Feel good foods

Christmas is coming… (And its not just the ‘Goose’ that’s going to get fat!)


Feel good foods
by Shabnam_Ghayour

Even before the Christmas period falls upon us, we are already recovering from the holiday aftermath of Thanksgiving.  Greed has once again, gotten the better of us and some of us are paying the price in the form of fatigue, sluggishness and weight gain.  So what on earth are we supposed to do when we haven’t yet reached the ‘Mother’ of all holidays, Christmas?  Well, I don’t know about you, but barely a week into December and I’m feeling lethargic, heavier and generally not at my peak.  In anticipation of the Christmas season, I have decided to eat sensibly to prevent any needless weight gain even before the Christmas and New Year is upon us. 

Don’t panic.  I’m not suggesting we should diet… Let’s leave diets and detoxing for the New Year, where they belong.  Although I know I’m not alone when I say that December is one of the busiest months of the year, both work-wise as well as socially.  We all seem to be running around doing errands, buying gifts, attending work-related holiday parties as well as parties with friend and family.  Personally, I need a little help keeping my energy levels at their peak and ensuring that my immune system is fighting fit and working overtime to protect me from winter’s inevitable chill.

 “Prevention is better than cure”… A famous quote rumoured to come from “Hygieia” the Greek Goddess of health… But with so many vitamins, minerals and supplements being peddled to us, nobody could blame us for not having any idea which of these we should take and which we should avoid!  The area I tend to need the most help with is my ongoing battle with fighting cold and flu symptoms.  I’ve always had a weak immune system and am known to be prone to getting cold and flu symptoms and so at this time of year I’m always looking for ways to boost my immune system.  Viral germs can most often be circulated in the work place and on public transport, but most commonly in crowded areas and anywhere with air-conditioning (which is basically re-circulated air and therefore a generator of germs and viruses)  Enter ‘Airborne’… my hero. 
A complete formula of all-natural vitamins and minerals, designed to keep viral symptoms at bay.  These wonderful little tablets dissolve quickly in water and are just perfect for our busy lifestyles… And at $8 (or £10 in UK) a pop, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind! 

But vitamin-induced immunity aside, there are always other areas that need to be tackled (Energy levels being top of my list!)  So in my quest for answers, I turn to the one thing I know a little something about… food.  What could we be eating that would not only pump us full of energy, but also full of vitamins and essentials oils to keep our bodies in tip-top shape for this potentially stressful Christmas period?  The usual answers that spring to mind are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, ideally 5 portions a day.  Yes, that’s great, fruit and vegetable are good for you.  We know that.  But did you know that oranges are not actually as high in vitamin C (or Ascorbic acid) as we are all led to believe?  There are many fruits that contain a much higher level of vitamin C than the humble orange.  The wonderfully exotic papaya fruit contains the highest volume of vitamin C of any single fruit, along with kiwi fruit, blackberries and most other berries also. 

Fruit not your thing?  Well did you know that watercress, kale and brussel sprouts are also extremely rich in vitamin C also?  Just one daily serving of one of these vitamin C rich foods can help boost your immunity no end, which have a big impact on your energy levels.  But if you are you are planning on cooking your vegetables beyond all recognition, beware that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and is easily destroyed by heat and therefore easily lost in cooking water, so a light steam is best to retain not only its vitamin content but its flavour as well.  Our bodies increase their requirements for vitamin C due to different factors such as alcohol, menstruation, surgery, injury, stress, diabetes and smoking - with a staggering 25mg of vitamin C being destroyed by each cigarette smoked!  So if you haven’t given up yet, the New Year is the perfect opportunity to stub out your last cigarette!

Food that is good for you doesn’t have to taste like a combination of tissue paper and stale saw dust.  You can still eat even the healthiest of produce but add something delicious to really lift its flavour.  For example… Not sure about cabbage or kale?  Why not fry some diced bacon or pancetta and mix it into some stir-fried cabbage adding a little knob of butter at the end... It’s delicious.  Switch white rice to brown for a while and you can still have your favourite stew or curry on top.  That small change will make so much difference to your body and it’s not the biggest sacrifice in the world, is it?  Small changes, when implemented consistently, can make drastic improvements to our overall well-being. 

