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Healthy eating choices to get you through the season.

Red or White Wine?

The Better Choice: Red Wine
For that you can thank the skin of the grape. “That’s where the antioxidant resveratrol is found,” says Ann Yelmokas McDermott, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at
Tufts University, in Boston. Resveratrol, a phytochemical with a structure similar to estrogen’s, has a number of beneficial properties, such as anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, and cholesterol-improving effects.
But… The grape skins that make red wine healthy are also the source of tannins, which can cause headaches in some people. White wine doesn’t contain tannins, so it’s less likely to trigger headaches.


Mixed Nuts or Olives?

The Better Choice: Olives
Like olive oil, olives are high in monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol. They’re also low in calories. Each olive has only about five calories and less than a gram of fat, while one pecan, for example, has almost 14 calories and nearly two grams of fat. And though you can toss back numerous nuts almost too easily, olives often require a little more work. And when you’re left with a plateful of pits, you’ll know exactly how many you’ve put away.
But… Nuts are also high in monounsaturated fats, and they’re a good source of fibre and arginine, an amino acid that helps keep blood vessels relaxed and open.

Cheese and Crackers or Crudités and Dip?

The Better Choice: Crudités and Dip
A platter of nutrient-rich vegetables wins over a saturated fat–filled cheese board. But even here some offerings are better than others. “Favour colourful vegetables, like red peppers, carrots, and broccoli,” suggests Kristine Clark, a registered dietician and the director of sports nutrition at
Penn State University, in State College, Pennsylvania. Filling your plate with such a mix guarantees that you’re eating a wide variety of vitamins and antioxidants.
But… If the dip contains sour cream or mayonnaise, you’ll be scooping up lots of extra calories and saturated fat along with every bite. So don’t double-dip.


Roast Beef or Ham?

The Better Choice: Roast Beef
Roast beef is less processed, contains about half as much saturated fat, and has three times as much iron. It’s also rich in B vitamins. Both meats are great sources of protein, but the ham has almost three times as much sodium.
But… Research has linked red-meat consumption with an increased risk of colon cancer. One study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that women who ate two or more ounces of red meat a day were 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop colon cancer than those who ate little or none. Whichever option you choose, eat it sparingly.


Champagne or a Cocktail?

The Better Choice: Champagne
Bring on the bubbly. From a purely caloric standpoint, Champagne is the clear winner of this contest. A flute has about 75 calories, while a mixed drink, like a whiskey sour, can have up to 240 calories. Some experts say the bubbles may even help fill you up, so you won’t feel as tempted by the endless cocktail-party treats.
But… You can slim down a cocktail by using a sugar-free mixer or club soda instead of fruit juice, tonic, or a sugary mix. And although a screwdriver or a Cosmo does contain juice, the health benefits are probably not worth the extra calories.


Source: realsimple.com


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Festive season traps


The holiday looms, and so does Christmas. All you want to do is chill out after what’s been a hard year. But that’s not always the easiest thing to do – you know the bit about life being “the thing that happens while you’re making other plans”.

For some, chilling out may mean booking a camping site 20 km from the nearest village a year in advance. Or going into a Trappist monastery until the festive season is over.

But most people will have a more sociable time – either at home, visiting relatives, or at the seaside somewhere. Who knows, you might need to get back to the office in January to get some rest. In order to get the most out of your break, try and avoid the following festive season stressors.


Guests galore. You have a big house, and over Christmas it fills up with aunties, grannies, nieces, uncles – you name it. Instead of looking after four people, you are now looking after twelve. This is no holiday for you, as you are the unofficial entertainment committee, the caterer, the conflict resolution specialist, and the local cleaner. If you live in a popular destination, you might have to put your foot down. Or at least put together a duty roster for the cooking and the cleaning. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t feel you have to be the unofficial tour guide. Take a day or two off and let the guests entertain themselves.

 Feeding frenzy. Food, food, food. It’s all over during the Christmas season and it’s lying in wait for you everywhere, and we’re not talking about celery sticks either. It’s chips, cakes, cheese snacks, chocolates, to name but a few. And, after all, you’re on holiday. So why not? That’s fine, but just don’t get into a new habit. Most people end the festive season with quite a few kilos that were not there in November. Don’t become a festive season fatty.

Booze bonanza. From the office party to friends’ homes, to family barbecues – booze is no stranger to the festive season. And often, other people are paying for it. By all means have a beer or two, if you’re not driving, but don’t binge on booze. Drinking too much is something that carries its own punishment with it, a bit like eating that second helping of hot Indian curry. And do remember, that everyone likes you to have a drink or two, but nobody likes having a social embarrassment at their parties. Fall down drunk, or insult one of the other guests, and you can be sure you’ll be off the party list. Forever.

 I’m so lonely. Some people wish everything could be a little quieter. Others wish for a break from the peace and quiet and they dream of the phone ringing or a horde of guests arriving. The secret is to arrange a few things in advance. Invite people for supper, get a friend to go with you to a movie, or organise a day or two away in a different place. Don’t wait until the festive season is upon you before doing something about your social calendar. It’s not going to happen by itself.

