Saturday, July 27, 2013

What exercise means to your life


What exercise means to your life

This is a reflection on how exercise has changed my life and how it could change yours. Until I had children, it never occurred to me that exercise was a necessity. I was no athlete by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the thought of even going to the gym was ridiculous to me. Let me now temper this and set a stage for your understanding. I grew up in an era when you walked most places or took public transportation, a bus. Most often my sister and I walked to the grocery store which was about a mile away and carried at least pounds of groceries back home each. My father took long morning walks with us, about four to six miles round trip. When we returned we stretched and did basic calisthenics, to relax our muscles then showered and had a high protein full breakfast. It included turkey bacon, eggs with parsley and spices like cumin, whole wheat bread, grapefruit and grapes sometimes pomegranate, tea and of course water. My father encouraged us by example to exercise often by doing push- ups and sit ups, jumping jacks, etc. My father showed us by example at the age of seventy while looking about forty. He also taught us how to play tennis at his advanced aged. In fact, exercise was such an integral part of my life that I accepted it like breathing.

As an adult, I stopped walking and started driving long distances for work. Living in the suburbs, there are few sidewalks of course except for the ones within your neighborhood. These days those sidewalks are rarely used as no one really knows their neighbors. You may have the occasional runner or dog walker. Then I had a child and another one. Despite being raised in a home where we had good wholesome food and had a balanced diet, I was not informed enough about nutrition specific to a woman’s needs to prevent excess weight gain with my second pregnancy. During this pregnancy, I was also placed on bed rest complicating my weight control. For the first time in my life I was actually inactive! I actively sought physical activity following my second pregnancy in a way that was unnecessary after my first. After my first pregnancy, I simply walked the nine flights of stairs everyday to my office instead of taking the elevator and within six weeks was back to normal. Now I bought exercise DVDs by Denise Austin to "Shrink my Fat zones". Eventually  I found what worked best for me, a  combination of Pilates and weight training. 

Strength training in general comes highly recommended from some of the top personal trainers today. See article here by Fitmuslimah.com. Even now in Ramadan, I maintain my exercise routine twice a day. Since I have the most energy earlier in the day, I use weights before fajr to get my blood flowing and wake up to make suhoor. Just before iftar I work more on pilates and stretching type exercises. Other than Fit Muslimah, the other articles I have found are geared towards men. However Azeem Khan does have many recommendations in line with my experiences. Note the Azeem Khan recommends a much longer workout than I ever do. As a mother of five, I live by the mantra less is more. When it comes to exercise that means 5 - 8 minutes tops before each of the five daily prayers or during Ramadan 5 - 8 minutes just before suhoor and iftar. Post workout I drink up to five glasses of water and eat a protein dense meal followed by calcium magnesium zinc supplement to feed my muscles. All within the comfort of my own home, I set a good example for my children and maintain my sanity.

Now ten years later, I have maintained a healthy weight, mental state and learned to better understand the things my father tried to implement in our diets. At a recent event, I saw someone who had not seen me in over ten years and was told that I have not changed. Embrace a routine of exercise in your daily life, it can stop the effects of aging whilst giving you a positive outlook on life. 


What exercise means in your life is that you can in sha Allah  live a little happier, longer and healthier.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Speak Softly

SubhanAllah the Quran is so amazing every time you read it you learn a new lesson or find a new pearl. We seek information in scholarly works these days by PhD educated psychologist on how to raise our children, how to be successful in business and how to communicate in a nonviolent way. It is all written in the Quran. There are actually over 500 (out of over 6,000) lines dedicated to business transactions and laws. The remainder is on how to deal with humanity and the mercy of Allah. Each Ramadan I try to follow an Islamic scholar to guide me through the tasfir of Quran. This year I am following Mufti Menk whose theme is extracting Pearls of Peace. That means how to live a peaceful life through doing certain actions and avoiding others.

