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7 Supposedly Healthy Foods You Should Avoid

It’s not easy to come to the conclusion that you need to change up your diet. We get used to eating a certain way and to cut some of those foods out can be a challenge. So to find healthier options of some of your favourite foods can feel like a dream come true. Go to the grocery store and there seems to be “healthy” options for just about any junk food out there. However, for some of these options, healthy is a rather relative term. Is a Diet Pepsi healthier than regular Pepsi? Yes, technically. Is it good for you? Absolutely not.

Unfortunately, in some of the cases with the so-called health conscious foods and beverages, seeming too good to be true means it’s not true. Companies have exploited the calorie obsessed society, advertising the low-calorie option but failing to mention all the other ways it is bad for you. Thankfully, there are plenty of smart and delicious snack choices out there, but when looking for them, try to stay informed about just how good these things are for your diet.

Here are some of the main offenders that have many people fooled.

Turkey bacon

Eggs with a side of bacon is a breakfast few of us would turn down — but if you’re trying to be healthier, bacon is probably one of the first things to go from the diet. Still, some people think they have found a loophole by enjoying that traditional breakfast with turkey bacon instead. Turkey is often used as a substitute for more fatty meats, for example, turkey burgers are a popular choice for health focused barbecue-lovers. However, health experts caution that when it comes to turkey bacon, just as with the pork version, a little goes a very long way. While the turkey is a healthier meat, there is often so much salt added to make up for the bland taste that it is hardly a better alternative.

Orange juice

Fruit juice seems like a safe bet, what with it being it being made of fruits and all. Lots of people start their day with a glass of orange juice. We’re told it’s chalked full of vitamins and plenty of good stuff. That’s true to a degree, unfortunately the typical store-bought orange juices contain about as much sugar as most colas. Freshly squeezed OJ is a different story (and delicious) but many options cannot honestly be considered a healthy choice.

White rice

White rice is a quick and easy side dish or something to serve your stir fry on. And it’s not so much that this is even bad for you, it’s just that white rice offers pretty much zero nutritional values and it basically empty calories. That might not seem so bad, but going for some brown rice or other healthier options can really kick your dinner up a notch.

Cereal

The go-to breakfast for many early-risers. It’s an easy meal to put together. Most of us have matured past the stage where we eat the cereals with cartoon characters on the box which are loaded with sugar, so we assume we’ve made the healthy choice. But the levels of sugar in even the most ‘adult’ cereals might surprise you and, like white rice, you’re not really getting anything your body needs by eating this stuff. However, there are healthy and beneficial cereals out there if you know what to look for.

Veggie chips

A bowl of chips is probably my favourite snack in the world, and yet there is no way I can convince myself that it is anything but terrible for my body. Some people think they can continue to indulge with veggie chips, or the baked version of this classic snack. While they have a lot less oil and fats than most potatoes chips, but that’s pretty much where the benefits end. The sodium in these things is through the roof. I suppose something has to make them actually taste good.

Nut butters

In moderation, most nut butters are good for you and can add a helping of fat/protein that you need to your day. However, there are many butters that contain lots of sugars or trans fats. Even if you stick to additive-free nut butters, a tablespoon typically contains around 100 calories…so, pace yourself!

Protein/Fibre bars

On the run and need a quick, healthy bite to eat? Most people feel pretty good about reaching for a protein bar. Next time you think about buying some of these bars, take a look at the long list of ingredients. It’s true, they do provide you with quite a bit protein or fibre, but apart from that they’re pretty much your basic candy bars.

 

Hopefully this list of bad foods disguised as good ones hasn’t ruined your day or your diet, but remember you can remain healthy and still eat good food. Just stay informed and make the right choices.

 

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6 Tips For Cutting Junk Food Out Of Your Diet

We’re all wise enough to know that we shouldn’t eat junk food. We know it’s bad for us, there’s no point in speaking on that point anymore. But ignorance was unlikely ever the reason you ate junk food. We eat food that we know is bad for us because it’s easy and it tastes good. Sometimes when our lives get too hectic, we excuse ourselves from eating healthy, or maybe we just have cravings for some of the greasy, sweet or salty foods.

