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Organize your home in under an hour

Talia Hart | posted Thursday, Feb 26th, 2015

Sometimes, all you have is that small window of time on the weekend to get your place into shape for the week ahead. Here’s our take on how to bring order to your home in under an hour.

1. Five-minute mail hunt

Chances are, you’ve got a lot of closed and opened mail scattered around your home. Take a peak into every room and start collecting those envelopes. Once you’ve finished your hunt, place your findings in a file or tray designated to mail.

2. Hunt and gather loose paper

Next, start gathering loose paper. It might sound random but there is probably tons of it around your home. From receipts to printouts, brochures and more they’re everywhere. While you won’t have enough time in the hour to review each one, place them in a secure spot (like a home office) to look at later.

3. Designate a spot for the small stuff

Keys, loose change, wallets and cellphones tend to also take up a lot of surfaces around the home. Put a small catch-all bowl or tray in the foyer or above the mantel and put it all there.

4. Go on shoe and jacket patrol

Once the week gets started, shoes from the weekend can easily be forgotten and never put away. Put all of the shoes you’re not wearing on a daily basis into a closet or shelf that’s away from incoming traffic. As for jackets that have been strewn on chairs and banisters, you know the drill.

5. Give surfaces their function again

If your various tables are clad with miscellaneous items you have yet to put away, take the time to return them to their respective homes. Nothing looks more polished than a smooth dining room table with nothing but a fresh vase of flowers.

6. Polish off the main hubs

Take one look at the kitchen or family room and you might find it’s completely out of order. Put dishes in the dishwasher, fold blankets on a sofa and put remote controls on the coffee table. These are all small ways to bring some order back into your dwellings.

7. Gather cups and mugs around the house

Many people take a cup of water to their bedside at night, but rarely do they put it back in the kitchen come morning. Now’s the time to gather those cups and late-night snack plates.

8. Target towels and toilet paper

This one’s simple: place fresh towels and toilet paper rolls in all of your washrooms and powder rooms.

9. Tackle the washroom mayhem

Take five minutes to get your washroom in tact again: put away hair brushes, products and empty bottles of shampoo.

10. Start a return policy

While you wished everyone could return their belongings to their rooms like you asked, it’s not happening this week. Do a quick walk around the house picking up misplaced items (clothes, toys, etc). Bringing a basket or bin along for the ride will ensure you don’t need to make several trips up and down the stairs.

Shop once and eat for a week

Chatelaine | posted Tuesday, Feb 24th, 2015

Our March issue is all about organizing – your closet, your gym bag, and now even your meals! We want to show you how easy it is to plan your dinners for the week with just one trip to the supermarket. Our grocery list makes six weeknight meals, one dessert and one make-ahead freezer recipe (for those busy nights.)

Tag us in your social media #ShopOnce and cook along with us! See our grocery list below or grab our printable grocery list.

Grocery list image

Nine worst kitchen chores and how to make them bearable

Kristen Eppich | posted Tuesday, Feb 17th, 2015

Testing as many recipes as we do, it is inevitable that certain tasks become less enthralling than others. We all have our likes and dislikes, but here are some of our most bemoaned cooking chores, along with some suggestions to help make them slightly less irritating.

1. Trimming green beans
A giant bag of fresh green beans can be an ominous task. Use kitchen shears instead of a knife and snip the ends off – you’ll be done twice as fast.
Try: Garlicky green beans.

2. Chopping, in general 
If you dread chopping, whether it’s onions, potatoes etc. – a good tip is to slice an edge off your fruit or vegetable, creating a flat surface. This will help make chopping easier; preventing the item you’re chopping from slipping or rolling.
Try: Lemony fish pie.

3. Pitting olives
Especially black olives that stain your hands! Luckily, our associate food editor Irene Ngo has put a video together for this one. Take a look at her frying pan technique.

