Kale and Sweet Potato Niçoise Salad

Ever since eating my first Niçoise salad, I’ve been hooked. The perfect green beans. The Kalamata olives (my favorite). The potatoes, which give just the right amount of sustenance to the salad. And of course, the seafood. Throw in hard-boiled eggs and a delicious dressing, and you’ve made the classic.

Well, last week, the urge for a Niçoise salad hit and it hit bad. Since I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand for the classic, I decided to mix it up a bit and do my own take. Leftover sweet potato subbed for white potatoes, kale subbed for lettuce, capers subbed for olives and sardines subbed for tuna/anchovies. Plus some fresh basil from my beloved Farmed Here and black garlic — a new obsession — to add a little more flavor. Top it off with a 3-ingredient Dijon vinaigrette and I was in Niçoise heaven (or at least my improvised version of it).

Nicoise_salad

Oh and no offense to the Niçoise peeps, but I feel my version is quite possibly tastier and most definitely packed with more nutrients than the original — from the “superfood” status of kale to the omega-3 content (it’s high, folks) of sardines to the antioxidant power of fresh herbs.

Recipe: Kale and Sweet Potato Niçoise Salad

Trader Joe’s just started carrying fermented black garlic, which is where I bought it. If you live near an Asian market, however, you will most certainly find it there. Fresh rosemary or thyme would also be delicious in place of the basil.

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Yields: 1 salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh baby kale (love the Earthbound Organic pre-washed Kale)
  • 1/2 large sweet potato
  • 1, 6 oz. can water-packed sardines
  • 1 cup cooked green beans
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
  • 1 Tbsp capers, juices drained
  • 1 clove fermented black garlic, sliced

black_garlic

  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp olive oil, preferably organic, cold-pressed
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

Poke holes in sweet potato and microwave for 3-5 minutes, until potato is soft. You can also use a leftover baked sweet potato if you have one on hand. Cut the sweet potato into large wedges.

Assemble salad: Lay kale on top of a large plate. Top kale with cut sweet potato, can sardines (drained), cooked green beans, capers, sliced black garlic and fresh basil. Grind black pepper over the salad.

Make dressing: Mix Dijon mustard, olive oil and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Pour over salad.

dijon_vinaigrette_nicoise

Warning: this salad is best enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. Your coworkers will not be very pleased if they have to smell sardines and garlic over the cube wall. Just sayin’…

Spiced Beet, Apple and Sweet Potato Patties with Avocado Tandoori Sauce

Well, St. Patty’s Day has come and gone, but the Recipe ReDuxers are still in spirit with this month’s theme:

A Play on Patties : While St. Patty’s Day will be over by the time The Recipe ReDux rolls around this month, we’re celebrating the ‘patty’ all month long. We’ve seen images of stacked patties go crazy on food photo sharing sites like HealthyAperture.com; so stack ‘em up! Think healthy tuna burgers, potato patties, or veggie stacks.”

Patties, fritters, cakes, burgers…

Call them what you wish, but the bottom line is they’re delicious. Even when they’re not fried.

They are also really easy to pull together — I like to take whatever I have in my fridge/pantry, add an egg or two to bind it all together, and bake or pan-fry to finish it off.

This recipe was no exception.

beets_apples_sweetpotatoes

So what exactly is in that bowl? Well it started with shredded beets and green apples, and gradually evolved to also include sweet potatoes, fresh minced ginger and cinnamon. That’s it!

Top it with a creamy avocado tandoori sauce (literally, just mashed avocado and tandoori) — and voila! One seriously delicious patty! This recipe is also chock-full of nutrients: potassium, vitamin C, fiber and “good” fasts from the avocado, to name a few. Plus, the spices pack a major antioxidant punch.

Clean eating at its finest!

avocado tandoori

And while the finished product isn’t the most beautiful, I promise you, it was ridiculously, insanely yummy. I will definitely be eating a patty topped with a fried egg tomorrow for breakfast. I’m giddy just thinking about how tasty it will be!

beet_cake_avocado_tandoori

Recipe: Beet, Apple and Sweet Potato Patties with Avocado Tandoori Sauce

I started with just one egg, but two will help bind it slightly better. Be sure to squeeze the liquid out when forming the patties. And if you happen to drink the extra beet-apple-ginger-cinnamon sweet nectar liquid, you will be one happy camper.

