4 Best Practices for Protecting Your Business

Running your own business is no small task. As a business owner, you’re constantly shifting priorities, juggling tasks, and making moves to increase your bottom line. But in addition to your day to day responsibilities, you should also be thinking about your business’s security in the long term.

Every business is vulnerable. From theft and data breaching to litigious employees and financial issues. As an owner, it’s your responsibility to do what you can to protect your business from potential threats. In this article, we’ll be discussing some high-level tips to help you protect your business from all sorts of vulnerabilities.

1. Manage your money efficiently

Budget concerns are a big part of running your own business, especially if you’re working with a limited one. A sudden hike in material cost, a mandatory increase in employee wages, or a drop in demand could quickly put your business into a tricky situation. The best remedy to deal with money issues? Plan ahead.

That old saying, “plan for the worst, hope for the best” definitely rings true when it comes to dealing with business budgets. Be sure to build an emergency cushion into your budget and always be thinking about how you might handle financial stress. The other part of this is being diligent about how you manage your finances. Use accounting software to help you monitor invoices, watch profit margins, and create budgets.

2. Hire exceptional employees

Not only do your employees help you make projects move forward, but they also lay the groundwork for your company’s culture and ultimately, your business’s success. Conversely, hiring bad employees can seriously jeopardize your business and cause complicated issues like theft, litigation, etc. But being able to identify the questionable ones isn’t always easy. To find the right employees for your organization, you’ll want to make sure that your hiring process is polished and professional. Here are some tips to help you fortify your hiring procedures:

  1. Post open positions on reputable job posting sites
  2. Screen applicants over the phone before bringing them in for an interview
  3. Have candidates complete test projects if it makes sense for them to do so
  4. Use panel interviews to get a broader perspective on candidates
  5. Conduct an identity check on your top candidate(s) before sending your final job offer
  6. Designate a predetermined trial period for the candidate to make sure they’re a good fit

3. Protect your tech

Data breaches have become one of the main threats to all brands these days, no matter how big or small. Even huge corporations like Target, TJ Maxx, and Home Depot have experienced large-scale data breaches where customer data was hacked, costing them millions of dollars in settlements.

While your small business might not have to deal with cybersecurity threats to this extent, it’s still important to do what you can to protect you and your customers’ information. A breach not only costs money, but it can also be very damaging to your company’s reputation.

Here are a few ways your business can better protect everyone’s data:

  1. Use data encryption and a VPN to keep data and browsing secure
  2. Make customers aware of their privacy and your data usage
  3. Don’t grant everyone data access, only allow employees who need the information to retrieve it
  4. Take complaints and concerns seriously and adjust your process as necessary

4. Be forward-thinking

Another potential threat your business may encounter is a decrease in demand or a change in the market. Remember Blockbuster? The family video store was practically ubiquitous but as soon as streaming services like Netflix and Hulu came along with a more convenient product, the stores practically vanished into thin air.

While there isn’t really a way to predict these kinds of changes, your business can—and should—have a plan in place for growth. Can you introduce a new technology to make the customer experience more seamless? Or perhaps there’s a way for you to expand your services? Make sure to keep up on industry trends to help you establish a growth mindset.

 

Final notes

Running your own business is constantly challenging and sometimes nerve-wracking. But by using these best practices, you can fortify your business against potential threats.

Beef Up Your Menu with a Trendy Twist on Sushi

Tantalizing taste buds with the latest in trendy foods can be a fun way to bring the whole family to the table for meals together. Combining familiar flavors with a new preparation method, for example, is one way to add flair to dinners at home.

An innovative sushi-style concept, “beefshi” features convenient beef products like pastrami, roast beef, summer sausage, hot dogs, corned beef or bologna prepared in rolls with rice and vegetables. Because recipes like Reuben Roll, Taco Maki, New York Deli Roll and Muffarolletta can be enjoyed individually as appetizers or grouped together for a full meal, these dishes can provide a variety of solutions from entertaining a crowd to simply feeding your family.

Find more information and recipes at beefshi.com.

