Wednesday 29 June 2016

6 Main Dish Recipes With Unusual Ingredients

Anyone who’s ever ran a household and had to cook meals regularly will tell you how hard it is to keep things fresh. More often than not, you’ll fall into a pattern of spaghetti bolognese or pizza and chips, and the whole process can become a bit more tedious.

And that’s why, for you and your family’s sake, it’s important to switch things up. Creating balanced, varied meals is important not just for a killer diet, but for your own sanity. Sure, spaghetti bolognese is nice, but every single week, twice a week? It’ll start to taste like cardboard.

So, the next time you sit down to devise that all-important meal plan, throw some curveballs into the mix. Literally. With thousands of different ingredients and recipes at your disposal, why not try something unusual?

Below, you’ll find a selection of recipes that use rather uncommon ingredients, that I urge you to try. At the very least, you’ll hopefully glean a bit of inspiration for the week ahead!

Grilled steak with sorghum glaze

Sorghum has recently been dubbed a ‘wonder grain’ and its wide variety of uses certainly attest to that. It’s similar to grains like quinoa and millet, only it’s gluten-free and a bit more filling. This makes it a great alternative for people who can’t eat gluten products, to be able to get some quality grains into their diet.

One of the best ways to use sorghum that I’ve seen is to fashion it into a glaze for your cooked meats. Grilled steak, BBQ ribs, gammon… the list goes on! One option is to buy sorghum syrup and spread it over the meat at intermediate periods during cooking. Or, you can mix sorghum with garlic powder, melted butter and paprika to create a tastebud-popping glaze.

Alternatively, another good way to use sorghum is in a sorghum salad. If you’ve ever made a salad with rice or couscous, the same principle applies. Just swap out those grains for sorghum!

Food producer Hampton Creek uses sorghum in plenty of dishes, and many, many people are following suit. Its special properties are quickly taking the cooking world by storm, and now is a good time to start experimenting.

Lasagna with mushrooms and orach

Besides being associated with Popeye and superhuman strength, spinach is known for being rather tasty to eat. Orach, a purple plant that can be used as a substitute for spinach, possesses many of the same qualities too. The fact that it’s purple could put some people off, but it’s hard to deny the beauty of orach and rice, with the rice slowly turning purple.

But rice is not the focus here - rather, we’re going for a delicious vegetarian lasagna. Vegetarians don’t often get that special treatment that they deserve, but fortunately, they can enjoy this one!

The recipe is simple; you’ll first need some sliced mushrooms and a bag of orach. Orach can be quite hard to come by, so try looking in specialist or organic food stores, or order online. If you want to go the easy route, but some ready-made lasagna sheets and layer the veggies with some cheese.

You can add whatever you like to your lasagna too - garlic, rosemary, thyme or even paprika for an exotic taste. The orach will provide that chewy, spinach-esque texture and is packed full of goodness to boot.

Vegetable mix with fried cardoons

Cardoons are traditionally known as a plant, and not necessarily as a food. They’re edible, sure, but it’s rare that you’d find people eating them. It doesn’t exactly look welcoming, with it’s thistly exterior and intimidating size.

And that size can grow rather large indeed. Cardoons are celery on steroids, and there’s a reason why they aren’t used in too many recipes. They’re hard to get right, but rewarding if you manage it.

They possess an artichoke-esque flavor, and resemble a rather odd stick of celery. They’re not easy to prepare - you’ll have to significantly trim them down and blanch them to remove bitterness. But, once ready to cook, they’re incredibly tasty, and even better when fried.

It’s important to keep this one simple, as the cardoons will easily dominate your plate. A simple side mix of vegetables will do - perhaps some chopped potatoes, tomatoes and onions in a basic dressing. Again, this one’s suitable for vegetarians - unless you choose to serve up some meat too.