 A few days back I was listening to Mufti Menk’s part 15 of Pearls of Peace. It has become my habit to listen twice to his talks whilst taking notes. That day I did not get back to it a second time so last night I revisited it. He related how in surah Taha it speaks of part of the story of Musa (may Allah’s peace be upon him). The ayah sited here is 20:44”And speak to him mildly (with soft words); perhaps he may accept admonition or fear (Allah).” In my Quran, what Mufti Menk translated as softly was translated as mildly. As I am not an Arabic scholar, I looked in the English dictionary to distinguish the meaning for myself. Mild is defined as gentle or kind in disposition, manners, or behavior: a strong but mild man (given as an example). Soft is defined as offering little resistance; easily molded in the first and in the eighth as of gentle disposition; yielding unmanly (as an example.) [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language]This explains why the translator of my Quran chose mildly instead of softly. A mild or gentle disposition can still be commanding and firm. On the contrary, soft implies no firmness. I also understand why the Mufti would select soft as the translation as the appeal was to soften the heart. However, since much gets lost in translation, we must understand the nuances offered in Arabic relating to dealing with humanity. Musa and his brother, may peace be upon them both, were being instructed to mold Pharaoh’s heart easily to make it yielding to the will of Allah. For example, there are nine words for love in Arabic ranging in magnitude from the ability of a human to the ability of Our Creator. Arabic is a language that is capable of describing the attributes magnificently and formidably of this world and the Hereafter. English is a functional language of business and shallow in emotion. With this in mind, I will try to relate the lesson we should learn in this verse as eloquently explained by the Mufti.

Musa and Haroon’s mission was to go to Pharaoh and call him to Islam. As we know Pharaoh, (Firaun) was beyond the worst of tyrants, enslaving masses and declaring he was their lord and deity and creator. Therefore, they were embarking on a journey where they were inviting the most arrogant abusive disbeliever to Islam. Allah gives them instructions to speak using soft words. At this point the Mufti points out that, we are not as noble as the prophets Musa and Haroon and we will never speak to anyone as abominable as Firaun. Allah is guiding them on how to deal in business or politics and choose words that will soften his heart to bring him to Allah and Islam. Why? When you are harsh in tone and word selection, it will drive people away from what we are trying to guide them.
Lesson: Improve the way we speak to one another

In this blessed month of Ramadan, there are so many acts of worship that we can practice and implement in our lives. This is a wonderful time to train ourselves to be better people. Speech is something that we overlook as an act of worship. How you talk to people can make or break your relationship with them.  The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “whoever guarantees the correct use of that which between the cheeks (tongue) and that which is between their thighs (private parts) is guaranteed Jannah.” Choose your words carefully especially with those closest to you i.e. your children, your spouse, your siblings, your parents, etc.) Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah. A tongue used to constantly praise and worship Allah cannot use vulgar language. If you want to bring hearts closer to you or open hearts to you, speak softly. This is direct advice from Allah. It will in shaa Allah make you successful not only in this life but in the Hereafter.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Nutritional Comparison of Ramadan Food Selections


In comparing my stamina between this Ramadan and last Ramadan, I must say that this year I am much stronger ma sha Allah. This will be a nutritional comparison. Firstly, I have simplified our suhoor to be high in proteins, fiber and small in amount. The less you eat the less your body craves during the day. Additionally we drink up to five full glasses of water. In contrast to last year, we used coconut water only, which is a great source of potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Although I am the last person to recommend supplements in lieu of whole food sources, the supper B complex combined with Calcium-Magnesium-zinc; D supplements definitely compliment the whole food sources of magnesium and potassium in mango and banana. This year we have not drank coconut water a single but I have not suffered dehydration or muscle cramps.

