Easy Roasted Asparagus Recipe

I can't take credit for this Asparagus Recipe. I got it from the Food Network. But it is easy (important in my cooking world) and really tasty (also extra important). The photo is also courtesy of the Food Network (as it is better than the photo I took).

Photograph by Food Network Magazine

Here's the recipe as it was given - then I'll add the changes I made: 


1 lb fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped parsley
grated zest of 1 lemon

Toss the trimmed asparagus in the olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast at 450 degrees until lightly browned, approximately 15 minutes. Mix 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, the grated zest of 1 lemon, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the asparagus.

Here's the changes/additions I made: 

I added some lemon juice, a fresh clove of  garlic, finely chopped  and some thyme tossed with the asparagus and olive oil and put it in a baking dish. I didn't have pine nuts, so I used organic raw sunflower seeds. Just before eating I topped it off with some grated Parmesan and Asiago cheeses (both staples in my refrigerator). Delicious!

So, as per the point of this blog, here are the health benefits of asparagus. This is a great, healthy veggie loaded with nutrients.
  • It is one of the foods highest  in vitamin K. Vitamin K aids in bone formation and repair. Asparagus is therefore helpful in preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. 
  • Asparagus is high in folate. (Folate is the natural form of folic acid, the latter being the supplemental form). Folate helps the body reduce inflammation and is therefore an important protection against cancer. Folate has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. For pregnant women folate is very important as it reduces the risk of birth defects (such as Spina Bifida) and low birth rate. Folate helps to regulate embryonic and fetal nerve cell formation. 
  • The high alkalinity of asparagus, as well as an abundance or the amino acid asparagine acts as a detox.    They reduce the acidity of the blood and help to cleanses the tissues and muscles of waste. Its high fiber content helps to clean the digestive system.
  • The diuretic and alkaline properties of asparagus help prevent and treat urinary tract  infections and  prevent or dissolve kidney stones.  It helps break up oxalic acid crystals formed in the kidney.
  • As an anti-aging vegetable it is rich in potassium, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C and thiamine. It also contains an amino acid compound called glutathione. it has strong antioxidant properties, protecting cell from free radical toxins.
  • Asparagus has no fat or cholesterol and is very low in sodium.
I keep asparagus as a regular part of my diet. I'll be posting some more asparagus recipes in the weeks to come. (And don't worry about it making your pee yellow and smelly - that's just asparagus doing its part to clean out toxins!)

Not a fan of asparagus? Then consider folic acid supplements for your health.


Bike Riding for Fitness - Dahlias for Serenity

Going by the definition of a blog, I'm not exactly doing a bang-up job of keeping up with daily, or even almost daily posting. But considering I was just scheduled to work 18 evenings in a row (yes, I mean NO days off), and doubles on the weekend, I'm beginning to know what an air traffic controller must feel like. I'm just trying to keep up with regular household chores, still work out and have time leftover to eat, and maybe get enough sleep.

I try to ride my bike for 20-25 minutes a day, three times a week. It is not a leisurely ride, but rather a "sprint workout". This is a high intensity workout in which you aim to raise your heart rate by pushing yourself to ride as fast as you can for 20-30 seconds, and then allow yourself 90 seconds to recover. The cycle (no pun intended) is repeated 8 times. It is best to have about a 3 minute warm up riding at a comfortable speed, and then a 2 minute cool down. The best part of this for me, with my time constraints, is that instead of an hour long cardio workout, I'm done in about 20 minutes!

I didn't come up with this plan all on my own but read about this system in Phil Campbell's book, Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness. The idea he presents is that anaerobic exercise,  - or sprint style interval training - will promote the release of the Human Growth Hormone in our bodies. This will lead to weight control and a reversal of the metabolic slow down associated with aging beginning in our middle years. And I am all about the anti-aging thing. 

After the bike ride, and especially on days that I don't ride, I try to get in anywhere from 20-40 minutes of targeted exercises and/or weights. But that will be the subject of another blog.

I'm all about a little of getting in the anti-stress thing too, which for me these days is some time spent gardening and working in the yard - which isn't really work to me, but rather enjoyment. So I have to post this picture of an Awaikoe dahlia plant I just bought and re-potted. I find the flowers so amazingly beautiful that just sitting and looking at it is peaceful and relaxing to me. I snapped a bunch of pictures of it, mainly because I am camera-challenged, and got a few good ones out of the lot. Here's a couple:

Awaikoe Dahlia
I Hope these brighten your day!  They definitely brighten mine!

