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Valentine’s Day

Every year on February 14th, we exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with our special “valentine” all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and where did this tradition come from.

The day of romance we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the ancient Roman holiday Lupercalia, where young men randomly chose the name of a young girl to escort to the festivities. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Another legend has it that Valentine, imprisoned by Claudius, fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he was executed, he allegedly sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine.” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure.

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. 

In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.

This year why not make a special hand-made Valentines Day Card for your Valentine.



Creole Seasoning Mix

 

This Creole seasoning blend is great for seasoning rice, meats, soups and stews, or anything that needs a flavour boost.

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Salmon or Trout Sauce:

1 1/2 tablespoon creole seasoning
2 or 2  1/2 tablespoons miracle whip
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 chili pepper finely chopped– optional

The above ingredients are guidelines/approx. measurements adjust to taste and quantity of fish (the above should do 2 to 3 fillets easily)

Method:

Season fish with Black pepper and oil
BBQ until desired doneness
Remove from heat and apply sauce liberally
Serve and Enjoy!



Health Benefits of Spinach

Among the World’s Healthiest vegetables, spinach comes out at the top of the ranking list for nutrient richness. Spinach is one of the best dietary sources of lutein, which makes it a particularly important food for the promotion of healthy eyesight and the prevention of cataracts and macular degeneration.

This antioxidant – loaded green will keep you lean. Spinach is a fantastic source of carotenes, vitamin C and K, and folic acid. It’s a great source of magnesium, iron, manganese and vitamin B2. It’s also a very good source of vitamins E, B1 and B6.

Scientific study has identified no less than 13 different flavonoid compounds known as methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides found in spinach which function as anticancer agents.

Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green colour provide more nutrients than any other food. Although spinach is available throughout the year, its season runs from March through May and from September through October when it is the freshest, has the best flavour, and is most readily available.

Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay.

Do not wash spinach before storing as the exposure to water encourages spoilage. Place spinach in a plastic storage bag and wrap the bag tightly around the spinach, squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Place in refrigerator where it will keep fresh for up to 5 days.

Some Spinach Ideas: 

* For a nutrition boost, use fresh spinach leaves in a wrap or sandwich instead of lettuce.

* Add layers of spinach to your next lasagne recipe.

* Make a yummy healthy dip: Mix one package of frozen spinach (defrosted and drained of water) with 3/4 cup  of Greek Yogurt, and sprinkle any of your favourite herbs and spices.

* Stir Fry leaves with a little minced garlic, olive oil and a few chopped nuts.

* Serve any entree on a bed of spinach instead of over carbs, such as rice or pasta.

Come enjoy our Baby Spinach and Arugula Salad from our lunch menu, with Clementines, Red Onions, Candied Pecans and Poppy Seed Vinaigrette, a healthy and delicious option.



Planning The Perfect Wedding Menu

With so many options today, choosing the right menu for your wedding dinner has become more complicated.  Caterers offer a variety of meal packages that you can change or add-to, but remember to keep track of the costs as you make changes to the basic menu package.

The wedding menu can be a simple self serve buffet to an elaborate five course meal. Traditionally a seated dinner is generally preceded by a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres, a first course, a main entree, and a dessert.

The cocktail hour is the best place to be adventurous about food selections. Be creative, make a statement, try sushi, dim sum and authentic ethnic food, like Thai or Indian. If your family and friends have conservative palates, you may want to limit the more exotic foods to simpler hors d’oeuvres.

You don’t want to spoil your guests appetites, but you want a server to constantly circulate with hors d’oeuvres and perhaps have two food stations with a small selection that guests can help themselves. Assume that each guest will eat about 5 – 6 hors d’oeuvres per hour and allow for 3 glasses of wine per person. You may decide to serve only wine during the dinner hour with no access to an open bar. The open bar can be reserved for the after-dinner party.  Also, keep in mind people do expect to stand at a cocktail party, but your older guests may need to be seated. 

The most common option for weddings is plated food served individually. The cost is typically higher then a buffet or family-style dinner. French style is a more refined version of plate service. Each course is arranged on a large serving dish and presented to each guest at the table.  The guests serve themselves with tongs or forks, however at most weddings, the waiter serves the food on to your plate.