However you let junk food into your diet, it can be pretty hard to cut out when your indulging gets too much. So if you’re having a tough time ridding junk food from your life, here are some tips to cut it out for good.

Create a meal plan.

You might be disciplined enough to not actively seek out junk food, but the problem comes when you have one of those busy days. You have meetings all day, you’re stuck working late at the office, you have a long commute home, and after all that it’s a lot easier to just go through a drive-thru than to make a decent meal for yourself. But you’re going to have a few busy days in your life and you can’t make that your excuse. Setting up a weekly meal plan of smart food choices will keep you from scrambling for meal ideas when things get crazy. You can even freeze prepared meals or set aside ingredients to make meal time easier. A little pre-planning can help keep things healthy.

Set routine for yourself.

Similar to making a meal plan for yourself, establishing a firm routine can help prevent unnecessary snacking and caving to the lure of take-out. Set strict times for your breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks. If you stick to those times, then you can avoid downtime when the hunger pains have you searching for the quickest and easiest meal. It also stops you from missing lunch and then pigging out on a massive dinner. Structure meals have been shown to not only help avoid over-eating but also keep your metabolism in check.

Break bad eating habits.

A lot of junk food indulging comes down to bad habits. It’s nothing to beat yourself up about as many of us are guilty of it from time to time. But when you succumb to these habits too often then it’s time to break them. It could be something simple like having a bowl of popcorn every time you watch a movie, or making Friday night pizza night. You live with these habits long enough and you start to think you can’t enjoy some of your favourite things without the accompaniment of some unhealthy snacks. Remove the junk food from the equation and you’ll discover that food has little to do with how much fun you can have.

Find healthy substitutes for snack time.

Snacking isn’t an unusual thing. Sometimes we need a little something to get us from one meal to another, but it’s important to be smart about what you choose for your snacks. Not every snack needs to be a bowl of potato chips or a chocolate bar—there are plenty of healthy options. And, yes, they do taste good. For instance, almonds are a great way to help curb your appetite without all the negative things you don’t want. Find the healthy choice that suits you and replace the bad ones.

Stop ‘treating’ yourself.

For some of us, our junk food obsession can be categorized as an addiction. As much as we know we shouldn’t, we can’t help ourselves. When faced with this obstacle, it becomes a little harder to kick the habit and you need to actually change your way of thinking. As an example, stop looking at eating junk food as a way of treating yourself. Whether it be after a bad day, after a good day or for any special occasion, you don’t need junk food to celebrate. Just like linking eating junk food with your favourite activities, it’s misguided thinking that reinforces bad habits.

Do some research.

This may seem like a simplistic and even silly tip but actually look into what junk food does to your body. Read about all the ways cola is simply awful for your health and how high sugars are basically putting poison into your body. Reading some of the troubling and disturbing effects of junk food can actually shock you into quitting cold turkey. It’s happened before.

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8 Foods Perfect For Maintaining A Healthy Mind

We all know what we eat has a big effect on our health. It helps determine if we’re overweight, if our heart is strong, it can directly affect conditions like diabetes. But we rarely consider how our diets and eating habits effect our brains. Keeping your brain healthy and strong become more and more important as we age, and there are many foods that can help with that. Have a look at some of the best foods your can incorporate into your diet to maintain a strong mind.

Fish

It’s been found that essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s, are very beneficial for brain health. They have been shown to better one’s cognitive brain power, improve your memory and actually help prevent brain disease. This is not something that your body can produce on its own, but rather something you need to get from your diet. Fish is the best source of those essential fatty acids, and salmon is always a safe bet.

Blueberries

Blueberries, while delicious, also happen to be one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods you could hope to enjoy. These tasty little fruits are high in vitamins C and K and fiber. Among the many positives that come from making blueberries your go-to snack is the ability to prevent degenerative issues with the brain and stress related issues.

