Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right

In frigid February, I had the great pleasure of spending some quality R&R time down in Florida with one of my favorite people and his family. Somewhere between the 80-degree weather, sunny skies and bathing suit/sandals wardrobe I was inspired to make one of my mom’s go-to summer salads in the dead of winter.

Now that it’s National Nutrition Month, my Black Bean and Corn Salad with Jalapeno-Mint Dressing seems to be an even more fitting recipe to share. This tasty side salad is Candida Diet-approved, gluten-free, vegan and so healthy it hurts. If you want to make it a full meal, serve it up over a cup of cooked quinoa or black rice.

When I’m trying to “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” I turn to nutritional superstar black beans. Beans in general should be a staple in everyone’s pantry–especially for all my vegans and vegetarians out there–and certainly are in mine. All varieties are an excellent source of plant-based protein and have a lot of the B-vitamins and trace minerals that meat-abstainers often miss in their diet. A one-cup serving of black beans has only 227 calories, 15g of dietary fiber, 15g of protein, and 20% of the recommended daily intake for iron. This high soluble fiber content helps lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. If you’re not into black beans, try red or white kidney beans, chickpeas, or lentils instead. Once you find the bean that’s right for you you’ll love the clean energy and healthy digestion they provide–promise!

Black Bean and Corn Salad with Jalapeno-Mint Dressing

Black Bean and Corn Salad

What You’ll Need: (For the Salad)

  • 1 14-oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-oz can of corn (low sodium), rinsed and drained
  • 1 large orange, red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 cups of baby spinach, finely chopped

(For the Dressing)

  • Juice of two lemons
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs honey or agave (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, minced

How to Make It:

  1. Combine all ingredients for your dressing in a food processor or blender and mix until well blended. (Note: if you don’t have the equipment–and I didn’t down in Florida–then just mince up all the ingredients as indicated and whisk with all you got in a medium bowl to combine.)
  2. In a large bowl, mix all your salad ingredients together, prepped as indicated in the list. Pour your dressing over the mixture and toss until all veggies are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving (and up to 24 hours). If you don’t plan to eat this within a few hours after making it, hold off on adding the avocado until you’re ready to serve to avoid a mushy and browning meal.

And as always, I’d love to hear what you think in the reply section below!

Coconut Cauliflower Soup with Fried Capers and Dill Oil

As you may have noticed from some of my more recent posts, winter weather means big batches of vegetarian soup for this kid. When temperatures drop, not only do I crave comfort foods that warm you from the inside out but I’m also more inclined to be content spending a couple of hours prepping and cooking a homemade meal.

Like many of my readers, I’m big on making a Sunday supper that sets you up with easy leftovers for the week ahead. Last weekend, I made a Coconut Cauliflower Soup and enjoyed its sweet, creamy goodness all week for lunch with a little Ezekiel bread toasted on the side. Though cauliflower’s pale hue doesn’t exactly scream antioxidants like blueberries and pomegranate seeds might, it’s packed with a potent one–vitamin C. The C-monster not only helps fight off the common cold and flu but is also essential for the growth and repair of tissues in the body. It’s a major building block of collagen–a protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. Cauliflower also contains high levels of potassium, fiber, folic acid and a sulfur compound (called isothiocyanate), which helps prevent certain diseases.

Coconut Cauliflower Soup with Fried Capers and Dill Oil

Coconut Cauliflower Soup with Fried Capers and Dill Oil

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbs ghee
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15-oz can of coconut
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

(For the Fried Capers)

  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

(For the Dill Oil)

  • 3-4 Tbs fresh dill
  • 3-4 Tbs olive oil

How to Make It:

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add ghee (featured in last week’s Potato Leek Soup recipe), then add onions with a pinch of sea salt. Cook until softened and slightly translucent (about 5 min). Add in cardamon and stir another minute or two. Add your chopped cauliflower, vegetable stock and water, then cover and cook for about 20 min or until the cauliflower is soft when prodded with a fork.
  2. While your cauliflower is cooking, make the dill oil. Combine the dill and olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. To fry the capers, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add your olive oil. Dry your capers completely, using paper towels, then add them to your pan and toss them around for 1-2 min until crispy and lightly browned. Set aside to drain on a paper towel.
  3. Once your cauliflower is cooked, remove mixture from heat and add it to your blender (you may have to blend it in two batches depending on the capacity of your blender). Puree until smooth. Once smooth, add your now creamy mixture back to the pot.
  4. Over low heat, add in your coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Adjust for salt and pepper and serve with a garnish of fried capers (1 Tbs will do) and drizzle of dill oil.

