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April 2013

Spring Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus Pesto

One of my favorite things about spring is the abundance of fresh asparagus.  It’s clearly the supermodel of its season, able to grow as much as 10 inches in a 24-hour period. Too bad (thank god?) my legs never grew that fast.

When I used to work at a CSA, picking baskets of the veggie was part of my daily morning routine. Given its constant growth spurts, a regular harvesting schedule is a necessity. Lucky for you and I, this should mean plenty of cheap asparagus at the farmer’s market stands every spring. Or a constant source of produce if you’re growing your own garden.

Asparagus Pesto

The first few times I take it to my kitchen, whether from my family’s garden or a local farmer, I always give my asparagus a simple steam with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar, or a quick saute with garlic, EVOO and lemon. Spring is of course the best time to eat the vibrant stalks, and its natural flavor should suffice. However, as every asparagus grower knows, if you’re endlessly harvesting your own, there’s only so much steamed asparagus one can eat before you fear your pee will smell horrible forever.

Luckily, I’ve always been able to get over the whole smelly pee things as long as I keep finding new and creative ways to make the veggie exciting. There’s definitely a ton you can do with it – Tacos, tartineswrapssoups, you name it.  One of my favorites is to dress it up with a simple Soy Asian Vinaigrette.

This is the first year I’ve ever tried to do an asparagus pesto, and I was pleasantly blown away with the results. This makes for a perfect sandwich spread, and would also go great with pasta – though I’d recommend drizzling in a little more olive oil before tossing it with your noodles. For sandwich material, keep it vegan and add it to other roasted veggies or a pressed and baked tofu, or add in some mozzarella and tomato.

Rosemary Garlic Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Word is that rosemary can boost your memory, according to a recent study presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Harrogate. It’s being speculated that the eucalyptol compound within the herb has an affect on the brain and our memory systems. I’ll take it. A little freshening up never hurt my brain, especially when it results in a bonus for my tastebuds too.

Regardless of its potential magical powers, I’ve always loved the natural fragrance of rosemary. In honesty, I don’t utilize it enough. I think this is largely because rosemary’s most often paired with meats. But of course it goes well with vegetarian cuisine too, crispy potatoes especially.

I absolutely adore this simple combination, and as mentioned in previous posts, can never get enough of roasted garlic. I contributed this dish for a family dinner the other week. As straightforward as it is, it surprisingly got a round of comments from the table. I was worried it’d be masked by all the other seemingly elaborate dishes on the table. There’s something about potatoes, however, that nearly always bring high fives.

Healthier, and much more elegant, than a deep-fried french fry, this is a classic side suited for numerous occasions. I always opt for a red-skinned potato for the touch of color they add to the bowl, but feel free to experiment with other varieties.

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentils

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentils

I’ve been trying to use up all my winter foods before the much anticipated spring veggie takeover. While I could certainly eat sweet potatoes year-round, it’s likely they’ll soon be swapped for a greener, but equally sweet, starch. I’m talking spring peas, and buckets of them. I’m talking sweet pea soups and all the other early seasonal veggies I can pair with them. Man am I ready for that.

However, in the meantime, I’m still going strong with my long-term love of sweet potatoes and relishing in their convenience. Sweet peas are great, but to enjoy them at their best, you’re in for an hour or so of shucking away their pods. (Totally worth it though!) On the other hand, the sweets used in this dish needn’t even be peeled. In fact, after a good wash, you’ll want to leave on the skin as you chop. It’s this thin outer layer that holds much of the healthy tuber’s potassium and fiber.

Speaking of fiber, I’m not sure there’s an easier (or cheaper), cholesterol-lowering source than lentils. Lentils really don’t get enough credit in my kitchen, but I’m always happy with the results when they do make it to the stove. Filling and versatile, I hope to see more of these on my blog soon.

Here, they’re paired with a flavor-heavy variety of spices and sweetened with both the coconut milk and the potatoes. The potatoes every so slightly melt into the dish, complimenting the coconut which gives the low-fat lentils a slight richness. I recommend serving in a wrap with diced avocado, but any whole grain would work below them as well.

Note, this recipe is meant to feed a crowd. Cut the recipe in half or freeze for later use if yield is too much.

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Baked Curried Carrot Chips

Baked Curried Carrot Chips

Carrots have been my jam lately. As has putting a spritz of lime in my water. (Seriously – this simple step can amazingly brighten up your whole afternoon.)

But carrots came before the lime. Before the warm, spring days graciously showing up this month. Rather, the under-appreciated carrot was my winter staple.

When fresh, seasonal produce is at its lowest, the carrot is good choice to turn to. Like sweet potatoes, carrots keep well and can be stored in your fridge for seemingly weeks on end. I’ve definitely lost carrots to the back of a bottom messy shelf, and after rediscovering them 4 weeks later, was still able to munch on them for an afternoon snack. I am known to often eat the orange sticks by the stick. String cheese, no thank you, but carrot sticks, yes please! Just a simple wash and scrub, and then bugs-bunny-style becomes my own style. It’s something my friends have always busted me about, not seeming to find the same allure in raw carrots as I do.

Carrot Chips

However, they lend themselves well to easily be spruced up as well. Take the carrot chip recipe you’ll see below. Shortly after making Ginger Pickled Carrots, I came across this recipe on Oh My Veggies. It immediately went on my Pinterest. (Yes, this food blogger finally got on Pinterest, and I may very well be one of the last ones to do so. Forgive my lack of boards. I’m working on it…)

These looked fun, and carrots are cheap, so I figured it’d be a win-win recipe. Which it was. Similar to how I feel with kale chips, the recipe yielded an insanely addictive version of a vegetable. Plus, they were fairly simple to make and would look oh so cute as an accompaniment to a lunch for your friends. Who would’ve thought you’d be impressing company with carrots?

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Spring Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

I bring you this recipe not because it’s a new, novel idea. Let’s get real. Green smoothies are so five years ago. However, a phased-out fad they are not. These powerhouse shakes can still be an incredibly life-changing diet addition and shouldn’t be forgotten. (Insert advertising slogan here. But seriously, they are wonderful.)

For that reason I must say, Green Smoothie, I am sorry for forgetting you. Once a daily drink, I let you leave my life for weeks and weeks too many. Never again.

I’m not sure when and how I fell off the smoothie bandwagon, but no fruit and greens have been spinning together in my blender lately. Kale, onions and herbs, yes, but no early morning, creamy green creations have been going down, that is, up until springtime finally hit.

I bring you this recipe because perhaps you, like me, need a reminder that green smoothies are a great way to kickstart your day and get your diet back in line. The nutrient-filled drink is packed with vitamins and minerals, meaning lots of energy for you.

As I use the spring season to take time to reorganize my life, I am realizing the value of clean eating and the energy it can provide. It is this energy that I need to prioritize what’s important to me and also to deliberate what is not. Lots of shifting, and changing, and goal reorientation is taking place for me right now. And with all of that, I want to revamp my diet too. A healthy body is a healthy mind, and a huge part of this stems from food.

I am excited to start bringing green smoothies back into my mornings and starting my days off on a high note. Whether you’re making some life changes or not, that’s never a bad game plan. Waking up with a healthy breakfast and a positive attitude is literally the best way to carry on life. Sometimes easier said than done, but I’d say this four-ingredient recipe is a pretty simple start. Enjoy.

Green Smoothie Ingredients

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