Meatless Monday
Farmers Market Favorite: Springtime Salad of Asparagus, Strawberry & Radish

If you love asparagus as much as I, you've likely had it steamed, roasted, stir-fried, baked, poached, and grilled.

But have you had it RAW yet?  Those sweet, early, tender shoots of the first days of spring are perfectly prepared when they are perfect and as unprepared as possible.

Asparagus has just begun to break through their dirtbeds here to greet the sun in Central Texas, and its appearance at the local farmers markets is much ballyhooed.  The first batch came home with me last week, and too impatient to fire up a heat source, I munched it straight from the market tote. It was so sublime, I dressed it only a bit the next day, combined with it's market tote-mates in a seasonal symphony of fresh flavor. And the last bit of it, gone that evening, as I tossed in a few of my favorite proteins for an encore.

Give it a try.  Thicker, tougher stalks (Don't mistake size for lack of tenderness. It can really go both ways) can be peeled, and as with thinner stems, woody ends snapped or trimmed. Slice stalks below the tips, diagonally, as shown, for manageable bites. Leave tips intact, about an inch or two long.

For a side, a simple small  plate of field greens, asparagus, and strawberries, dressed lightly, accompanies your season-welcoming favorite entrees.  For this Meatless Monday supper, toss in a source of protein or two and you have a full meal, worthy of any simple, seasonal, soulful celebration of the vernal Equinox, this girl's favorite time of the year.

For each serving, collect

  • A handful of mixed greens 
  • Several stalks of early asparagus, prepared as above
  • 3 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • Five or six whole strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 ounce of pignoli, or pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup of cannellini beans (or other white beans of choice), canned, strained, rinsed, strained well, again.
Toss ingredients together on individual salad plates or bowls, and dress with your favorite lightly flavored dressing.

Don't have a favorite on hand?  We might just have a solution.  Later this week we'll talk more about springtime's welcome flag, asparagus, and share our very favorite way to dress this, or any salad that begs a bright and flavorful touch, Lemon Rosemary Gorgonzola Vinaigrette. 

Meatless Monday
High Fiber Favorites: Quick Curried Lentils

How did you lose the weight?

Did you have surgery?  Did you take drugs?  Are you ON drugs?

I love it when I’m asked, because, I hope, it means someone has noticed, but they don’t always seem to buy my response.  Perhaps it’s too simple. 

And who could blame one for questioning the ‘less food, more movement’ answer, especially in light of what might seem ample evidence to the contrary.  Those frequent photos of decadent meals, jovial happy hours, the occasional exotic hot spot, oh how perfectly high calorie it all looks! A veritable Bacchanalian feast! How could I possibly eat all of THAT, and still lose, or at least maintain, the recent weight loss?

Well, friends, the answers are simple.  I don’t eat it all

I eat a little. The more indulgent the meal, the less I indulge. I pack up at least half of every fete, feast, plate, and bowl, and make that the next day’s lunch, or even a few lunches. 
And I’ve learned to maximize the calories I do ingest.  

I choose nutrient-dense, high fiber foods with full flavor, and I keep those prepared, ready to grab and reheat  from the fridge, because if it’s not there, I’m all the more tempted to stop by that In-and-Out Burger stand just recently opened only blocks from my doorstep when hunger strikes.

Is it all that simple?  Did I just start eating clean and moving my body every day, and watch the pounds slip off,  never looking back? 

Um, no. 

I’ll share more about my weight loss over the past year, the pratfalls and pitfalls, the struggles and successes at a later date.  But it's Monday. Today, let’s just get practical. Let’s get down to the daily bones. 

This combination of superfoods--high fiber lentils and antioxidant-rich spicy curry paste, makes for a hearty side or entrĂ©e, and goes the distance (15+ grams per cup, cooked) in helping you reach your recommended intake of fiber for the day.  

It’s quick, healthy, and simple.

And simple it best be.  Because when I’m hungry, I’m in no mood for…..oh I’m just in no kind of decent mood at all.   

Yield: 2 entree, 4 side dishes

1 cup red lentils (or substitute any lentils you have on hand)
1 can coconut milk (approximately 13 ounces)
1-2 T (according to your tolerance for spice) prepared Thai curry paste (or make your own if you're adventurous! I use this recipe.)
2 cups chicken stock (I use low-sodium), vegetable stock, or water.

Combine all ingredients, above, in a heavy, medium saucepan.  Bring to a low boil over medium high heat, then reduce to a simmer, covering.

Lentils cook quickly, so keep an eye on them, stirring every five minutes or so, as they break down into a type of pulse, called dahl in Indian cuisine. Dahl, or dal, or daal, or dhal, can vary in consistency (and spelling!) from a thick and chunky paste, to a thin stew or soup. Adjust stock or liquid to obtain the consistency you desire. I've added one and a half cups, and cooked over a low simmer for 30 minutes. 

Now, is this fancy?  No. But it could be. You could add all manner of herb, spice, liquid, and vegetable. You could even add protein in the form of meat, tofu, and/or cheese (I've garnished my bowl with homemade labneh, a Middle Eastern yogurt/cheese that's just a tad tangier, and thicker, than sour cream.) Depending upon the time, talent, and resource of the individual cook, you could make it as fussy as you wanna.

I think I'll keep it simple. It's Monday.

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