Reuben Roll

Recipe courtesy of the North American Meat Institute on behalf of the Beef Checkoff

Yield: 2 rolls (16 pieces)

Hand Vinegar:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

Rolls:

  • 12 thin slices pastrami
  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 sheets nori
  • 4 thin slices Swiss cheese, cut into slivers
  • 1 1/4 cups sauerkraut, rinsed, drained and squeezed dry
  • Russian dressing
  1. To make hand vinegar: In small bowl, stir water and rice vinegar.
  2. To make rolls: Lay sushi mat on clean surface and cover with plastic wrap. Lay six slices pastrami on mat lengthwise. Moisten hands with hand vinegar and shake off excess. Spread 1 1/2 cups rice across pastrami, leaving 1 inch empty at farthest end. Sprinkle rice with caraway seeds. Turn nori over so rice side is down.
  3. Cover half the pastrami crosswise with two slices cheese and half the sauerkraut.
  4. Securing meat and cheese with fingers, use thumbs to push end of mat up and over filling until edge of nori meets rice on opposite side. Press firmly on roll.
  5. Lift top of mat and roll firmly until tight and round. Squeeze gently to shape. Press ends in carefully to secure loose rice. Remove mat and set roll aside.
  6. Repeat to make second roll.
  7. Use thin, sharp knife to cut each roll into eight slices. Arrange on sushi platter and serve with Russian dressing.

New York Deli Roll

Recipe courtesy of the North American Meat Institute on behalf of the Beef Checkoff

Yield: 2 rolls (16 pieces)

Hand Vinegar:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

Futomaki:

  • 2 sheets nori
  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 6 thin slices corned beef
  • 4 teaspoons horseradish, well-drained
  • 4 thin slices Swiss cheese, sliced into thin sticks
  • Dijon mustard
  1. To make hand vinegar: In small bowl, stir water and rice vinegar.
  2. To make futomaki: Lay sushi mat on clean surface and cover with plastic wrap. Place one nori sheet on mat, shiny-side down. Moisten hands with hand vinegar and shake off excess. Spread 1 1/2 cups rice across nori. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon caraway seeds. Turn nori over so rice side is down.
  3. Cover half the rice crosswise with three slices corned beef. Spread corned beef with 2 teaspoons horseradish. Cover corned beef with two slices cheese.
  4. Securing meat and cheese with fingers, use thumbs to push end of mat up and over filling until edge of nori meets rice on opposite side. Press firmly on roll.
  5. Lift top of mat and roll firmly until tight and round. Squeeze gently to shape roll. Press ends in carefully to secure loose rice. Remove mat and set roll aside.
  6. Repeat to make second roll.
  7. Use thin, sharp knife to cut each roll into eight slices. Arrange on sushi platter and serve with Dijon mustard.

Taco Maki

Recipe courtesy of the North American Meat Institute on behalf of the Beef Checkoff

Yield: 2 rolls (16 pieces)

Hand Vinegar:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

Maki:

  • 2 sheets nori
  • 4 cups sushi rice
  • 4 ounces finely shredded spicy beef jerky
  • 16 cilantro sprigs
  • 1/2 cup slivered radishes
  • 64 tortilla strips
  • queso fresco crumbles
  • pico de gallo
  1. To make hand vinegar: In small bowl, stir water and rice vinegar.
  2. To make maki: Lay sushi mat on clean surface. Moisten hands with hand vinegar and shake off excess. Place one nori sheet on mat, shiny-side down. Spread 2 cups rice across nori, leaving 1 inch empty at farthest end.
  3. Lay 2 ounces jerky, 8 cilantro sprigs and 1/4 cup radishes crosswise along rice, covering half the surface closest to you.
  4. Securing jerky, cilantro and radishes with fingers, use thumbs to push end of mat up and over filling until edge of nori meets rice on opposite side. Press firmly on roll.
  5. Lift top of mat and roll firmly until tight and round. Squeeze gently to shape roll. Press ends in carefully to secure loose rice. Remove mat and set roll aside.
  6. Repeat to make second roll.
  7. Use thin, sharp knife to cut each roll into eight slices. Arrange on sushi platter. Stand four tortilla strips upright in center of each roll then sprinkle with queso fresco. Serve with pico de gallo.