Caesar Salad Recipe with a Twist

I am a creature of habit - so I've made an effort to work at creating good habits. I have this salad type almost every day for lunch , and never tire of it. I love Caesar salads, and the romaine lettuce in them is definitely healthy (better than Iceberg lettuce - the greener the leaves you eat, the better.)  I started eating Caesar salads and then kept adding things to them to get more of a variety of healthy foods all at the same time The flavors in the different ingredients go really well together.

Caesar Salad Recipe with a Twist:

Romaine lettuce, 3-4 leaves
1 Roma tomato
1/6 wedge of avocado, sliced into small pieces
A few "shakes" of grated Parmesan cheese
"Shaved" pieces of Asigo cheese - to your taste. I just shave pieces off of a big chunk of cheese with a paring knife.
2 tablespoons of Lite vinaigrette dressing, I use balsamic vinaigrette, or sun-dried tomato-basil
(whatever you like)
 2 teaspoons of Caesar dressing

Here's the dressings I use that go great together:

Ken's Lite dressing has only 60 calories per 2 tablespoons but pack a punch as far as flavor, while this yummy Caesar dressing has 85 calories per teaspoon - hence why I use both - love the flavor of the Caesar, but don't love the calories.

So a quick rundown of health benefits:
Romaine lettuce - high in Vitamins K, A, and C: good source of fiber, low,low calories
Tomatoes - high in Vitamin C and Lycopene, an antioxidant
Avocado - high in Vitamin E. The "fat" is monounsaturated fat - the good kind which, along with oleic acid, helps to lower cholesterol.
Parmesan cheese - high in Vitamin B12 and protien
Asiago cheese - low in fat, and high in protein

Try this for your lunch or include this as a side salad with your dinner. As a side, the recipe is enough for two.

Honey Mango Fruit Smoothie Recipe

I love mangoes! And don't get to have them nearly as often as I'd like since moving from Florida.
I picked up a honey mango at the store yesterday, noticed it because it was all yellow-orange in color, not like the mangoes from Florida that are light green blending with yellow and red. Turns out, from what I researched, it is from native of Pakistan, and is grown in Mexico as well. It's also known as a Champagne mango or Ataulfo mango.
 So I was now motivated to whip up a good smoothie recipe - going for healthy and yumminess combined.

Mango Smoothie Recipe
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: none - (that's the best part about Smoothies)
Serves: 1
  • Mango Smoothie1/8 cup cranberry-raspberry juice
  • ¼ cup green tea - made with one tea bag
  • ½ cup frozen mango
  • grated fresh ginger (use about a 1" square chunk)
  • several ice cubes, depending on how thick you like it
Make the green tea first to allow it to steep, and cool a little as well.
Place all ingredients in a blender, start at low speed until it starts to mix and then move to the higher speed until blended.

Okay so lets run through the health benefits, while we're at it. 
Health Benefits of Mango:
  • The enzymes in a mango help relieve acidity in the stomach and aid indigestion problems.
  • Vitamin E is abundant in mangoes
  • High in dietary fiber, vitamin C, and pectin, mangoes help lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Mangoes are rich in iron and therefore beneficial to those who suffer from anemia.
  • Mangoes are high in antioxidants so, when eaten regularly, can help fight cancer and heart diseases.
Health Benefits of Ginger:
  • Studies  conducted by Cornell University Medical College show that ginger is effective in thinning the blood, which aids in dissolving blood clots.
  • Ginger is high in calcium and iron which helps build strong bones.
  • Like Garlic, it has anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties, strengthening the immune system.
  • Ginger may help increase blood flow to your extremities, helping cold hands and cold feet. ( I have this problem, unless it's about 75 degrees outside.)
  • Ginger also seems to help regulate blood sugar and relieve menstrual cramps.
    For more about Ginger read, "The Benefits of the Ginger Root"  and "Health Benefits of Ginger".

And of course there is also the Green Tea which is also known for its antioxidant  properties.
Get a bunch of Honey Mangoes while they're in season, and treat yourself and your body to them. Cut up and freeze the rest for mango smoothies throughout the summer. I'll post some more mango smoothie recipe ideas as I come up with them. In the meantime, here's some delicoso Strawberry Smoothie Recipes I put together. Have fun and enjoy!

( If you have any great mango smoothie recipes to share, I'd love to hear about them.)

Cuisinart Smoothie Blender
If you are really into Smoothies, like I am, this 15-piece Cuisinart Smoothie Blender is the greatest! I whip up a smoothie in the morning right in one of the travel cups and head out the door to work.
It also comes with a chopping cup to mince herbs. I use that when I just want to make a small amount of my favorite pesto (see my previous blog).