Summer Strategies

By Greta Belanger deJong

Tips for Staying Happy and Healthy in the Summer Sun
by Greta Belanger deJong

Get it while it’s fresh: Cooking corn
Corn, like tomatoes, is unbeatable fresh. Here’s a reminder, if you haven’t cooked corn in a while (or ever—listen up, all you 20-somethings whom we’ve recently discovered read CATALYST): In a large pot, bring one to two inches of water to a boil and add ears (if you have more than four, use a tall pot and stand the ears up). Cover and steam for five to seven minutes.
If you have the time, here’s a tasty alternative: Soak unhusked corn in cold water for half an hour. Grill over a hot fire, turning occasionally, for about seven minutes.

Biting back
An all-natural bug repellent that works? Owen Hogle from the Wild Bird Center in Holladay swears by Bug Off Oil, from Cedar Creek. He says the essential oils-based repellent (rosemary, eucalyptus, geranium and citronella in an olive oil base) lasts about 12 hours, smells good and is safe enough to be used on infants. Bug Off wards off mosquitoes and no-see-ums. Find it at Wild Bird Centers and elsewhere. $6-8.

Kava & Ginseng vs. Tequila?

The famed relaxer and energizer join forces to become a party drink in this recipe for Party Spirit Soda, from “Elixir’s Tonics and Teas” (2001: Jeff Stein and Edgar Veytia):
For each guest add one dropper each of ginseng and kavakava to a tall glass of iced ginger ale. Yum!

­Nontoxic lawn
Diazinon, an organophosphate commonly used in lawn pesticides, is lethal to birds, even when used according to label instructions, says Weber State ornithologist John Cavitt. “Yards and gardens make up over 50,000 square miles in the U.S. The amount of pesticides that you use may not amount to much, but when combined with everyone else’s usage, pesticides can pose significant threats to birds.”
To children, too. Those living in homes using pesticides (indoor or outdoor) are at higher risk for developing brain cancer, childhood leukemia, lymphoma and asthma, according to the Chicago-based Safer Pest Control Project.
And the ubiquitous Round-Up? Tests show it is harmful to earthworms and beneficial insects, and reduces nitrogen fixation.
Just as a person with a healthy immune system is more resistant to disease, one way to lessen the need for pesticides is to strengthen your lawn’s health. Consider a slow-release or organic fertilizer. Look for the words “natural organic”or “slow-release”on the bag. Both are available at Millcreek Gardens on 3500 S 900 E.

No-pressure Pressure Cooking

This time of year you don’t need any more heat in your kitchen. The most energy-efficient accessory? A pressure cooker. It’s safe, swift, and produces amazing results. For instance, make a creamy risotto in 10 minutes. Cook a lentil stew, with flavors perfectly melded, in 17 minutes (no soaking required!) A great way to eat all those summer vegetables that we’re buying each week at the Farmers Market.
Overwhelmed by all the fancy brands now available? Cooking Light magazine tested a variety of brands and found very little difference among them. Expect to spend from $50 to $200. We recommend the six-quart size for more than two people (remember, pressure cookers are not to be filled more than two-thirds full, and leftovers are nice). The downtown Ace Hardware carries Mirro, which is a dependable and affordable brand. Opt for stainless steel instead of aluminum, if you think you’ll be using it a lot.

The oh-oh zone and what you can do about it

Hey, we’ve known all along global warming was for real. We haven’t laughed at the idea of “greenhouse gases.” We’ve taken seriously the hole in the ozone layer of the stratosphere.
But what about the ozone at ground level? The result of the sun heating volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as gasoline, paints and finishes, ozone is the main reason to restrict activity on orange and red burn days. (Although they would more aptly be called orange and red breathe days.) Here are some no-brainer adjustments anybody can make:
• Fill ‘er up in the cool of the day.
• If your yard isn’t a small pasture, get a push mower. They run $135-240. (You can also sometimes find them at yard sales, or on ebay! Just be sure to keep the blade sharp.) They’re quiet. They don’t smell. And dang, they’re even fun to push around.
• If you’re married to your gasoline-powered lawnmower, at least mow early or late in the day. And fill its tank carefully. Scott Cooney of Eco-Mowers, an environmentally conscious lawncare service in Salt Lake, says 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled every year by people refilling their lawn mowers—five million gallons more than what was spilled from the Exxon Valdez.
• Opt for a propane gas grill over a charcoal model.
More ideas:

