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Rhubarb is an early indicator of the spring season.  This veggies resembles celery, but has a tart flavor and is usually mistaken for a fruit because it’s traditionally used in sweet recipes with or in place of fruit.  Rhubarb is fat free. cholesterol free, low in calories, and sodium free.  If you’ve never tried rhubarb, now is the time to do so since it’s in season and at its peak of flavor.  Most folks only know of the typical rhubarb/strawberry pie, so I’ve pulled together a few recipes that use this veggie in different ways.


Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters


This Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie is a terrific breakfast option or afternoon snack.  You’ll combine 1/2 cup stewed rhubarb (to make this simply combine 4 cups chopped rhubarb, 1/3 cup water, and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until tender.), 1/2 ripe banana, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 teaspoon chia seeds, and 4 ice cubes in a blender until smooth.


Courtesy of Flavour and Savour


Rhubarb Chia Jam is delicious on toast or an English muffin.  You’ll need 1 pound of rhubarb, leafy stems removed, chopped into 1/4 in slices.  Combine the rhubarb in a pan with 3 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar (your choice).  Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the rhubarb is mostly submerged in liquid. Reduce heat to medium low and add 2 tablespoons chia seeds.  Continue cooking while stirring frequently 30 minutes,  lower heat as necessary to prevent scorching.  Remove pan from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  Let mixture cool and then cover and refrigerate.  The jam will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.


rhubarb chia jam
Courtesy of Cookie and Kate


Honey Roasted Rhubarb Power Greens salad is bursting with flavor and nutrition.  Start by tossing sliced rhubarb with honey and balsamic vinegar and then laying flat on a baking sheet.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.  In the meantime, toss leafy greens (like kale, swiss chard, or spinach), 1 chopped shallot, and 1/2 cup shredded carrot together.  Divide into two bowls and place half the roasted rhubarb on top of each bowl.  Sprinkle on top of each: goat cheese crumbles, roasted sunflower seeds, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.


Courtesy of Cotter Crunch


Check back next week for some burrito recipes, just in time for Cinco de Mayo.


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Today is National Mushroom Day and that’s reason to celebrate!  As nutritious as they are delicious, mushrooms are fat free, very low in sodium, cholesterol free, low in calories, high in Riboflavin, a good source of niacin, copper, and pantothenate.  While we usually think of mushrooms as a side dish or adding them to salads, they can also be featured as a main entrée.  This week, I’ve collected some main dish recipes that highlight mushrooms as the star.


Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Pasta is an easy dish to prepare on a busy weeknight.  Prepare 3/4 pound of whole wheat farfalle pasta according to package directions.  In the meantime, add 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and add 10 ounces of sliced white mushrooms, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 cup chopped shallots, and salt/pepper to taste.  Saute about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.  Add 3 cups of baby spinach and cook until the spinach wilts.  Add 1/4 cup wine and cook about 2 minutes until liquid evaporates.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup half and half, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley.  Serve with additional chopped parsley on top.


Courtesy of Spoonful of Flavor


Portobello Pot Roast is a delicious vegan alternative to the traditional recipe.  The meaty Portobello mushrooms, along with the potatoes and carrots will still give you that hearty, comfort food feeling you’re used to.  You’ll start this dish on the stovetop by sautéing the mushrooms in some wine.  Next, you’ll caramelize onions in wine and garlic, then remove the onions from the pan.  You’ll create a gravy by combining flour, sage, and basil together in a small bowl.  Slowly add to the pan you sautéed the onions in and add in vegetable broth, while stirring, until it makes a gravy.  Add potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to the gravy.  Finally, add the mushrooms and onions into the mixture and ladle into a ceramic or glass dish.  Cover and bake for one hour.  Serve hot.


Courtesy of A Virtual Vegan


Portobello Mushroom Pizza has all the great pizza flavor and is low carb!  The mushroom cap serves as the base of the pizza.  Heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Place a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet and place mushrooms top side down on the sheet.  Drizzle the caps with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle a handful of mozzarella on each cap and add a few slices of tomato, along with a bit of fresh basil.  Finish up with another sprinkling of fresh mozzarella.  Bake for 25 minutes until the mushrooms have softened and cheese has melted.


