Munch on Mushrooms

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Mushrooms make a great chewy replacement to meat. Exploring their varieties is a great way to add interesting flavors and texture to dishes. Store them in papers bags, not plastic, as too much moisture speeds spoilage. Try adding them to beans, seasoned with herbs and lemon juice. Even though they are a fungus, and not a real vegetable, mushrooms contain a variety of powerful phytochemicals and have been linked to decreased risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer.

Here's a spicy way to prepare mushrooms courtesy of OrganicAuthority.com:

Mushroom Salsa with Cilantro
1 large (4- to 5-inch diameter) portabella mushroom
2 ripe tomatoes
4 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small onion, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, cored, seeded and minced

Remove the stem from the mushroom, then clean and chop the cap. Dice the tomatoes and combine in a medium-sized bowl with the mushroom. Stir in the parsley, cilantro, lime and lemon juices, onion and jalapeño pepper. Let stand at room temperature for at least an hour so that the flavors will blend. Stir well. Makes about 2 cups.

Asparagus: Real Health Food

Asparagus is one of the most healthful foods on the planet. It leads nearly all fruits and vegetables in the wide array of nutrients it supplies. Ten ounces (one box of frozen spears) have only 68 calories and 9 grams of protein, yet it is like a vitamin pill, giving you a variety of minerals such as selenium, zinc, calcium, copper, and manganese. Plus, it is very rich in folate.

Asparagus has an exceptionally high nutrient-per-calorie ratio and is the perfect weight-loss food. Anti--cancer compounds that have been shown to prevent tumors and cancers in animals are plentiful in asparagus. Asparagus also contains isothiocyanates, indoles, and sulforaphane, powerful compounds that promote cellular rejuvenation with anti-cancer properties. It is rich in glutathione and rutin, healing compounds for the liver and blood vessels.

The asparagus plant is a hardy perennial vegetable native to Europe and Asia, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years. It was a valued vegetable to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In ancient Greece, the wealthy paid chariot drivers to bring frozen asparagus (stored from the bumper summer crop) from the snow-covered Alps back to Greece when fresh asparagus was not available. Early settlers brought asparagus to North America, where it has been grown since colonial times.

In the past, asparagus was only available in season. Today, modern growing, shipping, and refrigeration methods have made asparagus available year-round. The size of the asparagus does not matter. It becomes soft, cooking easily with just 10 minutes or less in the steamer, and retains most of its vital nutrients when cooked.

Asparagus has a short shelf life once it is picked, which is great because it is easy to tell if it is not fresh and losing its nutrient-rich status. If the rubber band indents the spears, it is not fresh, and if the tips start to become odorous or look wet or slimy, you know it has become bad.

If you plant an asparagus crown in your garden and allow it to develop a strong root system for three years, it will then produce plants every summer for 15 years or more without replanting.

Try these asparagus inspired recipes:

Asparagus-Potato-Leek Ragout
2 large leeks, white and pale green
1 lb. small red potatoes
2 cups water, seasoned with VegiZest or another dehydrated vegetable seasoning
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally
1/2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

Cut leeks lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Quarter potatoes and steam in a steamer until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a bowl. In skillet, water-sauté leeks in seasoned water for 3-4 minutes, stirring until tender. (Add liquid if needed.) Transfer leeks to bowl with potatoes. In skillet, heat more VegiZest water and water-sauté asparagus for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms and water-sauté mixture, and continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until mushrooms soften. Combine all ingredients. Before serving, squeeze a little lemon juice over vegetables, stir in mint, parsley, and pepper to taste, and gently toss. Serves 4.

Creamy Asparagus Soup
3 lbs. asparagus
4 tsp. VegiZest soup mix
4-1/2 cups water
2 medium onions, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 cup raw cashews
White pepper, to taste
No-Sodium Spike

Cut off the tough base of the asparagus and discard. Cut off two inches of the asparagus tips and stew on a low heat in one cup of water for about 3 minutes and save with liquid. In a 4-quart heavy saucepan, add onions, remaining asparagus stalks, garlic, onion, seasonings, water, and the liquid from the asparagus tips. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until asparagus pieces are tender. Purée soup in blender. In final batch, puree cashews as well. Return to 4-quart saucepan, thin with water if desired. Add asparagus tips and serve. Serves 7.

Soups On!

The winter chill can be bitter, here are some soothing soups to help sweeten your day:

Creamy Peanut Butter Soup
1 bunch kale (de-stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces)
1 medium butternut squash (can use frozen)
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup lentils
1 medium beet, shredded
6 cups carrot juice
1 small zucchini (cut into chunks)
1/2 cup raw cashews
12 whole pitted dates
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups soymilk
1 tsp. natural peanut butter
4 oz. Spinach

Simmer first seven ingredients, adding water if needed, for 45 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Adjust sweetness by adding more dates if needed. Add enough soymilk to thin to appropriate consistency.

Black Forest Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 cups mushrooms, 1/4 slices
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 qt. water
4 Tbsp. Dr. Fuhrman's VegiZest, or other no- or low-sodium soup base
2 whole carrots, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. dried herbs, herb de Provence
3 whole leeks, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup raw cashews
10 oz. spinach leaves
5 oz. bag of organic baby spinach
1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs, parsley, rosemary, & thyme

Water sauté garlic, mushrooms, and herbs until tender and fragrant. Set aside. Place carrots and leeks in water and soup base. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Puree vegetable soup in blender with cashews, lemon juice, and herbs. In soup pot, combine pureed vegetable soup, mushrooms, and spinach. Spinach will wilt in hot soup. Serve garnished with fresh chopped herbs.

Greek Lentil Soup
2 cups dried lentils
28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
2 Tbsp. fig vinegar
2 cups currants
2 stalks leeks, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/8 tsp. cumin
3 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. ground coriander
8 cups water

Combine all ingredients in large soup pot and cook on a low flame about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft.

