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Tips to elevate your Italian-inspired dishes

Whether you fancy yourself a wunderkind of all things Italian or are a novice in the kitchen, you can make your family meals memorable with these tips.

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While activities and events seem to rule most people’s schedules, time spent sharing a home-cooked meal is an important way to keep up with loved ones.

Busy calendars may pull families in different directions during the day, but making time to come together over dinner can help keep everyone connected. Exploring cuisines from around the world can make for delicious mealtimes, but it can also be time-consuming. However, there still are ways to serve up quality, satisfying, Italian-inspired dishes made with wholesome ingredients without spending hours over a hot stove.

Whether you fancy yourself a wunderkind of all things Italian or are a novice in the kitchen, you can make your family meals memorable with these tips from chef Stjepan Kadic of Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods.

Rely on fresh ingredients. Garden-fresh veggies are perfect for savory sauces and lighter dishes, too. The flavors of a classic Italian tomato sauce are created best with tomatoes fresh out of the garden. A sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes crushed with peels provides lycopene for added health benefits and pectin for natural thickening.

Pay attention to the pasta. Quality pasta is the foundation of many favorite Italian dishes. So get good pasta to start things off.

Experiment with cheeses. Mozzarella and Parmesan are two of the more popular Italian cheeses, but there are plenty of other options to create classic Italian flavors and textures. One choice to consider is traditional Italian-style whole milk ricotta cheese. Typically, artisan-made with just three simple ingredients (milk, vinegar and salt), it has a creamy texture that’s just right for both savory meals and desserts. Lasagna is a popular dish featuring ricotta; a recipe like lasagna with meat sauce features layers of homestyle meat sauce and creamy ricotta cheese smothered between layers of pasta then topped with mozzarella cheese can be a fan-favorite for gatherings – small and large.

Grow your own herbs. A healthy garden is even better when you add herbs to pair with the bounty of veggies you have grown. Herbs are a natural way to infuse flavors and even layer different kinds of flavors in a single dish. When it comes to Italian cooking, basil is one of the basics. Adding fresh basil to a sauce and letting it seep in delivers a traditional elevated flavor commonly found in many favorite Italian dishes.

Elevate meals with good spirits. If you’re entertaining or simply want to step up your menu, make an easy upgrade by adding vodka. The alcohol evaporates when heated, leaving behind a hint of sharp flavor that complements the other ingredients. One popular preparation is a blend of tomato sauce, cream, Calabrese peppers and vodka over pasta, often penne rigate.

Introduce kids to new flavors. The familiar taste of Italian sauces and rich, creamy cheese can provide a non-threatening context for trying new dishes. A classic Italian dish features freshly sliced veggies – e.g. eggplant that is lightly breaded then smothered in vine-ripened tomato sauce and three cheeses.

If you’re looking to dish up an authentic Italian feast tonight, visit michaelangelos.com for more tips.

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Why hustle culture can do more harm than good to your mental health

Despite the fact that hustle culture causes individuals to increase their working hours and reduce the number of hours they have for sleep, it can actually cause people to become a lot less productive, making the entire culture itself extremely counterproductive.

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Anybody with social media will be aware of the hauntingly popular notion of ‘hustle culture’, which refers to people feeling pressured to work tirelessly, without rest, and to be constantly making money and being productive. 

The research team at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere, has stressed that this notion can be extremely toxic and can cause a negative impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Stress

One of the many negative impacts that hustle culture can have on an individuals mental wellbeing is with extreme stress. Stress in the workplace can affect people both mentally and physically, it can generate feelings of anxiety and cause depression. In phsycial form, stress can cause heart disease, difficulty breathing, headaches and alcohol and drug dependency. 

Stress caused by heavy work pressures, long hours and workloads can result in burnout. Being burnout can affect everyday tasks at work or in the home, it can make an individual feel less productive and it increase the risk of mistakes. In industries that deal with machinery or are based in dangerous environments, this could have catastrophic consequences. 

Anxiety 

Hustle culture creates a toxic environment for fear, guilt and shame, and the glorification of overworking can lead to severe cases of anxiety. The anxiety makes employees feel that they have failed if they ever take a break. Not allowing yourself any time to relax can be extremely dangerous for your mental health and wellbeing. Anxiety can lead to a plethora of other issues including lack of sleep, fatigue, and exhaustion.

Exhaustion

Working too much, feeling constantly under pressure and having a poor sleep cycle can cause exhaustion. This can lead to counter-productivity later down the line as exhaustion can cause difficulty with concentration, memory and even emotional imbalance. 

There are also instances where the body is able to just shut itself down and fall asleep whilst working, this can be extremely dangerous if a person’s industry involves driving vehicles or operating heavy machinery. 

Fatigue

Fatigue is sometimes compared to exhaustion, however fatigue can be more long term and can cause further damage to a person’s mental health and wellbeing. Symptoms can be much more severe than exhaustion too, individuals will often experience headaches, dizziness and muscle pains and weakness.

Fortunately, with some simple and practical lifestyle changes such as taking more breaks and getting proper sleep, fatigue can reduce over time, but in some cases you may need to see a doctor. 

Decreased Productivity 

Despite the fact that hustle culture causes individuals to increase their working hours and reduce the number of hours they have for sleep, it can actually cause people to become a lot less productive, making the entire culture itself extremely counterproductive. 

This is why hustle culture has a negative impact on both employers and employees, for employers they end up with workers being much less productive and the workers themselves begin to face a plethora of physical and mental health issues that can be entirely avoided.

