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Have a Caribbean inspired Christmas in Toronto

What’s Christmas like in your home country ? I recently started thinking about the way people hold different Christmas traditions close to their heart. Some people dream of snow on Christmas and look forward to icy winters and warm hot chocolate. Christmas for me, however, has been different, growing up in a tropical country. If you can’t physically go to the Caribbean and experience the holiday season for yourself, here are some ways to have an island-inspired Christmas.

Caribbean Foods

Everyone loves good food — it’s one of the driving factors at every holiday celebration, no matter the culture. One of the more popular Christmas dishes you can expect to find in mostly all the islands is Christmas rum cake. This is a sponge cake with various dried fruits that has been soaked in rum, after baking. Splash more rum on the cake to add delicious flavour as well as preserve the cake for almost up to a year. Just don’t go too heavy on the rum or you’ll  become intoxicated from eating to much cake. Also, try Caribbean classics like sorrel punch and ginger beer.

Caribbean Decor

When you think of the islands, you think of warm sunshine and lots of palm trees! Palm trees are an amazing way to add a tropical touch to any room. Certain design ideas include making a Christmas wreath out of palm leaves or the funniest one that’s been circulating  on social media is a Christmas pineapple. For people that don’t want, or have time for a tree, a pineapple can easily be decorated to invoke that Christmas island feel. For the record, I have never done this and I don’t believe this is a Caribbean tradition, but its certainly festive and island-like.

Caribbean Music

Just like for any other season of the year, the creative geniuses and musical talents originating from Trinidad and Tobago know how to make Christmas in the Caribbean lively. There is a special genre of music called Parang that originated in Venezuela and Trinidad. The music revolves around an island christmas. Soca-Parang is a mixture of Soca beats and traditional Christmas songs. Similar to carolling , in some places in Trinidad people go home to home singing parang music in exchange for treats of sorrel drink or rum punch.

Caribbean Christmas Pop-up

If you’re considering what it would be like to experience a Caribbean island Christmas, there is a special Christmas pop up market coming to Toronto on Dec 16. The pop-up market is presented by Jamaican Eats Magazine and inspires  the taste, shop and style of the Caribbean. The event will be held at the Ralph Thornton Community Centre on Queen Street East. Expect to find more rum cake, a special treasure hunt and Caribbean inspired greeting cards.

5 natural immunity boosters to prevent sickness

Cold and flu season can be tough, especially during the change in seasons. Generally, our immune systems adapt to the extra exposure in the the environment, but some immune boosters can also help. Women’s Post recommends these five natural remedies to boost your immunity or help you battle a cold.

Ginger-Lemon Flu Shot

When you are feeling a little under the weather or you are just looking for a little booster, you can start your day off my making your own flu “shot”. No, this isn’t something you inject into yourself – instead think tequila, but healthier! Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and lemon is also known to help you build up your resistance to colds. Together these two make the perfect mix. Simple blend these ingredients together and add an extra touch of honey for taste.

 

Oil of Oregano

Oregano oil is extracted from the oregano plant and had been promoted in many health stores for the prevention of colds and flus. The oregano oil has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and can be used for many different things including your skin— but most importantly, a few drops is known to help ease a sore throat. Even if you are feeling stuffy, add a few drops to a vaporizer and inhale deeply. If you already have a cold, two drops, three times a day, can help reduce the duration and severity of your illness.

 

Probiotics

Probiotics — or the good bacteria often found in foods such as yogurts or kefir – help to strengthen the immune system. Diet and lifestyle is a major part of keeping our immune system healthy. While probiotics are often recommended to treat abdominal issues, a new study found that strains of the bacteria is also good against the common cold and flu virus.

 

Garlic

While this choice may not be so friendly on your breath, turns out garlic not only serves in keeping vampires away, but colds as well.  Eating a spoonful of raw garlic is said to knock a cold out in the beginning, but if you want a softer, yet still powerful option, boil three cloves of garlic in a medium saucepan with water. Lemon and honey can also be added to cover the smell and improve the taste. Garlic has a popular property called allicin, which is an antibacterial component found in fresh garlic before it is heated.

 

Vitamin D

While we are all familiar with using vitamin C to boost our immune system, studies have shown that vitamin D, is also good for fighting colds and flu. The vitamin D helps the immune cells in your body to make antibodies, to gear up for defence. The best and most natural source of Vitamin D is from the sunshine but it can also be found in milk, or vitamin drops.

 

Stay strong this winter and keep your immune system strong. Comment below if you have any other tips!

How to stay thankful when the world hits back

With all the stress, disaster, and hurt happening in the world, it may be hard to realize that each day is an opportunity to start fresh. As many people in the Caribbean are dealing with the catastrophic effects of natural disasters, there are many things that people around the owrld should be thankful and grateful for in this life. It’s a difficult feeling to know that you can only do so much for those in need. It also doesn’t need to be Thanksgiving for you to remember what it means to be thankful. Little steps and tips daily can help you to become a more grateful person despite the chaos around you.

Keep it classic

Remember when people would actually speak to each other face to face and over the phone and not just over instant message or email? Sometimes the smallest things can make the world of difference to someone’s day. Maybe it’s a quick phone call to a distant friend or a written and mailed thank you note or letter. These little gems have become so unexpected that they are now moments to cherish. When you take the time to do these things, you are expressing more gratitude than just a “thx” in an email.

