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Month: July 2017

Watermelonade

Watermelonade

Watermelonade

Ahhhh…. on those hot summer days, imagine lying back relaxing by the lake or pool, the sun streaming down and the soft summer breeze on your face, with a cool refreshing drink in your hand…. Watermenonade – a nice twist on lemonade with the addition of watermelon.

  • 1/2 small watermelon cubed (about 4 cups)
  • 5 lemons (about 1 cup juice)
  • 4 cups cold water or more
  • 3/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple flakes or maple sugar
  • 1 tray of ice cubes

 

Add watermelon to a high-powered blender and pulse until well pureed. Strain through a mesh strainer (optional) and pour the juice into a pitcher. Juice the lemons (about 1 cup) and add to pitcher along with water. Add sugar to desired sweetness. Store in refrigerator or serve immediately over ice and garnish with slice of lemon. Enjoy!

What’s your favourite summer drink?

See also my tangy Mango Smoothie

Artichoke Spinach Dip

Artichoke Spinach Dip

Artichoke Spinach Dip

Enjoy this delicious dip warm or cold (my preference is warm). A great recipe to share with friends and is quite simple to prepare. The original recipe is from one of my favourite Canadian chefs, Dreena Burton. I’ve updated it by not blending the spinach in but rather finely chopping it and mixing it by hand.

  • ¾ cup raw cashews (unsoaked)
  • 1-2 medium-large cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup plain unsweetened nondairy milk (almond)
  • 5-3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach leaves

 

Preheat oven to 425F. In blender add cashews, garlic, salt, mustard, black pepper, milk and lemon juice. Blend until very smooth. Add half of artichokes and pulse through – in order to keep some chunky texture. Chop remaining artichokes and all of the spinach.   In large bowl, combine artichokes and spinach with cashew mixture, mixing well. Transfer to an ovenproof (lightly greased) baking dish and bake for 17-20 minutes until lightly golden on top. Serve warm with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

What dish to you take to a potluck meal?

See more recipes here.

Gardening

Gardening

Gardening – is it good for you?

Do you like to putter in the garden? I tend to start on one task and then see other things that need to be done so end up spending more time in the garden than I first intended. Gardening can really draw you in and before you know it, a couple of hours have gone by!

Gardening is an excellent way to get some fresh air in addition to increasing physical activity with exercise. Gardening involves digging, pulling weeds, planting, spreading compost, trimming bushes and trees, raking, mowing and even moving rocks. It includes movements like bending, lifting, reaching, pushing and is a great way to enjoy staying fit without doing an organized sport. The benefits of gardening can increase muscle and bone strength, can lower blood pressure and even be a stress reliever. It is fun and creative and has many positive health benefits.

Some benefits of gardening include:

  • Encouraging relaxation & stress release
  • Improving physical fitness
  • Strengthening muscles and joints
  • Increasing hand dexterity
  • Preventing falls by improving balance
  • Improving mental well-being
  • Connecting with nature
  • Incorporating family fun and/or community involvement
  • Producing delicious, nutritious food
  • Encouraging creativity
  • Allowing for Puttering

If you are limited for space, you can start with a simple container garden on your balcony or within your kitchen window. Otherwise you can work with anything from a simple container on your deck to a small garden patch or even a large patch in your backyard. To be involved within your community, investigate shared gardens within your neighbourhood.

Swallowtail butterfly
Ruby-throated hummingbird

Gardens can attract wildlife like butterflies, bees and birds, which help fertilize colourful flowers and they become an integral part of the well being of your garden. It becomes an interactive place and an opportunity to learn about various species.

Gardening tools

To get started there are a few tools you may need such as:

  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Gardening gloves
  • Soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can or hose
  • Twine
  • Broom
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Kneeling pad
  • Sunhat and sunscreen
  • Clippers
  • Weeder
  • Shears

Consider also:

  • Bird feeder
  • Bird bath
  • Ornamental objects
  • Lighting
  • Pathways
  • Outside seating

 

Starting out as a novice can seem daunting but also exciting! There can be so much to learn but the best way is to get your hands dirty and just start. With practice we become more experienced and we can learn by reading and simply with trial and error. When I first created a garden at my first home, I didn’t have much money but started small. We grew veggies from seed and purchased what we could afford. Sometimes you can get cuttings from neighbours, friends or a neighbourhood garage sale. Then when you become more experienced you can experiment with more unusual or exotic plants. You can also share you experience with other novice gardeners and even donate or sell clippings of your own. It really can become a great neighbourhood community builder.

Vertical container garden

In addition to getting your hands dirty by manipulating plants, it also gets you thinking creatively and gets the blood pumping. By combining creative mental thinking with physical movements, it helps maintain physical stamina and keep the mind active at the same time. Doing this along with a family member or neighbour requires teamwork and is a great overall activity to support your health in so many ways. I really love this activity and there is always so much to do that it is easy to get carried away once I start! This is a great way to get “lost puttering”. This spontaneous way of working from one task to another allows the mind to rest from a routine schedule and keeps our minds active while still being imaginative. The physical work involved with gardening can be limited to our own activity level. It is rewarding to produce beautiful flowering plants as well as nutritious, organic food we can ultimately consume.

Gardening has so many benefits and is an excellent activity at any age. It is something that can be enjoyed in almost any climate (perhaps only in summer months in certain areas) but also indoors.

My own backyard

My garden includes mostly perennials (plants that grow back each year), trees and shrubs along with a few herbs. I have a container with some tomato plants and I hope to spend even more time planting, growing and nurturing new plants in my retirement. I also have a few pots of herbs indoors for cooking.

What do you have in your garden?

Please leave your comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

Read also about Bird Watching and Go Outside!

Asparagus Potato Salad

Asparagus Potato Salad

Asparagus Potato Salad

This is a great dish to serve at a barbeque or picnic! Served cold, it can be cool and refreshing. Served warm, is comforting! I love the creamy avocado dressing…

  • 2 pounds mini potatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 3 tsp canola oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Dressing:

  • ½ cup ripe avocado
  • ½ Tbsp dried dill or 1 Tbsp fresh dill
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • freshly-ground black pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 400F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Wash and prepare potatoes. I like to cut them in half depending on their size. In large bowl, add mini potatoes and drizzle with 2 tsp of canola oil. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper and toss again. Spread evenly over one baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes flipping half way. Bake until cooked through and lightly browned.

Next wash asparagus then cut each stem into about 3 pieces, discarding woody ends. Place into bowl and drizzle with 1 tsp of canola oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on 2nd baking sheet. Add asparagus to oven during the last 10 minutes of the potatoes roasting.

For the dressing, in a medium bowl, mash avocado. Add lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add roasted potatoes and asparagus and coat well. Serve right away warm or allow to cool, then store in sealed container in fridge. This recipe can be enjoyed warm or cool!

Do you like this dish warm or cool?

Try also Broccoli Salad or Thai Crunch Salad

Adapted from an original recipe from Oh She Glows cookbook.