Tips to Improve your happiness from around the World - April 2012
Places around the globe where people are 'lightest of heart' have some insight into feeling happier.
1. Don't complain (too much) about high taxes
- Though you may grumble somewhat, do so only briefly. Denmark is a case in point; almost half of its annual budget goes towards levelling its residents' "playing field". Noted as one world's wealthier nations per capita, it is ranked the highest for well-being. The Danes' happiness is about satisfaction and living with good health care, public education and strong family support services. Economic security adds to a greater sense of security.
2. Finish work at 5:00 pm and take all your holidays.
- Studies claim that once income rises above $60,000 a year, more money does not = long-term happiness.
3. Appreciate your freedom
- Political and economic freedom to go out and get a loan to start a business are two points that many North Americans take for granted. Get out and vote!
4. Support walk-ways and bike lanes
- The “walkability “ and ease of getting around a city promotes health and well-being and healthier, happier people.
5. Stay cozy in the colder months
- The Danes have a strategy to deal with the shorter, winter days called “hygge” which means the “art of relaxing in a warm and cozy environment”. Light candles and make your home a comfy retreat from the outdoors. In Canada it’s know as “voluntary hibernation”.
6. Say “no” to drive-through restaurants
- Though this may seem to be somewhat prohibitive, choosing alternatives to drive-throughs promotes healthier choices.
7. Keep shopping hours to a minimum
- Purchasing a new item may give you an “acquisition high” but it is usually short lived. Instead, limit shopping hours to free up more time to pursue more rewarding activities like volunteering or exercising.
8. Live a quiet, safe neighbourhood
- Research has shown that a barrier to exercise is perceived danger. People generally adapt well to many things, but not to noise. Your mood can affected by the dog barking in the apartment next door.
- Chat with friends over a cup of tea or a glass of wine - some happiness tips are obvious!
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|Tuscan Leek, Potatoe & Bean Soup|
Description: Welcome those crisp winter days with a pot of hearty Tuscan bean soup. Leeks are a unique combination of flavonoids and sulfur-containing nutrients, the allium vegetables belong in your diet on a regular basis. Like their allium cousins, onions and garlic, let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their health-promoting qualities.
A good source of dietary fiber, leeks also contain goodly amounts of folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. Easier to digest than standard onions, leeks have laxative, antiseptic, diuretic, and anti-arthritic properties.
Leeks contain many noteworthy flavonoid anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins that have proven health benefits.
Leeks are low in calories. 100 g fresh stalks contain 61 calories. Further, their elongated stalks provide good amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber.
Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells. Further, it also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities.
Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide (NO); thereby bring reduction in the total blood pressure. It also blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels, which helps decrease overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.
Leeks are great source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Their leafy stems indeed contain several vital vitamins such as pyridoxine, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin in healthy proportions. 100 g fresh stalks provide 64 µg of folates. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Their adequate levels in the diet during pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies.
In addition, leeks are one of the good source of vitamin A (1667 IU or 55% of RDA per 100 g) and other flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants such as carotenes, xanthin, and lutein. They also have some other essential vitamins such as vitamin C, K, and vitamin E. Vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Further, its stalks have small amounts of minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium.
Often overlooked in leeks is their important concentration of the B vitamin folate. Folate is present in leeks in one of its bioactive forms (5-methyltetrahydrofolate, or 5MTHF) and it is present throughout the plant (including the full leaf portion, not only the lower leaf and bulb).
Fresh leeks should be stored unwashed and untrimmed in the refrigerator, where they will keep fresh for between one and two weeks. Wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag will help them to retain moisture.
Tips for Preparing Leeks - Cut off green tops of leeks and remove outer tough leaves. Cut off root and cut leeks in half lengthwise. Fan out the leeks and rinse well under running water, leaving them intact. Cut leeks into 2-inch lengths. Holding the leek sections cut side up, cut lengthwise so that you end up with thin strips, known as the chiffonade cut, slicing until you reach the green portion. Make sure slices are cut very thin to shorten cooking time. Let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking.
With a more delicate and sweeter flavor than onions, leeks add a subtle touch to recipes without overpowering the other flavors that are present. Although leeks are available throughout the year they are in season from the fall through the early part of spring when they are at their best.