Friday, March 31, 2017

5 Spring Vegetables You May Not Know

Seeing the first glimpse of spring vegetables make their appearance at the farmer’s market this month is a welcome change from winter’s hearty abundance. While the usual suspects — bright pink radishes, tender asparagus spears, and bright green snap peas — are there, you’ll also find more unexpected options like fiddleheads, ramps, morels and more. While these vegetables aren’t as common, don’t be intimidated! Familiarize yourself with each of these unique spring market finds and ways you can use each in a fresh and flavorful spring recipe.

 

Fiddlehead ferns

Fiddlehead ferns are the coiled tips of a young fern; deriving their name from the resemblance to the decorative end of a fiddle. This unique vegetable has a grassy, slight nutty flavor that’s similar to asparagus. Try them lightly steamed or boiled, then finished with olive oil and lemon for a quick side dish. They can also be swapped into almost any cooked recipe that features asparagus or haricot verts.

Let fiddleheads take center stage by replacing them for the asparagus in this Healthy Roast Asparagus with Creamy Almond Vinaigrette.

 

Ramps

Also referred to as wild leeks, ramps are a member of the allium family along onion and garlic. This wild onion looks similar to a scallion but with larger, flat leaves. Ramps are more pungent than onion and garlic, but cooking them will mellow the flavor.

Try grilling them and adding to a spring pizza.

 

Morels

Morels are a cone shaped mushrooms with a honeycomb texture and a nutty, deep earthy flavor. While morels may be harder to find in markets (if you aren’t foraging for them yourself), they are worth seeking out for their unique taste and texture. As with other mushrooms, make sure they are free of debris and dirt by lightly brushing them with a dry pastry brush or kitchen towel before preparing.

Try fresh morels in this Mushroom and Barley Roasted Asparagus Salad.

 

White Asparagus

This ghostly pale vegetable is actually the same plant as green asparagus, but is grown in conditions that block out the sunlight. Without natural light, the asparagus is unable to produced chlorophyll, hence the white instead of green color. Taste wise, white asparagus is slightly sweeter and has a less fibrous stalk than the traditional variety. White asparagus can be used in any dish that calls for asparagus, but use a vegetable peeler to remove the bitter outer coat before preparing.

Try using them in this fresh Shaved Asparagus and Fennel Salad or simply roasted as a side.

 

Sorrel

Though sorrel is commonly regarded as an herb, it’s actually part of the buckwheat family. This leafy spring vegetable has a tart citrus-like flavor, a cross between tarragon and a crisp apple. Young sorrel is less tart and can be served raw in salads, made into sauces or steamed as a side dish. More mature sorrel is a stronger flavor and works well in creamy soups, sauces or stews.

Try using sorrel in place of basil in a pesto, like this blanched pesto or in this sorrel, pea and leek soup.

 

Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge (delishknowledge.com), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.” 

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.



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My “Almost” Success Story

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.

realifestories in line I’ve entitled my story as an ‘Almost’ Success Story because my story is not yet complete. After having lost 50 kilos (just over 100 pounds), I still have about 10 or 15 kilos to go.

Can I say that while I don’t consider myself Paleo (mainly because I don’t believe in evolution, so I’m pretty sure that disqualifies me….lol), but I do appreciate the articles on all the individual foods that have helped me make healthful choices in what I eat and how many carbs I consume. They have been invaluable, and I am so very grateful for this community and especially for Mark and all he does to help people on their journey to good health. I have adopted the low-carb way of eating (between 50 and 150g daily), and I believe this has been the key to my success. I seldom eat anything refined or highly processed, and I eat all dairy.

For me, it all started after I got a blood test back on October 10, 2015. I was prediabetic at 47 Hba1C, had a slightly fatty liver, and my triglycerides were 2.9 mmol/L. I was also experiencing gout in my big toe (OUCH!), my hips would burn in pain after walking anywhere, I was barely able to move without feeling discomfort, and I had IBS which pretty much ruled my life (as any of you with that condition can attest to). When I got my blood tests back, I remember saying out loud (I was the only one in the room), “I am NOT going to get old and sick!” (I was 48). I had tried so many diets and failed. I, like many of you, had had some successes on the typical LF/HC diets commonly recommended, but I could never stick at it long term. Cravings were simply insatiable, and, let’s face it, who has the superhuman willpower needed to be able to apply it every single day for the rest of your life, which is what one needs to do if one is going to keep the weight off eating LF/HC.

beforeI had already done quite a bit of reading on this website, and I knew controlling my carbs and eliminating highly refined/processed foods was going to be the key for me. So I began immediately. I’m an all-or-nothing girl, and I literally went through my pantry and all my cupboards and ditched everything that was now out of bounds. My darling husband, who is simply awesome, btw, was supportive from the start. After being together for 25 years, and not once with him telling me I needed to lose weight (Oh, and he is slim and 6’4″), I knew that he would eat whatever I put in front of him and never complain. Just as well, because at that stage I simply didn’t have the energy to cook two different meals every night. He has also adopted this way of eating fully, although I am stricter with my carb load than he is.

So off I went, full tilt. I remember sitting on the couch about 3 days after I started, and I said to my husband, “I feel funny….in a good way, but I can’t put my finger on it.” It took me 24 hours to realise what it was: I was no longer experiencing any cravings! Seriously, you’d think I would have recognised that instantly, but what can I tell you. I didn’t. Then, after about two weeks, I was sitting on the couch watching some telly at about 10 pm, and I said to DH, “Man, I feel so good that I could literally get up and go for a long walk!! This is so weird!!”….lol.

