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Pets Help Alleviate Stress

 

Pets Help Alleviate Stress

According to the Health Resource Network, this month is mental health month. “During this thirty day period, health care professionals and health promotion experts across the country will join forces to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.”

During this Great Recession lack of money, unemployment, and putting food on the table is  stressful for all of us.

However, if you have a pet you are ahead of the game.

Pets can help lessen stress in human beings. Really.

According to the Delta Society and About.com:

  • Pets Can Improve Your Mood
  • Pets Encourage You To Get Out And Exercise
  • Pets Can Help With Social Support
  • Pets Can Reduce Stress—Sometimes More Than People

There are also definite health benefits to owning a pet or interacting with animals. In their well-documented and referenced Physical & Medical Health Benefits of Pets, Doctors Foster and Smith write pets can:

  • increase longevity after heart attacks
  • Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Increase physical activity and functioning
  • Decrease blood pressure and reduce stress
  • Increase physical activity and functioning
  • Reduce medical appointments and minor health problems

Unfortunately even pets are negatively affected by this recession. There are reports that pets are being abandoned in record numbers these days. The number of animals in shelters is also up in record numbers.

If you don’t have a pet or if you have had to give up a pet during this recession you can still get some of the positive benefits pets and animals afford us by volunteering a couple of hours a week at your local animal shelter. If you can afford it you can donate money or other goods such as food, blankets, or toys to your shelter as well.

If you cannot afford a pet right now you can still enjoy and reap the benefits of a pet through the magic and wonder of the internet. With the internet you can have a virtual pet. I have chosen several video clips of some pretty amazing animals to get you started. So sit back, enjoy, and relax and let that stress just melt away.

After the videos I share 7 different salad recipes.

This first video is too cute by far. Dog as baby sitter.

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Cats do the craziest things!

                     

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A very clever and amazing dog.

                  

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This bird lives up to his name, Einstein.

                

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Featured Recipes          A Week’s Worth of Salads
Salads, We’ve Got Salads, Lots and Lots of Salads

Here at MoreThymeThanDough I often write at the end of a recipe, “serve with a salad.” In the picture that accompanies the completed recipe I always show just boring lettuce all by itself. However,  there are many wonderful and inexpensive salads you can pair with any entrée. And, except for the Roasted Red Pepper Saald,  they are so quick and easy you can prepare them while your entrée is cooking. So following is a week’s worth of salads.

One of my favorites is:

 1. Tomatoes with Black Olives and Capers.

Slice the tomatoes and place 3-5 slices on a plate. Drizzle some olive oil over the top.  Add some salt and pepper to taste. Then add some sliced or chopped black olives and a few capers. Pretty and delicious. You can also add any other things you have lurking in your fridge. I some times add chopped banana peppers or celery. This is a great salad to help you use up left overs.

 

Cost for  3 people

2 tomatoes (9 slices)                         $2.50

Olive Oil                                            $.57

Black olives                                        $.15

Capers                                              $.39

Total cost=  $3.61

Per person= $1.20

2. Carrot Salad.

There are dozens of recipes for carrot salad. Mine meets all my personal requirements of being quick, easy, inexpensive, and uses up things already in my pantry and fridge. This recipe is also is low-fat since as some of you know from previous recipes here at MoreThymeThanDough I do not care for mayonnaise. So this carrot salad uses no mayonnaise.

Depending on how many people you are serving you will need 3-5 carrots shredded, some raisins, chopped apples, some crushed nuts of your choice, and lemon juice. Mix the shredded carrots with lemon juice to just moisten. Add a dash of salt and pepper if you want. Then mix in the other goodies; the raisins, apples, and nuts. Be creative here. You can substitute crushed pineapple for the apples. Other adds in could be dried cranberries, or sunflower seeds. Just about anything you like or anything that is left over in your pantry or fridge.

Cost 3 people

1 bag 10 carrots                               $.50

1 apple                                            $.13

Raisins                                             $.50

Walnuts                                            $.10

1 Lemon                                           $.25

Total cost=$1.48

Per person=$.50

3. Roasted Red Pepper Salad

is another good and easy salad.  It is; however, a bit more time consuming due to the roasting of the peppers. You will need 1-2 large red peppers per person, canola oil, rice vinegar, 2 whole peeled cloves garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Cut the peppers into  quarters, seed and remove the membranes. Then roast peppers on a foil lined baking sheet in a 450 degree oven until the skins turn black. This will take about 20-30 minutes; maybe a little longer. You can also broil the peppers until the skins are balck. I like my peppers really charred and blackened. It develops their sweetness. The aroma of red peppers roasting in the oven is one of life’s sweetest pleasures. It is a slice of heaven here on earth. When you cook you don’t have to buy expensive air sprays since your home will have the aroma of fresh cooked food.