Courtesy of Life As A Strawberry


I’ll be back next week with a look at Rhubarb and how to use it in recipes.


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The spring season brings many special events–proms, weddings, and graduations just to name a few.  Of course the key to a successful party is having appetizing food options for your guests.  I also think it’s nice to choose recipes that go with the season, so something a bit lighter for the spring and summer months.  I’ve gathered a few ideas I think are perfect for any spring event you might be having the next few months.


Melon, Proscuitto, and Mozzarella Skewers are a combination of sweet and salty with some tanginess from the balsamic vinegar.  You’ll simply thread thinly sliced prosciutto, a melon ball (cantaloupe works perfectly), and a fresh mozzarella ball onto a skewer.  Place the skewers on a platter and sprinkle with fresh parsley.  Drizzle with just a little balsamic vinegar and serve.


Courtesy of The Comfort of Cooking


Tomato Tulips Filled with Cheese are a beautiful party appetizer.  You’ll start by combining cream cheese with finely grated cucumber, chopped, fresh basil, salt, and pepper.  Cut the ends of 13 Roma tomatoes into a cross.  Poke a hole into the other end of the tomato and place the stem of a green onion into the hole.  Fill the tomatoes with the cream cheese mixture and tie the stems together with another green onion stem.


1 tomato tulep cream cheese filled
Courtesy of Ciao Newport Beach


Offer your guest something special instead of the usual soda or tea.  Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade is sure to please all ages with it’s light fruity flavor.  Begin by combining sugar and water in a pan.  Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Cool completely.  Juice six lemons.  Using a blender, blend a 16 ounce container of fresh strawberries with 1/2 cup of the simple syrup until smooth.  Pour lemon juice, strawberry puree, and one quart sparkling water into a pitcher.  Add more simple syrup if you want it sweeter.  Add ice and chill.


Courtesy of Life’s Ambrosia


Check back next week when  I’ll be featuring some delicious main dish mushroom recipes.


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Sweet peas, also known as green peas or English peas, are one of the first fresh veggies available in the spring season.  They are grown within pods, and should you buy peas in their pods, don’t shell them until immediately before using.  Sweet peas are a boost to your nutrition–they are fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, an excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of vitamin A, folate, and dietary fiber.  And, peas are so versatile!  I personally love to add them to my salads, but Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has their Top 10 Ways To Enjoy Peas, which includes adding them to rice pilaf, as well as mashing them to add in recipes as a fat substitute (an excellent idea if you’re watching your weight!).  I’ve also collected a few recipes that put a different spin on what you’re used to when serving sweet peas.


Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters


Italian Peas are a simple side dish recipe that packs a lot of flavor.  You’ll saute some olive oil in a skillet and add chopped onion and minced garlic.  Cook until onions are soft.  Add one tablespoon chicken stock and a bag of frozen sweet peas to the skillet.  Cover and let simmer until heated through.  Season with salt and pepper and serve–it’s that easy!


Six Sisters Stuff


Southern Pea Salad is perfect for a weeknight side dish or to take to a Potluck Supper.  In a large bowl you’ll combine the following ingredients: chopped yellow bell pepper, shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, Greek style yogurt, dried basil, diced red onion, diced pimento, apple cider vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Stir in fresh or frozen peas and make sure they are well coated in the dressing.  Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours and serve at room temperature.


Courtesy of The Seasoned Mom


These vegan Green Pea Fritters are great as a healthy snack.  They are high in protein and fiber as well.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and boil 2 cups of frozen peas until done.  Drain well and set aside.  In a skillet heat some olive oil and add diced onion and minced garlic–cook until softened.  Add peas, onion, and garlic to a food processor and pulse until it becomes a thick paste.  Stir in chickpea flour, bicarbonate soda, salt, and dried Italian herbs.  Shape the mixture into patties and place on a baking sheet.  Brush them with olive oil.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.  Serve immediately.


pea fritters
Courtesy of Wallflower Kitchen


Next week I’m back with some spring party ideas.