[Adapted from How Sweet Eats]

Potato Leek Soup w/ Watercress for your Meatless Monday

If you’re looking to join the Meatless Monday movement, or simply cut back on your weekly meat intake, my vegetarian and gluten-free Potato Leek Soup is a tasty way to go. It’s heartiness is also sure to warm you up after that polar vortex that nearly sucked us all into a cold abyss last week. I love this recipe because it’s straightforward, filling, inexpensive and uses seasonal ingredients. I made a similar version (Tri-Color Potato Leek Soup) a year ago and have modified this one with a couple of my favorite super foods: ghee and nutritional yeast.

Ghee is clarified butter originating from India, which has a long shelf life when stored in an airtight container. It’s definitely a process to make, but if you do it with a friend (what’s up, C$!) it can be really fun. Not only is ghee a real food (aka none of that margarine junk), but it’s loaded with health benefits. First of all, it contains Vitamins A (good for the eyes), D (good for the bones), E (good for the skin) and K (good for the heart). These all just so happen to be fat-soluble vitamins and since they’re embedded in this dietary fat your body can readily absorb them. Secondly, ghee provides a cancer-fighting antioxidant named conjugated lineolic acid (CLA), which has been linked to preventing cancer. Lastly, ghee is great for cooking because it doesn’t break down in high heat like many cooking oils (e.g. canola and safflower). When cooking oils break down in high heat they produce free radicals, which damage our cells and DNA leading to mutations that can cause certain diseases. Ghee’s smoking point is between 325°F and 375°F, which is much higher than the smoke point of canola or safflower oil so you’re less likely to run that risk while simply sautéing your onions.

Vegetarians and vegans, if you don’t know about nutritional yeast, you ought to. Why? Well for starters, it is an excellent source of non-animal protein. Drilling down into the details, MindBodyGreen boasts that just two tablespoons of this bizarre but tasty substance (“hippie dust”) contain 9 grams of protein, beating out a glass of whole milk, an egg or an ounce of beef. It’s also a great source of Vitamin B-12, a vital nutrient for your body’s nerve and blood cell health. Most sources of Vitamin B-12 are found in animals, making nutritional yeast an important component of a healthy vegan or vegetarian diet. One tablespoon contains a full day’s supply of  this critical B vitamin.

Before you hit the grocery store to gather the fresh produce you’ll need, support your community by checking the stocks of your local farmers market (if it’s still up and running). Or if you live in the DMV, give Relay Foods a try. I worked with the Relay team on my first MOARfit Nutrition for Athletes Clinic last summer and completely jumped on the bandwagon. Their online grocery store brings the basics, specialty foods and local produce together in one place–i.e. you get convenience and quality, sustainable ingredients. Ok, enough plugging for now. Let’s get on to that recipe….

Potato Leek Soup w/ Watercress 

Potato Leek Soup

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 Tbs coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 Tbs ghee (or unsalted butter)
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 leeks, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs sherry vinegar
  • 5 medium potatoes (about 5 cups chopped)
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 /4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast*
  • 4-oz fresh watercress (about 3-4 loosely packed cups)

*If you prefer, used a 1/4 cup or Parmesan or Romano cheese instead of nutritional yeast.

How to Make It:

  1. Heat oil and ghee in a large (5-6 qt), heavy pot (I adore using my Cuisinart  Dutch Oven for all soups) over medium heat. Add onions, celery and leeks, sautéing 5-7 min or until tender and translucent.
  2. Add garlic, cayenne and salt and pepper, cooking for another 2-3 min then add your vinegar to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add potatoes, making sure to coat them in the spices and onion/shallot/leek mixture.
  4. Add vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 15 min. The potatoes should be easy to pierce and pick up with a fork.
  5. Finally, add in your parsley and nutritional yeast. Using an immersion blender (if you have one), purée the mixture in your pot until smooth.
  6. Adjust your seasoning for spice and saltiness.
  7. Serve with a few tablespoons of chopped watercress and enjoy!

