The Mediterranean diet can help prevent cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease, says Andrea Holwegner, registered dietician and president of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. in Calgary, Alberta. Here she offers six tips to help you indulge in this delicious and heart-healthy diet.
1. Bring on the diet taboos Most diets scare you away from carbohydrates, but according to Holwegner, "grains and carbs are villainized in the diet industry." The Mediterranean diet is all about eating grains in combination with healthy fats, such as those found in avocados and olive oil. Holwegner recommends opting for an Italian pasta, like Barilla Plus, which has extra protein, omega-3s and fibre. Or try making your own dough for a pizza topped with tomatoes, bocconcini and arugula.
2. It's got to be fresh Tomatoes, eggplant, kale, strong cheeses, chickpeas, nuts and crusty breads are all must-have ingredients in the Mediterranean diet. "The key to the Mediterranean diet is that it's all fresh ingredients," explains Holwegner. You want to replace all of the processed foods in your diet with plant-based foods. Farmer's markets – and even your own backyard – are great places to find fresh veggies and herbs, and make sure to buy fresh olive oil to sauté or grill your vegetables in.
3. Vegetables are the stars of the show Meat is often the main part of a meal in North America, but in the Mediterranean it's all about the vegetables. While a Canadian dinner often consists of a big bowl of pasta with a thick meat sauce, a Mediterranean meal usually consists of a fresh salad – perhaps arugula in a lemon vinaigrette – with a small bowl of pasta that is full of vegetables – tomatoes, kale, garlic and herbs, for example – topped with a lean meat or seafood sauce.
4. It's in the cooking The Mediterranean diet emphasizes food's natural flavour, which is brought out through the cooking method. The problem is that many people don't know how to cook vegetables, says Holwegner. You can steam, roast or stir-fry veggies with olive oil, but Holwegner loves grilling veggies on the barbecue best. Try slicing eggplant into thin circles, brushing them with olive oil and then throwing them onto the grill till they’re caramelized.
5. It's about connecting Mediterranean meals aren't a rushed affair eaten in front of the TV. Rather, they're a feast of both food and conversation. "It's as much about how you’re eating as what you're eating," says Holwegner, so sit down at the table, eat at a leisurely pace and take the time to chat with friends and family members while you enjoy your meal.
6. Add some wineâ€¨ Of course, the best way to enjoy a meal with friends and family is over a bottle of wine. "No good Mediterranean meal is complete without some wine, particularly the red wines," explains Holwegner. That means it's time to pop the cork, dig into your pasta and imagine you're in Italy, France, Greece or Spain.
To cook shrimp in a skillet, heat oil (or butter) over medium heat. Add your peeled shrimp, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turns pink and opaque, which should take anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes depending on the size of your shrimp and the heat of your pan. As soon as the shrimp is pink and opaque on both sides, remove the shrimp from the heat or it will very quickly go from perfect to overdone.
Here are 7 things to avoid when cooking shrimp:
1. Using shrimp that’s past its prime: All protein tastes best when it’s super fresh, but that’s a real non-negotiable for shrimp. Fresh shrimp should be used within 24 hours, as should thawed shrimp. If you’re not sure when you’re going to consume the shrimp, it’s best to buy it frozen so you can take it out as needed.
2. Over seasoning: Shrimp is naturally quite salty, so make sure not to over season it. Taste as you go and err on the side of under seasoning. You can always add a little pinch of salt if needed, but it’s much harder to take one away!
3. Cooking shrimp that hasn’t been completely thawed: Shrimp must be completely thawed before cooking. If it isn’t, you’ll end up with a watery, unappetizing mess. Once your shrimp has completely thawed, you can pat it dry with a paper towel before cooking. This will remove excess water and give your shrimp the best possible texture.
4. Low heat: Make sure the shrimp starts searing away when it first hits the pan so it doesn’t simmer instead of searing. Medium heat is as low as you should go!
5. Keeping the tails: There is a time and a place for keeping shrimp tails attached (think shrimp cocktail) but when eaten as part of a dish, it’s easier and less messy to not have to deal with the shrimp tails at all.
6. Forgetting to properly peel and unvein the shrimp: Although most of us are well-aware of where our food comes from, finding a piece of shrimp shell or a black vein (which is basically the intestinal tract of the shrimp) is not incredibly appetizing — and it doesn’t taste good! Make sure to evenly peel the shrimp and devein it before using. Even when shrimp is labelled as deveined, it’s a good idea to quickly check each one just to make sure it’s been adequately cleaned. 7. Buying previously cooked frozen shrimp: Shrimp which has already been cooked and then frozen might seem like a great time-saver, but it really does not have the best texture. It’s more watery and usually doesn’t taste that great. Always opt for unpeeled, uncooked frozen shrimp if you're not buying it fresh from the fish counter.
Add pattern to your floor without breaking the bank.
A rug can help define a space, ground a room and add much-needed colour and pattern, but they can be super expensive! So, we went on a search for fabulous but frugal rugs. With many budget-friendly options, these websites prove you don't have to empty your wallet to add some patterned goodness to your floors.
1. Crate and Barrel
Crate and Barrel
Crate and Barrel has a sophisticated selection of rugs in a variety of patterns and colours. Afraid to order a rug online? Order a 12 inch by 12 inch swatch to try before you buy.
West Elm’s offerings (in mostly muted tones) include a stunning selection of custom rugs. Want to see how the rug will look in a styled space? Click on the #mywestelm photos below the main rug images to see photos shared by West Elm shoppers.
This online-only shop has a huge selection of over 10, 000 rugs in endless shapes, sizes and patterns. With free shipping over $75 and an excellent return policy, you don’t have to fret over making the wrong choice!
