Happy National Pancake Day

Tuesday, February 27 is National Pancake Day (with International Pancake Day on March Sunday March 4 following close behind). Historically hosted as the last day before Lent, the date moves yearly and always occurs on Fat Tuesday (also known as Mardi Gras).

Since pancakes are universally loved, we thought we’d share out favorite recipes from around campus.

Jim’s Homemade by Hand Pancakes

Food & Water Security Coordinator, Jim Chamberlin thinks it’s better to take your time with your batter and that it’s not too important to be exact.

Chamberlin begins, “I start with four hand fulls of Natural Way Mills Gold N White Flour. Then I add two eggs, a couple capfuls of raw apple cider vinegar, and a couple blobs of melted butter. I pour in milk until I get a consistency of wet cement. Then I let it stand for two to 12 hours.”


I went to the St. Cloud IHOP to research some other famous pancake recipes.

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Top 5 Indoor Garden Ideas

1) Indoor Succulent Garden succulents

One of the best things about succulents is their variety. You can fill your dining room table with so many varieties of succulents without repeating that you may have to eat your dinners in the kitchen. Not requiring constant attention, succulents are a perfect entry to putting some green in your house.

Go to Jessica’s Design Blog for more ideas.

2) Regrowing Veggies from scrapscelerychopped

Getting your kids to eat their veggies can be difficult sometimes, but now you’ve got a trick up your sleeve. Tell your child that once they eat their green deliciousness, they can turn their scraps into a living, growing plant. Some tasty veggies only require being set in a cup of water to get it sprouted again, such as celery, bok choi, and cabbage. Super easy and a great way to reuse. Check out here for more ideas.

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Back to Basics 2018 – A Primer

**Registration for the 12th annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics: Navigating Changing Currents, is open! With 45 workshops to choose from, almost 50 vendors to shop at, informative and entertaining keynote speakers, door prizes, a delicious lunch, and school aged (K-4) children’s programming available, there’s fun for the whole family! Workshops ARE FILLING UP! So, don’t miss out.**

Every winter in Northern Minnesota brings with it four things.

  1. Bitter cold
  2. Time to perfect your hot tottie recipe.
  3. A reinvigorated perspective on what is more uncomfortable: being “too hot” or “too cold”*
  4. Something wonderful.

For the last 12 years, that wonderful something has been the annual sustainable living event, Back to Basics! It’s here. It’s finally here!

We wanted to focus on the importance of water, so we made this year’s theme: Navigating Changing Currents. We wanted to make more aware the troubling times in our nation, politically anyways, so we brought in two amazing keynote speakers who are well-versed in the the importance of recognizing climate change, the worldwide ecosystem, and our place within it.

“We’ll share ‘Why we need to be concerned and what you can do about it’” stated Phil


Mike Duvall and Phil Hunsicker will keynote the event with “slides and songs.”

Hunsicker when commenting on the keynote he and friend, Mike Duval will deliver on environmental challenges facing Minnesotans. The duo will educate and entertain with a mix of slides and songs on topics like climate change and aquatic invasive species (AIS). Both Phil and Mike work for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources where Phil is an AIS Prevention Planner in the Division of Ecological and Water Resources and Mike is a District Manager of the Division of the Ecological and Water Resources.

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Back to Basics 2018 Presenter Focus: Zachary Paige to Talk on the Industrial Hemp Revolution

***If you haven’t had a chance to check out the presenters at this years Back to Basics (the 12th annual sustainability event), I highly recommend you hurry.***

We try to get a wide variety of workshop presenters. We stick with ones that have year after year sold out (I’m looking at you, Abbie!) We also like to make sure that new topics are introduced to bring a fresh feel to the event.

One presenter is looking to start a revolution.


Zachary Paige is looking to start an industrial (hemp) revolution.

Zachary Paige, a first time presenter at this years’ Back to Basics, has a passion for spreading the word of industrial hemp.

Paige insists, “Products such as plastic, high protein food products, building materials – rope, hempcrete, fiberboard, as well as textiles can be made at an affordable price right here in America from a crop that yields well in organic systems.”

Hemp and marijuana are related, but are different strains of the same plant species. Paige explains on the White Earth Natural Resource Department website,

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MORE Ways to Make a Sustainable Holiday

**This is a reblog from Do It Green! Minnesota. Keep up the great work, guys!**

cropped-bird-circle-menuDecember is the time of year when many families gather to share a meal and to celebrate the season.

Whatever our backgrounds or traditions may be, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, America’s household waste increases by more than 25% which includes extra food, shopping bags, packaging, and wrapping paper.