Muffarolletta

Recipe courtesy of the North American Meat Institute on behalf of the Beef Checkoff

Yield: 2 rolls (16 pieces)

Hand Vinegar:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

Rice:

  • 1/2 cup mixed olives, patted dry and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons capers, patted dry and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Rolls:

  • 8 thin slices beef salami
  • 3 thin slices part-skim mozzarella, cut into sticks
  • 3 thin slices provolone, cut into sticks
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • shaved celery
  1. To make hand vinegar: In small bowl, stir water and rice vinegar.
  2. To make rice: In small bowl, mix olives, capers, garlic and rice; season with pepper, to taste.
  3. To make rolls: Lay sushi mat on clean surface and cover with plastic wrap. Lay four slices salami on mat, overlapping by about 1/2 inch, to create surface 7 inches wide and 6 inches deep.

    Moisten hands with hand vinegar and shake off excess. Cover salami with 1 1/2 cups sushi rice, leaving 1 inch empty at farthest end.

  4. Arrange half of each cheese along center of rice crosswise, covering half of rice closest to you. Sprinkle cheese with 1/8 cup celery leaves.
  5. Securing cheese with fingers, use thumbs to push end of mat up and over filling until one edge of rice meets opposite side. Press firmly on roll.
  6. Lift top of mat and roll firmly until tight and round. Squeeze gently to shape roll. Press ends in carefully to secure loose rice. Remove mat, peel off plastic and set roll aside.
  7. Repeat to make second roll.
  8. Slice each roll into eight rounds, arrange on sushi platter and sprinkle each slice with sesame seeds. Serve with shaved celery. (Family Features)


SOURCE:
North American Meat Institute

Celebrate Awards Season with a Look to the Past

Awards season is the time of year when Hollywood celebrates its best films and talents. It’s also an opportunity to take note of the actors and actresses lighting up the big screen, many with long careers you can watch unfold by taking a look back at their roles through the years.

Buckle up for a trip back in time with a free streaming service that gives you access to an expansive library of past and current titles with Tubi, which offers more than 20,000 movies and television shows on-demand, including performances by some of this season’s most celebrated artists.

Pop culture expert Maude Garrett – TV and radio host, producer, voice actor and founder of GeekBomb.net – recommends these selections, now available on Tubi, that showcase contemporary honorees in their past roles along with some must-see award-winning films:

Stars to Watch

Charlize Theron made a major transformation for her Oscar-nominated role as Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell.” In 2004, she won her first Oscar for her leading role in “Monster” (2003), in which she also made transformations to her appearance. Other notable Theron flicks include “The Burning Plain” (2008) and “Battle in Seattle” (2007).

Critics are lauding the cast of Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women,” which includes four-time Oscar-nominated Saoirse Ronan and breakout star Florence Pugh, both of whom are nominated this year. Catch Pugh in her professional debut in “The Falling” (2014), a British mystery drama film following two best friends at an all-girls school. Watch Ronan’s acting career unfold in her earlier films, “The Way Back” (2011), “How I Live Now” (2013) and “Violet & Daisy” (2011).

Classic Award-Winning Films

The 1953 film “Roman Holiday” featured Audrey Hepburn, who nabbed an Oscar as Best Actress. The film also won Best Story and Best Costume Design.

In “Rain Man” (1988), a pompous man (Tom Cruise) learns he has an autistic brother (Dustin Hoffman) when his father dies and leaves his million-dollar estate to his sibling’s mental institution.

Starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, among others, “Up in the Air” (2009) follows a corporate man’s journey when he mentors a young colleague and sees his former lifestyle in a new light.

Extend the excitement of awards season with more free movies and entertainment at Tubi.TV. (Family Features)

Photo caption (woman): Maude Garrett

SOURCE:
Tubi

4 New Ways to Make Money in 2020

If you want a financial makeover in the New Year, you’re going to need to put in a little work. Unless you have a genie nearby who pops out of a lamp and grants your wish for unlimited money, you can’t sit around and expect piles of cash to fall into your lap. In the list below, we’ll show you how you can make money by leveraging different kinds of investments and income strategies.

