Tag Archives: cooking

Kale, my love.

The end of the selling season is quickly approaching and soon I will be in my apartment every single day as opposed to every two weeks or every other week if I’m lucky.  I knew I was getting burnt out on traveling in March so I scheduled myself two quiet weeks at home and I’m in the second week.  I realized that I’ll actually have to cook my own meals over the summer and I don’t want to continue my quick, frozen food trend.  I like to cook and I like to eat even more, but my schedule doesn’t always allow for it.  During the selling season I’m not here often enough to really stock up on good, fresh, healthy foods.  I buy a lot of ready made healthy foods because I’m usually blowing in and out of the apartment without much time to cook.  So to prepare for the summer, and to make it something to look forward to, I’ve begun clipping recipes from my many magazines and storing them in a basket. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m making it a goal to try two or three new healthy recipes a week.  I started today by making

Emily's pictures are much prettier so really, go to her site.

Balsamic Kale Salad with Apple and Pear

 

from Emily at the Daily Garnish (even if you don’t like kale I encourage you to visit her site for adorable pictures of her new baby boy.  Soooo cute!!!).

 

 

 

 

I discovered my love of kale in November when I made Cara’s Craving‘s Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Kale

Breakfast Pizza (sounds crazy, but I am telling you it is so, so, so good!) and my love just hasn’t stopped.  I made my first kale salad for Christmas Eve and I have to say, I loved it but my family did not.  It makes me sad that the people I have the most opportunity to make food for don’t like kale, but that doesn’t stop me!

How do you keep cooking and eating new and exciting?  Any foods you’ve discovered lately that you now love? I had never really eaten pears before and this recipe calls for sliced pear.  I was nervous about buying it because I wasn’t sure if I would like it but it is the perfect pair to the apple’s tartness!!  I might have another love.

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Drink Me

Back in January I went to NYC for new representative training part deux.  One of the awesome things about my company is that we work hard and party harder.  We went out to dinner every night we were there and enjoyed the wonderful delicacies that New York has to offer.  One of my favorite moments?  Going to Max Brenner‘s.  One of my colleagues ordered a milk shake for dessert and out comes this awesome, Alice-inspired cup that I then discovered is also sold in the gift shop.  Oh man.  I have since drank every thing I possibly could from this cup.  My favorite thing to indulge in from this cup is a good berry smoothie.

Berry Smoothie with pb and raspberry jam spread on a gluten-free waffle.

Berry Smoothie

(all berries are frozen but fresh works just as well!)

1 c. blueberries
1/2 c. raspberries
1/2 c. blackberries
2 big spoonfuls plain greek yogurt
about 1/3 c. water (I only do this when I use frozen fruit so that the shake doesn’t clump into a big frozen mess)
1 tbsp. ground flax
1 tbsp. acai powder
1 tbsp. Sunwarrior protein powder

Combine all in your blender of choice, blend, pour into your Drink Me cup, and enjoy!  (I use a magic bullet).

What’s your favorite smoothie?  Do you have a special cup or plate?

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Asparagus Pee

I’m a firm believer that anything is fancy when asparagus is added.  Macaroni and Cheese becomes a masterpiece of pasta, fromage, and asparagus.  Restaurant leftovers are magically transformed from a not-so-healthy meal into a new, delicious, healthy dinner with asparagus.  I just love asparagus.  And this love affair has gotten intense since moving and cooking for 1.  Those little green stalks of deliciousness are so easy to prepare.  I used to be scared of asparagus, just like I was of kale.  But then I realized that if I can cook frozen veggies in the microwave, I surely must be able to cook asparagus in the microwave too.  So one day I washed the asparagus, snapped it into three pieces, threw them in a bowl with a tad bit of water, covered with saran wrap, and nuked those bad boys.  And you know what?  Perfection.  So I thought I would make asparagus Goodie-Packed Food 2.

(Please do remember that anything I write about these Goodies is the result of my research that wasn’t always the most extensive and was done to serve my needs, and no one else’s.  If I’m wrong about any of my findings, I welcome polite correction!)

Asparagus is an easy vegetable that doesn’t appeal to anyone.  When I was little I said I didn’t like “spare-grass.”  But, as with most vegetables, as I got older I began to love it.  Whenever I’m cooking a special meal for my family, like a birthday dinner, asparagus is always my vegetable of choice.  In my opinion it goes with most anything and just fancifies the meal.  My mom was always around to help me cook the meals and usually added things to the asparagus to make them fancier.  She would steam them in an actual steamer, grill them, sauté them with garlic, etc.  But I like my asparagus plain and simple.

So how do we get started with asparagus?

First, I like to look for a bunch at the grocery store/farmers market that matches the amount I’ll eat.  Too much, and it will go bad.  Too little, and I’ll be sad.

Second, I look for a nice green color and stalks that still look strong.  Wilty stalks are no good.  You want your stalks to be on the thinner side and to be unwrinkled (teehee).