Here are some easy ways to decrease waste this time of year:

  • Give a non-material gift like tickets to a theatre, musical or sporting event.
  • Give a trip to the zoo or to a museum.
  • Spend quality time away from the mall with family and friends.
  • Go sledding, skiing or cross country skiing, host a game night, or volunteer together.
  • Give a membership to the Minnesota Tool Library or the Minneapolis Toy Library.
  • Give the gift of your time, such as help with home improvement or gardening projects.
  • Buy second hand presents. You can find unique treasures at thrift stores and antique stores.
  • Pass on good books you’ve already read.
  • Give a homemade gift like cookies, bread or jam.
  • Consider using alternative gift wrap. Most wrapping paper is not recyclable. Wrap your presents in scarves or cloth, newspaper or brown paper using natural materials as decoration or try Furoshiki (traditional Japanese wrapping technique).
  • Buy used decorations or make your own using natural materials.
  • Use reusable tableware and cloth napkins when you entertain.

You can find more ideas from MPCA’s Make Memories Not Trash, Rethink Recycling’s Rudolph the Green Smart Reindeer, and on our website site.

Top 5 Ways to be Sustainable This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time of joy, family, friends, warm drinks, lights, and laughter. However it is also a time where there is an increase in waste. Here are five things you can do to diminish your holiday waste:

Use Sustainable Dishware

Instead of using disposable dishes and utensils for your holiday parties and dinners, choose to use reusable dishware. If you don’t have enough you can always borrow from a friend or ask guests to bring some. If you end up having to use disposable dishware, buy some that come from recycled or compostable material. If you plan on using straws, check out reusable straws, you can even consider giving them as stocking stuffers. In addition, make sure your guests know where your recycling bin is so they don’t place their empty bottles and cans in the trash.

Decrease Food Waste


One way to decrease food waste is to eat as many cookies as possible! 

One way to decrease food waste is to avoid overbuying food. Plan ahead and figure outexactly how much food. This will help decrease the amount of food waste you might end up throwing away. Also consider buying your food in bulk to decrease packaging, and don’t forget your reusable grocery bag. If you find yourself with a lot of leftover food, invite some friends ever to help you finish your leftovers.

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Homemade Coupon Book – The True “Shop Local” Gift Idea

Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard of homemade coupon books before or you have been given one of these things before. BUT, they are the quintessential holiday gift. Plus, I find that it means more to receive these. What was the the old adage?

“It’s the thought that counts!” *cue eyeroll*
Homemade coupons ooze thought, though. Also, it gives you a great reason to stay local when shopping.



Homemade Coupons can be for almost ANYTHING!

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What is Whole Health Pine River-Backus?

If you want to help support programs like these, please go to our page on the Give to the Max Day website.

Happy Dancing Turtle and our community partners (UMN SNAP-ed, Pine River-Backus Family Center, St. Joseph Foundation) address a big problem with this modest program, Whole Health Pine River-Backus.


Dave picking strawberries for the CSA shares.

Food insecurity and poor health due to improper nutrition are concerns all across the country.Out of the 87 Minnesota counties, Cass County ranks at 84 for overall health factors and 85 for social and economic factors, according to the 2016 data from countyhealthrankings.org. The Whole Health PRB program strives to bridge the nutrition gap for low-income or otherwise food insecure families and individuals by providing fresh produce and nutrition education.

Food & Water Security Coordinator at HDT, Jim Chamberlin said, “This program helps make that connection between food and health and makes it more clear that healthy food influences human wellness.”


The HDT Garden Crew had to be meticulously organized keep shares large and on time.

Happy Dancing Turtle provides a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share full of fresh and healthy produce from our 2 acre holistic demonstration garden. Participants attend SNAP-ed cooking classes to learn how to cook and incorporate the vegetables into meals. Each CSA share also has a newsletter with recipes and detailed information about the vegetables in the bag for those unfamiliar with the produce.

The Pine River Backus Family Center provides a valuable role in connecting with the program participants and helping distribute the CSA shares. Whole Health PRB is still a fairly new program, in it’s second year, however we hope in the coming years to expand our reach and effectiveness by increasing capacity and program option.


Allison R. Whole Health Coordinator

Whole Health Program Coordinator, Allison Rian. said, “I know I’m concerned with what I’m feeding my own kids, what they’re eating daily. But, above all, I think that proper food skills and wanting to use healthy food is all about access.”

Rian continues, “Skill-building is a big part of our program, because our generation is having to relearn some of these basic skills that have been forgotten.”

Currently, we are expanding the program to include a winter program that allows one CSA share a month. There will also be a monthly get-together that will instruct participants on how to properly prepare and serve the produce included in the shares.