Spring Recipes

By Rachel Eberle

It is always fun to change up your cuisine with the new seasons. With the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in spring it is easy to create healthy, tasty dishes. Here are two spring inspired recipes that are delicious and easy to make.

Lemon Risotto with Spring Vegetables

  • 12 ounces asparagus
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen spring peas
  • 1 quart low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
  • 1.25 ounces grated parmesan cheese (about ⅓ cup)

The lemon risotto requires a little effort and prep time but the finished product is worth it. You can make it your own by swapping out the peas and asparagus for other vegetables or adding in a protein for a more substantial meal. Eating it the day after, as leftovers, made the flavors even stronger and better.

Check out the recipe here.

Lemon Blueberry Whoopie Pies 

For the Whoopie Pies:

  • 2 ½ cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, divided

For the Lemon Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4+ cups powdered sugar

The lemon blueberry whoopie pies are easy to make and are a great dessert with just the right balance of tart and sweet. You can make these you own and eat them as cookies dipped in the lemon cream cheese filling instead or as sandwiches.

Check out the recipe here.


Ways to Give Back this Christmas

by Rachel Eberle

Christmas is approaching fast. With the holiday season looming over us, we are preoccupied with thoughts of family, food, gifts, and days off. What we don’t consider as much is how to give back during the holiday season. We are very fortunate to live comfortable lives. However, many people in our state are not so lucky.

I was reminded of this reality as I drove through Southeast Arkansas during Thanksgiving break. Most of the homes I encountered were small, run down houses and beaten up trailers. So many people live in similar conditions or worse  throughout Arkansas. Even though we do not necessarily see places like this everyday, it is a reality for many people.

This Christmas, before imagining how great the break will be, put yourself in the shoes of someone less fortunate, and think of ways to help them. With a little effort and portion of our time, you can make someone else’s holiday so much better.

  1. Clean out. Donate your old outgrown clothes and childhood toys. This is a win-win for you and those in need. Use this as an opportunity to clean out your closet and get organized.
  2. Make donating fun. Find all the toys and books you used to love and put on your own Christmas list, then donate them to an organization collecting gifts for kids.
  3. Help neighbors. Give your neighbors a night off by offering to babysit their children for free. If you have a sick or elderly neighbor, make a meal for them and hand-deliver it
  4. Donate your time. Christmas break is a perfect time to volunteer. Contact the place of your choice soon to get involved. Some great places to volunteer are Our House, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, the Salvation Army, hospice organizations, nursing homes, and the VA Hospital.  
  5. Take a minute to think. Before you pick up food from a drive thru or buy a coffee, contemplate if you really need it. Someone else could benefit from that money. Keep track of this money and donate it to your favorite charity.
  6. Collect change.  Next time you are at the mall and see the Salvation Army volunteers ringing the bell, think about donating before you walking inside. Whether small or large, anything helps. Keep a collection of loose change on you to donate throughout the Christmas season.
  7. Give attention to your parents and elders. Your parents do so much for you throughout the year. During this Christmas break offer them a hand and spend a little extra time with them. Grow closer with family members or grandparents by sitting down and having a conversation or playing a game. They will absolutely love spending time with you.
  8. Help the world through organizations. You can change a child’s life by sponsoring them through the World Vision International organization. Go online to read about available children to sponsor. These children’s stories and faces will melt your heart. Similarly, you can gift an animal to a family through Heifer International. This one animal will be extremely rewarding and beneficial to a family in need.  Your donation could change their lives.   

Is Your Phone Affecting Your Sleep?

By Rachel Eberle, senior writer

According to Business Insider, 95% of people are on their cell phones before bed. A survey taken by 18 – 29 year olds shows that 90% of that age group sleeps with their cell phones nearby. However, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that proves people should not sleep by their cell phone, or use these electronic devices before bed.

The blue light given off by phone screens suppresses the amount of melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland that controls a person’s sleep and wake cycle.  Any light exposure suppresses the production of melatonin; however, blue light is more powerful and thus more damaging. With the suppression of this hormone, the quality of sleep is sure to be hurt. Considering long term effects, exposure to harsh light at nighttime and suppression of melatonin may increase a person’s risk to certain cancers.

Cell phones also make it harder to fall asleep.  Using a phone stimulates the brain, which makes winding down and falling asleep a longer, harder process. Similarly, radiation emitted by the devices makes it more difficult to go to sleep as well as decreases the amount of time a person can sleep. Cell phone radiation may also cause confusion, loss of concentration, and headaches during the next day.  Because of this, it is best to place your cell phone at least six feet away from you before bed.

        Not only is the cell phone dangerous before bed, but it can even have negative effects on someone while they’re asleep.  The sound of alerts or incoming texts, emails, or calls can easily wake you during the night.  Again, melatonin levels can be suppressed if a phone lights up during the night. A nearby phone can even cause an unconscious tenseness that makes achieving a deep sleep harder.

        Although rare, temporary blindness has been caused by using a cell phone in bed. In one case, temporary blindness was caused in one woman’s eye as she layed on her side with one eye watching the phone, and the other covered by a pillow. In this case, the temporary blinding was due to the retina of one eye adjusting to the light while the retina of the other eye adjusted to dark.

It is tempting to browse Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, or other social media before bed, but despite what you may think, checking your phone before bed will not actually help you fall asleep.  Even though using cell phones before bed has been proven to hurt the length and quality of sleep, damage eyesight, and cause fatigue during the next day, there is only one way to prevent these effects.  Stay off your phone for thirty minutes to an hour before bed, and place your phone six feet away from yourself during the night.