To fry the cardoons, trim them and remove the stalks, and cut into smaller pieces. Mix some eggs, water and cheese in a bowl, coat the cardoons in flour, then drench them in the mixture. Quickly transfer to the frying pan until they’re golden brown, then transfer them somewhere to drain. Voila!

Stuffed kudzu leaves

Kudzu, like orcha, is bright purple. Sensing a pattern here? It wasn’t intentional. Anyone who’s ever tried kudzu will tell you it’s incredibly tasty, so I couldn’t help but put it on this list. The color purple isn’t really indicative of anything other than kudzu’s unique look, and that’s what we want here.

Anyway, this recipe is one of the more simple, easy to prepare one’s. You’ll want to hoard some kudzu leaves (the seeds can be bought online), and wash them thoroughly. You’ll need to remove the stems using a knife, and mix together the ingredients to be stuffed. The basics here include garlic and diced tomatoes, but you can go wild here.

Personally, I use Parmesan cheese, mushrooms and pre-packed smoked ham. Whatever you decide to use as a stuffing, it’s simply a case of adding the mixture to the leaves and rolling them. Make sure they’re packed in a tight cigarette shape, so none of the food falls out.

Now all they need is a brief stint in the oven. Kudzu is an extremely versatile plant, and the flower can even be cooked or turned into jelly. This means that if you get hold of some, literally none of it will go to waste.

Braised hogget pie

“What on earth is hogget?” I hear you ask. It sounds rather odd, but in reality, it’s not. It’s a younger form of lamb, and is thought to be the absolute tastiest way to enjoy this meat.

It’s as versatile as you’d expect, able to be roasted, slow-cooked, and made into pies and casseroles. It’s the pie we’ll be focused on here; specifically, a braised pie, making the meat as melt-in-the-mouth as possible.

Besides the use of hogget, this is a traditional casserole recipe. You can season the meat however you want (try salt, olive oil and pepper) and add whatever veg you want. In the final stages of cooking, you’ll need to layer some sliced potatoes over the meat and cook until brown.

It will take a number of hours to successfully braise the meat all over, but it’s absolutely worth the wait. If you don’t have the time, you can cook the meat in any way you see fit. Try a slow cooker, and place vegetables all around the meat to get that stringy, pulled-pork texture.

Dragon fruit salad with chocolate dip

And finally, we’re cheating a bit with this one because it is technically a pudding, but it works wonders! Dragon fruit doesn’t sound welcoming, but with its sweet texture it’s one treat that’s worth experiencing.

Globally recognized chefs like Gordon Ramsay frequently use this fruit, so that does stand for something. You’ll need to create a basic chocolate sauce here, using sugar, butter and cocoa powder, before adding some cream and mixing. If you want, you can lump in some vanilla extract too, but don’t make the sauce too sweet. The fruit is sweet too, and you might have an overload.

You can make your fruit salad from whichever fruits you desire, though some work better than others. Dragon fruit is quite soft, so similar soft fruits would be better. Think oranges, mangoes and grapes as opposed to crunchy apples. Once you’ve selected your favorites, it’s time to get dipping! Alternatively, you can drizzle the sauce over the fruit itself.

And if you really want to go all out, why not combine this pudding with one of the main dishes we listed earlier? You could have orcha lasagna followed by dragon fruit and chocolate dip, a sentence that looks wacky but tastes delicious. Or how about braised hogget with a mango, grape and dragon fruit drizzle? On a side note, I’m now incredibly hungry.

And with that, our list has come to an end! Cooking should be a fun, engaging experience that frequently challenges and tests you, and these recipes will do just that. By using an ingredient that you aren’t familiar with, you can create a fresh dish will simultaneously picking up new skills.

These skills can be transferred to other dishes and other meals, improving your all-round culinary ability. I’m not asking you to become a professional chef, but a strong foundation in this art will help improve your diet, and the diet of your family.

So, on that note, thanks for reading, and I hope some of these recipes are appealing to you! If you have any ideas, suggestions or unusual ingredients of your own, let us know down in the comments. If you are looking for simpler dishes try these simple recipes that are cheap to!

