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It's Earth Day this week.  In food terms, I believe this means we should all try new or rarely used vegetables and fruits in our meals.  We tend to get into a rut with our menu plans.  Earth Day and Spring bring us the chance to widen our culinary horizons and see what is displayed at local farmer's markets and produce sections.

Even yours truly has several "go to" dinners that are hits with the family, let me cook without being in the kitchen for hours on end (unless that's what I want to do for the day) and are nutritionally quite sound.

However, it's time to look for and serve "Green" options!  They're really quite tasty, fast to prepare and fun to try-really!

Artichokes are poking their way into the markets, as are beautiful peppers, green beans and asparagus.  Since most of these are "in season", prices are pretty good as well.  Have you tried stir-frying mustard greens?  Perhaps making a "lite" cole slaw?  Making a salad of endive and arugula?  

The "trick" to most of these is to let the vegetable "shine" for itself.  Steam the artichokes in lemon juice, garlic and some fresh herbs.  Forgo the butter or mayo dressings!  Give the asparagus and peppers a light spray of olive oil and toss with some fresh garlic and either grill them or roast them in the oven with a little kosher salt.  Endive and arugula and other "bitter" greens work well when paired with some sliced apples or roasted pears.  Drizzle with a little vinaigrette and you've got yourself a gourmet salad if ever there was one!

And yes, cole slaw can be light and refreshing!  One of my family's favorites is an Asian slaw made with some rice wine vinegar, peanut oil, freshly grated ginger and soy sauce.  I add some toasted slivered almonds or crushed peanuts for a bit of added flavor, but even that is just a smattering.  Another favorite slaw is to add julienned carrots and peppers and serve with a Thai peanut sauce that I've thinned with some vegetable broth.  

On Wednesday-let's talk about the actual dressings I just mentioned.



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