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cauliflower

Cauliflower prices too high? Buy these 5 veggies instead

Heather MacMullin | posted Wednesday, Jan 13th, 2016

The California drought, the harbinger of bad food news, has taken another victim in the grocery aisles. Over the past month, the price of cauliflower has been on a steady rise, selling for upwards of $8 a head (and that doesn’t count for those buying organic). Local availability in Canada lasts from June to November, leaving stores to source this cruciferous vegetable from warmer climes like California over winter. Enter the price hike.

While California is actually experiencing rainfall lately, El Niño — the weather system responsible for the tropical temperatures of late fall — is bringing a torrent of the wet stuff to the state, there’s no quick rebound to the ravages of a five-year drought. With this in mind (as well as our wallets), here are five other vegetables you can throw into your grocery basket if you plan to put your cauliflower recipes on ice for a while.

1. Cabbage.
When properly stored, green and red cabbage can last from 3 weeks to 2 months. Note: This timeline will vary with other types of cabbage, and once cut, be sure to carefully wrap your cabbage with plastic wrap before returning it to the fridge to preserve the lifespan.

Try it:
Vegetarian cabbage rolls
Penne pasta with cabbage and mushrooms

2. Broccoli.
The cousin to cauliflower, this green, nutrient-dense vegetable is a star ingredient in some of our favourite dishes. It will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked, depending on your mood.Did you know? You want to look for dark green, dense heads of broccoli. If there are any flowers present, the broccoli has begun to turn fibrous and woody.

Try it:
Sesame beef and broccoli beef vermicelli bowl
Chipotle roasted chicken and broccoli

3. Rutabaga.
A relative of the cabbage, this root-like vegetable has a deep and sweet flavour and can be enjoyed fresh (in salads or on crudites platters) or cooked. It keeps well in the fridge for 3 to 4 weeks. Boiling this vegetable will result in a milder flavour, while roasting it will heighten the sweetness as the rutabaga juices caramelize.Note: When purchasing, look for medium-sized, unblemished roots. Also, as rutabaga is often coated with wax to lengthen its shelf life, be sure to peel it cleanly before cooking.

Try it:
Spiced smashed rutabaga
Bangers with rutabaga salad

4. Celeriac.
Also known as celery root, this root vegetable — while unwieldy-looking with its rough, bulbous skin — is actually very light, crisp and fresh. It’s perfect for anything from crudites platters to a mashed potato alternative.Watch how easy it is to prepare here.

Try it:
Cottage pie with celery root mash
Apple and celery root slaw

5. Winter squash.
This vegetable can keep all winter long (so if you bought one a few weeks ago and forgot about it, it’s perfectly fine to use tonight), and each variety provides a wealth of options in the kitchen, from creamy soups to roasted, caramelized chunks to a faux-noodle tetrazzini. Popular varieties are spaghetti squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, kabocha squash and pumpkin.

Try it:
Creamy butternut tagliatelle
Farro risotto with squash and hazelnuts

Don’t make these 5 New Year’s health resolutions

Chatelaine | posted Tuesday, Jan 5th, 2016

newyearshealth-featured

Next year, say no to detoxes and yes to weight training

It’s that time again: You’ve gorged yourself on the wings and legs of every festive bird in sight and are now more than ready to engage in the ritualistic fitness and nutrition snapback prompted by a change in the calendar. While there’s nothing wrong with committing yourself to a more balanced, less bonbon-heavy lifestyle — and there’s certainly something seductive in a “new year, new you” mentality — there are just some health resolutions we should resolve ourselves not to try.

“This year, I promise to finally give that teatox a try.”

No, no, no! Jan. 1 is the day we are easily the most vulnerable to fad diets and detoxes, but stay strong. We’re talking about alkaline diets, juicing, and other deprivation schemes disguised as “cleanses.” In particular, “teatoxes,” which supplement a low-calorie diet with large amounts of herbal tea, can have a devastating effect, not only on your sanity, but on your bowels (sorry). Most teatox packs include senna, which can cause diarrhea, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and even heart irregularities. Anyway, isn’t tea supposed to be relaxing?

“This year, I promise to adopt an intense, all-cardio fitness regimen.”

