Saturday, October 30, 2010

Avoiding the Flu

It’s that time of year again, when the sniffles appear and it seems almost everyone around you is getting sick. But you know that this year, you just cannot afford to get sick! Here are some simple tips that will help you up your body’s defences by up to 76 % or more!

Enjoy some time with friends.

While it may seem practical to stay at home when the flu or other bugs run rampant throughout the town, hiding yourself away shouldn’t be the final solution! People who regularly go out and spend time with their friends are four-times less likely to get sick in comparison to those who will actively avoid social contact – even if one friend has the sniffles! Studies conducted at the Center for the Advancement of Health, based in Washington D.C. further confirm this. As Dean Ornish, M.D., and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco says, “ strong, nurturing friendships improve immunity by squelching the body’s output of cortisol , stress hormone that interferes with the immune system’s production of white blood cells and antibodies.”  If you can’t slip some friends time into your busy schedule, don’t worry! A ten minute chat via the Web or over the phone can also deliver the same benefits.

Cook with Coconut Oil

Scientists at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Centre have noted that many vegetable shortening that we would use are packed with synthetic trans fat. These types of fats weaken our body’s immunity by reducing the efficiency of virus-fighting B cells. Solid Coconut Oil however, is free of trans fat and rich in medium-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids destroy germs by puncturing their protective membranes! Aim to get 3 Tbs. of coconut oil daily by subbing it for an equal amount of shortening in stir-fries, baked goods and other dishes.

Take a Daily Multivitamin

Many of us are lacking at least one immune-boosting nutrient despite eating a well-balanced diet, report researchers at Boston University Medical Center. There are a number of factor's to blame, such as modern food-processing methods, digestive aliments and chronic stress, all of which can reduce nutrient availability and hinder their absorption by the body. Studies carried out at Connecticut’s University of Bridgeport have indicated that by taking a daily multivitamin, your body's immunity can increase by up to 76 percent – and help the average person avoid 17 sick days annually.

Slip into Cozy Socks

Results from a study carried out at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, showed that volunteers whose feet were chilled for just 20 minutes were three more times likely to develop symptoms of a cold in the week following the experiment than subjects who kept their toes toasty. “We found that when a person’s feet are cold, blood vessels constrict in the sinuses. This reduces circulation of immune cells to the nasal epithelium, where they’re needed to fight off invading viruses,” Ronald Eccles, Ph.D., author of the study explains. If you’re in a place where thick socks are not an option, such as at work, you can go with lined boots or warm tights.

Slather on Mustard

Enjoy a generous dollop of this condiment on your sandwich every day and you’ll strengthen your viral immunity in as little as one a week, suggests research at UCLA. The magic ingredient: turmeric, the yellow spice found in almost all mustard varieties. Thanks to its antioxidant trio of eugenol, curcumin and vanilla acid, turmeric helps boost the body’s ranks of antiviral white blood by speeding the rate at which they divide.

These few tips will help to ensure that you give your body the most amount of help to avoid the flu at this time of the year!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Suz's tip of the week

Here's a tip that any red wine drinker will appreciate, because, let's face it - red wine stains are the worst. Particularly when you've got that luscious cream carpet in your living room, which has now been decorated with fresh red wine. :S

Most people will tell you there's little you can do to get rid of a red wine stain. I'm here to tell them they're wrong!

Next time you spill the red, grab the salt. Yes, plain old table salt. Cover the area with salt, and let sit for about 30 minutes. The salt will soak up the staining qualities in the red wine, leaving you able to hoover up the salt, and dab away the remaining stain.

Needless to say, this also works with red wine stains elsewhere other than your carpet. :) Happy drinking!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A taste of Egypt - Kebabs!

Many of you know that I am currently in the process of releasing a magazine for the Hurghada Area. As one of the on going sections running in the mag will be traditional Egyptian Recipes, I figured I may as well share them here too!

So here it is, I am proud to present the first edition of "A Taste of Egypt." Any and all comments are welcome!

