Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring Is In the Air

Here in California, spring has arrived. Despite the muggy weather we've experienced this past week, temperatures have been unusually high and summer feels like it's on its way. Flowers are blooming...

...birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the grass is little greener – but, the grass isn’t the only thing that’s greener.

Dark, leafy greens and other green veggies, complimented by refreshing bursts of citrus and sweet fruits now fill our markets.  

The arrival of spring brings with it a variety of new seasonal and delicious produce including:

artichokes, asparagus, beets, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, strawberries, and tangerines.

Fruits and vegetables eaten at their peak of season are truly satisfying and can help you feel your best. With the sun’s rays getting a little more intense and with days at the beach just around the corner, keeping your skin and hair hydrated, and your energy level high are especially important this time of year.  

Many of spring’s seasonal selections provide these hidden benefits.

Spinach, and other dark, leafy greens contain carotenoids, antioxidants that reduce skin’s inflammation from the sun and help to prevent wrinkles. The vitamins A and C in greens keep your hair shiny and healthy by helping your hair follicles produce sebum, the body’s natural hair conditioner. Greens are also rich in magnesium and folate, both of which help boost energy and reduce depression. Spinach is the perfect healthful addition to pastas, frittatas, or refreshing spring salads.

Strawberries, tangerines, and other foods rich in Vitamin-C are not only thirst-quenching and cooling, they promote absorption of iron, an energy-promoting mineral available in your dark, leafy greens. Vitamin-C, which is an essential building block of collagen helps to reduce wrinkles and skin dryness caused by the sun and also helps to reduce feelings of stress. One cup of strawberries or approximately two tangerines gives you 100% of your daily dose of vitamin C.

Mushrooms are often recognized for their contribution to flavor and texture in recipes, but are rarely given credit for their nutritive benefits. In fact, mushrooms are high in vitamin B, which is essential for energy metabolism, helping to keep you bright-eyed from dawn till dusk. Mushrooms also boast high levels of selenium, a vitamin that aids in the formation of antioxidants which help to fight off cancer. Enjoy the variety and versatility of mushrooms grown in California – button, portabella, chanterelle, porcini, shitake, and truffle – just to name a few.

And now, for a recipe.

This recipe makes for the perfect weekend brunch. The combination of herbs with the lavender gives this frittata a lot of flavor, and the Greek yogurt with a lemon zest provides a delicious & refreshing topping.

2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped, divided
½ teaspoon culinary lavender, ground
12 large eggs
2 cups fresh baby spinach
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat broiler.

Heat a 10-inch non-stick and oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in skillet. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are browned. Add salt, thyme, parsley, 2 tablespoons chives and lavender. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, mushroom mixture, spinach and black pepper.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over medium heat. Add egg mixture and cook until beginning to set, lifting the edges to let uncooked egg run underneath.

When the bottom has set, place the skillet under the broiler and cook about 1 minute, until top is golden and puffed. Be careful not to overcook, or the frittata will be tough.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Stir together the Greek yogurt and lemon zest.

To serve, cut the frittata into wedges, top with a dollop of lemon yogurt and a sprinkling of reserved chives.

These seasonal tips & recipe were featured in last month’s Health & Wellness Guide for
The Santa Clarita Valley Signal. For more “In Season” tips & recipes us, pick up the next issue of The Health & Wellness Guide on June 8th. 

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