Let’s investigate some of the most effective ways you can make your wallet and bank account flush with green below:

  1. Invest in real estate

Investing in real estate is a great venture if you have the money to make it happen. Compared to other types of investments, real estate is relatively low risk. It also has a lower tax rate, so you can keep more of your profits.

The real estate industry can be complex, so if you decide to go this route, make sure you know what you’re doing. If you’re looking into investing in commercial real estate for example, choose the right commercial real estate platform before jumping in. It’s also a good idea to chat with people in the real estate industry to get an idea of what to expect.

  1. Open a high-yield savings account

One of the easiest ways to earn money in a passive way is by opening a high-yield savings account. A high yield interest account has a higher APR or annual percentage yield. For you, this means that your money grows at a faster rate. For example, if you put $10,000 in a high yield account that had an APY of 2%, you’d be making $200 just for keeping that money in your account.

Shop around and check out your bank options. Your local credit union might offer better terms compared to big banks.

  1. Join the gig economy

The gig economy has enabled millions of people to make money in their spare time. And for some, the gig economy makes up the entirety of their income. Just a few examples include: joining Lyft or Uber, signing up on a freelance site, or tutoring.

If you are a talented knitter, it might be time to finally open an Etsy shop to sell your wares. Or perhaps you love editing and have helped numerous people in your life craft the perfect resume or cover letter. If that’s the case, consider looking into how you can turn that love into money. Perhaps you might want to copyedit on the side! The interest has revolutionized how people find work opportunities, whether it’s a short-term in-house gig or a long-term remote position.

  1. Ask for a raise

If you already have a job but want to make more money, one of the easiest ways to get some more cash is by asking for it. Set up a meeting with you boss or wait for your quarterly or yearly review.

Of course, you don’t want to go into a meeting asking for $100k more than you already make (or maybe you do). It’s important to go into the meeting with your boss with a solid reason why you deserve more money. In this case, numbers speak louder than words. If you have metrics you can use to show measurable profit growth due to your influence – that puts you in a great position.

Come into the meeting with a plan but be open to negotiation. Even if you don’t necessarily get a raise at the meeting, your boss may lay out a path to get that raise.

And at the end of the day, if you feel like you’re way underpaid, it might be time to look elsewhere for a job that pays better.

Takeaways

As much as we all wish a long-lost sibling would contact us with a generous share of lottery winnings and retire early, that’s not going to be the reality for most Americans. With that said, there are plenty of ways you can make money. Whether it’s asking for a raise at your job or even looking for a new one, there are plenty of money-making opportunities out there. Investments, high yield savings accounts, monetizing your hobbies – the world is your oyster!

How You Can Afford a House in California

Maybe you’re looking for somewhere nice to buy a second home, or maybe you visited California recently and fell in love with the place—in any case, there’s no doubt in your mind that you want to purchase a house in the Golden State.

California is a notoriously expensive state to buy a house because the population is large and there aren’t very many available homes on the market—which makes housing prices higher. However, there are a few great strategies you can use to make your California dream home more affordable.

FHA Loan

A Federal Housing Administration loan (or FHA loan) is a loan that’s primarily for low-income homebuyers or first-time homebuyers. With an FHA loan, you may only be required to make a 3% down payment as opposed to the customary 20% down payment. The flip-side, of course, is that it may be difficult to qualify and that you’ll also be faced with higher mortgage payments and interest.

If you want to make the most out of an FHA loan, be sure to keep your credit score as high as possible so you’ll be approved and receive a better rate. You should also strive to pay off as much of your debt as possible so you’ll be able to better manage the higher mortgage payments.

Be aware that you might not be able to use an FHA loan to buy a pricier house in one of California’s more in-demand neighborhoods.

