Archive | March, 2012

Asparagus! Food of Kings

23 Mar

At the local farmers markets here in San Diego, I am finding the biggest tastiest asparagus!  Normally I just grill it and eat it as a side or as a salad topper. But I have recently been trying new recipes and I found a cool one, Asparagus Avocado
Salad!  Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

The history of asparagus is pretty darn interesting.  About 20,000 years ago, asparagus was eaten near Aswan in Egypt. It has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavor, diuretic properties, and more. It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC.  Still in ancient times, it was known in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season and dried the vegetable for use in winter; Romans would even freeze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus reserved the Asparagus Fleet for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action. There is a recipe for cooking asparagus in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’s third century AD De re coquinaria, Book III.

Al-Nafzawi’s The Perfumed Garden celebrates its aphrodisiacal power, which the Indian Ananga Ranga attributes to special phosporus elements that also counteract fatigue, and by 1469 it was cultivated in French monasteries.

Asparagus is often called the “Food of Kings.”  France’s Louis XIV had special greenhouses built for growing it.  The finest texture and the strongest and yet delicate taste is in the tips. The points d’amour (“love tips”) were served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour.  

The asparagus growing beds in Northern Italy were famous during the Renaissance period. These graceful spears have always been a sign of elegance, and in times past, were a delicacy only the wealthy could afford.

I didn’t know veggies could be considered posh! Enjoy your food of kings my friends.

Asparagus and Avocado Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 4 or 5 thick asparagus spears
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
  • 16 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of fluer de sel (or fine sea salt) per serving

Cut away about 2 inches of the base of each asparagus spear. With a vegetable peeler, shave the entire asparagus from bottom to top, reversing your grip and rotating as necessary to shave as much as possible. Don’t rush it; be deliberate for the greatest precision.

Divide the asparagus strips among 4 salad plates. Cut each avocado half into 4 sections and place 2 wedges on each salad. Sprinkle with the mint leaves. Squeeze lime juice over the salads, drizzle evenly with the oil, and sprinkle with salt.

Thanks to epicurious.com for this recipe 

 

ALL Red Meat is Bad For You

13 Mar

It is sad but true, ALL red meat is bad for you.  Too long has the American public been brainwashed into believing their bodies need beef to be healthy, when in fact it is quite the opposite.  Consuming any amount of red meat whether it is beef, pork, or lamb, will hasten mortality.

This LA Times article released yesterday is late, but late is better than never.  This is a huge step towards re-educating Americans about what is really healthy.

By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times

March 12, 2012, 4:28 p.m.

Eating red meat — any amount and any type — appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death, according to a long-range study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for more than 20 years.For instance, adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat — picture a piece of steak no bigger than a deck of cards — to one’s daily diet was associated with a 13% greater chance of dying during the course of the study.Even worse, adding an extra daily serving of processed red meat, such as a hot dog or two slices of bacon, was linked to a 20% higher risk of death during the study.

“Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,” said An Pan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the study, published online Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Crunching data from thousands of questionnaires that asked people how frequently they ate a variety of foods, the researchers also discovered that replacing red meat with other foods seemed to reduce mortality risk for study participants.

Eating a serving of nuts instead of beef or pork was associated with a 19% lower risk of dying during the study. The team said choosing poultry or whole grains as a substitute was linked with a 14% reduction in mortality risk; low-fat dairy or legumes, 10%; and fish, 7%.

Previous studies had associated red meat consumption with diabetesheart disease and cancer, all of which can be fatal. Scientists aren’t sure exactly what makes red meat so dangerous, but the suspects include the iron and saturated fat in beef, pork and lamb, the nitrates used to preserve them, and the chemicals created by high-temperature cooking.

The Harvard researchers hypothesized that eating red meat would also be linked to an overall risk of death from any cause, Pan said. And the results suggest they were right: Among the 37,698 men and 83,644 women who were tracked, as meat consumption increased, so did mortality risk.

In separate analyses of processed and unprocessed meats, the group found that both types appear to hasten death. Pan said that at the outset, he and his colleagues had thought it likely that only processed meat posed a health danger.

Carol Koprowski, a professor of preventive medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine who wasn’t involved in the research, cautioned that it can be hard to draw specific conclusions from a study like this because there can be a lot of error in the way diet information is recorded in food frequency questionnaires, which ask subjects to remember past meals in sometimes grueling detail.

But Pan said the bottom line was that there was no amount of red meat that’s good for you.

“If you want to eat red meat, eat the unprocessed products, and reduce it to two or three servings a week,” he said. “That would have a huge impact on public health.”

A majority of people in the study reported that they ate an average of at least one serving of meat per day.

Pan said that he eats one or two servings of red meat per week, and that he doesn’t eat bacon or other processed meats.

Cancer researcher Lawrence H. Kushi of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland said that groups putting together dietary guidelines were likely to pay attention to the findings in the study.

“There’s a pretty strong supposition that eating red meat is important — that it should be part of a healthful diet,” said Kushi, who was not involved in the study. “These data basically demonstrate that the less you eat, the better.”

UC San Francisco researcher and vegetarian diet advocate Dr. Dean Ornish said he gleaned a hopeful message from the study.

“Something as simple as a meatless Monday can help,” he said. “Even small changes can make a difference.”

Additionally, Ornish said, “What’s good for you is also good for the planet.”

In an editorial that accompanied the study, Ornish wrote that a plant-based diet could help cut annual healthcare costs from chronic diseases in the U.S., which exceed $1 trillion. Shrinking the livestock industry could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt the destruction of forests to create pastures, he wrote.

Pub Grub Potato Bites

1 Mar

With this colder weather I have been craving potatoes big time!  I tend to make potatoes mashed style most of the time and put them in tacos, burritos, or serve as a side.  I need to switch it up.  Here is a lovely euro pub style recipe.  It seems like junk food but it’s not!  This is a healthier version, so don’t feel guilty.  Enjoy!

Salt and Vinegar Potato Bites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boil potatoes in water for approximately 5 minutes. Drain, and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss potatoes with oil on baking sheet, and spread in single layer. Roast 45 minutes, or until golden and crisp, turning 2 or 3 times. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Meanwhile, bring malt vinegar and sugar to a simmer in saucepan over medium heat. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Serve malt sauce on side for dipping.

 

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