Monthly Archives: April 2013

Your Journey Starts Here

Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it’s only here that the new and the good begins.

 – Leo Tolstoy

Are you always plugged into your google calendars, iphone reminders, emails on-the-go, and never-ending to-do lists? If you’re anything like me, well I think it’s safe to assume like most people – we move through our day totally booked up, organized and controlled by what and where our portable electronics tell us to be. I often think and say aloud that “I’d be totally screwed if I ever lost my iphone” as if my life would end. And worst are the days you mistakenly leave your iphone at home and moved through your day painstakingly trying to remember what’s next on your to-do list or not being able to write your usual twenty-something work emails while on lunch break. We can get so consumed and caught up with tasks and to-dos that we create and accumulate on a daily basis that we actually don’t take a moment to look up from our screens and enjoy what’s around and not plugged into our power cords.

island-path-1024x768I recently had an “ah-ha” moment from a somewhat chance encounter with a vedic astrologer. Never having had any kind of reading before I had no expectation and no questions to ask. I was simply in for the sheer enjoyment of discovery. However, my enjoyment quickly soured when he mentioned that I was most likely not going to be married or in a long-lasting loving relationship because I am so consumed with my work and as if that wasn’t hard enough to hear he finished by stating that I’ve lost all sense of spontaneity and that I’m too regimented in my work/personal life…more so work-life. Having felt a little insulted and deflated I walked out of my friends apartment that day and decided to rewrite my destiny. For me that meant getting away and getting lost. I immediately went home sat in front of my computer and decided to buy a plane ticket to anywhere that was affordable and some place warm. Within a few clicks I had booked myself a non-stop round trip ticket to Cartagena, Colombia.

colonial-buildings-in-old-cartagena-colombia-david-smithI’ve just arrived home from my trip and can’t express enough how amazing the country, people, sights, food and culture are down there. This trip coupled with everyone I met along the way, the smells, sights, warm thick equatorial air were all medicine for my soul. At first being away from my daily routine, to-dos and emails, my constant companion’s if you will, felt a bit off, almost as if I didn’t know what to do with myself. The minutes, hours, and days all felt longer and I noticed that by removing myself from my daily constraints did I actually start living. I found a sense of adventure, calm and serenity in my unplanned days, urban meanderings, random conversations with locals and fellow travelers, and most simply just siting (something I’ve always deemed lazy) to be exactly what I needed. This is where our journey resides. This is living.

When we can take ourselves out of our routine and breakdown habits and the excuses that dictate our daily existence do we start to see ourselves and our life from a new perspective. Make time for yourself to get lost, lose your iphone, and seek the unfamiliar. A journey down a path unknown creates space for new discoveries into ourselves as well as the world around you. This journey always contains goodness, possibly some hiccups along the way and unintended happy and not-so-happy accidents but we learn from these setbacks and re-align. It’s always hard transitioning back to “reality” but what I have taken away from this experience is to relish and make more time for the small things like siting, reading, and stepping away from my computer after a normal working hour. Another amazing thing I’ve discovered to help limit my email addiction is Calm Your Box, which has freed up a few hours during the day. So tell me…what journey are you on? One that includes having your head down eyes glued to a screen or one filled with endless miles of white sand beaches, arepas, salsa dancing, and so much more!

Meatless Monday’s Warm Spring Salad

Warm Spring Salad

I have been cooking all things asparagus this week in the test kitchen. After burying myself in cookbooks and searching the inter webs for inspiration, I love this recipe.  It is simple, super nutritious and makes a beautiful presentation.  With the weather still cool a warm salad is very satisfying, and nothing says spring like asparagus, leeks, peas, strawberries, and lots of parsley all tossed in a simple lemon olive oil dressing. Easy, light, and super refreshing. If you’d like to add even more protein than what the quinoa and veggies provide I’m sure it would be nice with some white beans, chickpeas, or French lentils thrown in too. Nuts or seeds like pumpkin or hemp would also make a nice addition.

