One of the first things I ever learned to do in the kitchen was to peel an apple. I always peeled my apples the same way - with a paring knife (and not very safely, I might add) for a long time. It wasn't until I started working in restaurants that I learned a better way to
peel apples quickly - and more efficiently - which really helped me out when I had to prepare large quantities for desserts.
Follow these simple steps and you'll never grunt when you have to peel an apple again:
Fruit gets a bad rap when it comes to weight loss. Here's why avocado, dragon fruit, coconut, kiwi and even banana—yes, banana—are all diet foods.
Fruit can be a real pleasure when you're cutting back on calories—it's wholesome, nutritious and provides a sweet hit of pleasure. A few surprising fruits even come with weight loss benefits.
Dieters tend to steer clear of bananas because they're considered a high carbohydrate fruit. But almost-ripe bananas contain resistant starch. "This starch is not digested the same way as most starches," explains Amanda Li, registered dietitian at Toronto's Wellness Simplified. "It passes through the intestine unchanged as an insoluble fibre so you absorb less sugar from it." Insoluble fibre also helps control hunger pangs. Tip: Snack on green bananas that are just starting to turn yellow. Eat with cereal or yogurt to mask the hint of bitterness.
There are two reasons why dieters should add fresh—not dried, packaged—coconut meat to their fruit salad and fruit smoothies. "There's the satisfaction factor," says Li. Coconut meat's high in healthy fat, which helps slow down digestion of the sugars in the other fruits, keeping you feeling fuller longer, she explains. Plus, it contains medium-chain triglycerides, a type of dietary fat that's processed by the body for a quick source of energy rather than stored as fat. Tip: Don't want to crack one yourself? Look for freshly frozen coconut meat in health food stores. Some grocery stores also prepare fresh coconut meat.
Yes, avocado is technically a fruit, and Li says it's a terrific diet food because it contains high percentages of both healthy fat and fibre (seven grams, in fact, in one fruit). "The fat and fibre work together to keep you feeling full longer," she adds. Bonus—avocado's fat is chiefly monounsaturated, which offers protective heart benefits. Tip: Guacamole's an incredibly satisfying snack. Dig into Edamame Guacamole with toasted whole wheat pita chips.
"I love dragon fruit. Not only is it pretty looking, it's got good volumetrics," says Li. She's refering to the diet principle created by Dr. Barbara Rolls that substitutes deprivation for lots of healthy foods you can feel full on. Dragon fruit fits the bill, according to Li, because one whole fruit contains just 60 calories and only eight grams of sugar. "That's terrific compared to other fruits, she adds, pointing out that one apple is 80 to 100 calories. Tip: Cut the dragon fruit in half and scoop the pulp—seeds, too—straight out of the shell with a spoon. "It's refreshing, like cucumber, only sweeter," adds Li.
Kiwi is a handy diet food because it's portable. "You can throw a couple in your purse and go," says Li. And because you can eat the skin along with the flesh, you're getting five grams of fibre per fruit, says Li. Kiwi is also loaded with vitamin C and contains a natural enzyme that helps the body digest protein. Tip: Kiwi is a great diet snack on its own, but also delicious on salads and in meat marinades.
Think about some of your warmest memories—drinking wine and reminiscing with girlfriends, chatting with your mom while she whips up a batch of your favourite muffins, having a dinner date that leads to cocktails that leads to stargazing by the water because neither of you want the night to end—that’s hygge. It’s finding happiness in the every day, and all you need to be able to attain it is to know about it.
Some say the Danish word is pronounced “hooga” but according to Marie Tourell Søderberg, author of Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness, it’s like this: The “y” is similar to the French “y” sound—think “huge,” and the “gge” sounds like the first syllable in “girl.” But, it doesn’t really matter how you say "hygge"—you just need to get it. And to get it, you need to know where it comes from.
Hygge originates from a Norwegian word that means “well-being,” and in English, it means “coziness,” but it’s much more than that. Hygge is appreciating the little things in life. It’s “all the small things that make us feel safe, loved and satisfied,” says Søderberg. Hygge is doing things with warmth and joy, being present in the moment, and having a feeling of home—in other words, the Danish way of life.