Avocado

Avocados are also a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and have been known to increase blood flow to the brain, reduce cholesterol, and improve antioxidant absorption. Through the richness of vitamin E, avocados can also protect the brain from damage to the brain, and also vitamin K and potassium, which can reduce the risk of stroke and prevent blood clots.

Tomatoes

Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.

Broccoli

Though it’s not for everyone’s tastes, broccoli, with the help of vitamin K, increase cognitive function and boost brainpower. If you can figure out a method of cooking them that is acceptable for you, your brain will thank you.

Carrots

Sure, carrots are known to be great for your eyes, but they’re a great way to fuel your brain. They contain high levels of luteolin, a compound that reduces age-related memory deficits and inflammation in the brain.

Nuts

Nuts make a great snack choice and are a great source of Vitamin E, a vitamin proven to prevent mental decline. Studies show that walnuts are especially health for your brain. Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also improve mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts can also help ward off Alzheimer’s.

Dark Chocolate

Yes, that’s right. A delicious food enjoyed in moderation can help build a stronger mind. Loaded with antioxidants, chocolate has been known to boost mood and ease pain, but the flavonols in chocolate have also been shown to improve blood vessel function, which improves brain function and memory.

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How To Pick The Best Produce

Eating healthy is not easy. It would always be much simpler to go through the drive-thru at your local fast food joint than to prepare a nutritious meal. But one of the other bog struggles of eating right is knowing how to find the right produce. Fruits and vegetables, while delicious can be tricky to choose. They have a much shorter shelf-life than a lot of other foods, and knowing which are the best option is not always so apparent. However, as with most things, a little education will set you down the right path. So to help prepare you for your next trip to the grocery store, here are a few tips for picking out the very best produce.

Apples can be identified by two characteristics; their firmness and their colour. They should be quite firm to the squeeze, with almost no give at all, and their colour, whether it’s red, green or yellow, should be vibrant.

Asparagus should be firm with the stalks standing straight up and not drooping over at all. The bright colour is also an indication of its ripeness. You should also look for stalks that are similar thickness so that the cooking times ae similar.

Avocados are quite tricky. While with most produce, firmer usually better, but that’s not the case, but with avocados, they should be a little soft to the squeeze. Hard avocados are quite unpleasant.

Bananas have a very quick ripening rate so you have to know what you are looking for. Avoid the bananas with green still on them, they are too fresh. What you are looking for are those bright yellow bananas where some brown is already starting to form on the peel.

Blueberries should have very bright colours, but as you buy them in bunches, it can be difficult to determine the condition of the whole batch. Look in the container for any that appear mushy, or if there is a lot of juice forming at the bottom. This indicates they are beginning to turn.

Broccoli should have health, firm stems and the florets at the top should be bunched together. When they begin to separate and droop, they are beginning to turn. If the leaves are still attached, look for brightly colours leaves.

Brussel sprouts, similar to broccoli, should have tight leaves bunched together.

Cabbages should also be judged based on how compact their leaves are. Going by their weight is also a fine indicator, with the heavier cabbages being healthier, especially if they appear to be quite heavy for their size.

Cantaloupes give off a sweet smell which is usually a good indicator of their health. Other than that, the firmness is something to go by, though a little tricky. While the middle should be firm, the ends of the melon should give a little.

Carrots should be quite smooth and firm to the touch.

Cauliflower should have tight, compact florets and their colour should be vibrant white. When the colour begins to fade, they are based their prime. Also, the leaves should be healthy.

Celery with firm, green stalks are the way to go.

Cherries should be bought individually if possible as they can vary significantly from berry to berry. What to look for is a nice, robust berry with a very bright red colour and a healthy stem.

Corn with plump kernels are your best bet. Based off the husks, they should be green and avoid any with a slimy feel to them.

Cucumbers should be very, very green and nothing else. Except no substitutions.