Monday 27 June 2016

Talking with Your Kids About Bullying

Guest Post
By Dr. Mildred Peyton
June 21, 2016

As a mother of two school-aged daughters, a bullying expert, and children and youth advocate, I'm here to inform parents, in particular, that bullying is not to be taken lightly and, to provide parents with five tips of what to highlight as they talk with their children about bullying.

Before divulging my five tips to parents (and anyone reading this article), first, I want readers to understand what bullying is. By definition, bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that is repeated, or has the potential of being repeated, and involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the victim and the bully (also known as the perpetrator).  Simply put, for a behavior to constitute bullying, there must be recurrences of aggression (in the form of physical, verbal, social, and cyberbullying) aimed at a specific target.

When it comes to talking to your children about bullying, it is important that parents take the time to do their homework (i.e., research) before starting the conversation. More than likely their definition or understanding of bullying is no longer feasible. For example, in the past, bullying was acceptable or was not seen serious among children and youth; it was considered a right of passage for children growing up, as it was normal and all right for kids to argue, and even get into a few scuffles, especially boys. Today, this is not the case, as those notions of behaviors once deemed okay are obsolete, as they could potentially lead to bullying. With today's status quo of bullying, we must not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear; instead, we must heed its warnings and effects. Bullying has evolved and has become an epidemic over the past decade and has triggered great concerns as well as igniting conversations among parents, policymakers, school officials, and human services professionals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kids bullied are twice as likely to commit suicide or have suicide ideations than nonvictims; and in a 2013 nationwide survey, 20% of high school students reported being victims of bullying while on school property. Another source stated that 60% of fourth- through eighth-grade children reported being victims of bullying. These statistics are alarming and support further records showing that 160,000 kids stay home each day in an effort to escape bullying.  The most disturbing findings revealed that 86% of adolescent students reported that being bullied causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in school. This concept ties with the effects of bullying and how it was pinpointed that in 12 of 15 shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being victims of bullying.

Bearing all this in mind, let us now get into the tips you've been waiting to discover: what parents must include in their conversations about bullying.  I highly recommend parents of school-aged children incorporate my five tips below when talking with their kids about bullying:

1. Talk with your kids about what bullying is and how to address it safely.  After you've defined bullying with your children, you will want to brainstorm ways to safely approach/report the situation. This could mean getting the school to become aware of the incidents (e,g., tell a teacher, coach, counselor, principal, etc.), and minimizing contact with the perpetrator(s).

2. Talk with your kids about the importance of maintaining an open line of communication.  As parents, we cannot allow our adult lives and responsibilities to overshadow our time with our children. We must make time each day to ask our children about their day in school and not settle for simply, "It was okay", or "It was good/bad."  Probe to understand why or what made their day the way they described it. This way, if they were being bullied, you would have already established some comfort level, enabling you to help them talk with you at ease. Also, having an open line of communication allows parents to notice red flags and use them to help and protect their kids.

3. Talk with your kids about being resilient and not accepting someone to bully them. By now, we should all be aware that being bullied cannot be avoided. However, we parents must empower and inspire our children to always speak up for themselves and others without compromising their safety. When kids stand up and tell their parents or a trusted adult, they lower their chances of being future targets.

4. Talk with your kids about not bullying others.  Most times, parents seldom address the fact that their child/children can potentially and intentionally cause harm to their peers. We must not shy away from this notion, but instead, embrace it and teach our children how to respect others and treat others the way they would like to be treated.

5. Talk with your kids about making good decisions. Ultimately our actions and behaviors stem from the decisions we make. Someone can make the decision whether or not he or she will become a bully or a victim of bullying.  Overall, when we have this discussion with our kids, they will learn to make deliberate and conscious decisions about their interactions with others, and other daily encounters.  Teaching our kids how to be responsible and accountable at an early age, especially, could be the least of any parents' worries in their child's teenage and adult years.

