Crack! The ripe watermelon split wide open. Annie smiled when she saw the firm red color. She split open the next one and said, “Yes!” to its juicy yellow flesh. “I’m going to make the most delish watermelon salad with these two beauties for an epic family picnic,” she thought.  The annual gathering was canceled last year for the first time in thirty years due to the pandemic.  Since the previous picnic the year before, babies had been born, and elders had passed away, so this year’s gathering would be a bittersweet celebration, but a celebration, nonetheless. LJ came into the kitchen with an armload of herbs, vegetables, and fruit from their garden. It was early morning, and they were busy preparing their contributions for the feast. He washed the basil leaves and handed them to her.

“This should be enough for the Strawberry-Watermelon Salad with Basil-Cayenne Syrup.”

“Thanks, LJ. Do you know this will be our first picnic with no grilling, no plastic, and no meat? Our last family reunion celebration two years ago was a good start. Everyone got into the spirit of a plastic-free picnic by bringing their compostable eating utensils and plates. They even had reusable silicone straws.”

LJ nodded as he began popping dried corn kernels for popcorn. “The kids love this natural snack, and the birds too, so I’m making plenty. Yes, I was impressed seeing so many get into the spirit of practicing sustainable habits. It is not easy making that kind of change, let alone doing it for a picnic, but it worked.  Most people remembered to bring their water bottles; they used them for all libations. And some of the food in the stainless steel U-Konserve containers with the clear lids, along with other dishes in Healthy Healing Eats covered bowls made the presentation uniform and attractive.”

Annie put the finished watermelon salad in the refrigerator and began working on the Spinach and Kale Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts recipe. “This dish is delicious proof you don’t need meat to make a meal. The pasta and brussels sprouts combined with pesto made from spinach, basil, and kale is a big hit with our family.”

“Since you’re working on that, I’ll make the Creamy Coleslaw with Avocado Dressing.”

Annie smiled at LJ, “That will go well with Rene’s contribution. She is bringing Chickpea Salad Sandwiches, which sounds so good. Do you mind helping me with the Cherry Chia Lassi Pops? They are such a sweet and creamy dessert.”

“LJ leaned over and whispered, “I made two dozen last night because they take about 6 hours to freeze.”

Annie laughed and hugged him, “you are the best! To show you, I was thinking ahead too; I bought bunting to decorate our picnic site. Balloons are not environmentally friendly, and we can use this over and over.”

Later, as they were walking to the park, Annie said, “I added a box of  Compostable Cutlery in the cart in case anyone forgets their own, and Compost Bags; they’re good for food scraps. The bag and ingredients will compost together and give nutrients back to the earth.”

LJ smiled at her, “I tell people my wife is part of the solution, not part of the pollution.”


Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.


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