What’s in your pantry?

with Pink & Blue Member Aisha Mohammad

by Pink&Blue Contributor
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Aisha Mohammad is a new mom of an 18-month-old boy, Baby A. She is a Chiropractor, Registered Massage Therapist, and Infant Massage Instructor. She has gone through an amazing weight loss journey and knows first hand the tricks of the trade for weight loss without yo-yo dieting. Aisha still makes time to do all this and go out with my friends every week!

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1. What are the staples you have in your pantry, stuff that you buy in bulk or would need to run to the store right away to buy if you ran out – any why is it so important?

My pantry is one place where I will always stock up on “goodies”, as I called them, to get my toddler boy excited to eat. Some of the few things I like to keep handy are whole grain crackers; this is one of the best ways to implement whole grains and I usually use a spread of peanut butter, honey or a slice of cheese on them to keep snack time exciting. Another goody I keep close by, are flax seeds. Yes, that’s right – for our morning smoothie, which he usually shares with me, I add in a handful of flax seeds because of all the goodness that they stand for (high in fiber, high in antioxidants, a great amount of omega 3 fatty acids, helps with digestion – and of course they keep him entertained as he picks them off his bowl :). Moving forward, you will never not find a can of tuna lying around because it’s a great way to incorporate fish into the diet by adding it on crackers or a slice of toast. Oatmeal is an absolute must in our kitchen pantry, because as oppose to rice, which is known to cause constipation in our little ones, oatmeal is a great way to have a hearty breakfast and help with digestive health. To keep my little guy fuller, I will often add milk as oppose to water and throw in some sliced apples and cinnamon.

2. How do your food staples differ from your children’s?

If you ever sat through meal times with my toddler, you will always catch his hand on my plate, snatching a bite or two. For myself and baby A, there is always an abundance of fruit and vegetables that are thrown into each meal and snack. However, almonds, raisins, and homemade granola usually find their way into the back of my business bag and purse, for added energy during my busy days. Kale is my new best friend and whether I’m munching on homemade kale chips or my favourite kale and butternut squash salad, its benefits always have me coming back for more.

3. What are your healthy tips for busy families who do not want to sacrifice health for convenience?

Plan ahead, you will surely thank yourself later – and so will your kids! My number one tip is that when you are unpacking all your groceries, to immediately wash, cut and organize them into Tupperware and off into the fridge they go. This makes it visible and easy to throw into a smoothie or salad – when you are exhausted after work or your kids wake up from their nap hungry, and you’re scrambling to make something. What I like to do is grind up things he enjoys in bulk and store them in the freezer (chicken breast, sweet potato, ground beef, butternut squash etc.).

4. What are some of your favourite recipe for the family?

I have seen the many stages of teething come and go, and during these times it becomes almost impossible for a child to eat due to discomfort. My favourite recipe has become soups. Carrot-ginger soup has a number one standing in our kitchen and not far behind that is whole wheat popovers – which make a great side for kids to munch on while working away at the soup – or better yet, let them dip into the soup for a fun and entertaining dinner.

5. How has your eating habits changed since you have become a mom? In what way?

Before I became a mom, I never used to bother reading the ingredients or amount of sodium and sugar in anything I put into my mouth. Drive through windows almost became an extension from my car, as I grabbed fries and cheeseburgers for a quick and easy lunch. Pop and energy drinks pumped through my blood and left me bloated and lazy for the rest of the day. Once I had my son, I knew I was the one he was looking up to, literally and ideally, so I should lead by example. I became more health conscious, picking out more organic produce, visiting farmers markets, choosing free range and organic eggs. I also, made it a must to drink 8 glasses of water and sit down with my family for all three meals, as opposed to eating in front of the television or work desk.

6. What are your must haves in the house for you & the kids?

Our must-have list: organic cheeses (a variety of shapes and sizes to keep the little one entertained and not lose interest – I sometimes serve it with pre-cut veggies like green peppers or carrots or with crackers). Homo milk for the toddler and skim milk for me; flax seeds for the both of us to throw into smoothies bowls, and/or salads, and of course water on demand.