To learn more about recent bullying findings, read my latest research, "Exploring the Meaning of School Bullying Among Parents of Victimized Children" at

Thank you, Funky Frugal Mommy, for being a part of my voice against bullying!

If you're a mother in need of great fun and healthy ideas for your family, go to and you'll be happy you stopped by!


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Stand for the Silent:

Friday 24 June 2016

Lower Your Water Bill This Summer

With water bills on the minds of Canadians this summer, Adam Findlay, senior marketing manager at Pfister, shares the following tips to help conserve water:

Make use of rainwater - Collect rainwater and use it to water plants and wash your car. A rain barrel collecting water from your eaves trough downspout is both environmentally and financially smart. Nothing saves on a water bill like using what nature provides for free.

Don’t leave the water running - Use a touch-free faucet so you’re not caught running the tap longer than necessary. These high-tech kitchen faucets help stop the spread of germs while reducing your overall water usage by automatically shutting off with the wave of your hand. Every second of running water adds up and a touch-free faucet cuts off exactly when you need it to.

Keep drinking water in the fridge – Running the tap to get cold drinking water is both time consuming and wasteful. Consider storing drinking water in the fridge so when you go looking for a cool drink it is readily available.

Install a new toilet – You old toilet is flushing money down the drain. Go with a new model that uses less water to flush or one that has two flushing modes. Your toilet can be one of the largest water consuming items in your house so update it and go with a smaller version.

Use an eco-friendly showerhead - Installing an eco-friendly showerhead is an inexpensive way to automatically reduce the amount of water you use in the shower. Modern eco-friendly showerheads don’t compromise performance so there’s no need to fear a weak water flow. It’s also worthwhile to consider avoiding baths, as they use much more water than a typical shower.

Reconsider how you do your dishes – Wash your dishes in a half full sink and only use the dishwasher for full loads. A partial load can use the same amount of water, but you will be washing more often and wasting both energy and water.

Thursday 23 June 2016

How Playing Outdoors Improves Kids’ Cognitive Skills

Life has definitely changed a lot in the last hundred years with all the technological advances, what has certainly impacted the way we raise our children and how they spend their time. Kids used to be out and about and a lot more physically active. Nowadays they are mostly indoors in front of a TV or a computer screen, or playing with some other tech gadgets. This has lead to serious negative consequences on their health and development. However, a new trend of taking kids back outdoors is on the rise and we present you with the of the benefits this has on their cognitive development.

Introducing new stimuli

When kids are outdoors, they are surrounded by new things. They see, hear, feel and smell some things for the first time and these are considered new stimuli by the brain. The brain then creates ‘new folders’, so to speak, where it stores new data. In simple terms, new stimuli grow our brains.

Increasing attention span

More and more kids today are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and the fact that they spend a lot of time in classrooms where stimuli are always the same (most commonly just pen and paper) might be our clue as to why. When they are outdoors, they are free to direct their attention anywhere, since this usually means uninstructed play. When outside, they don’t have to force themselves to pay attention to a particular thing, but rather focus on something spontaneously. Kids usually have better attention span after time spent outdoors.

Promoting problem solving

Being outdoors means facing natural laws and learning how things work in life. Kids figure out what works and what doesn’t by trying things out, that is, by trial and error. They also learn when it is appropriate to repeat certain actions until successful outcome is reached, as well as when to stop trying if there is no progress at all.

Recognizing patterns

Nature is abundant with various patterns, like the shapes of leaves, flowers, animal horns, branches, bark of the tree and so on. They can also learn how to count things, add and divide. They identify similarities and differences, and tend to sort things into groups. These are all the basic skills they need for math and other subjects.

Promoting learning through fun

Kids are likely to learn more when they are outdoors than indoors simply because it boosts their mood and they connect it with play and fun. A good way to promote learning through fun is to hire kids’ party entertainers who have some learning friendly games, activities and stories up their sleeve that teach kids while they are having a ball.

