Natural Cough Relievers

flax seeds

Thyme: Thyme flavonoids relax tracheal and ileal muscles which are involved in coughing, and they also reduce inflammation. To make the tea, mix 2 teaspoons of crushed leaves in 1 cup boiling water, cover, and then steep for 10 minutes and strain. Thyme is best for coughs and for good reason; the tiny leaves are packed with cough-relieving compounds.

Flax Seeds: Combine flax seeds with honey and lemon. Once you boil flaxseeds in water, they become a thick, gooey gel that soothes the throat and the bronchial tract. Honey and lemon act as mild antibiotics and make this syrup super-soothing. Boil 2 to 3 tablespoons of flaxseeds in 1 cup of water, until the water becomes thick. Strain and then add 3 tablespoons each of honey and lemon juice. Take 1 tablespoon as needed.

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Handy Kitchen Remedies

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Ginger

It is known to alleviate indigestion, general nausea, upset tummy, morning sickness, motion sickness, and stomach flu. Use fresh ginger for maximum taste and potency. Arthritic pain can be treated with ginger, too.

Garlic

It is well-known for its protection against infection, and should be used regularly, to taste, in your cooking. It is also known to reduce cholesterol levels, and can be helpful in lowering blood pressure. Rich in vitamins A, B, and C, garlic is an excellent source of minerals: selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.

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Lunch Box Ideas for Busy Moms

lunch box ideasA handy checklist to help you pack a healthy mid-day meal for your kids:

  • Provide water or other fluids to your children in order to avoid dehydration.
  • Add a portion of dairy product, such as cheese slices, yoghurt, or milk.
  • Add a portion of salad, such as carrots or cucumber. Make sure it looks appealing enough for your child to eat all of it.
  • Once a week, include sweet items such as cupcakes or muffins, as an occasional treat.
  • Add a portion of easy-to-eat fruits, such as bananas, grapes, apple wedges or peeled slices of orange.
  • Add a portion of foods rich in carbohydrates, such as bread or noodles.

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Live Healthy, Fast Healthy

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Healthy Iftar Menus

  • 3 dates, 4 oz fresh juice, and 1 cup vegetable soup with some pasta or crackers.
  • Pita bread with chicken, salad, and hummus and one or two pieces of Baklava.
  • Fruit salad with cream as appetizer followed by chicken with boiled rice, vegetable curry and mixed salad.
  • Baked fish with roasted vegetables or fish curry with rice, followed by sweet vermicelli or one piece of Jalebi (sweet).
  • Pasta cooked with vegetables and chicken or fish, and a slice of plain cake with home-made custard.

Healthy Suhoor Menus

  • 1-2 servings of fruits as an appetizer; 1-2 servings of whole wheat or oat cereal or whole wheat bread with a cup of milk.
  • A bowl of porridge with milk, one slice of toast, and a handful of unsalted nuts.
  • Wheat-based cereal with milk, a plain scone or crumpet, and an apple or banana.
  • A pear or an orange followed by a bowl of shredded wheat.
  • Cheese followed by one teaspoon of jam with crackers or toast, and a handful of dried fruits.

Handy Health Tips

  • Drink sufficient water after Iftar and before sleep to avoid dehydration.
  • Eat fruits at the beginning of the meal.
  • Consume a sufficient amount of vegetables at meals.
  • Avoid intake of foods with high sugar content, such as sweets.
  • Avoid spicy foods.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coke, coffee, and tea. Green tea or other herbal teas are recommended.
  • Engage in some kind of light exercise, such as stretching or walking. It is important to follow time management practices for Ibadah, sleep, studies, job, and physical activities/exercise.
  • Intake of a balanced diet is critical for maintaining good health, sustaining an active lifestyle, and reaping the full benefits of Ramadan.