Go ahead, get your blood pumping. But remember to make time for lower impact exercises, like walking. Not only is going for a stroll a potent calorie burner, but it also fights depression and can actually increase the size of your brain. Same goes for weight training, which is especially important in aging women to guard against osteoporosis.

“This year, I promise to finally cut out cheese [or bread or any other life-affirming food].”

For some (most) people, the idea of eliminating dairy or sweet, sweet sugar is a punishment tantamount to death. Dramatic? Maybe. But if you’re looking to give your diet a cheese-less makeover, most experts recommend avoiding the deprivation mindset entirely. Instead, resolve to add more water, whole grains and leafy greens to your diet. A simple yet effective mental switcheroo that gives your new nutritional outlook some staying power.

“This year, I promise to move my entire exercise regime into the comfort of my own home.”

We get why you’d want to avoid the frustrated and sweaty January gym masses. And, being Canadians, we are also plenty aware of the frigid hellscape that is winter. Still, outdoor exercise is a game-changer; it can boost your happiness and even contribute to a better night’s sleep. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, take advantage of our country’s very attractive landscape and try snowshoeing.

“This year, I promise to avoid the frozen food aisle.”

Surprise! The quick convenience of the frozen-food section makes it seem like it would be a vitamin deadzone, but broccoli, chickpeas and blueberries on ice are actually quite high in antioxidants, protein and, yes, vitamin . C. Looks like you learn something new every year.

Turkey 911! Top 10 tips for a juicy holiday bird

Michelle Lucas Larving | posted Tuesday, Dec 22nd, 2015

turkey-featured

A large, plump, roasted turkey is an incredible treat that can either make or break a festive dinner. The pressure is on, your family and friends are gathered and you want to create a memorable meal to be remembered through the ages. So how do you achieve holiday success? Follow these ten easy steps on how to get this beloved bird perfect every time.

1. Buy a better turkey
Fresh is always best, and quality does matter. With the growing number of amazing local turkey farmers there are more free-range and organic options to choose from. A happy bird will always make for a happy meal.

2. To brine or not to brine
Although buying a great turkey means you can skip this step, brining gives you a great safety net to ensure tender and juicy meat. Stir 28 cups of hot water with 1 ½ cups salt and ½ cup sugar in an extra large pot until dissolved. Throw in any herbs or spices (such as rosemary sprigs, whole peppercorns or crushed garlic cloves) and let cool to room temperature. Add your 18-20 lb turkey and soak overnight in the fridge.

3. Bring it to room temperature
It’s so important to allow your turkey to come up to room temperature before cooking. This will allow for the heat to be evenly distributed and provide an accurate cooking time.

4. Pat it dry
Use a clean dishtowel and pat the whole turkey down. It will help the skin crisp and take on a gorgeous amber colour. Once it’s dry, give it a little love with a generous brush of melted butter or good-quality olive oil.

5. Seasoning is key
Whether you’re stuffing your bird or not, always season both the cavity and skin well. You can’t undo a bland turkey.


Related: 5 reasons not to stuff your bird this year


6. Give it some space
I always cook turkey directly on the oven rack set over a simmering pan of stock and although it makes for a bit more mess (and some epic gravy) it’s totally worth it to have a perfectly cooked top and bottom. If you want to go a tidier route, set your turkey on any kind of rack inside your roasting pan.

7. Baste, Baste, Baste
You can’t over-baste. Seriously. Every 30 minutes to an hour makes for some delicious results. And while you’re at it, bonus points for brushing some more melted butter on there!

8. Slow and steady wins the race
Proper cook time is the most important factor and a turkey can’t be rushed! A hotter oven won’t speed up the process, it will just dry out your bird. So accept that you’re in it for the long haul and keep your oven to 325F. A 13-15 lb, unstuffed bird, should take about 3 1/4 to 3 1/5 hours.

9. Use a thermometer
You don’t want to under- or overcook your turkey, so always insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and breast. You’re looking for it to read 165F.

10. Take a break
Last but not least, it’s always tempting to want to carve the turkey straight from the oven—but it really needs a minimum of 20 minutes to rest at room temperature to reabsorb its juices. Bonus: this gives you extra time to get all your delicious side dishes set on the table, and powder your nose.

