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The meal you can't and shouldn't skip

By Karim Waheed

One of the things I distinctly recall from my childhood is this saying my father used to repeat: “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.”

From parents to nutritionists to fitness trainers, breakfast is consistently pushed upon us. But even with the message of breakfast's importance being spread by so many, it is possibly the most skipped meal of the day.

Excuses are plenty as to why people skip breakfast. Some claim that they don't have enough time in the morning to squeeze in breakfast or that they don't like spending time on breakfast when they could be sleeping or getting ready for the day. Others say that they are just not hungry in the morning or are skipping breakfast to lose weight.

Breakfast is important for several reasons, the first being that it literally is “breaking” a “fast”. Your body needs nutrients after the stretch of 7 to 12 hours without food (from post-dinner time through the night's sleep). This is true no matter what your age. For children, breakfast is important to help their developing minds and bodies function at peak levels. For adults, eating a healthy breakfast consistently can help with weight loss, keep up daily productivity, and help with overall health.

Without a good start, one tends to begin feeling tired and irritable much more quickly than those who have enjoyed a healthy breakfast. The tired, dragging feeling you experience is caused by low glucose (blood sugar). Though many people try to lose weight by skipping breakfast, the lack of healthy food at the start of the day will actually cause the opposite effect. Even a banana in the morning can help kick-start your metabolism to work harder at burning unwanted weight than skipping breakfast entirely.

Having a healthy breakfast helps to regulate your blood sugar all day and sets the stage for the rest of your food choices during the day. There is a distinct physical and mental advantage by starting the day off in control of your food intake.

Choose breakfast foods that are healthy, avoiding extra sugar, salt, or fat. Avoid processed foods that have added preservatives.

For those who are stressed for time in the morning, breakfast is still a possibility. Grab a piece of whole grain toast, or a quick yogurt, or a warm bowl of oatmeal porridge (takes about 2 minutes to cook).

Protein-rich foods are also an excellent breakfast option. Eggs are extremely versatile and can be prepared a number of ways, which makes them a good choice for a family breakfast.

Breakfast does not have to be limited to these types of “breakfast foods”. Anything that is high in protein and whole grains while being low in sugar will make a good morning meal. Leftovers from a healthy dinner will work just as well. Find food that works for you. Be sure to always break your fast with a healthy meal, no matter what your specific food decision may be.

Photo: LS Archive


Paper butterflies

By Nazia Farzin Shafiq

A very good Tuesday morning to you from Pittsburgh!

Today, we will be creating a beautiful origami butterfly clip. It can go on a brooch, or dress, or hat. It's super easy and before I start the project, I would like to thank the original author of this craft, Lena.

So let's begin:

Two different shade of silk fabric cut into rectangles (6 by 9 cms), Pins, Hair clip

Needle and thread (sewing machine would be a blessing)

Double pointed flower stem (optional)

I have used two different colours of taffeta, which is a plain, crisp, woven fabric made from silk or synthetic fibres. The size I've cut my rectangles is 6 cm by 9 cm ratio 1 to 1.5.

Place both pieces together with right sides of fabric facing. Sew around all sides, leaving an opening on one of the short sides. My butterfly is so small that I left the whole side open.

Clip the corners and turn it around. It should look like a little bag. Pull all corners and iron.

Iron the opening seam allowance (¼ 6mm) toward the inside and top stitch at 1mm from the edge. Iron the rectangle. If you are using a thin sheer fabric, it is a good idea to add a fusible interfacing before cutting the rectangles, so it makes crisp creases.

Next, follow pictures 5 and 6 by folding in two (meet the short sides) and then one more time in two, again the short sides meet. Make a fold, bringing the upper fold corner to the centre. Repeat the same with the second fold corner and you should have a house shape. If needed, pin the folds and iron each fold.

Your work-in-progress should look like a house. Take one of the centre folds in the bottom middle and fold a triangle inward. Do the same with the second corner.

Your work-in-progress should look like a house with a small triangle door. Open the triangle fold you just made and stretch it toward the centre of “roof” of the house shape. Open the second fold too. Pin both folds to hold. Turn to the back of the butterfly.

Fold the centre triangle downwards and pin. Your figure should look like a butterfly. Take your butterfly to the machine and make a seam right through the middle between the wings. I am using a white embroidery thread for the whole project here, so you can see it. It would be better to use a matching colour or a complementing one. I made another seam under the bottom wings to hold them in place. I am using a double pointed flower stem for the antennae. Sew the butterfly to a hair clip.

We are done!