Moving on to iftar, I have kept it to a balance of raw and easily digested legumes and meats (chicken and wild caught sockeye Alaskan salmon).  We break fast with three to five organic Deglet Noor dates, a few spoonfuls of chola (either kala or garbanzo), and a raw salad with homemade vinaigrette. The salad includes with Napa cabbage or Chinese cabbage, cilantro (fresh coriander), green bell peppers, red or green onion finely chopped and tomatoes added separately. According to World’s Healthiest Foods web site cabbage is part of cruciferous family of greens that contains health-promoting nutrients (glucosinolates) that help rid your body of potential toxins and energize you. Ramadan is the best time to purify your body while detoxifying your heart, mind and soul. It is also an excellent source of potassium weighing in at 66.7% of daily value in one cup of raw cabbage and a vitamin C at 42.6%. Chickpeas, specifically the garbanzo type, are the best go to food for digestive support. See more here. They are also an excellent source of protein and fiber and are material in balancing sugar levels. The ingredients for the vinaigrette include olive oil, apple cider vinegar, crushed fresh garlic and ginger, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. There was recent study on the inhibiting capabilities of garlic and ginger on drug resistant bacteria. See here.

Item upon item is the best possible choice to nourish the body fasting or not. In shaAllah will continue on this path beyond this blessed month. Below are more details of the spiritual benefits of our food choices.

As for the other food selections, we learn here from the foods of the Prophet (SAWS):

Fruits

Banana (mawz)--Hot in the first degree, banana has little use as a food, except for people with a very cold intemperament, who should eat it with honey.

Dates, Dried (tamr)--The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have said, "A house without dates has no food." Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) used to plant date trees himself. Dates should be eaten with almonds to annul any adverse effects. Fresh dates were the food eaten by Mary (r.a.), at the time of her delivery of the infant Jesus (a.s.). Said the Prophet (s.a.w.s.), "He who finds a date, let him break his fast on that. If he finds no date, let him break it on water. For verily that is purity."

Fig (tin)--Fresh figs are preferred to dried. Although quite nourishing, they are very hot. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have said, "If you say that any fruit has come from Paradise, then you must mention the fig, for indeed it is the fruit of Paradise. So eat of it, for it is a cure for piles and helps gout."

Olives and Olive Oil (zayt and zaytun)--The older olive oil is, the hotter it becomes. Olive oil is an excellent treatment for the skin and hair, and it delays old age.
Allah has said of the olive tree: "And a tree that grows out of Mount Sinai which produces oil and a condiment for those who eat. For olive oil is the supreme seasoning." Allah has also called it the Blessed Tree (Qur'an 24:35).
Green olives are the most nourishing, and counteract autointoxication. Black olives cause the spleen to overproduce bile and are hard on the stomach.

Peach (khu'kh)--Peaches generate cold, relax the stomach, and soften the bowels. A good laxative, peaches should be eaten before, rather than after, a meal.

Spices

Coriander Seed (habb al-suda)--The most respected books of traditions state that the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, "Make yours the seeds of coriander, for it is a cure of all diseases except swelling [cancer], and that is a fatal disease." It is also reported that Allah informed the Prophet, "She has been given every-thing." And then Allah revealed that "she" is coriander. Coriander alleviates flatulence and resolves fevers. It is effective in the treatment of leukoderma, and it opens the subtlest networks of the veins. Excess moisture in the body is dried up by coriander, and it increases milk flow, urine, and menses. It is particularly useful when a person has a cold. The oil of coriander is a treatment for baldness and scalp problems, and prevents gray hair. The smoke of the burning seeds is an insect repellent.

Cinnamon (darchini)--Cinnamon is hot in the third degree. Its volatile oil is a great medicine for indigestion. It forms an ingredient in spice blends used as the basis of cooking in almost three-fourths of the world.

Cumin (kammun)--Cumin is very hot. It is reported to be the only spice or herb that travels through the stomach unaffected by digestion, until it reaches the liver. Cumin soaked in water, which is then drunk, is excellent for colic.