Garlic with green sprouts are passed their prime and you should pass them by. Look for plump, firm bubs.

Grapefruit is best when it is heavy, which indicates a good amount of juice.

Green beans should always snap before they bend.

Lettuce leaves should be crisp and green. Avoid any slim, as if you needed to be told that. Same rules apply for spinach and other leafy greens.

Onions must always be dry. And like cabbage, the heavier they feel, the healthier they are. Avoid any softness.

Oranges are mostly used for their juices, which means that the heaviness of is your best indicator. The skin should also be healthy and firm, with a good colour to it.

Peppers, whatever the colour, should be vibrant with a healthy shine to them. Feel for good firmness as well.

Pineapples that are healthy should have a fruity aroma to them that you can even smell through the skin. Apart from that, look for healthy, green leaves.

Potatoes sometimes have sprouts. Avoid those ones and go for the smooth and very firm potatoes.

Strawberries lose their stems when they are beginning to turn so look for those with the stem still attached. They should also be firm (avoid the mushy ones) and have that vibrant red colour.

Sweet potatoes should also be firm and without the wrinkles that can appear on some older potatoes.

Tomatoes should be nicely red with that heavy feel to them. Look out for wrinkled skin. Also, smell the stem and if there is no discernible smell, it’s probably passed prime.

Watermelons should be smooth with dark green colour to them which indicates the juiciest, delicious melon.

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7 Tips For Grilling The Perfect Steak

Last week, in the spirit of barbecue season, we looked at some of the best tips for grilling the perfect burger. Most likely you’re seeing a lot of burgers this summer and there’s nothing wrong with that. They are an easy, inexpensive and delicious summer meal. However, on occasion it is nice to treat yourself to a little something more – to take a little more effort and spend a little more money to grill yourself a nice summertime steak on the barbecue. Now, a steak is a little different from a burger and demands a little more respect. Some people might not think it’s worth it to put in the extra effort and that’s fine. But if you’re looking to make a steak that will rival any restaurant, here’s how you can.

Go out of your way for the right cut.

You can find any old steak at your local grocery store and it won’t be too pricy either. Of course, it also won’t be all that good. For a steak fit for a king (or queen) you’ll have to go a little out of your way. Find a local butcher shop if you can, and if not the bigger grocery chain usually have such a section. Finding the right cut of meat can be tricky. The cut of you steak depends entirely on your own preferences, but if you’re new to this then a safe bet is to go with the ribeye cut. It offers a juicy flavourful piece of meat without having to tend to it too much.

Thickness is key.

Where steak is concerned, the most important aspect of the cut of meat is the thickness. It is the thickness that will determine how well a steak will grill. To thin of a cut and it will cook too fast with nowhere for the juices to hide. Too thick and you risk not getting an evenly cooked steak. Experts say that sticking to a two-inch thickness will allow for the best chances for a perfectly cooked steak.

Start it at room temperature.

When we spoke of the perfect way to grill a burger, we advised that having the burger cold before throwing it on the grill was a good way to go. However, the same technique does not apply to the steak cooking. We want the entire steak to cook as evenly as possible, so starting the with a cold steak means that each side will be grilled in drastically different temperatures. Leaving the steak at room temperature before you put it on the grill makes for a more even cook.

Keep it simple with the seasoning.

Steaks are very flavourful in their own right so there’s no need to help them out in that department too much. If you were dealing with an inferior cut of steak then you can go to town on marinating or seasoning it as you see fit. But if you’re splurging on a prime cut, the simpler the better. Really just a little drizzling of salt and pepper before grilling is all you need. You don’t want too much distracting from those wonderful natural flavours.

Prepare the grill.

For this step, we follow the same instructions as we did with our burgers. Yes, your grill needs more preparation than just a little heat. Firstly, clean your grill off between each cookout. A dirty grill can cause uneven cooking and you get bits of old, overcooked food in your meat. The temperature of your grill is also essential. Too hot or too cold and you’ll have a tough time cooking to perfection. Also, have the grill hot and ready when you are putting the steak on. This ensures there’s no fluctuation with the heat as you cook.

