Saturday, April 15, 2017

What Behavior Pattern do you Show when you Drive?

Staying calm and zen on the road  is our responsibility

We were driving in a quiet country lane, enjoying the scenery when my friend turned to me with a pointed question: 

“Why do you people in the south get so angry and selfish at the wheel? Embarrassed, I fumbled for an answer but couldn’t find one. 

She had noticed the tailgating, the lack of indicating, and the aggressive, pushy behavior of some drivers here. The driving style wasn’t exactly road rage she said but “undisciplined.”

I had to admit, she was right. This set me thinking of our driving behavior, not only in the South of France but everywhere.

Why do we display certain behavior patterns when we drive?  

Our impatience and aggressivity towards other drivers come because of the following:

When the pace is hectic, we become stressed. We’ve got our jobs to do, kids to pick up, bills to pay-  limited time for a multitude of tasks. These might well be reasons for some of the stress of everyday life but they’re certainly not worth taking risks when driving.

      Personal Issues

Ask yourself the following question “Am I frustrated when I drive”. Listen also to feedback from your family. If the answer is yes, then look for what is really bothering you and attend to those issues. Don’t let these situations pile up, deal with the issues instead. Driving is challenging enough, don’t let the road be the place to vent your frustration.

Busy Roads in the South of France

Driving here during the holidays can be trying, a real test of nerves even if you consider yourself a  patient driver. Brace yourself for long delays on days the French call 'les jours de grand departs', days when the French leave the big cities for their holidays. What you need to know is that holiday rentals start from Saturday to Saturday so simplify your life by choosing your holiday dates wisely; one way to avoid aggressive and impatient drivers. 

Four ways to avoid conflict with other drivers

  • Don’t get mad at the other driver; you don’t know why he or she is angry. Even if you are in the right, don’t inflame the situation. It won’t get you anywhere, just let it go calmly, it’s not worth getting a ticket over someone’s rude behavior.
  • Breathe in deeply, breathe out and then scoop your abdominal muscles in towards your spine and concentrate on keeping them there just as your Pilates teacher taught you. Even better, you can meditate or scream. You are in a car so no one will hear you. The car is one of the few places you can scream, shout and holler.
  •  Listen to some inspirational music or sing loudly.
  • If it was your fault show consideration and remorse by mouthing “I’m sorry” and waving.

Let’s face it; driving is more stressful than taking public transport, especially now that our roads are more congested. Brake, the UK Road Safety Charity defines it well “Driving is a complex task, requiring full concentration and a calm attitude.”

Analyzing our driving behavior can only improve our attitude and well being.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Incorporate Lemons into your daily Mediterranean Lifestyle for Inner Beauty

You know that lemons are a valuable source of vitamin C, that’s it’s an antioxidant and good for your health. However, you might not know the following:

Freezing lemons

Yes, to save time you can freeze whole lemons and keep them in the freezer. Wash them and freeze them whole.  The zest is just as good as the juice so next time you do your weekly shop for vegetables and fruit, make sure you buy an ample supply. Simply grate the frozen lemon over your sauces, soups or use in a marinade – it’s that simple.

Start the day with a hot lemon drink.

Even here in the South of France, you can still get winter blues. Okay, we do have a bit more sunshine than the north of France, but we still need to boost our energy levels, making sure we get the right nutrients into our system and beat those dreaded winter blues. This is where the humble lemon comes in. Besides gently waking up your digestive system, you activate the liver; it functions correctly, getting rid of unwanted toxins.

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a cup of hot water; add a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Have this before breakfast and make it a routine; it’s an ideal way to wake up your liver with a good dose of vitamin C and to start your healthy daily intake of extra virgin.

Shadows and Dark Rings

Stress, genetic factors, and lack of sleep can cause dark circles under your eyes sometimes called bags under the eyes. You’ll come across home remedies such as cucumber and tea bags, but did you know you can use a mixture of olive oil and lemon as well?
Mix two tablespoons of olive oil with the juice of half a lemon. Using a cotton ball apply on the eyes, press lightly on the dark circles for about five minutes, then rinse. Lemon is known for its skin lightening properties, while olive oil hydrates the skin

Massage Oil

Nothing beats a massage to make you unwind and feel relaxed. Here’s massage oil you can use at home. Start by putting 200 ml (7 ounces) of olive oil in your massage bowl; add the juice of one whole lemon and eight drops or so of lavender oil, the essential oil recognized for its calming and relaxing properties. It is ready to use.

