Tips for balanced snacking


I had the privileged to meet and interview, Barni Nutritionist Hala Barghout, at an event hosted by Barni early this year. Hala believes in committing to family meal times and making them enjoyable. As a parent one of the best gifts you can give your children is a strong nutritional start. With school season in full swing, every mothers biggest challenge is to put together a creative and healthy snack box amidst all the hustle and bustle prior to sending kids off to school. When kids are back from school, preparing a meal that they will actually eat is another mammoth task. As a mom of 3 boys( 2 in school), i keep my eyes open for any tips i can find to make meal times more enjoyable to prepare, and enjoyable for my picky-eaters to savor.


     Nutritionist Hala Barghout and i, at an event hosted by Barni Snacks, promoting healthy eating and balanced diet for kids.

Below are some child friendly pointers by Hala, for  ensuring a well-balanced diet for your child, thereby contributing to their overall growth.

  • Mix and match

Serve baby carrots, cucumber or other raw veggies with fat-free ranch dressing or hummus. Dip cracker sticks or fresh fruit pieces in labneh. Or, keep a portion of fruits in the mid meal snack daily with peanut butter to allure your child to eat fruits.

  • Broaden the menu

Offer out-of-the-usual fare, such as pineapples, cranberries, red or yellow peppers, or roasted peanuts, almonds or Mediterranean nuts that are freely available in the local supermarkets. Whole grain pretzels and tortillas provide energy and stamina for your little ones.

  • Revisit breakfast

Serve breakfast foods — such as scrambled eggs and a whole-grain toast — as alternative snacks for kids in the afternoon.

  • Sweeten it up

Healthy snacks for children don’t have to be bland or tasteless. To satisfy your child’s sweet tooth, offer fat-free pudding, pancakes or frozen yogurt. Make smoothies with skimmed milk, yogurt, and fresh fruits.

  • Creativity is key

Use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of cheese slices, whole-grain bread similar to the attractive shape of their endeared Barni Bear.  Make fruit kebabs or show your child how to eat diced fruit with chopsticks or toothpicks. Make a tower out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with pretzel sticks, or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruits.

Hala says, “Above all, remember that food diversity and moderation are the keys to sensible and well balanced diet. Smart nutritional choices during childhood can reinforce lifelong healthy eating habits and it helps kids grow up to their full potential. So it’s important to start young to reap good results in the future.” A HEALTHY OUTSIDE STARTS FROM THE INSIDE.


Hello School



My little boy had spent the 3 years learning from me and our family values. The moment had arrived where he starts his school adventure in unchartered territory. We walked through the gates of his school as he gripped my pinky finger so tight, it could break off and as he clung to me like a leech, I could almost feel my blood sucked out. I leaned down to my 3-year-old as I swept his hair across his angel face, building his self-confidence as i set him up for a good start. It was a feeling of Deja Vous. I have been in this spot not too long ago with my oldest and learned that this journey has allowed him to grow wings, yet the jitters chased me. Whether a veteran or a rookie this is a difficult  and mixed emotion as a parent to get to grips with. But this time around I felt I was readier than my first experience, hence I was able to mentally prepare my little one in advance and limit his and my potential for tears. The first day went smooth and drama-free and was an enjoyable one.

A few things I did at home to prepare my child were:

  • I discussed my happy memories of school and got my oldest to discuss his and the exciting part of making new friends
  • I discussed his anxieties and encouraged him with stories of how his older brother overcame his challenges.
  • I read story books and enjoyed putting together board puzzles with my boy
  • I used pretend play by making school time look fun and exciting. The both of us took turns in being teacher and student.
  • I involved my boy in the shopping process of picking his school essentials and planning his snack.
  • Established a bedtime routine in advance so he would wake up fresh and well rested to meet his crucial day

The one thing I did not do(I wish I did) was check on my boy’s medical and dental records to make sure they were up to date, so I would be rest assured that he did not have concerns that we will have to treat in the busy academic period. As I waved a goodbye and flung a desperate flying kiss, I knew I had released him to grow some roots and sprout some wings.

When did your little bundle start school? Was the first day rough? How did you cope and how did you prepare them? I’d love to hear your experience and any advice that could be shared.