Exercise inertia. Most people give their exercise regimes a break during the festive season. It is, after all, the end of the year. Problem is, many people overindulge completely on the food front at the same time, and coupled with a fortnight of couch-potato-ism, your waistline might be expanding at the rate of knots. Go for a walk with the family, run along the beach, play volleyball. Do anything to burn up those extra calories. And get back into it early in the new year.

Credit card crisis. The last of the Big Spenders. If that describes you in the shopping centre with your Christmas bonus and your credit card, you’re obviously a sucker for all those Christmas ads. And you’re going to be stony broke in January, and depressed in February when the credit card statements start arriving. Point is that you can probably buy just as nice a present for R100 as you can for R200, or R400. You just need to plan it well. It’s the thought that counts, not the size of the present.

Sunburn stress. The sun in the southern hemisphere is vicious , and skin cancer is a real danger. And remember that the damage is cumulative. Burning yourself to a crisp or having a whimpering and sunburnt child on your hands, is no way to spend Christmas. Speak to your pharmacist and get a high-factor sunblock before you head for the beach. And speaking of the beach – watch out for bluebottles or pieces of broken glass in the sand.

 Crowd control. Think of Christmas, and what many people see are teeming masses of people in a shopping centre, all of them with a mission, and accompanied by at least two unwilling and exhausted kids. It can be avoided – do your gift shopping in November and do a bulk grocery shop before 15 December. Milling crowds can be exhausting, and elicit everything but the Christmas spirit in you. In fact, it can bring on a bout of trolley rage.

Gift of the grab. Frantic last-minute gift-buying is a killer – not only don’t you get what you are looking for, you also spend a fortune on it. Rather than give unwanted and expensive presents, go for gift vouchers – at least people will appreciate them, even if they are not the most personal of offerings.

Family fest. Family. You get them, you don’t choose them. And never is it more obvious than at Christmas time when Uncle Freddy is holding forth on all his achievements, or Aunt Doris is slurring after her third beer. Or your cousin’s kids are running around screaming, chasing your poor cats. Then there are the endless questions about when you are going to tie the knot, have babies etc. Family get-togethers seldom do much for your self-esteem. Just repeat the mantra, “It will soon be over for another year.”


Source: women24.com

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This time of year is not called “silly season” for nothing! December arrives and with it comes extended traffic jams, queues and congestion.

This is a time for sharing. Involve your family and friends in all festive preparations. Here are some ideas to help lighten your load.

• As a family set a theme or colour scheme for this Christmas. Involve everyone in choosing decorations and they’ll want to stay involved with setting things up.

• If you are planning on having lots of visitors throughout the day – set the table once – use a long lasting centre piece such as ‘peace in the home’ in terracotta pots, add candles, lanterns and torches for the night time. Set up a separate table for buffet tea/coffee – this takes off a lot of pressure and gives you more time to mingle and relax.

Decide on a simple menu that can be prepared well in advance to reduce last minute stress. You want to be out celebrating with your guests and not cooped up in the kitchen.

Delegate simple tasks to the kids – setting the table (you can do a sample setting for them to copy), gift wrapping, card making. The key is to keep things fun – that way they’ll stay motivated. Tip: set out some coloured card, stars and glitter glue so the children can make their own cards while you focus on more challenging things.

• This is a great time of year to go through the old toys to make space for the new. Involve the children with this task and let them put broken or seldom-used toys aside for giving away. Before Christmas go with your children to a charity of their choice to experience the joy of giving.

Shop for gifts throughout the year – this way you won’t blow your entire bonus cheque on Christmas gifts. Have a list of names with a budget figure next to their name to keep you focused – once you have purchased a gift for that person write the gift next to the name and cross them off your list. Remember teachers and caregivers and have a couple of extra generic gifts packed away in case someone unexpected pops in. (This tip might be a little late… but as the saying goes ‘better late than never’ – now you know the info – get to the stores ASAP)

Keep one running ‘to-do’ list. As a family decide who will take on which tasks. People are far more likely to carry out a task if they have chosen to do it other than being told that they have to do it.

Do whatever preparations you can at least 2 weeks before. On your ‘to-do’ list allocate an estimated time frame for the task – mark in red the tasks that can be carried out before the time and allocate a time for these in your diary.

Remember that this is supposed to be fun. If you feel yourself slipping into the wicked witch of the west… take a deep breath and laugh it off.

Articles supplied by Tracey Foulkes of the national professional organiser company Get Organised. Visit http://www.getorganised.co.za. to download your free organising info pack to help you take control of your clutter and create calm in your life. Contact tracey@getorganised.co.za, 084 507 6891.

Source: women24.com

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The Telegraph Travel Awards for 2008 were released today and New Zealand, Australia and South Africa were voted the readers’ “favourite destinations on earth”; while their favourite cities were voted as Cape Town, San Francisco, Sydney and Vancouver.

The Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town was named one of the favourite city hotels in the world to visit.

