Here are the most effective natural strategies for managing your cholesterol

 Cholesterol-lowering drugs are cheap and effective — and if your doctor says you need them, we have no argument. But if it’s a judgment call, consider this: So many people nowadays address every problem with a pill that over medication is a serious health problem in itself. Besides, not addressing the root causes of high cholesterol, such as a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, puts you at risk of other chronic illnesses, like hypertension and diabetes — even if you take a pill for your cholesterol. All of this adds up to powerful reasons to try the three most effective natural strategies for managing cholesterol:Rough up your diet
The No. 1 foodstuff for lowering cholesterol is soluble fiber — it reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. One study showed that people who eat a high-fiber diet have about a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who shun the stuff. Bonus: A fiber-rich diet will probably reduce your waistline, too, because these foods fill you up. Oatmeal, apples, barley, and sun-dried plums (also known as prunes) are all soluble superstars. 

Follow this training plan
While any exercise is good for your health, some workouts are particularly effective at raising HDL, the good kind of cholesterol. First, the longer your aerobic workout (as measured by duration or distance), the better the results — intensity doesn’t matter as much.

A combination of aerobic and strength training can shave pounds — which can move your cholesterol numbers in the right direction too. Try a weekly program that alternates two or three days of walks, runs, or bike rides at a moderate pace with two or three days of total-body resistance training. (If you’ve been sedentary, work up slowly under the guidance of a doctor and trainer.)

Become less of a man or woman
If you lose weight — as little as five or ten pounds — your cholesterol numbers will improve. Even better news: If you follow our first two tips, you’ll likely drop pounds automatically.

Nine-year-old Antonio ''Dan Boy'' Fernandez Jr was playing with his younger brother Ken in their yard last June when he noticed smoke billowing from the roof of their house in Cebu's Carcar city. Realising that his five-year-old brother Nathaniel was napping inside, Dan Boy shielded his head from the falling embers with his hands and rushed inside the wooden house.

''I was so scared to see the flames on the roof but when I heard my brother cry, I just closed my eyes and rushed in,'' says Dan Boy, who stopped schooling two years ago to look after his younger brothers.

He found his brother sitting in the corner of the room, frightened and crying. Nathaniel was disoriented from the smoke, so Dan Boy grabbed him with his right hand. ''Don't worry, kuya (big brother) is here,'' Dan Boy said as he shielded Nathaniel from the flames with his own body.

Just as they reached the front door, Nathaniel stopped. A protruding nail had caught his shorts. Flames licked the upper portion of the door as Dan Boy struggled to get his brother free. With one last, desperate tug they ran into the yard as the fire devoured the property.

For his heroic act, Dan Boy received financial assistance from the government and concerned individuals, as well as a scholarship from a university in Cebu City.

Crown Festival


The Crown Festival happens every 3rd week of November at Muzon, Taytay, Rizal, Philippines.
Photograph by Khoji Avila
Don't drink your calories. Instead drink these low-calorie drink options. 
The secret to losing weight isn’t just watching what’s on your plate; it’s also about watching what’s in your glass. Popular soft drinks, fruit juices, and energy drinks can be loaded with added sugars and carbohydrates that can sabotage your weight-loss strategy. Here are five tasty ways to drink up without packing on the pounds.

1. Water

We all know this one, but it’s important to remember that water is the single best choice for effective weight loss. Whether it’s still or sparkling, aim to make water your go-to beverage choice. Think water is boring? Try adding fresh lemon slices, lime, cucumber, and even a slice of tomato to add flavor without adding many calories.

2. Vegetable juice

Whether in a can, bottled, or homemade, vegetable juice is an excellent way to get the fiber and nutrients your body needs to fuel your weight loss. If you can find a low-sodium variety, even better. The veggies will keep you fuller longer and the tangy flavor will keep your taste buds happy.

3. Unsweetened tea

Green tea has been proven to help boost metabolism and speed up weight loss. Try it hot or iced with a bit of honey for a low-sugar sweet drink. Don’t forget black and oolong teas, too! Both are filled with antioxidants, which can help rid your body of toxins.