Improving health and fitness

Playing outdoors helps kids grow in the healthiest way, developing their muscles, strength, flexibility and motor skills. Their hearts and lungs develop properly and their brains get enough oxygen, which in turn decreases stress and promotes concentration and learning. It also boosts their immune system, so the body gets to function at the optimal level. Running around outside expends extra energy, so kids who play outdoors are ready for focused, quiet learning when in the classroom.

Developing communication skills

Kids playing outside need to pay attention to their environment much more then when they are indoors, what teaches them to listen and to communicate with others. They usually play in groups and have to interact with each other. They learn to ask questions, express their thoughts effectively, negotiate and compromise.
In addition to all these benefits, playing outdoors is also much more fun and boosts natural joy and happiness in kids. When they are happy and content, they are more likely to be willing to do some more demanding tasks as well.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Plasmart Smart Mat Review & Giveaway!

Product Description

Quality, coated EVA foam mat. Easy to wipe clean of dirt and spills. Rolls up for easy travel and storage. Children can use their play cars to race around town. Great for playrooms, classrooms, the beach or yard.

  • Creativity and imaginative play development
  • Giant play surface- min. 78" x 46
  • Easy to clean and store
  • Multi purpose play mat

  • Creativity and imaginative play development
  • Giant play surface- min. 78" x 46
  • Easy to clean and store
  • Multi purpose play mat
Plasmart makes a huge selection of toys to suit any age. Whether your looking for educational toys or something that's just fun you can trust the quality of Plasmart!

Now you have the chance to win one for your family. Just enter below. Open to US and Canada!

Tuesday 21 June 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

“Smartly chilling.”
— Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

“Absolutely Intense.”
— Scott Carty, ABC-TV


John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead Star in the Suspense-Filled Film
on Digital HD May 31, 2016 and Blu-ray Combo Pack June 14

Acclaimed producer J.J. Abrams and up-and-coming director
Dan Trachtenberg deliver a new masterpiece that critics are calling “riveting, gripping and loaded with tension” (Scott Mantz, “Access Hollywood”) when 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE debuts on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand June 14, 2016 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. The film arrives two weeks early on Digital HD May 31.

Certified Fresh by critics with a 90% score on Rotten Tomatoes, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE delivers “heart-pounding fun” (Patrick Stinson, “Made in Hollywood”) that will “shock you senseless” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone).  After a catastrophic car crash, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) wakes up in a survivalist’s (John Goodman, Argo) underground bunker. He claims to have saved her from an apocalyptic attack that has left the outside world uninhabitable. His theories are supported by a mysterious stranger who is in the bunker with them (John Gallagher, Jr., “The Newsroom”), but as his increasingly suspicious actions lead her to question his motives, she'll have to escape in order to discover the truth.
With a shocking finale that “will completely blow you away” (Eric Eisenberg, Cinemablend),
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE looks phenomenal on Blu-ray.  The Combo Pack includes Digital HD, commentary with director Dan Trachtenberg and producer J.J. Abrams, and over 30 minutes of special features. Take an extensive look behind-the-scenes with Abrams and the cast as they revisit the legacy of 2008’s CLOVERFIELD, and discuss how 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE went from script to production. Continue with a tour of the ominous bunker, see how the costume designer was challenged to create a homemade Hazmat suit, follow the production team and sound designers as they work on the movie's epic finale, and hear the unique scores composed for each character.  Plus, for a limited time only, get a bonus Digital HD copy of the original CLOVERFIELD with the Blu-ray Combo Pack.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE Blu-ray Combo Pack
The 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The DVD in the combo pack is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The combo pack includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film as well as the following:
  • Feature film in high definition
  • Commentary by director Dan Trachtenberg and producer J.J. Abrams
  • Over 30 minutes of Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Feature film in standard definition

The Blu-ray Combo Pack available for purchase includes a Digital HD version of the film that can be accessed through UltraViolet™, a way to collect, access and enjoy movies.  With UltraViolet, consumers can add movies to their digital collection in the cloud, and then stream or download them—reliably and securely—to a variety of devices.    

