Seasonal Eatings: Asparagus

Seasonal Eatings: Asparagus

One of the best ways to add a little variety into your meals is to include produce that is currently in season! If you are trying something new - it will be at its most flavorful, plentiful (and hopefully that means more cost-effective).  Periodically, I will be posting under a Seasonal Eatings headline. When you see that header, you will know that I am lifting up a particular ingredient that is in season (or near in season --  this blog has readers all over the country and so in season in one area may be a little "less" in season in others). But, you get the point!

So, let's talk asparagus!! Why would I want to eat asparagus?  Asparagus nutrition has impressive nutritioonal value because it contains virtually no fat and remains very low in calories, with only 20 calories for five spears, yet asparagus is packed with vitamins and minerals. Most notably, asparagust is high in Vitamin K, acts as a natural diuretic and is high in fiber.

What to look for when buying asparagus: Look for firm but tender stalks with good color and closed tips. Smaller, thinner stalks are not necessarily more tender. Actually, thicker stalks are often better due to the smaller ratio of skin to volume. Cooking for a side dish can be quick and easy: Wash in cold water and remove the bottom ends of the stalks (if the asparagus is fresh, the bottoms should snap off cleanly). It can be cooked in a pan with water, lemon and olive oil; it can be grilled over medium heat; it can be roasted in the oven or even cooked in the microwave if you are short on time. Do you feel more comfortable with an actual recipe? Well, here you go!

Garlic Asparagus (for 2-3 people)

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"Snack" doesn't have to be a bad word!

"Snack" doesn't have to be a bad word!

The word “snacking” has developed a bad reputation – many of us immediately think of high-calorie chips, processed foods, and cookies. But actually, “snacking” means eating between meals, whether the food is healthy or not. Studies have shown that the main motivation for in-between-meal eating is hunger, but other factors like stress, location, and social environment can play a big role too. Before you reach for that snack (good or bad), take a moment and think: Am I really hungry right now? Or is something else going on?

But, let’s be real; there WILL be times when you will reach for that snack. Plan ahead so that reaching for a healthy snack will be just as easy as reaching out for that processed package of chips or cookies.

Get Your CRUNCH ON!

  • Pears and apples

  • Carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli and cauliflower florets

  • Zucchini or cucumbers (slice into long wedges or circles for variety)

  • Popcorn (it’s the only snack that is 100% unprocessed whole grain!)

  • Nuts (those good fats are GOOD for you!)

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Broccoli, Mushroom and Cheese Breakfast Strata

Broccoli, Mushroom and Cheese Breakfast Strata

Ingredients:

•    4 teaspoons olive oil
•    1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
•    3 garlic cloves, minced
•    3 cups (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
•    Nonstick cooking spray
•    1 whole wheat baguette, crusts removed, cubed (about 5 cups)
•    8 eggs and 8 egg whites
•    2 cups lowfat milk
•    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
•    10 ounces broccoli, steamed, cooled and chopped (or frozen, thawed)
•    1-ounce (1/3 cup) grated Parmesan
•    4-ounce (1 cup) part-skim mozzarella cheese

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Sweet Potato Toast with Avocado and Sprouts

Sweet Potato Toast with Avocado and Sprouts

Ingredients:

 

•    2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total)
•    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
•    Kosher salt
•    1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
•    4 radishes, thinly sliced
•    2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
•    2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)  
•    Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
•    1/4 cup alfafa sprouts
•    Juice of 1 small lime

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Caprese Salad Skewers

Caprese Salad Skewers

An Elegant Salad Option!

 

To make 12 skewers, you will need:

  • 24 cherry tomatoes 
  • 12 balls or squares of fresh mozzarella (also known as boccancini)
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves
  • Balsamic glaze (store bought works just fine!)

Thread a cherry tomato onto one end of the skewer. Fold the basil leaf in accordion style and thread it onto the skewer, followed by a square/ball of mozzarella and the second cherry tomato (see picture above for any clarification needed).    (Click "Read More" to continue)

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