Stop that itching

You don't have to put up with skin rashes and eczema - try pure lemon juice on the area, it will soothe and give relief to your itchy skin.

And did you know that August 29 is National Lemon Day? Don't wait for that day to celebrate, let every day be a lemon day.

Full of goodness, a lemon a day is the way to go for perfect cleaning and cleansing.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Understanding the Label and Buying Extra Virgin

Once you understand the label, buying extra virgin becomes easy

How often have you stood in front of a row of extra virgin olive oil, bewildered by the choice and confused by the labels? Don’t worry, you are not alone. The wording manufacturers use is not always easy to follow, the bottles come in various sizes, different colors, some with impressive sounding labels such as ‘lite olive oil.' Mandatory information such as provenance, quantity, and company brands are clear but how can we be sure of the quality of the contents, what does lite olive oil signify? 

As consumers, we scrutinize the label because we want to buy the best olive oil especially now that we are more aware of the health benefits and the organoleptic aspects of extra virgin. Buying the right olive oil, however, is not easy these days because of complicated phrases, confusing terminology and besides, we are put off by the alarming increase of fraud in the olive oil world.

Phrases like ‘packed in Italy’ or ‘bottled in Italy,’ do not mean that the oil was made in Italy, or that it was made from Italian olives. Often too, a label claiming that the oil is extra virgin is nothing but cheaper oil sold at the same price as good quality extra virgin olive oil or even worse, blending cheaper low grade oil with refined olive oil and passing it off as fresh olive juice.

To safeguard these fraudulent practices and to protect the consumer, The International Olive Oil Council has enforced strict standards for their member countries - this account for 98% of the world’s olive oil supply. Most non IOC members also have established norms and practices to ensure that the contents live up to what the label says, regarding chemical and organoleptic standards.

Things were different a few years ago when olive oil was mostly a Mediterranean product and a Mediterranean way of life, but. EVOO has become a global product present in 150 countries. Because of the considerable increase in olive oil consumption with new markets and new producers all over the world, it is important to protect consumers with common regulatory statements: compulsory declarations relating to bottling and selling all types of olive oil everywhere.

If you can, it’s best to buy from a reputable producer, but this is not always possible. That is why it is vital to study the label paying close attention to the compulsory statements; it is the best guarantee that you are getting the real thing.

Look for two magic words on the display panel – extra virgin

Ignore any bottles labeled 100% pure olive oil, light olive oil or any such terminology.  Pick up instead one, which says extra virgin, the two words that tell you that this is the highest grade of olive oil, made without any added chemicals and that that the producer took extra care during the extraction process to keep the temperature at below 27° or lower. This is sometimes labeled as “First cold pressure.” It means that you are getting the maximum nutritional and organoleptic qualities. Heat matters because although excessive heat yields more oil, the quality becomes inferior when it is processed this way. The Extra Virgin label also tells us that only the best olives were used, that the oil was laboratory tested and that it meets the required chemical and organoleptic standards. It is in the best commercial category approved by IOC.
Following closely behind the extra category virgin is the description of the category, also a mandatory statement:
  “Virgin olive oils are the oils obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions; that does not lead to alterations in the oil, and which have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation, and filtration.”

Check the dates

The second important thing you should look for is the ‘best before date’ or the ‘harvesting Date’.  Shelf life can be variable, and though some producers might give an optimal ‘use by date’ or say ‘preferentially to two years,' a lot depends on the olive variety. The harvesting date is probably most useful for consumers but bear in mind that you need to think about how the oil was stored in the supermarket, all factors which play an important part in the lifespan of olive oil. Remember that the younger the oil, the better it is for your health and don’t buy oil that is more than 18 months after harvest time.

Check for the origin of the olives   

The label is a kind of contract between the producer or the bottling enterprises and the consumer. The source of the fruit and the geographic region for some consumers serve as a guarantee of quality; they like to see the clear direct path right up to the production process. However, if the identification of the supplier is necessary, the origin of the fruit is not always mentioned.  In most cases, the supplier is not the person who owns the olive plantation. One example is Italy, one of the world’s major 
importers of olive oil. Surprisingly, much of the fruit comes from orchards in Spain, Greece, and 

Also, Italians consume some of the oil imported into Italy, but much of it is blended, packed
and re-exported.  New legislation laws in Europe now protect consumers with a more detailed 
traceability chain, regulations that stipulate either the origin of the olives or the place of harvesting to 
to be mentioned on the label.

This is an extract from 7 Wonders of Olive Oil.

be mentioned on the label.