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Today is June 5

Gingerbread Day

Gingerbread goodness

Gingerbread is a broad term that can describe anything from a firm and crispy cookie to a moist, soft cake. Traditionally, gingerbread is seasoned with ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and other aromatic spices. Molasses and brown sugar counteract the spice with sweetness. North Americans have been baking gingerbread in various shapes or forms for more than 200 years, and the recipes even pre-date the American revolution. However, gingerbread dates back even further to the Shakespearean era, with The Bard having mentioned it in one of his plays. Gingerbread’s name can be trace to medieval England and once referred to any kind of preserved ginger. The term went on to reference ginger-flavored cakes in the 15th century, and gingerbread eventually became popular throughout the world. Even though gingerbread cakes and cookies have been made for centuries, Germans are often credited with creating gingerbread houses, according to Smithsonian. They were probably modeled after the witch’s candy cottage in the German fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel.” Even though gingerbread can be made any time of year, it is particularly associated with the Christmas season, with gingerbread men and other fanciful shapes turning up on cookie platters.

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Keep vegan guests in mind

Chickpea Salad can be served on its own or as an accompaniment to grilled fare.From food allergies to dietary restrictions to conscious decisions to avoid certain foods for ethical reasons, peoples’ diets tend to be as unique as they are. That can make it tricky when hosting a crowd and preparing a menu.

Variety is the spice to life, and having a go-to selection of recipes at the ready can make everything from sit-down dinners to impromptu backyard barbecues that much easier.

Vegans eschew all animal products such as dairy, eggs and meats. Vegans must carefully read the labels of foods that seemingly are animal-free, as even certain dairy-free cheeses may contain casein or other animal-derived products.

When grilling for family and friends, mushroom and tofu burgers can be prepared specifically for vegan guests, but a versatile salad can be enjoyed by all and make for a delicious side dish. This recipe for “Chickpea Salad” from “Vegan Cooking for Beginners” (Publications International) by the Editors of Publications International is sure to please vegans and non-vegans alike.

Chickpea Salad

Makes 4 servings

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 dill pickle, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup finely chopped red or yellow onion

1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Black pepper

Whole grain bread

Lettuce and tomato slices

Place chickpeas in a medium bowl. Coarsely mash with a potato masher, leaving some beans whole.

Add celery, pickle and onion; stir to mix. Add mayonnaise and lemon juice; mix well. Taste and add 1/4 teaspoon salt or more, if desired. Sprinkle with pepper, if desired; mix well. Serve on bread with lettuce and tomato, if desired.

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Common play equipment injuries (and how to avoid them)

Park playground equipment and swing set apparatuses in backyard jungle gyms are exciting places for children to be active outdoors. Play equipment gives children opportunities to exercise and engage with friends.

Despite all the benefits of playing outside on playground equipment, many youngsters get hurt on playgrounds every year. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says each year more than 220,000 children under age 14 are treated in hospital emergency rooms across the United States for playground-related injuries. The Canadian Public Health Association reports that 1,841 children in Canada under the age of 18 required hospitalization between the years of 2014 and 2015.

The same organization says fractures are the most common playground injury, followed by contusions/abrasions and lacerations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds that playgrounds present an elevated risk for internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations. Children also may suffocate if hooded sweatshirt drawstrings get tangled.

All children are at risk for injuries, but statistics indicate girls sustain injuries slightly more often than boys. Children between the ages of five and nine have higher rates of emergency department visits for these types of injuries, according to the CDC.

Preventing injuries comes down to a few simple strategies.

· Supervision: A responsible adult can be the most important factor in preventing or minimizing playground injuries. Supervising play means enforcing rules and monitoring risky antics.

· Ground material: The type of surface on the play area can reduce severity of injuries from falls. Softer surfaces, such as mulch, wood chips, shredded rubber, or sand reduce impact injuries. Equipment in yards should be surrounded by soft materials. Parents can rally to ensure school and neighborhood playgrounds employ similar materials.

· Age appropriateness: Children should be guided to equipment designed for their ages. Equipment is typically rated for various age groups.

· Maintenance: Remove tripping hazards and verify that the equipment is in good working order before allowing children to play. Avoid or replace equipment that has openings that could ensnare a child’s head.

· Clothing: Children should dress appropriately for playground use. That means slip-resistant soles on shoes and well-fitting clothing and avoidance of clothing that can become tangled or get caught on structures.

Playgrounds are enjoyable places for children to congregate and spend hours outdoors. Prioritize playground safety at home or in the neighborhood to reduce the risk of injury for youngsters.