4. Emptying the dishwasher
Personally, my most dreaded job in the kitchen. My tip to getting over it? I timed myself doing it five times then calculated the average time it takes me to do this task. It turns out that it takes me 2:35 minutes to empty the dishwasher – not long at all. So I just decided to get over it.

5. Needing eggs at room temperature
You’re all set and ready to bake, but your eggs need to be at room temperature. The solution? Drop your cold eggs in a cup of very warm water. They’ll be ready to go in 3 min.
Try: Classic angel-food cake.

6. Cleaning leeks
So delicious, and so good at trapping sand and dirt. An easy way to clean your leeks is to chop them before you clean them, then use your salad spinner to wash and dry.
Try: Chicken and leek pie.

7. Mincing garlic or ginger
These little jewels of flavour are so finicky to mince. So don’t. Use a rasp every time your recipe calls for a mince. Chances are the rasp will do a better job at producing tiny particles than your fine chop could ever do.
Try: Fiery snow peas.

8. Greasing cake pans
When I was in baking school, I learned that the first job I would get in a bakery would be as a pan greaser. I almost quit! I bake a lot, and my tip here is to always grease pans first, before starting any mixing or measuring. This gets this tedious job out of the way and also keeps you from letting your batter sit (and potentially deflate). Even better, you’ll be so satisfied when you seamlessly scrape your batter into your prepared pans.

9. Washing lettuce
Often lettuce will sit in my crisper far passed its crisp stage – only because I dread washing it. The best tip to prevent this from happening is to clean it a soon as you buy it. Fill your sink with some cold water, cut the core off your lettuce then dump in the leaves. Swirl them around with your hand, removing all the sand. Either transfer them to a colander to drain, or put them in a salad spinner to dry. Store lettuce in a storage bag in the fridge with a single ply of paper towel. The ugly job is done…and you’ll use your lettuce!
Try: Shrimp and grapefruit salad.

These are some of our dreaded tasks. What are yours?

5 ways to keep your bread fresh

Chatelaine | posted Tuesday, Jan 27th, 2015

The truth is that baked goods – bread in particular – are at their prime the moment they come out of the oven. And, as soon as your loaf of bread begins to cool, the quality begins to diminish. If you plan on baking homemade bread, be sure to time it so it can be enjoyed as soon as it comes out of the oven. Whether your bread is homemade, from the grocery store or your local bakery, there are several ways to preserve the life of your bread.

Why does bread go stale?

There are two main culprits. The first is a chemical change with a particularly fancy name: starch retrogradation. As soon as bread is removed from the oven, the structure of the starch molecules change, and begin to crystallize. This crystallization forces water out of the bread and the result is staling. The second contributor is the loss of moisture due to exposure to air.

Storing bread in the fridge

Starch retrogradation occurs most rapidly at refrigerator temperatures. Therefore the fridge is your enemy when it comes to bread as it goes stale fastest in that environment. For those who swear by fridge storage, it does have one benefit – it delays the development of mold.

Storing bread in the freezer

Storing your bread in the freezer is a great solution. It prevents staling as freezer temperatures arrest starch retrogradation, holding the bread in a stable state. To get the most out of your frozen bread, freeze it as soon as possible after baking and cooling, and consume it equally as fast after thawing. Bread needs to be properly wrapped in plastic and it’s also a good idea to slice your bread into portions prior to freezing.

Storing bread at room temperature

Room temperature is the ideal environment for bread storage to maintain the proper crumb and crust texture. However, in addition to proper temperature, you also need to manage your bread’s exposure to air and this is done by properly wrapping your bread. The plastic bag is often criticized for trapping in moisture, which can speed up mold development, but it truly depends on the type of bread you are storing. For common store-bought loaves, or any other bread with a similarly tender crust, using a plastic bag stored at room temperature seems to work best. Hard-crusted breads however should be kept in a paper bag – hence how it is sold to you at the bakery. As a loaf of crusty bread dries, the moisture that is pushed out of the bread is absorbed by the hard crusts, turning them tough and rubbery.