Ingredients:

For patties:

  • 2 medium beets, peeled
  • 2 large organic green apples (unpeeled)

apples_beets

  • 1 small knob fresh ginger (about the size of two thumbs)
  • 1 sweet potato, preferably organic
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon (or less if you’re not a cinnamon fiend like me)
  • 2 eggs

For avocado tandoori sauce:

  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
  • 3/4 tsp tandoori seasoning

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Poke holes in the sweet potato. Microwave for 4-6 minutes, until very soft.

Using a box grater or food processor, shred beets, apples and ginger. Add all of it to a bowl. (Note: the beets will have dyed your hands a lovely shade of pink by now)

Beet Hands!

Beet Hands!

Pull peel off of the cooked sweet potato (should be very easy — otherwise cook it a little longer) and add sweet potato flesh to the bowl with the apple, beets and ginger. Add cinnamon and eggs. Combine ingredients well.

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Using your hands, form the beet mixture into patties. Be sure to squeeze any extra liquid out of the patties before placing on the baking sheet.

Seriously -- don't these look like beef burgers?!

Seriously — don’t these look like beef burgers?!

Bake for about 45 minutes, until top and sides are crisp.

While the patties are baking, make the avocado sauce. Mash avocado in a small bowl and add tandoori spice. Stir until well combined.

Let patties cool and serve with a dollop of the avocado sauce.

Beet_burger

See what other delicious patties Recipe ReDuxers came up with by clicking on the link below!

Eggs Baked in Spaghetti Squash “Nests”

Spring is here! It’s been a loooonnngg winter here in Chicago, so today — the first day of spring — is extremely exciting. It signals warmer weather, new life and hope. Yes, that is slightly dramatic, but hot damn, multiple days of -30 degree (sometimes colder) days over the last few months? Seriously?! Ain’t nobody got time for that!

It’s spring and that calls for a spring-inspired dish!

And what’s more spring-like than birds? Here’s my play on eggs in a birds’ nest — with a nest made ‘o spaghetti squash with eggs baked in. Spice up the spaghetti squash as you wish, but I’ve taken a Southwestern spin with lemon and lime zest, paprika, cumin and a salsa topper. And of course, it’s served on a bed of organic lettuce, because you’ve got to have your greens!

Did I mention this recipe is gluten-free, vegetarian, provides protein (thanks to the eggs), fiber (from the bed of greens and squash) plus loads of other vitamins and minerals? Well, it is, which means you can feel good about this tasty breakfast.

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Recipe: Eggs Baked in Southwestern Spaghetti Squash Nests

Change up your morning routine with baked eggs, nestled in roasted spaghetti squash. Spice up the dish with your favorite seasonings. Here, I used Southwest spices but this would be delicious with Italian, Mediterranean or Indian seasonings.

Makes: 1 serving (2 eggs)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small, cooked spaghetti squash (approximately 1 cup “spaghetti”)
  • 1 tsp salt-free taco seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp cumin (if it’s not in your taco seasoning)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil, split
  • 2 eggs, preferably free range, organic

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a fork to “string” the spaghetti squash into a medium bowl. Add taco seasoning, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to coat the squash in seasoning.

Coat two custard/souffle cups with 1/2 tsp each olive oil (or use olive oil spray). Add spaghetti squash mixture, forming it around the bottom and sides of the souffle cups. Crack one egg into each cup. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until white of the egg is set.

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Use a small spatula, spoon or fork to “unmold” the nests. Serve over greens and top with salsa.

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Once you cut in, the yolk will run over the whole dish creating a creamy, unctuous breakfast dish!

Intrigued by this whole baked eggs phenomenon? Check out this recipe for Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce.