Denmark is ranked as one of the happiest nations in the world, and hygge is likely an “ingredient in the Danish recipe for happiness,” says author Meik Wiking in his book, The Little Book of Hygge. Compared to other Europeans, Danes “meet most often with their friends and family and feel the calmest and most peaceful.” And that’s why there’s a growing interest in hygge.
Books on the subject are quickly filling up store shelves—a simple Indigo search will pull up more than five books on hygge, all of which have come out in the later half of 2016 (including Søderberg’s and Wiking’s) or will be coming out in the early months of 2017—just in time for winter, which is pretty much the reason why hygge exists.
In her book, Søderberg says, “It originated due to the need to create joy, warmth and togetherness in a country that boasts long, cold winters”—something Canadians can relate to. Hygge encourages you to embrace the cold months instead of waiting for the sun to shine again. But, anyone, anywhere, can enjoy the benefits of hygge any time of year, as it’s all about sharing moments with those you love, indulging in comfort foods, and taking in the sights and sounds around you.
Understanding hygge and having a name for it helps you recognize it and look for it in your day-to-day life. “Including it in our daily narratives and language makes us aware of the qualities of the word. Saying, ‘let’s hygge tonight,’ states a clear intention of what qualities we want our evening to have—presence, lovingness, relaxed, informal—all these qualities in one word,” says Søderberg.
Intimate candlelit dinner parties, mulled wine by a fire and ice skating under twinkling lights are classic hygge moments, but it can also be found when you're not expecting it. Hygge can happen in the least hyggelig (the adjective form of “hygge”) locations or in those in-between moments throughout your day—like when you're hiding from the rain under an awning with a friend, listening to a sax player as you wait for the next subway to arrive, or laughing with your sister over the phone.
Although hygge can happen anywhere, the most common place for it is at home, so it helps to make your living quarters feel warm, safe and welcoming—think candles, warm textiles and plenty of personal touches. In Søderberg’s book, she shares decorating advice from Nordic interior design expert Christina B. Kjeldsen: “The hygge comes when you feel that the person behind the surroundings is completely comfortable with his or her choices, but at the same time isn’t afraid of decorating intuitively and trying out new things and ideas…When you put thoughtfulness into how and why you have chosen to surround yourself with particular furniture, objects, art, flowers, knick-knacks, curtains—whatever—then you relax and your guests will see and know you for who you are.”
But, it’s important not to feel pressure to create a perfect space or occasion and force hygge. Decorate your space for you and not how you think it should be, and let moments unfold naturally—something that can be all too rare in this social media age. Søderberg warns, “The most hyggelig evening can look like a disaster in a picture, and opposite—the least hyggelig can look like a perfect evening.” But, if you have a true hyggling moment, it’ll be a “piece of art to capture the exact sense of an atmosphere in a photo.”
So, keep hygge on your mind. Make plans to hygge, be present in every moment, and soak up life's glories. And if you do, you’ll be gifted with the ability to, as Søderberg says, “[find] the magic in the ordinary.”
Welcome to our annual 60-Day Holiday Countdown Giveaway!
From November 2 to December 31, 2016, we're giving away weekly prizes (for a total value of over $15,000) as part of our 60-Day Holiday Countdown.
For easy access to our weekly prizes, sign up for our 60-Day Holiday Countdown newsletters and you'll receive a daily email featuring a link to enter that week's contest, along with Tested Till Perfect holiday recipes, awesome gift guides, DIY decor ideas and more. You can enter to win each prize once daily until each contest closes.
You can enter to win this week's prize below, and see past contests and winners.
We're a culture with a seemingly endless appetite for quick fixes, but could embracing the long way lead to happier, more productive lives?
Lindsey Lam considers herself Type A. Rather than shying away from challenges, she has always been determined, continually pushing herself to take on more. After graduating from the University of Alberta, where she majored in both English and women's and gender studies, Lindsey switched into high gear: She worked a full-time job, started a brand-consulting business with a friend and, if that wasn't enough, continued to volunteer as the communications chair on the board of her Rotary District. To help get through her lengthy and ever-growing to-do list, Lindsey used a few hacks to help schedule her time. Some she found helpful, like using visualization to mentally map out a stressful day; others, like using a complicated task-list app, turned out to be a bust.