Garlic (thawm)--Garlic is hot in the third degree. It is used to dispel gas, promote menses, and expel afterbirth. It is excellent to correct cold intemperament, for dissolving phlegm, and the oil is used to treat insect bites. The eating of raw garlic and then visiting the mosque has been forbidden by the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.).

Ginger (zanjabil)--Ginger is mentioned in the Holy Qur'an (76:17). It is hot in the third degree, and is best for softening phlegm. It also aids digestion.

Vinegar (khall)--The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) was reported to have once remarked that vinegar was the seasoning of all the prophets who came before him. Vinegar is both cold and hot, nearly balanced between the two. Mixed with rose water, it is an excellent remedy for toothache and headache. Vinegar dissolves phlegm. Another Hadith states that a house containing vinegar will never suffer from poverty.

 Meats

Chicken (dajaj)--Light on the stomach and easy to digest, chicken is the best of fowl meats. It corrects and balances all the essences, is a food that is good for the brain, and improves the complexion. However, overconsumption of chicken leads to gout. The best chicken is a hen that has never laid an egg.

Fish (samak)--Fresh-water fish are best, and those that feed on plant life, not mud and effluvia. Salmon specifically is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D as well as immune-supportive selenium. It is also a very good source of muscle-building protein and heart-healthy niacin and vitamin B12. Additionally, it is a good source of energy-producing phosphorus as well as heart-healthy magnesium and vitamin B6.

Legumes

Lentils ('adas)--All lentils produce dryness. Small amounts should be eaten, as a side dish, for in quantity they are generally bad for the stomach. Hadith say that the eating of lentils produces a sympathetic heart, tears in the eyes, and removes pride.

Pistachio (fustaq)--It is said that to eat the heart of a pistachio nut with egg yolk will make the heart grow strong. The reddish skin stems diarrhea and vomiting.

Rice (aruzz)--Next to wheat, rice is the most nourishing of whole grain foods. It is said eating rice increases pleasant dreams and the production of semen. Eating rice cooked in fat from sheep's liver is better and more effective than a major purging.


Water (ma')--The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) reportedly said: "The best drink in this world and the next is water." Water is moist and, because of this, slightly cooling. It extinguishes thirst and preserves the innate moisture of the body. It assists digestion of foods and absorption of nutrients. Said the Prophet (s.a.w.s.): "When you have a thirst, drink [water] by sips and do not gulp it down .... Gulping water produces sickness of the liver."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Alhamdullilah for Ramadan

Alhamdullilah it is finally Ramadan! Whether you started last Tuesday or Wednesday in sha Allah you are achieving your goals. May Allah accept our deeds, fast and all ibadaat. Ameen. In the past week I have reflected on my relationship with Allah and how it affects the other relationships in my life. Starting with those closest to me outward, I see how it trickles down. Therefore, this year my goals were few yet meaningful.

  •        Establish and reconnect  the relationship with My Lord that is consistent and impenetrable.
  •       Memorize one impactful surah

I needed Ramadan this year. You know what mean? Like when you are sad you need a good piece of chocolate or two or three J? Or when you  have somewhere nice to go and you need a new dress and shoes? Well, my body, soul, heart, spirit and mind ached to be closer to My Lord.  I needed Ramadan this year.

Daily I wake up to prepare a simple suhoor of yogurt, banana, mango and a little rice followed by three cups of water and vitamins (B, Calcium-Magnesium-zinc, D). After fajr, while my family sleeps I read 5 -10 pages of the juz corresponding to that day until Duha time and prayer. Then I rest a few hours and start my day. Kids reading and memorizing their surat for Quran class, cook a side dish…No extravagant meals, no taraweeh at the masjid every night…just feeding my heart, mind and soul with the Quran.

