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Enjoying Summer’s Bounty

Enjoying Summer’s Bounty

After the renewal of spring comes the warmer and longer days of summer. As the sun stretches its arms across the sky the bountiful offers of summer’s harvest come into their own. The familiar summer tapestry of colors and flavors comes to life. Farmer’s markets are filled with the scent of ripe fruits and vegetables as the stalls overflow with nature’s treasures. 

Only during the height of summer can we enjoy so many fresh fruits and vegetables as they are the stars of many recipes. From succulent berries bursting with sweetness to crisp cucumbers and peppers and the juiciest tomatoes, the options are as abundant as they are diverse. 

One of the best gifts of the summer is watermelon. Click here to find 28 watermelon recipes you can serve this summer. From ice cream to pie, to salads, drinks and soups, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. Peaches are another favorite summer staple. Click here to find 60 different peach recipes you can experiment with this summer. There are options here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so there are plenty to try all summer long.

Just type tomato salad recipe into Google and see what happens! Clicking on just one link can get you more than 150 recipes to enjoy this summer. The Editors of Food and Wine magazine have curated 31 summer vegetable recipes to try. There really is no shortage of options!

How about a strawberry spinach salad filled with juicy strawberries, spinach leaves, creamy goat cheese and a drizzle of your favorite balsamic vinaigrette. Or maybe a fresh Caprese salad piled high with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and creamy mozzarella. 

But summer’s bounty isn’t limited to just fruits and vegetables. You may also notice an array of herbs like basil, cilantro, and dill ready to add a burst of freshness and flavor to your summer soups, salads, and main dishes. What tastes more like summer than taking a bunch of freshly-picked basil and blending it with toasted pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese to create a vibrant pesto for that al dente pasta.

And let’s not forget about the zucchini, a versatile vegetable that can be spiralized into noodles and tossed with cherry tomatoes and fresh feta cheese to a light and refreshing summer “pasta” or grill thick slices and layer them with creamy ricotta cheese and marinara sauce for a vegetarian twist on a classic lasagna. 

As you explore the endless possibilities of summer produce, you’ll find new and creative ways to integrate your favorites into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert! As the days grow longer and the temperatures rise, let your creativity flourish in the kitchen. So, what summertime delights will you surprise your friends and family with this summer?

Your Summer Garden Checklist

Your Summer Garden Checklist

Whether you are a seasoned gardening expert, or this is your first attempt, follow these tips to stay on top of your summer gardening. There is a lot to consider when deciding to plant a summer garden. If you are an expert, you begin preparations long before the season is here. However, if this is your inaugural garden, here are a few things to keep in mind so you can enjoy a successful harvest this year. As you check each of these off your list, you will maximize the beauty of your garden and support the health of your plants.

First on the checklist: mulch. It’s important to spread a two inch thick layer of mulch over your soil. The mulch will shield the soil from the sun and keep it cooler. This can put less stress on the roots of the plants and slows the moisture loss due to evaporation. As it decomposes, the mulch will help to improve the structure of the soil and add much needed nutrients. 

Second, make sure you have eliminated the weeds that thrive in the summer. If you aren’t vigilant, they can go from a small patch to taking over your garden! Remove them immediately so they don’t steal the moisture and nutrients from your plants. Moistening the soil can also help in their removal. 

Summer provides lots of colorful options so the third thing to keep in mind is to enjoy this color and plant heat-loving annuals like Angelonia, lantana, ageratum, sweet potato vine and zinnia just to name a few. These types of annuals grow quickly in warm weather and will give you a great burst of color! Add some additional variety by planting summer bulbs like calla, canna, and dahlia. Again, this adds even more color to your garden and will thrive all summer long. 

If you have late blooming perennials (think mums, sedums and asters), keep them in check by pinching the top inch or two of new growth. This often results in more compact, sturdy growth. Another item on the list is to remove any faded flowers. If you remove the spent blooms from the annuals and perennials you have, you just might see more blooms. 

And perhaps the most important item on the list: watch out for pests and diseases. As vigilant as you are with weeding, keep an eye out for pests and disease during the entire growing season. Midsummer is an important checkpoint as many bug populations are in full force and you don’t want all your hard work to go to waste because of unwanted bugs and the diseases they bring. Some problematic species include grasshoppers, tomato hornworms, and cucumber and Japanese beetles. 

And finally, make sure you water appropriately, especially during the warmer months! Experts advise that most common plants require an inch of water per week and it’s best to apply it all at once to encourage the roots to sink deeply into the soil. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are perfect for this job.

Now that you know the basics, your summer garden can thrive as you work your way through this checklist!

A Guide to Summer Self-Care

A Guide to Summer Self-Care

As those vibrant summer sunsets paint the sky and the longer days and warmer temperatures beckon us outside to spend more time with friends and family, it’s easy to picture relaxing days filled with laughter and fun. Yet, for many people, this warmer season can lead some to struggle with their mental health. Despite this idyllic time for many, others can find themselves overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, struggling to maintain a sense of equilibrium.  

And this isn’t an uncommon scenario. While summer can offer a reprieve from our routine and often mundane winter habits and schedules, it can also pose mental health challenges. But, if we arm ourselves with the right strategies, we can cultivate a season of resilience and thrive in the bright summer sun. 

According to recent studies conducted by the leading mental health organizations such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the summer season can impact mental wellbeing in a variety of ways. Research indicates a notable increase in mood disorders during summer months. These disorders are attributed to factors such as heightened expectations, disrupted routines, and the prevalence of increased social events. Additionally, the rise in temperature can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression for some, thus underscoring the importance of proactive self-care strategies.

Prioritizing mental health becomes paramount. Let’s look at some evidence-based tips to help nurture wellbeing and savor the joy that summer brings.