Asparagus

A few notes about asparagus:

  • Look for firm spears that don’t bend easily. Asparagus doesn’t tend to last very long, so it’s best consumed within 48 hours of purchasing. When you bring it home, wrap the stems in a damp paper towel to extend freshness.
  • Asparagus may aid in digestion thanks to its inulin content which is said to function as a “prebiotic”
    • In 1 cup of raw asparagus you’ll receive Vitamin K (69.6% Daily Value), Vitamin A (20.2% DV), Folate (17.4% DV), Iron (15.7% DV), Vitamin B1 (12.6% DV), Vitamin C (12.5% DV), 3 grams protein, 2.75 grams fibre, and more.
    • It can act as a diuretic causing you to lose more fluid than normal. Be sure to get enough water throughout the day.
    • Asparagus is anti-inflammatory thanks to its large composition of anti-inflammatory nutrients.
    • Source: World’s Healthiest Foods

Warm Spring Salad

Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free

WarmSpringSalad

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (or try speltberries for a twist)
  • 1/2 tbsp extra grapeseed oil or whatever oil you prefer for high heat cooking (not olive)
  • 1 leek, sliced into rounds or half moons
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends broken off and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup diced strawberries (optional)
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

For Dressing:

  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp Raw Agave syrup (or other sweetener)
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain pink Himalayan Sea Salt & lots of cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • lemon zest, for garnish
  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and place into a medium pot. Add 1.5 cups vegetable broth,water, or broth of choice, we used chaga broth, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low-medium, cover with tight-fitting lid, and cook for 15-17 minutes, or until fluffy and all the water is absorbed. Fluff with fork, remove from heat, and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, grab a very large skillet or wok. Sauté the leek and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add in the asparagus and sauté for another 5-10 minutes or until the asparagus is just tender, but still a bit crisp. Stir in the peas, and parsley. Heat for a few minutes and then remove from heat.

Leeks


skillet

3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, agave, and 1/4 tsp sea salt) to taste. Pour dressing onto skillet mixture and stir in the cooked quinoa. Toss in the strawberries last and serve immediately or they will turn the whole dish pink.

Season to taste with salt and pepper & enjoy! This would also be lovely with nuts or seeds sprinkled on top.

Recipe Inspiration & Photos courtesy of ohsheglows.com

Muladhara Chakra Pranayama

Meditation This week we are celebrating Earth Day and are deeply affected whether we like it or not by the times and tides of the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse.  This can be a very emotional time, a time for letting go and a time for welcoming in the new.  This transition can and more than likely will last for several months. It may reignite on the next two Lunar Eclipses in 2013, May 25th & October 18th.  In order to ride the emotional waves that may come our way, we need to ground ourselves and seek the base of support that only Mother Earth can give us.  Seek refuge in this practice when emotions may run high for the rest of the year knowing that we can come back down to earth with this simple and powerful meditation and pranayama practice.

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Muladhara is Sanskrit and translates to “base of support.”  Anatomically it is located at the root of the body, the perineum, located between the anus and the genitals.  Chakra is Sanskrit and translates to “wheel”, in this case being a wheel or vortex of energy.  Thus the Muladhara Chakra is a wheel of energy located in the root of the body, the pelvic floor.  Refining this practice can cause the untapped prana (energy) to release.   We all have a dormant source of energy inside waiting to be unleashed, the Kundalini Shakti.

This is a very powerful practice when coupled with mudra, or hand gesture.  I suggest you read through the practice first, as you can’t read the practice with your eyes closed.  It is extremely simple and easy to commit to memory.

Come into a comfortable seated cross-legged position.  Place your hands in Chinmaya Mudra, the hand gesture meaning “Gesture of Embodied Knowledge.”  Obtain Chinmaya Mudra by curling your fingers into a fist with the thumbs outside. Then bring open the index fingers and touch the tips of the thumbs to the index fingers, forming a circle.  Rest the hands palms down onto your thighs or knees.

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Relax the shoulders back and down away from the ears while rooting your sit bones into the earth. Growing tall through the spine, draw the navel in and up.  Close the eyes if you haven’t done so already and connect to the breath.  This should not be anything controlled or forced; just become an observer to your natural breathing.  Breathe in and out through the nostrils for several rounds of breath. Slowly start to deepen the breath on the inhale and the exhale. Quietly, softly, finding your own rhythm, your own pace begin at the bottom filling up the low abdomen, solar plexus, ribs and chest, then exhale releasing the energy down, chest, ribs, solar plexus, low abdomen.  When you reach the bottom of the exhale, draw the navel to the spine ridding yourself of that last bit of stale air, expelling tension and stored emotion.

Bring your internal gaze to the third eye point.  With your minds eye imagine a deep crimson ball of light.  When you have this image then visualize the ball opening up into a beautiful red lotus flower.  Draw this lotus flower down to the base of your body.  With each inhalation, visualize the petals of the lotus unfolding, and with each exhalation, visualize the petals folding closed.  With each inhale and exhale engage the Mula, opening and closing your lotus flower, connected deeply to the breath with the Mula engaged.  Take several rounds of breath here and begin to add the mantra LAM to the exhalation, chant silently or aloud LAM from nine to 108 times, but always in denominations of nine.