Can you believe that! I mean, why couldn’t my doctors have told me that? I’m very grateful for the medical profession when it comes to broken arms, surgeries, etc…but nutritionally…..forget it. Man, they are hopeless at dealing with health issues using food.

I had a blood test three months after I began. Predictably, my fatty liver disappeared, my cholesterol improved (even though I was eating way more saturated fat than I used to), and my BS had gone from 47 to 32 (barely on the start of the scale they measure with). A couple of blood tests later showed that my HDL had risen, my Triglycerides had dropped from 2.9 to 0.4!, and my BS had dropped to 26 (with a note on my tests from my doctor that you don’t get much lower than that!!). My gout has gone, as has the burning pain in my hips. The tiny skin tags all over my neck have disappeared, and, unexpectedly, but very happily, my skin really cleared up! At 48, I still had terrible skin from acne, and the colour and texture also improved.

My hobbies used to be: couch potato or anything else that involved sitting on my chuff. And my poor, enduring husband, who hunts and is as fit as the day is long, would ask if I would accompany him on the odd walk, to which I occasionally agreed out of guilt, but would struggle to complete even short walks. Now he calls me a machine as I hike with him up and down dale (and this coming from a guy who would hunt deer and pig, walking for anything up to 8 hours at a time, carrying a pack and then meat from any animal he was blessed enough to get). So I take his encouragement as a real compliment.

after9A1C19C27I also love to cycle. I don’t think I’m super fit, by any means, but I’m pretty fit. The first time we walked up Kaiti Hill together (a local landmark in my city which is a 1 kilometre hill climb), I thought I was going to have a heart attack at the top. I was heaving and sweating like the proverbial and honestly, I only shuffled up that flippen hill at a snail’s pace. But it almost killed me….lol. Now it’s like a walk in the park. Really. I love it. And we do much longer walks together.

My life has changed completely. I am, in the first, so grateful to God, and second, to the people who have encouraged me along the way, and to the people in this community who have shared their stories of encouragement, and of course, last but certainly not least, to Mark and his diligence in food research.

To anyone who is contemplating changing their eating to reduce carbs, eat whole foods, eliminate grains and sugars…..don’t wait one more day! Do it! I am turning 50 this year, but I feel like I have gotten younger!

Thank you, everyone.

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Wine Not? (A $300 Giveaway!)

This post is sponsored by Weekly Tasting

Weekly Tasting

When first reached drinking age and started to dip my toes into a barrel of grapes, aka buying the cheapest wine I could find, I knew nothing about it except there were four kinds: red, white, bubbly, and pink. (Surprisingly, I didn’t like the pink stuff until I discovered the wonders of a good rosé later in life!)

Weekly Tasting

Early in my adult life, I noticed that some of the local grocery stores held weekly tastings, and I would always stop and try a thimble while doing my weekly shopping. Information is always absorbed best when more than one of the five senses is involved, so seeing the bottle, hearing the host describe the wine, smelling it, and tasting it all helped me start learning more about the different varietals and complexities in the glass (er, plastic cup).

Weekly Tasting

To this day, I still enjoy wine most when I am guided through a tasting. I’m excited to share the newest way to learn about wine in the comforts of your home: Weekly Tasting. Launching this week, Weekly Tasting sends four bottles of wine, tasting notes, and recipe pairings to your home, accompanied by a 10-minute tasting video hosted by a sommelier.

Weekly Tasting

By the end of the video, you’ll know more about the regions, varietals, and characteristics of each of the wines, plus you’ll have a better understanding of your own wine preferences.

Weekly Tasting

You can do the tasting all at once (like I did with my girlfriends) or you if you prefer you can open one wine at a time and resume the video on demand.

Weekly Tasting

Both of Weekly Tasting’s sommeliers are well-known women in the wine industry. Laura Maniec is one of only 32 female Master Sommeliers in the world. Elizabeth Schneider is a sommelier and has spent over 10 years in the wine industry; she also hosts the Wine for Normal People podcast. Their experience will help you better understand your palate.

Weekly Tasting

Of the four wines we tried, the fan favorite was the Torrontes, a grape I’ve never tried before. The bouquet was amazing – extremely floral and reminiscent of one of my favorite perfumes. I am not sure I would have picked up on the nose if I had just cracked this bottle open and sipped it with friends. We also loved the Guadalmare Morellino di Scansano, an Italian red blend, which our Sommelier Laura described as “the perfect wine to pair with pizza”. (YES!) The tannins cut through the fat, and it even smelled a little like tomato sauce. I am always amazed at the nose-to-brain recognition that sommeliers have!

Weekly Tasting
Weekly Tasting

The cost of the shipment is $69.99 for 4 bottles with shipping included. Weekly Tasting would be ideal for a group of friends to share at a girls night, a book club, a wine aficionado who wants to make tasting a regular hobby, or anyone who wants to learn more about wine. You can join the regular site or give a one-time tasting as a gift.

Weekly Tasting

Weekly Tasting is giving away a $300 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader! Enter to sign up for the giveaway and learn more about the newest way to experience wine below.  {Must be 21+ to enter and in U.S. Not applicable to entrants in MA, UT, TX, IL, or AZ.}

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Weekly Tasting

Thanks to Weekly Tasting for sponsoring some educational girl time! 

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Clean Eating Taco Shrimp Recipe

Clean Eating Taco Shrimp Recipe

Shrimp. It’s nearly impossible to not like those little buggers. Versatile and great with almost anything, shrimp are a fantastic way to get some protein.

I always purchase my shrimp in 1 pound… Read more →



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