Heart Matters: February 2018

January is almost over, so I have stopped saying Happy New Year to people I meet.
Now I can start saying Happy Valentine’s Day or Happy Healthy Heart Month!

February is also still cold in the Northeast, so I will be posting a couple of winter poems by my virtual poet-in-residence, Mary Lou Meyers. And the snowy photo below is from my friend Hope. It is the creek next to her farmhouse when we had a snowstorm in January. The beauty of winter, especially after a storm, is something we don’t rave about, but I do love the snowy landscape in winter, especially before the snow is trod upon.

Winter also means more soups, stews, root veggies, and darker greens, so I plan to feature some hearty/hardy dishes.  When I Googled the difference between these two words, here’s what came up (direct quote):

These two words overlap somewhat, but usually the word you want is “hearty.” The standard expressions are “a hearty appetite,” “a hearty meal,” a “hearty handshake,” “a hearty welcome,” and “hearty applause.” “Hardy” turns up in “hale and hardy,” but should not be substituted for “hearty” in the other expressions. May 19, 2016 hardy / hearty | Common Errors in English Usage and More …https://brians.wsu.edu/2016/05/19/hardy-hearty/

(I think both words can apply to heart-warming, heart-healthy, and hardy dishes.)

Since I will be away for one week in February, I may repost some of my favorite soups or stews, with special emphasis on foods good for the heart. Speaking of which, in globalhealthcenter.com, Dr. Edward Group writes:

Your heart is the most important muscle in your body. If it’s weak, you’re weak. There are a few things you can do to provide your heart with what it needs to be at its best. The first is to get plenty of exercise. Your heart is a muscle, it needs to be worked. Second, avoid toxins that damage your cardiovascular system — don’t smoke, avoid high fat foods, and limit (eliminate?) your refined sugar intake.* Here are ten foods you can add to your diet to increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants necessary to maintain a healthy heart. And they’re delicious too.
(Photo also from same website.)

  1. Salmon
  2. Broccoli
  3. Asparagus
  4. Chickpeas
  5. Spinach
  6. Almonds
  7. Olives
  8. Red Wine
  9. Avocado
  10. Walnuts

I plan to feature some of these foods in my recipes. Except for salmon and red wine, they are all perfect for my meatless recipes.
*I will also write about the link between sugar and heart health.

February is also Black History Month or African-American History Month.  If you type ibn Celebrating Black History Month, you will be led to this website: www.poetryfoundation.org.  You can click on several poems by African-Americans such as Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Frederick Douglass or type in the poet’s name. Here is an excerpt from one of the poems on this site, written by Elizabeth Alexander, entitled Praise Song for the Day (A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration). I chose it because it speaks of love, and February seems to be the perfect time to post it. Go to the website to read the entire poem, since I do not have permission to do so.

…..Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance…..

Apropos to love in all its forms is Valentine’s Day on February 14th. No sooner have retail stores packed away the paraphernalia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. then do all the trimmings of Valentine’s Day appear. Since I met my husband Alan 15 years ago right before Valentine’s Day, I feel quite sentimental about it, so I will post something about this day, maybe how it can be used as a day for showing love to family, friends, Mother Earth, as well as partners, spouses, and significant others, as Elizabeth Alexander writes so eloquently above.

Here’s wishing you a heart-healthy attitude about your own health
and those you love.

Spring Soups with Asparagus: Recipe #1

Since this recipe is low on the food chain and made with organic ingredients, I am calling Earth Day, Every Day #5.

According to Lisa Mosing, MS, RD, FADA, “Asparagus spears and the Spring season reach their peak at about the same time.” Mosing also notes that “asparagus is easy to prepare, healthy and delicious to eat” with “spears high in vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and folate, high in fiber and a good source of iron and potassium” and…. “is a nutritious and versatile vegetable that can be easily served as an appetizer, a soup, a salad, a side dish, or with pasta.” Finally, even though asparagus is available all year round, “the best time to buy for freshness is in spring.”

To read more go to:

I have chosen two soup recipes that incorporate asparagus, one today and the other in my next Kitchen Nutrition posting. The first is a combination of recipes I saw in two magazines, using cauliflower to make it “creamy.” The second one uses pureed mushrooms to thicken the soup and is my own idea. The shades of green will be different because of the additional dark greens used in the first and the brown mushrooms in the second.

Spring Soup #1 with Roasted Asparagus, Cauliflower & Leafy Greens

Utensils: Soup pot, cutting board & knife,  large bowl or large measuring cup with lip, cookie sheet, blender or food processor (Steamer basket and pot if you choose to steam the greens.)
Prep. Time & Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes
(You will be prepping and cooking somewhat simultaneously)
Categories: Vegan (V), Gluten Free (GF), No Added Sugar (NAS)

Ingredients (Feel free to use more or less of each veggie, depending on your preferences for each vegetable.)

6-8 (organic) asparagus spears
6 oz. of riced cauliflower* (1/2 pkg.)
one cup baby kale (less bitter) or spinach or chard
coconut oil (or butter or ghee if not vegan)
2 cups soup stock (approximately)
salt & pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees F.
  2. Wash and snap off woody ends of the asparagus, cut into thirds, toss with one or two Tbl. oil and bake on an oiled cookie sheet (another Tbl.) until slightly crisp. This may take as little as 5 minutes and as much as 10 minutes, depending on thickness of spears. You can also put asparagus on grill mode for a couple of minutes, turning once but not burning the asparagus. Remove and cool.
  3. (You can do this step before the asparagus is in the oven or after, since the two veggies cook in about the same time.) Place your greens in a pot of pure water to cover the greens or in a steamer and simmer (in pot) or steam (in steamer) for about 5-7 minutes. Drain. (I use the green cooking water for plants when the water cools, because kale imparts a somewhat bitter taste to the water, so I don’t use it for the soup.)
  4. Also, while the asparagus is roasting, measure 6 oz. of riced cauliflower.*  Set aside. (If not using riced cauliflower, cook slices of fresh cauliflower, about 3 or 4 cauliflowerettes, in water or stock for about 5 minutes. See notes below.)
  5. Mix all three veggies together in a large bowl or large measuring cup and using a blender or food processor, blend the mixture in 2 or 3 batches with soup stock, starting with one cup of stock. If soup is too thick, add more stock. Pour into soup pot, heat, adding salt and pepper to taste or other herbs of your choice. (Puree to the smoothness you like. I like it a little chunky.)Yield: Approximately 2 to 2 1/2 cups. (Can also be served cold.)

    *Riced cauliflower is merely whole cauliflower ground up into small pieces and found frozen or perhaps in packages in the refrigerated section of the market. You can make your own by placing wholepieces in a blender or food processor. Since the soup is pureed, you can skip riced version and just slice cauliflower pieces thinly enough to cook quickly and be small enough to blend with the other ingredients. The water from cooking this cauliflower can also be used instead of or as part of the soup stock.
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