Conclude by saying silently or aloud 3 times, I am always safe at the center of my being.

Keep your eyes closed and slowly release the hand gesture, take several natural breaths to integrate fully all the qualities you have evoked in the Muladhara Chakra.

When you are ready, slowly open your eyes, take your time to return to the world outside with a greater sense of security.

This is a beautiful grounding practice you can always turn to in times of emotional turmoil.  It will make you present, abundant, and fearless.  You may add aromatherapy to enhance the effects of this practice.  Scents that create security, stability, and grounding are cedar, sandalwood, and cinnamon.  In addition, it is powerful to set an intention to a diety, Mother Earth (Gaia), Ganesha, Brahma, Shakti, whichever you are most drawn to.  You may spend 5 minutes or 5 hours in this practice.  Give it a go and let us know your experience.

Om Shanti

Chaga-The SuperFood/Superherb/Medicinal Mushroom that you need to know more about & My story of Mushroom Hunting in the Circumpolar North

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Recently I had the good fortune to visit the beautiful country of Sweden. Instantly, I was overcome by the natural beauty of my surroundings, it was love at first sight.  However, I am not a winter person by nature, and I would probably have faired better during the summer months, not February. In any case, there I was, in the Artic Rim, mid-February having just come from Goa, India. I rocked off the plane in flip-flops, a tee & jeans, it was -10 Celsius in Stockholm, mild in comparison to where I was heading. I thought to myself “oy, mandatory shopping was in order” but that would be no problem, shopping is always an easy to-do for me and coupled with the kindness of many friends along the way I started to accumulate a Parka, socks, boots, hats, gloves, scarves, and hideous hand me down sweaters that proved to be necessary for survival, as well as local handmade honey. As I started to warm up I couldn’t help but think “what the f*ck I am doing here, it’s so f*ing COLD! However, crazily enough and difficult to admit, I grew to love the climate, it was surprisingly good for my skin, and my lungs felt released of all the heat and humidity stored from Asia, it was as if I could feel my Pitta fire burning out and cooling down. I acclimated quickly and took to the great outdoors.

I have taken away many fond memories from Sweden. The things that stand out the most include a Swedish word or two, road trips, wishing I had taken more pictures, vortexes, sauna world, caviar, windburn, a deep love for all of those that shared the journey with me, and of course, Chaga, a fascinating super herb that I can’t seem to get enough of. I will always cherish the lovely people who I was lucky enough to meet during my travels, especially my friend Magnus who introduced me to the medicinal mushroom known as Chaga that grows on the gallant white birch tree indigenous to the area.

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Chaga appears as a black charcoal like growth that emanates from the white birch tree. I had never heard of it.  We decided to go out and explore and forage for Chaga. Our mushroom hunting ended abruptly when surprisingly enough there was some Chaga growing on one of his beautiful birch trees right in the middle of the front yard.  I couldn’t believe our luck.  This was no short of a miracle, as Chaga is not that prevalent. February is probably not the best time for harvesting Chaga, it would have more easily come off of the tree if thawed by the summer sun but none-the-less we eventually sawed it off let it thaw and eventually grounded it up for tea. The Chaga was an earthy tasting concoction that I have been consuming daily ever since. I have been exploring it in a variety of different ways in my test kitchen. My interest was instantly peaked on this super herb and after a little research I was astounded by the myriad of health benefits claimed by this ancient medicinal mushroom residing primarily in the Northern Hemisphere.  I continue my research, reading everything I can find on the subject.  I always keep a batch of Chaga tea in the frig to cook with, whip up a smoothie or just enjoy it on its’ own.  Here are some interesting factoids on the fungus.

Chaga is known as the “King of Medicinal Mushrooms.”  Different from other mushrooms, as it is densely configured with antioxidant pigments.  In fact, Chaga is the most nutritionally dense of all tree growths.  Unlike common mushrooms that are soft, Chaga is hard, wood-like, and at it’s core has an almost cork-like quality to its’ appearance. Many references from numerous ancient cultures have called it the “Gift from God” the “Mushroom of Immortality” the “Diamond of Life” and even the “King of Plants” from the Chinese, which is a strong statement from a culture where plants and herbs are the backbone of their traditional medicine. 