 I have been listening Mufti Menk’s Pearls of Peace. Everyday speaks to me in different way. Yesterday he covered the eighth juz which including two of my favorite surahs, Al- Araf and An- Anfal. What touched me most   was:

1.       7:35 “O Children of Adam! If there come to you Messengers from amongst you, reciting to you My Verses, then whosoever becomes pious and righteous, on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.” Children of Adam are here being promised messengers and when they come how they must react to them- two qualities required from you those of you with taqwa (have Allah consciousness)and rectify themselves you have no reason to fear they shall be successful-react by becoming conscious of Allah;
2.       What are the main reasons for people going to hellfire?: Hadith:” What are the main reasons people having been penalized? the and private parts”. (Be careful what you put into your mouth and what comes out, speaking, keep tongue moist in remembrance of Allah and food should be halal)7:50 “And the dwellers of the Fire will call to the dwellers of Paradise: ’Pour on us some water or anything that Allah has provided you with’. They will say:’ Both water and provision Allah has forbidden to the disbelievers’”.
3.       7:51 qualities of people of Hell fire ”’Who took their religion as a n amusement and play, and the life of the world deceived them’. So this Day We shall forget them as they used to reject Our Ayat.”He translated forget as ignore which makes it all the more heart breaking.0.Our attachment to this world should never ever exceed our attachment to our Maker.  Engage in repentance and do not move backwards.
4.       “Oh Allah make beloved to us iman beautify it in our hearts and make detested to us anything that will bring your displeasure.” Dua of the Prophet SWAS
5.       Disasters can affect difference people differently for some could be martyrdom for others could be a punishment. When you suffer a great loss look at the condition of your heart. If we are the people who consistently encourage people away from the bad, you will gain peace. 7:165 “So when they forgot the reminding that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized those who did wrong with a severe torment because they used to rebel against Allah’s Command (disobey Allah).”
6.          If you want peace 7:204 “ So, when the Quran is recited, listen to it, and be very quiet so that you may receive mercy (i.e. during congregational prayers at mosque and also during Friday khutbah).”(tasfir At Tabari, Vol. 9, page 162-4)
7.       Are you a true believer? Hadith “When your good deed makes you happy it makes you happy and when you do a bad deed it makes you sad. “ Duas of Prophet: Ya Allah grant we sufficiency in that which is halal so that I do not fall into the haram”. Ya Allah Grant me independence through your virtue so that I do depend on other people.
8.       8:2- 4 “When Allah is mentioned their heart trembles and when the verses of Allah are recited their iman increases. Those who establish their prayer and spend from what we have provided them. They have a high status with their Rabb and much forgiveness from Allah and high sustenance in the dunya and afterlife.”
9.       8:20-21 “O you who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger, and turn not away from him (i.e. Messenger Muhammad SWAS) while you are hearing. And be not like those who say: ‘ We have heard’, but they hear not.”
10.   8:29 “O you who believe! If you obey and fear Allah, He will grant you Furqan [ (a criterion to judge between right and wrong), or (Makhraj, I.e. a way for you to get out from every difficulty)], and will expiate for you your sins, and forgive you; and Allah is the Owner of the Great Bounty.” Taqwa (consciousness of Allah)will help you to distinguish between right and wrong and forgive your sins.

He continued bringing out ayat about the dishonesty in business transactions, breaking amanat(trusts) in marriage, will bring disharmony in the ummah as a whole. Then he called out to us for unity, we share the shahadah which is stronger than the bonds of blood. SubhanAllah this is exactly why I needed Ramadan this year! I felt a great disharmony in myself, my home and my life. I have these ten points to reflect on to bring more peace to my relationships and life in sha Allah. May Allah make us an ummah of taqwa,making iman beloved to us, enjoining the good, content with the decree of Allah, enjoying the recitation of Quran, grant us sufficiency through halal means, let our hearts tremble in remembrance of Allah and have a high status with our Rabb. Ameen


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Got cramps?...Eat food!


