Spring Break and A Spring Salad
Dane and I just arrived back home from a week full of adventure, friends, indulgence, and relaxation. A wonderful week-long road trip from Seattle to Half Moon Bay, California has come and gone. With stops at the Redwood National Forest, the Orr Hotsprings, and many days spent in California, the road trip was a success. During the day Dane got to surf, I got to run along the beautiful coast, and together we got to ride bikes, hike, and soak in hotsprings. At night we got to share delicious meals with our friends, toasting to life and good times, as we played board games and stayed up late catching up on good news.
Ahh, how good it feels to be on vacation!
Now back home, Spring has sprung in my garden. The pear trees are blooming and the chickens are laying…a lot. The sun feels warm on my face, yet the cool spring breeze brings goose bumps to my arms. The spring in Washington is just so beautiful! If only every spring day were as sunny and dry as it is today.
With so many fresh eggs on hand, and a bundle of bright green asparagus from the farmer’s market, I decided to make an asparagus salad for lunch. After a week long of indulgence, I thought it would be great for Dane and I to focus on vegetables that support liver health and overall gentle detox.
For those of you that don’t know, asparagus is an anti-inflammatory superstar. Asparagus saponins, which are phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory properties, are found in asparagus (1). Also, powerful anti-oxidants selenium, vitamins C and E, as well as glutathione can be found in substantial amounts (1). Glutathione is an anti-oxidant superstar, or “mother of all antioxidants” as called by Mark Hyman, MD, with the ability to extinguish dangerous free radicals in our body (2). Free radicals can impact the immune system, oxidize (or harm) cell membranes, and cause cancer. Luckily, we can produce glutathione ourselves with amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. However, if our bodies are compromised due to a poor diet, pollution, stress, or disease, we quickly deplete the glutathione levels within our body. Eating a diet that supports glutathione levels can help promote health and longevity in the long run.
Asparagus is also a rich source of inulin, an indigestible carbohydrate, which helps support healthy gut bacteria (1). This prebiotic, works its way undigested through the small intestine until it reaches the large intestine or colon, where friendly bacteria hungrily await. Therefore, inulin helps support the health of our own unique microbiome, which in return help support our gut health. Not only do we have to nourish ourselves, but also our vast amount of good bacteria!
Finally asparagus, like many other plants and animals, is naturally high in purines which are broken down into uric acid. Therefore, it is important to note that individuals with gout or kidney stones are advised to avoid consuming high purine foods. Otherwise, healthy individuals can easily clear uric acid, and do not need to be concerned with high asparagus consumption.
Spring Asparagus Salad
Makes 2-4 servings (either an entree salad, or a side)
For the Olive Oil Vinaigrette:
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced
For the Salad:
1 bunch asparagus
2 pasture-raised fresh eggs
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2 lettuce leaves (garnish)
For the Vinaigrette: Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, and sea salt until the salt is dissolved. Add the thinly sliced red onion and mix well. Allow the onions to marinate in the dressing for about 15 minutes.
For the Salad: Meanwhile, fill a small saucepan about 2/3 with fresh water and bring to a boil. Gently pierce the “butt” ends of the egg with a push pin or small needle. You want to make sure not to push in too far, just enough to pierce a hole into the shell. Gently add the eggs to the boiling water and reduce the heat to medium. Allow the eggs to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes are up quickly rinse the eggs under cold water and set aside on a dry towel to cool further.
As you are boiling the eggs, place a steamer basket into a large pot and fill with water just so the water is under the basket. Gently bend each asparagus spear at the bottom end until it naturally breaks. Discard the ends into the compost or save for a future asparagus soup. Place the asparagus into the steamer basket, cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and tender. Be careful not to over cook the asparagus, otherwise it will turn green-brown. Once the asparagus has reached optimal color and tenderness quickly rinse the asparagus in cold running water for about 30 seconds to stop the cooking.
Salad Assembly: Place the lettuce leaves in a nice dish and top with steamed asparagus. Sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro. Evenly pour the vinaigrette with the marinated onions over the asparagus and top with the sliced hard-boiled eggs. Sprinkle the eggs with chopped cilantro, fresh ground pepper, and a bit of sea salt. Serve immediately.
Note: I like to serve this salad with lightly toasted bread or corn tortillas topped with avocado.
- Asparagus. Worlds Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=12. Accessed April 2, 2014.
- Hyman, Mark. Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/glutathione-the-mother-of_b_530494.html. Accessed April 2, 2014.