 

Easy, Healthier Chicken “Cacciatore” with Black Beluga Lentils

Why is Chicken Cacciatore so delicious? Perhaps it’s the rich, dark meat. Or the fact that it’s cooked with liquid ingredients, yielding the most moist, juicy, delicious chicken. Well, I’ve captured the “essential” elements of Chicken Cacciatore, but in this much simplified, healthified dish.

This recipe is made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, meaning they a) cook faster and b) are lower in fat and calories due to the lack of fatty skin. It’s also extremely easy to make — with only five minutes hands-on time.

Chicken_Cacciatore

I served the chicken, with all of the delicious, garlick-y, tomato-y juices, over black beluga lentils. If you’ve never had black lentils, they look like caviar and pack a major nutritional punch. For 1/2 cup cooked lentils, you get about 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. Plus, they cook in about 25 minutes. Much faster than most beans — and no pre-soaking! Just bring one part lentils and three parts water to a boil and then simmer until they are soft but not mushy (about 25 minutes total).

*Be sure to make extra black lentils and save the extra tomato sauce for my upcoming recipe for black lentil “muffins!”

Recipe: Chicken Cacciatore

No need to brown the chicken before baking it as traditional recipes call for — you still get tons of flavor here. Try adding your favorite vegetables or mushrooms to the casserole dish before baking for added nutrition.

Chicken_Cacciatore_Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (preferably organic)
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add all ingredients, except for chicken, to a casserole dishTomato_Sauce
  3. Add chicken thighs to tomato mixture and turn chicken thighs to coatChicken_Before
  4. Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the chicken reads 165 degrees

Serving suggestion: serve 4-6 ounces of chicken over 1/2 cup cooked black lentils. Save the leftover lentils and tomato sauce mixture for my next recipe — black lentil “muffins.”

Chicken_After

Vegan Tofu “Feta” + Homemade Lemon Vodka

Feta “cheese” made out of tofu? Blasphemy!

I, too, was skeptical that bland, mushy tofu could be turned into the deliciousness that is feta cheese. Luckily, I was also curious as to what it would taste like. I can’t take credit for the vegan tofu feta — it was of course something I stumbled across on Pinterest. However, I did upgrade the original recipe a bit, which I think made all the difference here. Here’s the original recipe link for reference.

tofu_feta_salad

But really, does anyone actually like tofu? I mean I’ve added the soft version to smoothies — and then gotten grossed out that I was drinking tofu (regardless of whether or not I could taste it) and promptly thrown my smoothie out.

And while I love tofu from Thai restaurants, that’s probably because it’s fried and smothered in curry sauce. Let’s face it, anything that is fried and smothered in sauce — especially curry sauce — is going to be delicious.

Okay, so back to tofu “cheese.” The trick here is to let this baby marinate for at least a day (the longer, the better). Once you’ve squeezed out the lemons and have all of those leftover lemon peels, you should definitely do as I did and make lemon-infused vodka.

Just throw lemon peels into a mason jar (or other lidded jar), add vodka — as much as you’d like, cover and let sit a few days. Let me tell you, that was the most refreshing and tasty vodka soda I’ve ever had.

homemade_lemon_vodka

Annndddd back to tofu…

Recipe: Vegan Tofu Feta

This “feta” is perfect for tossing into a Greek salad, crumbling onto a sandwich, or eating straight. Even better is that it contains no cholesterol and is high in fiber and protein, so you can eat it on everything and feel good about it. You can find white miso paste at Whole Foods or Asian markets.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound tofu (one package)
  • Juice of 3 medium-size lemons
  • 2 tablespoons olive juice (I used the juice from my jar of Kalamata olives)
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed (left whole)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

tofu

Directions:

  1. Drain water out of tofu by sandwiching block of tofu between paper towels and placing a pot or heavy object on top (see above). *Be very careful when setting up the pot on top of the tofu. I apparently didn’t balance mine very well and the pot came crashing down — very scary.
  2. Cut tofu into sticks (pictured) or cubes. Add to a large zip-top bag.tofu_feta
  3. Squeeze lemons into bag and add remaining ingredients. Zip up the top of the bag and mix everything around, being sure to “mash up” the miso paste so that it is evenly distributed throughout the marinade.
  4. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least one day, and up to four days. When you’re ready to eat, simply remove desired about of tofu “feta” from bag and crumble over your dish.