For the couple who can’t decide on one or two items, they should consider food stations. A station is a buffet table featuring a particular type of food. A station reception should have 4 or 5 tables. Each table should offer a different course or style of cooking.

The cost per dinner depends on what you will be serving; the price of the food and the price of serving the food which includes, rentals, staff, service charge and gratuities. Negotiate with your caterer and be prepared to listen to your caterers advice. If your menu preference is not within your budget, you can always ask your caterer to consider serving smaller portions or alternatively if your menu includes expensive food, choose a more economical style of service.

Keep in mind that wedding etiquette dictates only that you need to throw a gracious and thoughtful party, not that you offer caviar and expensive champagne.

The cutting of your wedding cake should be a memorable one. If a tiered cake isn’t your style there are many alternatives. Cupcakes are all the rage right now and make a wonderful unique display.

The most important goal of any wedding is to express yourself as a couple, so be creative!

And Congratulations!



How to Kick Start Your Immune System

Even healthy people can catch a cold or flu now and then, but you can kick start your immune system’s defence against viruses and bacteria to limit your chances of getting sick this winter.

The basics are: Exercise, Rest and a Healthy Diet featuring whole foods that support your immune system and reduce inflammation. Eating onions, garlic, ginger and sage can aid in fighting infections and following a diet rich in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables, support your immune system and combat free radicals known to damage DNA and suppress your immune system. 

Avoiding sugary drinks and drinking plenty of water helps to fend off infection by filtering out your system.

Regular moderate exercise can mobilize your T cells, a type of white blood cell known to guard the body against infection. A brisk 30 minute walk daily can cut your risk in half of catching a cold.

Getting a full 8 hours of sleep each night helps to regulate your immune function which is vital to preventing sickness.

Simply keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to ward of illness. In short boosting your immune system naturally will help you live a healthier life.

1.  Eat nutrient dense foods
2.  Exercise regularly
3.  Prioritize sleep
4.  Limit sugar consumption
5.  Use herbs for the immune system

Natural Immunity Boosters:

Oregano Oil – Helps improve your gut health by eliminating bad bacteria in your digestive system while boosting your immune system. 

Cruciferous Vegetables – Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Broccoli, Lettuce and Cabbage support your liver and immune function by boosting the liver’s ability to flush out toxins.

Ginger – Ginger helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in the organs, particularly in the lungs and sinuses.  Ginger also helps to cleanse the lymphatic system.

Garlic – One clove contains 5 mg calcium, 12 mg potassium, and more than 100 sulphuric compounds powerful enough to wipe out bacteria and infection, lower blood pressure and kill parasites in the body.

Here’s to staying healthy this holiday season!

 

 

 



Benefits of a Pregnancy Massage

Pregnancy massage therapy can be very instrumental in a women’s prenatal care and should be given careful consideration.

The health benefits of pregnancy massage to you – and baby – are many and studies indicate that prenatal massage therapy can reduce anxiety, relieve muscle aches and joint pain, improve labor outcomes and ease labor pain.

During pregnancy, your body experiences numerous changes physically as well as physiologically, which can cause serious discomfort and stress. Massage can alleviate these symptoms, as well as improve your overall well-being.

There are varying massage techniques, but the Swedish massage aims to relax muscle tension and improve lymphatic and blood circulation, which in turn reduces swelling. Many expectant mothers get terrible cramps and spasms, especially in those weight bearing muscles and joints, lower back, neck, hips and legs. Massage can provide a welcome effective relief and reduce stress on weight bearing joints.

Swedish massage also addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy. Edema, or swelling of the joints is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissue to reduce collection of fluid in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of tissue waste carried by the body’s lymph system.

Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy. The pressure of the uterus on the pelvic floor and lower back creates tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg causing them to swell and put pressure on the nearby nerve. Massage therapy can significantly reduce the inflamed nerves by releasing tension on near by muscles which reduces sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy.

If you need more convincing, pregnancy massage therapy can also ease the stress and anxiety from the overwhelming feeling of what’s to come. A relaxed mom-to-be feels better, sleeps better and can better enjoy the pregnancy experience, all of which is beneficial for a healthy womb!

Before starting a prenatal massage routine, it’s a good idea to double check with your doctor first.