5 Ways To Exercise In The Cold

The great outdoors isn’t always so great. In fact, during winter, it’s just plain cold. And maybe icy. And slushy. And snowy. However, for those who prefer to break a sweat on the pavement rather than on the treadmill, there’s no need to retreat indoors for exercise. With a little creativity and the proper dress, you can workout outside just as you would any other time of year.

When it comes to clothing, wear moisture-wicking layers. As you adjust to outdoor winter exercise, you’ll gain an understanding for just how many layers your body needs to stay warm, but not overheated. Always properly protect extremities like your nose, ears and fingers. And if going outside early in the morning, later in the afternoon or evening, accessorize with something reflective, stick to well-lit areas and watch out for drivers.

Now perfectly outfitted in your winter workout get-up, give the following activities a go because no one wants to be cooped up indoors all winter long.

 Five ways to exercise in the cold

Walk or run

There’s nothing quite like a winter walk or run to refresh your mind and body. Invest in a pair of ice or snow grips to access otherwise frustrating walking or running spots. If you’re not ready to commit, it may take a couple of outings before you discover clear and safe routes. Asthmatic? Be sure to pack your puffer—the cold air can prove problematic. A warm-up before and cool down after a walk and especially a run are essential in wintertime. Start with some dynamic stretches and end with sustained stretches (as well as a lighter paced jog for a run).

Grab a ball

As long as the courts are clear and unlocked, there’s no reason you can’t play tennis or basketball during the winter months. They’ll certainly be clear of other humans! Source out willing teammates and you could start a new tradition. For something simpler (and with less rules), try a game of catch as an active way to catch up with a friend.

Hit the ice

Whether indoors or outdoors, skating is one of the most affordable and accessible winter sports. You don’t even need a pair of skates—public rinks often offer rentals, but do check in advance. If you’re a newbie and skating at a busy rink, bring along a helmet as well and maybe a buddy to lean on and keep you upright. (Although falling is certainly allowed.)  

Discover a winter sport

Why not try a sport available only a few months a year? If you have the means (and snow) to, make a day of downhill or cross-country skiing. Check out your local curling club for a game of logic and hip opening. (Those low lunges, right?) Although no bobsled, tobogganing is the ideal winter activity for any thrill-seeker. If you’re the more cautious type, snowshoeing is both hilarious and surprisingly strenuous.

Shovel snow

While not an official sport, shovelling snow is both helpful, burns calories and strengthens your core and shoulders (particularly if you’ve had a heavy snowfall). Be sure to keep your knees bent and engage your core to save your lower back from suffering. Likewise keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears when dumping shovelfuls overhead.

 

How to arm yourself (and your diet) for flu season

Apparently the experts still don’t fully understand why the flu season peaks in winter. (They don’t even know why we have a flu season!) However, possible theories include the following:

  • Increased time spent indoors and on transit with closed windows and shared air.
  • Weakened immune systems given increased darkness and cold outdoor temperatures.
  • The laws of thermodynamics: colder, drier climate and the launch of Starbuck’s latest holiday drinks in winter allow the flu virus to thrive versus in the heat and humidity and lack of holiday drinks in summer.

Okay, I lie. Your Peppermint Mocha doesn’t play a role in the existence of the flu season. It doesn’t even arm you against it. (Although that fact shouldn’t stop you from drinking it.) Here’s how to combat the mysterious flu season and rise above your classmates, vomit-, ache- and fever-free during the winter months.

How to arm yourself (and your diet) for flu season

Suck it up and vaccinate

Needles are scary, I get it. So are world politics, job interviews, first dates and new roommates. Toughen up, friends, especially my younger, elderly, pregnant and asthma, respiratory- or cardiovascular disease-ridden friends. The flu shot is available at pharmacies, clinics, on campus or in workplaces. That said there are folks out there with severe allergies to the vaccine or its ingredients—even an allergy to eggs could prove a problem. If you think this is your case, consult with a doctor beforehand.

Wash those hands and hack into your elbow

It’s a waste of time, right? It doesn’t make a difference, right? Who can really tell, right? Well, wait into your buried under a pile of dirty tissues and incapable of holding down more than unbuttered toast. Laver up, baby, and run your hands under warm water for fifteen-seconds as regularly as possible. As for your coughs, nobody wants those. Not even your hands. Cough into your elbow, a tissue or the face of your worst enemy.