The feta is delicious over a Greek salad, or skewer it with tomatoes, basil and olives for a tasty and protein-packed Mediterranean treat!

vegan_greek_salad_with_feta

Wild Blueberry, Avocado and Sweet Corn Salsa {Recipe ReDux Sponsored Contest}

“Wild blueberries, you make my heart sing…”

When I found out that the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) was sponsoring this month’s Recipe ReDux challenge, I could not have been more thrilled. I have long been a lover and proponent of wild blueberries.

I buy organic wild blueberries on the regular at Trader Joe's.

I buy organic wild blueberries on the regular at Trader Joe’s.

Not only do wild blueberries have double the antioxidants of regular, cultivated blueberries, they also have a deeper, richer blue/purple color and contain less water, making them ideal in both sweet and savory recipes.

I’ve been reading Jo Robinson’s “Eating on the Wild Side,” which has taught me that over time, we’ve altered many of our fruits and vegetables to make them larger, change their color or make them easier to store or transport. Sadly, that often comes at the expense of nutrition. But not wild blueberries — they are the same berry that existed 10,000 years ago!

Wild_Blueberry_Avocado_Corn_Salsa

I like to throw frozen wild blueberries into everything from oatmeal to salads to smoothies and Greek yogurt. They also make for great sauces that are perfect for topping seafood, poultry and red meat (veggies and beans too!).

Oh, and the anthocyanins (antioxidant that contributes the deep purple color) found in wild blueberries, along with other nutrients, have potential benefits including brain and heart health, anti-aging and cancer and diabetes prevention, among others.

Here’s a savory take on wild blueberries: in a salsa!

Recipe: Cumin-Dusted Salmon with Wild Blueberry, Avocado and Corn Salsa

The salsa is also fantastic over chicken, beans and lentils, or over greens for a quick and flavorful salad. The jalapeno is optional, depending on how hot you like it. You can also add 1/2 of a red onion to punch it up a bit.

Makes: 4 servings

Salmon_with_Wild_Blueberry_Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound wild salmon filets (cut into four, 4 ounce pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, thawed
  • 3/4 cup organic frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 fresh avocado (preferably California avocado, if available), cubed
  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1 small fresh jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place salmon, skin side down, on baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until salmon is opaque.

Mix remaining ingredients (wild blueberries through jalapeno, if using) to make the salsa. Top salmon filets evenly with salsa.

Nutrition information: 330 calories; 15 g fat (2 g saturated fat); 80 mg cholesterol; 365 mg sodium; 18 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 31 g protein; 10% daily value for vitamin A; 39% daily value for vitamin C (excellent source!); 20% daily value for iron (excellent source!)

*By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

*I work on behalf of the California Avocado Commission. I was not compensated or asked to include California Avocados — I just really love them. 🙂

Stay tuned for two more delicious wild blueberry recipes to come this week (hint: one includes chocolate and the other, cheese).

Click the icon below for more Recipe ReDux-er Wild Blueberry Recipes.  I want to try them all!!

Purple Vegetables: So Hot Right Now

Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgivings! Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays, but it’s not so kind to our waistlines. In fact, according the Calorie Control Council, the average turkey dinner (plus appetizers) clocks in around 4,500 calories — yowza!

Well, the good news is that you can have your fall-themed foods and eat them too. With greens like kale and Swiss chard in season, along with other Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, to name a few) and potatoes galore, fall vegetables can pack a major nutrition punch and can help you get back on track. Who says the holidays have to be entirely gluttonous? Enter, purple vegetables.

purple_potato

Seriously — look at these purple sweet potatoes! Such a gorgeous color!

I’ve been reading Jo Robinson’s book, Eating on the Wild Side: the Missing Link to Optimum Health, wherein she discusses the history of our favorite fruits and vegetables along with the most nutritious varieties found in stores/farmers markets and the best nutrient-sparing ways to prepare them. Through her book, I’ve learned that many of our favorite vegetables started out purple — corn, potatoes, carrots and many others. Most purple vegetables get their color from anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol (antioxidant), that may aid in cancer prevention and improve heart health, among other benefits. Thus, the original [purple] varieties of vegetables were often more nutritious.

