Spring Asparagus with Morels

Asparagus&Morels.jpg

This is a great seasonal veggie dish that works well as a side but is also hearty enough as a vegan or vegetarian main dish (I double the recipe if using it as a main).

Ingredients:

  • 6 Morels, Quartered lengthwise
  • 2 Cups Asparagus, chopped into 1 1/2” pieces
  • 1/2 Cup Shallots, finely minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Amontillado Sherry or dry white wine
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Virgin, Organic Grass-Fed Ghee or Organic Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Thyme, fresh (or 1 tsp if using dried)
  • 1 tsp Lemon zest, freshly grated
  • Pink Himalayan salt or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Optional Additions:

  • Red pepper flakes
  • Truffle Oil
  • Organic grass-fed butter instead of olive oil

Directions:

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat coconut oil on medium heat. Sauté morels, shallots, thyme, and garlic for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add asparagus and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add sherry/wine and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes or until asparagus is bright green and slightly tender but still crunchy.
  4. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and taste to make sure seasoning is to your taste.
  5. Sprinkle top of dish with lemon zest and serve.

Eggplant Caponata

A favorite in vegan and omnivore cuisine, eggplant can be baked, roasted, grilled, used as a pizza topping or in stir-fry recipes. It has a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture that may vary depending on the color/variety of eggplant selected. Dress your cooked eggplant with herbs, sauces, and condiments and you'll be sure to please even the pickiest guest at your dinner table.

Eggplant contains a phytonutrient (plant chemical with nutritional benefits) called nasunin. Nasunin acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage. In addition, eggplant contains a wealth of other antioxidants that support brain and heart health. In research studies, one variety of eggplant - called Black Magic - was found to have three times the antioxidant properties compared to several other types of eggplant. It's also a terrific source of dietary fiber, copper, potassium and B vitamins.

It's best to buy eggplant in-season during the months August through October. It comes in all sorts of shapes (baseball size to a thick crescent) and a cornucopia of colors such as lavender, jade green, and yellow-white. Choose eggplants that are firm, vivid in color, and heavy for their size. The skin should be smooth, shiny and without damage.

To test for ripeness, press your thumb into the eggplant. If the skin doesn't "spring back," it's not ripe. Eggplant is highly perishable so don't cut it before storing. Keep it stored in a food crisper or on the shelf in the fridge for a few days.

Satisfying and versatile, eggplant can handle a variety of flavorful accompaniments, several of which give a kick to this Sicilian favorite. The tomato base is spiked with anchovies, garlic, and capers, creating a mouth-watering aroma and a burst of flavor in every bite. Serve as an appetizer, a main dish or as a side with your favorite fish.

Makes 4-6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Italian eggplants, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbs kosher salt
  • 5 Tbs organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 organic celery stalks, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 anchovies, in oil
  • 1/4 cup organic tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup organic red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar or raw honey
  • 1/2 cup capers, in brine

Directions:

  1. Peel and dice the eggplants, peel and slice the onion, peel and slice the garlic, slice the celery.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with the salt. Transfer the eggplant to a colander to drain for 2 hours. In order to facilitate the draining, top the eggplant with a heavy weight, such as a dinner plate with full cans placed on top.
  3. Heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and celery and sauté for 5 minutes more, or until the garlic softens but does not brown. Add the anchovies and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomato paste and stir to thoroughly combine. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the paste turns a deep red, almost brown, and starts to stick to the pan. Add the vinegar and sugar and stir until the mixture thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  5. In another large sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 Tbs olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add the eggplant and carefully toss it in the oil, letting it sear before stirring. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is translucent and soft.
  6. Transfer the eggplant to the caponata mixture and cook over low heat for 3 minutes, until the flavors combine. Add the capers and their brine and stir to incorporate.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature accompanied by vegetable chips or gluten-free crackers.

Low FODMAP option: Use garlic-infused olive oil and eliminate garlic and onion.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

The humble Sweet Potato is a powerhouse of nutrition, rich in vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients. The antioxidant Beta-carotene, which gives Sweet Potato its orange flesh, is necessary for your body to produce Vitamin A. We need vitamin A for eye health, a strong immune system, and for healthy skin. One medium Sweet Potato provides 100% of your daily needs for Vitamin A, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C, several of the B vitamins, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E.