Creamy Asparagus Soup
3 lbs. asparagus
4 tsp. VegiZest soup mix
4-1/2 cups water
2 medium onions, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 cup raw cashews
White pepper, to taste
No-Sodium Spike

Cut off the tough base of the asparagus and discard. Cut off two inches of the asparagus tips and stew on a low heat in one cup of water for about 3 minutes and save with liquid. In a 4-quart heavy saucepan, add onions, remaining asparagus stalks, garlic, onion, seasonings, water, and the liquid from the asparagus tips. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until asparagus pieces are tender. Purée soup in blender. In final batch, puree cashews as well. Return to 4-quart saucepan, thin with water if desired. Add asparagus tips and serve.

Don't sabotage your weight-loss goal with oily dressings and sauces.

Vegetables and salads are very low in calories. However, if you cover these healthy, low calorie foods with tablespoons of a high-fat, high-calorie, oil-based dressing, you turn vegetables and salad into weight-promoting foods. (Remember Dr. Fuhrman's equation health = nutrition / calories.)

Here's what Dr. Fuhrman says about this in the upcoming revised version of Cholesterol Protection for Life:

I know you were told that olive oil is health food. It is not. Keep in mind, oil is processed food, it is not a natural whole food. Oils, even if they are monounsaturated, should not be health food because they are low in nutrients and contain 120 calories per tablespoon, promoting weight gain.

Sure, olive oil and almond oil are improvements over animal fats and margarine, but they still are a contributor to our overweight modern world. Overweight Americans consume and average of three tablespoons of oil in their daily diet, adding and extra 360 calories to their food each day. You need to reach a thinner, ideal weight to achieve maximum protection against heart disease and to reverse heart disease. Use oil, even olive oil sparingly or not at all; certainly, do not have more than one teaspoon per day.

As an alternative to oil, you can make great tasting salad dressings from raw nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pistachios and avocados.

Here are a few recipes to experiment with:

Hot Russian Dressing
1 small (4-ounce) can tomato paste
4 tbsp. raw almond butter
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup soy milk
3 tbsp. ketchup
Blend all ingredients together. Works well as a sauce for steamed leafy greans; as a condiment spread for lettuce, tomato, and avocado pita pocket sandwiches; and as a salad dressing (serves 4-6).

Orange Cashew Dressing
2 peeled navel oranges
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp. of blood orange vinegar or pear vinegar
Blend ingredients until silkly smooth. Use liberally on salad or as vegetable dip (serves 4-6).

Pistachio Mustard Salad Dressing
1/3 cup raw shelled pistachio nuts
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. Vegi-Zest or low salt vegetable seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
Blend all ingredients until smooth in a high powered blender (serves 4-6).

Salads from Around the World

Need a bite to eat? Try these globally inspired salads from Dr. Fuhrmans book Cholesterol Protection For Life:

Indian Mango Salad

1 red pepper chopped
1 red onion chopped
½ tbsp. VegiZest or other low-salt vegetable seasoning
2 mangos peeled and sliced
2 firm tomatoes, chopped
1 pinch chili powder
2 stalks celery, chopped

Mix all ingredients in a covered bowl and refrigerate.

Greek Chick Pea Salad

16 ounce can of unsalted garbanzo beans
1 boiled potato, peeled and chopped in chunks
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
½ onion chopped
1 green apple peeled, cored and chopped
3 tbsp. Spicy Pecan vinegar
1/2 tsp. chopped cilantro
12 half pecans, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped

Mix all ingredients together.

Salad with Spicy Russian Dressing

2 heads romaine lettuce, sliced
2 cucumber, sliced
3 tomatoes, sliced
½ red onion, slivered thin
1 red pepper, sliced
¼ cup soy milk
1 4 oz can tomato paste
1 tbsp. fig vinegar
¼ tsp. chili powder
12 blanched almonds
½ avocado

Make salad dressing by blending avocado, almonds, vinegar, soy milk and chili powder. Place all ingredients in a large bowl, add the dressing, cover the bowl with a tight lid and shake to mix thoroughly.

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Tailgating Without the Pork Rinds

As if the holidays weren't enough of an assault on your healthy diet, now football fans are gathering to watch bowl games and the NFL playoffs. If you're going to be snacking in front of the tube, use these nutrient-rich tailgate party recipes and you can snack away without being unhealthy. (These recipes are from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live.)

Grandma Tillie's Eggplant Dip
1 eggplant
1 tomato, diced
1 green or red pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
dash of Mrs. Dash seasoning

Bake the eggplant in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or microwave it for 8-11 minutes. In a covered, shallow pan or pot, steam-fry the tomato, pepper, and onion until soft. Scoop out or peel the eggplant and blend it with the steamed vegetables and seasoning.

Raisin Coleslaw
½ cup raisins
½ cup apple juice
½ baked potato, skin removed
1 tsp. mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups carrots, shredded
1 cup beets, shredded (optional)
2 cups apples, peeled and shredded
¼ cup scallions, finely chopped

Blend or Vita-Mix the raisins, apple juice, potato, mustard, and lemon juice, then mix all the ingredients together.

Bean Burgers
½ cup sunflower seeds
2 cups red or pink canned beans (unsalted)
½ cup minced onion
½ tsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. wheat germ or oatmeal

Chop the sunflower seeds in a food processor or hand chopper and mash the beans with a potato masher or food processor and mix. Mix in the remaining ingredients and form patties. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can pick up each patty and compress it firmly in your hands to reform the burger. Then cook for another 15 minutes on each side.

Hungry for more? Check out this recipe for a Quick Soy Cheese Pita Pizza from a previous post.

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