by Nicole Duquete
Getting along with the people you work with certainly makes the day more pleasant and go by a lot quicker, but sometimes it is difficult to know if you’ve crossed the line between being just co-workers and being friends.
Recently, I have had a couple of co-workers whom I’ve gotten along with really well. It was a new experience for me to work with people my own age, with similar interests, and with whom I could talk freely about my life outside of work. At first, I wasn’t sure how to react to the situation. I wasn’t sure if it was okay to be seen discussing non-work related things at work, and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to ask someone I was friendly with to do work-related tasks for me. Luckily, my office is a relaxed environment, and I quickly found that it was easy to combine the professional and personal sides of my relationships with my co-workers. I still wonder, though, what the difference is between being friends and being colleagues who are friendly.
I think the difference lies in whether or not you spend time together outside of work. I was wary of crossing that imaginary line because I thought that, even if we were not at work, the experience of spending time with a co-worker would make my time off feel like work. But, the first time I crossed the line occurred organically. She needed a new outfit for a job interview, so we went shopping. Neither of us found it to be a forced, nor awkward experience. It gave us a chance to vent about work in a neutral setting, and to bond over shopping – the universal female bonding experience. Spending time together outside of work made it clear that we were no longer just co-workers, but now that my friend has started her new job, and we are no longer co-workers, it is clear that we have a true friendship that simply sprang from a work relationship.
My friendship with my colleague developed naturally, but what about when a co-worker makes unwanted advances towards friendship? Another of my co-workers, who I am not particularly fond of, has frequently attempted to friend me on Facebook, and to get assignments which would have us working closely together. I have done my best to continually be polite and pleasant to her, but I have still ignored her friend requests, and dodged working with her as much as possible. It reminds me how lucky it is to be able to develop a friendship with a co-worker because personal compatibility has nothing to do with hiring practices, so one lousy co-worker is a fair trade to find one good one.
by Kait Fowlie
A raw diet can have transformation effects: weight loss, heightened senses, change in appetite, and glowing skin and hair, to name a few. While all this sounds desirable enough, raw food can be off putting. Many people assume its preparation is time consuming, complicated, and expensive. But even if you’re a grab-an-apple as you gracefully run out the door kind of snacker, you can still reap the benefits of many enzyme packed, cancer fighting foods. All you need is a passion for health and some ingenuity.
As a first-time raw food participant, I was skeptical. I have two jobs to focus on, a budget to stay on track with, and a social life I’d like to maintain. In other words, I can’t spend hours in my tiny kitchen concocting raw creations. Thus, I was happy to discover that embarking on a raw food cleanse would not compromise my schedule, my kitchen, or my wallet.
After a bit of research and a few trips to some different health food stores, I learned that eating raw is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. Toronto has options aplenty. Our growing selection of city-made brands make raw snacking easy, delicious, and affordable. There are also numerous helpful resources for the bolder raw enthusiast who wants to try their hand at making their own raw goods. This is a task that varies in degrees of difficulty. Whipping up a fruit smoothie or salad, for example, doesn’t require advanced tools or a great deal of skill.
For this reason, I spend the first few days of my raw cleanse whipping up some dark leafy bowls with soaked nuts, legumes and unrefined oils. I supplement this with some snacks made by the pros (granola bars, crackers, and dips) from my neighbourhood health food store. Rich and sweet, each bite of these grab-and-go treats packs a flavour punch owing to a dried fruit and nut content.
After only three days of eating raw, I feel lighter, somehow brighter, and quicker on my feet. Here’s why: raw food contains live enzymes which literally makes it digests itself inside the stomach, giving the body an extra opportunity to work on other processes like repairing cells, absorbing nutrients, and cleansing toxins. All of this is adds up to an immune system of steel. In general, the less often your digestive tract has to slug through heavily processed foods and the more energy it gets to devote to immune building processes, the better.
Kudos to any daring soul willing to tackle a total raw cleanse, because by day five, my desire for anything with a doughy texture starts to outweigh my newfound physical appreciation. There are some pretty convincing bread substitutes as well as creamy, cashew based dips, but the texture of a baked good is tricky to replicate. I last a week of raw and pat myself on the back.
I really notice a difference in the way I feel when I start eating processed foods again – headachy and sluggish. Every small bite has an effect on the body’s pH level. Consuming raw food helps keep that pH level on the alkaline side of things, (as opposed to acidic, which is found in processed and fatty foods). These levels have an enormous impact on our health, ranging from the way our bodies feel when we wake up in the morning to our ability to fight off disease in the long term. All science aside, through the act of preparing food every day and being sure that my body is the only system processing it definitely made my week a little more mindful. To me, that deeper connection is the best part of eating raw.
by Deborah Lowther
The thought of cooking with my three kids in the kitchen is usually more romantic than actually cooking with my kids in the kitchen! The extra patience required, equally dividing all tasks, the extra mess, the extra time … and yet, there is no extra help with the dishes.
Despite the extra effort and the cost in time and patience, I still believe it is important to cook with my kids. They love spending the time with Mom, and for me it’s a chance to teach them about more than just preparing food. The measuring that is involved in baking is a fun math lesson, finding 1/2 and adding 1/4 is Grade 3 level stuff. The mixing of different ingredients, whether they are healthy or not and how they change shape. Texture in the oven is science they can relate to. Showing them the difference between folding, stirring, and whipping is like a gym workout for little arms.
It’s easy to find helpers when I am making brownies, but lately I have been getting extra help with dinner too. There are a few tips that make kids in the kitchen fun at our house and it begins with the obvious of first washing those little hands! Investing in some kid-friendly tools for the job make them eager to try it. My kids love having their own apron and getting to use brightly coloured measuring spoons and plastic measuring cups. I bought some cutters made for kids, so they can handle cubing cheese, slicing cucumbers and make shapes with carrots. Giving kids fun jobs in the kitchen is the secret to success.
Teach them the basics, like the difference between stirring liquid with small circles and folding ingredients together lightly. Show them how to hold the bowl and gently mix flour and cinnamon together without it ending up on the floor. Let them have a crack at cracking eggs, give them their own small bowl and try one egg at a time, removing the broken shells as you go!
It was get messy at the start, but it became an opportunity to show them how to be a clean chef and tidy up as they go. Add in some elements they will enjoy, like using chocolate chips to make smiley faces on the top of the banana muffins, or make a tree out of broccoli on the veggie tray. I ask for their input when making a hearty soup, they can decide which noodles would they like, which veggies, and what type of beans go in. I always take photos of your fun together, nothing is cuter than a 4 year old at the kitchen counter.
The pride the kids feel when the family sits down to a meal they helped make is immeasurable. My 4-year old recently made an entire chicken and veggie lasagna. I cooked the noodles and the meat and shredded cheese while she added the carrots, peas, corn, zucchini, mixed all the ingredients, and assembled the entire dish. She was so proud at dinner!
Kids are eager to learn and have fun in the kitchen. Who knows, a couple lessons from Mom today, might just turn into breakfast in bed tomorrow!
Follow Deborah on Twitter at @KidsGummyMum.
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