By Brenna O’Dea
She tells you when to wake up in the morning and when it is time to settle down at night. She lets you know if you need a sweater cause it’s a lil’ breezy outside or if you should lather on that sun block. She does her best to remind you to bring an umbrella, but sometimes she is forgetful, and her mood can just change out of nowhere. She showers you with sweet treats as the seasons change, her favorites are the little round blue ones that she has only in the summertime. No, I am not talking about your grandma or that one special aunt that spoils you silly. They rock, but this lady rocks even harder, literally. I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT MAMA EARTH BABY. This Saturday, April 22nd, is EARTH DAY. A day totally devoted to appreciating the land we walk on and the air we breathe. It sounds kinda crazy. Shouldn’t we do this every damn day? I mean, none of us would be here without her. NONE of us. ALL human beings, in fact, all LIVING beings, need this Earth to survive. THIS EARTH RIGHT HERE. The one under your house right now. The one under the wheels of your car, or bike, or Segway tour group, or UberPool, or Hoverboard (are those things still trendy and cool?) No matter how you get around and where your day takes you, we all need the fresh air and water that she gives us, and of course, we all need to EAT. The Earth gives us so much each day. Here are some recipes and tips to help you give back to her, and celebrate our awesome planet in the best way we know how, through love and FOOD.
Fish are friends, not food
Okay, okay, fish can actually be a great source of protein and healthy fats. Let’s take salmon, for example. LOADED with omega 3’s, vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorous, I could go on and on. What I’m talkin’ about here is animal protein in general, and the fact that we don’t need quite as much of it as we think. If we eat a bit less of it, the Earth is actually much happier. Eating more plants and less animal based foods can lower the carbon footprint of your plate, and lessen the impact of some non-Earth-friendly issues we hear all about today, like climate change. Yes, I’m that person telling you to eat your veggies! But don’t worry, there are PLENTY of ways to make them taste good. So good that soon enough your little ones might be asking for seconds. Salads do not excite me. They never have and they probably never will. BUT, there is still hope out there for all of my friends who identify with the I-want-to-be-healthy-but-salads-suck mentality. Check out these surprisingly satisfying salads that will add a lil’ more pizzaz to your plate. And it’s finally safe to say it…summer is coming…we can feel Mama Earth warming up day by day and the sandals are making their way out from the back of the closet. Summer squash will be popping up at the farmer’s market before we know it. Squash is a great way to get your kiddos excited about healthy eating, because it is usually naturally sweet and super easy to jazz up and transform from dull to delicious. These summer squash recipes will fuel your family for those nights when you stay up a few hours too late running around the beach bonfire, and maybe you get just a few too many mosquito bites. You might be itchy, but hey, at least you won’t be hungry, right? And finally, when you are in the mood for an equally delicious and nutritious date night, our buddy Jason Hammel brings you some out-of-this-Earth plant based bites at Lula Cafe. From the Monday night farm dinners to the vegetarian tasting menu, everything on the menu will be pleasing to your palate and planet.
Ya know how people say you eat with your eyes first? Yeah, well this is why. Whip up a batch of Earth Day cupcakes and watch your little ones’ eyes grow wide with wonder. Warning: some minimal drooling may occur as well. I’m not talkin’ about those dirt cups or mud pies, the ones packed full of chocolate cookies and pudding with fake sugars you can’t even pronounce. This year, you can make a cupcake that looks good and is good for you…for the most part. The end result will look somethin’ like this, but we can get you there with a few steps that are a whole lot healthier. For the base of the cake, and the cloud-like white frosting, these peach cupcakes with honey buttercream are calling your name. These babies can be made totally vegan and gluten free, and they are sweetened naturally with peaches and honey. Now comes the fun part: the FOOD COLORING. Not the toxic stuff. The natural stuff. Use pureed blueberries, or steep some blue-hued tea for the “sky” half of the batter, and for the “earthy” section, nothing will give your cake that vibrant green glow quite like CHLOROPHYLL. Yep. You heard me. That liquid algae stuff. Just a few lil’ drops will give your batter a bright boost, and your little ones won’t taste (or suspect) a thing. Algae in my cupcakes!? Who knew!? Finally, for the filling, if you wanna go for that lil’ bit of love in the middle, use beets, that’s right BEETS, to make some of the frosting sparkle with that bright red boost. You can even separate out a third section of the batter and bake that love right in there.
Ants on a log
It doesn’t get much easier (or cuter!) than this. A tried and true classic that just never seems to get old. There are SO many options out there today to make this tot-friendly treat extra exciting. Peanut butter and raisins are the original toppings, of course, and they can always hold a special place in your heart (and belly). But think of the possibilities, nearly endless! Almond butter, cashew butter, even macadamia nut butter. Sunflower seed butter and pumpkin seed butter. And with all the exotic dried fruits you can find today, you can enjoy this treat with a new topping every day of the week. Dried goji berries and golden berries are some of the most nutrient packed, pint sized berries on the market. Loaded with antioxidants and the perfect size for sprinklin’ right on top of that smothered celery. And of course, for an extra special somethin’ sweet. Perhaps it is your little one’s birthday, or maybe it’s just the freakin’ weekend…you can never go wrong with a few chocolate chips to top it off. Don’t forget to go fair trade whenever possible, that is a sure way to make our world just a bit brighter.
We hope your Earth Day is full of fun foodie goodness. Spend a little extra time in the kitchen cooking up something that tastes good and is good for you. Block out a couple of hours to get some more sunshine. Make room in the garden for little hands to help out, or just eat dinner on the patio tonight instead of indoors. We are lucky to live on such a beautiful, bountiful planet. Let’s work together to make sure she stays that way, so we can keep the lovin’ and eatin’ going for future generations.
(Image by flickr member palinta licensed under Creative Commons)