If its energy you are looking for, then switch to ‘Low GI’ (Glycemic Index) foods, which are carbohydrate-based foods that release their glucose content more slowly and steadily which is not only beneficial because it sustains your energy levels and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, but they also help keep your weight down too!  Double whammy! 
‘Low GI’ content can be found in foods like sweet potatoes, oats, nuts and seeds, brown/wholegrain bread, brown rice, olives, avocadoes and much more.  So instead of eating white bread, try Soya & Linseed or Multi-grain bread instead.  Switch white potatoes for sweet potatoes and to make them a family favourite, cut them into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 30 minutes on 200C (400F).  They go great with burgers, chicken and most meat and fish, and they’re not only good for you but they taste fantastic too!   For more information on foods in the ‘High / Medium & Low Glycemic Index table’ click on this link: //www.montignac.com/en/ig_tableau.php  The results will shock you as not all fruit and vegetable GI contents are as straight forward as you would think!

So I guess what I’m saying is that if we know we are about to eat, drink and be merry and gain several extra pounds through consumption of excessive food and alcohol over the next few weeks, shouldn’t we take care of our bodies BEFOREHAND?  Instead of facing high-level damage AFTER the holidays are over!  Christmas is a time for having fun and enjoying yourself, but sometimes our bodies are not designed for the overload that is coming their way and instead of spending a lot of money on bottled vitamins and supplements, there are other ways we can be improving our health. 

So, with about 2 weeks left until Christmas, why not give a few of my tips a try so that when the food-fest rolls around, you and your body are best-equipped to deal with the overload.  But don’t forget to keep the Alka Seltzer and Pepto Bismol to hand… Because sadly there is no known cure for over-eating!  Here’s to your health, cheers!


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by Shabnam_Ghayour on

So nice to read your comments.  I feel like i have my own personal fan!  How lucky am i?  VERY!  Exercise is fantastic, although i must admit im very "Tambal" and dont get a lot of it!  But when you love food so much, the body must pay a price... And to be honest, im happy to pay that price!  Anyway, thank you for your ongoing support!  You are fabulous!!!


To Shabnam

by پیام on

Sorry for the spam btw :(


To caspianseamermaid

by پیام on

I still am not going to lower myself to your level and call you names. Your new reply only confirms the amount of frustration that you harber inside your (probabely dark) heart.

Just wanna say that it is entertaining to see how someone with WIKIPEDIA level history knowledge, jumps to conclusions and call another fellow Iranian  a dimwit, one has to be a dimwit to pitty the fact that the coming Iranian generations outside Iran will eventually loose their Iranian identity.

Hopefully you caspianseamermaid will be the first person to loose your Iranian identity, that way you will not comment on sites like this anymore and other Iranians will not have to read your moronic responds over here. Wel actually maybe on another section, the "Funny caspianseamermaid" section, cause the most your posts did to me was (after angering me for having to deal with your kind) making me laugh.


good food and diet

by shekamoo (not verified) on

hehehehe, look at my farsi in previous post,hehehehehe. I said "koja rafteh bobi?" oh boy, I meant "koja rafteh bodi". pedaram dar omad as baskeh ba adamyeh khoreji ba zaboneh mokhtalef sohbat kardam. so, how's that? you agree that I am a cool Iranian? you know I like the holiday time because of food and all that glamorous. :) ma ironiya khaili mehmoni doost darim, dorsteh doostan ya na? however, never miss your exercise and I guess you're gona say, hey you "me", yes, yes, I exercise 4 - 5 times a week. But, chi kar konam; I love food like ghormeh sabzi, chelo kabob, mirza ghasemi, shirin polo and more. isn't that cool? I keep up with running 2-3 miles 4 -5 times a week, pool ups (20 repetitions), lot of stretching to keep off the extra pounds.
Well, Shabnam; you did it again with your fabulous writing and reminding us of importance of good diet and exercise.
hope you have a great time in UK.
adios amigos.:):)


Thanks Midwesty and to Payam the dimwit

by caspianseamermaid on

To Midwesty. Thank you for understanding what I was typing, my main objection being imposition of someone's personal taste.


To Payam:

Nice try. First, 'oh, I'm not going to lower myself..blah blah blah' and then what I wrote is what you call 'wikipedia knowledge'?