Review: Flavors of Brazil at SPIRITO

Walk through the doors of Spirito and find yourself transported to South America. It is a cheerful space with flamboyant interiors, exotic drinks and intoxicating sounds of Brazil. This new restaurant is the latest in the series of South American culinary invasion to hit Dubai.

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Service was excellent from the moment we stepped through the door. The servers were in their element: charismatic and witty with a personality, to influence.

Caipirinha, margarita–They’ve got all kinds of Latino beverages to keep you ticking. For our appetizers, we opted for the Spirito Picanha Sliders and Coxinha, which are traditional Brazilian croquettes. Small plates clearly did not mean small and was ample for sharing. A bite into the sliders revealed the aromatic flavors of caramelized onions and well cooked juicy beef–everything you expect a top quality slider to taste like.  The smoked Coxinha was a tear drop shaped bomb of flavors. All together this hit the spot and I deemed them worth 5 stars.

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For my entrée, I opted for Lobo, which is a Balck Angus Steak served with Polenta fries. On arrival, it did create an impression with its innovative presentation, on a wooden board. While I still enjoyed it, it just really didn’t stack up to my expectation. My husband picked the Cordeiro for his entrée. This is a two bone rack of lamb slathered shamelessly with chimichurri. It sure possessed a distinctive flavor and is ‘Interesting’ as my husband would describe it.


Dessert saw us sharing the Brazilian chocolate bonbon cake. This layered pie is amazingly decadent! It has a thin crust biscuit layer topped with rich custard, layered with chocolate ganache and topped with whipped meringue. I almost tasted a slice of heaven. I was won over.

The overall scene: As seems fitting for a cosmopolitan city, with swag careers, fine dining has taken an about turn towards the more eclectic and trendy. This spot is a reflection of this cultural shift. Spirito has made its way into town with its vibrant vibes providing a welcome flavor of Brazil and its ethos. It is a spot not to be missed!

Grab the deal: 50% off your total bill during the month of August

Where: Media One hotel

Contact: +971 4 421 2679


Price: Coxinah  AED 55

Cordeiro -Two bone rack of lamb, chimichurri AED 120

Brazilian chocolate bon-bon cake AED 50






Review: HOOKED to Crab Tavern

If you attempt to score a table at Crab Tavern, you will find a contemporary approach to classic American Fun, Fare, and Favor. As its name suggests, Crab Tavern’s menu boasts a myriad of crustacean dishes. It  focuses on reinventing the classic American food and drinks with a delicious and creative twist. The ambiance is upscale ‘Casual Chic’ with an inviting rustic charm, which includes; warm leather sofas, wide plank wood flooring, and brick walls…personally I love this style.I am a sucker for character and warmth.

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Our server Justin, who was knowledgeable, fun and witty  made great recommendations, and his service was stellar.

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We started by ordering a Strawberry Colada and a Crab Jar for drinks. I have an obsession for mason jars and classic milk bottles!! My poised and composed demeanor gave way to reveal a visibly excited and awed disposition when I witnessed our server present our drinks in mason jars and milk bottles. Not only were the drinks oozing an enticing appeal but also tasted equally good and were a refreshing start to our meal ahead.


IMG_6541For our starter, my husband and I shared a Seafood Arancini. It was my second rendezvous with Arancini and I must add that this particular one lacked the flavor to seduce my pallet and warm my soul. However, the presentation was immaculate with a generous serving of fresh salad greens paired with quail eggs.





I associate mussels with my very first trip to the French Riviera, where my eyes and taste buds discovered the irresistible flavor of this juicy meat with glistening black shells. I was pleased to note Crab Tavern’s selection of Mussels from the entrée menu brought back delicious memories of the fresh juicy gems of the French Riviera. It was served in a silver tavern accompanied by crispy fries and crusty bread, to soak up the sensational creamy white sauce. It’s everything you want it to be!

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My husband chose the much-recommended Singapore crab for his entrée.This was served in spicy chili-tomato gravy, which hooked him from the very first bite. Its appearance was tantalizing, served with crab cracking and scooping tools. My OCD husband overlooked the mess as he enjoyed the succulent flesh in a luscious spiced sauce. This dish lives up to its reputation and is a must try.


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For dessert, we opted to share a Pecan and Maple tart served with Bourbon ice cream. What I loved most about this pie is that It’s not cloyingly sweet and I did not have to battle cutting into the crust as it was just the perfect texture.

