Celebrate crocuses pushing through the dry grass, geese honking overhead, fresh pussy willows, trickling streams and Earth Day.
Every year, on April 22, we are reminded to invest in our planet and protect the space we live in by marking Earth Day.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Garage sale or thrift store: You can recycle some of your unwanted items to others who may find them helpful. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.
Community cleanup: Remove garbage from nature sites like public parks or walking trails to improve their appearance and deal with unwanted litter and debris. This will benefit humans and wildlife.
When possible, reduce plastic use by switching to glass or stainless steel. This includes items such as water bottles and food storage and serving containers.
Getting outside: Fresh air and exercise will increase your appreciation of the environment and inspire you to do more to protect it.
Plant a garden in the yard or in a container and experience reaping what you sow. There is nothing like popping a fresh pod and eating the peas inside. Or picking a sweet red strawberry or home-grown tomato. This experience and taste are worth the effort.
Plant a tree, my personal favourite. Living on the Prairies, this activity can provide a treasure in the future. The benefits of planting outweigh the effort it takes to grow a tree.
One large tree can provide a day’s oxygen for up to four people.
Studies show that hospital patients with window views of trees and greenery have positive psychological benefits that aid healing.
Trees can act as an insulator from noise, wind block and shade.
Each healthy tree can reduce air-borne dust particles. A healthy tree is a free-standing air conditioner and purifier.
You need about 500 full-sized trees to absorb the carbon dioxide produced by a typical car driven 20,000 kilometres per year.
One large tree can lift as much as 450 litres of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air in one day, according to Tree Canada. For more information, visit www.treecanada.ca and www.earthday.ca.
Be an informed consumer: Recently, my son had a windburn/sunburn on his face. Trying to manage his ailment, he went to a drugstore and bought an after-sun cream.
Minutes after applying the cream, he called me and asked, “is this cream supposed to hurt more than the burn?”
It was so bad he ran to the sink and rinsed it all off.
The lesson is, for skin care always read the labels and avoid the following: sulphates (which will irritate), silicones, parabens (preservatives) and perfumes/fragrances (synthetic ingredients that may add toxins to your system).
I recommend a pure aloe vera cream without alcohol to soothe summer skin, or best of all, taking gel from a real aloe plant.
It is our job to protect our waters. Scientists estimate that 3,500 to 5,500 tonnes of sun screen slithers off human skin and into oceans and lakes each year, harming coral reefs and all underwater and shoreline life.
We should opt for a physical sun block, such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide rather than a chemical sun block such as oxybenzone. When our family visited Maui, our resort had banned all chemical sunscreens and actually had employees patrolling and confiscating banned products along the shore. The coral in the area had already started dying because of polluted waters. It was eye-opening for many vacationers.
Celebrate with fresh food: As we get into warmer weather, there are more things to do. There are sports activities, yard work and our food craving shift to lighter options.
It is good to have ingredients on hand to pull menus together with ease, like a variety of greens and vegetables and some protein options such as beef or chicken that can be prepared quickly.
Spinach and berry salad
Each year, I pull this recipe out because it seems to be a springtime statement dish.
We often add cooked chicken pieces to the mix or serve it on the side to make the meal complete.
- 8 c. washed and dried spinach leaves 2 L
- 1 can mandarin oranges, in juice
- 1/2 c. oil (olive or avocado are my picks) 125 mL
- 1/4 c. vinegar 60 mL
- 1 tbsp. sesame seeds 15 mL
- 1 tbsp. poppy seeds 15 mL
- 2 tbsp. sugar 30 mL
- 2 tbsp. honey 30 mL
- 1/4 c. mandarin orange juice 60 mL
Put the above ingredients in a blender until mixed thoroughly. In a large salad bowl, mix spinach with strawberries and mandarin oranges. Drizzle with dressing, toss and serve. Makes four servings.
Catalina taco salad
- 1 lb. extra-lean ground beef (you could also use ground turkey) .454 kg
- 6 tbsp. catalina dressing 90 mL
- 2 tbsp. chili powder 30 mL
- 8 c. romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn 2 L
- 1 c. broken tortilla chips 250 mL
- 1 c. shredded Tex Mex cheese or cheese of your choice 250 mL
- 1/2 c. red onion, sliced or chopped 125 mL
- tomato (I like Roma variety) chopped
- 1 avocado, chopped
In a large skillet, brown the meat and drain. Stir in two tbsp./30 mL dressing and the chili powder. Cook for an additional two minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large serving bowl or platter, place the prepared lettuce. Top with the chips, meat, cheese, onions, tomatoes and avocado. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve. Makes four servings. Source: kraftcanada.ca.
