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25
Jul

Four Unusual Olympic Sports

Through the eyes of Paula...

With the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics approaching quickly, it may interest some people to learn about some lesser known Olympic sports. To take a break from the well-known events, one can take a chance on watching and learning about a different event. Here are a few unusual Olympic sports.

1. Judo: Judo is a gentle way for athletes to take their opponents down – gentle as in not involving kicking or punching. This martial art uses a combination of throws and muscle power. This year marks 52 years since judo was introduced in the Olympics.

2. Rugby: Rugby may be unusual only because it has been absent from the Olympics for decades. The top contenders for the top prize are the Canadian and American women’s teams.

3. Field hockey: Field hockey is the only Olympic team sport in which there are medalists from all inhabited continents of the world. Historically played on grass, the international federation modified it to be played on a synthetic surface to provide a faster pace for flicking or chasing the ball. At Rio 2016, teams will compete in 15-minute quarters rather than 35-minute halves.

4. Trampoline gymnastics: Trampoline gymnastics only made its debut at the Sydney 2000 games, which is fairly recent. Competitors can compete solo or in teams, and they must execute an array of twists, turns, and other aerial feats while completing 10 bounces that put their bodies several metres above a trampoline. 

20
Jul

Four Canadian Islands to Visit

Through the eyes of Paula...

Canada has a fair amount of islands, most of which are situated in the west coast or east coast. One may consider visiting a Canadian island this summer, so here are four islands in Canada to consider visiting.

1. Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia: One of the biggest islands in Canada, Cape Breton Island is a beautiful place to explore many natural landscapes. Popular destinations on the island include Sydney, Baddeck, and the Cape Breton Highlands. Anyone who is interested in exploring Atlantic Canada should go to Cape Breton Island for a beautiful and picturesque learning experience.

2. Île Perrot, Quebec: With many quaint historical attractions, Île Perrot is a good destination for the well-educated, French-speaking person. One of its attractions is that it holds the only working windmill in Quebec, which is designated as a national historic site of Canada and a historic monument.

3. Manitoulin Island, Ontario: One of Ontario’s many pride and joys, Manitoulin Island is a mostly small, quiet area with fishing and some gift shops. This makes it a wonderful tourist destination. Manitoulin Island is also a fun place to visit if you love boat rides.

4. Saltspring Island, British Columbia: Part of the Southern Gulf Islands, Saltspring Island is the largest, most populous, and the most frequently visited of them. It boasts several hiking trails, and has a variety of tourist activities like arts and culture, kids’ activities, and workshops.

18
Jul

Five Lesser Known Vegetables to Consider Trying

Through the eyes of Paula...

If you ever want to try eating more healthily, consider the following five unique and uncommon vegetables. They might inspire you to incorporate more healthy vegetables into your diet, and inspire you to create new dishes.

1. Sunchoke: Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, they are actually not artichokes at all, but rather are the tuber of a species of sunflower. These root vegetables can be a tasty starch substitute for potatoes. Sunchokes are good sources of thiamin, phosphorus, and potassium. They are also very good sources of iron.

2. Jicama: This is a wonderfully juicy, sweet, and nutty tuber with a distinct crunch. It is most commonly enjoyed raw, but you can cook jicama, too. Its white flesh stays crisp when cooked briefly. The taste is mild, and can be thought of as a savory apple. Jicama is high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber, and is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It is also a good source of potassium and Vitamin C.

3. Fiddleheads: These are a traditional vegetable dish throughout the northeast United States region. These are occasionally served boiled, in a salad or with mayonnaise or butter. One reason they're so rare outside of their native regions is that they are not cultivated — only harvested from the wild — and so are only found locally and seasonally. Foraging for fiddleheads is also for experts only: Much like with mushrooms, not all ferns are edible and some are poisonous. They are packed with nutrients and acclaimed for their succulent flavour. Fiddleheads are full of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre, and contain twice the antioxidant quality of blueberries.