Related:
10 best turkey recipes
6 holiday stuffing recipes
4 essential tools for roasting turkey

8 things to do now to make the holidays easier

Alexandra Gater | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2015

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1. Stock up on wrapping supplies now. Avoid the Christmas Eve scramble where you inevitably realize you don’t have enough tape or wrapping paper by stocking up on these five items. You’ll be able to create endless gift-wrapping combinations, without the drama. Designate one easy-to-reach space for all of your holiday supplies to instantly make you feel more organized.

Buy your wrapping paper now and make your life easier come Christmas crunch time. (Photo, Roberto Caruso.)

2. Prepare your pantry. Make sure your cupboards are stocked with Food Director Claire Tansey’s instant-party pantry essentials: olives, almonds, dates and crackers.

Claire Tansey instant party pantry essentials

3. Buy hostess gifts in multiples. Make your life easier and buy several hostess gifts at once. Look for sets of pretty notebooks or delicious bags of holiday crackers — these can be opened, wrapped and distributed to more than one host. Buy sets that have variety to keep your gift-giving personal.

Studio Oh! Set of 3 notebooks, $12, Indigo.

4. Load up your bar cart. Ensure your bar cart is filled with the essentials before you start hosting. Learn how to stock your bar for under $200 here.

Bar cart, $419, West Elm.


5 easy ways to take your holiday table from Thanksgiving to Christmas


5. Replenish your supply of candles, cocktail napkins and matches. Stock up before the holiday madness sets to avoid running out of essentials mid dinner party. Tip: Keep batteries on hand so people can use their electronic gifts right away.

6. Make lists. We could write an essay about lists, mostly because they are life savers! Keep a separate list going for different tasks: Food to buy for your dinner party; gifts to buy family; gifts to buy hostesses. Having your to-dos down on paper means you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything (or anyone!).

Save yourself last-minute stress by getting a jump-start on planning.


9 ways to be the best holiday dinner guest ever


7. If you’re hosting, plan your meal now. From the appetizers to dessert, it will take a weight off your shoulders if you know what you’re serving. Make a shopping list closer to the date so you’re not scrambling last minute (see number 6!).

Thanksgiving to Christmas table Cedar1

8. Dig out your tableware. Take the dreaded journey into your attic or basement and get out your holiday napkins, tablecloths and cutlery. Doing this in advance gives you time to see what you still need.

Christmas tableware napkin

The toxic effects of workplace stress

Kathryn Hayward | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

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There’s a particularly cold prickle of fear that pops up when work leaves you feeling overtired, overwhelmed and under siege. It might seep in during a meeting, when your left eyeball starts to throb, or it might hit you later, when it takes far too long to realize your work pass will not open the door to your house. It lurks in the back of your mind when you’re wondering where exactly your short-term memory went, and it most definitely trickles in during the loneliest moment of your third consecutive night of insomnia.

With this nagging sense of dread comes a question you don’t want to answer: What is your job actually doing to you?

Most likely, you brush it off and get back to work. A roiling gut, a racing heart, that weird knot of pain in your shoulder — aren’t they just the price of admission to being employed in this sluggish, recessionary economy? “People think that stress is a normal part of work and everybody experiences stress, so theyjust have to suck it up and get over it,” says Mark Henick, a program manager with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), who works with supervisors and employees across the country.

But as new research suggests, concerns that the modern workplace may be harmful to our health are well-founded. As dramatic as it may sound, work and the chronic stress that can come with it may be slowly killing us.


Related: Is your workplace killing you?


In a meta-analysis done earlier this year of 228 workplace studies, researchers from Harvard and Stanford found that workplace stress can be as toxic to the body as second-hand smoke. High job demands increase your odds of being diagnosed with a medical condition by 35 percent, and if you consistently work more than 40 hours a week (perhaps to meet those high demands), you are almost 20 percent more likely to die a premature death. Constant worry about losing your job, the meta-analysis found, raises the risk of developing poor health by 50 percent.

That’s not all: A review published in the Lancet in August showed if you work more than 55 hours a week, you are 33 percent more likely to have a stroke, while several studies confirm that long hours put you at a heightened risk of cardiovascular problems. And here’s some disconcerting news for anyone who checks email during meetings: High levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is created when we multi-task, can cause the dendrites in the brain’s nerve cells to atrophy, leading to memory problems. Then there are the proven elevated risks of diabetes, anxiety and depression. And let’s not even talk about the dangers of a sedentary workday.