 

Benefits of Chaga

  • Balances the immune system, optimizes the natural resistance against diseases and infections

Chaga is a natural BRM (Biological Response Modifier). It not only stimulates the body’s immune function when necessary, but can also slow it down when it’s overactive. In short, it will normalize the immune function, what classifies Chaga as an adaptogenic. The beta-glucans appear to be mainly responsible for that property, but many researchers believe it is actually the synergy between several, if not all constituents that is responsible for the full range of this adaptogenic action. Because of this property Chaga can be used to neutralize the side effects of pharmaceuticals, to compensate the age-related decline of our immune function, to neutralize genetic immune-disorders (like many auto-immune diseases) and, in general, to help us to deal with all the stresses of modern life. Stress (mental, physical, chemical, environmental – the change of seasons, urban life, pollution, etc. ) has an enormous negative impact on our resistance.

  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral

These properties are linked to the immune supporting properties, of course. Apart from that, the antioxidants in Chaga can have a positive effect on inflammations. Betulinic acid (a unique component of Chaga) is currently being researched for its anti-HIV properties.

  • Anti-ulcer, anti-gastritis properties

In folk medicine Chaga was used often to treat gastritis and related gastrointestinal problems. Again, the immune support of Chaga plays an important role here, both in treating and prevention of these problems, but betulinic acid and the phytosterols present in Chaga also play a role. Most ulcers are caused by bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori. A well functioning immune system will be able to deal with this pathogen.

  • Anti-cancer adjuvant – decreases the side effects of chemo-therapy and other aggressive medication

Chaga has proven to be very effective in supporting standard cancer treatments such as chemo-therapy and radiation. It can compensate the devastating effect these treatments can have on the immune system (causing side effects like nausea, insomnia, poor appetite, fatigue, etc. – these side effects are often the result of a compromised immune function.) It helps preventing metastasis (cancer cells traveling through the bloodstream should be neutralized by the immune system before they can cause harm). Chaga can significantly contribute to the quality of life during and after treatment this way.

Furthermore, research indicates that Chaga itself also has anti-cancer potential, in particular during the early stages of cancer. The betulinic acid and some of the phytosterols present showed the ability to kill cancer cells directly. How this works exactly is the subject of several theories. So Chaga has both an indirect (by stimulating the immune system to battle cancer-cells) and direct (by causing apoptosis [=programmed cell death]) effect during cancer treatments. Anti-tumor activity was only found in extracts prepared by lengthy heating or decocting, infusions prepared by steeping the raw material where not active against the tested tumors.

  • Anti-oxidant properties, revitalizing, anti-aging

A high quality extract should include the sclerotium ( the black outside layer ) of the Chaga. This is important, because this sclerotium contains a massive amount of a specific fungi-melanin, giving good extracts a very high level of anti-oxidants and turning Chaga into a powerful anti-aging tool. Research showed DNA-regenerating and re-vitalizing properties. The whole body will benefit from this; you will look better (skin and hair) and your organs will function better.

Antioxidant power can be expressed in an ORAC-value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).

  • Normalizes cholesterol levels, beneficial for the cardiovascular system, supports a healthy blood pressure

Research showed betulinic acid (a compound unique to Chaga) to be able to break down ‘bad’ cholesterol in the bloodstream. Besides that the ß-glucans, part of the polysaccharides in Chaga also have a proven positive effect on cholesterol levels. By normalizing those levels Chaga contributes to lowering high blood pressure and promotes a healthy cardio-vascular system: less plaque, stronger arteries.

  • No side effects and no contra indications

One of the many benefits of using a full-spectrum Chaga extract is that it has no side effects at all. Chaga is merely stimulating the body to heal itself. There is no potential disturbance of the body’s chemical and hormonal balance. This makes medicinal mushrooms like Chaga the ideal supplement for everybody. The only contra-indication is immune suppressing medicines (e.g. cyclosporin containing products, used after a transplant). Never use medicinal mushroom extracts together with this type of medication – the immune modulating effect might neutralize its workings.

Source: Oriveda Labs of Holland

         In addition, Chaga contains numerous B vitamins, flavonoids, phenols, minerals, and enzymes. It is also one of the world’s densest sources of pantothenic acid a vitamin needed by the adrenal glands as well as digestive organs. It also contains riboflavin and niacin in significant amounts.
Chaga contains wild-source minerals and is particularly high in copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, and iron. Yet, its most potent ingredient is a special substance known as superoxide dismutase (SOD). This is an enzyme with great potency. Its function is to halt oxidation, especially the toxicity of a free radical known as singlet oxygen. This is the type of oxygen responsible for oxidizing and damaging tissues, which results in aging. It is the same oxygen that rusts a nail. SOD blocks this damage by quenching the singlet oxygen free radical. The SOD content per gram of Chaga is exceedingly higher than any other antioxidant currently known. Like to the tune of 50,000 x’s higher.