Stated Income Loan

If you’re self-employed, you might find it difficult to get a mortgage loan because it’s more difficult to prove your income and differentiate between your business and your personal finances. However, you may be able to find a lender that issues stated income loans in California. The best thing about a stated income loan is that you’ll be able to keep doing whatever it is you do to make a living. California can be rewarding to entrepreneurs, and it’s a great place for gig economy workers. Keep up the hard work and let your self-employment help you get a good mortgage.

Buy in a Suburb or Rural Area

Unsurprisingly, houses are much more expensive when they’re located in big cities or by the coastline. You can find houses for much more affordable prices in some of the inland suburbs. Thankfully, these suburbs are located only a short driving distance from the larger cities, so you’ll still be in close proximity to all the nightlife and cultural activities that those cities offer—and you’ll still get to enjoy the pleasant weather that California is known for. Some suburbs have access to efficient public transportation, so you can jump from the suburbs to the big city without even having to touch the highway.

Although California is known for its bustling metropolitan areas, there are still plenty of rural areas in which housing prices are also more affordable. You might be able to get a USDA loan if you’re going to buy a house in one of these locales.

Get Roommates

Since housing is so expensive, there are lots of Californians (and we mean lots) that opt for roommates. Having roommates is great because it reduces the rent (and mortgage) of a property and gives you more money to spend or save. If you have friends that also want to move to California, you might consider talking with them about going in on a house together. There are plenty of California homes that are large enough for multiple people or couples, and it might be a great option if you’re more of a social person.

If you have room in your house or on your property, you could rent out a room or guest house to a tenant. This is a terrific way to make some extra money to contribute to your mortgage payment, and it’s easy to rent out a room to quality tenants online.

Buy a Condo

If you can’t afford a house, but you also can’t imagine not living in California, you might consider buying a condo, instead. There are lots of condos in California that are as expensive or more expensive than houses, but there are also plenty of them that fall below the market value of the houses. Some of these condos are in high-rises that offer magnificent views. California housing is trending vertical, so there should be more and more condos hitting the market each year. Use a real estate website to find available condos online.

It ‘ain’t easy to buy a house in California, but you can use one or more of these strategies to buy a Golden State home without going totally house poor. May your new house feels like home

Last-Minute Options for a Financial Emergency

Life happens sometimes and it’s not uncommon for individuals to run into unexpected financial emergencies. However, without time to plan for unforeseen expenses and without enough funds to face a financial challenge, emergencies can strain your finances. In our post on ‘Planning for the Future’ we discussed how putting money into an emergency fund or having insurance coverage can help with unforeseen medical or other emergencies. However, if you have neither of those, we’re going to provide you a few more options when you’re in a financial emergency.

Traditional Loans

Traditional loans include both secured and unsecured through banks or credit unions, with the latter requiring a credit check. The better your credit the better interest rate you will likely qualify for. Credit unions are generally a good option as unlike banks they are cooperative financial institutions controlled by their members. They are typically non-profit enterprises which means that they usually tend to lend money at more favorable rates than banks. Investopedia suggests that credit unions may also have more generous lending terms, and while interest rates will differ state by state, APR and application fees, for example, may be less than with the big banks.

Title Loans

When you find yourself in a troubling situation and have bad credit and limited options, a title loan offers some benefits over traditional loans. Finance expert Justin Pritchard explains that one benefit is that you don’t need good credit, as the loan is secured by the value of your asset. Additionally, they can be secured in a matter of hours or within a day. Title loans are available countrywide and you’ll need to provide a clear title in your name. For example, the title loans in Lorain, Ohio will let borrowers continue to drive their vehicle even after the ownership papers are posted as collateral. This is especially useful for those who need capital but also need their car to work. Fortunately, title loans are available in most states with high profile lenders providing services in Texas, including in Round Rock, New Mexico and Nevada.

Credit Card Advance

Most credit card providers will offer cash advances, albeit at a higher APR than the normal purchase APR including an additional 5% fee for the advance. However, if you’re in need of cash fast and have no other options, this is the fastest option of the ones we have included in this article, provided your credit cards aren’t maxed out. Credit card expert Lindsay Konsko recommends that you should only use cash advances in real emergencies and take out only what you need. It’s also advisable to use a card with zero balance, as any other type of balance (i.e. purchases) will accrue additional, separate interest.