Hacks (also known as shortcuts, tips or tricks) play on the idea that a wee shift in the way you do something can cause a dramatic increase in your productivity and allow you to do more with less: less energy, less time—you name it. "Hacks are fast, simple and novel ways to save time, money or effort that are fun, harmless and, at times, quite useful," says Dr. Janine Hubbard, a registered psychologist in St. John's, N.L. "There's great appeal in feeling successful quickly."
The Internet certainly agrees. Lifehacker.com, for instance, a website that describes itself as "the expert guide for anyone looking to get things done," has about 22 million monthly readers worldwide. And the site is hardly the sole online source of hacks; we're talking scores of beauty blogs, career websites and even the venerable New York Times, all publishing these seemingly helpful tricks. Not bad for a concept that's really only existed since 2003, when Danny O'Brien, a tech journalist, first blogged about a new project he was undertaking to document the clever shortcuts the computer programmers he knew were using to make their lives run more smoothly.
Now, the term "life hack" has evolved well beyond O'Brien's initial tech-focused collection of planning and organizing advice. Articles regularly promise things like a new job by the weekend, instantly well-behaved children or the ability to meet any goal you set in half the time, outcomes that seem a little too good to be true. But what makes these shortcuts so compelling, when many of us instinctively recognize an unrealistic claim? It all comes down to time. We know hacks are rarely as life-changing or easy to implement as they're made out to be, but with schedules, budgets and attention spans stretched to the limit, shortcuts sometimes seem the only way to get the most out of life. Carl Honoré, author of The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed, believes this kind of thinking is a trap. "We see time as the enemy, something to be conquered and exploited to the fullest extent," he says. "We seem to think that the best way to use time is to squeeze more and more into every minute."
Honoré is a proponent of the slow movement, one that (despite its name) is not about dragging things out or being inefficient. Instead, it promotes the idea that tasks should be completed at a speed that allows the participant to enjoy, savour and learn from the experience. Honoré believes that our lives are stuck on fast-forward, to the detriment of our health, relationships and personal development.
It's hard to disagree. Studies have suggested a link between mental health issues and our constant use of smartphones, tablets and computers. Though most hacks today don't depend on computer programs, as in 2003, there is still a strong focus on technology, especially when it comes to improving our productivity at work—and with the sum of the world's knowledge at our fingertips, it's easy to get caught up in looking for quick solutions to the challenges we face, rather than taking the time to think, reflect and finally act on the best course of action. Though Dr. Hubbard can see the appeal of hacks, she, too, believes in the value of slowing down. "Engaging in problem-solving helps shape cognitive skills such as reasoning, decision- making, critical thinking and creativity," she says.
Slow living takes on many forms, but whether it's slow reading, slow parenting or slow travel (to name a few), the concept remains the same: dialing down the pace to enjoy, rather than rush through, the experience. Even the corporate world seems to be coming around to the idea; some companies are adding nap rooms to their offices, offering on-site yoga classes or limiting emails sent to employees during off-work hours. The benefits? More refreshed, productive and engaged employees.
Still, hitting the brakes isn't for everyone. Some personalities, careers and lifestyles thrive in the fast lane. And, as anyone who has managed to double the storage space in her closet can tell you, hacks can be helpful, as long as you maintain reasonable expectations about what they can actually do for you. But "they're generally not realistic for larger goals or achievements," says Dr. Hubbard.
In the end, perhaps Honoré says it best: "Whether it's a fine wine, a happy family or a successful career, the good stuff takes time and effort." It's a reminder that, ultimately, it's often what you put into something that determines what you get out of it.
Ready to slow down? Here's what to do:
Take a pass
Too much going on? Learn to focus your energy on the things that matter to you by saying no to things that don't. If you find yourself put on the spot, try multitasking maven Lindsey Lam's tip: "Rather than saying yes right away, buy time by saying, 'I'll get back to you.' " That way, you're not forced to decide under pressure whether it's something you want to commit to. And when you do reply, "be sure it's with a definitive yes or no," she says.
Change your mindset
Proud of your packed, hectic schedule? "Being crazy-busy should not be a badge of honour; it should be a warning sign that your life is spinning out of control," says author Carl Honoré, a proponent of the slow movement. Remember that life will not be extra fulfilling just because you're extra busy. Take pride in time spent well: Do things you enjoy, connect with friends or work toward your goals.
Think you're doing more? Dividing your attention makes you less efficient and more prone to errors. If something, or someone, is important enough for you to spend time on, give it the honour of your full attention.