It's the average 9 year old's general knowledge, which seems to have passed you by.


The point is that you really seem to be one of those total dimwitted prejudiced fruitcases, who has absolutely no idea what the term identity means, you still haven't provided any reason for why anyone should not be joining in the celebration of their environment, but you (and others on this site) moan and sneer about the loss of 'cultural identity' - forever changing, you dim-wit- about a bunch of superstitious rituals.

The conservatism and prejudice and idiotic insistance on superstitious rituals is what would have left humankind back in caves. Get the hell over it.

If you happen to enjoy them, fine, but don't tell others what to do, wherever they are born and whereever they live.


Someone, wherever the hell they are born or brought up, who happens to be used to eating pistacchios isn't a better or a worse person for not or for eating them. Get it?


Anyway, your posts are not worth any more of my time. Bye Bye.





My sig:

My doppelganger://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KebM6S4Kpg


To Goldoon

by caspianseamermaid on


The reason no one bothers to mention brussel sprouts is because of the difficulties (relative to other sources) of Vitamin C absorption and the fact that they are eaten cooked, mostly boiled (bye bye vitamin C) and the water is thrown away anyway.

My sig:

My doppelganger://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KebM6S4Kpg


koja rafteh bobi?

by shekamoo (not verified) on

howdy or should I say buenos dias shabnam joon?
I just wanted to say salam and I'll be back tonight, to write more. hold on...


To Shabnam khanoome gol

by پیام on

I am happy that you see this issue the way you do. I am glad to read that there are still Iranians around the world outside Iran that value our culture and celebrate it to the fullest. Anyway, you got yourself a fan (your columns). I look forward to see more of your work which hopefully will disclose our cultural background to readers that are not that familiar with Iranian traditions.



Payam Joon

by Shabnam_Ghayour on

I know you meant no malice at all and i hope you will continue to read my articles!  I just meant that im probably one of the few people (2nd/3rd generation) that knows how important it is to keep tradition alive.  My Mother is a fantastic driving force for keeping our traditions alive and i, in turn, will ensure my children learn to speak, read and write and also celebrate Chahar-shanbeh soori, Nowrouz ans Sizdeh bedar!  But you are right, for alot of Iranians, tradition is lost and does now morph into the more Western line of tradition, which is a shame.  I ALWAYS value and appreciate people's constructive input and yours is always welcome :-)


re to Midwesty

by پیام on

I couldn't agree more.



by Midwesty on

I have no doubt that you want the Iranian culture stay strong. As I am sure it is also Shabnam's and Caspiansea's intention. A great culture can't get isolated. It should be exposed to other cultures through interactions. While there is a distinct Iranian culture with a very distinguished characteristic but there is almost nothing Iranian about it. Iran has been on the crossroad of the world.  As other cultures were passing by, she has absorbed their good qualities, made them native and then built upon them. The more it gets exposed to various cultures the stronger our culture becomes. You have a valid point, we should be protective of what we've gained but on the other hand it is part of Iranian culture to interact.



To caspianseamermaid and Shabnam

by پیام on

To  caspianseamermaid:


I am not going to lower myself to your level and insult you the way you insulted me. You probabely are a frustrated person that laks any "Zarfiyat" for other man's critic. Btw, thanks for the Wikipedia history lesson that you Copy-Pasted to show your knowledge about Chrismass and how it too has started from Persia. I truely am amazed by the amount of knowledge that you have managed to gather in your (probabely tiny) head. Must have cost you as much energy as the energy and hate that you put in your post toward me. You are a TRUE Persian who can teach me a lesson or two.



To my dear Shabnam:


If you read my respond carefully and not the way caspianseamermaid did, you will notice that I was merely noticing the fact that one's culture is doomed to fade once a person stops living in the environment that upholds that culture. Norooz and all the other celebrations have long lost their true meaning for Iranians outside Iran. I am sure that the generations to come (of Iranian descent outside of Iran) will more and more become alianated with their own herittage and more and more affiliated with the culture of their surrounding. This is just a fact and not a point of critique.