401(k) Advance

Using your own money to fund your emergency costs could mean taking an advance from the money invested in your 401(k) or IRA. This way you don’t have to borrow from someone else and the interest rates are generally low. A caveat to this method is that you will typically have to repay it by the next tax period or face penalties from the IRS. While this option uses your own money, it’s generally not advisable as there are too many variables that can impact the repayment. This includes the loss of your job, at which point you’ll have to pay the loan in its entirety or it will be considered an early withdrawal, subject to tax penalties. However, sometimes you may not have any other option.

The 4 Steps to Take When Building a Brand

In business, it’s all about brand identity. A brand is so much more than a name; it’s your essence—what lives in the minds of your customers whenever they see your company online or around town.

If you want to be remembered and thought of as an industry leader, it’s critical that you take the time to develop your brand and stand out in the pack of competition. Not sure how? Follow these four steps and you’ll receive massive recognition before you know it.

1. Pick a Catchy Name

At the very base of your company is its title; after all, that’s the first step you need to take to register yourself as an LLC. Make sure it’s bold and memorable—not some long strand of words that people will struggle to parse together or say on repeat.

We suggest going for something short and punchy. Be bold and declarative. The fewer syllables, the better. If you need a longer title, try to think of one that creates a cool acronym when it’s condensed into letters. Alliteration also helps commit words to memory, so keep that in mind, too!

2. Choose Your Tagline

This step is especially important for business owners who have already named their company with a title that’s a little lackluster, but it applies to all brands universally. When we talk about taglines, think of some of the most resonate in the commerce world. “Just Do It”. “Think Different” . “I’m lovin’ it” . “It’s finger lickin’ good”.

These are just a few examples of catchy taglines that we can provide and, instantly, you know that we’re referring to Nike, Apple, McDonalds, and KFC. A slogan sends a message about who you are or what your company stands for—but it also solidifies your brand identity when you advertise over the air or on television and the consumer can’t quite see what you’re selling, but they can immediately picture it.

3. Increase Impressions

Now that you’ve created ways that will make you stand out, the next step is to actually be seen! Blast your presence everywhere—but not so aggressively that it comes off as obnoxious or spammy. Targeted ads on social media can be welcome from time to time, especially if your ad campaign is highly strategized and directed toward the right consumers, but once you see the same ad over and over in your feed, it begins to get a bit annoying.

So what’s a better idea? Here’s our best suggestion:

Sponsor community events. Whether it’s a chili cook-off or street fair parade, consider buying a booth to sponsor the event. Local customers strolling past will have the opportunity to meet you personally and learn about your company; if you choose to send a representative in your absence, make sure they put on their friendliest face!


Consider putting out some promotional items across your booth’s table that people can take home with them and remember you by. Everyone could use another pen, but something that suits your service would be more fitting—such as a portable fan for an HVAC technician or a pocket flashlight for an electrician. Everything is fair game though: magnets, key chains, visors… you name it! Bonus tip: they make great paperweights for your promotional pamphlets!

We like this option best because it not only gives you tons of visibility, with the chance to have one-on-one interactions with potential customers who can hear your direct sales pitch, but it shows people that you’re invested in the community and want to make a difference.

4. Define Your Company Culture

As people get to know your brand and what it’s all about, you need to give them a reason to want to support you just as much as you want to cater to them. Come up with a mission statement that says what you stand for and define what’s unique about your company culture.

Maybe you donate a portion of your proceeds to charity, maybe you sell stylish garments that are made ethically and sustainably. Perhaps you sell vegan treats in an effort to stand up to animal cruelty, saving office snack habits one person at a time.

Ultimately, you need to believe in something just as much as you need to be seen by people. That’s what sets a brand apart.

 

Winter Warm-Up

Recipes and Tips Rooted in Goodness

When cold weather hits, it’s natural to seek comfort in a variety of forms: warm blankets, layers of sweaters and delicious, hearty meals. Winter is the perfect season for spending time indoors honing cooking skills to take your culinary creations to the next level.