Some research has shown that, as antioxidants from Sweet Potato (called cyanidins and peonidins) and other phytonutrients pass through the digestive tract, they act in ways that may assist the body with detoxification of heavy metals. Scientists are also studying the anti-inflammatory nutrients (anthocyanin) contained in purple Sweet Potatoes, which may provide protection against certain types of cancer. Sweet Potatoes also have a fascinating ability to potentially improve blood sugar regulation and researchers are looking at how this may be helpful for those with Type-2 Diabetes. Sweet Potato is also very high in fiber which can help promote healthy digestive function and regular bowel movements.

You can enjoy Sweet Potato as a main course, side dish, in soups, or in desserts. When shopping for these versatile veggies, remember that they are not the same as Yams. The two are not in the same "food family" and each has a different nutrient profile. Yams are usually imported from Africa or Asia, whereas the Sweet Potato is grown abundantly in the U.S. Finally, Sweet Potato color, both flesh and skin, can range from white to yellow-orange to brown or purple. There also are "firm" or "soft" varieties, which can make a difference in your cooking.

Try this easy recipe as a delicious and more nutritious alternative to white potatoes and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and pierced 2-3 times each with a fork
  • Coconut oil, melted for brushing
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Organic, grass-fed ghee, butter or extra virgin olive oil to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Brush potatoes with coconut oil and place potatoes directly on the oven rack (line the base of your oven with foil to catch any drips).
  3. Bake in hot oven for 45-60 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Remove from oven and serve hot.
  5. Season with salt, pepper and organic grass-fed ghee, olive oil or butter to taste.

Optional - Sweet Potato Fries or Wedges:

You can also use this basic recipe to make these into sweet potato fries or wedges. Just peel and cut the potatoes lengthwise into desired size pieces, toss with melted coconut oil, salt, pepper and 2 tsp of fresh, finely minced rosemary.

Spread the potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake or roast, stirring once or twice until tender and browned, about 20-25 minutes. Serve with unsweetened organic ketchup or low-sugar BBQ sauce.

Grilled Artichokes

Fall is almost here so now is the time to take advantage of the remaining good weather and get that grill fired up for Labor Day! This simple recipe is easy to make and sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Artichokes are high in fiber and pack a whopping dose of Vitamins C, K, B-6, folate, and minerals. They are also highly antioxidant, helpful in regulating cholesterol and delicious steamed and grilled. Give this recipe a shot and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

▪ 2 lemons
▪ 4 large artichokes
▪ 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
▪ 1/4 tsp salt
▪ Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions: 

  1. Fill a Dutch oven or large pot with water and add the juice of 1 lemon.
  2. Trim leaves from the top of an artichoke. Remove the outer layer(s) of leaves from the stem end and snip all remaining spiky tips from the outer leaves.
  3. Trim an inch off the bottom of the stem.
  4. As each artichoke is prepared, drop it into the lemon water to prevent it from turning brown.
  5. When all the artichokes are prepared, cover the pan/pot and bring to a boil. Boil until the base of the stem can be easily pierced with a fork, 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium.
  8. Slice the artichokes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the choke (fuzzy part) and first few inner layers in the center until the bottom is revealed.
  9. Brush each half with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill the artichokes until tender and lightly charred, about 5 minutes per side.
  10. Transfer to a serving platter, squeeze half a lemon over them and garnish with the remaining lemon half cut into 4 wedges.
  11. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Enjoy!

Rockin' Roasted Root Vegetables

makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 sweet potato and or squash 
2 parsnips
2 carrots
2 turnips or 1 large rutabaga
1 daikon radish
2 small beets or 1 medium beet
4 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp each fresh rosemary and thyme (1/2 tsp each if dried)
sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  • Wash, peel and chop all vegetables into large bite-sized pieces. 
  • Place in a large roasting pan. 
  • Drizzle with olive oil & vinegar and add salt, pepper and herbs; mix well to coat each vegetable lightly. 
  • Bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes until vegetables are tender and golden brown, checking every 10 minutes to stir and make sure veggies are not sticking.

Note: Any combination of root vegetables will work. Roasting only one kind of vegetable also makes a nice side dish.