Foods to Avoid

  • Junk food (chips and candies)
  • Processed food (ready-to-cook foods, frozen foods, etc.)
  • White flour (Maida)
  • Too many fried foods (try baking, grilling or roasting instead of frying)
  • Excessive sugary foods (save them for Eid)
  • Excessive carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, pasta, and so on)

Healthy Alternatives

  • Baked Samosas and boiled dumplings
  • Chapattis made without oil
  • Baked or grilled meat and chicken
  • Homemade pastry using just a single layer
  • Milk-based sweets and puddings
  • Chickpeas’ Chat
  • Yoghurt Raita with fresh salad
  • Corn on the cob

 

“Your Body Has A Right Over You…”

Body has Right

Human beings are essentially made up of three basic parts: mind, soul and body. The human body not only comprises and connects the other two, it also depends on them. Taking care of the body would be incomplete without caring for the mind and the soul as well. Although the thought of caring for ourselves seems selfish in a way, it actually is not. Our own self is tied with many other lives. Allah (swt) created human beings in a way that makes it inevitable for them to be social. If you are sound and healthy, you will be able to look after your loved ones and society thereupon.

How do we know it is our religious duty to look after our body? Several references in the Quran and Ahadeeth either directly or indirectly point to this fact. The Prophet (sa) said: “Observe the fast sometimes and also leave (it) at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you, and your wife has a right over you.” (Bukhari)

Although this is related to excessive praying or fasting, it also holds well in every other aspect of life. “Your body has a right over you” speaks for itself. We already know that everything bestowed upon us is a favour of Allah (swt), and we, as trustees, will be held accountable for it. That’s the reason why we have to give the body its due rights. Being indifferent to these rights is, in essence, a sin. How can we carry out this duty?

As mentioned in the above narration, the Prophet (sa) had to direct the Sahabah not to exceed human limits in worship. It is human psychology that in order to correct our souls and also to be thankful to our Lord (swt), we tend to go for long and tiring acts of Ibadah. This is apparently a very commendable act, especially in this time of Fitnahs (trials), when a man’s strong contact with Allah (swt) is needed. The purity of intention of our Sahabah is admirable, too. However, the teachings of our Prophet (sa) show that Islam requires us to keep a healthy balance between body and soul. Islam’s beauty is in the consistency of acts, no matter how small they may be. We can discern what our practice should be in the worldly matters like our education, jobs, businesses and household chores, when our religion stresses so much on maintaining moderation in worship.

The importance of purity and cleanliness in Islam is evident. We cannot stand for our prayers, unless we have performed Ghusl or ablution. According to a well known Hadeeth, cleanliness is half of faith. A clean body ensures good health. The second revelation of the Quran comprised the first few Ayahs of Surah Al-Muddaththir: “O you (Muhammad (sa)) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allah) magnify! And your garments purify! (74:1-4)

We can see that the Quran instructs Muslims to observe cleanliness. Personal hygiene includes clean teeth and use of good scents. Our Prophet Muhammad (sa) used Miswak for his teeth.

In our daily routine, we can observe that we often neglect our health in different ways. Most of us don’t follow a timetable. This eventually leads toward a stressful and unorganized lifestyle. Getting up and staying up late (especially on weekends), delayed or skipped meals, delayed prayers and mismanaged or undone chores are sure to affect our health adversely.

Similarly, most of our Pakistani cuisine includes a host of spices and reckless use of oils or ghee. The only result coming forth is more obese, less active bodies and disturbed stomachs. One of my friends suffers from stomach ulcer. The doctor recommends her simple food and no carbonated drinks. However, being a fan of spices, she would not give up on them and says: “When death is obvious, why not die after having my favourite things instead of abstaining from them?” Her theory is misleading, because such an attitude kills you numerous times before the ultimate death. Also, indulging into such injurious habits as smoking, addiction to prohibited things and preferring to go against a sincere physician’s advice can all be suicidal. The fact that committing suicide is Haram also reflects that our body and life is Allah’s (swt) trust.

