Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Chocolate brownies

Give yourself an end-of-the-month treat with these incredibly easy to make and oh so delicious chocolate brownies.

250g margarine
7 tbsp cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
1½ cups flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup pecan nuts, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
2. Over a low heat, melt together the margarine, cocoa and sugar.
3. Once melted and combined, remove from the heat and stir in vanilla essence, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs and nuts.
4. Spread into a greased baking dish and bake for 20-30 minutes depending on how gooey you like your brownies.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The beginner's guide to walking

Regular walks can help you slim down and literally walk you away from health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Take advantage of long summer days by going for a sunset walk on the beach or a morning stroll around your neighbourhood – this simple guide will help you to walk yourself fit.

The beginner's walking schedule:
Week 1: Walk for 10 minutes at a time for three days. This week take it slowly and perfect your posture.
Week 2: This week, walk for 15 minutes at a time for four days. Make sure you stretch before each walk.
Week 3: Go for 20-minute walks at a time for four days. Don't stroll – do a brisk walk.
Week 4: This week go for 25 minutes and go for one more day a week so you're up to five days.
Week 5: Stay at five days, but add another five minutes to your walk so you're to 30 minutes per day.

Get the most out of your walking:
• Listen to music to make the time pass.
• Always stretch before and after you walk and remember to hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
• Stand up straight keeping your shoulders down and back. Relax your shoulders and shake out any tension in your arms and hands. Swing your arms to get even more benefits from your walk. Not having the correct posture can lead to tension and discomfort.
• Keep your steps short and fast. The faster you move the better your workout. Use a heel to toe motion. This will minimise shin splints and tendon pulls and it will work your calf muscles.
• To get even more out of your walk, try to find steep inclines, like hills, to walk up at pace.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Fruit loaf

Homemade bread isn’t difficult to prepare and it has a personalised touch that can’t be copied by any factory machine. Plus, it’s so much more nutritious to make it yourself.


Basic white bread:

30g dried yeast
30ml honey or sugar
625ml tepid water
1kg strong white bread flour
30g salt
Extra flour for dusting

Turn basic white bread into a fruit loaf:

Pinch of cinnamon
Small pinch ground cloves
200g dried apricots
100g dried dates
200g raisins

1. Dissolve the yeast and honey in half the water.
2. On a clean surface or in a large bowl make a heap of the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in all the dissolved yeast mixture.
3. Using the fingers of one hand and in circular movements from the centre moving outwards, slowly bring in more and more of the flour until all the yeast moisture is soaked up. Then pour the other half of the tepid water into the centre and gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough (certain flours may need a little more water).
4. Place the spices and dried fruit in a food processor or chop very finely. Add to the dough and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
5. Flour both hands well and lightly flour the top of the dough. Pat it into a round shape and place on a baking sheet. Using a knife, score the dough deeply – this will allow it to prove easily. Cover the dough with cling wrap and leave in a warm place to prove and double in size (this should take about 40 minutes).
6. Once the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured surface and knock the air out of it by kneading for about a minute. Place in a greased and floured baking tin. Allow the dough to prove a second time until it has doubled in size again. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200ºC.
7. Once proved, sprinkle the top lightly with a little extra flour and then gently place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes.
8. Remove the bread from the tin and return the loaf to the oven for another 10 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Make a good first impression

They say that the first impression is the last impression, so it's important that when you meet someone for the first time, your appearance, body language and profile should be perfect. The following tips will come in handy for making an impressive first impression:

Relax. Just play it cool and don't panic. People are seen as more attractive when they're having a good time.

Don't knock yourself out trying to be clever.
Whatever you do, don't try too hard to be something that you're not. You'll only make a fool of yourself.

Avoid sending up red flags. Don't whine or complain about any problems in your life. Be positive and optimistic. Chaos, depression and drama aren't attractive attributes.

The eyes say it all. As they say, "the eyes are the window to the soul". While you're talking to someone, look into their eyes while talking and listen deeply and attentively.

Smile. Don't walk around with a serious, stern face. A serious face gives all the wrong impressions so keep smiling.

No slouching. Just as a good posture shows confidence, so slouching or standing with your arms folded across your chest, sends an insecure message. Arms that are out and away from you convey that you are open and friendly.

Be yourself. This is most important. Don't say you're vegetarian if you really eat meat. Don't try to do something just because you want to impress your date. Be sincere and truthful.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Beans and pasta with meatballs

A simple pasta dish that is made extra tasty by using a pack of pork sausages.

6-8 pack pork sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes (you can add an extra can if you want more sauce)
1l chicken stock
500g macaroni
410g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Handful parsley, chopped

1. Snip the ends off the sausages and squeeze out the meat. Roll into rough walnut-sized meatballs.
2. Heat half the oil in a large, wide pan and fry until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add the rest of the oil to the pan. Fry onions, celery and carrots for about 10 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add the meatballs and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked though. Stir in beans and cooking for another five minutes.
5. Mix sauce with cooked pasta, season, stir in parsley and serve.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Family time

Experts reveal the six ingredients to a happy, successful family life:

Secret 1: Communicate
Frequently, families are set up where everyone talks to the mother and she sends on the messages on behalf of the others, but in a happy family all the family members are able to communicate openly with one another.

Secret 2: Put the marriage first
Set a real example of love. There are many families where kids always come first, but they become substitute providers of love, which is an unfair burden to put on a child.

Secret 3: Break bread and play together

Families that eat and play together, stay together. Family dinners are essential because it's a time to connect. Have a few other activities that the family also does together on a regular basis.

Secret 4: Don't work too hard
All work and no play does worse things to a family than make it dull. If you don't prioritise your family, your children will start to believe they're not as important.

Secret 5: Build and honour traditions

Traditions tend to bring family members close together because they give a sense of belonging. They can be unique to your family, such as a weekly pizza night, or a family song.

Secret 6: Keep your voices down

Children thrive on stability and having a calm environment at home. Set rules for your kids, and punish them when necessary, but don't lose control – it shows you are out of control of the situation.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Eat more fish

Although no single food alone can make a person healthy, eating more fish is one way that most of us can improve our diets. The experts recommend that you eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids twice a week. Here are some tips to help you add more fish to your diet:

• Start slowly by substituting fish or shellfish for another type of meal each week. Once that is an established part of your eating plan, increase to two seafood meals per week.
• Try marinating and grilling fish "steaks". Grilled fish kebabs are a tasty option if you choose firm-fleshed fish such as kingklip or tuna.
• Check the shops for a wide variety of marinades and spice mixtures to use with fish. And don't forget that old classic – lemon juice, garlic and herbs.
• Have some cans of tuna on hand for quick lunch or supper ideas. A tuna salad sandwich or a tuna and noodle casserole can be ready in no time (just go easy on the mayonnaise).

• Introduce fish and seafood to your children when they are young, so they get into the habit of eating it. And find ways to "hide" it instead of just giving them a piece of fish.
• Choose broiled, grilled or baked fish more often than fried, which is higher in total fat.

Here are some of our favourite fish recipes:
Hake fillets with tomato relish
Fish pie
Potato and fish cakes
Lemon and herb baked fish
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