If you are in the market for a rug for a child’s bedroom, playroom or family room, Land of Nod has your floor covered. Their selection of colourful, geometric and neutral floor coverings means there is something for everyone. You can order a small swatch to test a rug’s colours and pattern at home.
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.
We asked some of Canada's top celebrity designers to spill the beans on their best-kept design secrets—and did they ever! Read on for expert advice on everything from space planning and choosing paint colours to styling shelves and how to create a foolproof gallery wall.
The inside scoop on space planning
How much space do you need around your dining room table? Can you really make a room feel larger? Our experts weigh in.
Tip 1: Sofas should be two-thirds the length of the longest wall, and seating is placed close enough around so no person is more than eight feet from another to allow for easy conversation. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 2: One easy rule to figure out what size dining table you need: allow for a minimum of 30 inches walking clearance on all sides. — Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Space planning is critical. For a kitchen island, for example, leave three feet of space between the island and surrounding counters. Ensure that appliances (like the fridge or dishwasher) can open without blocking traffic flow or hitting neighbouring walls or cabinets. Not leaving enough room is a mistake people make all the time, before they call a designer in a panic to help fix it! — Lisa Canning
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 4: Use mirrors strategically to expand space and increase the amount of natural light reflected in the room. Framing a wall with floor-to-ceiling mirrors adds a dramatic effect to the feeling and scale of the room. — Brian Gluckstein
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 5: Allow for 18 inches between the sofa and the coffee table so people have enough room to pass by and to make it easy to reach for drinks or food. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 6: Want to make sure furniture fits before it arrives at your door? There are a host of free sites (like planyourroom.com) that allow you to put furniture onto a scaled floor plan. Another option? Many furniture and decor stores offer free design services, and they'll do the calculating for you. — Janette Ewen
Light it up
Follow these five rules and your lights will shine in all the right ways.
Tip 2: Install dimmer switches; they're a practical way to control light and energy consumption. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 3: The bottom of the shade of your bedside reading lamp should be at shoulder height when sitting in bed. Do the math! — Karl Lohnes
Tip 4: Choose a pendant or chandelier that's one-third the size of the table or kitchen island. Hang it approximately 30 to 36 inches above the table or island; if there are more than one, place them 12 to 18 inches apart. — Mia Parres
Tip 5: Incandescent bulbs are great for atmosphere lighting, but LED bulbs are more suited to task lighting, when you really need to see what you're working on. — Janette Ewen
The inside scoop on paint and palette
Did you know that paint selection should be one of the last decisions you make when decorating a room?
Tip 1: I'm a firm believer in mood boards. They're not just for designers! Gather together fabrics, paint samples and inspiration images for a room before starting. It will create a picture and a trajectory that you may not have thought of. — Steven Sabados
Tip 2: When you design a room, pull your palette from one inspiration fabric. Whether you use a whimsical print or a more traditional pattern, take all the colours present in that material and allow those to guide fabric selection for pillows, throws, drapery and upholstery in the room. Take that same fabric to the paint store and have a custom colour mixed that matches one of the hues exactly. — Lisa Canning
Tip 4: Fine finish Choose a fresh trim colour in a semigloss, such as Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace OC-65. It creates a subtle separation from a matte wall, and it's a much more durable finish, which comes in handy since trims are usually the most touched, bumped and scuffed parts of our homes. — Mia Parres
Tip 5: Colour pop If you buy that cool orange statement chair, give it a buddy. When you're adding a colourful piece to a space, always have at least one other subtle hit of that colour elsewhere in the room to create a cohesive feel. — Tiffany Pratt
Tip 6: Want to make a room feel taller? Paint baseboards and crown moulding the same colour as the walls. Want it to feel huge? mix one-third of the wall colour into the ceiling paint. — Karl Lohnes
The inside scoop on styling
You've bought the sofa and painted the walls. Now what? Our experts show you how to style a room like a pro.
Tip 1: Shop at stores that have liberal return policies and buy three times as much as you think you need. This gives you plenty of merchandise to play with to see what works and what does not. Mix in unique family heirlooms and vintage finds with the new pieces you purchase to create a naturally curated look. — Janette Ewen
Photography by Magdalena M
Tip 2: For a no-fail pillow combination, you need only three: one 20- by 20-inch, one 16- by 16-inch and one 12- by 16-inch. Those sizes look good together no matter how you arrange them! — Jo Alcorn
Tip 3: Beauty is in the details When styling a console, include framed art on easels or leaning against the wall; it's a great way to display smaller pieces. Create a dynamic vignette by mixing in boxes, vases and vintage pieces in differing heights and dimensions. — Brian Gluckenstein
Tip 4: Mix and match Use these common elements when styling shelves: stacks of books, gorgeous flowers and at least one accessory that has a lot of shimmer and shine. Varying heights and textures is also really important for visual interest. — Lisa Canning
The inside scoop on art
Take the mystery out of hanging art.
Tip 1: Make your own art! Buy a canvas in a size you're looking for, then grab some paint in the colours you're decorating with, and see what happens. Great masterpieces are born of happy accidents or beautiful mistakes. — Tiffany Pratt
Tip 2: When hanging art on an empty wall, the middle of the art should to be hung 66 to 72 inches off the floor. — Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Art relates to furniture, not the ceiling: Keep art about six to eight inches above the sofa, or any piece of furniture, when hanging it. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Tip 4: For a gallery wall, use different-size frames in one single finish and select artwork with a consistent theme in colour or subject matter to keep the display cohesive. — Brian Gluckenstein
Each year, top designers and brands showcase the best in innovative and inspiring design from around the world at The Interior Design Show in Toronto. We’ve picked our top Canadian designers that you may not have heard of yet, but should.