One of the first things we can do in these warmer months is to embrace nature and spend time outdoors, enjoying your surroundings whether you are surrounded by lush greenery or turquoise waters. Research suggests that exposure to sunlight and nature can boost your mood and reduce stress levels.

As you are out enjoying nature, stay active by engaging in regular physical activity, whether it’s a leisurely stroll after dinner or an invigorating hike in the mountains and foothills. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators, promoting feelings of happiness. 

Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine to help cultivate inner peace and resilience. It might be through regular meditation, deep breathing exercises, or walking, but it can help alleviate stress and enhance overall mental clarity.

Stay connected with loved ones and friends and make sure to foster meaningful relationships in your life. Summer provides ample opportunities to maintain social connections through various types of gatherings which serve as invaluable sources of support and camaraderie. 

And perhaps most importantly, prioritize your self-care. Set aside time for activities that rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit. Whether it’s indulging in a soothing bubble bath, enjoying a glass of wine after dinner, reading a good book or pursuing your favorite hobby, prioritize activities that bring you joy as well as relaxation. 

Nurturing our mental well-being is a journey of self-discovery and resilience. By implementing these strategies and fostering a compassionate self-attitude, we can navigate the summer with grace. As you plan your summer vacation and other adventures with friends and family, how will you prioritize your mental health as well?

Spring Clean Your Way to Better Health

Spring Clean Your Way to Better Health

With warm temperatures starting to become more common, it’s time to open the windows and doors and let the fresh air and fresh start into your home. Spring is a great time to “Marie Kondo” your closets and drawers and decide what brings you joy and can stay, and what needs to be put in the donation box.

Spring cleaning is a bit of a right of passage each year, just like setting those New Year’s resolutions. The Spring season is known as a time of rebirth and renewal and as the days get longer and lighter, it really is an ideal time to renew your living space. But, did you know that Spring cleaning can not only be good for organizing your house, but it can lift your mood as well. 

One of the main benefits of Spring cleaning is that it gives you a feeling of accomplishment, to finish a task you have started. Our brains feel good when we can check this off the list which can then reduce tension and stress since the task is no longer hanging over your head. Not to mention the fact that you can see and feel how good a space feels to you once it has been cleaned and/or organized.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Spring cleaning can also be a form of therapy that helps you reduce stress. There are some people who find that cleaning can help them organize their thoughts and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed. It can restore a sense of control and help you organize your thoughts as you organize and clean your space!

And just think about the peaceful feeling that comes when you can sit back, relax and admire a clean and aesthetically pleasing space. If your bedroom is a hot mess, it is literally the first and last thing you look at when you wake up and fall asleep. Think about how much better you will feel waking up and going to bed when you have a peaceful and clean space to start and end your day in 

 Another way that Spring cleaning can improve your mental health is that it can actually improve your focus. And if you suffer from ADHD, then you know you already have issues with trying to stay focused so keeping your space clean and organized is going to keep you free of unnecessary distractions. And we all know how important this is now that so many people work from home. The last thing you want to be doing is hiding those dirty dishes on your desk before your morning Zoom call. 

A physical benefit to Spring cleaning is the fact that it gets you moving. Cleaning your windows or vacuuming a large space can help you break a sweat and get some endorphins pumping. While cleaning your house isn’t a substitute for exercise, it is still great for your body to get up and move and might help you hit your daily step goal! 

So, quit procrastinating and get that Spring cleaning list started! Choose just one area at a time, make a plan for one room at a time and get moving. Give yourself some grace as you won’t finish everything at once, but stick to the plan, finish one room at a time, and in no time your space will be organized, and you will feel so much better.

5 Healthy Ways to Embrace the Spring Season

Before the sweltering temps of summer arrive, it’s time to enjoy the renewal of Spring and all the beauty that it brings. Spring is a great time to shake off the cold and dreariness of Winter and embrace the beauty and warmth that can nourish us from the inside out. 

While Spring brings a bounty of fresh fruits and veggies (which we all should be taking full advantage of), there might be a few gaps in your nutrition and diet routine. Make sure you also load up on helpful supplements like Vitamin C, probiotics for gut health and Omega 3 fatty acids.

And now that warmer temperatures are around the corner, it’s time to look at some outdoor cardio and other fitness activities so you can get out in the fresh air and sunshine. Now that it’s lighter later, add in a longer evening or morning walk, organize after dinner bike rides with your kids, or walk with a neighborhood group to get some social time in while you move. 

For some, one of the down sides to Spring is the allergies it can bring. And Spring cleaning just might push some over the edge of the allergen cliff. Think about investing in quality air purifiers with an HEPA filter to reduce allergens and improve your indoor air quality. It’s important to make your home a haven from allergies if this is an issue for you. 

For your mental well-being, consider starting a daily meditation practice to help calm your mind, reduce stress, and increase self-awareness. Just 15 minutes a day can make a huge impact on your mental and emotional well-being. You also might try starting a gratitude journal to help you reflect on at least three things you are grateful for each day to foster a more positive mindset. 

As the temperatures rise, your skin might require a bit more attention. Skin health experts advise exfoliating regularly with a gentle cleanser to keep your skin radiant and smooth. You also might want to switch to a lighter moisturizer to provide hydration but keep your skin feeling light. And don’t forget to finish with sunscreen for an extra layer of protection!

With these five tips at the top of your mind, you will be ready to embrace all that Spring has to offer with a healthy mindset, improving your physical health and enjoying the great outdoors once again with family and friends. Beauty begins from the inside out so focusing on all the aspects of your health and well-being (physical, emotional, mental) will help you put your best foot forward and spring into a new and improved you!

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