Spring Soups with Asparagus: Recipe #1

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

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:
http://www.lifescript.com/health/centers/smoking_
cessation/alternative_treatments/folate_articles/nutritional_
sign_of_spring_asparagus.aspx#sthash.NoL8MBRl.dpuf

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

Directions

  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.

St. Patrick’s Day: Greens & Beans-Nutritional Information (with recipe tomorrow)

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

ALERT: Just noticed that my Twitter handle, which I changed to Menupause, did not work when I clicked on Twitter, so type in Menupause on Twitter, please. Will contact my web guru for help.

Picture of Recipe for Kale with Garbanzo Beans to post tomorrow.

St. Patrick’s Day is a reminder for me to eat more dark, leafy greens. I eat them, but not enough of them,  especially because their nutritional profile is so good. Here is an informative report by Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD. on greens from the site www.vegetarian-nutrition.info, shortened but still the original words, although I have highlighted some in green. (Go to the site and type in leafy greens in the Search Box. Photos from the Internet cache of free photos.)

…..Why is lettuce the only green vegetable that most Americans ever use, when green vegetables are recognized by nutritionists as one of the most inexpensive sources of so many important nutrients?…….Leafy vegetables are ideal for weight management as they are typically low in calories. They are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease since they are low in fat, high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene…..

Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also valuable for persons with type 2 diabetes. An increase of 1 serving/day of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of diabetes. The high level of vitamin K in greens makes them important for the production of osteocalcin, a protein essential for bone health. The risk of hip fracture in middle-aged women was decreased 45% for one or more servings/day of green, leafy vegetables compared to fewer servings.

Green vegetables are also a major source of iron and calcium for any diet. (Swiss chard and spinach are not considered good sources of calcium, due to their high content of oxalic acid. Parentheses mine, es) Green leafy vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, which can also be converted into vitamin A, and also improve immune function…. Lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids found in dark-green leafy vegetables, are concentrated in the eye lens and macular region of the retina, and play a protective role in the eye. They protect against both cataract and age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of blindness in the elderly….

Green veggies contain a variety of carotenoids, flavonoids and other powerful antioxidants that have cancer-protective properties. In a Swedish study, it was reported that eating 3 or more servings a week of green leafy vegetables significantly reduced the risk of stomach cancer, the fourth most frequent cancer in the world. Cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli are rich in indoles and isothiocyanates, which protect us against colon and other cancers. Broccoli sprouts have been reported to contain 10 or more times as much sulforaphane, a cancer-protective substance, than does mature broccoli. A higher consumption of green leafy vegetables has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer and skin cancer…..

 

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in leafy green vegetables. Quercetin has an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and displays unique anticancer properties…..Green, leafy vegetables provide a great variety of colors from the bluish-green of kale to the bright kelly green of spinach. Leafy greens run the whole gamut of flavors, from sweet to bitter, from peppery to earthy. Young plants generally have small, tender leaves and a mild flavor. Many mature plants have tougher leaves and stronger flavors. Collards, Swiss chard, bok choy, and spinach provide a mild flavor while arugula, mizuna and mustard greens provide a peppery flavor. Bok choy is best known for use in stir-fries, since it remains crisp, even when cooked to a tender stage. One should always choose crisp leaves with a fresh vibrant green color. Yellowing is a sign of age and indicates that the greens may have an off flavor. Salad greens provide a whole range of important nutrients and phyto-chemicals to keep us healthy.

 

Since I am coupling my leafy green vegetable (kale, in this case) with chickpeas, I also want to include a brief nutritional profile on beans from www.webmd. Because the focus for St. Pat’s Day is on greens, this bean report is brief:

“Dried beans or legumes are an inexpensive and healthy way to include into your 5-A-Day diet. A serving (1/3 cup of cooked beans) contains around 80 calories, no cholesterol, lots of complex carbohydrates, and little fat. In addition, beans are a good source of B vitamins, potassium, and fiber, which promotes digestive health and relieves constipation. Eating beans may help prevent colon cancer, and reduce blood cholesterol (a leading cause of heart disease).

How do beans fit into your 5-A-Day? Beans are often thought of as a side dish; however, they make excellent meat-free entrees. You don’t have to be vegetarian to reap the benefits of legumes — start slowly, eating beans instead of meat twice a week.”

Here is a list of (dry) beans from a chart from the American Red Bean Board on this site. The chart provides a nutritional profile for each of the beans:  baby & large lima, black, black eye, cranberry, garbanzo (chickpeas), great northern, navy, pink, pinto, red kidney, and small red beans (ex. aduki beans es). 

Since I am using garbanzo beans for the recipe, here is a nutritional profile from that chart: one cup equals 270 calories, 46 grams of carbs, 14 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, 28% of calories from fat, and significant amounts of folate (folic acid) and calcium with only 10 mg of sodium.

Note: Many people find beans cause gas, so my answer is to buy them dried and sprout them. The sprouting seems to help with digestion.

Culinary Tidbit: When I was at my younger daughter’s last month, she introduced me to fresh garbanzo beans, which grow singly in a pod (right>>>) and are green (See below right). The tan ones on the left are dried and soaked. Not sure why they lose their green color.  Anybody have the answer? For a greatarticle on fresh garbanzos, go to http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/introducing-fresh-garbanzo-beans-the-new-edamame/.

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