Watch the heat.

It’s recommended that you grill steaks over charcoal, although going out to buy a brand new barbecue just for a steak seems a little much so you can work with whatever grill you have. And whatever grill you have, you need to be weary of the heat. Keep it monitored and under control. In some cases, when juices drip down and cause some flare ups. Some people use a spritzer to calm the flames but that often sends ashes into your meat. Instead adjust the temperature and move the steak temporarily if necessary.

Let it stand.

Patience is a virtue in life and certainly when it comes to enjoying a steak. You might feel tempted to dive right into that delicious smelling meat as soon as it is off the grill, but if you’re willing to wait you’ll be rewarded. Not only will it be too hot to enjoy, allowing it to rest off the heat for a bit lets the juices and flavours build. In 10 minutes time, you’re looking at the perfect steak still on your plate ready to be enjoyed.

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9 Steps For Grilling The Perfect Burger

It is officially barbecue season so fire up the grills and let’s talk about some good cooking. The odds-on favourite of this wonderful time of year is the burger, and if you disagree, it might be because you’re cooking it wrong. There are a number of ways to cook a burger, and some would suggest the grill isn’t even the best way. However, using the right techniques and taking your barbecuing duties seriously can result in a burger better than any you’ll find at a fast food joint. So if you’re looking to master the grill this summer, here’s what you need to know for making the perfect burger.

Before the grill:

1) Choose the right meat.

Choosing the right meat for your burger can be a challenge. Firstly, you might just have to ignore your healthier instincts if you truly want to make the best burger. I know, that’s not the wisest thing to advise but let’s be honest, if you’re making a burger, you’re no all that health conscious. Lean meat is a great option for some meals, but for burgers, the more fat, the juicier the patty will be. Also, if you can find freshly ground beef then go with that. It’s much better quality and forms a better patty.

2) Mix gently.

When it comes to the spices and accoutrement you want to add to your meat, that remains completely up to your own preferences. However, when you are mixing all the meat and so forth together, you want to be as gentle as you can be. Mixing to harshly toughens up the meat and makes it more likely to break apart.

3) Save the salt for later.

Again, what you add to your burger is completely up to you. Many people like to simply stick to salt and pepper for seasoning, and that’s a great choice. However, don’t mix your salt in with the beef before you’re ready to start cooking. Adding salt to the beef dries out the meat and robs it of some of its natural flavours. Instead, add the salt last, once the patties are made and just before they are about to go on the grill.

4) Pack properly.

Packing the perfect patty is a bit of an art. You want to make sure the burgers will stay together on the grill and aren’t going to fall apart when you try to flip them, so you need to pack them solidly. Also, you need to be aware of the proper size. If you’re using fatty meat (which you should be) they tend to shrink significantly when on the grill so build them accordingly. A good technique to help prevent too much shrinking is to put a little dimple in the patty.

5) Keep things cold.

Once your patties are packed, avoiding throwing them on the grill right away. Put them in the fridge for a while before barbequing. Keeping the beef cold helps to keep them together and will allow them to cook better.

On the grill:

6) Prepare the grill appropriately.

While your patties are cooling down in the fridge, you can start to prepare your grill for cooking. Yes, your grill needs more preparation than just a little heat. Firstly, clean your grill off between each cookout. A dirty grill can cause uneven cooking and you get bits of old, overcooked food in your meat. The temperature of your grill is also essential. Too hot or too cold and you’ll have a tough time cooking the burger to perfection. Also, have the grill hot and ready when you are putting the patties on. This ensures there’s no fluctuation with the heat as you cook.

7) Don’t press the meat.

This seems to be the instinct of many cooks, but unfortunately it is a wrong instinct. Sure, you like flatter patties and your burgers tend to get a little bulbous on the grill. But when you press the burgers, you lose so much of those delicious and flavourful juices.