4. Romanesco: This mesmerizing vegetable is actually an exotic variant of the cauliflower. Romanesco is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and carotenoids. It is also known as the Roman cauliflower.

5. Kohlrabi: A relative of wild cabbage, this unique-looking vegetable has been hailed as one of the 150 healthiest foods on Earth. It is most commonly consumed in India, and is a staple in the Kashmiri diet. Fry up the root for some kohlrabi fries, toss the leaves in a salad, or chomp on the crisp, juicy stems for a low-calorie snack.

13
Jul

Six Lesser Known Fruits to Try

Through the eyes of Paula...

Since the summer season is now in full swing, an endless variety of fruits are available for purchase. Summer is the best time of the year to try exotic, uncommon fruits, and explore what nature has to offer you. Here are five unusual fruits from around the world. Have you ever heard of them, or even tried them?

1. Buddha’s Hand: This citrusy fruit is aptly named, since its finger-like sections resemble a human hand. It comes from India and China, and can be eaten as a zest or flavouring since it does not contain pulp or juice. It is very fragrant and can also be used as a perfume.

2. African Horned Cucumber: Also known as the blowfish fruit and kiwano melon, this seed-filled fruit has a spiky yellow exterior and a juicy green interior. It tastes like a cross between a cucumber and a zucchini, and slightly like bananas and lemons. It is rich in vitamin C and fiber.

3. Cherimoya: This exotic fruit has a flavor that is compared to sweet fruits like banana, pineapple, peach, and strawberry. Cherimoyas come from short, shrub-like trees. They have white flesh, which is extremely soft and sweet. It has an almost custard-like texture, which is why the fruit is also referred to as the custard apple.

4. Jackfruit: This is the largest fruit in the world. It’s amazing that these fruits grow on trees considering they can weigh up to 80 pounds each. They are often compared to bananas, but with a more tart flavour. Many people say it tastes like a cross between an apple, pineapple, mango, and banana. Jackfruits are used for cooking in Asian cuisines and are also eaten raw.

5. Mangosteen: The fragrant, edible flesh of the mangosteen can be described as sweet, tangy, citrusy, and peachy. The dark purple fruit is extremely sweet once the outer layer is peeled away. To peel, simply score the outer part of the fruit and then break the rind into two pieces, revealing the sweet, edible interior. It is naturally grown in tropical Southeast Asia, and is often praised for its delectable and luxurious flavour.

6. Rambutan: Native to the Malay Archipelago, the name of this fruit is derived from the Malay word meaning “hairy.” But once the hairy exterior of the rambutan is peeled away, the tender, fleshy, delicious fruit is revealed. The taste is described as sweet and sour, much like a grape or lychee.

11
Jul

Five Summer Events in Toronto

Through the eyes of Paula...

As summer gets going, one great activity to partake in is going to a fun event or festival with your family and friends. You can enjoy the nature, food, activities, and rides. Here are five events to give you an idea about the kinds of festivities that are out there.

1. The Fringe: Toronto’s Theatre Festival: Running until July 10, the Fringe festival is the largest theatre festival of its kind, with 150+ shows in 30 venues, and more than 1100 performances featuring local and international theatre companies. Ticket prices are very low, and the shows take place in multiple locations across the city.

2. Summerlicious: From July 8-24, you can experience over 200 featured restaurants that offer three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at exceptional prices. Reservations are recommended due to this event's popularity.

3. Beaches International Jazz Festival: This is a free annual music festival that features a mixture of latin, soul, and traditional jazz, with more than 100 bands. It runs from July 2-24.

4. Rogers Cup: For anyone who enjoys watching tennis, the Rogers Cup is on from July 23-31. This prestigious professional tennis tournament is organized by Tennis Canada and presented by National Bank, and attracts the top ranked tennis players from around the world. The location is the Aviva Centre at York University.

