My name is Dalal Rahme and I am a university student who’s just finished my second year of my degree Food Science and Nutrition. I have chosen to do this course to become a qualified dietician. I just love, love, love talking about food and nutrition and I am really excited to be blogging for Your Zen Life. I am currently unemployed and thought what better way to spend my extra time than to share my passion for well being with others and hopefully make a difference in people’s lives. I just love the fact that these two amazing women Phoebe and Teresa, have created a lovely website where people can share their thoughts and experiences with one another. I really wanted to be a part of that somehow and this website lead to my decision that I want to blog.
Health starts from from the inside and out and thats exactly what I will be writing about-
health, food and nutrition. I can’t wait to share what I have learnt so far through my studies and offer advice to you from my general experiences as a young woman. I want to encourage you to contact me through my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dalal.rahme) with any questions that you may have. I have lots of free time to answer any questions you send my way. Remember, we are all in this health and well being journey together!
Enjoy the first of many articles written by me for Your Zen Life
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live” – Jim Rohn
Snacking and Healthy Alternatives
Today, I would like to talk about snacking and healthy alternatives. Snacking is one of those things that will either help you or bring you down in your mission towards good health. Snacking on healthy foods in between meals helps to keep your hunger at bay and maintain your blood sugar levels. Consuming an unhealthy snack such a chocolate or biscuits will definitely provide you with energy instantly, however your energy will decrease soon after and will increase your cravings for more sugary snacks. To prevent this from occurring I have provided you with my suggestions below. Many of the following snacks are high in protein and fiber, which keep you fuller for longer and therefore prevent you from overeating during the day.
1. Hummus dip with vegetable sticks such as capsicum, celery and carrots (recipe shown below)
2. Natural Yoghurt with fruit such as blueberries etc
3. Natural Yoghurt with za’atar and crackers
4. Popcorn: my favorite is Cobs Organic Popcorn, which you can find online.
5. Handful of mixed nuts. My personal favorite is cashews and almonds.
6. Yoghurt with chia seeds
7. Peanut butter on rice cakes with jam (I prefer no added sugar jam)
8. Any type of nut butter spread on apple etc.
9. Any fruit smoothie with your choice of non dairy milk.
10. A couple of boiled eggs.
11. And of course a piece of fruit.
Hummus contains chickpeas, which are low in fat, high in fiber, protein and iron. I usually dip hummus with pita bread or crackers. In my Lebanese culture it’s also served with olive oil, a sprinkle of chilli or cayenne pepper with chopped parsley as a garnish and spread on a table to be enjoyed as an entrée. It contains a decent amount of tahini, which is purely sesame seeds and also lemon juice, which is alkalizing for the body.
Natural Yoghurt is high in protein, and contains beneficial bacteria, which is great for gut health as they promote the growth of good bacteria. If you find that you do not enjoy the taste of natural unsweetened yoghurt, try to find fruit sweetened yoghurt that has the minimal ingredients, no additives and ones that actually contain real fruits. Consuming full fat yoghurt is not necessarily a bad thing. I believe it satisfies you more than non-fat yoghurt, therefore leaving you without having to actually consume so much, thus you can lower the portion size whilst enjoying your yoghurt at the same time.
Chia Seeds are one of the highest plant sources of protein. They are also very high in dietary fiber with 5.9g per tablespoon, which is fantastic for keeping you regular, preventing constipation and lowering cholesterol. What is fascinating is that they are what you call gellnous. When these seeds are added to any type of liquid such as water and left for an hour, the liquid becomes gel-like. The same thing also occurs in your stomach as well, keeping you fuller for longer due to the swelling of the stomach and the slow breakdown of foods, helping to moderate the rise of blood sugar levels. Also contains high amounts of Omega 3 important for joint health, brain function and lowering inflammation. I call chia seeds a miracle food. I use this all the time sprinkled on yoghurt and cereals and also can be enjoyed in smoothies.
Za’atar is a traditional Mediterranean spice blend of sesame seeds, thyme, sumac and salt. You can also add dried marjoram and oregano to the mixture. The main star of this traditional recipe is the sesame seed, which is high in Calcium with 35.1% of your daily intake coming from 0.25cup. After learning this I began to start consuming this spice blend more often. Usually, this blend is mixed with olive oil to produce a spread, which I then can use for making za’atar pizza on Lebanese bread, spread in sandwiches for extra ‘to die for’ flavor or to have it with yoghurt and crackers. Sesame seeds are also one of the highest sources of phytosterols, reducing cholesterol levels by decreasing cholesterol absorption in the GI-tract. I have provided a recipe below of which you can follow, however if you are not up for making it yourself, you may be able to find pre-prepared za’atar in Mediterranean food stores and online.
Za’atar spice blend Recipe
Makes 1 1/2 cups
110g (2/3 cup) sesame seeds
40g (1/3 cup) dried thyme
60g (1/2 cup) sumac
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a pan over high heat whilst continuously stirring until slightly golden. Remove them from the heat and let them cool to room temperature. Combine with the remaining ingredients in a bowl and store them in a airtight jar. You can place the jar in the freezer, which increases their shelf life, or place them in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Makes 4 cups
300g (1 ½ cups) dried chickpeas
½ teaspoon of bicarbonate soda
1 garlic clove
1 ½ teaspoon salt
135g (1/2 cup) tahini (you can choose hulled or un-hulled)
80-100ml lemon juice
Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. Add the bicarbonate soda to the water and allow soaking for an extra 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and then put the chickpeas in a saucepan, adding three times the amount of water to the chickpeas (that means 4 ½ cups) and bring them to boil for 40 minutes. When they are super soft and sought of mushy, allow the chickpeas to cool in the liquid. Derive a cup of the cooking liquid and set aside while draining the chickpeas into a strainer. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and add garlic and salt, processing until a crumbled paste begins to form. Add the tahini and process until it becomes a softer paste. Drizzle in the lemon juice and the chickpea liquid whilst processing until you get a creamy puree. Taste the puree to see if you need to add some more salt.
21 year old aspiring dietician living in Melbourne, Australia studying Bachelor Food Science and Nutrition at Deakin University. I enjoy cooking and baking, and have a passion for anything related to health and wellbeing. I am a gym junkie, at the gym at least 5 times a week doing cardio and weight training.