What’s in Season: Asparagus

It’s that tall skinny vegetable that’s known for making your pee smell a little funny. It’s one of my favorite vegetables, but I have to admit, before writing this I really didn’t know much about it.

So I hopped over to World’s Healthiest Foods to find out more. The most interesting thing I learned, was that in addition to having several beneficial vitamins and minerals, asparagus contains a substance called inulin.

Inulin is a carbohydrate that is able to survive your digestive track and make it all the way to your intestines. Once there, it helps to support the good bacteria in your gut. When there’s a healthy ratio between the good and the bad bacteria, you have a happy gut, but when the bad guys take over, that’s when you can start to experience all types of health issues. The bad guys live off all the junk we eat. And the good bacteria, well one thing that promotes their well being is inulin.

After suffering from UC for so long, anything the promotes a healthy gut is a winner in my book. Especially, something I love as much as asparagus.

Since I made the commitment to eating healthier, one of the things I’ve been trying to do is incorporate more veggies into my diet. I’ve found that a great way to do that is by starting my day with them, so asparagus for breakfast it is.

Asparagus Leek Frittata type

I found this recipe for an Asparagus and Leek Frittata at Epicurious. This is a perfect spring dish since both Asparagus and leeks are in season in the spring. This recipe is also vegetarian but my meat lovers can always add sausage to the frittata or serve with a side of bacon. Either way, you’ll feel good that you started your day with veggies and something that’s good for your gut. Frittatas are also an easy egg dish for those of us who aren’t skilled in the omelet flip.

First, wash and cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces, removing the tough bottom parts.  

Next, wash your leeks then cut all the beautiful green parts off, so all you’re left with is the light green and white section. If you’ve never cooked with leeks before, make sure you pull off at least one of the outer layers. Leeks are grown partially under dirt, so it’s very common to find dirt trapped between the outer layers and no one wants dirt in their frittata.

I adjusted the recipe slightly. I added garlic because I love garlic but decided to skip the mushrooms since I’ve never been a fan of them. I also threw in some sundried tomatoes because of the mild sweetness they add.

Let the butter heat up, then add the asparagus, leeks, garlic and tomatoes, and season to taste with a little salt and pepper.

As a side note: I sampled the sautéed mixture before I added the eggs and cheese and I liked it so much I ended up cooking it (minus the tomatoes) for dinner as a side dish later that week. It went perfectly with Chicken Parmesan.

Once the veggies have cooked for a few minutes, add the egg and cheese mixture to them. Before your eggs completely set, sprinkle some more Parmesean and Fontina cheese on top and stick the pan in your pre-heated oven.

Your fritatta only needs a few minutes in the oven. You’ll know it’s done when the cheese on top has melted and starts to turn golden and when the eggs puff slightly.

When it’s done, it’ll be time to enjoy a dish featuring what’s in season, asparagus.


Great Crepe Expectations

I spent the last day of 2015 with good friends, under the moonlight and bright lights of Las Vegas Blvd, watching the fireworks. After a night like that, how can I make the first day of 2016 as special as the last?



In my dreams, I’d grab my passport, hop in my private jet and dash off to Paris to grab some drinks and breakfast someplace in view of the Eiffel Tower. In lieu of that option, I headed down Eastern Avenue to Crepe Expectations. Champagne check. Nutella check. View of the Eiffel Tower, nope, but this place has so much character you’ll forget you’re on Eastern Avenue. Walk past the outdoor seating and step into a charming room, accented with a dark wood bar that faces the crepe making station, stone detail around the counter, and purple walls.

Being the first meal of my day, I opted for a breakfast crepe, The Monterey, to be exact. Bacon, scrambled eggs, tomato, red onion, mild Serrano peppers, Jack cheese, and since I wanted to start the new year out on a healthy note, I added spinach. While the menu describes the Serrano peppers as mild, they definitely have a noticeable kick which works well with the slight sweetness of the crepe itself.

Usually, when I go to Crepe Expectations, I’ll choose a pot of warm jasmine tea or a glass of fresh squeezed OJ with my crepe, but today I went with the Mimosa Trio Sampler. My choices: pomegranate, blood orange and strawberry.


After my breakfast crepe and trio of mimosas, my stomach wasn’t quite bursting at the seems yet, so I tried to convince my eating companion to go half on another crepe, something on the sweeter side, maybe the Avalon or a Simple Delight. We decided not to give in to gluttony and just savor the experience of breakfast. When I finally returned home and the “itis” settled in, I was glad we had taken the less gluttonous route.


