Maybe everyone raves about your chili. Or not a Thanksgiving goes by without family members begging for a taste of your pumpkin pie with the perfect crust. You might be a great cook or baker, but do you have what it takes to win a cooking or recipe contest? Here are six secrets from the experts on what it takes for a recipe to stand out -- and win. 1. Keep it simple "Don't get too fancy or complicated," says Annabelle Waugh, Canadian Living's food director. "Most of the time, the winners of these contests end up submitting something quite simple that, ultimately, is just really delicious and a unique idea."
Glo McNeill of Lunenburg, N.S., concurs. Her Luscious Lemon Pudding won in the Sweet Puddings and Pies category on Food Network Canada's "Recipe to Riches" TV show. "There are only five ingredients," she says of her winning dessert recipe. "It's extremely simple."
2. Follow the rules All contests have rules -- and not only do the contestants have to abide by them, but the judges do, too. "We've had great recipes we couldn't use because the contestant broke a rule," warns Waugh.
3. Do your research Before committing to entering a certain recipe, find out as best you can what the judges are looking for. For instance, when McNeill planned out her entry for "Recipe to Riches," she knew the idea was to turn the winning recipe into a President's Choice product -- so she chose her lemon pudding cake recipe accordingly. "When I knew Loblaws was looking for a product they wanted to market, it was common sense to make sure they didn't have anything like it in their freezers," she says. "Don't just do something that you think will work. Check it out and look at it from their point of view."
Page 1 of 2 -- Does your tried-and-tested recipe have what it takes to grab the judges' attention? Learn how to make your recipe entry stand out on page 2 Waugh agrees, noting that entries really need to speak to the nature of the contest. "If it's the most beautiful cake in the world, but we're judging a ‘Crazy Cakes' contest, then it may not be the best fit, no matter how gorgeous it is," she says. Another thing to keep in mind is whether the winning recipe will be photographed. "If it's just a sea of beige, that might play into our decision," Waugh says.
4. Stand out Judges have to go through hundreds and hundreds of entries, says Waugh, so a great photo or recipe name can go a long way in getting them to pay attention to your recipe. "An eye-catching name that sounds really appetizing is going to give you a leg up in getting noticed," says Waugh, adding that a picture really is worth a thousand words.
5. Focus on the food Above all, to win a cooking contest, a recipe has to taste good -- and not just to you and your family, but to the judges. "A recipe could be gorgeous and very trendy, but if it doesn't cut the mustard taste-wise, it's not going to win," says Waugh.
McNeill believes her recipe was a winner partially because of its broad applicability. "Very few people don't like lemon," she says. "It doesn't appeal to just a narrow margin of people."
6. Have a (short) story "If you truly love and have passion for your recipe, that should shine through," says Waugh. "Pull on those heartstrings and you'll definitely have an advantage. We love a good story just as much as you do!"
With the growing trend of love blending with technology, there are a variety of online dating sites with mobile apps that are helping connect more people. Whether you're looking for a casual encounter or something more serious, there’s a dating app to suit almost every need. Here are seven top dating apps for you to consider.
1. OkCupid (free for both iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site also has a location-based mobile app that allows you to take your experience on the go. Users can sign in via Facebook or directly through the app to find local singles. The app allows you to watch the activity stream for potential matches, "favourite" a profile and rate your potential matches through the Quick Match feature. With over five million registered users since 2010, you never know whom you might find.
2. Match (available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices) Match.com, a pioneer dating website that launched in 1995, has users based in 24 countries around the world. People can sign up through Match.com and then download the app on their mobile devices. The app allows members to view profiles, upload up to 24 images, add users to their "Favourites" and rate their "Daily Matches." Subscriptions range anywhere from a month to a year. Pick one that suits you best.
3. eHarmony (available for iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site launched in 2000. Its claim to fame? Over one million people who used eHarmony went on to find lifelong partnerships. Users can sign up via the app, complete a relationship questionnaire, upload photos from their mobile phones or from Facebook, and receive daily matches—all free of charge. Paid subscribers get access to email and can also see who has viewed their profiles. It's the perfect app for those of all ages who are looking for long-term commitments. 4. Badoo (free for both iPhone and Android devices) With a community of more than 208 million users, Badoo is perfect for those looking to socialize and meet new people. The free basic service allows users to chat with and message other members, and upload photos and videos. Members can sign in with a Badoo or Facebook account via the mobile app or website to connect with locals who share common interests. The app also features a fun game called Encounters, which allows users to view potential matches and then tap "yes" or "no" to indicate whether or not they would like to meet. If you're not looking to date, Badoo is also a great app for social networking and friendship.
5. Plenty of Fish (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Plenty of Fish (POF) allows users to find potential dates and perhaps even their soul mates for free! It does have paid services as well, but users don't really need to upgrade; most of the best features such as Meet Me, which allows members to flirt with locals in their areas, are free of charge. This app allows users to search for singles using filters such as education, height, religious affiliations and body type. Another cool feature is Date Night, which tells other singles in your area that you're available for a date.