5. Krinos Taste of the Danforth: Celebrate Greek food, music, art and culture at the largest Greek Festival in North America. The event is free, and it runs from August 5-7.

06
Jul

Five House Plants to Brighten Your Living Space

Through the eyes of Paula...

Everyone should consider adding plants to their house, since the addition of a plant purifies the air and makes you feel happier and calmer. Here are five plants to get you started as a plant owner and caregiver.

1. Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme: Owning herbs is an excellent idea, since they make the house look nice and you can eat them little by little. To plant these herbs successfully, buy seedlings, keep them in separate pots, and keep the soil moist.

2. Spider Plant: An all-time favourite houseplant, the spider plant is very successful at reproducing, and it is a good air freshener. It absorbs common pollutants to naturally detoxify your home. Buy one that has plenty of green foliage and no brown under the leaves.

3. Ficus: This plant has shiny leaves, and stems that can be braided for a pleasant aesthetic effect. This plant likes to be in bright light, and most varieties prefer several days of dry soil in between thorough watering.

4. Snake Plant: This plany is also known as mother-in-law’s tongue. It grows well in a range of lighting conditions, and the air and soil should be kept somewhat dry. Its leaves grow upright – some varieties have yellow or white edges – and it has small white flowers that bloom.

5. Jade Plant: Also called a “money tree” and thought to bring good luck, the jade plant has excellent longevity. It grows slowly and has thick, lush leaves and visually interesting branches. To water this plant, use the “drench and drain” method, which is to allow the soil to dry out before completely soaking the root system again.

04
Jul

Five Great Chocolatiers in Toronto

Through the eyes of Paula...

 

Everyone knows that chocolate is a great treat to indulge in at any time of the year. For some excellent quality chocolates, here are five places in Toronto that provide delectable and fancy chocolate creations.

1. SOMA Chocolatemaker: With one location on King Street West and one in the Distillery District, SOMA offers a beautiful mix of chocolate goods. Their small-batch chocolate is made directly from the cacao bean; there is gelato, truffles, bars, classic drinking chocolate, chocolate tumbled nuts, and cookies. They are also experimenting with baked goods, but the chocolate will always be the main focus.

2. Stubbe Chocolates & Pastry: There's six generations' worth of chocolate knowledge behind every one of Stubbe's products, and many long-time customers who exclaim pleasure at the results. Choose from truffles, bonbons, chocolates, tortes, and pastries, or do one of their chocolate tastings and try them all. Stubbe Chocolate offers a range of truffles, cakes, and other chocolate delicacies. They also offer chocolate workshops for adults and children.

3. ChocoSol Traders: ChocoSol's creations have been a Toronto favourite since it opened about ten years ago. ChocoSol isn't just about making chocolate. Its philosophy is about community, social enterprise, and traditional methods. They stone grind their fair trade cacao beans, and use traditional methods of preparation. Their specialty is Xocolatl, or Mexican drinking chocolate, as well as their chocolate bars, which you can find at the St. Clair shop or many local farmers' markets and shops across the city. ChocoSol has 20 varieties of cacao in its kitchen, and their process results in an earthier chocolate with a lot more flavor.

4. The Chocolateria: This Roncesvalles shop is known for covering many different types of food in chocolate. Their best-known products are the chocolate covered potato chips, hot chocolate, and ice cream. They have an impressive selection of hand-rolled truffles as well. Core flavours like Dark Chocolate and Butter Rum are complimented with rotating seasonal and specialty varieties like Maple Bacon and Pumpkin. While all sweet treats in the shop, including the drool-worthy truffles, are made with premium and natural ingredients where possible, The Chocolateria is very conscious about keeping the prices accessible. Truffles are $1.40 a piece, and can be placed in a gift box.

5. Odile Chocolat: With exceptional European chocolate production built on owner Odile Chatelain's family traditions, the aptly named Odile makes the prettiest little chocolates. The menu includes truffles of many unique flavor combinations, candied fruit covered in chocolate, and an assortment of gift boxes. Odile sources organic, wild, and natural ingredients whenever possible and utilizes fair trade cocoa.