Remember to speak

Sometimes people get frustrated and that is understandable; however, it is unacceptable to take it out on complete strangers. Just yesterday, I was in line at Subway and there was one man serving approximately four customers. The man in front of me was visibly upset for having to wait an extra four minutes to get his sandwich. When his order was finally complete, he threw the money at the server and left the restaurant without a ‘thank you.’ The man behind the counter was visibly upset and he told me that sometimes people get the treatment they deserve in life. As a new immigrant to Toronto, from the UK, the employee told me that despite being a multicultural city, Toronto still feels cold to him in part to people like that. Nobody deserves to have money thrown at them, no matter the day you’re having. The best thing you can do is always remember to say ‘Thank you.’

Keep it on record

Many people get into the habit of expressing their emotions thorough journals and this is a good way to show emotional control and to keep track of your thoughts. Even if you are not into the routine of journaling, there are small exercises you can do daily to keep gratitude in perspective. Every morning or every evening, list five things that you are grateful for. Try not to stick to the broad and basic stuff like ‘my family’ and ‘my home,’ but instead think about your day to day experiences and the people you cross paths with in life. Be thankful for the stranger that held the door open for you this morning or be thankful for the feeling of sunshine in a balmy September.

Be Positive

Telling someone to be positive when everything is going wrong around them can sometimes feel like a slap to the face. Instead, make it your duty to reflect the best version of yourself to those around you. You have to be the one to make the decisions that will impact your life. Practice more self awareness and don’t bury your face in a phone while communicating with someone. Or even practice breathing and mediation in order to calm yourself and improve your mood.

Only one version of you

The most powerful thing you have over someone else is that you are unique. There is nobody else like you in this world. Some may have similar characteristics and traits, but you are in control of your life and the best thing you can do is be thankful to your body. Eat, sleep, exercise, and have fun. The moments may pass us by quickly and you don’t want to leave your life with regrets. The best thing you can do is make yourself happy because sometime happiness can be the most difficult thing to achieve

Recipe: delicious island trio

What’s the best part of summer? In my opinion, it’s taking advantage of the fresh fruits and veggies that are in season for these precious months. Bringing summer into your kitchen is certainly a way to delight and embrace the sunshine.

When I think of sunshine, I often end up thinking of the tropics, that’s why Women’s Post is going to inspire you with a simple and delicious trio of quick and easy Caribbean recipes.

Island Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced ripe mangoes
  • 1 cup diced watermelon (seedless)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup passionfruit juice
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the diced mango, watermelon, and red onion in a large bowl
  2. Add passion fruit juice, lime juice and thyme
  3. Sprinkle with salt, toss lightly and serve refrigerated

This island inspired salad is refreshing, crisp, and offers the right amount of zesty sweetness.

 

Island Jerk Wings

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs chicken wings
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1tsp thyme leaves
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 1tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp jerk sauce (wet mix from supermarket eg: Grace Jerk seasoning)
  • ¼ cup green onion
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Preset oven to 425 degrees.

  1. In one large bowl, toss the chicken wings in the garlic, thyme, salt, cinnamon, paprika, black pepper, and all spice.
  2. Add tsp of jerk sauce (more can be added depending on your spice preference)
  3. Sprinkle Worcestershire sauce
  4. Line a baking tray with foil and place chicken wings, lightly drizzle with olive oil (optional)
  5. Place on the top rack of your oven and bake for 45 minutes, rotate wings halfway through.
  6. Wings should be crispy and ready to serve.

This recipe is fun and easy to prepare. It adds a burst of flavour and summer heat to your palette.

 

Frozen Island Tea Pops

*Can be prepared the night before to enjoy the next day.

Ingredients :

  • 2 cups Iced Tea (black tea)
  • 2 cups canned pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup lime juice

Directions:

  1. In a large pitcher mix the iced tea with pineapple juice
  2. Add lime juice and stir well
  3. Pour mixture into popsicle moulds of your choice
  4. Freeze for 6 hours

Hopefully this collection of Caribbean inspired treats adds a little bit of sunshine to your home! Enjoy and feel free to let us know how your recipes turned out. Leave a comment below.

Hello Spring! Now, get outside!

Have you ever gone outside just for the sake of going outside?

Taking a walk outside and breathing in the fresh air, running along the beach, or just sitting in a field of green can work wonders for relaxation and stress-relief. Nature can be incredibly peaceful and rejuvenating — and luckily in Canada, these green spaces and beaches are accessible throughout any landscape.

Most people feel they need a reason to go outside, whether it be to play sports or for a planned outdoor adventure to get their next Instagram photo opportunity. Instead, why not just go outside for the sake of it. When I’m in a bad mood, taking a break and walking outside cures the blues faster than almost any other possible solution. The fresh air, sunshine, and peaceful silence creates an appreciation of life that is impossible to find anywhere else.

If you aren’t quite sure how to get outdoors for the pure enjoyment of it, the secret to success lies in making sure you do it mindfully. Don’t go outside equipped with your phone to distract you. Free yourself from all your devices and take your lovely self for a walk and really look at the world around you. You will find that there is so much beauty to see once you remove yourself from the bubble of technological existence. Birds still exist. Trees actually grow taller. It is amazing how much can be noticed without our phones two inches from our faces at all times.

Take note of how your body feels when you are outside as well. It is good to stretch out in the open space and understand which muscles are sore and target those areas. Even doing yoga outside would feel relaxing and in tune with how nature can make our aching bodies feel better.  Even if you have a cold, talking a brief walk can help get some fresh air into your body and may rejuvenate you if you have been inside sleeping for a long period of time.

Next time you find yourself with a free 30 minutes (or even an hour), go outside and revel in the oncoming spring. There is so much to be thankful for in good weather, and taking time to appreciate it leads to a more fulfilling and connected life. The more people use the greens paces and natural areas, the more likely it is to be conserved for future generations. Get outside today and enjoy it!