Our bodies have an alarm system to alert us that there is a need. Usually the alarm comes in the form of pain. As mothers we most often put off our own needs (physical, mental, spiritual, etc.). Then to our surprise we find our bodies experiencing some physical trauma as a result. It can be as simple as a paper cut as severe as a migraine or as common as menstrual cramps. Yes menstrual cramps are common but not necessary. Before I go further, I will mention that in rare cases women have menstrual cramps which are a sign of an actual problem with the reproductive organs. This is not the type of cramps that I am addressing in this article. This morning I decided to look up and research the “best remedy for menstrual cramps”. Of course the reliable Google search gave as a top response webmd.com. According to webmd.com (http://women.webmd.com/menstrual-cramps):
To relieve mild menstrual cramps:
·         Take aspirin or another pain reliever, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), Motrin (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen). (Note: For best relief, you must take these medications as soon as bleeding or cramping starts.)
·         Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen. Taking a warm bath may also provide some relief.
It goes on to give other practical advice like:
To relieve menstrual cramps, you should also:
·         Rest when needed.
·         Avoid foods that contain caffeine and salt.
·         Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
·         Massage your lower back and abdomen.
Women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain. To help prevent cramps, make exercise a part of your weekly routine.

However, what I found very interesting is in the introduction of the article it identifies what causes the pain: ”Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus which is a muscle…If the uterus contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus. Pain results when part of a muscle briefly loses its supply of oxygen.” My question is a muscle is temporarily losing its supply of oxygen; why not work towards replenishing it? Notice it states also that women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain. This is a point that I will address more lately. What do we usually do after exercising to replenish our muscles with oxygen? We are recommended to drink water and have a source of protein. Why not do the same when you are cramping?

With my last few pregnancies, I have learned that Braxton-Hicks and other pre-labor pains are relieved by drinking water. The best kind of water is coconut water. Coconut water is also used in Southeast Asia to relieve nausea and a plethora of other ailments. Coconut water is high in potassium which the muscles crave after a strenuous workout like having a baby or pushing the uterine lining out during menstruation. Hydrate and nourish your muscles, in this cases your life force muscle, the uterus, and feed your body. In the narrow window while those muscles are rejuvenated, prepare a simple protein rich snack. If you are an omnivore, I would recommend a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with age cheddar cheese, arugula, tomatoes or ketchup and a natural brown mustard. Arugula is in the cruciferous family of greens which also includes mustard greens and broccoli. This family of greens is high in vitamin K which is known for combating inflammation and cancer in the body. During menstruation the body is in a state of inflammation. Cruciferous vegetables also are high in vitamin A, folic acid and vitamin C.Cheddar cheese is high in protein and calcium and compliments this simple snack for a variety of reasons. First of all, the body needs protein. Calcium supports the muscles and is known to relieve PMS and menstrual cramping. It also absorbs the carbohydrates in your meal; in a sandwich it would be the bread. However cheese can have a high fat contain which for a woman can be a blessing and a challenge. The fat helps nourish the muscles in the short run but in excess can causes cardiovascular and weight issues. That is why I recommend aged cheddar which is lower in fat contain and much more nutritious. In general, I find foods that are bitter in taste are usually better for the female.

Tomatoes are a carotenoid containing fruit like arugula but in the form of lycopene. The antioxidant in tomatoes is known to prevent the effects of osteoporosis in women. Osteoporosis is a deterioration of the bones which support the muscles. So just looking at three of the simple ingredients of this snack it is easy to see how eating when you have cramps can relieve your pain and build your body. Additionally in contrast to cheese tomatoes have a healthy affect on the cardiovascular system.

Another great way to eat this sandwich as a vegan is with hummus or firm tofu both equally protein dense foods. Garbanzo beans the main ingredient of hummus are fiber rich, high in B6,vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus all bone supporting vitamins. Tofu weighs in at 9grams of protein per ¼ cup or 2 ounces. It also contains the best type of fat a body needs. Personally I would eat the sandwich with both hummus and tofu.
Let us not ignore the benefits of the woman’s herb red raspberry leaf. The days leading up to menstruation make it your habit to drink a cup at least twice a day one with breakfast and one after dinner. This completely relieves any PMS symptoms. Red raspberry leaf is best for women of all ages from puberty through to postmenopausal. It has trace amounts of calcium, folic acid, vitamin A and zinc all immune boosting.