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5 Affordable and simple ways everyone can be an eco warrior

Understanding that collective effort is the way to go, retail giant SM Supermalls is committed to helping all Filipinos make more environmentally friendly choices in every aspect of their life.

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From changing weather patterns to disease outbreaks, we are already feeling the effects of global warming. We need to act now and work together in protecting the planet.

Understanding that collective effort is the way to go, retail giant SM Supermalls is committed to helping all Filipinos make more environmentally friendly choices in every aspect of their life.

“Many people care about the planet but find it hard to create a green lifestyle because of limited time or budget. That’s why we have community programs that make it more convenient and affordable to be an eco-warrior,” says Jonjon San Agustin, SVP for Marketing, SM Supermalls.

Here are five easy ways on how you and your family can live greener.

Segregate your trash and Trash to Cash

Segregating your biodegradable and recyclable waste reduces the amount of trash that goes into landfills. Have separate containers for different kinds of trash: biodegradable for food and garden waste; recyclable for plastic, paper, and metal waste; residual waste for trash that can’t be recycled including used tissue or paper plates; electronic waste for old batteries or broken gadget which shouldn’t be mixed with other waste because they contain metals that can contaminate the soil.

You can bring your recyclable waste to SM Supermalls’ Trash to Cash Recycling Market, held 10 am to 2 pm on every first Friday and Saturday of the Month. Visit this link to find the kiosk locations near you.

Limit the use of plastic through Plastic Waste Collection

Did you know that it takes plastic over 1,000 years to decompose?

About 10% of plastic materials will end up in the ocean and can kill marine life. In the Philippines, plastic waste often congests sewage systems causing floods. You can avoid using single use plastic by bringing your own reusable containers or eco bags when going to the groceries.

You can also buy items in eco-friendly packaging.

Plastic cutlery and straws are optional during order delivery or takeout. For dine-in, you can have your own eco-kit which has a drinking bottle, a set of utensils, and a foldable eco bag. Go green anytime and anywhere!

You can also recycle your plastic waste through SM Supermalls’ Plastic Waste Collection programs. Make it a fun weekend and volunteer for SM by the Bay and SM Mall of Asia’s regular ocean clean-up drives.

Plant a garden

Plants help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air. If you don’t have a large yard for a garden, you can still get houseplants! There are many creative and beautiful ways to add more plants to a small home like using a backless bookshelf or installing vertical gardens.

Get plants, tools, and expert tips on how to take care of your home garden at SM Mall. You can also find beautiful containers like terrariums and plant hangers that are made by Filipino SMEs.

Buy eco-friendly products

Choose more environmentally friendly products to gradually create a sustainable lifestyle.

Environmentally friendly products can be reusable or biodegradable. They are usually made from sustainable materials with eco-friendly packaging. They also produced less toxic waste during manufacturing and after disposal.

You can find thousands of eco-friendly products within SM malls through the recently launched Green Finds pop-up stores. The selection of products can help go green in every aspect of your life.

Reuse as much as you can

Before you throw anything away, consider if the item can be either upcycled into something useful, or donated to someone who needs it. SM holds regular toy and book drives, where you can even get discount vouchers to use in the store.

Join the Green Movement

The SM Green Movement is a collective effort of SM, its customers, communities, and partners to promote green living, green culture and a green planet. For more information, visit this website.

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5 Tips when buying life insurance for the first time

A knowledgeable and professional insurance agent can offer trusted guidance when it comes to finding the right life insurance protection at the right price.

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Photo by Vlad Deep from Unsplash.com

Major life changes like getting married, starting a family or buying a house are often when people start thinking about buying life insurance. Now, more than ever, people are more concerned with their financial security. Buying a life policy can be a process that sounds intimidating or confusing – but it’s also very important.

During this Life Insurance Awareness Month, Erie Insurance shares five points to discuss with your agent when buying life insurance for the first time.

  1. Understand who (or what) you are protecting. While anyone experiencing a significant life event like getting married or starting a family often recognizes the need for life insurance, others may not realize they could benefit from it as well. For instance, stay-at-home parents and student loan cosigners could have a definite need for life insurance.
  2. Only buy the life insurance plan you can afford. Many people are surprised at how much life insurance they really need to protect the people and things they love most – but they are also surprised at how affordable it can be. If you cannot find a policy that fits in your budget, it’s a mistake to forgo any coverage at all. Something is definitely better than nothing.
  3. Think through your beneficiaries. A life insurance beneficiary is the person or entity you name in your life policy to receive funds in the event of your passing. Your beneficiary can be a person, business, trust, charity or even your church. And you can have more than one. It’s important to make sure you think through who your beneficiaries are and if any proceeds meant to benefit a minor should be held in a trust.
  4. Buy from a financially sound company. You want the backing of a financially strong insurer if you or someone you love needs to call on the life insurance policy. A.M. Best, the largest and longest-established company devoted to issuing in-depth reports and financial strength ratings about insurance organizations, gave Erie Family Life Insurance Company a rating of A (Excellent).
  5. Consider current and future needs. Don’t just consider your current lifestyle, keep in mind your future needs and what those could include for your spouse, children or business (think college expenses, weddings, etc.). By taking in these considerations today, you’re investing in the security of your future. Life insurance is less expensive than most people think—and that’s especially true when you’re younger. 

A knowledgeable and professional insurance agent can offer trusted guidance when it comes to finding the right life insurance protection at the right price. Life insurance with Erie Family Life offers you the right coverage with flexible options, helping you to build a policy now that is adaptable later.

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