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A Great Way to Get Some New Cooking Skills

A Great Way to Get Some New Cooking Skills

    Last summer, I became one of the early adopters of Google+. Having fully immersed myself in other social media platforms, I was curious to see how this new one would play out. For those of you unfamiliar with the platform, Google+ is a social media platform that enables interactions, similar to Facebook, but it allows you to sort and aggregate the people you follow, in order to selectively send information that is appropriate for those “circles” (e.g. You might want to send BFFs and acquaintances different sets of information via the same platform).

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    The other interesting addition that Google made was the inclusion of Hangouts – a real-time, live-video interface with up to 10 people. Early last summer, my thoughts were … that’s kind of cool, but I had not made any connections as to how it might change the way I interact professionally on the web.

    Needless to say, when I was approached by Joe Saad, the founder of ChefHangout.com with a proposition to join the inaugural group of chefs in a series of online cooking classes using Hangouts; I was intrigued. Our first interactions were, of course via Google Hangout, and I began to see how this platform could enable wider connectedness with those interested in what I do for a living, but also a new way of conveying information and a new model of learning!

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    Until now, I’ve been using social media as a tool to connect with community, and to promote things that are going on with my business (in that order). I’ve been observing how different brands interact on social media — seen the contests, the Wwitter chats, and thought it was interesting, but really the same model of engagement we’ve been used to all along, just on a social media platform, and sometimes it can seem forced. The thing that really attracted me to the idea of using Hangouts as a learning tool, is that while it is a very new way of interacting, it feels genuine and more personal.

    The benefits of real-time interaction

    I do a lot of gluten and grain-free cooking and baking – customizing gluten-free recipes. On the gluten-free baking front, seeing subtle differences in consistency is critical for success – and with gluten-free baking experts being so far-flung, getting that first-hand perspective has been all but impossible unless you are in the same city! In this area, the addition of as little as 2 tablespoons extra liquid, or a difference in oven temperature of 25 degrees can make or break your recipe! Its certainly not the end of the world, but definitely not an experience that encourages you to try baking again anytime soon. And that is my ultimate goal. While I cook for other people for a living, I am really passionate about democratizing food.

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    For me personally, the appeal of this new approach to learning is that it is truly interactive and there are no limits to who can join. I can be in a Hangout with someone on the other side of the country, with them cooking along with me, step-by-step. If they have questions about the caramelization of their onions, or the texture of their gluten-free bread dough, we can see what’s happening on-the-spot, and adjust as we go.

    Get the cooking skills you want

    1. You learn by cooking along with the instructor. Many people are kinesthetic learners, and need to physically go through the motions in order to learn.
    2. Classes are small. Google Hangouts are limited to 10 people, so there will never be more than 9 other people in your class, meaning you have a chance to ask questions as you go.
    3. You get dinner (or cake!) at the end of the class. Classes are real-time, and because you are cooking along with the instructor, you will end up with something new that you have created, and you have dinner ready.

    What else is different about hanging out with chefs?

    Food is a uniting force, and sharing a meal with family or friends is the ultimate bonding experience. Many of us however, are separated by geography and don’t have that many opportunities in a year to share that time together. Part of the appeal for me, was the fact that ChefHangout.com is virtual, meaning friends from across the globe can all sign up for the same class. They can learn something new together, I can bow out of the Hangout at the end of the class, and they can continue to talk over a meal!

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    Conclusion

    There is no doubt that food unites and there is nothing that can replace the way we used to learn how to cook – at the stove, with a mentor guiding us through; this comes pretty close to that.

    Its early days for this new venture, but I’m excited by the prospects because this is a totally new way of learning and communicating about food! I encourage you to check out ChefHangout.com – there are 24 chefs in total involved with the launch, so there’s sure to be something that piques your taste buds!

    (Photo credit: Assortment of Fresh Vegetables via Shutterstock)

    Disclaimer: I am not being paid or compensated to endorse Google+ or any Google products. I do receive monetary compensation for cooking classes I conduct through chefhangout.com.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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