Fermented Foods – Choose Beneficial

Many vegetables are grown in a fertile valley far away. Almost as soon as they are harvested, they are flash-frozen and transported on refrigerated trucks to a supermarket near you. You have a freezer at home, and the delivery of healthy nutritious vegetables from farm to consumer is completed easily. Refrigerated trucks keep fresh-picked vegetables viable long enough that your green grocer’s shelves remain well-stocked throughout the year.

Go back just a few decades, and you will find that this was not the case. Winter produced very sparsely populated shelves in the green grocery section of the market. Go back just a few more decades and you will discover that people had to find creative ways to sustain themselves through harsh winters and on long journeys. For thousands of years, people have fermented foods to preserve them for when supplies of fresh foods were not available.

The Romans preserved cabbages with salt, and Genghis Khan fed his armies fermented cabbage to sustain them on their campaigns through Europe. This use of preserved, fermented foods was a common practice for travelers as a source of nutrients. As late as World War I, allied forces relied on fermented cabbage, or sauerkraut as we now know it, to supply nutrients to soldiers on the battlefields of Europe.

The process of fermentation helps to preserve the food for use many months later. Fermentation also generates many health benefits for the consumer. The essential nutrients and vitamins are preserved. Sugars are broken down so they are more easily absorbed with far less insulin or allergy reaction, in the case of lactose intolerance to dairy products. The process also generates enzymes that are essential to supporting the digestion of foods that we eat. Finally, they are natural probiotics, jam-packed with beneficial microorganisms.

A healthy gut, supported by a strong population of beneficial bacteria, serves as a powerful booster for your immune system. The digestive tract is where nutrients are extracted from food and absorbed by the body. Enzyme and microbial activity accelerates digestion and generates enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants that are essential to health. They also protect us from pathogens and flush out toxins from our bodies.

You can find a variety of ready-to-use fermented products at your local supermarket. They include yoghurt, which is fermented milk (usually cow’s milk). The fermentation process breaks down the milk lactose to make it easier to digest and the yoghurt supplies billions of helpful bacteria. Be careful of brands with large amounts of sugar added, as that will create other problems. Another healthy fermented product from milk is kefir, a drink often found in the supermarket refrigerator.

Kombucha tea is another good source of enzymes and beneficial microbes. Kombucha is made from fermenting black tea. Other products you may find in the supermarket include kimchi, a Korean version of fermented cabbage and a mixture of other vegetables. Raw apple cider vinegar is also loaded with beneficial bacteria and has many different uses apart from supporting a healthy digestive system. You may find Japanese products like miso, and natto, both loaded with microbes and used in cooking soups, marinades and sauces.

If you feel adventurous, the processes for making your own fermented yoghurt, kefir, pickles and kimchi are relatively easy and they require no special equipment. Select healthy organic ingredients and you will be able to rely on the process for creating your own healthy, nutritious probiotic foods.

Protect Yourself Against, and Mitigate Damages From, Identity Theft

We’ve all heard of it. But we all think that we’re invincible to it. Identity Theft!

What is it? It refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes.

Identity theft techniques can range from unsophisticated, such as dumpster diving and mail theft, to more elaborate schemes.

If your identity is stolen, do you have a plan in place to mitigate the damages? If not, you should at least bookmark this, just in case you need it in the future.

Identity thieves are looking for the following information:
• full name
• date of birth
• Social Insurance Numbers
• full address
• mother’s maiden name
• username and password for online services
• driver’s license number
• personal identification numbers (PIN)
• credit card information (numbers, expiry dates and the last three digits printed on the signature panel)
• bank account numbers
• signature
• passport number

There are things that you can do to protect yourself from identity theft, and there are steps that you can take to minimize the damage and help bring the thief to justice.

Here are 5 things that you can do right now to protect yourself:
1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put ‘PHOTO ID REQUIRED.’
2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the ‘For’ line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your cheque as it passes through all the cheque processing channels won’t have access to it.
3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SIN printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it.
4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
5. When you travel abroad, carry a photocopy of your passport. We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Insurance number, credit cards, etc…

If your identity does get stolen, what kind of things can you expect to have happen?

Here are just some of what they can do:
1. Access your bank accounts
2. Open new bank accounts
3. Transfer bank balances
4. Apply for loans, credit cards
5. Make purchases
6. Buy cell phone packages
7. Credit line approved by retail stores
8. Access your driving record, and change your information online

If you are a victim, here’s some critical information to act on immediately:
1. Cancel your credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them. This is why we photocopy them (see above). Call your local bank/financial institution as well.
2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here’s what is perhaps most important of all:
3. Call the nationwide credit reporting companies immediately. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your name and credit report. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Here are the numbers for two national credit bureaus:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-465-7166
2.) TransUnion Canada: 1-877-525-3823
3. Order free copies of your credit report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies.

Have you even been a victim of identify theft? Tell us your story and maybe others can learn from what you did, or didn’t do.

Home Built Is Exciting

Experience

When it comes to custom homes, you don’t want to put that into the hands of just anyone. Look for a provider with a history of offering well-made homes. They should be completed on time, on budget, and with quality materials. They should have a reputation of listening to the buyers and offering a variety of floor plans as well as other options to pick from.

You need a provider who can guide you through the entire process from start to finish. It all begins with a free consultation where you can share your dream about custom homes. What would the ideal home look like and where would it be located? They can spend time giving you the opportunity to check land available, various sizes and layouts of homes, and more.

Getting Started

As you start to share with them what you want the outcome to be, they can give you more specific ideas and concepts. They can also give you an idea of what the cost will be. Typically, they are going to give you the base package price. As you add various upgrades, the cost can increase. Keep that in mind as you are making your final decisions.