Opt for Seasonal Produce

While the days of peaches and watermelons may be over, dropping temperatures bring a slew of seasonal produce made for cool-weather cooking. Think winter squash, apples, root vegetables and cauliflower. Try using a seasonal food guide to learn what produce is in season in any state at any time of the year. Cooking with seasonal produce helps ensure your food is in peak form at its most nutritional and flavorful state.

Find more winter recipes at farmtoforksauce.com.

Simple Recipes for Shorter Days

With less daylight hours during the winter, many people tend to get sleepy earlier. Quick weeknight dinner recipes are usually ideal, especially when they take only 30 minutes or so to prepare. Easy dishes are perfect for those nights when you want something savory and delicious, but you also want to get into pajamas and onto the nearest couch as soon as possible. Few things are better than a warm bowl full of flavor like this taste-tempting curry recipe bursting with caramelized onion and roasted garlic notes.

Chickpea, Spinach and Coconut Curry

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes

Servings: 6

  • 2          tablespoons olive oil
  • 1          tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
  • 3          cloves garlic, minced
  • 1          large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1          tablespoon turmeric
  • 2          teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2       teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus additional, to taste
  • 1          can (29 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1          jar (24 ounces) FarmToFork Caramelized Onion & Roasted Garlic Sauce
  • 1          can (15 ounces) light coconut milk
  • 4          cups baby spinach
  • 1/2       cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt, stirred
  • 1/2       cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2          naan flatbreads, toasted and sliced
  1. In large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil, ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric, salt and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cook 6-8 minutes, or until onions begin to brown, stirring frequently. Add chickpeas, sauce and coconut milk; cook 3-4 minutes, or until heated through. Add spinach; cover with lid. Simmer 3-4 minutes, or until spinach is wilted. Mix well.
  2. Spoon mixture into six serving bowls and top each with spoonful of yogurt, pinch of cilantro and additional crushed red pepper, to taste. Serve with flatbread slices.

The Perks of Passive Cooking

Wintry weekends call for warming meals that bring an extra sensation of coziness through the wafting aroma of slow-cooked dishes. Wintertime is the perfect season to break out your slow cooker or put your stove on low heat and let fragrant dishes such as Savory Harissa-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables simmer slowly and fill your home with enticing smells.

Savory Harissa-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Servings: 6

  • 1/3       cup harissa paste, divided
  • 1/3       cup olive oil, divided
  • 1          large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slivers
  • 1          small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1          jar (24 ounces) FarmToFork Marinara Sauce, divided
  • 1/2       teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4       teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4       teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 6          bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • 1          pound rainbow carrots, trimmed and peeled
  • 1          lemon, juice only, divided
  • 1/4       cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as dill, mint or cilantro, divided
  • 1 1/2    cups plain Greek yogurt
  1. Heat oven to 425° F. In large bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons harissa and 2 tablespoons oil. Add onions and cauliflower; toss to combine. Spread vegetable mixture in single layer on 17-by-12-inch foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  2. In same bowl, whisk remaining harissa, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 cup marinara sauce, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken; toss with tongs until well coated. Arrange chicken atop vegetables on baking sheet. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until chicken is deep golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165° F.
  3. Use vegetable peeler to create long ribbons of carrots. In bowl, toss carrots with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons chopped herbs and remaining oil, salt and pepper. In separate bowl, mix yogurt, remaining lemon juice and remaining herbs.
  4. Serve each chicken thigh with roasted vegetables, dollop of herbed yogurt, carrot mixture and 1/4 cup warmed marinara sauce.

Find Comfort in Your Favorite Foods

Almost nothing beats pasta and sauce on a chilly night. When craving warm and filling meals during winter, a quality, jarred pasta sauce like FarmToFork can add simple goodness to hearty dishes like Gnocchi with Hearty Mushroom Bolognese. Made with sustainably grown, vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh garlic, basil and onions, the sauce brings rich, distinctive flavor to a variety of cool-weather favorites from traditional pasta recipes to soups and oven bakes. During the season of giving, comfort and warmth can also be found in doing good for others, which is why FarmToFork supports Big Green, a national nonprofit organization that partners with low-income schools around the country to bring garden-based learning and food literacy curriculums to children.