4. Black coffee

A morning cup of joe or an afternoon iced coffee can help spur your weight loss by providing a boost of caffeine that suppresses hunger. Also, coffee has been shown to stimulate thermogenesis, which heats up the body and boosts metabolism. Just be careful about what you add to your coffee — stick to skim milk and very little sugar.

5. Skim milk

Milk is an excellent source of lean protein, vitamin D, and calcium that can help build your muscles and keep your bones strong. Opt for low-fat or skim milk for all of the vitamins without the added fat. If you are feeling indulgent, add a little chocolate — low-fat chocolate milk is a great option for post-workout muscle recovery.

Smart tactics for a thrifty and fun gift buying 

Holiday gift shopping: Do the words terrify you, or make your eyes light up with anticipation? Either way, we have advice to make holiday shopping easier, cheaper, less stressful, and more fun. But before you read our savvy hints and tips, take a minute to remember why you're shopping. Chances are, it's about the pleasure in giving those you love a gift that truly express your feelings for them. Remember that - it'll make all the hunting and haggling more than worth it.

Before the search for the "perfect" gift begins, there are a few things to consider. Mainly: Who? What? How much? And when?

1. Set a limit
Giving gifts should fill your heart, not empty your savings account. If setting a budget seems more bother than it's worth, at least determine an approximate figure ($25 to $75 for family, $15 to $25 for friends) for each person on your list.

2. Record gift ideas
Smart gift-givers know that gathering should happen 12 months of the year. So buy a notebook, attach a pen, and keep track of whom you need to buy gifts for, and ideas you get from window-shopping, catalog browsing, or just sudden inspirations that pop up in your mind. Then, when you do buy a gift for someone, mark it down as well.

3. Clip pictures or ads
Holiday season is catalog season, but most of us get catalogs year-round, too. Don't toss them in the recycling bin. Look for ideas. When you see something that seems right for someone, clip out the picture and description, note the person's name and catalog, and file it away for future use.

4. Think about whom you're buying for
In that same notebook, include information about each person, such as sizes, interestsm sports, and hobbies. Even add gift you've given in the past, so you don't accidentally duplicate.

5. Be an off-peak shopper
Unless you enjoy packed parking lots, messy stores, huge crowds, over-warm stores, and surly clerks, skip shopping on the six or so weekends that lead up to Christmas. Instead, shop weekday mornings or early afternoons. Not only will the crowds be smaller but the stores will be neatened up an restocked.

6. Dress comfortably
Serious holiday shopping is not the time for high fashion. Wear loose-fitting clothes, tie your hair back or at a minimum, wear comfortable shoes so you can navigate crowds and stand in long lines without discomfort. And to avoid energy lags and endless time in food courts, have a good meal before heading our to the stores.

7. Always, always use a shopping list
Random, unfocused shopping leads to impulse buying, overspending, and your forgetting gifts for one or more people. And that means having to go shopping again.

8. Shop year-round
No, this doesn't mean that you're constantly shopping. It means that you are always looking. Because you never know when you might see the absolute perfect gift (at a deal, no less) for someone. And just because you got a great gift for $20 on a discount in March, doesn't mean you need to spend more to bring it up to the originally budgeted cost. Gift giving is about the thought, not money.

9. Shop on vacation
If you go somewhere on vacation, watch out for things that might make someone else happy come Christmastime. Going to a new city or country can open up shopping opportunities that don't usually exist for you.

10. Stay current with the business news
By following the business news, you'll learn about who is discounting, what's hot and what's not, what products are in surplus or short supply, and who is offering unusual deals. Use all this information to help strategize when and where to shop for best prizes and selection.

11. Don't be afraid to haggle
It can pay to be bold. Ask a manager: "Is this item going on sale soon?" "Is this the best price you can offer?" or "Are there any discounts for loyal customers?" The worst they say is "no." But you may be surprised at how many stores consider your request.