As the evening progressed the scene here was an upbeat frenzy. The servers were pacing about buzzing with life, clearly enjoying their trade.This kept us waiting a while after our dessert course, to grab the attention of a server (which was the only low point of our evening).




Crab Tavern is completely unique to the city of Dubai. This space has rightfully earned a bounty of buzz. Scoring a table on a weekend can be tricky, so I recommend making a reservation to ensure you can eat your way through their praise-worthy culinary goodness. The rustic décor, fashion-forward company, uplifting tunes and welcoming vibes make this a space worth trying! It’s stylish, urban, fun, impressive and oh! its just larger than life… it’s American for crying out loud!!


Where: Media One hotel

Contact: +971 4 420 7489



Price: The Crab Tavern Arancini / Scotch Egg AED 65

Singapore Crab – AED 85

Pecan & Maple Tart- AED 35

Strawberry Colada – AED 35







Cooking up Memories

It’s always worth it to create memories alongside teaching a new skill to your kids. This summer has been the most amazing bonding experience for me. I have discovered cooking and baking with kids is wonderfully rewarding. OK, it can be a grimy affair and a date with boisterous…but the joy of watching your kids take pride in what they made and to see them have fun while loving the art of whipping, mixing and decorating is a warm fuzzy mommy feeling. So let’s don on the aprons and cook up some memories.

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Review: Savouring Dubai at Seven Sands

The Bedouin culinary experience is enjoying a resurgence in Dubai. One of the hottest recent entrants on the Emirati dining scene is ‘Seven Sands’ at ‘The Beach’, JBR. Named after the seven Emirates that constitute the nation of UAE. This expansive two-level eatery is a fashionably modern space with a cultural twist.

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I embarked on a culinary adventure to discover the flavors of the region, offered at Seven Sands. My husband and I arrived at the restaurant after sunset to discover a quiet haven and were greeted by polite and friendly staff. I noted the glass-covered section on the ground floor containing sand from each of the seven emirates and modern frescos on the walls featuring cultural and iconic elements of the Emirates. The head hostess volunteered much of her knowledge and led us upstairs to our table by the window, nicely isolated from the cozy shisha/smoking area and the outdoor terrace facing the sea.


The building blocks of authentic Emirati cuisine are the use of fresh ingredients. I learned the meat and ingredients here are locally sourced. We were welcomed with an interesting complimentary light bite of warm flat bread sprinkled with zaatar flakes accompanied by chilly labneh dip on the side. Incredible I must say!

Levantine favorites like hummus, moutabal and  tabbouleh were highlights of the appetizer menu. We decided to opt for the Middle Eastern salads with a contemporary twist. My pick was UAE grown green mangoes with homeidh leaves plucked fresh from AL Ain farms, tossed in olive oil and baby tomatoes, bursting with tangy notes. This salad was suitably summery with its zesty flavors. The Seven Sands signature salad which was my partners selection was full of playful colors and clean flavors.

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For our Entrees, I decided to pick the much-recommended ‘Wrapped Bezar Prawns’ fried with vermicelli dough served with sweet chilly dip. The prawn was cooked to perfection but lacked flavor. The chilly dip that accompanied the prawn did the magic and elevated the dish. My husband decided to go with an unconventional pick(In a Middle Eastern restaurant) of ‘Grilled Beef Tenderloin ‘ marinated with olive oil served with pumpkin crisps, mash, and locally sourced vegetables. One can generally assume a restaurant that calls itself a Steakhouse puts out fine examples of steak, but you’re not expecting to stumble on a flavorful and tender steak at an Emirati dining scene. The tenderloin presented was juicy and delicious, down to the very last bite.

Middle Eastern desserts do not tickle my fancy like a cheesecake or Crème-Brule does, however, the dessert list here has one scrumptious cake that I cannot get enough of, the ‘Seven Sands Date pudding’! Hands down this restaurant serves the best version of date pudding that I have ever tasted. It’s a delightful date sponge cake; lightly textured and soaked up with toffee sauce and garnished with almond flakes. It’s an absolutely satisfying combination of smooth and gooey, and described in one word as HEAVENLY! Whether you’ve never tried a date pudding or it’s a favorite, visit The Seven Sands today to treat yourself with their version of this classic.


