Stay healthy this season

Updated 19 December 2012

Stay healthy this season

I am passionate about the benefits of healthy eating, and exercise but there is a time and place for everything.
I think it is healthy to take a break and allow ourselves to believe for a short while that the usual rules of healthy eating do not apply. You can always find lots of low fat recipes for Christmas fare in magazines but it all looks so unappetizing and tasteless, and Christmas, Eid, Diwali and other festivals are a time to enjoy and indulge a little.
We all have a love affair with traditional festive food. For those celebrating festivals such as Eid or Christmas, traditional dishes and smells bring back the magic of our childhood. Christmas cake, mince pies, sitting around the television watching old Disney movies and eating chocolates with family and friends and of course we deserve to enjoy it. Have a little taste of everything in moderation.

So how much weight
will I gain?
The average person gains about 2 kilos during the festive period, although in the Gulf this may be less, as the festivities are usually shorter than in other countries. However, on Christmas Day alone, most of us consume about 4,000 calories. The usual calorie intake for a woman is 2,000 calories and for a man 2500. So, the answer is to plan ahead start now and be virtuous and cut down in preparation for the festivities.

Where Do All The Festive Calories Come From?
Roast turkey (2 slices) = 175 calories/8g fat
3 medium roast potatoes = 380 calories/11.5g fat
Slice of Christmas cake = 250 calories/8g fat
Christmas pudding = 290 calories/10g fat
1 mince pie = 233 calories/11g fat

Start Exercising
Try to exercise every day and eat healthy so that when the celebration finally arrives, you can join in without feeling guilty; and having done so, you will also feel fresh and ready to get back into a healthy eating routine in the New Year. For advice on daily exercise send an e-mail to [email protected]

A Few Things
to Go Easy On
Salted peanuts are so more-ish. A small handful (25g) contains 12g fat, I feel it is better not to start on them as it is so hard to stop!
Stilton cheese is irresistible but a piece the size of a matchbox (35g) contains 12g fat. So just have a small piece and take time to really enjoy it.

Party Season
At this time of year there is a great temptation to burn the candle at both ends, but try to make sure you get enough sleep. Those precious hours of sleep help rejuvenate your body both internally and externally. Without sufficient sleep, your heart rate, metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) and other bodily functions slow down. Lack of sleep can also affect your mental state, making you short tempered and forgetful. If you love chocolate, try to get the best quality you can and enjoy eating it slowly, so your taste buds have a real treat. And if you are going to a party where you know there will be snacks, cut down on food during the day by eating a healthy breakfast and a salad for lunch and then treat yourself at the party to one or two of whatever looks delicious. Once the party season is over get back on track and Email me at [email protected] to receive my bi-monthly e-newsletter; the New Year issue will be full of motivational tips.

Ask Alva
My children are very lazy and will not peel and eat fruit; they tell me that they are happy simply drinking fruit juice.
— Sampat

This is not ok and it is important to eat fruit. The switch from whole fruit to fruit juice can only be made at the expense of full nourishment and health. The skins of whole fruits like grapes have actually been studied for their ability to help lower risk of cancer. In addition to the skin, the pulpy part of the fruit is also a source of fiber (and other nutrients). You can usually get children to eat fruit salad but a clever and healthy idea is to serve fruit kebabs. Use fruits in season, such as melons, berries, oranges, pineapples or grapes. Children and adults who don't eat enough fruits will often reach for a fruit kebab simply because they look so delicious.
— Alva

[email protected]

Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

Ta’ateemah includes a variety of dishes such as dibyazah, red mish, chicken and lamb stew and bread. File/Getty Images
Updated 19 June 2018

Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

  • Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread
  • The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it

JEDDAH: Ta’ateemah is the name of the breakfast feast Hijazis enjoy on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr. It is derived from the Arabic word, itmah, or darkness, because the dishes served are light, just like midnight snacks.

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al-Fitr to feast after fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. But it is called Al-Fitr from iftar, or breakfast when translated to English, which is a meal Muslims do not get to experience during that month.
The first day of Eid is a day where they finally can, and they greet the day with joy by heading to Eid prayers and then enjoying this traditional meal.
Amal Turkistani, mother of five from Makkah who now lives in Jeddah, told Arab News all about a special Eid dish.
“The most famous dish is the dibyaza, and making a dish of it is a work of art that I can proudly say I excel at. Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread.”
She revealed that dibyaza is not a quick meal — it is usually prepared a day or two before Eid with the ingredients simmered to reach the correct liquid thickness.
No one can trace the origins of dibyaza — it remains a mystery. Some people claim it originated in Turkey, while others attribute it to the Indians.
A number of women who are famous for their dibyaza agreed that it is a Makkawi dish. This marmalade dish was developed and improved, with tiny details to distinguish it.
The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it.
Turkistani said sweet shops sell 1 kg of dibyaza for SR50 ($13), competing with housewives who make their own.


“I think it is always tastier when it’s homemade because of all the love that goes into making it. It’s also a wonderful way to greet your family and neighbors with this special dish that you only enjoy once a year.”
Her younger sister, Fatin, said: “My siblings always have Eid breakfast at my place, so it’s up to me to prepare the feast. My sister spares me the exhausting dibyaza-making, so I prepare two main dishes: Minazalla, which is a stew of lamb chops with tahini and a tomato chicken stew.
“She also serves what we call nawashif, or dry food, like different types of cheese and olives, pickled lemon, labneh, red mish — a mixture of white cheese, yogurt and chili pepper and halwa tahini,” Amal said.
Mohammed Ibrahim, 23, from Makkah, told Arab News: “It always feels unique to have minazalla and nawashif during Eid, and not just because it is followed by the Eidiyah.”


What is Eidiyah?

It is money elders in the family give to the youth to celebrate Eid and to congratulate them on completing Ramadan fasting.