12. Go with gift cards
Sure, they might not give you the warm fuzzies, but giving someone the opportunity to choose what they want is never a bad thing. If you want to be distinctive, offer a certificate to an out-of-the-ordinary place, such as a French bakery, high-end restaurant, or day spa. Make sure you read the "fine print" to 
Check out our MyShopToday gift card and let your friends choose from a wide range of products. Enjoy free delivery!

13. Search for sales
Sone online retailers have sales like those at brick-and-mortar stores, with lots of promotion around the event. But even if there is no announced sale, many retailer sites have a permanent discount "room" with nicely marked-down products. Search your favourite online stores for these secret savings.
Check out the Reader's Digest holiday special sale!

14. Compare prices
You found the perfect baseball mitt for your son on a national sporting-good chain's website. Don't order yet! Write down the name and model number, and do a search of the item on your favourite search engine with the added words "best price". You'll not only find other vendors that sell that item (at varying costs), you'll often run across reviews of the product and online retailer.

15. Factor in shipping
Each web site has its own shipping charges. And some do a good job of hiding it! Never make a purchase without understanding the full costs involved, A $49.95 item is a better bargain with free shipping than the same item marked down to $39.95 but with $14.95 for shipping.

16. Consider giving an event
Each of us has our passions; why not let your loved ones engage in theirs? Buy them tickets to the opera, theater, circus, football game, concert, or lecture that they most would enjoy seeing or hearing. Or if they love food, reserve a table for two (or the family) at the restaurant they always dreamed of trying, but never got to. A magical evening out is often more memorable than one more nectie or kitchen appliance, after all.

17. Consider giving a membership
What art-lover wouldn't be happy with a membership to the art museum? All kinds of memberships are available with wonderful benefits, be they free admissions, a monthly magazine, or access to online services not available to others.
Want to give your friend a Reader's Digest magazine subscription? Click here

18. Give of yourself
Sometimes, the best gift of all is you. Give a handwritten or printed coupon to be redeemed over the coming year, for home-cooked meals, a weekend away, a personal car wash, even a massage. Better yet, give a coupon book with a mix of offers, large and small. Sometimes, the best gift you can give costs no money at all. Check out these nice gift coupons and download them for free!

We all love Mariah Carey and the way she sing. Here are some videos of her Christmas songs with a bonus of her newest Christmas song featuring John Legend.
Watch and sing with us.. Advance Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy :)

Irish Mint Brownies


1 cup butter, cubed
4 squares (1 ounce each) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (6 ounces) double dark chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

4 squares (1 ounce each) white baking chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup refrigerated Irish creme nondairy creamer
1 cup heavy whipping cream
15 mint Andes candies, chopped

12 squares (1 ounce each) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
Additional mint Andes candies, halved, optional

How to make it (75 minutes)

1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter and bittersweet chocolate; cool slightly. In a bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir in chocolate mixture. Gradually add flour until blended. Stir in chips and walnuts. Spread into a greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.

2. In a small saucepan, combine white chocolate and creamer. Cook and stir over low heat until smooth; remove from the heat. Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes or until chilled. In a mixing bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form; fold into white chocolate mixture. Beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. Fold in chopped candies. Spread over brownies. Cover and refrigerate.

3. In a small saucepan, combine bittersweet chocolate and cream. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth; remove from the heat. Stir in butter until melted. Cool to room temperature. Carefully spread over filling. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until icing is set. Cut into bars. Garnish with additional candies if desired. Store in the refrigerator.

