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Travel & Cooking

Spice things up: Protect your heart with cinnamon and paprika

Source: Shine

Written By: Nadine Bells

Sprinkle a little paprika on your eggs. Add cinnamon to that coffee. Order the curry. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition has found that a diet rich in spices like turmeric, cinnamon and paprika can counter the damaging effects of fatty foods.

Penn State University’s research team saw blends of antioxidant spices reducing the heart stress triggered from high-fat foods.

“Normally, when you eat a high-fat meal, you end up with high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood. If this happens too frequently, or if triglyceride levels are raised too much, your risk of heart disease is increased,” study leader Professor Sheila West told Science Daily.

“We found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride response by about 30 per cent, compared to a similar meal with no spices added.”

The research team prepared two test meals for six men ages 30 to 65, all overweight but otherwise healthy. The meals were identical, save for the addition of two tablespoons of culinary spices — an antioxidant dose equivalent to 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate — to one of the meals.

“In the spiced meal, we used rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika,” said postdoctoral fellow Ann Skulas-Ray.

“We selected these spices because they had potent antioxidant activity previously under controlled conditions in the lab.”

After each meal — chicken curry, Italian herb bread, and a cinnamon biscuit — the test participants had blood drawn every 30 minutes for three hours. The results: antioxidant activity was up 30 per cent and insulin response decreased by 20 per cent after the spice-infused meal. (High insulin levels can be toxic over time, contributing to heart disease, arthritis and diabetes.)

Skulas-Ray says that none of the participants experienced any gastrointestinal discomfort from the spicy foods. In the future, West and her team will investigate if smaller doses of antioxidant spices can produce similar results.

Shape has a great list of heart-healthy spice-generous recipes. It’s time to spice things up in the kitchen!

Concerns swirl over safety of ‘uncontacted’ Amazonian tribe

A picture released by Survival International shows indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon forest, close to the country's border with Peru. Officials in Brazil have said they had no news of an isolated tribe of Amazonian natives who may have been attacked by suspected Peruvian drug traffickers, amid fears of a bloodbath

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Written by: Andrew Downie


The whereabouts of a remote Amazonian tribe who appeared in remarkable footage earlier this year aiming bows and arrows at a plane flying over their jungle homes was unknown Monday after government officials sent to protect them were forced to abandon their post and flee from armed drug traffickers.

Traffickers crossed the border from Peru and threatened officials from the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai), the government body charged with protecting Brazil’s isolated Indians, a foundation spokesman said, underlining new threats for isolated Indians as traffickers seek new territory and routes.

“This is extremely distressing news,” says Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, an indigenous rights group based in the UK. “There is no knowing how many tribal peoples the drugs trade has wiped out in the past, but all possible measures should be taken to stop it happening again.”

Think you know South America? Take our geography quiz.

The officials monitoring the tribe fled and the traffickers ransacked their jungle camp before Brazilian police reinforcements could reach the area.

Police have now retaken the base close to Brazil’s western border with Peru, and Funai officials are once again on the ground.

Two dozen officers tracked down and arrested one man, named as Joaquim Fadista. Mr. Fadista had already been detained in Brazil on trafficking charges and extradited to Peru. Officials believe Fadista was involved with a group trying to carve out new cross-border cocaine routes, or was working for loggers who covet the timber growing in the untouched forests where the group, called the Xinane, live. They are particularly worried at finding an arrow head in one of the trafficker’s abandoned backpacks.

“Arrows are like the identity card of uncontacted Indians,” says Carlos Travassos, the Funai official in charge of the isolated Indians division. “We think the Peruvians made the Indians flee…We are more concerned than ever. This could be one of the biggest blows in decades to the work of protecting isolated Indians.”

Although Funai sent an official report on the events, it did not mention the whereabouts of the Xinane and it is not known if they are safe. Officials hope they fled the commotion and sought refuge deeper in the forest.

The Xinane came to worldwide prominence at the start of this year after they were filmed for a BBC nature program. The incredible scenes showed the clearly frightened Indians pointing bows and arrows at the plane flying overhead.

The footage turned them into unlikely – albeit unknown – celebrities and indigenous rights activists were today lamenting the developments and praying for their safety. “The world’s attention should be on these uncontacted Indians, just as it was at the beginning of this year when they were first captured on film,” says Mr.Corry. Isolated Indian tribes like the Xinane are often kept on reservations for what officials say is their own good. Funai creates the fenced-off areas not to keep the Indians in, but to keep loggers, farmers, miners, and other threats out.