Seven Sands is a culinary marriage between traditional Emirati and the modern cuisine, similar to what present day cosmopolitan Dubai symbolizes. If you are looking for well priced and well-portioned Emirati dishes with a twist, served within an aesthetically pleasing ambiance, this is the place to head to.

Where: The Beach, Opposite JBR.

Cuisine: Arabic

Phone:+971 4 551 66652


Timings: Sat – Wed: 8am – 1am / Thu – Fri: 8am – 2am

Price: Seven Sands Signature Salad- AED 25

Harees- AED 45

Grilled Beef Tenderloin- AED 95

Seven Sands Date Pudding- AED 25



A Zoo-tiful day at Al Tamimi’s Hero Petting Farm


Cocoon to Butterfly kids kicked off their summer break in Dubai, by visiting the regions largest indoor edutainment venue in Modhesh World, Dubai. The highlight of their visit was petting and feeding the most beloved animals at Al Tamimi Stables Animal Care Hero Petting Farm . It was indeed a real fun and unique experience! The lil love-bugs got all soppy as they fed and stroked the animals. The area featured rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ducklings, tortoises, baby goats as well as a parakeet, iguana and ball python snake. Children are constantly learning from their environment and this visit demonstrated how children got to practice development skills and social competencies such as caring, justice and empathy in a relatively short animal interaction time.




Our lil hero’s also learned about the environment in a fun and interactive way with Al Tamimi’s pot planting Green Hero activity. At their activity, the children were given the opportunity to explore and care for plant life. They got to take home the plant they potted, which gives them the opportunity to watch it grow over time.



At the AL Tamimi pottery painting area, the lil-wiggles got to unleash their creative side. The area featured a selection of paint and ceramics which included mugs, egg-holders, bowls, cupcakes and much more to choose from. Our wiz-kids let their creative spirit take over while designing their masterpiece, which they brought back home.  The area also features a gift shop where wooden toys and animal gifts are available for purchase as a keepsake.


children in this era live in a virtual world. They have few opportunities for contact with the natural world and to explore the free-range outdoor and creative play. Places such as Al Tamimi’s petting farm, Green Hero activity, and Pottery painting gives children the opportunity to reclaim the magic and the joy of exploring their natural world and animal planet.

If your kids enjoy these activities and you would like to inculcate in them the thrill of watching a bird, stroking a bunny, finding a turtle and feeding a goat, then head to this location.


  • Where: Al Tamimi stables, Modhesh World, Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
  • Date: July 9th to August 29th 2015
  • Day and Time: 9 am to midnight from Saturday to Wednesday and 9 am to 1 am on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Price: Each activity priced at AED 20 per person
  • More Information:
  • Contact: +971 50 554 9915/



*photo credit: N03/5994991505″>Rabbit via photopin (license)


An Escape to Atlantis ‘Family Fun Factory’

IMG_6608I speak on behalf of every child. What’s not to love about an arcade and gaming zone! The dazzling lights and resonance invites you to escape to a world of nonstop action and thrill. Whether a ball drops into a hole or the wheel spins to hit a jackpot, they all add to the challenge of testing your skills and anticipating a big score. Atlantis hotel has your kids covered with its newest attraction this summer. ‘The Family Fun Factory’ is an indoor entertainment destination packed with arcade games, face painting, redemption zones, gifts, and arts and crafts.

Last week Cocoon to Butterfly kids enjoyed an evening of amusement at ‘The Family Fun Factory’. What we loved most about this venue is that there are no additional charges for games, beyond the admission fee. No more queuing up to recharge cards for games and loading up coins to use in machines. It is not a particularly large space but is a venue guaranteed to offer unlimited gaming fun at one fixed price. We thought the price was more than fair for all they had to offer. My older competitive boy and his BFF battled it out for a top score with the interactive games. A range of rides and games offered for pre-school buddies thrilled the younger ones in our group. A favorite for the group was the redemption games where the kids and adults won tickets, which we exchanged for exciting gifts. The staff was approachable and friendly. The boys were incredibly fascinated by the cool tattoos they got to select and don. They also enjoyed the leisure of time and space they got to get creative with the arts and crafts on offer. The mascots, Princess Oceana and Finn the Dolphin paid a visit creating fond memories for our little champs


I have often said that I have an excitement hungry kids bone or two in my body, and this is most likely one of the times it’s taken me over. In all honesty as much as the kids could not have had enough of the gaming experience, I could not have had enough. I was found chasing the redemption games for the sheer thrill of collecting reels of tickets. I have learned that rumors of the death of arcade games have been an exaggerated tale. With venues such as these, it’s easy to see why arcades have stood the test of time.



