, avocados help to prevent dry skin and brittle hair and nails. When applied topically, they can hydrate parched skin.

We hope you enjoyed it 🙂

Source: http://blogdechanty.wordpress.com/

April, Autism and the Gluten Free/Casein Free Diet

Introduction

April is the National Autism Awareness Month; on this occasion we will be interviewing Ms. Asmaa EL-Khayat, a speech and language pathologist, to discuss Autism and whether the diet plays a role in improving the state.

Ms. Khayat holds a Bachelor Degree in Speech Therapy. She assesses and treats speech, language and communication problems in people of all ages to enable them to communicate to the best of their ability. She has a wide experience in learning disabilities, hearing loss and deafness, cognitive communication problems and speech and communication impairments.

Interview with a “Speech and Language Therapist”

We have asked Ms. Khayat some several questions on Autism:

1. What is really meant by “Speech and language therapist”?

The role of a speech and language therapist (SLT) is to assess and treat speech, language and communication problems in people of all ages to enable them to communicate to the best of their ability.

As a speech and language therapist, I work closely with teachers and health professionals including doctors, nurses and psychologists.

2. What are the type problems does a “Speech and Language Therapist” assist in?

Mainly, we assist children and adults who have the following types of problems:
• Difficulty producing and using speech: Apraxia, dyspraxia…
• Difficulty understanding language
• Difficulty using language
• Communication problems: Autism
• Difficulty with feeding, chewing or swallowing: dysphagia
• Stutterer
• Voice problems: dysphonia
• Cognitive communication impairments, such as attention, memory, and problem solving disorders such as ADHD( attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), ADD ( attention deficit disorder)

We also work with people who suffer the following problems:
• Aphasia
• Learning disabilities: dyslexia
• Physical disability: cerebral palsy
• Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
• Head injury
• Hearing loss and deafness
• Cleft palate
• Dementia

3. Where exactly (Settings) does a “Speech and Language Therapist” work in?

We work in a variety of settings, these include:
• Hospital (both inpatients and outpatients)
• A special school
• Private clinic

4. Can you provide us with a general overview on how a “Speech and Language Therapist” spends her/his Day?

On a typical day a speech pathologist will:
• Use written and oral tests, as well as special instruments, to diagnose the nature and extent of impairment and to record and analyze speech, language, and swallowing irregularities;
• Develop an individualized plan of care tailored to each patient’s needs;
• Select augmentative or alternative communication methods, including automated devices and sign language, and teach their use to individuals with little or no speech capability;
• Teach those with little or no speech capability how to make sounds, improve their voices, or increase their language skills to communicate more effectively;
• Help patients who have suffered loss of speech develop, or recover, reliable communication skills so patients can fulfill their educational, vocational, and social roles

5. If we want to take one problem “Autism” how can we define it?

Autism, is a neurological disorder that affects a child’s ability to communicate, understand language, play, and relate to others. People who have an autism spectrum disorder have much strengths that should not be overlooked, since they will be important in making life decisions like developing educational programs or in choosing a career.

Some common strengths:
• An exceptionally good visual memory
• Ability to learn rote material easily
• Exceptionally good long-term memory
• Visual thinking
• Taking in chunks of information quickly
• Ability to perform highly precise tasks
• Perfectionism
• Reliability in adherence to rules or schedules
• Honesty and integrity

6. What are the challenges that face Autism patients?

The three main characteristics of autism:

1. Difficulty with social interaction
2. Trouble with verbal and nonverbal communication
3. Repetitive behaviors or narrow, obsessive interests

The main symptom that is reported by most parents is impaired social interaction. As early as infancy, parents may notice the baby is unresponsive to people or they focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others. It can also occur that a child will appear to be developing normally and ten withdraw and become indifferent to external stimuli.

Autistic children usually fail to respond to their name, will avoid eye contact, and have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can not understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and they are usually not watching the person’s face to notice these expressions anyway. Autistic children do not have empathy.
Many autistic children will engage in repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling. They will also at times show self abusive behavior such as biting themselves or banging their heads. They also usually speak later than other children and will often speak in the third person referring to themselves by name instead of I or me.

They don’t know how to play or share with other children; they actually have little interest in the interests of the other child.

Often you will notice an autistic child is less sensitive to pain, but super sensitive to sound or touch. This may explain one of their behavioral symptoms of resisting cuddling or being hugged.

Some very devastating conditions appear to have a higher than normal risk for autistic children. This would include fragile X syndrome (which causes mental retardation) tuberous sclerosis (in which tumors grow on the brain), epilepsy, tourette syndrome, learning disabilities, ADD and ADHD. It is not understood why but about 20-30% of children with autism develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood.