Another important component of our being is our mind. We all know the impacts of our thoughts on our bodies and, hence, our performance. It is very crucial that we understand the importance of positive thinking. If we look closely at the Prophet’s (sa) model, we come to know how positive his thoughts were. He always relied upon Allah (swt) and had complete faith in good or bad fate. As Muslims, we should never lose hope, as it amounts to Kufr (disbelief). The Quran states: “So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers.” (Ale-Imran 3:139)

Our dear Prophet (sa) has said: “Nothing can change the Divine decree except Dua.” (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah) If we turn to Allah (swt) in all afflictions, we are sure to get His blessings and success. We witness around us numerous examples of how positive thinking saves someone in an impossible looking situation, whereas negative thinking makes people dull and weak even in the healthiest environment.

The Prophet (sa) taught us many supplications for seeking protection for the body. This Dua should be recited thrice in the mornings and evenings: “O Allah, make me healthy in my body. O Allah, preserve for me my hearing. O Allah, preserve for me my sight. There is none worthy of worship but You.” (Abu Dawood)

Allah (swt) created man with utmost love. Our life is a precious gift. We have to realize its value and be obedient slaves of Allah (swt) Almighty. Allah (swt) tells us He created man in the best form:

“Allah, it is He Who has made for you the earth as a dwelling place and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape and made your shapes good (looking) and has provided you with good things. That is Allah, your Lord, then blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” (Ghafir 40:64)

Be thankful to Allah (swt) for His bounties by taking care of them, especially your bodies, so you may be rewarded!

How to Achieve Simple Living

Simple Living

For us, as Muslims, the best example for conducting our lives lies in the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa). It is a well-known fact that he wore simple clothes, sometimes with patches.  He also had few spare clothes, but he kept them spotlessly clean. (Bukhari) His house was of simple clay with almost no decorations. His room contained a cot and a pillow stuffed with palm leaves.  He would sit on the bare floor or on a mat. Living simply in today’s world has many benefits:

  • Less debt. If we purchase less, we will have money in our pocket for the more important things like Sadaqah, Zakah and so on.
  • More savings. Not only will you be saving money by buying less, but you will be saving time and energy by not having to clean, maintain or fix all those possessions. You will have more time to spend on your priorities: family, friends, Dawah, reading, reciting or teaching the Quran.
  • Environmentally friendly. By possessing less, we are putting less into the landfills. Before tossing away anything, think: can I fix it, donate it, recycle/reuse it or compost it?
  • More contentment. Eventually, we will learn to be content with what we have, rather than what we don’t have. There will be no need to keep up with the latest trends. We will be less pressurized to impress with material possessions and can focus on impressing with good deeds and exemplary character. Instead of buying another toy for your child, spend and enjoy your time with them.

Simple living means different things to different people. Figure out what it means to you. Using our Prophet’s (sa) example, you can start with the following:

  • Live simply in a clean, uncluttered and organized space.
  • Live within your means.
  • Stay out of debt.
  • Trim unnecessary stress.
  • Be content with your life right now.
  • Make a list of your priorities and set smaller goals to achieve those priorities. Actively work toward those goals, starting with just ten to fifteen minutes a day.

Decluttering

For an instant impact, start de-cluttering the room you are in. Here is a step-by-step:

  1. Take a basket and put in anything that does not belong in that space; then, put it in its proper place.
  2. If that thing does not have a proper place, ask yourself: do I really need this? Do you want to keep it, donate it, throw it (if it is broken beyond repair), fix it, reuse it or recycle it?
  3. If you keep it, make sure it has a place; if you want to donate it, start a donation box; if it needs tossing, throw it in the garbage; if it needs attention (like repairing), put it in another box.

Keep all this in your mind, as you go through each space in your home.

You can slowly work from room to room, initially to get things back into their proper places. Do this at your own pace, fifteen minutes daily or from top to bottom. Once the first round is complete, considering going deeper. Take it room by room, starting with drawing, dining, lounge, kitchen and bathroom areas first. Except for the kitchen, these rooms tend not to have a lot of storage area. They do have clutter hot points, like tables and counters, which provide a big impact when de-cluttered first. It will give you that positive boost and sense of accomplishment to continue simplifying.