8) Flip minimally.

When you’re cooking away, knowing when to flip the burger is extremely important. What you want to aim for is one flip and done. It’s daunting, I know. You have to make sure you’re completely done on one side before flipping and finishing it off. Flipping it too often toughens up the meat, while flipping it too soon causes the burgers to stick.

9) Add cheese at the end.

Once more, what you prefer on your burger is totally your business. But if you’re not putting cheese on your burger you are missing out. Of course, you need to apply the cheese at the right moment. Putting it on too early can leave you with burnt cheese and unable to flip your unfinished burger. Once your burger is done cooking, move it off the direct heat and slap a slice of cheese on top to melt it without overcooking your burger.

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8 Tips For Safe Summer BBQs

Barbeque season is fully upon us. Food lovers often rejoice at this time of year for the sheer amount of delicious barbeque options that become available in the summer. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken burgers, maybe even a steak or two if you’re lucky. And lets not forget that vegetables also taste better on the BBQ.

With all the excitement about the endless food possibilities, we need to remember that barbequing if something that can be dangerous if you’re not being responsible. A gas BBQ especially offers a few dangers for cooks. But there’s no reason to cut back on grilling, just be aware of the necessary safety tips for barbequing responsibly.

Keep your cooking area clear.

Just like your office workspace, it’s important to keep the clutter out of your cooking area. First of all, it helps keep things organized and makes the actual cooking easier, and second of all, it helps to avoid any potential accidents. With too much junk on your BBQ, it’s very easy for something to fall on the grill that shouldn’t and creates potential fire hazards. Also, be sure to keep your BBQ far enough away from your health and ensure there’s no low-hanging branches or flammable materials above it.

Clean your grill regularly.

Sticking with the theme of cleanliness, it’s important to keep your grill clean. Without regular cleanings, there can be a buildup of grease and food pieces on the grill which can easily cause flame-ups. It’s a good idea to clean the grill after every cookout. Not only will it ensure the grill is clean next time, but it’s also the easiest time to clean it.

Never leave your gas on when not cooking.

Some people like to take the easy route for their barbequing but often the easy way is bypassing the more necessary safety precautions. For instance, leaving the propane on and turning off the burners may make it easy to get started next time you cook, it’s extremely dangerous. The burners are much more sensitive and can mistakenly be turned on leading to a gas leak. Take the extra moment to turn the gas off and have that piece of mind.

Remove the lid before turning on the gas.

When turning on the gas, the proper procedure is to open the lid, then turn on the gas and burners before lighting. When the gas is on and the lid is closed, the gas can build up and when you attempt to light it, you could get a big fireball in the face.

Heat up the grill.

Once the BBQ is lit, it’s a good idea to let the heat grill heat up for a little while before adding any food. This not only allows the grill to warm up for more efficient cooking but it also allows time for the bacteria and unwanted material to be burned away. The intense heat of the BBQ will kill anything leftover from previous cooks.

Focus on grilling.

You might be doing your barbequing during a party or get-together, but your burden as grill master means you have to stay by your station while the BBQ is on. Never leave the grill unaccompanied while the gas is on. If you need something from inside the house, ask someone to get it for you or have someone else takeover. Without someone watching the grill at all time, your food could burn or something much more serious.

Don’t put too much on the grill.

Even with a big party, you don’t want to overload your grill with too much food. Even a little bit of food can cause the occasional flame-ups due to grease. With a limited amount of food on the grill, those flame-ups can be kept under control but adding more food means it will be harder to handle.

Make sure everything is cooked properly.

Just because the meat looks done, doesn’t mean that it is done. Some people like a little red in their steaks, but that’s about the only meat you can undercook without concern. Hamburgers and chicken need to be cooked thoroughly. Cut them open before taking them off the grill or use a meat thermometer. Sometimes the perfect BBQ needs a little more time.

Be prepared.