7. Have you ever faced an Autism patient with altered appetite? Is diet affected by such a problem?

Every child with Autism is unique. Everyone has his own way and taste in food, appetite and way of feeding. Most of children with Autism are not able to eat alone or choose their taste, a meal doesn’t mean an important thing to them and this surely differs according to the symptoms’ severity.

Food, Diet and Autism

After having a brief on what is a “Speech and language Therapist” and what is Autism, we took the opportunity to discuss the relationship between Food and Autism. The main question lies here on whether Food and Dietary Planning can help out improve the state of Autism.
Several sources have shown a link between some food proteins “gluten” (a protein from wheat, barley, oats, and rye), casein (a protein from milk) and Autism.

The Gluten Free Casein Free Diet has been widely known to be as the “Autism Diet”. But, is this true?
After reviewing several sources, we saw that the supposition a diet free of gluten and casein enhances and improves the state of Autism, is mainly correlated with the digestive system anomaly such patients might encounter.
Thus, improvement in the state of Autism is connected to the improvement of the digestive system functionality and might not be directly linked to the gluten and casein proteins themselves.

Such a diet can only help with some Autism patients, patients that encounter digestive malfunctioning (ex. insufficient enzyme activity) that lead to problems in the break down of casein and gluten that in turn leads to specific symptoms.

To date more research is needed concerning this matter; and as Ms. Khayat have stated; every child with Autism is unique. Everyone has his own way and taste in food, appetite and way of feeding. Most of children with Autism are not able to eat alone or choose their taste; therefore and in conclusion we encourage the enhancement of a balanced diet whenever possible.

Related References:

http://www.autism-diet.com/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1160826/Can-diet-really-improve-symptoms-autism-Read-familys-story-decide.html
http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20100519/autism-diet-may-not-improve-symptoms
http://www.sciamdigital.com/index.cfm?fa=Products.ViewIssuePreview&ARTICLEID_CHAR=33400A6C-2B35-221B-6FAD047DB198A5F4
http://fondation-maladies-degeneratives.org/Articles/b24a873fefd1dc82c15b184b1b95d9f6.pdf
http://www.earlysignsofautism.com/
http://familyandautism.com/

Picture Sources:

http://www.nourishinghope.com/page.php?f=r
http://www.webkinzinsider.com/2012/april-autism-awareness-month-check-out-our-contest-and-parades

FRYING WITH OLIVE OIL

Today we’ll be having a guest post on “Frying with Olive Oil”. Several important questions were discussed and elaborated by Mohamad Kobayter.

Mohamad Kobayter holds a BS in Food Science and Management; he’s the Quality Control Manager/Production Manager Assistant at KOBAYTER S.A. KOBAYTER FRERES S.A.L is a family owned business established in 1953 specialized in the production of Extra Virgin & Pure olive oil (AL WAZIR), green & black olives and soaps. KOBAYTER S.A. (since 1986) is the sister company located in Malaga in Spain dedicated to the export of AL WAZIR Olive Oil.

INTRODUCTION

Many of us love fried foods. French Fries, Burgers and Chicken Nuggets are always on top of the menu of popular Fast Food restaurants. Frying is one of the oldest methods of cooking and widely used in the Mediterranean countries.
Eating healthy fried foods depends on the type of oil used. Olive Oil is an ideal option for replacing vegetable oil.

What factors make olive oil a good choice for frying?

THE SMOKE POINT OF OILS

Frying refers to the cooking of food in oil or fat using heat. While cooking, it is important not to heat the oil over its smoke point. The smoke point refers to the temperature at which a cooking fat or oil begins to break down. Oil burns produce a bluish smoke and cause a bad odor and an unpleasant taste. Fats and oils have different smoke points. Some oils smoke at a low temperature while others burn at high temperature. Therefore deep-frying, which is a high temperature process, requires an oil with a high smoke point.

Here is a list of fats and oils with their various smoke points:

Smoke point of a certain oil changes depending on refinement. The refining process, which removes the impurities from the oil, increases the smoke point. For example, the smoke point of the Refined Olive Oil (246°C) is higher than the smoke point of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (210°C). However, using the same oil more than once decreases its smoke point.

According to the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) “Olive Oil is the most stable fat which means it stands up well to high frying temperatures. Its high smoke point is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (356°F or 180°C). The digestibility of olive oil is not affected when it is heated, even when it is re-used several times for frying”.

As a reference, the table from the IOOC shows standard cooking temperatures:

SOME OILS PRODUCE HARMFUL COMPOUNDS WHEN HEATED

Frying accelerates the chemical changes of the fats and oils. While cooking, some fats and oils, which are less resistant to heat than others, break down causing the formation of toxic compounds.

