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In Season

Garlic Thyme Roasted Asparagus

Here’s another asparagus recipe coming your way because let’s face it, these are the prime months for smelly pee and green stalk deliciousness. My mom’s garden is growing asparagus taller by the minute and my local farmer’s market can’t seem to ever sell out of the spring favorite. It’s a veggie that grows fast, and for anyone tending their own garden with this item, you know that rows can go from foot-tall to forest within just the time span of a week.

All the more reason to make these types of recipes on a regular basis. Roasting asparagus is one of the most classic methods of preparation. This one’s simple, with a touch of fresh oregano and the opposite of a touch of garlic. I love, love, love roasted garlic, and by using 10 cloves, you can ensure that each person can enjoy at least 2 of those pungent perfections all to themselves. Make extra if you’re batches are coming in by the basket and use all week by adding the roasted spears to salads, wraps and more.

Click here for recipe…

Roasted Asparagus Feta Wrap

The only challenging part I find about being a vegetarian is that I often run out of sandwich ideas I can make to quickly pack for my lunch.  I do a lot of hummus and bean dips, obvious from my numerous bean puree-related posts.  But sometimes a girl can only eat so much hummus.  So that leaves me wtih…PB&J? Eh, maybe occasionally, but I ate too many of those in grade school to make them a staple in my life again.

Since I can’t rely on lunch meats, (and really, why would I want to…I always found the stuff slimy and gross even during the periods where I did consume meat), I’m left looking for inventive lunch alternatives.  Which can be quite fun.  The one pictured above turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  Who knew asparagus could taste so good in a wrap?

Paired with a seasonal crunch from the radishes and a soft punch of flavor from the feta, asparagus does quite well in a sandwich wrap.  Roast the asparagus the night before for a quick wrap up the next morning.

And stay tuned for my next post, which will feature another one of my vegetarian sandwich favorites.

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National Salad Month

I do some blogging work for a wonderful Philadelphian nutrition counselor and educator named Emma Fogt.  My latest post was in celebration of National Salad Month.  Tis the season for salad, which is quite evident from the lovely heads of lettuce currently soaking up the rain in my garden.  Read the following post and get inspired to create your own seasonal salad!

May is one confusing month.  It’s often cold when you want it to feel like spring.  Or the air reflects a sultry summer day when you just wish it to be warm and breezy.  May makes you second-guess whether to choose iced coffee or hot tea, sandals or sneakers.

Sticking with its contradictory nature, the temperamental month has also been officially named both National Burger Month and National Salad Month.  However, there’s really no guessing involved with this contradiction.  It’s easy to choose which side to celebrate.

National Salad Month is certainly the way to go, giving you the perfect excuse to create more healthy and light meals for your lunch.  Plus, salads can often be thrown together rather quickly, as in the night before or morning of work, or as a last minute side dish for a more intensive meal.

Salads are also great because once you choose your base (lettuce, arugula, rice, etc.), you can pretty much pile anything else you want on top.  Leftover tempeh in the fridge? Throw it on.  Strawberries in season?  Add them too.  You get the picture.  You can easily turn a salad into a complete meal, full of protein and nutrients, simply by adding any variation of ingredients you have on-hand.  Add some low-fat dressing, and you have yourself a tasty and nutritious meal.

A true salad is more than just a bowl of leaves.  That bowl of leaves you begin with leaves endless room for creativity.

Click here to read the rest of the post and find “superfood” filled salad recipes via Emma Fogt’s blog!

In Season: Asparagus

Asparagus

In season: Mid-April through mid-July

Choose: Bright green, firm stalks, with tightly bound heads. Avoid wrinkly stalks with soft, dewy tops.

Storage tips: Place stalks upright in a container filled with about an inch of water, or bunch and wrap stems in a wet paper towel. Refrigerate, and use within 2-4 days.

Prepare: Shave thinly and serve raw, or steam, saute or roast whole. Use fingers to remove woody ends where they naturally snap off. Pairs well with lemon, garlic, soy sauce, curry powder and a variety of other spices.

Nutrition 411: About 30 calories per cup, 3 grams of fiber, 30% DV of vitamin A, 70% DV of vitamin C, 15% DV of iron, 61% DV of folate (anti-inflammatory), 11% DV of vitamin E and an assortment of other vitamins. Bottom line- You can keep this veggie on your to-do list.

Fun facts:  Asparagus is a member of the Lily family. This shining member grows particularly fast, lives long, and comes in several different shades. Somehow it manages to avoid growing pains, even in ideal growing conditions where stalks can shoot up 10″ in a 24-hour period. A patch generally yields edible stalks for at least 15 years and often longer, which makes it a great garden edition. Aside from the classic green, purple and white varieties also exist. The veggie contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan, which when broken down during the digestive process, causes some people’s pee to turn smelly. A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that when tested, only 46% of British people produced the odor while 100% of French people tested did. If you have the gene that puts you on the smelly side, you’ll know it.

Rest assure, look for an asparagus recipe or two coming soon.

Happy First Day of Spring!

Spring is finally here! Hallelujah. You know what that means? It’s time to ditch the treadmill and get outside. Thank god. If you’ve been bearing the cold and have already been running/walking/enjoying the outdoors, good for you. But for the rest of us, pretty soon there will be no more room for excuses. It’s action time. Time to really bring that fitness routine to life, alongside the rest of the living entities that will soon be emerging outdoors (like cherry blossoms, and asparagus, and fireflies, and the many other things I love about the sunny season).

For me, spring re-inspires me. It stimulates me to challenge myself and try new things. Maybe I’ll change my running route/routine, wake up a little bit earlier for an early morning yoga practice and try tackling some new moves, plant something totally unfamiliar in the garden, etc. etc.

My advice: Use spring as an excuse to challenge yourself, both physically and mentally, letting the warm weather that’s hopefully soon to come be a motivator for you to be the best that you can be. Try a new activity. Rock climbing anyone? Or maybe revisit a forgotten one, like tree climbing, letting your inner youth freely flow out.  Branch out and meet a new person. Maybe it’s the guy sitting on the bench next to you at the park. Or maybe you join a service organization and meet new friends while giving back to the community. Either way, challenge yourself to go out of your comfort zone, and approach the changing of the seasons by getting active.

In challenging yourself, do so in a way that keeps you present. Tune in to each moment and notice the subtle nuances that come with each challenge or change you might decide to take on this spring. Rather than letting your mind immediately jump to the next challenge or the next step of the change, embrace the transitions that lie within. Consciously keep yourself grounded into each moment. One of the easiest and best ways to do this is to simply take a deep breathe every so often. Whenever you notice your mind running away from you, leaving the task at hand, take a minute to stop. Inhale. Exhale. Release. Center your mind back to what lies in front of you, within the present moment, the only moment where you can really be.

Spring doesn’t last long, so make the best of it as you challenge yourself to blossom into your best.

More food for thought: As you start planning your next outdoor escapade/challenge, check out this NY Times article that says why you might really want to ditch the treadmill. Oh, and get a dog too.