6. Zoosk (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Zoosk is one of the top mobile dating apps for iPhone users and is one of the Top 10 grossing social networking apps in the iTunes store. This app is available for free and also has a paid subscription option that allows you to access more features. If you’d rather not pay, you can still browse millions of singles, create a profile, upload photos, see who has viewed your profile, and scan and show interest in another member by using the Carousel feature.
7. Tinder (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Tinder has quickly become the go-to dating app for young adults. And the best part? The app is completely free and works on the premise of anonymity. Users, who need a Facebook account to create a profile, can upload up to six profile photos and scroll through recommended matches from your area. If you don't like what you see, you can anonymously "like" or "pass" on the person. But it isn't just for the younger demographic: Tinder reports that 31 percent of its users are aged between 25 and 34, making it a great app for anyone looking to casually date or form potentially long-term relationships.
Buying art is easier than ever thanks to online shops that offer everything from contemporary abstracts to landscapes—often in a variety of sizes. With prices that won't blow the budget, you can curate an art collection from the comfort of your couch.
1. He and I wall art
The image wraps around the sides so you can enjoy its beauty from every angle.
Artwork has the power to transform the look of any room in your home, but it can be hard to find a perfect piece that fits your space and your budget. Our favourite online destinations for affordable art will help you decorate your walls without emptying your wallet.
Guest post by Jamie Anderson Tired of your kitchen towels falling on the floor? These crocheted towel toppers keep towels firmly in place on your oven door handle. And the bonus is that they’re also easy to make! If you’re new to crocheting, this is a great project to start with. Or, if you do crochet, but find yourself constantly miscounting stitches (like me), this pattern is very forgiving.
Here’s what you’ll need: A tea towel, cut in half across the width (The other half will make a second crochet topped hand towel if desired) Any worsted yarn, any colour A yarn needle 4.5mm crochet hook A large button
To prepare the hand towel for crocheting, follow these steps: Step 1: Fold the outside edges of the tea towel to the back so that the two sides meet in the centre. Step 2: Cut about an arm’s length of yarn. Tie a knot at one end and then thread the yarn needle. Step 3: Pull the needle through the left fold of the tea towel from the back side—this will hide your knot. Step 4: Now stitch across the top of the towel. Pull the needle through the layers, back to front, insert the needle into the loop you’ve created and pull taut. Continue stitching across the towel to the right fold. There is no correct number of stitches. I used 25 in my design, but more importantly, the stitches should be evenly spaced. Step 6: When the end of the towel is reached, tie on your ball of yarn to the piece of yarn you’ve been working with.
Now you’re ready to start crocheting: Rnd 1: Single crochet (sc) across towel, turn. (For tips on how to complete a single crochet, click
here.) Rnd 2: sc across, turn. Rnd 3: sc across, turn. Rnd 4: Crochet 2 sc, then do a single crochet decrease (dec)—this reduces two stitches to one. (To learn how to do a single crochet decrease, click
here.) Repeat sc, sc, dec, until you reach the end of the row. Turn. Rnd 5: sc across, turn. Rnd 6: sc, sc, dec, to the end of the row, turn. Rnd 7: sc across, turn. Rnd 8-12: Once you reach your desired thickness of the front flap (6 or 7 stitches across), continue to do 5 rnds of sc. Rnd 13 (Part 1): To create the buttonhole, crochet three sc, turn. Rnd 14-16 (Part 1): Crochet 3 sc on top of previous row, turning after each rnd. Tie off yarn when finished. Rnd 13 (Part 2): Reattach yarn on the other end of rnd 12, opposite the sc from rnds 13-16. Crochet 3 sc, turn. Rnd 14-16 (Part 2): Continue to crochet 3 sc on top of previous row, turning after each rnd. Rnd 17: sc all the way across, attaching the two sides in the middle with a
slip stitch (ss) to finish the buttonhole. Test to ensure the button fits. Rnd 18-19: Crochet two rnds of sc, turning after each row. Rnd 20: sc across and tie off at the end.
Using the yarn needle, attach the button where it looks best. (I placed mine between the third and fourth round.) Also make sure the strap is big enough to loop around the handle of your oven door.
We polled family doctors from across the country, and they laid down the law on eight things they wish we'd do—or stop doing.
According to our panel of general practitioners, Canadians aren't always doing what they should to make the most of doctor visits—and skipping out on these crucial tactics could lead to a delay in diagnosing serious conditions. Here's what our experts say you should add to your patient checklist.
1. Stop feeling shy
Many of us hesitate to talk to our physicians about sensitive issues (think substance abuse or sexual health—or even gender identity). But honesty and openness are important, both for fostering a good doctor-patient relationship and for ensuring that you get the best care, says Dr. Laura Pripstein, medical director of the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto and a staff physician on the family health team. That's why it's OK to try out a doc before committing. Dr. Pripstein recommends booking an initial visit to see if your potential doctor is a good fit. "You want to see if this person seems like someone you can talk to, someone you feel comfortable with," she says. And if you don't think your doctor understands or respects your concerns, don't be afraid to find someone new. "If you feel you can't ask questions that might be embarrassing, you don't have the right provider," says Dr. Pripstein.