The Monterey Crepe with a side salad and Mimosa Sampler

The owners got it right in describing Crepe Expectation as “Yum in Action,” their trademark. With 3 categories of crepes to choose from: sweet, savory, and breakfast (served all day), plus an ample selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, there are several reasons to love Crepe Expectations, and to keep coming back.

Crepe Expectations
9500 S. Eastern Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89123

Trader Joe’s: My Response to America’s Fast Food Syndrome

The other day, I was reading, The American Fast Food Syndrome, on Civil Eats. The article touches on how over the past 60 years, Americans have become so attached to processed fast food that many feel drive thru meals with burgers, fries and sodas represent what “real” Americans eat.

I wasn’t on this planet 60 years ago, so I decided to ask my Mom what food was like back then. My mom told me about how milk was delivered to the front door, directly from the dairy. Grandma bought seafood at the fish market and meat from the butcher. These were separate places; stand alone stores, not sections in the Walmart Supercenter. In the summer, my grandparents would drive out to the country and get fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets. My grandma would take the ripe peaches and strawberries from the market and make preserves. And when my grandparents didn’t feel like driving, they would just go out to their little garden in the backyard. My grandparents also enjoyed hunting and fishing, bringing home their catch for dinner.

Grandma & Grandpa and their catch

This is the way it was 60 years ago and my grandparents weren’t country folk either, my grandmother was from Washington, DC and my grandfather was from Wilmington, DE. So with my Mom being brought up in this environment, how did fast food become a part of my diet?

When I was a child, my parents were vegetarians. My mom cooked all our meals, but as I got older things changed. My parents divorced, we moved in with grandma to help take care of her, Mom worked late, I had extra curricular activities, and the next thing you know, we were in the drive thru.

While I agree with Kristin Wartman’s assertion that “most Americans lack the knowledge that industrial food is a recent development,” I also think the way family structures have changed over the last 60 years, has greatly contributed to our Fast Food Culture. Sixty years ago, few women worked outside of the home. Dad’s usually bought home the bacon and Mom’s cooked it up. Fast-forward to 2011 and it now takes both parents working to afford bacon. If there is only one parent at home, it might mean they work 2 jobs to cover the family expenses. Between work and all the other responsibilities that fill our day, the drive thru becomes really easy.

When I went back to school, my schedule and finances changed drastically. The drive thru by campus became very convenient when I needed a quick, affordable meal between class and work. The problem is, I soon realized instead of indulging in the occasional Double Double I was becoming a victim of the Fast Food Syndrome. I love to cook and think I’m pretty good at it, but I found that after a long day at work and school I was just too tired. I found my fix at Trader Joe’s, as it became my go to destination for convenient, affordable, stress free meals with natural and/or organic ingredients.

Here is a rundown of a few of my favorites meals ala Trader Joe’s. Many contain natural and/or organic ingredients, are priced competitively, and make putting meals on the table easy.

Trader Joe's Greek Style Honey Yogurt

Breakfast For a quick, healthy breakfast on-the-go, try Trader Joe’s Greek Style Honey Yogurt. I prefer Greek yogurt because it has a thicker consistency than regular yogurt. It’s rBST free and contains probiotics, which can help improve digestion and strengthen the immune system. Add some fresh fruit and granola and you have a quick, healthy, well-rounded delicious breakfast with little to no fuss.

Trader Joe's selection of sliced meats and cheese

Lunch For lunch, the grab and go salads at Traders Joe’s are a great quick lunch option or you can make a sandwich with their selection of pre-packaged deli meats. Most of the deli-meats at Trader Joe’s come from animals that are vegetarian fed. Trader Joe’s deli meats also tend to be priced cheaper than deli meats at the grocery store. As a snack, try Trader Joe’s Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil. The flavor takes me back to when popcorn was popped on the stove, not in a microwave. It’s also low in fat and high in fiber.

I'm addicted to this stuff!

Assortment of Trader Joe's pre-packaged meats

Dinner It would be great if we all came home and prepared a home cooked meal made with all organic, locally sourced ingredients, but in lieu of that, Trader Joe’s has some really great quick meal options that can keep you out of the drive thru. I really like Trader Joe’s pre-packaged meats. They are pre-portioned and seasoned so all you need to do is open the package and throw them on the grill or in the oven. The Pollo Asado (roasted chicken) is lower in fat, sodium and cholesterol than some of the other Trader Joe’s pre-packed meats and it’s sliced thin so it cooks up in minutes. Another benefit to Trader Joe’s pre-packaged meats are that they’re refrigerated, not frozen, so you can cook them up right away. Steam some veggies and add a side of rice and you have a quick, drive thru free, no fuss dinner.

Hopefully, these suggestions will make putting meals on your table a little easier so you can spend a little more time at home with your family and a little less time in the drive thru.