Do let me know how your butterflies turned out. Mail me at lifestyleds@yahoo.com


An idiot's guide to adventuring

No matter what your profession, age or locality, a man will one day wake up to an irresistible urge to go off on an adventure. And as men, we shall act upon our desires without heed for consequences, as per the usual. However, before you go all Indiana Jones, here are a few things I have learnt and hence will now share to ensure you avoid the mistakes I made.

Size does matter
Remember to start small. If this is your first time off on an adventure, don't go to Namibia. Maybe go to Teknaf, Sundarban or Malaysia; any place which has hotels and people in the vicinity. If you want to hike, start with Bandarban and work your way towards Mount Everest. Remember the preparation details such as adjusting to eating outside your routine, using a pit toilet and even sleeping without electricity. Try looking for ant tracks and trapping bats before dealing with real wildlife. If you take it one step at a time, you will be safe. Otherwise, you will be killed.

Get your gear on
Wherever you go, make it a priority to know the weather and conditions. Ask whether you need warm clothes, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, boots, torchlight, binoculars, etc. Make a check-list by reading up on the place of your visit and get in touch with those who have been there before. Packing six jackets on your way to Cox's Bazaar because its winter in Dhaka isn't the cleverest idea. Thanks mum! The proper gear is crucial. You cannot go rafting and hiking in the same clothes. It isn't a fashion thing, rather a sensible idea.

Diamonds last forever, money doesn't
Spare cash and emergency money mean the same thing during a trip. Don't shop for mementos at the beginning of an adventure. Save all your shopping till the very end. Cut down on expenditure by trying different and cheaper restaurants and opting for a normal hotel instead of a five-star one. Adventurers frown at comforts and you must learn to do so as well. Make a budget and stick to it. As exciting as an adventure sounds, being up the creek without a paddle isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

Don't trust the locals
If you are a tourist in an isolated area (that's where adventurers go), do not make the mistake of getting chummy with the natives. In this world of capitalism, the profit motive is the only driving factor. They will never give you a fair price, will try to rob you blind and will never return whatever you leave behind or forget for even a second. You may be thinking that there are always kindred souls everywhere and you are right. Of course, you will never find them.

No encore in store
If the cuts, bruises, bites, scratches and diseases haven't changed your mind about going on a second adventure then there must be something wrong with you. If you have none of those conditions then you never went on an adventure to begin with. For a true adventure, you must rough it out and put yourself in untested and never-before-experienced terrain. If you live through it, you may develop a love for it. Probably, you won't. Hence, we ask you not to go adventuring again. Remember how we said you aren't Indiana Jones? Well, we meant that.

Read up on wherever you are going and find out what the prevalent disease is. If it doesn't kill you, it's always a good excuse to skip work for a few additional days. Steve Irwin time then!

By Osama Rahman


Little steps make a big difference

Only a new mother can understand how difficult it is to leave your little toddler behind and go back to your work and give your 100 per cent there. The constant worry for the child left at home happens to be a job hazard. Starting from what they are eating or whether they have eaten, to the kind of games they are playing to where they are playing, the mother's mind at work is a site of constant concern.

Three such mothers -- Zahira Chowdhury, Sohana Yusuf and Anita Islam -- have taken the small initiative to lessen a bit of that worry. They share their experience with their own kids in the development of 'Little Steps'. Being working mothers themselves, they understand and empathise with this circumstantial issue.

The result of their concern is a pre-school for kids of 18 months to four years, which opened its doors on 1 January, 2013. It is a partial daycare running in two shifts of four hours (8am-12pm and 11am-3pm). For working women, it is possible to avail both the shifts. Here a warm, caring and secure environment is provided for the kids, where they are exposed to the refined aspects of childhood as opposed to watching tasteless cartoons at home.

Selective TV shows such as “Blue's Clues” and “Sesame Street” are introduced to the kids, along with handpicked Disney cartoons. Apart from the general activities of spelling, colouring and story time the music of Beethoven, which is scientifically proven to help the brain develop, is introduced to the kids. There are rooms for all the requirements of the children like the Twinkle-Twinkle room, which is breathtakingly decorated, for naptime.

It is a place where you know that your child is getting proper attention and care while learning good things in the process.

Although Little Steps does not have a proper grading system, they do maintain reference files for each of their students, which is quite helpful during school admissions and also while deciding the special academic structure the child might need .

Now what is it that makes this pre-school worth your time and attention? Well it is not only a pre-school but also an ECA (Extra Curricular Activities) Centre. Children from ages of 4 years to 11 years are welcome from 3pm to 6pm to take admission for art and singing classes which also includes Piano , Guitar and Violin lessons along with English learning and Arabic learning classes. A panel of international standard teachers is appointed for these purposes.

