Adventures in Healthy Eating: Soup!

O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you… Holy Quran 2:172

If you follow Mommy Muslim then you know that I struggle with getting my kids to eat healthy food. I also struggle with eating healthy. Sometimes we do great and then other times, not so much. But as fall approaches, I know I can turn to a great healthy option, soup. Soup is a wonderful way to sneak in many healthy vegetables. This is great for my daughter who asks me when I serve multiple veggies; “Should I pick the vegetable I want?” She is convinced that a complete meal consists of just one vegetable.

Isn’t Raw food better for you?

According to Wikipedia: “Raw foodism, also known as rawism or following a raw food diet, is the dietary practice of eating only or mostly food that is uncooked and unprocessed.” Raw food enthusiasts believe that eating vegetables raw is healthier. Raw foods allow the body to consume all of the nutrients of the food. Nutrients that might otherwise be lost during cooking. However the Centers for Disease Control states on their website that: “…sometimes raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful germs that can make you and your family sick, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. CDC estimates that germs on fresh produce cause a large percentage of U.S. foodborne illnesses. The safest produce is cooked; the next safest is washed.” Some nutritionists also believe that eating some foods raw makes them harder for the body to process. Cooking also increases the antioxidant content of some foods. Foods like asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, legumes and potatoes are all better cooked. While foods like broccoli, onions, garlic and cabbage are better for you raw or cooked only minimally.

Any vegetables are better than no vegetables.

No matter where you stand on the raw vs cooked spectrum, you would probably agree that any veggies are better than none. I would love to see my kids eat a plateful of vegetables every day. But it doesn’t work out that way. They have their go-to-vegetables that they prefer. Broccoli, string beans, spinach, and corn are the only veggies that all three love. Any other vegetable, excluding salad greens, is going to leave someone unhappy. Usually two out of three will hate it! My goal at all times is to get them to expand their veggie palate.

Soup to the resuce!

When cool weather approaches, I turn to soup as a healthy alternative. Soup allows me to combine vegetables in a tasty mix that is generally appealing to them. It gives them the chance to eat a wider variety per serving. This means that, although it may have less nutritional value than its raw counterpart, they are eating more of it. Soup also retains some of the vitamins that are lost during the boiling process. (When we boil vegetables some vitamins can leach into the water. Typically we pour the nutrient rich water down the drain!) During the cooler months warm soup also acts as a comfort food.

Soup as medicine.

We have all heard of the folk remedy, take chicken noodle soup for a cold. Health experts believe that this soup actually does help!. The soup thins mucus, decongests, and has mild anti-inflammatory properties. A lemon rice soup with a little celery and spinach can give a boost of vitamin C. According to some studies; the ingredients ginger and garlic are anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Mixing fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, sage and basil are easy ways to boost your soup’s anti-oxidant content.

But my kids don’t like soups with vegetables.

The beauty of soup is that you can hide the taste of the veggies with your soup base. My soups usually have one of three bases. The first base is a tomato base. This was my go-to base for a long time. The tomato covers a lot of complimentary tastes very well. And you can hide your vegetables by blending them into a broth that you mix into the base. String beans, carrots, spinach, and broccoli all mix very well into a tomato base. My good friend Zainab introduced me to the cream base. This base relies on heavy whipping cream, milk, coconut milk, butter, etc. This base mixes well with spinach, corn, potatoes, broccoli, and asparagus. My third base is a meat based broth. This is where I use my chicken or lamb stock to make a soup. Sometimes the meat is included, for example in lamb stew or chicken noodle soup. Sometimes I use the broth to make a vegetable soup. You can blend a soup as long as it doesn’t have any bones. This works well for children who are resistant to having a bowl of soup with visible chunks of vegetables. These kids enjoy slurping soup down from a mug.


With fall approaching we could all use a healthy boost from our favorite comfort foods. When we cook these foods for our children we are serving them foods that will comfort and nourish them for a lifetime. May your soup be full of love, health and blessings – Ameen.

Be sure to share your favorite soup recipe in the comments or join the conversation at:
Pick up your copy of my blank recipe book, perfect for recording your favorite recipes. The book is divided by sections. The “Appetizers and Salads” section is the perfect place to save your delicious soup recipe!



At what age should I start potty training?

Salaam (Peace),

When should I start potty training?

Almost every concerned parent, at the preschool where I worked, asked this question. This is one milestone we all are waiting for. That blessed day when we don’t have to see, change, or buy another diaper!
For some of us, there is little choice. We have to leave our child at a daycare or with a sitter who only accepts children who are potty trained. Some of us are just ready to get it over with. Especially, when helpful relatives or friends question us. “He’s still not potty trained…?” Comparisons to their potty training whiz kid, with things like, “Oh Yusuf was using the potty all by himself by the time he was…” are not helpful. So when should you start?

1. Start when he is able.

Able – means that the child is physically capable of using the bathroom. Specifically can the child hold their urine? You will have clues that the child is able to “hold their urine,” when they wake up and their diaper is dry. As they get older they will also stay dry for longer periods of time. Some children don’t have the physical capability even though they understand the concept. It is cruel to try to force a child to do anything that is beyond their capability.