Leave your barfy friends to suffer alone

Compassion and empathy are beautiful things. However, when your best friend is bent over the toilet, stay away. Send your love and support via Facebook or Snapchat. While they’re sick, you don’t need their company or their flu. Let the hangouts resume after the recovery. Likewise, if you’re the barfy friend. Your friends and colleagues like the healthy you. Don’t bother them until you’re not contiguous.

Eat all the sweet potatoes

When it comes to prepping your diet against the flu, immune-boosting eats are key. We’re talking Vitamin A-, C- and E-rich foods. Pack your diet (before the sickness strikes) with such flu fighters as sweet potatoes, garlic, red peppers, carrots, almonds, salmon, mushrooms and even dark chocolate. And, yes, it’s not some urban myth: chicken noodle soup is good for the (flu-avoiding) soul.

And drink all the ginger

When it comes to beverages, load up on the tea and water. Take a page from traditional Indian medicine, Ayurveda, combining boiling water with ½ teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ground coriander and ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger. For something a little less harsh in taste, take fresh ginger root and slice off the rough exterior, cut into ¼-inch slices, place in a mug and top with hot water, a squeeze of lemon and drop of honey. And while chicken noodle soup does the job, don’t neglect the benefits other broths for a savoury drink.

Five methods to combat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We welcome the snow, early setting sun—perfect for early evening cocoa on the couch—and sadness. While we may wish “Joy to the World” this season, we could feel something quite the opposite inside.

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a form of depression bought on by a change in season. Given winter’s shorter days, the decreased exposure to sunlight can lower your levels of serotonin and melatonin, a neurotransmitter and hormone respectively both essential to sleep. As a result, this decrease can upset your circadian rhythm, “a 24-hour internal clock that…cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals” as defined by the National Sleep Foundation. Symptoms of SAD include unexplained lack of motivation or focus, sadness (naturally given its acronym), irritability, difficulty sleeping and changes in appetite perhaps leading to weight gain or loss. Unlike other types of depression, symptoms arrive and disappear at the same respective points each year; they’re consistent. And, yes, although commonly associated with the winter months, for some, it can arrive in the spring or early summer.

Five methods to combat SAD

Like stress as discussed in our recent post, SAD can be difficult to self-diagnose and consultation with a health professional is recommended, particularly if the symptoms heighten or result in drug or alcohol abuse or suicidal thoughts. Here are five ways to fight symptoms of SAD and hopefully mitigate continuous outcries of “Bah Humbug!”

Get outside and get active

If the sun won’t come to you, go after it. (Despite, how it sounds, I’m not doling out “reach for the stars”-type philosophical advice.) Bundle up (i.e. toughen up) and take a long walk outside. If wintry treks aren’t your scene, check out outdoor holiday festivities from now through to the end of December or window shop along your favourite shopping strips.

Get “lit”

Light therapy (or phototherapy) is a thing. (Check out this season of HBO’s Broad City for how not to do light therapy.) Although research on the treatment is limited, regular exposure to a light box within the first few hours of waking can assist with symptoms bought on by SAD. As in with any investment—we’re talking upwards of $100 here—do your research before splurging.

Get chill

Yes, mediation, among all its other benefits also can help with the winter blues. While there are resources online—check out Mindful magazine’s website for recorded guided meditations—often a class provides both the guidance and space to allow you truly unwind. If your college campus doesn’t offer classes, look into local yoga studios.

Get away

While expensive that Reading Week trip may be just what you need. Aim for simplicity—don’t pack your days with excursions—and travel alone or with friends you trust will keep any possible drama to a minimum. Sometimes all we need for the ultimate tropical vacation is a good beach read and an ice-cold drink.

Get talking

Perhaps the simplest and cheapest (although not necessarily the easiest) form of treatment against SAD is conversation. Make an appointment with your family doctor or at the campus clinic to discuss your feelings. Otherwise start with friends and family. When we share our struggles (with the right sounding board), the support can prove tenfold.

How To Build A Better: Burger

by David Kitai

There is little in the world as innately satisfying as a good hamburger. When the bun, meat and toppings are perfectly balanced, a burger can deliver a pure shot of pleasure. However, while it might be the quickest way to instant stomach satisfaction, when made wrong it has the potential to yield truly disappointing results. Follow my tips and find yourself eating the perfect burgers all-year round (on your cheat days of course).

how to build a better burger

A burger is nothing without the right bun

The right bun could mean a two slices of fluffy white Wonder Bread, but as charming as they are, I think we can do better. (The bun should actually taste like something.) If you like a rich burger, consider brioche. My personal preference is a variety made with a mixture of white and whole-wheat flour and sourdough starter. Sourdough-driven bakeries often carry several great bun options. When the bun is fresh with a lightly crispy crust and soft, flavourful crumb, you know you’re in for a good burger.

