Here’s all you need to become an asparagus master chef

Asparagus has a variety of health benefits but can be intimidating to some to prepare and cook. If you’ve been in that group, fear not, this Food Network guide, How to Cook Asparagus, will turn you into an asparagus master chef who will soon be dazzling your friends with your asparagus prowess.

It gives you a basic rundown of how to prep asparagus for cooking, how to steam them and how to grill them.

I regularly use pepper on grilled veggies such as these asparagus and zucchini.

Once you’ve reviewed it all, move on to my recipe page to see how to make asparagus with balsamic tomatoes, or asparagus as part of a grilled veggie selection that will dazzle all your friends. The photo I’m using for this site shows asparagus cooking on my outdoor grill, one of my favorite ways to make them.

 

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A Salt-Free Thanksgiving Side — Roasted Vegetables with Pumpkin Seed Gremolata

If you’re searching for salt-free side dishes to make for Thanksgiving that will amaze and satisfy your guests try this variation on roasted vegetables from Chef Laura Frankel.

I recently met Chef Laura and sampled this wonderfully tasty dish, at a meeting of my local Mended Hearts chapter, a support group for heart disease survivors.

The dish contains things I never eat, like Brussel Sprouts. Somehow, Chef Laura has made them desirable, a miracle in culinary magic if you ask me.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Vegetables with Pumpkin Seed Gremolata

8+ servings as a side

3 large shallots, sliced thinly
1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 Sweet potatoes, not peeled, cut into large dice
1 small Acorn or butternut squash, peeled and cut into thin wedges or large dice
2 raw beets, peeled and cut into large dice
1 small celery root, peeled and sliced thinly
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, preheat oven to 400F.

1. Toss vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on lined baking sheet.
2. Roast vegetables in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender.
3. Arrange vegetables on serving platter and sprinkle generously with Gremolata.

Gremolata

½ cup pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
6 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
Pinch of crushed red chili flakes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
2 fresh sage leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry medium saute pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they pop. Transfer seeds to a food processor.
2. Pulse toasted seeds, parsley, garlic, chili flakes, zest and juice, sage leaves and extra virgin olive oil until a coarse mixture is formed.
3. Sprinkle gremolata on top of roasted vegetables, roasted chicken, fish and turkey.

Consider mushrooms for your Easter table

Mushrooms have always been something I enjoy, from cutting up small ones for salads to roasting giant portabellos on the grill with a salt-free teriyaki sauce for flavoring.

So it’s nice to know they have lots of healthful properties, as this slide show from WedMd.com shows.

Trout, with mushrooms as a garnish.

“If you’re looking for an all-natural multivitamin, skip the supplement aisle and pick up some mushrooms,” WebMD says. “Among their many nutrients: B vitamins — including pantothenic acid (B5), niacin (B3), and riboflavin (B2) — plus copper and selenium. Mushrooms also have protein, fiber, potassium, vitamin D, calcium, and more.

“Mushrooms may do a lot more for your health than fuel your body. They have antibacterial properties. They can help lower cholesterol. They’re good for your immune system. They may even help prevent or treat Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, and cancer,” the slide show goes on to state. Wow. I tend to be doubtful about such superfood claims, there’s still so  much about nutrition and our bodies that science hasn’t figured out, after all.  Continue reading “Consider mushrooms for your Easter table”

A salt-free summer side dish: skewered lemon-rosemary cherry tomatoes

Grilling season is upon us, so I’ve been looking for more fun outdoor recipes. I came across this one for skewered lemon-rosemary cherry tomatoes in the Costco Connections magazine, but have found it on numerous sites as well.

Skewered lemon-rosemary cherry tomatoes

You may be growing several of the needed ingredients in your backyard garden, which would make this all the tastier. Continue reading “A salt-free summer side dish: skewered lemon-rosemary cherry tomatoes”

Grilled artichokes — where have you been all my life?

Artichokes were always a  treat when I was a kid growing up in my Italian-American corner of Brooklyn. But I never imagined WASPs and others eating them. Today, though, they seem to be everywhere, on one restaurant menu after another.

My grilled artichoke, along with corn, cucumber salad and tomato salad.
My grilled artichoke, along with corn, cucumber salad and tomato salad.

I’ve enjoyed grilled artichokes at several places but never tried making them that way myself until this past July 4th. What took me so long? I loved, loved loved them, thanks t this recipe I found at AllRecipes.com Continue reading “Grilled artichokes — where have you been all my life?”

Zucchini lovers rejoice — here’s 10 recipe options

Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables to grill. Normally I just spray on some olive oil and some Italian spices and leave it at that, eating it as a side dish for such main courses as swordfish, tilapia, salmon and Fourth of July cookout favorites.

Zucchini on the gas grill, basted with olive oil and Italian spices.
Zucchini on the gas grill, basted with olive oil and Italian spices.

So I was excited to see a recent New York Times Cooking headline: Our 10 Most Popular Zucchini Recipes. I expected there would be some in there that are not low-salt, low-fat or low-sugar and I was right. Continue reading “Zucchini lovers rejoice — here’s 10 recipe options”

Potatoes, artichokes..what’s not to love?

Roasted potatoes are a treat for me, I’ve written about them as a holiday treat and at various other times too. So I was excited to see this recipe for roasted potatoes and baby artichokes.

Roasted potatoes and artichokes...can;t wait to try this one.
Roasted potatoes and artichokes…can;t wait to try this one.

Artichokes were a mainstay of my Italian-American youth, so its nice to see they’ve reached mainstream American palates these days. And I love that this recipe calls for baby artichokes, which are the most tender type.  Continue reading “Potatoes, artichokes..what’s not to love?”

A vegetarian hot dog that actually sounds tasty

Red meat is still part of my diet, albeit a much smaller part since my heart surgery in 2012. I have red meat once a week now, and only the leanest I can find, which means either fillet mignon or a cheek-meat sandwich at Naf Naf Grill.

Zucchini dogs, a meatless alternative to hot dogs.
Zucchini dogs, a meatless alternative to hot dogs.

I’ve stopped eating hot dogs and other processed meats altogether, except for the occasional splurge at my boyhood favorite, Nathan’s, when I’m in New York City. That said, I can’t bring myself to eat any of the fake vegetarian meat substitutes, several of which are high in sodium themselves.

So when I first saw the article, This Hot-Dog Alternative Is So Simple, You’re Going to Wonder Why You Didn’t Think of It Yourself, I assumed it would be something I wouldn’t want to eat. Continue reading “A vegetarian hot dog that actually sounds tasty”

Walmart, Aldi’s, others making fresh and organic food moves

Consumer desire to buy more unprocessed fresh and organic foods has definitely gotten the attention of the mainstream food retailing world. Three articles crossed my email recently confirming that.If you want to eat low-salt, low-fat and low-sugar, fresh is certainly the way to go for most of your meals, as I’ve been advocating here since having an angioplasty in 2012.

Mondelez has to compete with fruit for the healthy snack trade, can it?
Fresh is increasingly where it’s at for today’s food retailers.

Bare-bones food retailer Aldi, which specializes in featuring sore brands to hold costs down, is making several moves in fresh foods, according to Forbes and other media reports.

“The retailer is expanding the number of fresh foods offered, placing an emphasis on the perimeter rather than the packaged and processed foods in the center of the store. It’s making sure that dairy products are free from artificial growth hormones and all private label products—90% of the store—are now free from synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils and added MSG.

“Checkout lanes are being reconfigured to replace chocolates and candy with single-serve packages of nuts, trail mixes, dried fruits and granola bars,” Forbes reports. Continue reading “Walmart, Aldi’s, others making fresh and organic food moves”

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