It’s safe to say that since reading the book, I’ve been searching for purple or other “odd”- colored vegetables — orange cauliflower, purple kale and of course, purple potatoes. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across purple sweet potatoes at Whole Foods (seriously, it was embarrassing — people were staring). But check these things out (!):

purple_sweet_potato

Purple potatoes are the most gorgeous, jewel-tone shade of purple. While the USDA does not provide nutrition information for this variety, according to Stokes Foods, purple sweet potatoes contain 4 grams fiber per 4 oz (medium-size potato), along with 2 g protein and 20 percent daily value of vitamin C (making them an excellent source of the vitamin). They are so delicious, with a creamy, dense texture, that all you really need to do with them is bake them, add a little grass-fed butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. They would also be wonderful roasted with other vegetables such as cauliflower and carrots, with fresh rosemary.

Another, more common purple vegetable to which I’ve taken a fancy is purple (technically red, but it looks purple to me) cabbage. Purple cabbage is — you guessed it — a source of anthocyanins. It also provides vitamins A, C and K, fiber and potassium, all for minimal calories (less than 25 calories for a cup of shredded red cabbage). Nutritionally, it’s a star. However, many people are turned off by it’s bitterness. So, when preparing cabbage, you may need to give it a little extra lovin.

While raw purple cabbage is delicious when shredded and used in an Asian-style slaw recipe, I prefer cooked cabbage during the colder months. I have a Portuguese friend, Joana, who makes the most delicious purple cabbage by sauteeing it in olive oil with salt, pepper and onions (until it’s soft). While I love this method and use it all the time, I wanted to try something new. Since my answer for how to make vegetables crave-worthy is generally, “roast them,” this seemed like the perfect fit for cabbage.

roasted_cabbage

I washed the purple cabbage and cut it into wedges, drizzled with olive oil and roasted it at 375 for about one hour. Then I cracked fresh pepper over the top, along with Himalayan sea salt. It was ridiculously good. Nicely charred on top and bottom, but warm and soft on the inside. The best part was the bottom leaves, which had essentially been oven-fried in the olive oil that had coated the bottom of the pan. Naturally, I ate them all immediately. Look at that crunchy goodness!

cabbage_leaf

Have you discovered any purple vegetables? Let me know your favorite varieties and preparations in the comment section.

Low Carbohydrate, Low Calorie Pasta

My favorite boss and fellow foodie got me what I believe is the greatest kitchen gadget of all time (lots of hyperboles there): the Spiral Slicer, made by Chef Joyce Chen. This magical thing device essentially can turn any cylindrical vegetable (e.g. zucchini, squash, carrots, cucumbers, etc.) into ribbons or spaghetti. The spiral slicer takes cooking time out of the equation and will save valuable time. Plus, keeping the vegetables raw helps preserve nutrients that can be lost during the cooking process.

It is incredibly easy to use, too (and so is clean up). Just cut your veggie into smaller — no more than 3″ long — pieces, place in the center of the device, put the lid on and turn the lever at the top. Here are some visuals to give you a better idea of how it works:

spiral_slicer

 

vegetable_spaghetti

I would love to show you a picture of the finished product, but since I ate it all while taste testing, AKA stuffing my face, I’ll tell you about it instead.

Mix balsamic vinegar and olive oil into the “spaghetti,” add sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese (NO GREEN TUBES — use the good kind!), fresh basil, crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add in chicken, fish or steak — or garbanzo beans for a vegetarian option — to amp up the protein and satiating factor of the dish.

I’ve also tried it with teriyaki sauce and ginger, topped with grilled salmon, but the sun-dried tomato creation was my favorite.

Regardless, vegetable-based “pasta” is low in carbohydrates and calories, high in fiber and other nutrients and a great new way to get your daily vegetables.

 

What other non-traditional “pastas” have you tried?