Fats and oils are composed of fatty acids molecules that are classified into three main categories: Saturated fatty acid, Monounsaturated fatty acid and Polyunsaturated fatty acid.
Fatty acids are composed of long chains of carbon linked to each other. Each of these carbon atoms is attached to a pair of hydrogen atoms. Fat is considered saturated when it holds all the hydrogen atoms, monounsaturated when one atom of hydrogen is missing, and polyunsaturated when two or more atoms of hydrogen are missing.

When hydrogen atoms are missing, fatty acids become less stable and more chemically reactive. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are the least stable and therefore the most susceptible to changes.
When heated, oils high in polyunsaturated fats form harmful compounds such as free radicals and 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (also known as HNE). Studies have shown that HNE increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Polyunsaturated oils include soybean, corn and sunflower oils.

Extra virgin olive oil and refined olive oil are both highly monounsaturated oils and therefore resistant to chemical changes.

ANOTHER ADVANTAGE OF OLIVE OIL

Another advantage of using olive oil for frying is that it forms a layer on the surface of the food that blocks the penetration of oil and improves its flavor, thus the outside is crisped and the interior is cooked. Food fried with olive oil has a lower fat content than food fried in other oils, making olive oil more suitable for weight control.

WHAT OILS SHOULD BE USED?

Based on all of the info provided above, the best oils to be used for cooking are:

– For high heat cooking (frying, stir-frying): Refined Olive Oil because of its high smoke point and its low content in polyunsaturated fats.

– For medium-heat cooking: Refined Olive Oil and Filtered Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

– For Salad dressings: Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Weight Loss Drugs: What You Need To Know?

Today we’ll be having a guest post on what you need to know about weight loss drugs. Several important questions were discussed and elaborated by Mayssa Rishani, licensed dietitian from Eat Well, Live Well, Nutrition & Dietetics Clinic.

The best way to lose weight is definitely through exercising regularly and following a healthy diet. Yet for those who struggle with their weight and have certain medical conditions, weight loss drugs can be helpful.

Who can take weight loss drugs?

Weight loss drugs aren’t suitable for everyone who’s overweight. They are intended as an option for people who fit into the following category:
•Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30.
•Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 27 with obesity related medical problems (Ex: Diabetes, Hypertension…)

Weight loss drugs should be used in combination with a low calorie diet and regular exercise.

*BMI can be calculated by dividing your weight (kg) over your height (m) over your height (m).

What are the different types of weight loss drugs?

FDA approved weight loss drugs can be divided into two main groups: Appetite Suppressants and Fat Absorption Inhibitors.
Appetite Suppressants include Phentermine (Adipex-P, Suprenza), Diethylpropion (Tenuate, Tenuate Dospan) and Benzphetamine (Didrex).They are indicated for short-term use, meaning a few weeks or months. Appetite suppressants promote weight loss by decreasing appetite or increasing the feeling of being full.

Most common side effects include; increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, nervousness, headache, constipation, dry mouth and dizziness.

As for Fat absorption inhibitors, they have the generic name Orlistat and are available in the market as Xenical or Alli. Alli is a reduced strength version of Xenical and is sold over the counter. Orlistat is the only weight loss drug approved for long term use. Orlistat blocks some of the fat that you eat, keeping it from being absorbed by your body and eliminating it in your stools.

Thus decreasing your caloric intake and causing weight loss. Orlistat should be taken with a low fat, low calorie diet. Also, a multivitamin should be taken with it because it decreases the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).

Most common side effects include; intestinal cramps, gas, oily spotting, fatty stools, diarrhea, weakness, yellowing of the skin or eyes, more frequent bowel movements and difficulty to control bowel movements.

Currently, the FDA is reviewing Orlistat because of reports of liver injury. Till now, no specific link is established between the two. A possible explanation for this effect on the liver can be the excess weight of people using it.

Also, I would like to highlight that a previously FDA approved drug Sibutramine (Meridia, Reductil) was recently removed from the market in many countries because it was associated with an increased risk for serious heart events (Stroke and Non Fatal Heart Attacks).

How much weight should I expect to lose?

These drugs along with a low calorie diet and regular exercise give a 5 to 10% weight loss of total body weight within a year. Most of the weight loss happens in the first 6 months. Yet, after stopping these medications most people regain the weight.

Before taking any weight loss medication, make sure to consult with your medical doctor as he will consider your health history, possible side effects and potential interaction with other medications you are taking to give you the prescription suitable for you.

References
WebMD
MayoClinic
www.fda.gov
www.drugs.com

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