The policy is designed to protect the Indians and allow them to continue to live the same way they have lived for centuries.

Around 18 percent of the Amazon has been chopped down, and although deforestation rates have slowed in recent years, there are traces or reports of 39 uncontacted tribes still living in remote parts of the rainforest.

Today, there are around 350,000 Indians in Brazil, down from between 3 and 5 million before European colonizers arrived.

Las Vegas on a Budget – Fun and Affordable

Source: Landlopers

Written by: Gray Cargill

Today I am thrilled to share with you a guest post from a great travel writer and blogger, Gray Cargill of the site Solo Friendly. Gray’s expertise doesn’t stop at solo travel, she is also an expert on all things Vegas, as she proves on her other site, Vegas Solo. She was good enough to write a primer on how to save money in Las Vegas.

If you’ve been dreaming of a Las Vegas vacation, but don’t think you can afford it, think again.  Yes, Vegas is the land of over-the-top excess, $300 bottle service, and shopping at high end designer boutiques like Dior and Louis Vuitton. But a vacation in Sin City doesn’t have to break the bank. There are always less expensive alternatives to what you want to do in Las Vegas. As long as you go into it with the right attitude, experiencing the city on the cheap can still be a blast. Here are a few of my favorite money-saving tips for Las Vegas:

Save Money on Your Hotel

Vegas hotels are not priced as high as similar hotels in other major U.S. cities, so no matter what price you pay, you’re getting more bang for your buck in Vegas. For $159, you can get a room the size of a prison cell (with shared bath) in New York City or a four- or five-star luxury hotel room in Las Vegas. I’ve seen three-star hotel prices as low as $26 night, even on the Strip. How can you save money on your hotel?

  • Avoid weekends – Hotel prices are cheaper Sunday-Thursday nights.
  • Shop around – Sign up to receive emails from all the Vegas hotels you’d consider staying at. They’ll send you any discount offers they have. Don’t be afraid to cancel a reservation and book a better one that comes along. (Just make sure that any time you make a reservation, you can cancel up to 72 hours before your trip.)
  • Move around – Because hotel prices can fluctuate from day to day, I often change hotels mid-trip to chase the lower price.

Slash the Price of Entertainment

You can spend a lot of money keeping yourself entertained in Las Vegas, it’s true. Often, the top shows cost more than $100 per ticket, you can run through $20 in a casino in about 5 minutes, and a day at the spa with massage and facial could cost you hundreds of dollars. But you can also have fun for free—or very cheaply. Here’s how:

  • Focus on the Free– Lounge by the pool, explore other hotels, take in free attractions, such as the Bellagio fountains and Conservatory and the Fremont Experience light show Downtown.
  • Save on Shows – You should try to see at least one show while in Vegas. To see a show on the cheap, head to one of the half-price ticket booths (which have several locations on the Strip and Downtown) for same-day show tickets.
  • Avoid nightclubs – Instead of dropping hundreds on bottle service at a nightclub, for the price of a drink or two you can listen to a live band at the Book and Stage at the Cosmopolitan or enjoy a raucous dueling piano show at Harrah’s, among others.
  • Look for Alternatives – Rather than pay $17 for the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, take the bus Downtown for just $6 (roundtrip) and check out the Golden Nugget’s shark tank in the pool area. Instead of paying $15 to see white tigers at Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden, check out the free Lion Habitat at MGM Grand instead. Want to play some games, but don’t want to blow $20 in 10 minutes? Take the 201 bus from the Strip to 1610 East Tropicana ($4 roundtrip), where for 50 cents a game, you can play over 100 classic pinball machines. There’s no chance you’ll win your money back, but you probably won’t on the slot machines either.

Eat and Drink on the Cheap

There are so many wonderful restaurants in Las Vegas it would be a shame if you didn’t splurge at least once on your trip. But not every meal has to be expensive! Nor do you have to eat at McDonalds to get a cheap meal. I’ve developed a number of strategies over the years for saving money on my meals in Las Vegas.