A more nutritious sports drink to make
If you like the idea of an electrolyte replacement drink but are not fond of the artificial colors and flavors, as well as the sweeteners, in Gatorade, try this mineral-rich alternative from Lorene Wapotich, a clinical herbalist in Boulder, Colorado. Wild Oats has all these ingredients:
1 part each:
• nettles (Urtica dioica)
• oatstraw (Avena sativa)
• red clover (Trifolium pratense)
• alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
• rose hips (rosa spp.)
Mix herbs together. Place one cup in a quart canning jar. Fill jar with boiling water and cover. Steep for four hours, then strain out the herbs. Drink the infusion within three days, hot or cold (storing it in the refrigerator). You can mix it with juice. Keep unused herb mixture in a lidded container away from light and heat.
You might also try the all-natural sport drink Recharge; or ConcenTrace, full-spectrum mineral drops concentrated from Great Salt Lake. Available in health food stores.

Find a Farmers Market

Now’s the time, if you haven’t gone to the farmers’ market yet. Besides a week’s worth of groceries (depending on the market—vegetables, fruit, bread, fish, meat, eggs, cheese and more) you can have breakfast and lunch, stock your garden and buy everybody’s birthday present. Find the market nearest you:

SLC Pioneer Park, 300 W. 300 S.,
Sat., 8am-1pm
SLC Gateway Mall, 4-8p, Wed.

Bountiful Five Points Mall,
Thurs.-Sat., 8am
Holladay 4800 S. Highland Dr., Sat., 9-1
Murray Murray Park, Fri-Sat.,
9am-late afternoon
Ogden Municipal Park, 25th St., Sat. 8a-12p, Sat.
Park City Canyons Resort Cabriolet parking lot, Wed., 2-7pm.
Sandy South Towne Mall, 10400 S. State St.
9a-3p, Fri. & Sat.

What Works

Sunscreen for your eyes
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) damage is cumulative over a lifetime. You are probably going to live a long time. And because of the thinning ozone layer, UV radiation is increasing. In fact, more Australians get skin cancer because of their proximity to the hole in the ozone over Antarctica. So if you don’t already wear a decent pair of sunglasses, start now. This doesn’t mean really dark glasses (which may cause your pupils to open and let in more light—and more UV radiation); nor really cool frames. What you want is a pair labeled for full UV protection, which you can get at a drug store for fairly cheap.
Ayurveda for summer
According to the principles of ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old Indian “science of life,” maintaining good health throughout the seasons requires living in harmony with natural cycles. Some suggestions for summer:
Coconut oil
• Rub coconut oil on your body before your morning shower.
• Rub coconut oil on the soles of your feet before bed.
• Avoid hot and icy drinks, favoring cool and room temperature beverages instead. Try these:
• Add juice of half a lime to a cup of water with a pinch of cumin.
• Lassi: Mix one part yogurt with four parts water. Blend two minutes until creamy. Variations: Blend with a fourth-teaspoon cumin or sweetener to taste.
• If you drink alcohol, avoid whiskey, brandy, rum and red wine, which are heating. Beer is better.
(from “The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies,” by Vasant Lad, Harmony Books: 1998)
Listen to a good book
Cruisin’ down to Cedar City for the Shakespearean Festival? Headin’ to Helper for the Arts Fest? Or maybe to Moab for the Music Festival? Make the journey more pleasurable (and ecological) by taking along some interesting friends. OR stop by the library or the King’s English Books (15th and 15th neighborhood) for some books on tape or CD. King’s English rentals are $5 for two weeks.
Worth owning: the just-released HarperAudio version of “Chronicles of Narnia,” read by respected British actors. Our favorite: “The Magician’s Nephew,” with Kenneth Branagh. The complete set is $75. Order from King’s English or Sam Weller Books.

No-hole Fishing Ponds

Anyone can quickly and easily build a pond from a galvanized wash tub (from $10 to $80 at Traces, 1432 S. 1100 E. or any garden center store) and a fish tank pump from a pet supply shop. Just seal the tub’s inside seams with silicone caulking. Place the pump on its side and weigh it down with a rock. Add water, water plants (you’ll find these at several stalls at the farmers markets; we’re regular customers of Bill and Gloria of Bill’s Orchids, and Julia and David Horsley of Consider the Lilies). Wait a few days for the chlorine to clear out before adding fish (the 15-cent goldfish at Western Garden Center grow into real beauties in no time). Oh—be sure to position your pond in a place you can get electricity to!

This article was originally published on June 7, 2010.