2. Don't come to your appointments unprepared
Get the most out of your time—and your doc's—by arriving at your appointment with a clear plan for what you want to discuss, says Dr. David Ross, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "It's good to have patients think about their problems from when the issue began, then look at it chronologically to the present," says Dr. Ross. Making a prioritized point-form list in advance helps ensure that you don't forget anything or mix up the order of events, he says. Then, work with your doctor to address the most serious issues first.
3. Choose your family doc over the walk-in clinic whenever you can
Yes, a clinic is convenient, but what we gain in easy access, we lose in familiarity. "I think it's really valuable if people can connect with a family physician who they'll be able to see long term, rather than just looking for the quickest way to access care," says Dr. Maurianne Reade, a physician with the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team in Mindemoya and M'Chigeeng First Nation, Ont. A family doctor will know your medical history and will keep it in mind when suggesting treatment—so, for example, if you've recently taken several courses of antibiotics for a UTI, your physician will likely look for a different course of action if you come in with another infection. According to the most recent statistics, about 4.5 million Canadians don't have a regular family doctor. If that's you, contact your provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, or check to see if your region has an online registry (Ontario has Health Care Connect, while Quebec launched a web-based family doctor finder last year). "It's important to know that we doctors are privileged to share in your stories and to help you through difficult times," says Dr. Reade.
4. Share what's happening in your life
There's a reason your doctor wants to know where you're working, if you're dating and how the kids are—and it's not just because she likes you. (Though she does, we're sure.) Physicians need a picture of their patients' lives beyond their specific health symptoms and conditions, especially when they're first getting to know you, says Dr. Stephen Wetmore, the family medicine chair at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in London, Ont. "Doctors need to know these things to understand how your lifestyle and habits may be influencing your health," he says. So when you're talking about your exercise habits, your health history and whether you smoke, drink or use drugs, mention your employment status, family obligations and intimate relationships, too, says Dr. Wetmore.
5. Be a better googler
Doctors know you do it (hello, late-night web searches), but they would prefer you to ask about good sources of information, rather than going rogue online. They also want you to be honest about your fears if you've read something particularly upsetting. Physicians can't address your concerns or point you in the right direction if they don't know what your fingertips have been up to. "The thing we want our patients to do is ask us for the most reliable Canadian websites to go to as resources," says Dr. Heather Waters, an assistant professor of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton.
6. Don't think your symptoms are "no big deal"
If you've noticed you are having more headaches than usual or are sleeping more or are eating less, you might not think to tell your doctor—but you should. There's no set of rules for determining which symptoms are worthy of investigation or discussion, says Dr. Wetmore, but make a note to mention anything that is new or has changed since your last appointment. "You should bring up things like sudden weight loss or fatigue that seems excessive," he says. "It could be a sign of a larger problem, or the cause of a developing problem." Evenif it doesn't end up being serious, seeing your doctor will help ease any anxiety you might be feeling, and that's worth the visit, too.
7. Talk about what you're taking
Tell your physician about any herbal medications and alternative treatments you take, says Dr. Mel Borins, a University of Toronto associate professor and author of A Doctor's Guide to Alternative Medicine: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why. It's important for patients to share what's working for them and for doctors to be open-minded about therapies outside their own practice or traditions, he says. This is also a concern when it comes to conventional meds, especially if you're pregnant; there are only 23 medications specifically approved for use during pregnancy— yes, out of every available drug—which can leave women feeling anxious about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs when they're expecting, says Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Bridgewater, N.S. But don't stop taking your meds as soon as your pregnancy test comes back positive. "It's really important to talk to your doctor instead of stopping cold turkey," says Dr. MacQuarrie. Physicians can help you determine the risks and benefits of using different drugs, and they can let you know when the effects of not taking a medication while pregnant may be worse than taking it— which is the case with some antidepressants.
8. Avoid diagnosing yourself
You know doctors don't like it when you come in prepared with a diagnosis you've made thanks to the aforementioned Dr. Google. But do you know why? It's not because they think you're encroaching on their territory! Rather, they worry that a serious medical problem might get missed or you'll cause yourself unnecessary anxiety over something not serious. That's because not everyone has the most common symptoms of a particular condition. Plus, men, women and different ethnicities can have varying symptoms for the same problem. For instance, Dr. Reade's community has a large proportion of people with diabetes, which can affect the warning signs of cardiac disease, a major killer in Canada. Instead of the usual pain or pressure on the left side of the chest or arm, men and women with diabetes may instead have spells of profuse sweating with weakness. And, of course, women who don't have diabetes can have differing symptoms, too; sometimes, a heart attack can feel like acid reflux or come with sudden nausea, vomiting and lightheadedness. So always tell your physician if your symptoms are surprising or strange—like a headache that feels different than usual, for example. And if you're worried about a specific diagnosis, be sure to bring that up, too.
While every Canadian faces his or her own unique set of health hurdles, there are a number of ailments that have become pervasive in Canada. Though medicine has advanced over the years, our modern lifestyles have introduced a new set of health challenges. Here are some of the top health problems that Canadians face today.