If you want to amp up the Yum Factor (and subsequently deviate from Meatless Monday), add 2 oz of pancetta to the mix after the onion and celery but before the leeks. This will of course remove that vegan and/or vegetarian stamp from the recipe but it does add some depth and richness to the flavor of the soup.

Two-Timing: Sweet or Savory Root Vegetable Pancakes

Seasonal. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s part of the locavore, slow-food movement–of which I’m a huge fan but not necessarily a devotee. I try to buy produce that is in season, both for environmental and taste reasons. That said, I’ll be the first to admit that I relish the fact that I have the privilege to get avocados and blueberries year-round.

Not sure who Leon is, but I love this chart!

One website I love if you are looking to lower you and your family’s dietary impact on the environment and support local farmers is Eating Well’s seasonal food guide. You can even check out what foods are considered seasonal by state–no one size fits all here!

So what’s in season you say? With fresh local veggies and fruits dwindling, root vegetables, tubers and squash should be your nutrient-rich go-tos for the colder months. There are countless ways to incorporate these seasonal staples into your recipe arsenal. From soups to veggie burgers, cooking with root vegetables and potatoes makes hearty, healthy winter meals a breeze.

Shredded sweet potato, parsnip, turnip and carrot

In case you aren’t already sold, check out these nutrition benefits:

  • Since root vegetables are grown underground they absorb a lot of vitamins and minerals from the soil, namely vitamin C, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and folate, and essential minerals like potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and even iron.
  • All root vegetables are an excellent source of dietary fiber which not only keeps your full for longer, but may also lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and help regulate blood sugar levels. Forbes has a great article on the benefits of a diet high in fiber.
  • Potassium naturally prevents fluid retention and regulates blood pressure.
  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It also helps your body absorb iron and make collagen for healthy bones and cartilage.
  • Folate is essential for having a healthy pregnancy and is a key B vitamin for women trying to conceive and those who are already pregnant.
  • Beta-carotene will keep your peepers in top shape as it has been linked to reduced incidence of macular degeneration.

Sweet or Savory Root Vegetable Pancakes

Sweet or Savory Root Vegetable Pancakes

What You’ll Need (Two Ways):

~Each version makes about 10 medium pancakes.~

Sweet (ONE): top w/ a light drizzle of maple syrup

  • 6-8 cups grated root vegetables (I used 1 sweet potato, 2 carrots, 2 parsnips and 2 turnips; other options include celery root and beets)
  • 1/4 cups corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • grapeseed oil for light frying

Savory (TWO):top with a poached egg

  • 6-8 cups grated root vegetables (I used 1 sweet potato, 2 carrots, 2 parsnips and 2 turnips; other options include celery root and beets)
  • 1/4 cups corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 cups nutritional yeast or finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbs minced chives
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • grapeseed oil for light frying

How to Make Them:

  1. Grate all vegetables using a sharp cheese grater.
  2. For the Sweet version, mix together in a large bowl with corn starch or arrowroot powder, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne. For the Savory version,  mix together in a large bowl with corn starch or arrowroot powder, nutritional yeast (or grated cheese), chives and cayenne.
  3. In a separate smaller bowl, whip up your eggs.
  4. Pour egg mixture over veggie mix and toss until evenly coated.
  5. Heat 1-2 tbs grapeseed oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  6. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time, forming into compact balls with your hands. Place them into your hot pan and flatten each down using a spatula.
  7. Cook over medium heat, 3-5 minutes per side.

Serve immediately. For the Sweet version, plate two or three pancakes and serve with a drizzle of grade A maple syrup (the good stuff!) and a side of turkey bacon or fruit. For the Savory version, try serving two pancakes over a bed of arugula or baby spinach and topping it off with a poached or fried egg.

Pumpkin Apricot Smoothie (GF)

No, you haven’t lost your mind, week 3 of my Meatless Monday Pumpkin Puree series is a week late—but I assure you, this one was worth the wait. Week 1 featured a healthy and hearty Vegan Pumpkin Soup, ideal for a quick lunch or comforting yet light dinner. Week 2 skipped straight to dessert with a sweet and satisfying dairy-free Pumpkin Bread. This time around, I’m helping you start your day out right with a protein and probiotic-packed Pumpkin Smoothie recipe that will please your palette and keep you full until the mid-morning snack or possibly even lunch. If you want to learn more about pumpkin puree’s superfood properties, refer to weeks 1 and 2. The key to this smoothie’s satiating power is Greek yogurt, which not only helps soothe tummy troubles with its probiotics but also boasts 22g of muscle-maintaining protein per 8-oz serving. The fiber found in the dried apricot and chia seeds called for by this recipe will also keep you full and help regulate your digestive system.