 

Protein Pasta, Made with Black Beans

Here’s a tip from a foodie dietitian (me!): ALWAYS check out the ethnic food aisle at your grocery store. There are so many amazing, unique products bursting with flavor and often, nutrition. I recently used this advice during a visit to Plum Market, a new grocery store in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. Though Plum Market is smaller than some grocery stores, it is brimming with up-and-coming brands and products that you never knew you couldn’t live without.

This brings me to the discovery of a true ethnic food gem: black bean pasta (made by Explore Asian Authentic Cuisine) or as I like to call it, PROTEIN PASTA. First off, check out this amazing ingredient list (clean eaters rejoice!):

Black bean pasta ingredients

But more importantly, the nutrition is unheard of. Just goes to show that nature creates foods that are far superior to processed foods. To compare, Barilla Plus Pasta (touted as having protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids) – for the same size portion – has 210 calories, 4 g fiber and 10 g protein. Plus the Barilla has 15 ingredients compared to two ingredients for the black bean pasta – with one being water, which barely counts. Oh, and check out all of those certifications — gluten-free, USDA Organic, Vegan.

Black Bean Pasta Nutrition

So what to do with this glorious protein pasta? Even though it’s made by the company Explore Asian Ethnic Cuisine, when I think black beans, I think Mexican. This pasta dish is loaded with veggies – tomatoes, corn, kale (lots of it all) and topped with salsa instead of tomato sauce. The high fiber and protein content of the pasta makes it extremely filling. IMPORTANT: if you’re not a big bean/lentil eater, you need to start with a small serving of this pasta, or suffer the GI consequences.

Veggies simmering away (just saute with olive oil):

Colorful_Veggies

Add cooked black bean pasta to your plate, drizzle with olive oil, and top with veggie mixture, salsa and avocado (Since I live in Chicago and we don’t have “local avocados,” I like to buy California Avocados since they’re at least farmed in the U.S.). Such a delicious, satisfying meal that took all of 20 minutes to make.

Black_Bean_Pasta_with_Veggies

Stay tuned for another faux veggie pasta, made with squash and the coolest kitchen gadget (the spiral slicer). Though I’ve never been a big pasta lover, I am completely loving these veggie- and bean-based versions.

Purple Asparagus: Antioxidant Powerhouse

Chicago’s Green City Market has finally started back up! And with a spring farmers market comes asparagus AKA the only vegetable available in Chicago at this time of year. Lucky for me, I love asparagus. My newest obsession, however, is purple asparagus. With a slightly sweeter taste than regular [green] asparagus, it’s perfect both cooked and raw. Note, purple asparagus sadly turns green when cooked (see pic below), so if you want to keep the color intact, slice it thin and serve it raw in salads. A source of acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, also helps to boost the purple color. Nutritionally speaking, purple asparagus contains slightly less fiber, more protein and more vitamin C than green asparagus. Check out the comparison below:

Left: purple asparagus, Right: green asparagus

Left: purple asparagus, Right: green asparagus

The purple color is not only pretty — it’s what makes purple asparagus a nutritional powerhouse. Anthocyanin, the flavanoid responsible for purple, red and blue colors in fruits and vegetables, is considered an antioxidant, able to remove free radicals (which can cause negative health effects, from inflammation to cancer). Various research has shown that anthocyanins also have antimicrobial properties and can decrease inflammation, improve blood pressure, improve eyesight and suppress the spread of cancer cells*.

The most important point to note with purple asparagus, however, is that it is delicious. It tastes less bitter than green asparagus and just looks gorgeous as part of a meal. Dietitians and other health professionals will tell you to “eat the rainbow” not only because it will provide a variety of nutrients, but also because we eat with our eyes, and a colorful plate is much more appealing that a monochromatic one.

With leftover salmon and purple asparagus on hand, I cooked up a delicious little meal. After cutting the asparagus on the bias, I sauteed it in coconut oil and minced garlic. This formed the bed underneath my salmon. I then drizzled with Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze (amazing stuff, by the way). A nice, light, low-carb lunch!

purple asparagus and balsamic salmon

 

 

*Source: J Biomed Biotechnol. 2004 December 1; 2004(5): 239–240.