Welcome to our Taste of Egypt section!

Have you ever walked into an Egyptian home, tasted the unique and wide range of foods available, and wondered how you would be able to re-create that little taste of Egypt in your own kitchen? Look no further! Each edition of Spotlight Hurghada will present a new and unique dish, simplified for even the most inexperienced of Kitchen Chef’s to try out.

Our release of Issue 0 coincides with the Eid al-Addha festival, so what could be more appropriate than a traditional Eid dish for our first recipe. Ask any Egyptian, and they will be quick to tell you that the Eid al-Addha festival is synonymous with meat, lots and lots of meat dishes. Ranging from roasted lamb, to chicken, to barbequed liver, to Kebab! So here, simplified for anyone to try, is a traditional Kebab recipe, cooked in many kitchens throughout Egypt during this special holiday.

To prepare this Kebab recipe Egyptian style, you will first need to make a Barbeque (BBQ) Sauce to marinate the meat in. Once the meat has marinated, it’s as easy as throwing it on a skewer and barbequing away.  The recipe below will serve four.

The Ingredients you’ll need:

    • 1 Large Onion
    • ½ Cup Water
    • 1 Teaspoon Salt
    • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
    • 1 Teaspoon Meat Spices (Also known as mixed spices)
    • 1 Small Teaspoon Cinnamon
    • 1 Small Teaspoon Sugar

For the KEBAB:
1 kg of Meat, preferred meat is Mutton
Assorted Vegetables (Peppers, onions, mushrooms, whatever vegetables you prefer!)

Firstly, begin with preparing your meat.
    • Cut into medium cubes or oblongs
    • Soak meat in a mixture of water and vinegar for approximately one hour. Rinse the meat.
Next, you will prepare the BBQ marinade mix.
    • Place all the ingredients for the BBQ mix in a blender.
    • Blend together until smooth.
    • Add this mix to the meat, and coat well.
    • Cover the meat and place in the fridge. Ideally, let the meat sit in the marinade for 2 hours. The longer you marinade, the more taste the meat will absorb!
Prepare the grill by adding the coal and allowing it to warm up.
Finally, get the meat ready for the grill!
    • Place the cubes of meat onto Kebab Skewers
    • Alternate Meat and Vegetables
When barbequing the Kebab, grill each side of the meat for approximately 2-3 mins, until the meat is cooked to your desired level. 

Hints and Tips to optimize your Kebabs:
    • Do not put too much coal in the grill in order to avoid burning the meat.
    • Put the rods close together so you can use the benefit of the heat.
    • Serve with parsley, as it will absorb any excess fats!

Bon App├ętit, or as they would say in Egypt, “Bil Hana wa Shiva!”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dreams of Paradise

One of the many joys of living in a beach-side city is the plentiful number of outdoors activities one can engage in. Diving the wonders of the Red Sea allows people to visit any number of spots up and down the coast line, while snorkelling provides a more surface friendly view of the Red Sea. There are of course many opportunities for water-sports enthusiasts, and the increasingly popular desert 4 x 4 rides and safaris.

Yet there are hidden wonders that remain to be discovered nestled along Hurghada’s infamous coast line. I took it upon myself to discover some of these, and in my quest to do so, reawakened one of my deepest passions.

Shaharazade, my new favourite little mare
It is said that the “wind of paradise blows between a horse’s ears,” and nothing could be more true when this wind is the salt-tinged wind rolling off of the sparkling emerald and sapphire waters of the Red Sea. To ride a horse along the beach with the sea spray kissing your face is to experience true freedom and beauty. Surprisingly enough, many Hurghadians are not even aware of this little bit of paradise available to them. I’m here to share this secret.

Tucked neatly in the Magawish Swiss Inn you will find the result of a life’s love and labour. Owned by Charlotte and her husband Sambu, the Horse-Stables at the Magawish Swiss Inn will let you taste true paradise on the back of a horse. Launched over 7 years ago, Charlotte and Sambu have been working with horses for as long as either of them can remember. Their combined experience and passion for their horses and the sport is evident in the dedication and commitment they have invested in their horses and horse-barn. Although the road has been long in getting to where they are today, Charlotte will be the first to tell you that she would not have it any other way.