Note: The meat may be served warm or cool. Some like to have some ranch dressing on hand to complement the Catalina dressing. It’s odd, but delicious.
Grilled caesar salad
- 1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed, cut lengthwise in half
- 1/2 c. Caesar dressing 125 mL
- 1/2 c. croutons 125 mL
- 1/2 c. shredded or grated Parmesan cheese 125 mL
Heat grill to medium-high heat. Place lettuce, cut sides down, on grill grate. Grill three to four minutes or until lightly grill-marked on both sides, turning after two minutes. Cut lettuce pieces in half; place on platter. Drizzle with dressing; top with croutons and cheese. Serve with grilled meat or other protein sources, if desired.
Add to the fun and use your fingers to eat, which also means no dishes.
Mealtime wraps — Start with a soft tortilla. Spread mayonnaise on the top centre of the tortilla circle. Lay greens of your choice, such as romaine lettuce, over the mayo, then top with cooked meat, such as beef or chicken. Add any prepared vegetables such as finely chopped onion and top with shredded cheese.
Season with salt, pepper, a dash of seasoning salt or maybe a few drops of hot sauce. Wrap up and enjoy.
Yield: 2 12-inch pizzas.
- 1 1/3 c. warm water 320 mL
- 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast (1 standard packet) 11 mL
- 1 tbsp. sugar 15 mL
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for pan and brushing on dough 30 mL
- 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
- 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (spooned & levelled) 875 mL
- sprinkle of cornmeal for dusting the pan
Whisk the warm water, yeast and granulated sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow to rest for five minutes. You can also use a large bowl and a wooden or rubber spoon to mix.
After five minutes, add the olive oil, salt and flour. Beat on low speed for two minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough for five minutes. The dough is ready if it bounces back when you poke it.
Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or non-stick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes or until it doubles.
Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C). Allow it to heat for at least 15-20 minutes as you shape the pizza. Lightly grease baking sheet or pizza pan with non-stick spray or olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with cornmeal, which gives the crust extra crunch and flavour.
Now punch down the dough to release air bubbles and divide in half. If not making two pizzas, freeze half of the dough for another time.
On a lightly floured work surface using lightly floured hands or rolling pin, gently flatten the dough into a disc. Place on prepared pan and, using lightly floured hands, stretch and flatten the disc into a 12-inch circle, about 1/2-inch thick. Then lift the edge of the dough to create a lip. I simply pinch the edges up to create the rim.
Cover dough lightly with a clean kitchen towel while you prepare your pizza toppings. I suggest pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, pineapple, cheese, spinach, fresh parsley or whatever your favourite toppings are. Be creative.
Uncover the prepared dough and, using your fingers, push dents into the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. To prevent the filling from making your pizza crust soggy, brush the top lightly with olive oil. Top with your favorite toppings and bake for 13-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Slice and serve. Source: sallysbakingaddiction.com.
- 4 bagels or English muffins, split in half
- 1/2 c. mayonnaise or ranch dressing 125 mL
- 2 c. cooked and cubed chicken 500 mL
- 1/2 medium tomato, diced fine
- 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese 500 mL
- 1/2 c. bacon bits 125 mL
- 1 chopped green onion, optional
Spread a thin layer of dressing on the bagel or muffin halves. Sprinkle with chicken, followed by tomato, cheese, bacon bits and onions if desired. Broil on a baking sheet for three to four minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes four servings.
- 1 lb. ground beef 450 g
- 4 slices finely chopped bacon
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2/3 c. shredded cheese of your choice 150 mL
- 1 pkg. refrigerated crescent roll packs 235 g
Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).
In a skillet, brown the meat and onion, drain extra liquid and stir in the cheese whiz until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
On a baking sheet, roll out the dough into about a 14 x 7 inch rectangle. Spread the meat mixture onto the dough. Roll up the dough gently with your hands. Hold firmly and seal any perforations.
Place seam side down on a baking pan and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Slice into pieces and enjoy. Serves four. Source: kraftcanada.com.
Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: email@example.com.