Gnocchi with Hearty Mushroom Bolognese

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Servings: 6

  • 1          yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1          carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2          ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2          cloves garlic
  • 3          tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2       teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2          pounds button, cremini or portobello mushrooms
  • 1          jar (24 ounces) FarmToFork Marinara Sauce
  • 3          tablespoons butter
  • 1          pound refrigerated or frozen gnocchi
  • 1/2       cup pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1/4       cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  1. In food processor, pulse onions, carrots, celery and garlic until finely chopped. In large pot over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add chopped vegetables, salt and pepper. Cook 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  2. In food processor, pulse mushrooms until coarsely chopped. Add to large pot with vegetables. Cook 10-12 minutes, or until most liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally. Stir in marinara sauce and butter.
  3. Cook gnocchi according to package directions; drain. Add to sauce mixture; mix gently. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
FarmToFork

Psychiatrist’s 8 Tips to Reducing Holiday Stress

The festive season is so much fun for many people. However, for some, family get-togethers, festive season shopping, cooking, and more make them feel stressed and anxious. Festive season stress is a real thing and it’s something that mental health professionals help their patients with during November and December. How can you help yourself feel better?

Vinay Saranga, M.D.

Vinay Saranga, M.D.

Vinay Saranga M.D., is a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry (www.sarangapsychiatry.com).

He offers these tips:

  •  Breathe: One of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety is to slowdown your breathing. When we are stressed, overwhelmed, worried or something is bothering us, our breathing tends to get fast and shallow. This actually makes us feel worse than we are already feeling. Focus on slowing down your breathing. Breath in through the diaphragm (stomach area), hold for a few seconds, and slowly exhale through the lips.
  •  Mindfulness: When you start worrying about preparing Thanksgiving dinner, shopping for gifts, or uncomfortable topics of conversation coming up with family you don’t see that often, practice mindfulness. This is the act of being present and immersing yourself in the present moment. It’s easy to dwell on the past and worry about the future, but being in the present moment is the best place to focus your energy.
  •  Take a break: The festive season can be overwhelming for many people. It’s okay to take a break. Go for a walk. Take a drive and turn up the tunes. Hit the gym. Surf the web. Go to your favorite place and just people watch. It doesn’t matter what you do. If you feel your anxiety levels rising, take a break from what you’re doing and connect to something that makes you feel good.
  •  Avoid controversial issues: There’s nothing like a heated debate over things like sex, politics or religion to ruin what should be a nice family together and stress you out. If a topic feels too far out there, or if you know that people have very differing points of views, stay away from it. Focus conversations around TV shows, movies, music, books, reliving memories and other fun and interesting topics.
  •  Get outdoors: It’s easy to get stuck inside watching the parades and footballs games, but getting some fresh air and a little activity can be good for everyone. Think of games to play outside. Go for a bike ride or a walk around the block. Watch the kids get involved in an activity. A little fresh air can relieve stress and holiday tension.
  •  Comfort yourself: Whether you don’t like the family get-togethers or large gatherings just stress you out, be kind to yourself with the language you choose. Remind yourself that it’s only a few hours and you can get through it. Spend time around the people with whom you have the most in common or the ones who don’t stress you out as much. Remember to smile as this not only makes you appear to be enjoying yourself, it really will help you feel better.
  •  Stay on your meds and keep doctor appointments: The festive season and long family get-togethers can be tough for many people, but even more so if you are suffering with a mental health condition. The holiday season is not the time to come off your medication. Remember to keep all doctor appointments and stick to your therapeutic routine. 
  •  Take a trip: If the festive season really stresses you out that much, there is no shame in telling people that this year you are getting away and taking a family vacation. Going on a cruise, heading to the mountains or whatever you choose to do is perfectly acceptable. You are not being selfish by putting the needs of you and your family first and foremost.