With a stable of 16 horses, ranging in age from the latest foal to mature horses, even the most inexperienced of riders is sure to find a suitable horsey companion. Children are also always welcome! The location of Charlotte and Sambu’s stable mean it is possible to gallop through the surf on the beach, or explore the hidden wonders of the desert surrounding Hurghada. Whether you prefer short and easy rides, to longer more challenging rides, you are guaranteed an experience to remember.

Cynthia trying her hand at beach riding!
Charlotte and Sambu offer early morning rides, up into dusk rides where you will witness some of the most breathtaking views of the sunset Hurghada has to offer. But don’t take my word for it, get out there and experience the true joy of beach living on the back of a horse, and see for yourself if Churchill was right when he said “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”

For more information or to book a ride, contact Charlotte on 017-204-0146, Sambu on 010-620-1990, or Moustafa on 010-136-3844.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Death of Egypt's Free Press

Although this was posted last week in the online version of Foreign Policy, it is still an article well worth reading. Particularly for those keeping up to date with the shenanigans of Egypt's upcoming elections. I am familiar with the publication "al-Dustour" from my work with the Arab West Report, and was always supportive of their articles, particularly those that dealt with the sensitive issue of Muslim-Christian relations. Al-Dustour was one of the few publications in Egypt that you could count on for at least telling most if not all of the opinions from both sides.

Written by David Kenner, read on!!

 Ibrahim Eissa, al-Dustour's former editor in chief

In the run-up to November's parliamentary elections, President Hosni Mubarak's allies are silencing what remains of the independent media.

For years, the newspaper al-Dostour has been one of the few independent voices in the Egyptian press. No longer: Its editor in chief, Ibrahim Eissa, was fired today for refusing to toe the government line.
The immediate reason for Eissa's firing appears to be his plan to publish an article written by opposition leader and would-be presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei commemorating Egypt's 1973 war with Israel. But in an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy, Eissa said that his dismissal had been planned since the paper was purchased by Sayyid Badawi, a businessman and head of Egypt's Wafd Party, a liberal party that has nonetheless been co-opted by the regime. Eissa referred to Badawi as a member of Egypt's "soft opposition" -- someone publicly pushing for reforms, but who isn't willing to challenge the regime in any serious way.
"They bought the newspaper for $4 million, just to stop me from writing," Eissa said. "They had begun interfering within one week of taking over the paper, and the sale was only finalized 24 hours before I was fired."

Eissa said that the controversy over the ElBaradei article was simply the latest attempt by al-Dostour's board of directors, chaired by Badawi, to censor controversial and anti-government content from the newspaper. ElBaradei, in his article (since published on al-Dostour's website by its staff), argues that the spirit of self-criticism and rational planning, which allowed Egypt to come back from its defeat in the 1967 war with its victory in 1973, is absent from President Hosni Mubarak's regime. The board, Eissa said, was staunchly opposed to publishing the article: "They said that it would lead to revolution in Egypt."

With the 82-year-old Mubarak laying the groundwork for his son Gamal's succession to the presidency and Egyptian parliamentary elections scheduled for November, Eissa's dismissal appears to be part of a larger effort to mute Egypt's most vocal anti-government figures before this leadership transition. Some analysts, including other editors at al-Dostour, have suggested that Eissa's firing might be an attempt by the Wafd to ingratiate itself with the government and thereby secure a larger number of seats in the parliamentary elections.
All signs suggest that the Egyptian government does not intend to loosen its grip on Eissa or allow the democratic process to run its course. A few weeks ago, a television show offering political commentary hosted by Eissa was canceled. Mubarak' s regime has also shown little inclination to allow international monitors to observe the parliamentary elections.