This is a novel way of serving the popular Chinese dish of stir-fried sweet and sour chicken. Here courgettes and bean sprouts are added, and the mixture is folded up in lacy pancakes 

Serves: 4

Pancake batter
115 g (4 oz) plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
200 ml (7 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk

Chicken filling
450 g (1 lb) skinless boneless chicken breasts (fillets)
2 tbsp tomato pure
3 tbsp sunflower oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp malt vinegar
1 tbsp demerara sugar
2 tsp clear honey
1 onion, halved and sliced
1 courgette, cut into 5 cm (2 in) matchsticks
225 g (8 oz) bean sprouts
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp rich soy sauce, plus more to serve
salt and pepper
spring onions to garnish

Preparation method
Prep: 15 mins | Cook: 40 mins

1. To make the pancakes, sift the flour into a bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Make a well in the centre. Mix the eggs, milk and 90 ml (3 fl oz) water together and pour into the well, then whisk in the flour to form a smooth batter. Cover and leave to stand while you prepare the filling.

2. Cut the chicken into long thin strips. Mix together the tomato pure, 1 tbsp of the oil, the lemon zest and juice, vinegar, sugar and honey in a bowl. Add the chicken to this sweet and sour sauce, and toss to coat the strips.

3. Heat a wok or large frying pan and add 1 tbsp of the remaining oil. Add the onion and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the courgette and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Using a draining spoon, remove the vegetables from the wok and set aside.

4. Reheat the wok, then add the chicken mixture and stir-fry for 3–4 minutes or until cooked. Return the vegetables to the wok. Toss together, then remove from the heat and set aside.

5. Heat a 20 cm (8 in) pancake pan, preferably non-stick or well seasoned. Rub a little of the remaining oil over the surface using a crumpled piece of kitchen paper. Pour in a little batter and tilt the pan so that the batter spreads evenly over the surface; tip any excess batter back into the bowl. Cook the pancake over a moderately high heat for 2 minutes, then loosen the edges and flip it over. Cook the second side for about 30 seconds. Slide the pancake onto a plate and cover with a square of greaseproof paper. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 8 pancakes in all, stacking them up, interleaved with greaseproof paper, as they are made. Keep warm over a pan of simmering water, covered with foil.

6. Reheat the filling. Add the bean sprouts, sesame seeds and soy sauce, and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes until everything is hot. Fill the pancakes, fold into quarters and garnish with spring onions. Serve with extra soy sauce.

This delectable version of the popular Italian dessert includes the traditional sponge cakes soaked in coffee and liqueur for the base 

Instead of layering the ladyfingers with whipped high-fat mascarpone cheese, a light and creamy mixture of sweetened ricotta cheese and yogurt is used. A sprinkling of grated dark chocolate is the finishing touch.


8 ladyfingers, halved
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur or brandy
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 square (1 ounce) semi-sweet dark chocolate, grated

How to make it  (20 minutes, plus chilling)

1. Break each of the ladyfingers into 3 pieces, then divide evenly among four 8-ounce glass tumblers or dessert glasses.

2. Place the coffee in a glass measuring cup and add the boiling water. Add the liqueur or brandy and 1 teaspoon sugar, and stir to dissolve. Pour evenly over the ladyfingers. Leave to soak while you prepare the topping.

3. Beat the ricotta with the yogurt, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Pile on top of the soaked ladyfingers.

4. Sprinkle the top of each dessert with grated chocolate. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes (but no more than 3 to 4 hours) before serving.

Some More Ideas

* Low-fat vanilla yogurt can be substituted for the plain yogurt to add a bit more flavor.

* Instead of grated chocolate, decorate the tops of the desserts by dusting each with 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder.

Plus Points

* Ricotta cheese is much lower in fat and calories than the creamy mascarpone that is traditionally used for tiramisu. Adding yogurt to the ricotta provides creaminess and helps to decrease the fat content even further.

* Dark chocolate is a good source of copper, a mineral that helps the body to absorb iron. As dark chocolate is also a source of iron, there is a double nutritional benefit to including it in this dessert.


5 cups of flour 
2 table spoons of ground ginger
1 1/2 tea spoons of baking soda
1 tea spoon of ground cloves
1/2 tea spoon of salt
1 cup of granulated sugar 
1 cup of shortening
1 egg
1 cup of molasses 
2 table spoons of vinegar
6 table spoons of butter 
1 tea spoon of vanilla
whipping cream