Chaga has been around for thousands of years.  Numerous studies have been done and can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

If you live outside of the Northern rim or don’t vacation mushroom hunting in Siberia, you can source Chaga on the web.  Not all products are created equal, and I have only used my own wild harvested Chaga to date.  I am however a fan of David Wolfe, and he sells Chaga in a variety of different forms on his website www.longevitywarehouse.com Again, I have not tried his Chaga and I do not recommend anything that I haven’t loved, touched, tried and enjoyed. My experience with Chaga thus far has been an adventure of wonder, fascination and great joy, I can only hope to have peaked an interest in you about the many benefits of Chaga. Try Chaga today.

You can count on the fact that in the future we will be sharing Chaga recipes that earn our respect in the test kitchen. Here is one I have been exploring & really like.

Chaga Smoothie

ChagaSmoothie

Makes 1 serving

In a high speed blender:

Throw in 2 handfuls (2 c) of washed kale of choice, stems removed

1 whole apple, seeds removed

4 pitted dates

Cinnamon to taste

1 1/5 cups Chaga or liquid of choice

1 tablespoon raw Cacao (Chaga & Chocolate were meant for each other, however this is optional)

Blend until smooth & creamy. Enjoy & Happy Mushroom Hunting!

Y3

*Tastes like apple pie.  With cacao added it has more depth.

An Intro to Yin Yoga

Welcome to Yin Yang Yogis’ new Wednesday series where we will cover all things Yin yoga related including postures, theory, meridians and anatomy. 

What is yin yoga? Many of us recognize yoga as a physical activity focusing mainly on flexibility and muscle strength.  As a society, we tend to emphasize the importance of muscle strength and forget about other important tissues such as joints, ligaments, and even bones.  Yin yoga works to strengthen the health of these connective tissues through asanas (poses) that are often held for 3-5 minutes and are mostly done on the floor or mat.  Appropriate for almost all levels of students, yin yoga complements more yang-based or dynamic yoga (think Vinyasa or Ashtanga) extremely well.  It is also incredibly beneficial for those without a yang-based yoga practice, athletes of all kinds, as stress relief, and to aid in many bodily healing processes.

There are three very important things to always remember when practicing yin yoga; time, edge, and stillness.  When you first come into a Yin pose, you will likely feel some tightness in the muscles associated with the pose.  But, remember that we are not trying to work on the health of the muscles but instead of the connective tissue.   In order to reach these deep tissues, we must first give the muscles enough time to soften and relax before the connective tissues begin working.   The edge really refers to your edge.  After the muscles have had enough time to soften and relax, you will begin to feel some sensation in the connective tissue.  There most likely will be some discomfort, but there should never be pain.  This fine line between discomfort and pain is what we refer to as your edge.  Once the edge has been established, the student then goes onto except the discomfort of the pose to find stillness.  Stillness is incredibly important in yin yoga.  Once you move or adjust in a pose, your muscles react and are once again contracted.  This action takes the stress off of the connective tissue which may feel like relief, but is really opposite of what we want to achieve until an appropriate amount of time has been spent in the pose.

One more very important thing to remember is that Yin yoga may cause discomfort, but should never cause pain.  If you ever feel any burning, stinging, strong pulling sensations, sharp pain, shooting pain, or any kind of electrical sensation immediately back of out the pose.  A tingling sensation is often associated with the compression of a nerve.  If this is what you feel, back out of the pose and come back into it.  If the tingling is still there, skip that pose for the day and try again another time.

Next week, we’ll begin exploring a Yin pose that is suitable for yogis of all levels.  See you then!

Are You Prepared for the Pink Moon?

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“Lunar Eclipses  symbolize an ending of a chapter, time of letting go, surrendering and closing of doors so to speak.”  You can see this is a great time of shedding the past, at least whatever you are ready to, and really diving into it and letting go. Don’t over-analyze it. Release the grip and set yourself free to heal and move on. Honor whatever it is or was and let it go on all levels of your being. Whatever area of life the Lunar Eclipse in Scorpio activates for you, consider it a time of serious letting go for deep transformation and reclaiming your power. You may find you free up some stuck creative energy in the process!”