When charred, remove the peppers from the oven, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle. Then remove the skins. This will be easy once they have charred and steamed in the bowl. Be sure to remove all of the skin. It is not pleasant to bite into a piece of tough burned skin. It is akin to finding a bone in fish. Then slice the peppers into strips. Pile these on a plate. Make a dressing of 2 tablespoons canola oil, 6 teaspoons rice vinegar, salt and pepper to taste; and 2 medium peeled whole garlic cloves. Place all in a jar with a lid and shake well. Pour over the peppers. NOTE: You can make this salad prettier and more colorful by using red and yellow peppers.

This recipe is from my dear friend and great cook, Janet in Moorestown, New Jersey. Thanks for all the great meals and wonderful friendship over the years, Janet.  You taught me a lot about cooking.

I often fix this salad as a complete meal. I eat the salad accompanied with some bread and butter, various cheeses, olives, and anchovies. In the winter I also have a bowl of hot soup. Delicious!!!!!

Cost 3 people

3 red peppers                           $3.58

1 bulb garlic                              $.10

Rice vinegar                              $.27

Canola oil                                  $.07

Total cost=$4.02

Per person=$1.34

4. Avocado with Tomatoes and Onion

This another very easy, delicious, and healthy salad. Cut an avocado in half and scoop the half whole from the skin. Drizzle a little olive oil over the avocado, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Then add some chopped tomatoes and some sliced onion. Red onion is good on this salad if you have any in the fridge.

Cost 3 people

2 Avocados                                 $3.32

Olive oil                                      $.57

1 small tomato                            $.30

1 small onion                              $.40

Total cost=$4.59

Per person=$1.53

5. Cucumber Radish Salad.

This is another of my clean out the fridge recipes –  All you need to do is slice the cucumber. I peel lengthwise strips of skin off about an inch apart. If you do not like the skin peel it all off. Add some sliced radishes to the salad. Dress it with some extra virgin olive oil and a dash of lemon juice or red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cost 3 people

1 cucumber                                         $.55

1 bunch radishes                                 $.50

Olive oil                                               $.38

Red wine vinegar                                 $.03

Total cost=$1.46

Per person=$.49

6. Tomatoes and Onions Salad

Slice a couple of tomatoes. Slice an onion or two. Separate the onion into individual rings. Layer the tomatoes and fresh onion rings on a plate in alternating layers. Drizzle some olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Chop some parsley or chives to throw on top. Or if you have them in your spice pantry use dried. It will be cheaper and just as good.

*This recipe comes from “the Best of Cooking Light,” Special Edition, Fall of 2008. I did use different herbs than they used. They used mint and chives, I used parsley and chives.

 Cost 3 people

2 tomatoes                                          $2.50

1 onion                                                $.79

Red wine vinegar                                 $.05

Parsley*                                              $.10

Fresh chives*                                      $.25

Total cost=$4.26

Per person=$1.42

*Use dried. Initial cost will be cheaper and just as good.

 7. Broccoli Salad

I do not have any pictures of this next recipe,  as I have not made it in a while. But I wanted to share it with you any way. Plus it makes the 7th salad for a week of salads. When I make this salad again I will update this post and add pictures. There are dozens of variation on Broccoli Salad. This is a bare-bones very inexpensive version.

Broccoli Salad

1-2 heads broccoli cut into small florets
1 small red onion sliced
6-8 slices bacon fried and crumbled

Dress with about ¼ cup lemon juice (or mayonnaise if you prefer) and add a dash of sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Throw in some raisins too if you have them.

As you can see, you can make many different, easy, delicious, healthy and inexpensive salads quickly and easily every night of the week to go with your main dish.

You won’t find any salads as delicious as these at any fast food restaurant, and these salads are far less expensive. And best of all you know these salads will be fresh.

You will notice I did not include any fruit salads in this post. I will do another separate post on fruit salads some time this summer when fresh fruit is at its peak and available in stores. I will also do a post on fresh fruit desserts. Fruits make wonderful and sweet desserts.

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NOTE: Post updated by updating recipe names and cost analysis type in green, as current posts are done. 4/12/11.

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