While these tips should help you to keep your barbequing safe, you should always be prepared for the worst. It’s suggested that keep a small spray bottle with you in case of flame-ups and for the more serious cases, a fire extinguisher is always a good idea.

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5 Foods That Can Hep Lower Your Cholesterol

Once you reach a certain age, the word “cholesterol” seems to become part of your regular vocabulary. Your doctor asks you about it, you hear about more and more medications to deal with it, and you might even lose some sleep thinking about how you’ll keep your cholesterol levels in check. As we get older it’s definitely something we need to keep a close eye on. There medications that can help you to lower you cholesterol which you can ask your doctor about, but if you’re looking for a natural path to improving your cholesterol, have a look at some of the foods that can help.

Avocado

Avocados have become something of a food trend in recent years and for good reason. Not only are they extremely versatile in how they can be used, but they also have a number of health benefits. Related to cholesterol, they’re full of monounsaturated fats that aid in decreasing bad LDL (bad) cholesterol while boosting healthy HDL (good) cholesterol. It’s a great addition to foods like salads and sandwiches, or you can enjoy a snack of guacamole.

Oats

Oatmeal is not only a quick and easy breakfast meal, but it’s also a quick and easy or improving your cholesterol. Fibre is a big factor in keeping you cholesterol at a healthy level and oatmeal is a fantastic source of fibre. Having a bowl of oatmeal or a oat-based cereal, mixed with a high fibre fruit like strawberries, is a great way to start your day on a healthy note.

Salmon

It’s really such a stroke of luck in this world that fatty fish like salmon is so good for your health while also happening to be delicious at the same time. Having salmon or another fish high in Omega-3s a few times a week for dinner is a great way to avoid eating high cholesterol meat while also lowering your bad cholesterol properties thanks to the benefits of the Omega-3 fats. Regular fish dinners for a clean bill of health? Not a bad trade.

Green Tea

Most of us need a little caffeine pick me up in the mornings, but by now we also know that tea is a healthy substitute for coffee for your morning pick-me-up. To take things one healthy step further, green tea is an extremely beneficial choice. While there are many health perks to this beverage, the green tea is also able to lower your bad cholesterol without affecting your good cholesterol.

Beans

Another fantastic source of fibre are beans. They are rich with soluble fibre in particular which is the essential fibre in improving your cholesterol. They are a great side to any meal, a great addition to any stir fry and come in many different choices, all of which have the same health benefits. As an added bonus, beans take a while to digest which leads you feeling full for longer, cutting down on unnecessary snacking.

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5 Summer Food Festivals To Visit In Canada

Looking to make some cross-country trips this summer? Also looking to eat some delicious foods? Why not combine the two and visit some of Canada’s best food festivals? Have a look at just a few of the country’s unique, intriguing and delicious festivals to indulge in.

Porkapalooza BBQ Festival (June 10-11)

Nothing says summer more than BBQ and what could be better than having a massive pork-exclusive BBQ? Taking place in Edmonton, this massive outdoor cookout sees teams of BBQ enthusiast showing their skills with pork dishes ranging from simply sausages and ribs, to more gourmet options. Better wear your loosest pants because you’ll be stuffing your face all day long.

Shediac Lobster Festival

As much as BBQ is synonymous with summer eating, in Atlantic Canada, summer is when the lobster comes out! Shediac, New Brunswick is one of the most prolific places to find some delicious lobster dishes anytime this summer, but if you really want to indulge, this massive lobster festival is a must. Lobster tails, lobster sandwiches, lobster rolls, all while enjoying a beach front location.

The Drummondville Poutine Festival

Can’t have a Canadian food festival without a little poutine – or in this case, LOTS of poutine coming straight out of Dummondville, Quebec. Our nation’s most famous and sought-after signature dish is on full display with the fries, gravy and cheese coupled with a lot of interesting toppings. And there’s plenty of concerts and fun to enjoy as your filling your belly with national pride.