This recipe is intended for two, but if you’re a morning workout warrior drink the whole batch for optimal muscle repair and calorie replenishment. It’s quick, easy, healthy and seasonal so slurp it up while fall’s in full swing.


What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla bean (scraped)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 banana (frozen)
  • 1/4 cup apricots (soaked for 5 min hot water)
  • 2 dates (pitted)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 6 oz nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 2 tbs chia seeds

How to Make It:

  • Blend all ingredients except chia seeds together in your blender until smooth. Stir chia seeds in at the end, one tablespoon per serving (or both if you’re using this as a post-workout recovery fuel).

Lentil, Barley, and Kale Soup (Meatless Monday)

Lentils, a member of the legume family, should be a staple in everyone’s cupboard–especially for you vegans and vegetarians. These little earthy pillows are an excellent source of plant-based protein and have a lot of the vitamins and minerals that meat-abstainers often miss in their diet. A one-cup serving of lentils has only 230 calories, 16g of dietary fiber, 18g of protein, and 37% of the recommended daily intake for iron. This high soluble fiber content helps lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.


Beyond the vast health benefits, lentils are cheap, easy to cook, and store forever. If you’re at a loss for what to do with them (aside from this recipe), check out the New York Times’ Martha Rose Shulman for some great ideas .


Lentil, Barley, and Kale Soup

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tbs vegan buttery spread (I like Earth Balance’s Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup French lentils
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus 4 long strips of the peel
  • 2 1/2 cartons of reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese if you opting for a non-vegan version)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill

How to Make It:

  1. Add buttery spread (or real butter if you aren’t vegan), olive oil, onions and a pinch of salt to a slow-cooker and cover on high for 45min.
  2. Add garlic, turmeric, pepper, cayenne, and toasted sesame seeds (crushing them between your fingers as you sprinkle them in) and cook for another 15min on high.
  3. Add lentils, pearled barley, broth, lemon juice and strips of peel (you’ll remove these at the end).
  4. Layer 3 cups of chopped kale on top but don’t mix it in. Cover and turn to Low for 3-5 more hours.
  5. Turn off your slow-cooker. Remove lemon peels and adjust for seasoning to taste. Stop here if you plan to freeze half and save for later.
  6. When you are ready to serve, add nutritional yeast (or parmesan) and fresh dill to taste.

Serve this with a slice of my Saffron Fennel Bread for a hearty weeknight supper or an easy-to-pack work lunch.

Sweet Potato Bean Burgers w/ Maple Chipotle Mayo (Meatless Monday) (GF)

As a flexitarian (aka a conscious and informed omnivore), I am a big believer in avoiding absolutes when it comes to diet choices. I eat meat on occasion. I eat gluten with regularity. And I sometimes even eat dairy (though my system would rather I not). I’ve tried out a lot of different food lifestyles, but I always come back to moderation. In the words of Oscar Wilde, everything in moderation, even moderation. Afterall, who wants to miss out on their mom’s classic sugar cookies at Christmas time, or the sensational experience of sharing pâté and red wine with good friends? The good news is, small dietary tweaks can make an enormous impact, not only on your personal health but on the well-being of our shared environment.

One of these manageable steps stems from a movement called Meatless Monday (#meatlessmonday). According to their website:

Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. We provide the information and recipes you need to start each week with healthy, environmentally friendly meat-free alternatives. Our goal is to help you reduce your meat consumption by 15% in order to improve your personal health and the health of the planet. Presidents Wilson, Truman and Roosevelt galvanized the nation with voluntary meatless days during both world wars. Our intention is to revitalize this American tradition. We’re spearheading a broad-based, grassroots movement that spans all borders and demographic groups. By cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change.

Sign me up! I’m already more like a Meatless Monday-through-Friday kind of gal, but if you aren’t this is one small change anyone can make. To jump-start your commitment to being healthier and helping the planet, try out this recipe for Sweet Potato Bean Burgers, or check out my Quinoa Black Bean Zucchini Burgers from last fall.


