Thursday, 14 December 2017

Holiday season money tips

It's fun receiving a holiday bonus and splashing out on shopping and entertaining over the holidays, but in order to make sure you are not completely broke after the gifts are opened, be smart with your finances and make your money last.

• From October you should start to plan carefully and pay close attention to your budget, especially bearing in mind the additional expenses that come with the New Year.
• Establish a budget for everything – gifts, food, decorations, etc – that is realistic and affordable. You'll enjoy Christmas more if you know there are no unpleasant credit card bills coming your way in the upcoming months.
• Try not to be tempted by the flood of advertisements in newspapers and on the radio and television. It's easy to get carried away by all the great deals, but it doesn't help to fall into the debt trap in the long run.
• The holiday season brings out the giving nature in all of us, but be careful to give only what you can afford. Sometimes a gift of time is more appreciated by family members you don't see often, than material things. Don't make the mistake of buying pricey gifts for people who you know won't appreciate it.
• Spend smartly now and enjoy a financially relaxed and peaceful New Year.
• If you do decide to borrow money, ensure that you can afford the repayments.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Tandoori chicken

Add a little spice to your week with this deliciously easy tandoori chicken recipe. Serve with poppadoms, savoury pancakes or wraps.


500g chicken breast
30ml tandoori paste
400ml yoghurt
Lettuce, cucumber, tomato (optional)

1. In a bowl use 300ml of natural yoghurt and add the tandoori paste.
2. Cut the chicken into strips and marinate with the mixture.
3. On a medium heat fry the chicken for five to seven minutes until it is cooked through.
4. Cook the poppadoms or wraps in the microwave as per the packet instructions.
5. Divide the chicken between the poppadoms/wraps, top with salad ingredients, a dollop of the remaining yoghurt and coriander and serve.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

One-pan sausages and rice

A bright, colourful dish for a warm summer's evening.

3 tbsp olive oil
8 pork bangers
2 cups onion, peeled and diced
⅔ cup red pepper, seeded and diced
⅔ cup yellow pepper, seeded and diced
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
2 cups rice
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

In a large skillet, add the olive oil, sausage and onion and sauté for about eight minutes over medium-high heat, or until the sausages are cooked through and onions are lightly golden browned.
2. Add the peppers and garlic and sauté for one to two minutes.
3. Cook the rice as per the instructions on the packet.
4. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the rice and chicken stock. Cook covered for five to 10 minutes or until rice is done and all the liquid has been absorbed.
5. Turn off the heat, add the parsley, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Making family memories

Studies show that eating dinner around the table can significantly improve family life and it gives you quality time with your kids after a busy day.

Make it happen
Make the decision that you will have dinner together as a family and then schedule it like you would any other appointments in your life. Turn off phones, iPads, TVs and any other technology. If dinner won't work on a certain day, try to do breakfast instead.

Make it easy
Plan meals in advance and keep them simple so that family dinner is something to look forward to, not something to stress about. Pre-make meals and get the whole family involved in setting the table and getting everything ready. Get the kids involved in making easy meals like baked potatoes with toppings, salads and omelettes.

Make it fun
The more enjoyable parents make meal times, the more the kids will want to do it. Let the kids choose some of the meals, have picnics outside, at the beach or inside on the floor when the weather is bad. Let your teens put on their favourite music while you eat and show an interest in what they like. Play games at the table and have international evenings where you try a dish from another country and everyone has to share an interesting bit of information about the chosen place.

Make it matter
The table is one of the only places left where families consistently have conversations together. Share stories with your children about your own lives, ask open-ended questions that give your kids an opportunity to talk. Use real-world events to talk to your kids about topics that are important to your family. Tell stories about grandparents and other relatives. Plan activities together.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

4 essential health tests

When we're adults we become responsible for our own health, how many of us have these “essential” health tests?


Heart disease can strike young people, both male and female, and one of the most effective ways of preventing a heart attack is by having regular cholesterol tests. Experts advise that people over the age of 20 should have their blood cholesterol level tested every five years, and those with any risk factors, men over 35 and women over 45, be tested annually.