If the cost is too much, you will either have to increase your budget or you will need to make some changes. It can be useful to get pre-approved for a loan before you discuss details with the creator of custom homes. This helps you to know how much you can afford to spend. It will also speed up the process of getting it all in motion once the last paperwork has been completed.

Communication

One of the key aspects of making it all fall into place is excellent communication. The provider should get back to you timely with information. They should be willing to sit down and discuss with you various options, show you samples of colors and materials, and make sure you feel comfortable with how it is all moving forward. You shouldn’t ever feel rushed or pressured.

During the planning stages, you need to ask questions as you go. Don’t feel intimidated or like you should know more than you do. Providers of custom homes deal with this all day, every day and they realize you are new to the process. They are going to be patient and they are going to be motivated to help you feel confident about the entire process.

Building Process

Once the specifics are in place and the financing has been taken care of, the real building can begin. Custom homes should be built to your specifications with quality materials. During various stages of the building there will be required inspections that have to be done. They are conducted by an outside 3rd party to make sure the home is being built safely and up to code.

It is a good idea to find out about any warranties that apply. Usually, there will be a warranty that is applied for the materials and another given by the contractor for their role in the construction of your new home. Find out exactly what is covered and what isn’t under such a warranty. You don’t want to feel blindsided if you need to make a claim down the road.

Boost Your Business Website Traffic SEO Hacks

We all want websites that are search-engine friendly. But sometimes when you are busy it’s easy to publish a new blog post and be off to the next thing on your to do list.

Over time, this can really hurt your SEO efforts. That’s why I’ve put together this short hit list of things you can do to boost your WordPress SEO.

Schedule these tasks in your calendar to make your blog traffic soar!

1) Post New Stuff Regularly

Google has a bias towards fresh content. Part of Google’s algorithm looks at how new the content is and gives preference to more recent results. So publishing original content on a regular basis is important.

Also size matters when it comes to content. Generally longer content ranks higher than shorter content. So strive to make your post at least 500 words.

2) Create a Keywords List

If SEO is a priority, then you’ll want to develop a keyword list. This is basically a list of keywords and phrases that describes your products and services. These keywords should include words from search terms that are more likely to be used to find your offerings online.

Google has some incredible tools to make keyword research easy including Google Search, Google Suggest, Google Instant and Google Wonder Wheel.

Hint: if you want a really targeted keyword list, hire an SEO expert!

3) Install an SEO Plugin

This will allow you to set keyword-rich custom titles and Meta descriptions for your posts for search engines.

A couple of popular SEO plug-ins to consider are All in One SEO Pack and WordPress SEO by Yoast.

Again, this is something your web designer or an SEO professional can easily install for you.

4) Hand Submit to Search Engines

What good is a site if no one can find it? That’s why getting listed in Google and the other popular search engines and directories is one of the most effective ways of getting free targeted traffic to your website.

You have probably seen lots of automated submission services where you pay a small fee for them to submit your site to hundreds of search engines. These services not only won’t help – they can actually hurt you.

Almost all of these free directories never send an actual visitor to your website and getting links from them can hurt your ability to rank in the real search engines like Google and Bing.

The best practice is to manually submit your site to search engines yourself. WordPress makes this easy once you set up an account in Google, Bing and Yandex Webmaster Tools.

If unsure, just ask your webmaster or SEO Specialist to set up these accounts.

5) Add Tags to your Posts

WordPress, straight out of the box, comes ready to embrace search engines. The tags features is one of those SEO friendly features you should take advantage of.

Be sure to add relevant keyword-rich tags to every post you publish.

6) Leave Comments on Other Blogs

Start linking more to other people’s posts on their blogs and encourage them to link back to you.

One search engine factor that Google considers is backlinking. A website that has more backlinks is considered more of an authority site and gets higher rankings.

7) Block Spam Comments

When people leave comments on your blog, it counts as content to Google. So if you have a website about DIY crafts and someone leaves 5 comments about “cheap enhancement pills’ that ruins your keyword relevancy and hurts your rankings.

So blocking spam comments from posting to your blog will improve your SEO – as well as make your real blog readers happy.

8) Internal Linking

One easy way to get more traffic is to add internal links to your blog posts.

For example if you have an article on Overcoming Your Resistance to Blog Writing, then at the bottom of that article you can post links to “Other Related Articles You May Enjoy”: 4 Content Marketing Trends for Business Owners in 2017 and other related articles. WordPress SEO by Yoast does this automatically for you as you can see at the bottom of this post.

9) Use Image Alt Tags

For each image you use in your post, ensure you add the Alt tag to help them rank better in image searches. This is another excellent place to put relevant keywords.

Google has an image search function that works in pretty much the exact same way as the webpage search with keywords and relevance. So adding Alt tags helps Google find and include your images when someone does an image search.

10) Tweak Blog Post Titles

If you quickly wrote titles to your blog posts before, take time to review them first before publishing.

Your blog post titles are vitally important to your SEO rankings so compare the keywords used to your keyword list and make your blog titles more keyword rich.

11) Add Social Media Sharing Buttons

When Google sees a blog article is getting a lot of posts and shares on social media, it boosts the ranking of that blog post.

So making it easy for readers to share your posts helps others Tweet and share your great content!

12) Update Your Theme

Not all WordPress themes are SEO Friendly and the free WordPress themes may be hurting your search engine rankings because of this.

Having a premium WordPress theme ensures your content will be indexed by the search engines, since the developers have taken special time to optimize every aspect in terms of both security and SEO.

It’s smart to make sure your theme programming isn’t bloated with inefficient code that slows down page load times. We find this a lot with purchased themes and that’s why we only provide custom designed and built WordPress themes for our clients.