The Spring Thaw

Canadians from coast to coast are eagerly
awaiting the arrival of spring. It's this time
of year that all the frozen H2O melts and
begins to flow again.

In some parts of the country, spring is well
under way. This means we're going to be
cleaning up the yard and doing things like
washing our cars. We should keep in mind how
these common springtime activities can impact
our environment. Activities such as washing cars or
clearing out gutters produce run-off that has to go
somewhere. Along with run-off goes everything that
was washed off.

The run-off ends up in our local watershed and affects the local ecosystem. Protecting our watersheds is everybody's responsibility. As a homeowner, you can do your part. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

In The Garden
Gardening and lawn care often involve a great deal of water, and if you're using pesticides or herbicides, they're going to end up in the local ecosystem. Some greener options include composting in your garden, which is a great natural fertilizer. In addition, compost helps to retain moisture. Also, stink bugs, ground beetles, lady beetles and green lacewings are beneficial garden insects.

Around The Home
Don't dump harmful solvents, cleaners or paint down the drain. Our homes are responsible for almost 20% of toxic pollutants in municipal sewage. Find out what programs your municipality has for disposing of things like un-used paint and chemicals.

In Your Car
Most of us depend on our vehicles, and justifiably so. If you own a vehicle, one way that you can help reduce its impact on the ecosystem is to keep it properly maintained. Leaking oil, antifreeze and so on gets washed into the storm drains and into the watershed.

Every little contribution that you can make as a homeowner will have a positive effect on the health of the local ecosystem.

Celebrating Spring

Celebrate the freshness of spring with a healthy spring salad.
Here's a salad recipe that is perfect as a light meal.
CHICKEN & WHITE BEAN SALAD
INGREDIENTS

Vinaigrette
1 medium clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice, plus more to taste
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar or red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salad
1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
2 cups diced zucchini and/or summer squash (about 2 small)
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced ricotta, halloumi or feta cheese
1/3 cup chopped, well-drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, plus whole basil leaves for garnish
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (optional)
2 cups torn escarole or romaine lettuce
2 cups torn radicchio leaves

Makes: 4 servings, about 2 cups each
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

PREPARATION

Vinaigrette
Peel the garlic and crush it. Using a fork, mash the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl to form a coarse paste. Whisk in 5 tablespoons oil. Add 6 tablespoons orange juice, vinegar and mustard; whisk until well blended. Taste and whisk in up to 4 tablespoons more juice to mellow the flavour; season with more salt, if desired. Set aside at room temperature.

Salad
Combine beans, chicken, zucchini (and/or summer squash), celery, cheese and sun-dried tomatoes (if using) in a large bowl until well blended. Add chopped basil and 3/4 cup vinaigrette; toss until combined. Taste and season with salt and/or pepper.

Toss the remaining vinaigrette with escarole (or romaine) and radicchio in a medium bowl. Serve the salad on the greens, garnished with fresh basil leaves.

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