La Fête du Chocolat de Bromont

After enjoying all these great variety of foods, you need a little bit of dessert. This Quebec festival is like an outdoor chocolate factory with everyone invited to explore it. And while there are a lot of treats to enjoy, there’s a surprising amount of visual sweets with some very skill chocolatiers sculpting some pretty amazing chocolate designs.

Veg Food Fest

We haven’t forgotten about those non-carnivores out there! With all the pork, beef and seafood out there, there is still plenty to enjoy with those who prefer a little greenery in their food at this Toronto festival. Lots of delicious vegetarian and vegan options alike that are nutritious, while also providing some less healthy but very tempting desserts. Of course, there’s also a lot for meat-lovers to enjoy with veggie twists on hotdogs, hamburgers and more.

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6 Tips To Becoming A Better Cook

Some people really embrace the joy of cooking. Others embrace the microwave and the drawer full of take-out menus. But cooking is not only a self-beneficial skill to have, it can also be a great hobby and creative outlet. It’s also a skill that anyone of us can pick up. Will you become a world-class chef? Probably not. Will you learn to make amazing dishes that you and your family can regularly? Most certainly. So if you’re ready to up your game in the kitchen, check out our tips for how to become a better cook.

Take cooking seriously.

For many people, cooking is simply something they do while they’re doing more “important” things. And that’s fine, but they can’t expect to really develop any talent. If you truly want to up your cooking game, you need to put in the time and focus. Dedicate a portion of your night to just cooking. Play some music, ignore the phone and give all your attention to the task at hand. You could find that it is rather boring and you’d rather go back to cooking on the side. But you also could find a new favourite hobby. Cooking can be extremely relaxing and if you put the effort in, you’re paying yourself back in delicious meals.

Educate yourself.

As with any new skill you’re trying to learn, the more you know about it the easier it is to master. The same philosophy can be applied to cooking as there is a lot of basic knowledge that can help to make you a better cook. Firstly, knowing the right tools to use is always important. Look into the different types of knives, pots, pans. It might all seem the same to you at first, but the more you become experienced, the more you’ll notice those slight yet crucial differences. Also, having a rudimentary knowledge of spices is key. Learn which spices compliment each other and which have combative tastes. These small lessons will make a big difference.

Try different methods.

Cooking can be a very versatile skill to have, and if you’re only focusing on a limited area, you’re cheating yourself out of a great portion of the skill. Once you master one exceptional dish, it can be easy to keep going back to that safe option again and again, but try to mix it up every once and a while. Not just with the types of dishes you make, but the methods of cooking you use as well. Try frying one night, then baking, then the slowcooker, and keep developing your skills in new ways.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Part of the fun of cooking is trying new things. When you’re starting out, recipes can be a lifesaver, but eventually they become a crutch. When you develop your skills to a certain point, don’t be afraid to ditch the cookbook and try your own stuff. Want to combine two recipes? Go for it! Feel like adding or subtracting certain things from other meals? Why not? It’s your kitchen so you get to make the decisions. You may just end up inventing the next great dish. But maybe don’t try it when you have company coming.

Get help.

For some people, cooking can be a relaxing exercise that they prefer doing on their own, while others rightfully want a little help in the kitchen. Cooking can be a very time consuming task and difficult to manage on your own as it often has a lot of things that need tending to simultaneously. It’s perfectly understandable to get a little help. Whether it’s recruiting your kids to chop veggies or tag teaming the whole meal with your partner, the whole thing can be a lot more fun (and go a lot faster) with some help.

Don’t let a few bad dishes stop you.

Here’s the thing, you’re going to make some bad food every once in a while. Sometimes even a little mistake can alter the whole meal. Sometimes you misread the recipe. Sometimes you make a bad judgement call. And sometimes a meal just doesn’t turn out to be as enticing as the photos led you to believe. But don’t go reaching for that take-out menu just yet. Instead of prematurely concluding that you’re a terrible cook, learn from those missteps and become a better cook because of them.