2. Start when they understand.

Understand – means they can recognize the physical cues and understand that the cues mean it is time to use the potty. You can help by teaching them their physical cues. For example, you might see your child doing the “potty dance” hopping back and forth, and bouncing around. Ask the child, “do you need to use the potty.” Follow up by putting them on the pot. If they go you can tell them, “see you did need to use the potty and you did it!” Every child has cues and you will learn these together. Some kids do the dance, others run and stand in a corner. But these actions show a growing awareness of their body’s cues.

3. Start when they can communicate.

Communicate – means they can express that they need to use the potty. This is not always verbal! It may be pulling your hand, or going to the bathroom, reaching or pointing to themselves. Hopefully, they will be able to tell you. But if they can’t, as long as they can communicate the need to you, then they are ready.

4. Start when you have the time.

Time – means that you are not rushed. You have the time to consistently and patiently work with your child to guide them on this journey. Yes, part of, “is my child ready” depends on you. Are you ready? You have to be ready to take your child EVERY time you see the cues or he tells you that he needs to go. There will be a lot of false alarms. Recognize that potty time might be fun time. Especially if you have one of those fun, musical, talking toilets. (Which I don’t recommend!) But you have to take him each and every time he requests it.

5. Start when they want to.

Want – means when the child tells you. “I want to use the potty.” They might say it in different ways. But they might begin to show an interest in sitting on the potty or changing their own diapers. They sometimes begin to feel like, I want this nasty thing off of my body. Many children will sometimes say, “I boo boo.” And they will look at you as if to say, get it off. If it bothers them then they are ready to learn. But this is the one that is optional. Some children don’t mind being dirty at all. So we can’t wait for that child to “want” to potty train. If they are able, can communicate, and they understand, then they are ready.


Can I start before all of these steps.

Absolutely, and sometimes you have no choice! But these 5 conditions are the things that will make it much easier. My personal advice from 3 children and even more as a preschool teacher is: Prep your child with books and videos and talks before you start, Reward outrageously (not with food) but with songs, cheers, stickers and overwhelming enthusiasm and Be consistent. And even then it might not work if the child just isn’t ready. Especially if they’re not physiologically ready. And if the child is too resistant or not able, don’t continue to force them. Back off give it a few months or until they mature a little more and then try again. Here’s the advice my mom gave me when I was completely frustrated. She asked me patiently. Have you ever met a (normal, healthy) adult who couldn’t use the bathroom? Of course not. That’s because eventually, they will get it, everybody does!
I am including a few recommendations for potty training. The first is a good book on potty training techniques which work for many parents. The other books are some of my favorites. I used these books to read to toddlers to help them get used to the idea. (Note: These are affiliate links and I may receive a commission – at no additonal cost to you- when you buy products that I am genuinely excited about.)

This book is for parents, And by the way Dr McCoy, if you get a chance you should definitely check out her awesome blog:

This book is an oldie but a goodie, I love the line…he sat and sat and sat and sat…. Yes, Al Hamdulillah he sat! lol


These 2 are newer but the kids really enjoyed them…

While the first book is funny, this book is very sweet.

One more for you to try. I could go on and on. I love reading to children and I love picking out books for you to enjoy with your little ones. They learn so much when we read to them!


Should Muslims Cancel Netflix because of Cuties?

Maybe you missed all the uproar over the movie “Cuties” which is now streaming on Netflix. The movie is about: “A talented 11-year-old girl (who) joins a hip-hop dance troupe”. Although it sounds innocent, the movie is not. The 11 year olds engage in twerking, sexting, and watching pornography on a cell phone. The girls are often in sexually exploitative positions as characters and as actresses. The abhorrent behavior is causing righteous indignation across party lines. Sen. Ted Cruz is even calling for an investigation to determine if Netflix violated any child pornography laws. The cancel culture is serious about this movie!

Should Muslims (or anybody) cancel their Netflix subscription because of this movie? Honestly, that’s up to you. I am not, even though I am appalled by the content. But I am even more appalled by the hypersexuality that our children witness everyday. If this movie helps to rip the blindfold off of our eyes, then I applaud it while also hating it. But for anyone who has been observing what is going on in our society, this movie is no surprise. This moral desensitization has been building for a while now.

When I go in the store to buy summer clothes for my kids I’m shocked. The shorts for my son hang past his knees, while the ones for my daughter barely cover her butt. Not modest enough to wear even inside of the house! Television shows portray tweens in romantic relationships. Relationships that they cannot possibly handle at that age. By high school they believe that everyone has had sex and that virginity will make you an outcast. Singers like Cardi B and Meghan Thee Stallion convince them that strong empowered women are promiscuous. And a song like WAP can crack the top 20 when years ago it wouldn’t have EVER been produced.

I’m heartened to know that we can still be outraged. That we still care enough about our girls to be concerned about this movie. But I also care about these facts. Child sex trafficking is at an alarming rate. During the pandemic the number of online “enticements” of children has increased by 90%. Child sex trafficking accounts for 30 percent of all human trafficking. And in this country 52% of sex trafficking victims are Black or Latino. We have a real problem in this country and in this world. This problem didn’t start with “Cuties” and it won’t end with “Cuties”, unless we end it.
I’m including some links to organizations that are working to solve this problem. Feel free to check them out or find an organization in your community to assist. Taking these actions might do more to help an endangered child than canceling your Netflix membership. But any action at all will help more than no action at all.