Sweet Potato Bean Burgers

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 can white cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 4 small or 2-3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs chives
  • 2 tbs sauce from a Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce can
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Them:

  1. Polk holes into sweet potatoes with a fork and microwave each individually on high for 5 min. Remove and let cool for 10 min before attempting to peel.
  2. While  the potatoes cool. in a large pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute for about 5 min until soft and translucent. Add minced garlic and spices cooking until fragrant (another 2 min).
  3. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1″ or smaller cubes. Add to pan and cook another 5 min until tender. Remove mixture from heat.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat two eggs until smooth.
  5. In a food processor, combine sweet potato mixture, white beans (drained and rinsed), oats, garbanzo bean flour, adobo sauce, finely chopped chives, and salt and pepper to taste with egg mix.
  6. Chill mixture in refrigerator for 30 min then remove and form into 6 burger patties. And pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
  7. In the same large pan used earlier, sear your burgers on both sides for 2-3 min over medium-high heat in a little more olive oil. Then bake in a pre-heated 350ºF oven for 30 min (flipping once).

Maple Chipotle Mayo

What You’ll Need

  • 3/4 cup light organic mayo
  • 1 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

How to Make It: Blend all ingredients together in a mini food processor (or Magic Bullet!) until combined. Chill until ready to use.

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Zucchini “Fettuccine Alfredo” (Vegan) (Gluten-Free)

Growing up in a half-Italian household, there was no shortage of ricotta stuffed shells, eggplant parmesan, and creamy pasta dishes at family gatherings. You’d think I’d be naturally endowed with the ability to digest all that deliciousness. Sadly, like so many others, over the years I have lost the ability to properly digest lactose (a.k.a. I am dairy defunct). According to the NIH, “approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.” So what’s an Italiana to do?

Thanks to creative cooks across the web and world, there are thousands of recipe alternatives out there for some of your favorite cheese and cream-heavy dishes. Ever since noshing on an amazing dish of dairy-free Fettuccine “Alfredo” in Austin, TX back in February I’ve been angling to make my own version that was both vegan and gluten-free. After reading countless recipes and making several attempts to fuse what I saw as the best elements of each, this is what I came up with…and it’s super tasty if I do say so myself!

Zucchini “Fettuccine Alfredo”


What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 8 oz boiling water
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 small or 2 large zucchinis

How to Make It:

  1. Soak cashews in water overnight.
  2. Drain cashews and add to a blender or food processor. Add 8-oz of boiling water and blend until mostly smooth.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Let cool and store in the fridge for up to a week or use immediately (continuing to steps 5 and 6).
  5. Using a vegetable peeler, shave long slivers of raw zucchini into a bowl until you’ve used up the entire veggie. The strips should look like thin ribbons (see below).
  6. Toss zucchini with “Alfredo” sauce until well coated.
  7. Let marinate for at least 30 min so the sauce seeps into the “fettuccine.”

This can be served hot or cold. It makes for the perfect summer meal: very light, very healthy and, to top it off, very satisfying!


White Asparagus & Shiitake Mushroom Salad w/ Balsamic Reduction

In need of an idea for a quick summer salad that tastes delicious? I was too. Salad’s can get boring, especially for those of us that eat them on the regular. It’s important to change up the ingredients to keep your interest (and this healthy habit) alive and well.

On my first trip ever to the AdMo Harris Teeter, I was inspired at the sight of white asparagus. The pale sister of glowing green asparagus, white asparagus is rare to find fresh in the US. Luckily, I caught the tail-end of prime asparagus season and seized the opportunity to snag this porcelain beauty.

photo (2)

This spring treat boasts a pretty impressive nutritional profile. Not only does Asparagus provide a natural liver detox, it is fortified with folate and vitamins E, A, and C to help protect you against heart disease. Folate, or B9, has also been linked to cellular regeneration (aka healing power). Vitamin E is shown to help fight Type II diabetes, and vitamins A and C will steel you against certain types of cancer and cataracts. Asparagus also contains potassium (as does its green cousin the avocado), which helps lower blood pressure and may reduce LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind).

Having selected my star ingredient, I decided to pick up some yummy shiitake mushrooms and arugula to round out the salad. For dressing, I decided to go sweet and simple with a balsamic reduction. The mild white asparagus paired nicely with the earthiness of the mushrooms, bitter bite of arugula, and sweet finish of balsamic.

