Mango & Apple Salad with a Drizzle of Iced Tea

I was asked yesterday about what can be done with Mango fruit other than just eating it fresh, in tarts or in some special desserts; something healthy, delicious  but can be instantly prepared.

So I went to the grocery shop and bought a couple of semi-ripened Mango fruits. I’ve sat all day looking at them, maybe something comes up. I opened the fridge to find Diet Peach Iced Tea, Green Apples and an opened bag of Kellogg’s Mini Bites.

So here it goes, the famous mango fruits with a combination of green apples.

Cut both into medium to small cubes, no need for perfect cut cubes. I used 1 mango and 1 green apple. Add to them 1 can of peach iced tea and stir.

It’s kind of a mingle between the sourness of the apple, the semi-sweetness of the mango and the refreshing aroma of the peach flavor.

Add the mix in a serving cup and drizzle some of the iced tea that’s left at the bottom of the mixing dish. Decorate your salad with the Kellog’s mini-bites, I used what’s available – chocolate flavor. To get the perfect taste, sprinkle some crushed walnuts on top.

1 mango + 1 green apple + 1 can of iced tea + 1 bag of mini bites = 2 serving cups.

Give it a try, it’s sooooo goood!!

April, Autism and the Gluten Free/Casein Free Diet


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:

Picture Sources:

A Lebanese Queen Honeycomb…

I was given a Queen Honeycomb filled with golden honey, as a gift, gathered from the mountains, in North Lebanon.

Honey, is one of the oldest sweeteners used in villages. Back then it was gathered from rocks, tree trunks, old jars where the bees used to form their honey. Later on most Lebanese villages start to develop beehives, thus most rural households kept bees. Then after beekeeping evolved to become one of the most luxurious hobbies, as an inherited experience of our grand old families.

Bees make honey by harvesting the nectar of plants and flowers; Lebanon is very well known of its enormous variation of flowers and plants, thus Lebanese bees tend to form several kinds of honey with different colors, smells and tastes.

For example, dark honey from oaks, amber spicy honey from thyme, amber wooden taste honey from cedars, light amber citrus honey from orange blossom flowers and so on… Each type of honey is made in different times of the year depending on the season in which the flowers and plants grow.

In many Lebanese villages, honey is said to be “sacred”, where it’s mentioned in the Bible and in the Qur’an. Traditionally, it was used for medical purposes, specifically throat problems and coughing, cosmetic purposes for the skin and as a natural sweetener instead of sugar.

In the Lebanese cuisine it’s used in hot beverages such as coffee and tea, in cooking, salad dressing etc.

A Traditional Misconception:

A traditional misconception about honey; most villagers used to think that honey, because it’s a natural sweetener fits for diabetes. Yet, in fact, honey has more or less the same chemical structure as table white sugar or brown sugar, with the same amount of calories too. Thus, it should not be consumed by diabetic patients, unless it’s incorporated correctly within the diet plan.


Honey Bees harvest the nectar from plants and flowers thus, it can carry on with it bacteria named Clostridium botulinum, that should not be consumed by children below the age of 2 years, because at this age the digestive system is not completely developed to digest and kill such a bacteria leading to a severe infection (the infection in this case is called: Botulism).

“Remman”… Pomegranate Overview, Health Benefits and Nutrient Content…


Pomegranate is a tree (like a shrub) that produces a round brownish to dark colored fruits. The fruit contains small pink seeds covered with a juicy watery layer. Pomegranate grows in several varieties that range between sweet and sour. During processing the inner seeds are pressed and the juice is used to either produce juices, syrups such as the grenadine, jam or boiled and reduced to produce molasses.

Pomegranate juice is usually consumed with fish, turkey, meats (ex. Turkish kabab), and also included in iced tea products. Pomegranate molasses is widely used in salad dressing, marinades and sauces ex. fattouch, chicken liver, sausages, wings etc. Grenadine syrup is consumed as a cold drink or used in cocktails; some also use it in several recipes such as the Duck Recipes ex. Goose Liver with caramelized pears or apples, cinnamon and grenadine sauce).

It’s used to enhance the flavour, give a pinkish color to the food and to improve appetite.

Health Benefits

Pomegranates provide antioxidant (punicalagins) and anti-inflammatory protection (for sore throat), support healthy cholesterol levels, and help maintain a healthy blood pressure levels, thus improves the health of the arteries.

Moreover, it improves hormonal imbalances and hormonal shifts specifically during menopause, used in curing anemia (antioxidants and iron content).It also contains anti-aging components that nourish the skin and antibacterial effects against dental plaque.

Several studies were also done on the health benefits of pomegranate, several have shown a positive relationship with respect to cancer (prostate), infant brain health, colds and kidney disease.

Nutrient Content

Pomegranate is a rich source of antioxidants and a good source of vitamin B (riboflavin, thiamin and niacin), vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus.

Artichoke Overview and Health Benefits


Artichoke is the unopened flower of a Thistle (a flowering plant characterized by leaves of sharp tips).
Artichoke is well known in the Mediterranean region.
In Lebanon, it is widely served as a cold “mezza” (Lebanese cold appetizers) with Lemon, garlic, and olive oil dressing. The Artichoke hearts can be processed into pickles, or cooked (Meat and Artichoke Stew or with white sauce or with tahina: sesame paste).

Health Benefits

– Reduces bad cholesterol (LDL Cholesterol)
– Contains “inulin” a carbohydrate that stabilizes blood sugar levels in diabetic patients
– Improves liver functioning
– Relief Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms
– Helps improve digestive problem such as dyspepsia and helps the digestion process
– Reduce risk of cancer (ex. Breast cancer)


Artichoke is an excellent source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin A, potassium, and manganese. Moreover, it contains compounds that help the flow of bile from the gallbladder (bile is essential for cholesterol regulation, liver and digestive functioning).


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