  • Video Arcade Zone (where kids can log up high scores and defy their match)
  • Redemption Zone (30 skill based games offering kid’s the chance to sweep tickets for top scores that can be exchanged for fun prizes)
  • Novelty Zone (offering youngsters unlimited play with a chance to win prizes in reward for those with the skill)
  • Midway & Carnival Zone (challenge one another with games such as water blasting targets to accumulate against the clock)
  • Kiddie Ride Zone (range of sit on rides for younger kids)
  • Sport-Zone (play unlimited games such as Air Hockey and Sonic Basketball)
  • Snack shop (you can purchase a variety of munchies, light snacks and refreshments)
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Face painting


Silk Ballroom, Atlantis Conference Center


July 9th –August 23rd, 2015


Daily 3pm to 10pm

Entrance Fee:

AED 75 per child (16 and under) for in-house guests.

AED 100 for external guests, including one free adult.

Contact: 04 426 2000

For more information Visit:









Imagination sets sail with Kidzania


‘Cocoon to Butterfly’ kids had the privilege of being welcomed to the simulated mini-world of Kidzania at Dubai Mall, where they lived their dreams out through interactive role-play.

This edutainment venue is a city scaled down to children’s size. It mirrors the working of a real world, complete with services and facilities from; banks, hospital, police stations, fire station, shopping area, eatery, radio station and more.


The experience for the kids started with an airport style check in counter, where each child was issued a boarding pass and bank cheque for 50 kidZos (local currency of Kidzania). They entered through the departure gate and exchanged their cheque for kidZos at a local bank following which they set out to find a career. The kids were advised that the kidZos could be used to buy goods and services or even save in their bank account in KidZania, which provides them with an ATM card. They could earn and collect more kidZos by working in an establishment.

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Each child got to adorn uniforms which reflect the nature of their chosen career. Roles included working as a cashier in a supermarket, RJ in a radio station, piloting a commercial airline, dentist, firefighter, police and much more. Most activities are aimed at 4-14-year-olds, yet my 3-year-old found enough activities to keep him busy. I noticed toddlers are not left out as a dedicated Urbano’s Residence, which features rooms and specially designed activities awaited them. Each activity was age appropriate and could accommodate small groups of 6 to 8 kids in safe surroundings. I was at complete ease and reassured of safety as each child was made to wear an electronic bracelet for tracking purpose.


Kidzania is not a fantasy world, but best described as a ‘World of its own’. It boasts of it’s very own currency called ‘kidZos’, informal greeting called ‘Kai’, ‘Zanks’ substituted for thanks and activities supervised by a team of 300 multi-cultural professionals called ‘Zupervisors’. The ‘B-KidZanian‘ loyalty program allows kids to get naturalized into KidZania Residents and receive the benefits during each visit. With 50 ‘establishments’ (local and international brands represented within) and 90 different roles to choose, kids learn real life skills and money management in the process of pretend-play.


All in all, Kidzania provides the perfect experiential learning platform with a creative concept that allows kids to don roles they dream about. It was a pleasure to watch the kids soak up the awe-inspiring experience.

As the mercury rises and school break runs on full throttle, are you looking for options for your kids to be cooled off and entertained? I am not referring to kids staying cooped up in the house and digitally wired up. Are you seeking activities that are fun, unique and educational? Kidzania offers precisely that.  To make the best of Kidzania and other kids entertainment venues this season, I recommend purchasing the ‘Dubai Summer Pass’.

  • The Dubai Summer Pass – Save AED 190!
  • Was AED 440, now AED 250

The pass entitles guests to visit the following attractions from the 23rd July-5th September

  • Kidzania– 1x child ticket (adults are Free)
  • Reel Cinemas– 2 x standard ticket for adults or children
  • Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo– 1 x ticket for an adult or child
  • The SEGA Republic– 1 x ticket for an adult or child + receive 100 credits to use
  • Dubai Ice Rink– 1 x ticket for an adult or child

Passes are available for purchase online at and at each attraction in Dubai mall. Visit the KidZania Dubai website for more details. 






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