Regarding the fact that since Iranian.com gave people the opportunity to respond to an article, every stupidass like caspianseamermaid gives him or herself the right to insult people, I'll seize posting comments here. I had hoped to see a dialogue among Iranians, instead you see the same trend that is taking place in Iran. People trying to bully eachother around, even online. I am quiet riddled by the sort of people like caspianseamermaid that have their mouth full of Iranian and Persian culture, but lak the decency to respect the view of others, a great good that Persian nation of Cyrus the Great was built upon.


Anyway, goodluck with your culomns and hopefully till the day that we can celebrate our own holidays in our own beloved Iran.


Feel good food

by Ra'na (not verified) on

Shabnam, thanks for the tips, I love the wedges.


Just to say...

by Shabnam_Ghayour on

Payam joon, i was born in Tehran actually... And if you keep reading my articles, come Nowrouz time, i will be just as enthusiastic about Sabzi-polow-mahi too!  I live in London... But despite leaving Tehran in 1979, i speak, read and write Farsi fluently.  Just to clarify... I LOVE my heritage, but i live in England and i also recognise Western traditions too!

Thanks for the support Caspian... Its appreciated...!! 

Sima joon, use baking paper / greaseproof paper for the sweet potatoes and they barely stick at all!  Infact, abandon aluminium foil for everything (except covering foods in the oven) as everything tends to stick to it and taste like metal!!!

Happy eating!!!  Thanks for reading!!!

Niki Tehranchi

Ahhhh Sweet potatos

by Niki Tehranchi on

such a delightful name for such a disappointing result. I have tried baking them, mashing them, making them into soup, nothing worked. My cousin made some yummy sweet potatos for thanksgiving bu he achieved it by mashing them together with bananas and walnuts. I have never really been able to make sweet potatos a popular dish in my household, they always remain the only left-over! This year, I am giving up and experimenting with different types of squash instead :-)

But thank you Shabnam for a wonderful read as usual. The low GI section was particularly useful.


Interesting! So brussel

by Goldoon (not verified) on

Interesting! So brussel sprouts have a whole lotta vitamin C.
Didn't know that one!
I'll add that to my list of: "gotta have these at times, whether I like it or not"!


Khorest on brown rice - always!

by Anonymousy (not verified) on

Khorest on brown rice - always! bademjan on brown rice is my favorite. We don't use brown rice that much and I think we should. Some parts of Iran use it more often than others. As well as Afghans of course.


I love sweet potatoes but...

by sima on

... when you bake them in the oven they stick to the pan and then quickly get mushy. BTW baqali polo (with fava beans not lima), adas polo, and kalam polo all taste good with brown rice. Khoresh on brown rice -- never!

Nazy Kaviani

Good Advice

by Nazy Kaviani on

Interesting and timely, as usual. I will heed the advice! I always gain weight during the winter and then there isn't enough time to get back in shape by Nowrooz, where another surge of food and celebration awaits us. I think I will use your advice a few times between now and then! Please write again soon as your "column" is one of my most favorite to read.


To Payam aka Ghost60. *god* you're stupid!

by caspianseamermaid on

Whilst I find Shabnam's writings mostly quite boring, it seems that there is a need for her writings.

You truly are stupid.

a) The article is mainly based on seasonal changes and health, in view of seasonal over-indulgence. I doubt that Shabnam was identifying herself with the Vitamin C level in a papaya.

b) If you actually knew anything about your so-called identity, you dimwit,you would know that Christmas is as Persian as it can get. Ever heard of the Three Persian Kings directing all towards the place and hour of the birth of Christ?

c)Never heard of Shabe Yalda? What do you think the significance of the almost coinciding dates of the Winter Solstice are?

d) Shabnam lives in London

e) What EXACTLY is wrong with Shabnam joining in the celebrations of her environment?


Please, don't be so stupid and spew your ignorant prejudices elsewhere.




My sig:

My doppelganger://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KebM6S4Kpg


It is sad to see...

by پیام on

... that what becomes of us Iranians and second generation Iranians once we are outside Iran for a long period. Foreign hollydays are of more interest to us than our own. I can't blame you for enjoying all the hollidays ( chrismass and thanksgiving and whatnut) that you celebrate in the US, you are probabely a second (or third) generation Iranian who is born and raised outside Iran and who feels a part of American society. But please remind yourself of the fact that by fully assimilating in another culture, you gradually will loose your own identity and replace it with one which will never truely be of your own.

Merry chrismass.