Being silenced by government censors is nothing new for Eissa who, according to Foreign Policy contributor Issandr Amrani's excellent profile, spent seven years as "persona non grata" in the Egyptian press after his first iteration of al-Dostour was shut down. However, he says that he will remain outspoken. "I will continue to be a part of the opposition and will continue to criticize the government," he said.

Eissa will no doubt continue to be as vocal as Mubarak's regime will allow him -- but can al-Dostour, which he labored to transform into a legitimate news source over the past five years, maintain its reputation as a bastion of Egypt's independent press? Eissa spoke throughout the interview in Arabic, with his wife helping to translate his remarks -- but he answered this last question in English himself: "Absolutely not."


Suz's tip of the week

Ok, ok, I know it's been a couple weeks since the last "tip of the week," but hey, I've been so busy trying to keep up with everything offline, that keeping up online becomes very difficult! Nevertheless, I have a couple tips stored up ;)

This weeks tip will benefit anyone who has ever braved the streets in Egypt, particularly those who are brave (or stupid?) enough to drive the highways at night. Highways is perhaps not the correct term, lets say tarmacked stretches of road without lighting spanning the country. Lanes are non-existent; in fact often times these "highways" are no more than a two way street that will test your daring and driving skills.

Anyhow, if you have ever driven these roads at night, surely you have noticed the infuriating cars that come barelling down upon you, headlights blaring, flashing at you reprimanding your mediocre speeds of 100 km an hour. Worse is when these cars remain directly behind you, and miss (or simply ignore) the common driver courtesy of actually turning off their headlights.

 Not to worry, I'm here to tell you the simple and effective means of communicating to the drivers to kindly TURN OFF YOUR DAMN HEADLIGHTS. lol.

It takes no more than a quick flash of your indicators. Once right, then left, then right, then left. Voila, Egyptian auto-speak for shut off your lights momkin!

So for us expats that thought such driving manners would be taught in driving school, oh...wait never mind. Most drivers here miss this elementary part of driving 101. Fortunately, now you know :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Warning to Maadi Dog Owners

I know there are a fair number of people reading this blog who have dogs, and even more who know dog owners and / or love dogs themselves :)

Anyone who has been through Maadi is familiar with the long loping streets, bountiful trees, between which you will usually find one or two dogs slumbering away.  As a dog lover myself, I would quite frequently show these strays some positive affection, although after having had it drilled in me for years by my step-father, wouldn't feed them. I find the problem with stray dogs in Cairo, and Egypt in general, so very sad. Dogs dumped into the streets because owners cannot handle them, irresponsible people who refuse to get their pet neutered because of misguided information and as a result only further contribute to the problem. These street dogs are victims of human ignorance, and indeed, human arrogance.

When I'm out with Orien, I can't stand street dogs. I won't lie, I have thought on a number of occasion how nice it would be to be able to walk my dog through the streets, without fear of being attacked by the strays. I can't hate them for it though; when I'm out and about without Orien, they are as sweet and friendly as you can imagine. Who can blame a dog for being a dog!

When I heard today about the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals, about whom I have previously blogged, announcement that the streets in Maadi have been filled with poison, I had to share it. I have seen friends lose their own dogs to this poison thrown into the streets, it is not something to be taken lightly. How many dog owners could honestly say that their dog does not occasionally stop and pick stuff up off of the streets?

When dogs are poisoned, it is not a humane death. More disturbing about this news of poison being thrown down, is that is has been sanctioned by a vet!!! The person meant to protect the health of your animals, is actively seeking to kill dogs (and cats) in a grotesque manner! Granted that the street dogs in Maadi are a problem, why try and resolve the situation with something that is A) Inhumane - which might I add would mean that under Islamic standards is Haram, animals are never meant to suffer before they die; and B) Puts family dogs at risk! Taking into consideration that a great deal of this poison has been placed in Maadi Digla, an area populated by expat families and their dogs, it is prudent that you take extreme care with your dogs.

For the time being, exercise caution. ESMA has even recommended that you go as far as muzzle your dog when out walking, just to be on the safe side!!