Spring vegetable recipes: Three sauces for steamed or roasted asparagus

Fresh Asparagus

Although vegetables have their own fabulous goodness on their own, when you tire of the same ‘ole thing, a simple sauce goes a long way to renewed or increased deliciousness. My favorite spring vegetable is asparagus, a perennial plant related to garlic and onions and native to Asia, Europe and North Africa. It’s super high in fiber and nutrients like vitamins B1 and 2, C, E, K as well as folate, copper and manganese. Enjoy with abandon.

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Hail Kale Caesar Salad Recipe

Kale Caesar Salad

I have become a massive fan of kale… I do feel like I’m in a herd of sheep following the trend, but it is pretty healthy and can be incredibly tasty. Up until recently, I roasted kale as well as tossed it into soups but Kale Caesar Salad was the first raw recipe I embraced. This version originally came from Alton Brown but I’ve altered it generously to make it a bit more healthy and more pungent.

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Daily Meal’s best 101 restaurants in America

Daily Meal Logo

The Daily Meal has published their 2014 best 101 restaurants in the country. Created by 100 different judges from food critics to food writers, this list pretty efficiently narrows down the go-to culinary geniuses in this land of ours. I found it so thorough that I had to publish at least the top 20.

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Awesome recipe: Brown rice salad with chicken, feta and mint

Brown Rice Salad

Adapted from a recipe in a magazine read so long ago I can’t remember, this mega healthy salad will stave off hunger for hours. The whole grains in brown rice, combined with the protein in the chicken, digest slowly so you’ll feel fuller, longer. And it’s unbelievably tasty, I might add. It even gets better overnight, as the dressing spreads its deliciousness throughout the ingredients. It does take about 45 minutes to make so be patient — it’s seriously worth it. Or make it on Sunday and take this for lunch for two days. You can make this vegetarian by eliminating the chicken and adding another can of chickpeas.

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Food and wine pairing heaven: Sweet Vouvray and blue cheese

Foreau Demi Sec 2011

Some wines are for everyday… you knock them back without a care or thought. Those are freeing and ephemeral days. But then, there are wines that give pause… stay in your memory like your first dance with a sweetie. They grab you and hang on for the ride. I recently experienced a sexy slow dance . Tasted back in November, I still remember the wine’s sensations and flavors. But not necessarily when I drank it alone — it’s really too sweet for my palate. But when I paired it with some salty, creamy, thick-veined blue cheese, it transformed. My tweet read: “Blue cheese + Foreau Demi Sec is freakin’ unbelievable”. Not sure I need to say more.

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Fruits and veggies: Buy organic or not? The dirty dozen

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

My husband and I “went organic” many years ago, figuring that — assuming all the research is correct — spending more money now is better than spending money in the hospital later. Eating real food is way more fun than “eating” from a tube, right? And tastier, I might add. Whether you espouse the “pesticides and fungicides suck” attitude or not, non-profit organizations like the Environmental Working Group have assembled a tome of evidence that recommends staying away from the chemical residue on food. But a huge factor that keeps people from buying organic fruits and vegetables is the higher price. It’s not the farmer’s fault — they have to spend more producing the food so they pass on the added cost to the customer. Although not all conventionally-farmed fruits and vegetables are slathered in chemical residue, there are some worst offenders. To keep track of the pesticides levels on a myriad of fresh food, I recommend a free app called Harvest but here’s a short list of those that should always be purchased from the organic section.

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Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (mmm, bacon)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Even as a adult, Roasted Brussels SproutsI hated these little cabbages. Until a friend brought a batch of roasted brussels sprouts over to our house. Now I’m addicted. The act of roasting concentrates the flavor and natural sugars in any vegetables so they emerge from the oven crusty and full of goodness. Recipes works well with broccoli and cauliflower too. Leftovers reheat really well too. And, well, bacon makes everything better!

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Warming winter (or summer) stew: Simmered rosemary-scented lentils

Lentils

Lentils, a dried legume loaded with nutrition, come in a variety of forms. The most commonly found are the brown ones but you can also find them in pink and green. Oddly enough, the humble brown ones have the most to offer the human body — 18 grams of protein and boat loads of fiber. They’re super easy to cook too– not requiring an overnight soak like most other dried beans. This lentil recipe — ideally cooked using brown lentils — can be made vegetarian by substituting a rich vegetable broth instead of chicken. About 5 minutes before they’re fully cooked, you can add all sorts of ingredients like 1 Tablespoon of fresh herbs (try arugula!), 1 cup of chopped, cooked chicken sausage (like Aidell’s), bite-sized pieces of rotisserie chicken and any other leftovers. But you don’t need to add anything at all.

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