The single-disc DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The disc includes the feature film in standard definition.

Paramount Pictures presents a Bad Robot production: “10 Cloverfield Lane.”  Music by
Bear McCreary.  Executive producers Bryan Burk, Drew Goddard, and Matt Reeves.  Produced by
J.J. Abrams, p.g.a. and Lindsey Weber, p.g.a.  Story by Josh Campbell & Matt Stuecken.  Screenplay by Josh Campbell & Matt Stuecken and Damien Chazelle.  Directed by Dan Trachtenberg.


About Paramount Home Media Distribution
Paramount Home Media Distribution (PHMD) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.  PPC is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), home to premier media brands that create television programs, motion pictures, consumer products, and digital content for audiences in 180 countries and territories.  The PHMD division oversees PPC’s home entertainment and transactional digital distribution activities worldwide. The division is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment content on behalf of Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and CBS and applicable licensing and servicing of certain DreamWorks Animation titles.  PHMD additionally manages global licensing of studio content and transactional distribution across worldwide digital distribution platforms including online, mobile and portable devices and emerging technologies.  

Shinn Communications Canada Inc. Contacts:

Street Date:     May 31, 2016 (Digital HD)
June 14, 2016 (Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand)
U.S. Rating:    PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence and brief language
Canadian Rating: 14A for disturbing content, violence


Smilezone Foundation's Fourth Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament set to take place this July

On Monday, July 18, 2016, celebrities will gather to put smiles on the faces of children in need, as the Smilezone Foundation is set to host its Fourth Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament.

The event will take place at the stunning RattleSnake Point Golf Club in Milton, Ontario, where 68 foursomes will each be accompanied by a celebrity as they tee off to raise money and awareness for Smilezone's great cause.

The Foundation, co-founded by former NHL player Adam Graves, transforms hospital rooms and children’s clinics into kid-friendly areas, helping children with disabilities or illnesses feel comfortable in their time of need. To date, the Foundation has completed 59 successful Smilezones, including recent work at the London Children's Hospital and Kingston General Hospital.

This summer, the Smilezone team will be heading to Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville, and the Niagara Children's Centre. By the end of 2016, the Foundation will have successfully installed over 100 Smilezones in various children's hospitals, treatment centres and rehabilitation clinics across Ontario, sharing with thousands of families the universal sign of happiness, a smile.

Tee off will take place at 10:00 a.m., and all participants will enjoy a day that includes great golf, celeb interaction, lunch, drinks, dinner, and exciting live and silent auctions. The long list of sports personalities, athletes, actors, and musicians is comprised of the likes of Eric Lindros, Adam Graves, Rick Vaive, Sean Monahan, Paul Masotti andElliotte Friedman.

Attn Media: Celebrities, organizers, and Smilezone personnel will be available for interviews during the registration period, which takes place between 8:30 and 9:45 am. Please RSVP to to confirm your timeslot.

Event Itinerary:
8:30-9:45 AM: Registration
10:00 AM: Tee Off
4:00-5:00 PM: Cocktail Reception
5:00 PM: Dinner, Awards, and Auction

Important Links:

About Smilezone Foundation
Smilezone Foundation is a registered charity committed to “putting smiles on children’s faces”. The charity, founded by Adam Graves and Scott Bachly in 2012, established the overarching mission of assisting children, and their families, who are facing difficult times and health challenges. Smilezone’s mission is to create, build and transform areas (“Zones”) in hospitals, private treatment and development centres, and children’s clinics, in order to improve the lives of children facing illness, disabilities, and physical and emotional obstacles—ultimately putting smiles on their faces. Please for more information