04
Jul

Five Great Chocolatiers in Toronto

Through the eyes of Paula...

Everyone knows that chocolate is a great treat to indulge in at any time of the year. For some excellent quality chocolates, here are five places in Toronto that provide delectable and fancy chocolate creations.

1. SOMA Chocolatemaker: With one location on King Street West and one in the Distillery District, SOMA offers a beautiful mix of chocolate goods. Their small-batch chocolate is made directly from the cacao bean; there is gelato, truffles, bars, classic drinking chocolate, chocolate tumbled nuts, and cookies. They are also experimenting with baked goods, but the chocolate will always be the main focus.

2. Stubbe Chocolates & Pastry: There's six generations' worth of chocolate knowledge behind every one of Stubbe's products, and many long-time customers who exclaim pleasure at the results. Choose from truffles, bonbons, chocolates, tortes, and pastries, or do one of their chocolate tastings and try them all. Stubbe Chocolate offers a range of truffles, cakes, and other chocolate delicacies. They also offer chocolate workshops for adults and children.

3. ChocoSol Traders: ChocoSol's creations have been a Toronto favourite since it opened about ten years ago. ChocoSol isn't just about making chocolate. Its philosophy is about community, social enterprise, and traditional methods. They stone grind their fair trade cacao beans, and use traditional methods of preparation. Their specialty is Xocolatl, or Mexican drinking chocolate, as well as their chocolate bars, which you can find at the St. Clair shop or many local farmers' markets and shops across the city. ChocoSol has 20 varieties of cacao in its kitchen, and their process results in an earthier chocolate with a lot more flavor.

4. The Chocolateria: This Roncesvalles shop is known for covering many different types of food in chocolate. Their best-known products are the chocolate covered potato chips, hot chocolate, and ice cream. They have an impressive selection of hand-rolled truffles as well. Core flavours like Dark Chocolate and Butter Rum are complimented with rotating seasonal and specialty varieties like Maple Bacon and Pumpkin. While all sweet treats in the shop, including the drool-worthy truffles, are made with premium and natural ingredients where possible, The Chocolateria is very conscious about keeping the prices accessible. Truffles are $1.40 a piece, and can be placed in a gift box.

5. Odile Chocolat: With exceptional European chocolate production built on owner Odile Chatelain's family traditions, the aptly named Odile makes the prettiest little chocolates. The menu includes truffles of many unique flavor combinations, candied fruit covered in chocolate, and an assortment of gift boxes. Odile sources organic, wild, and natural ingredients whenever possible and utilizes fair trade cocoa.

29
Jun

Five Wonderful Hiking Trails in Canada

Through the eyes of Paula...

Canada is full of gorgeous and natural landmarks, so it is no wonder that the country has a vast amount of hiking trails. For people who want to engage in an adventurous, breathtaking (both from awe and physical exertion) activity this summer, here are just five beautiful hiking trails that Canada has to offer.

1. Fundy Trail, New Brunswick: Southern New Brunswick holds a rare gem – one of North America’s last remaining coastal wilderness areas between Labrador and Florida. Hidden for many years, this unspoiled retreat is now open for hikers and cyclists to explore. Less than an hour’s drive from Saint John, the Fundy Trail unlocks 16 kilometres of seaside beauty. The winding trails lead to sandy beaches, concealed waterfalls, and vertigo-inducing cliffs. Here, you can get a unique perspective of the Bay of Fundy’s tides, as well as catch a glimpse of whales and sea birds.

2. Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia: Kejimkujik National Park is truly one of a kind. Nowhere else in the country will you find a Parks Canada site that is designed as both a National Park and a National Historic Site. With its rare old growth forests, abundant wildlife, Mi’kmaq legends, and geological finds, Kejimkujik National Park offers an unforgettable hiking experience. Boasting fifteen unique trails, the park lets visitors encounter rare species of birds, historical sites including gold mines), granite boulders, and vibrant foliage.