Refreshing your loaf

The best way to refresh partially stale bread is to heat it in the oven. If you insist on storing your bread in the fridge, toast it prior to assembling your sandwich to reverse some of the the damage. Similarly, if you have a loaf of crusty bread that has begun to go slightly rubbery, heating it in the oven for a few minutes will help to draw the moisture out of the crust and enhance the quality of the bread. (Breads that are reheated this way should be consumed immediately.)

And after all this talk of bread, why not give some a try. Here are a few of these can’t-miss bread recipes:classic sandwich breadcinnamon raisin swirl bread, and gluten-free multi-grain bread.

Raw foods: Why you should eat way more of them

Marni Wasserman | posted Thursday, Jan 22nd, 2015

Adding more raw foods into your diet is a great way to boost your health. This means making sure the bulk of what you eat focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouts. With these foods as the foundation of your diet you will have more energy, lose weight and feel great. Raw foods are loaded with enzymes, vitamin and nutrients.

I am not suggesting you become a 100 percent raw foodie or adhere to strict guidelines, rather, simply incorporate more fresh foods into your diet. Even if half your meals each day consist of raw food, you are on the right track.

Five ways to add more raw to your diet

  1. Have at least a serving or more of fresh fruit every day: This can include an apple, pear, orange, berries or a fresh fruit smoothie.
  2. Have multiple servings of fresh vegetables every day: Cut up carrots, celery, peppers, make a large dark leafy green salad or a fresh-pressed green juice.
  3. Enjoy a handful (or two) of raw organic nuts and seeds. Put them into a trail mix with raisins, goji berries, apricots – and you can even add some pure raw dark chocolate (cacao) into the mix.
  4. Grab a bag of fresh sunflower or pea sprouts from your local health food store or farmers’ market; these make a great addition to salads, sandwiches, soups, stir-frys and smoothies.
  5. Get creative and try to prepare a few new raw recipes each week. Check Chatelaine‘s no-cook recipe collection here.

Try this recipe: Almond basil pesto

This is a delicious spread to enjoy with raw bread, flatbread and crackers or served with crunchy raw veggies, kelp noodles or shredded zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp torn fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 cup whole almonds, soaked overnight or for eight hours
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup olive oil (or more) for a creamier consistency

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth
  2. Place in a small bowl and refrigerate
  3. Serve with cucumber slices, zucchini noodles, carrots, whole grain or raw crackers or brown rice pasta/kelp noodles or steamed vegetables

Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.

3 simple things you can do to avoid the flu

Sydney Loney | posted Thursday, Jan 15th, 2015

Take a sick day

Last year, the flu killed 258 people and sent 3,720 to hospital — in Ontario alone. Still, past studies show Canadians are reluctant to stay home no matter how horrible they feel: Almost 80 percent of us have gone to work while ill (46 percent of women cite guilt as the reason they don’t call in sick). This is bad because of the contagion factor (you’re germy for up to seven days after symptoms show up) and because lack of rest makes you sicker for longer.

Stay in bed if you have a temperature of 38C (100F), says Susan Poutanen,a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “You should also stay home if you develop a runny nose, a sore throat, chills, aches or a cough — some of the first signs of the flu.”

Three steps to avoid the flu

1. Sleep more: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say less than seven hours makes you almost three times more likely to catch a cold. Stick to a strict sleep schedule and do whatever it takes, whether that’s wearing an eye mask or switching on a fan, to help you fall asleep faster.

2. Beware the break room: It’s the most infected area at work, say researchers at the University of Arizona. Highly contaminated spots include doorknobs, copy-machine buttons, coffee-pot handles and sink tap handles.

3. Wash, rinse, repeat: A study in the American Journal of Infection shows the flu virus lives on hands and surfaces for up to 10 minutes—and most people touch
their faces once every three minutes. The best defence is to wash hands frequently, lathering up for 20 seconds each time.

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