Dr. David Posen, a physician based in Oakville, Ont., who began to specialize in stress management 30 years ago, has catalogued a list of more than 125 early warning signs of chronic stress. In addition to headaches and chest pain, they include cold hands, compulsive shopping, even excessive sarcasm. “We weren’t designed to have ongoing stress,” he says. “It’s like driving your car in fifth gear all the time — it’s just not going to be good for the motor.”

stressed workplace

It’s not that we’ve become lazier, less able to meet demands or more emotionally fragile than previous generations; workplace culture has changed, and when it comes to our health, not for the better. Posen has seen an uptick of stress in patients ever since the recession in the early ’90s, when, he says, “companies basically kept hiving off people and telling the so-called lucky survivors to do more with less, pick up the amount of work that other people had been doing.”

Demands have only increased since then, as companies try to keep up with the pace of technology and the pressures of globalization. And as more boomers retire, workplaces are experiencing catalyzing shifts in culture and values. A 2012 study from Carleton and Western Universities confirms that the feeling of work-hour creep is real, reporting that 60 percent of white-collar workers in Canada log more than 45 hours a week. (And 54 percent of them say they take home more work, amounting to another seven hours a week.) The study also found that 56 percent of respondents who work long hours at demanding jobs have partners who do the same. And if you’ve ever had to negotiate who will handle the daycare pickup or conjure up dinner, you know that two busy people means twice as much stress.

The very modern conveniences that were supposed to make our jobs easier have, of course, made it easier to work any time of day or night. It’s liberating to take care of some tasks from the cottage or send work emails while at the dog park — unless, that is, you’re no longer getting satisfaction from completing those extra tasks, and the stress is outweighing the benefits.

It’s easy to blame the boss, and it’s true that some could benefit from having a bit more compassion alongside their strategic vision and unrelenting drive. But we shoulder some of the responsibility too. Even in the absence of explicit expectations that you will check email or monitor social media on weekends, people will “fall into that because of their own desire,” says Dorothy Kudla, founder of a training and development company, Full Circle Connections, who has worked with hundreds of managers at companies from BlackBerry to Cineplex Odeon.


Related: How to be healthier at work with five easy tips


Human beings, by their very nature, want to be successful and add value, Kudla says. But in a workplace that is constantly changing and where the goalposts keep moving, resentment and burnout can easily set in. And that, in turn, can lead to anxiety, depression and, if employees have poor coping strategies, addiction issues. It may also increase employees’ risk of developing lifestyle-related illnesses such as diabetes or angina.

For employers, it’s a bit of a Catch-22. They want to drive innovation and productivity, but to do so, they may need to ask employees to do less or at least change the way they work, says Joel Goh, an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and one of the co-authors of the second-hand smoke study. “We need to think very carefully [about] not just what employers can do, what programs they can offer to mitigate stress, but what employers are doing to their employees in terms of stress.”

So what do you do? We’re told to prioritize and delegate. Work efficiently. Set goals. These are the motivational slogans of an autocratic boss who is herself a workaholic. But the thing is, no flextime policy will alleviate your tension headaches if you don’t solve the underlying issues of how you work.

You have to learn to “control your controllables,” says the CMHA’s Henick. “You can’t control how other people think or what other people do or the workload that other people are putting on you, but that’s that. You are in absolute control of your reactions.” (Tellingly, several of the experts consulted for this story requested that the interviews happen during regular hours, and they have a policy of not checking their email after 5 p.m.)

Posen exercises every day, and while he doesn’t expect his patients to adhere to his fitness routine, he does advise them to take better care of themselves. “When people are stressed out, they reach for something that will comfort them. The first things that they can think of are things like smoking, drinking, drugs and foods that are high in fat and sugar,” he says.