In review, food is the medicine of the body. Treat your body well and it will treat you well. Take preventative measures as a woman drink a daily cup of red raspberry leaf tea. Do regular exercise and follow it with a hydrating glass of coconut water. Feed your muscles and bones with good hardy low fat proteins like tofu, hummus, arugula, and turkey. These tip[s should reduce the alarm going off in your body during menstruation. In the words of one of my favorite  authors, Christaine Northrup, MD: …”our culture teaches us that there is something wrong with pain, that it must be drugged, denied, or otherwise avoided at all costs – and the costs are very high.”(p. 53 Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing) Pain is the portal to our inner guidance…listen. Got cramps? The body is saying eat food! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What to do with the leftover Cranberry Sauce?


I am very grateful for a beautiful loving family and yummy delicious food! The blend of cultural flavors and beliefs shows how much all humanity shares! As usual I prepared Thanksgiving dinner for my extended family that are Bengali, Egyptian and Arab. Being of Cherokee, Scottish and African Caribbean mix, I pull from the wealth cultural flavors available in my chef's mind. Not to mention my crunchy, earth conscientious, health minded side. That means Tandoori Turkey, corn pudding made with organic vanilla yogurt instead of artery-blocking sour cream, seasonal blend of bitter greens flavored with ginger and sea salt, wild rice made with organic brown rice and the hottest crush red peppers in the world tamed with organic coconut milk, stuffing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, pasta casserole and of course cranberry sauce. Every year I try a new recipe with the cranberry sauce always fresh cranberries but sometimes with pomegranate to boost the immune system. Cranberry sauce I believe is an acquired taste and my Bengali guests do not usually take to it no matter my efforts. Therefore, I end up with large qualities of it.

This year my Tangerine, cinnamon and clove spiced (yes with an actual cinnamon stick and real cloves) still did not vanish. What to do with the leftover cranberry sauce? Make salad dressing! It is the perfect topping for an arugula, golden beet salad. Blend it in the blender after dipping the beets and carrots in a mix of extra virgin olive oil, brown rice vinegar with the fresh squeezed juice from have a lemon. Make a bed of arugula, place golden beets or regular beets and carrots, then splash with your blended cranberry sauce et voila!

Or use it for a cheesecake topping or enjoy as a dip with your favorite tortilla chips. You will benefit from the antioxidants, the immune boosting properties of the cinnamon and clove and the delicious flavor enhancing whatever dish your mind could imagine.

Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cure for PMS?

Back in my laboratory I researching several natural remedies. Amongst them the right combination for optimum immune strength, fighting fatigue, maintaining a good mood and hormonal stability.For the immune system, the heart of it is the stomach. Depending on the season the cleansing and maintenance of its flora appears to change. Therefore results still pending. Fighting fatigue is a challenge for me as I rarely sleep. The best cure I have found for that strangely enough is calisthenics before sleep. Here is the simple cure for PMS.

Last week I started to feel a little cranky and irritable. This mood change was accompanied by nagging joint pain, bloating and lower back and hip pain. What was going on with my body? Am I eating too much sugar? I am still nursing so it could not be...PMS??? Well for good measure, just in case I need help with my milk flow I will have a cup of raspberry leaf tea. Mmmm that feels so much better. I will end and begin my days like this. So for the two days following that is what I did. One the third day, yes I started my menses. It came and went within three days painlessly. In general raspberry leaf tea is considered the women's herb. After birth it worked miracles for me with milk flow and pain. This is really the first time that I have tried to or needed to use it for PMS.

Try it and let me know how it works for you.