At this competitive stage of life, all parents want their kids to learn so many things but due to mostly the traffic conditions in Dhaka, it is impossible for children to commute from one lesson to another. Therefore, having all these activities under one roof is simply a blessing.

Moving on to the financial side of Little Steps: A shift of 4 hours cost Tk.8000 per month (Weekdays Only). ECA activities range from Tk.1000-2000 depending on the course and the first ten enrollees get a 30 per cent discount.

Address: Little Steps, Road 104, House 3G, Gulshan, Dhaka 1212. You can also visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Steps/500393146646053

By Noshin Nawal
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Winter soups and beverages

This winter has brought some of the coldest weather in recent memory across the country, and we could all use a little extra warmth. Hot beverages and warm soups will not just help keep you toasty, but raise your spirits as well.

Spicy tea
(Serves 4)
2 oranges
1 lemon
4 cardamom pods
4 cloves (whole)
4 tsp tea leaves (English breakfast tea other black tea)
4 cups water

Remove peel from oranges and lemon in long narrow strips. Place the peel strips, cardamom and cloves in a bowl. With a wooden spoon, crush the mixture until the aromas are released. Bring the water to a boil. Add the tea leaves and all the other ingredients, cover and steep for 6 minutes. Strain and serve.

Ginger brew
Ginger is not just extremely flavourful, but has many medicinal properties. Ginger is also very good for soothing sore throats, in tea, or simply brewed.

4-6 thin slices ginger
Lime juice to taste
1½ to 2 cups water
1 tbsp (or to taste) honey

Peel and slice the ginger just before making the brew, to bring out the most flavour. Boil the ginger in water for at least 10 minutes (or up to 20 minutes for stronger flavour). Remove from heat and add lime juice and honey to taste.

Spiced cider punch
This cider needs to simmer for quite some time, but once it's done, makes for a great treat on a cold day. Using only a little sugar, and with the vitamins from the cinnamon and cloves, it's also a very healthy beverage.
(Serves 2)

1 cup apple juice (unsweetened)
1 cup water
½ cup orange juice concentrate
½ cup lemonade concentrate
1 tsp brown sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg powder
¾ tsp ginger powder
2 sticks cinnamon
2 cloves

Tie the cinnamon and cloves in a piece of cheesecloth, and put all the ingredients in a pot. Cover and simmer over very low heat for 3 to 4 hours. Remove the spice bag, and garnish with more cinnamon sticks before serving.

Hot chocolate
4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup skimmed milk
¼ tsp Vanilla extract
A pinch of cinnamon powder

Mix sugar, cocoa and 2 tablespoons cold milk in a mug until smooth. Heat the remaining milk on a stove or in a microwave oven until steaming hot but not boiling. Stir in the cocoa mixture and vanilla. To froth the hot chocolate, whirl a whisk in it by rubbing it between your palms, or by running it in a blender. Pour it back into the mug and sprinkle with cinnamon powder.

Chicken vegetable soup
(Serves 8)
500g skinless chicken breasts
3 carrots
4 celery
1 leek
1 cup green beans (chopped)
2 tbsp parsley (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
3 to 4 tbsp chicken stock
8 cups water
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Cut up the chicken and all the vegetables into small cubes. Bring the water to a boil. Add the vegetables, garlic and chicken stock, and continue boiling on high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add the chicken and bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes. The soup is ready when all ingredients sink to the bottom.

Pumpkin soup
1½ kg pumpkin (peeled and chopped)
4 tsp sunflower oil
1 onion (sliced)
1 tbsp ginger (grated)
1 lemongrass (slightly crushed)
3 to 4 tbsp Thai red curry paste
400ml coconut milk
850 ml vegetable stock
Salt for seasoning
Pepper for seasoning
Lime juice for seasoning
Sugar for seasoning
Red chilli (sliced), for garnish

Preheat oven to 200 C (180 F). Place the pumpkin in a roasting tin with 2 teaspoons of the sunflower oil and half the seasoning. Roast for 30 minutes until golden and tender. At the same time, gently cook in a pan the onion, the ginger and the lemongrass with the remaining oil for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened.

Stir in the curry paste for a minute, followed by the roasted pumpkin, most of the coconut milk (leaving aside about 3 tablespoons) and the vegetable stock.

Bring to a simmer, cook for 5 more minutes, then remove the lemongrass. After cooling a few minutes, run it through a blender until smooth. Reheat thoroughly in a pan, seasoning with salt, pepper, lime juice and sugar, according to taste. Drizzle over the remaining coconut milk and chillies before serving.


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