More than 25 000 readers were polled in Britain’s biggest survey of travel habits and an overwhelming 92 per cent of them maintain that the financial crisis will not affect their choice of holiday destinations. 96 per cent of the readers polled refuse to downgrade their holiday accommodation.

The readers’ favourite destinations (outside of Europe) can be identified as ones where the pound has strengthened against the respective foreign currencies in the past year (the Australian and New Zealand dollars, and the South African rand). The same can be said for the choices of cities, with the exception of San Francisco (where the pound has fallen against the dollar).

The Telegraph readers’ holiday budget remains high – more than half of the readers polled spent more than £1,000 (R15 220) on their last holiday: one in six spent between £2,500 (R38 000) and £5,000 (R76 000) and one in twenty spent more than £5,000.

“As Britain enters a new winter of discontent, taking a break may never feel more needed, but the value for money it provides will be scrutinised like never before,” said Charles Starmer-Smith.

“This is why, during belt-tightening times, readers return to destinations they know – namely, the English-speaking former colonies.”

Source: sagoodnews.co.za

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This is a dilemma amongst many of us. There are times we want to drink wine but couldn’t finish a bottle alone.

Or when we are with a date who is not much of a wine drinker, we will end up with leftover wine, which of course we do not want to just throw away. Wine is really tough to preserve after opening. But there are gadgets to do this preservation for us.

Remember, re-corking your opened wine does not help much, except prolong the wine for a few more hours. As you know, the cork is porous, and aeration will continue to happen, risking the optimum quality of your wine. Putting your leftover wine into a refrigerator also help very little, and may actually make the wine worse. Not only will the change in temperature of the wine fluctuate drastically, but refrigerators also vibrate, and vibration further agitates the wine. The odour of food in the fridge may also affect the wine.

The only way to preserve wine is to seal it properly. You can buy expensive sealing machines or you can simply buy wine with screw cap closures (also called Stelvin closures).

The Arniston Bay range, which has been repackaged to refresh and upgrade the range, proudly boasts with screwcap closures from its entry level wines such as The Shore or The Reef, to premium wines such as Arniston Bay Reserve. Unlike former years when screwcaps were used mainly for sealing inferior quality or cheaper wine, these wines are certainly worth preserving for future enjoyment.

WINE magazine recommends two wine preserving options. One option is the SoWine-bar refrigerated storage unit. If you are not in the mood to finish a bottle of wine, simply place the opened bottle back into the compartment and plunge down the oxidation extraction cap. The oxygen extraction system will draw oxygen from the bottle, keeping it “fresh” and unoxidised until your next party. The SoWine-bar is distributed by Wine Essentials and retails for R4299. Visit http://www.wineessentials.co.za for more info.

The second option is the Preserver Loyalty Can. This can retails for R65 and is an easy and effective way to preserve opened wine. All you do is to squirt the odourless, argon gas into the neck of the bottle to prevent contact with oxygen, then lightly re-insert the cork or screw the cap back on. The bottle can then be kept in a cool place for between one and two weeks. The Preserver is available at winesense. Call them on 021 702 0128 or e-mail info@winesense.co.za for more information.

Seeing how expensive (especially the storage units) and complicated preserving wine can be, I suggest that you only save wines that are worth saving— those expensive and fuller-bodied reds. Also, the fuller or heavier bodied your wine is, the better it preserves on its own for hours without any preservation method.

When I am asked how long a wine should be kept when opened, I always give the six-hour rule—meaning, sip and drink gradually, and your wine should still be good for six hours (at comfortable room temperature). But the lighter the body, the lower the alcohol, the faster the wine loses its elements. For these wines, even the wine preservation gadgets cannot salvage them.

The best (cheapest and most satisfying) solution, however, remains very simple… just finish the bottle.

Sources: manilastandardtoday.com

And Wine Magazine

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Contrary to what you may expect, most wines today are made for consumption while they are still young (within a year or two of the vintage on the label) and will not improve much over time.

With red wines, you can generally bank on an older vintage having more complexity and smoothness than a younger vintage, especially for age-worthy grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and blends containing these grapes.

Because red wines contain age-friendly tannins originating from contact with grape skins and stems, and from aging in oak barrels, they continue to develop and mature inside the bottle and become more drinkable over time.

Fine red wines that are more expensive than average usually will improve with age, whereas lower-priced wines, usually under R40 , are made for more immediate consumption — within months of their release.

The issue of vintage can be complex. There are wine vintage charts (available as a reference resource in many wine stores) that list wine regions around the world and rate each vintage year according to its quality, which is primarily determined by that year’s weather.

Weather in a given year is more critical in France, for example, than in the United States because wine laws in France prohibit irrigation of vines. In other words, the quantity of water that a vine gets is not controlled.

What’s more, the climates in California wine regions are fairly consistent from year to year, making differences between vintages less meaningful.
Red wines age according to a curve that reaches a peak of improvement and then declines. It is just a guess by winemakers and wine critics as to when in the life of the wine that peak occurs.

Because white wines are absent of tannins and their preservative characteristics, the older a white wine gets, the greater the chance that it may be beyond its peak and on the downside slope of its “drinkability” curve.

Source: Ventura Country Star

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