Give this easy recipe a whirl for yourself, and if you aren’t lactose-intolerant or vegan, a hit of pecorino romano shavings would be delicioso!

Warm White Asparagus & Shiitake Mushroom Salad:

(Serves 4)

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch white asparagus (substitute green if unavailable)
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 5 oz arugula (or 1 bag/box)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup good balsamic vinegar (for the reduction)

How to Make the Salad:

  1. Thoroughly wash your mushrooms, asparagus and arugula (unless pre-washed).
  2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add your asparagus, spreading it into a single layer, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 min or until al dente (you can get a fork in but the spear doesn’t slip right off). Remove from heat and slice into 2 inch pieces.
  3. Simultaneously with step 2,  heat another large saucepan with  2 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add your mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until mushrooms begin to brown, or about 5 min. Remove from heat but leave the pan on your stove. Add your arugula to the same pan and give it a quick warm up for 1-2 min.
  4. Plate immediately, starting with the warm arugula as your base and equally dividing the asparagus and shiitake between four plates.
  5. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction (recipe below) and enjoy!

How to Make the Balsamic Reduction:

  1. Pour your balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn down the heat so that the boil reduces to a simmer.
  3. Stir occasionally and allow to simmer until the vinegar has reduced by at least half – though I liked to let it go longer for a thicker consistency.
  4. Allow to cool then drizzle over your plated salads to finish.

MOAR’s Healthy GB Fries w/ Lemon Aioli

Inspired by a recent article in the NYT by one of my food idols, Mark Bittman, I decided to break open my glass jar of garbanzo bean (GB) flour and make something out of the ordinary. I purchased the flour a while back because I loved the idea of using it as an alternative to white or wheat. GB flour is not only gluten-free but has 21% of your DV for dietary fiber, 10% of your iron, and 6g of protein per serving. Compare that to whole wheat flour’s 12%, 8%, and 4g respectively (white flour doesn’t even hold a candle), and GB flour takes the perverbial cake.

Don’t get my wrong, these babies are still fried (though grapeseed oil keeps them light and crispy) but they’re an excellent nutritional alternative to the golden arches or BK. Give them a try and I promise you won’t want anything to do with the French kind.

Garbanzo Bean Fries w/ Lemon Aioli


What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean (GB) flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs Herbes de Provence
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • Grapeseed oil (amount depends on pan size, for frying)

How to Make Them:

  1. Grease an 8-by-8 baking dish with some oil or spray.
  2. Boil 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
  3. Put the GB flour in a large bowl and when the water comes to a boil, slowly add it to the bowl. Whisk constantly as you pour to prevent lumps. (Tip: you can also do this in a KitchenAid standing mixer if you have one. If you do it by hand–as I did in the featured photo–the batter will inevitably have a lump or two.)
  4. Scrape the mixture back into the same saucepan you used, add a little salt and pepper, and bring it to a boil (it should take just a couple minutes). Reduce it to a gentle simmer, add in the 2 tbs of olive oil, and cook for one more minute.
  5. Scoop your doughy mix into the baking dish and spread it into an even layer, which should be about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Let it cool all the way then cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or as long as a day.
  6. Heat at least 1/4 inch of grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium. Let it heat until a drop of water makes the oil hiss and spit (stand back!).
  7. Slide the chilled dough out onto a cutting board (this is why you greased the pan) and slice the GB mixture into the shape of fries. These don’t have to look perfect–think handcut or as my Italian familia would say, al rustico! Pat dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
  8. Working in batches, gently sliding them into the hot oil. Nudge them around occasionally until they’re golden all over, cooking for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  9. Transfer your fries to paper towels (removing the excess oil) and immediately sprinkle with salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence. Serve immediately for the tastiest results.

Lemon Aioli

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup organic mayonaise (you can go reduced fat here if you like)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic

How to Make It:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is well-blended. If you don’t have a food processor, you can easily do this by hand–just mince the garlic before mixing.
  2. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

My GB Fries and Lemon Aioli make for a great appetizer or side dish to my homemade Quinoa Black Bean Zucchini Burgers. Enjoy these tasty bites with no guilt and maybe even your favorite icy brew. A wise woman once said: “everything in moderation, including moderation.”