  • Take advantage of coupons and discounts – You’ll find coupons in the hotel room magazines and in booklets on the backseats of cabs. The half-price ticket booth also sells discount meal deals. Don’t forget to check Groupon and Restaurant.com before your trip!
  • Eat off the Strip – Even if you don’t have a car, you can take the free shuttle from Bill’s to the Orleans to enjoy their buffet for almost half what you would pay for a Strip buffet. Or grab the bus to Fremont Street for one of Downtown’s famous cheap meal deals.
  • Save on cocktails- Drinks at many of the Strip properties can be very expensive, with a single beer costing the same as a 6-pack at the grocery store and mixed drinks ranging from $10-14. Prices off the Strip and Downtown are about half that. For cheap drinks on the Strip, head to Casino Royale and Bill’s Gambling Hall, or buy drink ingredients to keep in your room and have a drink or two before you go out at night.
  • Buy cheap water – Don’t buy bottled water from your resort. It’s much cheaper to stock up at the ABC Store or Walgreens—or pick up a cold bottle from the guys selling it out of ice chests on the overhead walkways.

Just remember, the main reason you’re in Las Vegas on vacation in the first place is to get away from your everyday routine. As long as you don’t have a built-in need to “keep up with the Joneses,” your vacation can be both cheap and fun.  After all, the best things about Las Vegas–the gorgeous weather, seeing the Strip all lit up at night, and people-watching—are all absolutely free.

Grilling with the Greats: Jamie Taras

Source: The Province
Written By: Jan Zeschky


Jamie Taras stocks up back in 1996, when he was at the height of his playing career. Taras, now B.C.’s director of community relations, still loves his food, particularly when it’s fresh off the grill.

One of the most decorated Lions in history, Jamie Taras helped B.C. to two Grey Cup victories (1994, 2000) during his 16-year playing career. The offensive ­lineman was twice named a CFL All-Star (1995, 1999) and is one of only eight Lions to have had his number (60) retired. Taras is a tireless force off the field and in 1999 was awarded the Tom Pate Memorial Award for ­community ­service. The White Rock resident is now the Lions’ director of community relations.

It was possibly the happiest day of Jamie Taras’s life.

“I was doing business in the offseason when I met these Lions fans. I was still playing and had season tickets built into my contract, and they wanted to swap me the tickets for this $2,000 barbecue,” the Lions legend recalls.

Of course, as any self-respecting offensive lineman would do, Taras agreed to the deal. (Later, his wife reminded him what the happiest day of his life really was.)

Taras still grills on that same limo-class barbecue at least once a week, year round — and certainly more at this time of year, when the grilling experience is almost irresistible.

“I love to eat. I wouldn’t say I’m a passionate cook but I love to grill,” says Taras.

“Maybe it’s part of your genetic code,” he laughs. “Just being outside, the great outdoors, the smell of the barbecue, the flavours coming off the grill, the flavour it gives the meat. It all combines to be a wonderful experience.

“It’s very social, too. If you have company, a lot of times the guys will come outside and hang out at the grill while you’re cooking and chat. There just seems to be a really nice social element to it.”

Taras has many fond memories of grilling experiences, including touring the many barbecue restaurants of Memphis back in the days of the CFL expansion. All of his tales have the common theme of good ­company — particularly that of his fellow teammates on the O-line.

Taras’s heyday wasn’t that long ago, but long enough that a health-conscious diet wasn’t a key concern for the CFL’s big men.

“We weren’t so concerned with our health on the O-line back then. It was more the taste,” says Taras. “Now, knowing that grilling is a healthier form of cooking, that’s great, but back then it was all about portion size and the quality of the food.

“A lot of people would ask, ‘Do you carboload?’ And we’d say no, we usually go out and have a big chunk of steak because that’s what we like to eat — and it’s more important for us to be happy,” he laughs.

“From the offensive line’s perspective, it was always about the size and quality of the food.”


Cola ribs

“Many grilling experts say you should never boil ribs as it removes the flavour of the meat,” says Taras. “But there’s a cheat for everything, including succulent, fall-off-the-bone ribs.”

Baby back ribs

Enough of your favourite cola to fill a large pot

For the simple barbecue sauce:

5 tbsps. white vinegar

4 tbsps. ketchup

4 tbsps. English mustard

16 tbsps. brown sugar

Mix all the sauce ingredients ­together and simmer in a saucepan for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium-high (around 350 F).

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with the cola. Place the ribs in the pot and bring to the boil. Boil ribs in the cola until the liquid turns clear (around 20-25 minutes).

Remove ribs from pot and place on grill. Grill each side for no longer than 5 minutes.

Lower grill temperature or move ribs to a grill with indirect heat. Sauce both sides of the ribs.

Remove and devour!

© Copyright (c) The Province

KFC Double Down is returning to Canada, but why were we denied?