Be respectful, though, of others’ space. Your husband, in-laws, or older children may not like you going through their things, so be sure to ask or, better yet, enroll their help in your project and get them to live simply, too.  It really helps if you work together as a team.

As you are moving room by room, make sure to dust, while you have the tables, counters and decorative shelves cleared. If the space looks nice, you will give it a second thought before placing something there. Cluttered spaces tend to attract more clutter; therefore, keep it clear.

Clothing and closet de-cluttering need special attention. You can tackle them using the following steps:

  1. Start by taking everything out and make a quick run through.
  2. Toss into the keep, donate or fix pile.
  3. Dust out the closet and examine each item before putting it back in. Is it something you really need or like? Does it fit?
  4. Group clothes by use: daily wear, party wear, etc., and then by colour.
  5. Turn all the hangers around backwards.
  6. As you wear each item, put it back into your closet with the hanger the correct way.
  7. After six months or when the season is over, you can see what you have worn and what you haven’t. We mostly wear our favorite few outfits anyway.

Break the Shopping Habit

Make a conscious effort to reduce spending by not shopping and staying away from malls for at least ninety days. Shopping can be a habit that needs to be broken. Purchase only when necessary. Also, if you stop going to the mall, you will not be tempted to buy unnecessary items. If you do purchase something new, get rid of the old item it replaced. If you wear fewer colours, there won’t be any need for all the extra accessories, shoes, purses, jewellery, etc.

If you do go the mall, set a limit and make a list beforehand. Ensure that you stick to it. Go with a specific purpose and not only for window shopping. Also, purchase quality over quantity. If you can spend a little more upfront for something that will last longer and get more use, it is well worth it.

Budget-Wise

Once you have de-cluttered and organized the house, it is time to move to finances and your computer. Make a budget and see if there is excess that can be trimmed from the budget. Are you and the kids in too many activities? This can take up a lot of money and time. Make more time to spend together as a family. This can also lead to trimming unnecessary stress, like over-committing yourself to school, social events, etc.

For your computer and desk area, go through all emails and paperwork to see if you need it anymore. If you need to keep it, put it into a proper folder, paper or virtual.

Congratulations! You are now on your way to a simpler life. Make a conscious effort to maintain what you have just accomplished.

  • Take fifteen minutes daily to de-clutter.
  • Twice a year, do a spring and winter cleaning from top to bottom; you may not need now something that you needed then.
  • When something new comes into your space, get rid of the old.

Lastly, be content with your life, as this is what Allah (swt) has given us. Be grateful for what you have. Say a lot of Duas and prayers for guidance to live simply and be an example for others.

The Healing Power of Honey

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Anemia: Honey enriches blood. The darker the honey, the more minerals it contains.

Baby’s feeder: Four teaspoonfuls of honey in a baby’s bottle of water is an excellent pacifier and multivitamin additive. If the baby’s motions are too liquid, reduce the honey by half a teaspoon; if it’s too solid, increase by half a teaspoon. (Caution: don’t give honey to babies under one year old.) For teething, honey rubbed on a baby’s gums is also a mild sedative and anesthetic.

Burns: Apply honey freely over burns. It cools, removes pain and heals quickly without scarring. Apart from being a salve and an antibiotic, bacteria simply cannot survive in honey.

Bed-wetting: A teaspoon of honey before bed aids water retention and calms fear in children.

Conjunctivitis: Dissolve honey in an equal quantity of warm water. When cooled, apply as a lotion or eye bath.

Cough mixture: Combine 6 ounces (170 g) liquid honey, 2 ounces (55 g) glycerin and the juice of two lemons. Mix well. Bottle and cork firmly, and use as required.

Facial cleanser: Mix honey with an equal quantity of oatmeal and apply as a face mask. Leave on for half an hour and then wash it off. It is an effective cleanser for acne and other unwanted blemishes.