Don’t oversauce

Too many burgers—otherwise perfect—suffer from an anxious cook laying down four or five different sauces. I don’t care how much you love your dill aioli, it’s doesn’t pair with banana ketchup and peach chutney. Pick one or two sauces for your burger, matching flavours you know work well together. Sauce should be applied conservatively with wetter sauces, like ketchup and mustard, applied to the bottom bun where they will touch the patty. Mayonnaise-based sauces can be spread on the base of the top bun since they won’t soak veggie toppings like their wetter counterparts.

Keep your veggies seasonal

A sandy, watery, out-of-season tomato wrecks a burger. Come wintertime, why not replace them with a few slices of pickled beetroot? You’ll be surprised by how beautifully they fit in your burger. Wintergreens like kale, chard and collards can serve as cold-weather substitutes for lettuce (especially if you give them a quick wilt in a pan). Onions and mushrooms are best when cooked and, if desirable, with a bit of bacon.

Meat isn’t all about fat

But it’s a little bit about fat. The best way to guarantee a better burger is to make your own patty from ground beef. I aim for approximately 15 to 20 percent fat seasoned only with salt and pepper. If you like the fast food-style burger, make a few small ¼ lb-patties pounded thin. If you want something medium-rare, shape a thick ⅓ lb-patty per serving. Most importantly—and perhaps controversially—don’t cook your burger on a grill. Use a cast-iron pan or flattop. The juicy fat will refract back up to the burger, multiplying the flavour and tenderness, rather than dripping off to burn away between the grill slats.

Toast your buns and assemble with care

You might do everything right only to have your burger fall apart en route to your mouth. It’s likely attributed to over stacking and a cold, untoasted bun. Consider too your plate as a whole. Classic as fries may be on a hot summer’s day a juicy burger needs a refreshing side. Opt for grilled asparagus and zucchini topped with a little lemon juice and zest and melted butter, or a green salad with roast corn.

3 Quiet Study Spots That Aren’t The Library

by Madeleine Brown

In September and January tumbleweeds practically blow through the desolate stacks of college and university libraries. Skip forward a few months and library study space is as competitive as the rental market. Even if you manage to scoop up a spare seat as its former occupant runs screaming into the bathroom, chances are the dejected atmosphere will kill what little confidence remains. So I say keep your sanity in check and study elsewhere. Every campus has its own unique nooks and crannies—you can picture them now, huh? Here are three alternative on-campus study spots to get you through exam season.

places to study that aren't the library

5 Steps To Surviving Exam Season

by Danielle Del Vicario

Every student has special exam season rituals. And I don’t want to mess with yours by making absurd recommendations or criticisms—who am I to tell you to get eight hours of sleep a night, colour code your flashcards and avoid spiking your blood sugar? If you have a routine and it works, stick to it. But if you don’t, or think that it could do with a little bit of tweaking, here are my five of my own in chronological order: from the pre-exam season preparation to the final dark sleepless days when all that matters is chocolate, AutoCorrect and a pen that still has ink.

five steps to surviving exam season

Step 1: Clean the kitchen

When I’m stressed, mess makes me…well, more stressed. About a week before the real cramming begins, I take out the garbage and recycling, clear out the forgotten (and probably mouldy) leftovers from my fridge and tidy my dry-goods cupboard. While I’m at it, I usually make sure my peanut butter supply isn’t going to run out the night before my biggest exam and that my emergency bar of dark chocolate is intact.

Step 2: Put a Frisbee or ball in your study bag

When I hit breaking point in the library, I grab a friend—there’s always at least one just as desperate as me—and drag them outside for a fifteen-minute game of Frisbee or kickabout. It’s my best escape and has also, over the years, gained me a lot of great study buddies.

Step 3: Pack adequate study snacks

I never go to the library without snacks. Ever. My personal favourites are raw veggies, cheese and crackers, and—of course—apples and peanut butter. If I’m feeling particularly committed (read: if I’m really procrastinating), I make some hummus too. Check out my recipe or save yourself the time and pre-order your study snacks for pickup on the way to the library.

Step 4: Stay hydrated and avoid (excessive) caffeine

As the nights got later and later, and I got increasingly desperate, I used to find myself drinking cup after cup of tea just for something to do. To avoid the compulsive twitching this inevitably causes, I now opt for citrus water. (I would love to tell you I make delicious juice blends with ginger and wheatgrass but that’s just not the case.) I fill my two-litre glass jug with cold water, lemon, lime and orange slices. It sits on the corner of my desk and halts repeated (often intentionally self-induced) trips to the kettle.

