Lemony Asparagus Soup

I must confess that asparagus is one of my very favorite vegetables! So this recipe was so much fun to make and enjoy. It also happens to be really easy to prepare so I hope you will enjoy making it as well.

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The thing I love about asparagus is that it is versatile and it is also really good for you. Like many of the veggies in season right now, asparagus is loaded with vitamins, A, C, E and K. It also has folate and chromium which enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose to cells through the bloodstream.

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Since I am close to my 50th birthday, I’m always looking for foods and activities that will slow down the aging process! Asparagus is good for that too as it is packed with antioxidants that slow the aging process. It also protects against and fights certain types of cancers by breaking down carcinogens and free radicals.

You may have noticed that asparagus can make your urine smell funny. That is because it contains a unique compound that give off that smell when it is metabolized. It is also a natural diuretic so it is good for those who tend to retain water or may have some level of edema.

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The best ways to prepare asparagus are roasting, grilling or using it in a stir-fry. These methods of cooking maintain the nutritional benefits and powerful nutrients in asparagus.

Lemony Asparagus Soup

1 pound fresh asparagus, chopped (can use green or purple)
3 cups organic chicken or veggie broth
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup of coconut milk (can use soy or cashew as well)

Combine asparagus and broth in a large saucepan and heat to boiling. Reece heat and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Put into a food processor or blender (can also use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Whisk in the milk at the end and heat through but do not boil. ENJOY!

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What is Chayote and what do you do with it?

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I was intrigued by this veggie when I saw it listed in the seasonal veggies list for April and had to try it! Chayote, also known as milliton here in the US is a member of the gourd family but looks kind of like a pear. It is found a lot in areas like California, Louisiana, Texas and Florida. It’s mild and sweet taste has been compared to butternut squash but the texture, to me, seems more like a pear.

This little veggies packs a super healthy punch as it is very low in calories (just 16 calories per 100g) has no cholesterol or saturated fats. It is often recommended by nutritionists to control cholesterol and for those who are trying to lose weight.

Packed with dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, the chayote has a good level of B-complex vitamins, floats and potassium. They also contain the antioxidants, apigenin and luteolin. These guys help to remove free radicals and other reactive agents from the body that lead to the development of cancer, aging and other diseases.

Once I learned how good chayote was, I had to figure out how to cook it and found a great recipe on Finecooking.com. The chayote actually takes on the flavor of the onions and bacon and was really delicious as a side dish.

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Sautéed Chayote with Visalia Onions and Bacon (Julissa Roberts from Fine Cooking Issue 116)

3 slices of bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1-1 1/2 lb chayote (about 2 large ones) peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeded and sliced crosswise about 1/4 inch thick

1 medium sweet Vidalia onion (thinly sliced into half-moons

3 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced

3 tablespoons dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

In a 12-inch skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess fat. Add the chayote, onion and garlic to the bacon fat in the skillet and toss to coat. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally until the chayote and onion begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

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Add the wine, rosemary and thyme and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until the chayote is tender, about 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bacon and season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. I served it with a nice filet mignon for my husband and I had grilled shrimp and it paired nicely with both. ENJOY!

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Are You Addicted to Sugar?

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Are you addicted to sugar? Do you find yourself craving sweet foods or sugary drinks during the day?

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, there are five clues to look out for that may signal you are addicted to sugar:

1) You consume sugary foods even if you are not hungry because you just crave it.
2) You worry about cutting down on sugary foods.
3) You feel sluggish, tired or fatigued when you have had too many sugary foods.
4) You have health or social problems because of your sugar or food issues and yet you keep eating them despite any negative consequences.
5) You need more and more sugary foods to experience any kind of pleasure or to reduce any negative emotions.

Is it really an addiction? Yes, it sure is. Sugar stimulates the brain’s reward centers through the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which is exactly like other addictive drugs.

The American Heart Association recommends that women have no more than 100 calories of sugar per day (about six teaspoons) and for men, no more than 150 calories of sugar per day (about nine teaspoons). Any idea how much sugar is in some of the foods you are eating? A liter of soda with 124 grams of sugar is equal to 31 sugar cubes. Two pancakes with ¼ cup of syrup is equal to about 9 sugar cubes. One chocolate chip cookie has 18 grams of sugar which is equal to about 4 ½ cubes of sugar. You can see just how easily we consume sugar during the day without even thinking about it.

Some estimates show that approximately 33% of added sugar intake is based solely on soft drink consumption. All of this added sugar increases the risk for obesity which is then responsible for increasing risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and other diseases. In addition, eating too much sugar also messes up your ability to think clearly because it impairs signals to your brain cells.

How can you bust your sugar addiction?
1) Exercise – it will help you to change your eating habits and can help to get rid of sugar cravings! 30 minutes per day, 5 x per week is a great habit to get into and soon you may crave exercise over sugar.
2) Drink more water – sweet cravings can sometimes be a sign of dehydrations so before you reach for candy, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes before you reach for sugar.
3) Increase your fiber – high fiber foods are great because they will give you energy and will fill you up. The tend not to raise your blood sugar and so you don’t get the “crash” afterward. Good choices include fruits, veggies and whole grains.
4) Eat more protein – high protein foods take longer to digest and make you feel full longer and won’t spike your blood sugar the way refined carbs and sugars will. Good choices include lean meat, chicken, low-fat yogurt, eggs, nuts and beans.
5) Choose natural sweets – fresh berries and fruits are great to add to cereal or yogurt instead of sugar. Dried, frozen or pureed, no matter how you use them, they will always be healthier than added or artificial sweeteners.
6) Get more sleep – when you are sleep deprived and exhausted, your body will crave the quickest form of energy it can find which is normally sugar.
7) Add some spice – adding things like coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to your food naturally sweetens them and will help to reduce cravings.
8) Slow down on caffeine – the more caffeine you consume, the more dehydrated you become and it can cause swings in your blood sugar causing cravings more often.

Don’t try to go cold turkey all at once as it is most often a losing proposition. Start by eliminating small amounts of sugar every week until you reach the recommended daily amounts. Your body will thank you and your sugar addiction will be BUSTED!