3. Killarney Park, Ontario: Considered a crown jewel of Ontario’s park system, Killarney Park came into existence by the dedicated efforts of several famous Canadian artists. The Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris, A.J. Casson, and A.Y. Jackson were so enamored with this rugged landscape that they approached the government, demanding that the area be designated as protected parkland. Thanks to their efforts, Killarney’s jack pine ridges, clear lakes, and quartz hills are here today. Four hiking trails, including the picturesque Granite Ridge Trail, give visitors exceptional access to La Cloche Mountains, Georgian Bay, and the spectacular beauty immortalized by the Group of Seven’s iconic paintings.

4. Kinney Lake Trail, British Columbia: For stunning lakeside and mountain views, head to Mount Robson Provincial Park – the second oldest provincial park in British Columbia. Towering overhead at 3,954 metres is the snow-capped Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. The sheer size of this majestic summit will have hikers spellbound as they wander along the 4.5 km Kinney Lake Trail. Amidst the dense cedar and hemlock forest, eagle-eyed visitors may have the once in a lifetime chance to see many wildlife species including moose, Black bears and elk. This hike will take approximately 2.5 hours to complete.

5. Grey Owl Trail, Manitoba: If you tread carefully along northern Manitoba’s Grey Owl Trail, you might be fortunate enough to spot white-tailed deer, beaver, foxes, and maybe a moose or coyote. Deep in Riding Mountain National Park, this gentle trail takes hikers on a 17 km journey through sandy beaches, Jack pine forests, and clusters of aspen, poplar, and balsam trees. For six months in 1931, this untamed corner of the Canadian Shield was the home of Archie Belaney, a dedicated conservationist who became known as Grey Owl. Wandering along the path that bears his name, you’ll quickly understand why Grey Owl fought so hard to preserve the forests and fauna of this breathtaking area. The 5-hour hike concludes rather fittingly at the Beaver Lake cabin where Grey Owl lived and worked as the first naturalist of Canada’s park system.

27
Jun

A Great Indoor Obstacle Course in Toronto

Through the eyes of Paula...

Pursuit OCR is a health club located at 444 Dufferin Street that has a huge indoor obstacle course and play zone. People of all ages can partake in the fun, and it is a great place to go this summer when the weather is too extreme outside. It is also a great place to go to burn off all the candy, ice cream, and other treats that may have been consumed earlier in the day. It is primarily an adult obstacle course, but spots can be reserved for children for Sundays from 7 a.m. to noon for family open park play days. Staff will also provide families with activities and fitness-related fun.

Pursuit OCR is a 10 000 square foot facility that has 2 classroom spaces and an indoor obstacle course consisting of 19 obstacles. The class space is surrounded by the independent training area, filled with equipment like ropes, stall bars, a slack line, and a couple of 11 and 14 feet high cove walls. The cove walls look like something you would see the “cool kids” skateboarding on – here, adults can run up the cove walls, hoist themselves on to the lip of the wall, and climb back down on a nearby secured ladder. The course is a mix of getting over or going under barriers, crawling through tunnels, climbing a tire wall, swinging from monkey bars, scaling a wall, and jumping into a ball pit. The course is considered to be quite challenging, and muscles will be sore days after visiting it. However, it is also very exhilarating. Amid the occasional moments of fear, reluctance, and exhaustion, all the activities are so much fun to take part in and incredibly exciting.

Each obstacle has an out, so that if you are uncomfortable or unable to do a particular task, you can move on to the next one. Pursuit OCR is also accessible and community-minded. The health club is an incredibly fun way to get an insane workout as well. With its challenging equipment, exhilarating obstacle course, and inclusive environment, Pursuit OCR is a Toronto must-do for everyone.