Step 5: Keep favourite tea bags or coffee with you at all times

In direct counterpart to the previous step, throughout exam season I always carry my favourite tea bags with me. During a library study session I top off my cup with hot water refills from the closest café. The same principle can apply to instant coffee. Because come 10 pm, citrus water just isn’t strong enough.

How To Have The Best Reading Week (No Vacation Necessary)

by Danielle Del Vicario

As you drag yourself to the library to study for yet another midterm, you daydream about a week of no exams and no deadlines. Thankfully, reading week is fast approaching. You’ve picked out your next big Netflix binge, you’re ready to sleep-in every day, and—if you’re a little OCD like me—you can’t wait to give your student room that deep clean it so desperately needs. But this year, why not try something different? I’m certainly not advocating that you use reading week to actually study. Take this little piece of free time to reconnect with yourself and the people around you. You don’t need to spend money or go far (though this is the year for great ski holidays if that’s the way you ride). Follow the suggestions below for cheap and easy refreshers to put you back in the right headspace for another hard push to the end of the semester.

how to have the best reading week no vacation necessary

                                                                 

Actually read (but not something for class). For one week, put down your phone and laptop over breakfast and devote yourself fully to a good book. Choose something short that you can finish with just an hour of reading per day for a week. I like to go back to old favourites like Michael Ondatje’s In the Skin of a Lion or Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Dig into books where each sentence turns back on itself, drawing you in deeper and deeper.

 

Plan a sunrise picnic with friends. Hear me out. There’s something uniquely calming about a Canadian dawn sky from your favourite trail or park paired with tea, freshly baked muffins and good friends And if you’re anything like me, the thick of term probably saw you wrapped in a bubble of sullen solitude, broken only by the most necessary of human interaction. Borrowing notes counts as human interaction, right? Best of all winter’s sunrise is at an almost reasonable hour. In Vancouver, for example, that means 7:12 am on February 20, the first day of UBC’s reading week. I coincidence I think not.   

 

Host a DIY cocktail and pizza party. Think all the fun of birthday party pita pizzas with a little more class. Pick up two or three of your favourite spirits, splitting the cost with friends. Tell everyone to bring one cocktail ingredient and one pizza topping. And then let your creativity lead the way. I’m decidedly partial towards gin and currently love a classic G&T with lots of lemon and fresh basil or even Earl Grey martinis, but the internet is full of good cocktail ideas. For easy pizza dough recipes and topping inspiration, see “No-knead for delivery: a guide to homemade pizzas.”

 

How To Stay Active In The Dead Of Winter

by Madeleine Brown

I get it: it’s cold, it’s windy and possibly snowy—depending on which end of the country you find yourself on. But beach bods aside—there’s no expression I hate more—physical activity undoubtedly lifts our spirits. So during what’s often thought of as the most disheartening time of year, exercise is a natural remedy. And there’s no reason to even leave your home to do it. Sure, you could take note of my last post. However if you’re too disillusioned to take a stroll outside or visit the gym then you need something a little unconventional and unexercise-like. Here’s how to stay active when the weather’s telling you to curl up in a ball and drink hot chocolate.

exercises for winter

Strawberries In February (How To Cook In Season)

by David Kitai

Ask any leading chef today how they source ingredients and shape their menus and one of the first things they’ll say is seasonality and tied up in that is locality. That oft-overused concept is meant to drive chefs to innovate based on what ingredients taste best at each time of year. In a world where strawberries from Chile can arrive in Canada in February, why do we have to care about seasons? The choice to be seasonal involves a choice to source locally and force oneself to cook as their ancestors did, based on the whims of the local climate and the work of your local farmers.

strawberries-frisch-ripe-sweet-89778

Cooking with the seasons sounds nice and romantic, but why put yourself through all that extra work just to respect some new quasi-dogmatic food philosophy? Because when you get it right, cooking in season will be simpler and far more delicious than you could imagine. As Mario Batalli says, when American chefs first started studying in Italy in the 70s: “The [best] moments were never based on truffles or super-intense technique. It was more like, ‘God, this is spaghetti and zucchini, and it’s this good?’ It was because there was no noise in it. It was spaghetti and garlic and zucchini in season.”