~Dipali Desai

This month’s Full Moon will occur on Thursday April 25, 2013 at 3:57 pm Eastern time in the sign of Scorpio at 5 degrees. Native American tradition refers to April’s Full Moon as the Full Pink Moon as spring flowers are starting to bloom. This month’s lunation is potent and powerful since it is also a partial lunar eclipse. Change and transformation will happen whether you are ready for it or not.

The partial lunar eclipse will affect the energies of this Full Moon.  Although only visible from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, it will truly impact us all. At a lunar eclipse the earth stands between the Sun and the Moon. Astrologically speaking eclipses suggest shake-ups of all kinds. In the case of a lunar eclipse, you are more likely to be dealing with endings, some could be very emotional.

Because of the nature of this full moon lunar eclipse it has the potential to bring up old karmic patterns that we have carried around for lifetimes, and to release those patterns like a snake sheds an old skin. It’s a potent filled new moon, if we can ride the emotional waves that may come along with it.

Lunar eclipses symbolize a time of letting go and surrendering as we celebrate endings and new beginnings.  The old must be released so that the new can enter.  There is no more auspicious time for a Lunar eclipse than spring time, a season of rebirth for new beginnings & the release and cleansing of that, that does not serve.

Celebrate this time of endings & new beginnings.  But remember, the old must be released so that the new can enter…

Celebrate Earth Day with this Meatless Monday Recipe

As a lover of food and cooking it may surprise some that I loathe grocery shopping.  However, I adore farmer’s markets.  I love to walk through the freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, take in the sights and the aromas, and most importantly chit chat with other like-minded people hunting and gathering their goods.  This week I went a little overboard on fresh local asparagus.  We are going to be eating a lot of asparagus around here and I am pretty sure I’ll be freezing soup too.  Okay, maybe I went more than a little overboard.  In any case, this week’s Meatless Monday suggestion is a spring green asparagus salad that can be eaten as a light lunch on it’s own, served as a side salad, or for a heartier meal paired with pasta or grains.  Enjoy this super easy to make, light, clean, green, spring salad for Meatless Monday or any day of the week.

asparagus_salad_recipe

Spring Green Asparagus Salad

A few notes – the asparagus is cut into coin-shaped pieces here to better match the radish slices. It’s a small extra step, but worth the effort. And then there’s the dressing. The dressing is lemony and bright, and a bit like a coarsely chopped pesto minus the basil. You could certainly add chopped basil later in the season (or mint) for a variation.  This recipe will yield more than needed in case you need a bit extra for pasta, grains, or salad greens that you might serve over, under or around this dish. This recipe is Vegan-friendly just leave out the Parmesan.

Ingredients:

  • 12 spears of thick asparagus, sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins
  • 
5 – 6 broccolini (or broccoli) florets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 
big pinch of salt
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, and coarsely chopped
  • 7 tiny radishes, washed trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • zest of one lemon
  • bit of shaved parmesan

Wash the asparagus and broccolini well and set aside. Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, salt, shallot and olive oil. Stir in the pine nuts. Set aside.

To cook the asparagus, place a splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the asparagus and broccolini. Toss well and cover the skillet with a lid. Cook for one minute. Stir again, taste a piece, and cover again for another minute – but only if needed. You don’t want to overcook the vegetables here, they should be bright and with a bit of bite to them. When the vegetables are cooked, remove them from the heat and stir in the radishes and lemon zest. Taste, add a bit of salt if needed. Toss with 1/3 of the pine nut dressing, adding more as needed – as I mention up above, you might have a bit extra.

Turn everything out onto a platter and finish with some shaved Parmesan.

Serves 2 – 3

There is nothing better than eating seasonally, both for you and the planet. Cooking in season means choosing fruits and vegetables that are at their peak of freshness and flavor. Buying locally grown produce is the best: local produce is less likely to be damaged, uses less energy to transport, ripens more naturally and as an added bonus you support your local economy.  Because of limited growing seasons in most regions, it’s virtually impossible to eat locally and in season 100% of the time. If possible, grow it and pick it yourself – you’ll know exactly what went into growing those vegetables and you can enjoy them at their peak the day they are harvested. If gardening isn’t your thing, visit a local farmers’ market weekly or join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, some of who even deliver the weekly harvest to convenient distribution locations. While it might not always be possible to purchase your seasonal produce locally, the next best thing is to purchase what’s in season somewhere else – and hopefully not too very far away to minimize shipping time and subsequent damage.

To find out what’s harvested seasonally in your area and where the local markets are located, go to www.localharvest.org

Photo & recipe courtesy of 101 Cookbooks