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Chowder is a soup that is traditionally prepared with milk or cream and thickened with a roux.  Probably the most popular chowders are clam or seafood, but there are also many other variations that contain only veggies.  In addition, substitutions can be made to the ingredients in order to make the recipes vegan if you prefer.  This week, I’ve collected a few hearty vegetable chowders you should add to your recipe index.


Corn and Potato Chowder is both vegan and gluten free.  Ingredients include diced onion, diced red potatoes, minced garlic, corn (fresh or frozen), vegetable broth, unsweetened almond milk, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste.  For a creamier texture you can use an immersion blender to blend some of the potatoes once cooked.  Top with chopped chives before serving.


Courtesy of The Garden Grazer


Vegetable Chowder is thick and cheesy, plus it’s packed with tons of veggies, so you’re still getting lots of nutrition. The thickening agent is a roux (melting butter, adding flour, and then whisking in milk).  For this recipe you’ll need vegetable broth, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, diced potatoes, diced carrots, diced celery, chopped onion, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, dried thyme, paprika, chili powder, butter, flour, grated cheddar cheese, milk, cream, salt and pepper to taste.


Courtesy of 12 Tomatoes


Vegan Sweet Potato Chowder gets its creaminess by partially pureeing the cooked sweet potatoes.  You’ll need olive oil, diced onion, diced celery, minced garlic, diced sweet potatoes, ground coriander, paprika, dried sage, salt, pepper, and vegetable broth.  This soup is delicious the day you make it, but even better after it sits a day so the flavors blend.


sweet potato chowder
Courtesy of The Kitchn


Check back next Monday when I’ll be featuring some ways to take advantage of those delicious spring sweet peas.


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Tomorrow is the official start of spring and that means a whole new selection of fruit and veggies come into season (think asparagus, strawberries, and peas).  A new season also means lighter fare as temperatures warm.  I’ve collected a few simple spring side dish recipes for you to try over the next few months.


Lemon Orzo with Parmesan and Peas makes for a delicious side dish or even enjoy it as a meatless main dish if you like.  You’ll begin by adding olive oil and pasta to a skillet.  Stir pasta for about a minute until toasted and then add minced garlic.  Next, add in 3 and 1/2 cups of chicken broth and 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves.  Bring the broth to a boil, turn down, and cover with a lid.  Let simmer for 8-10 minutes until the pasta has absorbed the broth.  Remove the lid and add the juice of half a lemon, lemon zest, and 1 and 1/2 cups of peas. Cook until peas are tender.  Add 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese and salt/pepper to taste.
Courtesy of Oh Sweet Basil


Broccoli Pineapple Salad has a combination of sweet and savory flavors, along with a variety of colors and textures that make this side dish one you’ll want to bring along to picnics or special gatherings this spring.  The salad consists of broccoli florets, grated cheddar cheese, chopped red onion, seedless red grapes (halved), diced fresh pineapple, chopped pecans, and chopped bacon.  The dressing is made by combining 1 cup of mayonnaise or Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon sugar.  Spoon the dressing over the salad ingredients until coated and toss gently.


broccoli pineapple salad-3
Courtesy of Plain Chicken


Cheesy Garlic Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus is a great one pan side dish that is perfect for a special occasion or any weeknight meal.  You’ll need 2 pounds of fingerling potatoes (cut the larger ones in half), drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and put in a large plastic baggie to shake (this will ensure they are evenly coated with the oil and spices).  Place potatoes on a large baking sheet and put in oven that has been preheated to 425 degrees.  Cook 15 minutes, stir, and cook another 10 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Add 1 pound thick asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces to the same plastic bag and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (shake to coat evenly). When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the oven, add the asparagus to the pan, and sprinkle on minced garlic.  Cook everything for 8-12 minutes until asparagus is tender.  Sprinkle veggies with Parmesan cheese and let cook 1-2 more minutes.


Courtesy of Five Heart Home


Check back next week, when I’ll be featuring some delicious and healthy chowder recipes.


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