7. Do you plan the meals? If so, what is your awesome meal plan?

Yes, I do. I try to switch up breakfast very often, as it’s the first meal of the day, I want to make sure my toddler boy starts the day with a bang and by that I am not referring to the sound of his bowl hitting the ground :). My favourite recipes for breakfast are smoothie bowls (frozen bananas and a colourful mixture of fruit, blended together, and topped off with flax seeds and fresh banana. While he tries to pull the banana pieces off the smoothie, I am able to get half the bowl into his mouth before he even notices. Another breakfast idea is oatmeal infused with homo milk, cinnamon, and warm apples. Snack time varies throughout the day and especially if we are out and about, so my favourite recipes are popovers (whole wheat flour, chives, butter, and egg) – it’s healthier than a croissant but tastes just like one! I will always have a ziplock bag full of sliced and skinless apples and a tiny jar of peanut butter, which he loves to dip the apple into. Dips are essential in trying to get fruits and veggies into a toddler’s diet because you have to make it tasty and fun! Whole-wheat crackers topped with a variety of different cheeses, hummus etc. Lunch: baked chicken breast with homemade “shake and bake” style bread crumbs – made like chicken fingers for easy to eat lunches. Dinner; is a time I want to make sure my little guy is full, especially if he has been cranky with the teething episodes that show up spastically; brown rice and soups go well together as well as baked potatoes. This usually gives him enough energy to run around before a quick snack and bedtime. About 30-45 minutes before bedtime, cereal infused with water is a great choice, because I know he will be going to bed with a full tummy.

8. Do you have any tips on where to get the best foods or how to save on groceries?

Our home runs off of organic produce, I know it can be pricey but that is where fresh fruit stands as well as farmers markets that run once a week can come into play. The famous “Flipp” APP is amazing for price matching at stores such as the Superstore. When we go grocery shopping, we try to limit the amount of food that could potentially be wasted. For example, instead of buying an entire bag of apples, I will only buy 3-5 and load up on nuts or other legumes that could be eaten more readily. When we shop with our eyes, we tend to overspend and fill our pantries until we can’t see what is hiding behind the extra large pack of gluten free pasta that is yet to be used. Another tip, as funny as it may sound, is to never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach! Trust me, you end up shopping through the grumbles of your stomach and the bill seems a little bit longer than you expected.

9. How do you balance your work and family life?

It’s definitely not easy but I make it work. I work as a Chiropractor, Registered Massage Therapist, Acupuncture Provider, Infant Massage Instructor and recently a writer and on top of that I am a new mom. I made the decision to start my day as early as 5:30 am to meditate/pray for 20 minutes then move into a 30-minute exercise routine, shower and get fully ready for the day. After that, I am in the kitchen preparing breakfast for my son and myself. All of this happens before my son wakes up at 7:30 a.m. I hate screaming to mop the floor of yesterday’s mess when my son is up and ready and wants my full attention – and that’s why my day starts early. I respect his needs and wants, as his day is just as important as mine. I am blessed with a career where I make my own hours so I can balance my son’s growing list of activities and my patients at work because I can set off into my car and into the clinic during his nap times which last a couple hours. But once I am home, I am fully dedicated to family life; eating together, spending time reading and colouring, learning new things about each other and making time for my husband as well.

10. What does a typical weekend look like?

My weekends are busy! My day still starts the same as it always does, 5:30 am with meditation/prayer, a workout, I get fully ready for the day and prepare the day’s meals before the baby is up! We usually visit grandparents on the weekend, so it gives my husband and myself some free time to spend some quality time together by catching a movie or taking a romantic walk downtown. Grocery shopping and chores are always completed by Friday, to give us the opportunity to fully relax on the weekend, do some shopping, maybe go out to a local ma and pa restaurant and try something new!

11. What do you and your partner do for fun?

We decided very early on in our marriage and especially after having our child that we will set one day a week as “date night”. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that we go out, but we spend the evening together either watching a movie, playing a board game, cooking dinner together – something – anything – but together. For fun, we usually watch a mutual agreed upon television show (trust me, when romantic comedies battle action, it’s never fun, but we make it happen). If we can have a grandparent watch the baby, we will try to go out to a movie, maybe treat ourselves to a dessert or sometimes even just take a stroll outside.

12. How did motherhood change your lifestyle?

Initially, it threw me in a topsy-turvy that left me drained, dressed in pajamas day in and day out and swamped in house chores. But once I realized, that I am the creator and sustainer of my own happiness, I began to release myself from the web of uncertainty I wove for myself. For starters, the 54 pounds I gained causing me to balloon from 125 pounds to 178 pounds was an obstacle I faced until I was ready to let go of my fears and fought them tooth nail by dedicating myself to exercise and a new lifestyle change (I don’t believe in dieting; I believe in changing my eating habits). I was always “skinny minny”, I never used to exercise and ate whatever I wanted as long as my new fashionable wardrobe still fit, it didn’t matter to me what I ate. Motherhood taught me, that it’s not about fitting back into those skinny jeans; it’s actually about being strong enough to carry my child in my arms during his attachment periods, to be independent enough to carry bags of groceries up to my apartment, without bothering my husband. My strength came from my endurance and that was fuelled from my willingness to grow as a new a mom.

I am a more positive person and I don’t take as much stress. Before, it seemed like there was always someone or something bothering me; but after having a child, I don’t have time to bother with negative thoughts. In fact, I try my hardest to build a beautiful and positive surrounding for my family, so that love and respect for everyone is practiced. I have learned to pick my battles and to make excuses for people when they do wrong (if someone cuts you off on the road, maybe he has someone waiting for him etc).

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AISHA1

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