Fatigue: Dissolve a dessertspoon of honey in a jug of warm water and keep in the fridge. Honey is primarily fructose and glucose, so it’s quickly absorbed by the digestive system.

Food preservative: If you replace the sugar in cake and cookie recipes with honey, they’ll stay fresher longer, due to honey’s natural antibacterial properties. Reduce liquids in the mixture by about one-fifth to allow for the moisture present in the honey.

Hair conditioner: Mix honey with an equal quantity of olive oil. Apply to hair, cover them with a warm towel for half an hour and then wash with shampoo. It feeds hair and scalp. Your hair will never look or feel better!

Insomnia: A dessertspoon of honey in a mug of warm milk helps to fall asleep.

Migraine: Use a dessertspoonful of honey dissolved in half a glass of warm water. Sip at the start of a migraine attack, and, if necessary, repeat after another 20 minutes.

Nasal congestion: Place a dessertspoon of honey in a pot of heated up water and inhale the fumes, after covering your head with a towel, so that the steam does not escape.

Osteoporosis: Research has shown that a teaspoonful of honey per day aids calcium utilization and prevents osteoporosis.

Pain relief: Mix three tablespoons of honey in boiled water and drink. Honey has natural pain relieving powers.

Poor digestion: Mix honey with an equal quantity of apple cider vinegar and dilute to taste with water. This mix is also wonderful for joints and promotes weight loss.

Sore throat: Let a teaspoonful of honey melt in the back of mouth and trickle down the throat. It eases inflamed raw tissues.

Stress: Honey in water is a stabilizer, calming the highs and raising the lows. Use approximately 25 percent honey to water ratio.

Compiled by Bisma Ishtiaq

Organizing and De-cluttering Homes

declutter

When you have to move to new accommodation or get a paint job done in the house, do you feel that there are houses within your house? Whichever closet you open or whichever drawer you slide out, they are stuffed to the brim. You could actually furnish two more dwellings with the amount of things you possess. Well, don’t fret! Most of us get swept away by the tide of materialism. Just read on – help is at bay

Label storage

If you want to find your stow-away, label it – be it cartons, bags, boxes, suitcases, etc. It could have a main heading, such as “winter-wear for kids” followed by maybe three or five names of clothing groups inside, for example: “sweaters, stockings, jackets.” Select the room you want to place the storage in and keep a diary or record of it room-wise. For example: “kid’s bedroom, box 1 – kid’s winter-wear.”

This might seem like a laborious job initially, but you will know exactly where to find stuff even months later. Believe me – it’s worth it, if you want to use your possessions timely!

Keep an inventory check

It is best to consciously observe the things we use the most and in what numbers. For example, if you have loads of outfits gracing your wardrobe, break them into such categories as casual wear, party wear, formal wear, etc., depending upon your real needs (not wants).

Anything beyond your actual need should be considered surplus. You may gift it or donate it to family, friends, servants or the less privileged around you every quarter or even on a monthly basis, if you can.

This assessment will help you keep an inventory check on your belongings. Try this formula for everything you own.

Try the one year retention plan

Sorting and deciding what to keep, what to chuck out and what to give away is a common challenge.

An effective method to resolve this issue is to follow the one year retention plan. Keep your stuff for one year. After that, carefully assess how many times you have used your belongings during that year. If it is frequent, clearly, you are in need of that particular stuff. But if it is seldom, you may reduce its numbers (e.g., crockery). In case you have one annual party every year, you can keep your favourite dinner set and donate the rest. When your party time arrives, order the extra dinnerware from outside. The cost of storage and maintenance of this stuff is greater than the cost of annual rental.

Similarly, this technique will help you identify the stuff you haven’t used at all and can easily part with.

Do not arrange for additional storage space

Believe it or not – not having a big storage space is actually a blessing! You will have all your possessions within sight and efficient usage. Most of the stuff lying in storerooms and warehouses just eats dust and cobwebs, until more room is needed for newer storage and, eventually, the older one is thrown out in a miserable condition.