Source: Y! Daily Brew

Written By: Marc Weisblott

The disappearance of the Double Down from KFC locations across Canada last fall, after a one-month trial, was one of the great mysteries of modern marketing.

The controversial and popular sandwich is returning on a limited basis, but one unanswered question remains.

What prevented the chain from making the bunless sandwich a permanent fixture?

After all, the Double Down had been installed on the KFC menu in the U.S., even before a similar limited-time offer even expired last May.

And, more strangely, the Canadian headquarters sought attention for the fact the sandwich would no longer be available after it sold more than one million between Oct. 18 and Nov. 15.

“That’s enough Double Downs to stretch across 2,083 hockey rinks or approximately 140 CN Towers from end to end!” exclaimed marketing officer Dan Howe.

So, there had to be a reason why Canada was starved of such a popular product for more than half a year.

Some corporate turmoil might have been to blame. Priszm Income Fund, the owner of more than 400 KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut outlets in seven provinces across Canada, filed for creditor protection in March. None of the social media momentum for the Double Down could save its ship from sinking.

KFC Canada then introduced an entirely different sandwich last month, the Zinger.

But the reaction to a more traditional hot and spicy chicken sandwich, served on a traditional kaiser, couldn’t compete with enthusiasm for something that placed the bacon, melted cheese and secret sauce between the fillets.

The return of the Double Down indeed made national news immediately after it was announced on Wednesday morning. Further publicity will be sought on Friday, when the sandwich is made available for lunch at 15 locations across the country, all of which were surely chosen for their proximity to a major television newsroom.

Never mind that the ingredients required to make the sandwich were still available all along. Reportedly, based on some online comments, anyone who asked their local KFC to hold the bun, and add another piece of chicken instead, was granted their wish.

Still, that’s no competition for the notoriety that KFC has gained by offering an item that defies the advice of every self-respecting nutritionist.

KFC Canada marketing director David Vivenes admitted, though, Canadians expressed a desire for less sodium than found in its U.S. counterpart. The result is a 10 per cent decrease from the 1,740 milligrams found in the original Double Down.

Will the change be enough to keep the Double Down around Canada for decades to come? KFC still hasn’t committed to offering it beyond this summer.

Despite some reservations, Toronto will appear on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations

Source: Toronto Life

Toronto chefs and foodies, take note: Anthony Bourdain, the reformed bad boy of the culinary world, beloved potty mouth and host of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations, will be featuring Toronto on his show. Bourdain made that announcement on his book tour this week when he stopped in at Massey Hall to promote his follow up to Kitchen Confidential, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook. The globetrotting professional eater and drinker entertained and dazzled admirers during his 90-minute performance, downing bottles of Steam Whistle pilsner and drawing upon material from his memoir. Bourdain graciously entertained banal questions during the event’s short Q&A and took time to applaud Beast’s Scott Vivian, who catered the post-show VIP book signing. However, it was his announcement of bringing No Reservations to the city that drew the most hoots and hollers from the packed house.

The former chef noted that it was Vivian and a group of the city’s chefs—including Anthony Rose (Drake Hotel), Mark Cutrara (Cowbell), Nick Liu (Niagara Street Café) and Zane Caplansky (Caplansky’s Delicatessen)—he met at an event organized by Toronto Life contributor Ivy Knight (host of 86 Mondays) the evening prior that helped tip the scales in favour of Toronto. Bourdain informed us in a follow-up meeting that while season seven’s roster was already spoken for, Toronto will be in the lineup for season eight.

Catching up with Vivian after the show, we were told that Bourdain never truly considered bringing No Reservations to Toronto due to a lack of recommendations from chefs he met in Vancouver and Montreal, the only Canadian cities featured on the show to date. In response, Vivian noted the city’s interest in nose-to-tail dining, collection of small mom-and-pop restaurants, and ethnic neighbourhoods. “I wanted to let him know the food scene in Toronto is real. I told him I would be honoured—would love—to take him around and show him some cool places. Before he left, he shook my hand and said, ‘I look forward to making television with you.’”

EpicMealTime. It’s epic culinary goodness.

Today I came across a Youtube sensation that has had each one of its videos gone viral, into the millions of views. This of course is EpicMealTime. In an age where the world is watching what they eat, these guys from Montreal are springing up a counter-culture around them. Hosted by Harley Morenstein, they have created the most high-calorie and fattening dishes imaginable. Due to the large public interest there is a group in the U.S. shopping around to see if there could be an EpicMealTime television show. Here are some of the episodes. Be sure to check out the rest at their youtube channel.