The restaurants I work at take seasonality to an extreme degree. After December, nobody uses a fresh tomato until springtime. Menus change several times a year, an autumn pumpkin and smoked cheese croquette is replaced by one made of cornmeal and blue cheese. Beetroot leaves replace spinach, which had, in turn, replaced kale. Even our cocktail program is affected by the seasons, our daiquiris and mojitos go out the window when locally-grown limes go out of season. That means all of us: cooks, bartenders, and sommeliers have to be dynamic and inventive, creating recipes and choosing new pairings based on the changing seasons.

So how does a student learn to cook with the seasons?

what's in season

Thankfully there are a few handy resources available. If you’re in Ontario, Foodland Ontario has a guide showing what fruits and veggies are available in what months. Farmers markets are also a great place to learn what’ll be best and when.

Most important, for me at least, is getting through the long winter months on a diet beyond smoked meat and root veggies. That means relying on age-old preservation techniques: pickling, fermenting, candying and curing. Before we had freezers we used salt, sugar and bacteria to keep our foods through the winter. If you grow tomatoes in summer, take your biggest harvest and cook them down into a basic sauce, can them and eat them through winter. In spring, when the best fresh shoots of ramps and asparagus appear, harvest and pickle, getting through the hot summer with fresh spring greens. Sometimes these preserved foods taste better than their fresh counterparts.

Seasonality is one of the few food buzzwords that hasn’t totally lost its meaning. Learning to cook with the seasons will force you to be inventive, knowledgeable and produce dishes more delicious than you could imagine. Don’t eat a strawberry in February, odds are the jam you made back in summer tastes better.

Three Dishes For The Dead Of Winter

by Danielle Del Vicario

It’s been a cold winter in B.C. So for someone like me, home from Kenya for a two-week visit, it feels even colder. (Yes, I can see you east coasters rolling your eyes.) Don’t get me wrong, I love winter—even slushy, brown muddy winters—and I especially love winter food. There’s nothing better than coming in from a frigid day skiing or hiking, uncurling your stiff finger, initiating that familiarly painful tingle and slapping together a five-minute meal so warming it could melt even the Grinch’s heart. I’m talking gooey, melted cheese as a midday pick-me-up; rich tomato pasta to carb up after a long day outside; or perfectly tomato-poached eggs for times when your thin-walled student house feels like a warehouse freezer.

pexels-photo-27642

Quickest oven-roasted tomato sauce

The fifth child in a loud, hungry Italian family, I’m a self-confessed pasta snob—to the extent that my best friend got me a pasta-roller for my birthday. The butter in this recipe gives it a rich depth without the addition of any meat. You may eventually forgo even the pasta, digging straight into the sauce with a spoon.

  1. Combine one can of whole or chopped tomatoes (plus ¼ tsp salt if the tomatoes aren’t already salted), a heaping spoonful of butter, three to four chopped garlic cloves and a pinch of chili flakes in a nine by nine inch pan. (If you like, line the pan with parchment paper to save time doing dishes later on.)
  2. Bake at 375ºF for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes have turned a rich, dark red.
  3. The sauce is best served with orzo or a long pasta like linguine.

Open-faced apple goat’s cheese melt

  1. Toast two slices of your favourite bread.
  2. Meanwhile microwave one clove minced garlic in one tablespoon of olive oil for 20 to 30 seconds before brushing over the bread.
  3. Top each slice with a thinly sliced apple and goat`s cheese and broil on high until the apple is softened and cheese warm and melty.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic reduction to finish.

Rellie`s cheesy shatshuka

Technically, shatshuka is a North African egg dish flavoured with cumin and hot peppers. However, a vegetarian housemate introduced me to it as decadent tomato-poached eggs covered in melted cheddar and eaten curled in front of a laptop trying desperately to finish your PhD applications. However you spice—or cheese—it up, poaching eggs in tomato sauce produces a McGonagall-worthy transfiguration, making your morning (or afternoon or evening) eggs into thick, flavoursome promises of ultimate student comfort.

  1. In a medium saucepan, brown one chopped onion and one chopped garlic clove in a splash of olive oil. Add one can of chopped tomatoes and let boil for two to three minutes. Alternatively, you can use leftover pasta sauce sitting in your fridge—the one above works well, that is if you have leftovers.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and gently crack two to four eggs on the surface of the tomato sauce.
  3. Cover the saucepan and let cook for about ten minutes, until there is no runny white on top and the yolks are at desired level of doneness. A gentle finger poke serves as a reliable measure.
  4. Eat immediately, sopping up any extras with good, crusty bread.