Make a strict rule for yourself to keep in your closets and cupboards only what you can safely manage. No cellars, basements or store rooms needed.

Broken things are not a bad omen

It takes a great deal of sacrifice to part with our beloved possessions. But caution! This is a real Iman tester. As soon as we are afflicted with some material damage, Satan starts drilling into our head what a calamity has just occurred and spells dooms day!

If things break, just learn to say: “Inna lillah e wa inna ilaihi rajioon.” Allah (swt) had planned for this to happen. Look at it positively – one thing less to be accounted for before Allah (swt). Otherwise, after we die, lying in our graves, we will be held accountable for the tiniest spoon we own, while others would be merrily using all of that stuff we have left behind.

Brooming your Kids

Brooming the Kids

By Abeer Khan

My mother loves a clean and tidy house. Having been brought up in a house, where women were happily engaged in all sorts of productive activities, from sewing bridal dresses to cooking culinary delights, she has come to expect nothing less from her daughters. Thus, my two sisters and I have been trained – in combat style – by our mother, to juggle our studies along with household chores. It is fun, although I must confess that it is not always smooth sailing.

Not many youngsters are lucky enough to be brought up in a similar manner. With so many families relying entirely on maids for housekeeping, a lot of teenagers, girls and boys, often do not have many domestic duties. I believe they miss out on a very important phase of character development. Occasional housework drills a lot of humility into a person and makes us realize, how hard our poor maids have to work, in order to keep the cutlery gleaming and the surfaces polished.

Getting kids to play a role – even a small one – in housekeeping, is only going to prepare them in dealing more effectively with difficulties and responsibilities that come in later life. A particular Mr. X would be less likely to pick on his food, if he has spent some time in the hot kitchen, learning to cook a dish or two. There are countless situations, where our domestic skills will help us out and prevent us from blowing our top. I have noticed how housekeeping teaches you these skills and virtues:

Discipline

When you have to do the cleaning before the guests arrive, there is no delaying it. It would hardly leave a good impression, if you are inconspicuously trying to wipe off the dust on the center table in front of the company.

Management skills

One sibling usually becomes the leader and divides the work to maintain peace and order during housework. How to manage and divide chores is important for future teamwork projects, because one has to put up with similar complaints and fusses that one would encounter during a cleanup Sunday.

Patience

Well, cleaning something over and over again, knowing that it’s going to get dirty soon, is bound to make you a little patient if anything – take a mirror, for example, which has a natural affinity to greasy spots and fingerprints.

Respect for your mother

…for all the years she did your laundry without complaints.

Ability to bear with your boss

Just imagine your boss to be an evil dust bunny, who just needs an extra brushing every once in a while to get him all shiny and sweet. If he is not happy with an assignment, improve upon it – for when a stain does not go with an ordinary cleaner, you have to take out the extra powerful one sitting underneath the sink.

Learning to deal with great expectations

Sometimes, the amount of housework you do is just not enough, and your mother will surely expect more from you as you grow. Isn’t it the same with life? As you grow, the world starts expecting more from you. Since “high achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation”, we need to learn to deal with those expectations. Housekeeping teaches us just that.

Crisis management

Everyone knows how frenzied that one moment is, when the bell suddenly rings on a lazy Sunday afternoon and you take a peek through the eye-piece to see a couple of formal guests standing at the doorstep. All hell breaks loose, as you frantically run all over the place, wiping surfaces and stuffing clothes in the cupboards, while also trying to get into shape yourself. Now, does this situation not teach you how to deal with a crisis?

So, the next time you think you will be overburdening your kid by asking her to take out the trash or by asking him to do the dishes, just stop and realize how those chores could actually teach him/her the importance of producing less garbage (to reduce his chore time and save the planet, of course) and being grateful for a clean plate. These chores seem insignificant right now but will play a huge role in shaping your child’s character in the long run.