There is a big difference, however, between knowing your behaviour isn’t healthy and adopting better habits. Corporations have been trying to bridge that gap more aggressively in recent years by implementing wellness programs. While they are a positive step, these programs don’t address the root problems, Goh says. “With wellness programs, we are shifting everything to the employees. It’s like, ‘Well, if you are stressed, we’ll offer you counselling classes, we’ll give you free gym memberships and yoga classes so that you can deal with your stress and your unhealthy lifestyle on your own.’ ”

Despite the seemingly intractable problems in balancing what is good for business with what is good for our health, there is cause for optimism for the next generation. Workplaces are on the cusp of a major shift as boomers retire, and Kudla says she’s already seeing major changes in workplaces with younger staff. Unlike boomers, who tend to respect hierarchy and crave prestige, millennials prefer collaboration and seek out valuable experiences. And in the next few years, they will make up the majority of the workforce. Whereas boomers “were not necessarily willing to sacrifice promotion, millennials are not willing to sacrifice fulfillment,” Kudla says.

This quest for fulfillment may be the key. As Posen says, “When people are stressed, they don’t create as well, they don’t feel as engaged, they are distractible, they’re tired, and it’s costing the bottom line.” And the inverse is also true. If we are motivated, challenged and supported, not only will we be more productive — we’ll be healthier too.

Dr. David Posen’s tips for reducing job stress

1. Leave work an hour earlier. “Never in 30 years have I had a patient who couldn’t get the same amount of work done in less time when they took better care of themselves.”
2. Spend that extra hour after work wisely. Book time for exercise, seeing friends, napping or even just sitting near something you find beautiful.
3. Take a micro-break every 90 minutes. Research shows that’s the longest we can concentrate intensely on something. “The best thing you can do is get up and walk away.”
4. Get a better night’s rest. To do this, Posen advises patients to slowly wean themselves off caffeine.
5. Work out. Every bit helps. Exercise drains off excess stress energy, so it lowers cortisol in the body, which can help reduce anxiety.
6. Change the way you think. Modify unrealistic expectations and try to identify problematic patterns. “Type A people need to slow down, and people pleasers need to learn how to say no occasionally.” 

Five must-dos to prepare your garden for winter

Sarah Nixon | posted Tuesday, Nov 3rd, 2015

gardenfall

This year I had seven gardens where I grew flowers for cutting. It was fantastic. I love my job. But there are aspects of it that I enjoy less than others. High on the list of least favourite things to do is preparing the gardens for winter. The weather is chilly and often rainy, the work can be less than exciting and most of all, unlike spring tasks, there is no immediate gratification.

But in autumn’s past, when I have given in to my laziness, I pay for it in the spring. Perrenials and shrubs can suffer, disease can spread and I’m left with a big wet mucky mess to clean up. In order to make it seem less daunting, I have come up with five simple things we can do to get our gardens ready. So get those rubber boots on!

1. Remove most annual plants and cut down some perennials. I say some and not all because the birds will thank you if you leave a few plants with edible seed heads such as echinacea, rudbekia, sunflowers and zinnias to feed on. They also look pretty in the snow. For others, pull them out by their roots. Remove any leaves infected with rust, powdery mildew or black spot from the ground so the spores don’t overwinter in the soil. Be sure not to compost plants or leaves that appear diseased or buggy.

winter gardening tips mildew garden flowers

2. Cut back dead branches on your shrubs. But hold off on pruning roses until spring.

3. Remove leaves from your lawn. If they’re not infected with tar spot (seen as black spots), they can be put around plants to act as a winter mulch. In early spring before new growth occurs, you can remove what is left of the leaves.

winter gardening tips tar spot leaves

4. Protect roses or other more delicate shrubs from freeze-thaw cycles. Pile those leaves up around the base of the plant to a height of a foot or two. Remove them in early spring.

5. Start digging after the first frost. Dig up any tender bulbs and tubers such as canna lilies, dahlias, gladioloi and crocosmia. They can be stored over winter (lots of advice online about this) and replanted in the spring.

Bonus points! Empty, clean and store containers, garden hoses and garden tools. Now is a great time to make notes of what worked or didn’t work this year. Try making a simple map of the plants in your garden — I love my map in the early spring when I’m excited to start moving and dividing my garden but all my plants look identically brown and stumpy.

Now we dream as we wait for the seed catalogues to start rolling in — happy gardening!

Sarah Nixon is an urban flower farmer and designer in Toronto. For 12 years her flower company, My Luscious Backyard, has sustainably grown over 100 varieties of cut flowers in a micro-farm comprised of many residential yards in Toronto’s west end. Throughout the growing season My Luscious Backyard creates florals for weddings and events, delivers arrangements to flower subscription recipients across the city and provides flowers to several discerning florists.

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