The good news is that a change in lifestyle is all it takes to put things right. For example: cutting out cigarettes completely, cutting down on alcohol, eating properly and exercising around three times a week.

Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can affect you later in life in comparison to Type 1 diabetes, which you’re either born with, or which generally starts in early childhood. Type 2 diabetes is labeled as a lifestyle disease because it is often the result of being overweight and not getting enough exercise. It means that your body cannot use insulin properly and a simple blood sugar level test will initially determine whether someone has this disease.

Why is this called a “lifestyle” disease? The cause of Type 2 diabetes is bad eating habits, carrying too much weight and a lack of exercise – which if coupled with smoking and drinking, can have disastrous results. The good news is that if it’s detected early enough and patients listen to their doctors and manage the illness, they can lead fairly normal lives, even reversing the condition in some cases.

Breast cancer
How many of us do regular self-examinations to check our breasts for lumps? If you find even the smallest lump you should see your doctor immediately, but because breast cancer can take years to develop and there are no symptoms early on, experts feel that women should have a screening mammogram every year once they’re over 40. Research says that there are between 17 and 44 per cent fewer deaths from breast cancer among women in their forties who’ve had a mammogram. Find out a bit more about breast cancer.

Prostate cancer

Whereas breast cancer can affect both men and women, prostate cancer can only affect men, as it affects the prostate gland, which only men have. With statistics such as one in eight men between the ages of 60 and 80 years suffering from the disease, regular tests when you're over 50 are essential. An initial blood test will show if there’s a family history and your first test should be at 40 years. An early diagnosis here literally saves lives, as this is one of the most curable forms of cancer.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

How to: Home-made pizza bases

Pizzas are really quick and easy to make so they're great for any night of the week. You can make them yourself and freeze, ready for supper in a hurry or a weekend treat.

You will need:
• 1 x 10g packet instant yeast • 755ml cake flour (you can also use white bread flour)
• 3ml salt
• 7ml sugar • 15ml sunflower oil • 1 egg • 250ml lukewarm water

1. Mix the yeast, flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl.
2. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, egg and water.

3. Mix the dough well, to a soft consistency.
4. Oil a large pizza pan, or a baking tray. Press the dough flat into the pan. Allow it to be slightly raised around the edge to avoid the toppings spilling over.
5. Cook from frozen for about 40-50 minutes.

Bases can be frozen if unbaked and without toppings – cover with plastic once frozen.
We love this simple tomato sauce for pizzas and some of these tasty toppings.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Are you stressed out?

Stress affects each of us in one way or another and it is your body’s reaction to anything that it perceives to be emotionally disturbing or threatening. Your heart rate increases and your blood pressure goes up, as well as your respiration and pulse rates. Stress can be divided into two categories – good stress and bad stress. Good stress helps you focus, making it easier for you to achieve your goals. Negative stress, on the other hand, can get so severe that people “burn out” as a result, and lose the ability to function normally.

Some signs that you might be stressed out include:
• A lack of happiness, enthusiasm and spontaneity
• Unusual intolerance of people and irritability
• Angry outbursts
• Difficulty concentrating and the inability to make even minor decisions
• Increased use of substances such as alcohol and/or drugs (including prescription drugs)
• Restlessness
• Loss of efficiency at work or school (yes, even children can become stressed out)
• A preoccupation with negative thoughts
• Frequent illness and slow recovery
• Nightmares and persistent disturbing dreams
• Psychosomatic illness, such as an unexplained rash
• Withdrawal from friends and social situations

Some big causes of stress are:
• Death of a spouse or loved one
• Divorce or marriage troubles
• Personal injury or illness or health issues with a loved one
• Marriage
• Being fired or changing your line of work
• Retirement
• Pregnancy
• Sexual difficulties
• Mortgage or loan for a major purpose

Things that can help:
• Meditation • Yoga • Massage • Music • Asking for help • Keeping a journal • Laughing • Having a healthy breakfast • Exercise

Things that can make it worse:

• Smoking • Caffeine • Sugar • Alcohol • Drugs   
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