Third, I just go with my gut.  The asparagus talks to me.  I pick the bunch that is saying in a sweet, little voice “pick me, pick me!”  And I pick them.

Now that you’ve got your asparagus it is important to know how to store them.  You can’t just throw them in your vegetable bin in the fridge.  Asparagus is like a flower; it needs to be stored in water.  That’s right.  Fill a wide cup with water and drop that bunch in there.  I find an old coffee cup works (no idea how we ended up with this Campbell’s soup cup but it is the perfect size).  I like to store my asparagus on the door so that nothing bumps it.  It seems to fit perfectly here.  Some people suggest putting in open Ziploc bag over the bunch too.  I don’t do that but if it tickles your pickle, go for it.

When you’re ready to eat your stalks of joy there are a few simple steps.

1.      You need to break off the end that doesn’t quite look right.  Don’t worry, your asparagus knows where that is and will break off for you.  Hold the asparagus at the nasty end (the opposite of the flowery top) and a few inches away.  Bend your asparagus and it will naturally break at the right point.  Asparagus are so smart.

2.      Some people like to peel their asparagus.  I have never done this, never been taught to, and don’t see a need to.  Veggies should be easy to me and peeling adds an extra step.  However, if you would like to just use a vegetable peeler from the end to the flowery top.  Be sure not to go over the same spot twice or you’ll end up with some sad asparagus.  I hear this helps take away some of the stringiness but I’ve never felt asparagus to be stringy.  Maybe if you’re not an asparagus fan this will be a good step for you?

3.      Now the cooking.  If you want to do my microwave version, just snap the asparagus in half or thirds and toss in a bowl.  Add a little bit of water, cover with saran wrap, and microwave.  If you’d like to steam your asparagus in a steamer basket then there is no need to break your asparagus before cooking.  Just throw them in the basket and steam away.  Boiling is another option.  You can boil your asparagus in a shallow pan of water.  Again, you don’t need to break ahead of time.  No matter what method you choose, asparagus goes from uncooked to cooked really quickly so keep a close watch.  As with all veggies, they are at their peak when their color is at its brightest so don’t let your asparagus get too light.

(source)

Now this couldn’t be a GPF2 post if I didn’t discuss why asparagus is so good for you.

(source)

Asparagus

(source)

Half cup (about 6 spears) cooked with no added salt contains 2.16 grams of protein, 20 calories and 1.8 grams of fiber.

 

Potassium – 202 mg
Phosphorus – 49 mg
Calcium – 21 mg
Iron – 0.82 mg
Sodium – 13 mg
Magnesium – 13 mg
Zinc – 0.54 mg
Copper – 0.149 mg
Manganese – 0.139 mg
Selenium – 5.5 mcg
Also contains small amounts of other minerals.
Vitamin A – 905 IU
Vitamin C – 6.9 mg
Niacin – 0.976 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.146 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.125 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.203 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.071 mg
Folate – 134 mcg
Vitamin K – 45.5 mcg
Vitamin E – 1.35 mg
Contains some other vitamins in small amounts.

Asparagus is an excellent source of protein and fiber.  The DRI of protein for a female in my age range (19-30) is 46 grams and of fiber is 25 g.  (source).  We all know the benefits of protein and fiber—protein keeps us full and fiber helps our tummies move.  It is low in calories, and rumor has it that it takes more calories to digest this vegetable than it has, so yay (source)!  Like kale, it is a good source of antioxidants that help remove harmful free radicals from the body.  A half cup of asparagus contains 134 mcg of folate and the DRI of folate is:

Age (years) Males and Females (μg/day) Pregnancy (μg/day) Lactation (μg/day)
1-3 150 N/A N/A
4-8 200 N/A N/A
9-13 300 N/A N/A
14-18 400 600 500
19+ 400 600 500

A half cup of asparagus provides about a fourth of the DRI of folate, a good portion of fiber and protein, and lots of antioxidants.  Add in some other yummies, like peas, kale, and asparagus, and you’ve got a full meal!

Beware, asparagus can turn your piddle green and give off a crazy smell!  Why?  Asparagus pee is a crazy phenomenon that has been known to cause some a lot of embarrassment.  Some say that only certain people produce the smell, some say it is possible to produce a stronger smell than someone else, and still some say that only certain people are able to detect the smell.  During digestion, certain compounds are metabolized that give off an odor due to various sulfur-containing processes.  Want to learn more?  The ever trust Wikipedia.

But don’t worry.  I’ve never noticed asparagus pee smell to be lingering.  Just flush the loo and go on with your day.

As with all veggies, creativity is key.  It isn’t easy to mess a veggie up unless you’re slathering it in unhealthy sauces.  Allow veggies to be as natural as possible and add spices a little at a time.  Want some easy recipe ideas?

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

Grilled Asparagus

Veggie Satay with Cucumber Quinoa Salad

Sautéed Garlic Asparagus (try replacing the butter with olive oil!)