Monday, June 13, 2011

Zapping the Dirty Dozen

The 2011 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce was released this week. The list details the Dirty Dozen, the twelve fruits and vegetables which contain the most pesticide residue. The list also identifies the fifteen fruits and vegetables that are the least contaminated. This comprehensive list will help you determine which fruits and vegetables are the most important to buy organic. Picking five servings of fruits and vegetables from The Dirty Dozen List would result in consuming an average of 14 different pesticides a day. How scary is that?

To create the shoppers' guide, the Environmental Working Group collected test results from the USDA and the FDA from 2000 to 2009. Most samples were washed and peeled before being tested, so these rankings reflect the amounts of the chemicals that are likely still present on the food when it is eaten. Print out the list and throw it in the earth-friendly reusable grocery bags that I'm certain you're all using, so you'll have a handy reference every time you hit the grocery store or one of Seattle's fine farmers markets!

As scary as all that is, I have a remedy that is purported to reduce the residual pesticides, as well as wax, dirt and bacteria on fruits and veggies. This All Natural Fruit and Veggie Wash comes from Sophie Uliano of Gorgeously Green A study in 2003 showed that washing produce in a solution of one part vinegar to three parts water can reduce the bacteria and viruses contained in vegetables to 95 percent. I like Sophie's concoction because it also includes Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). This is a plant-based oil that has natural antiseptic properties. I was first introduced to it by my naturopathic doctor who prescribed it, to be added to juice, when I had a stomach virus. This plant oil has a myriad of medicinal and household uses, which are detailed on the front and back labels of my favorite brand, which is available online and at many health food or vitamin stores.

I make this up in large batches and divide into two, large spray bottles. One goes under the kitchen sink to be used on my produce. To the other bottle, I add several drops of essential oil (I like lavender best) and put it in the bathroom to spray down the tub and shower after each use. The vinegar and GSE help prevent and break down soap scum in the tub and shower when sprayed after each use.

All Natural Fruit and Veggie Wash

3 cups water
3 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons baking soda
60 drops grapeseed extract

Spray on fruit and veggies and let them sit about ten minutes before rinsing. An no, the vinegar in the wash will not affect the taste of your fruit or veggies, and the GSE is flavorless.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

As Good as Chocolate?!

I heart asparagus. I heart asparagus as much as I heart chocolate. There, I said it. I eat asparagus almost as often as I eat chocolate but not quite as often, mostly because I don't have to wash chocolate. I just peel back the foil, break off a chunk and instantly have heaven on my tongue. Oh but with asparagus, there's all that drudgery of washing it and snapping off the woody stems. (Insert big sigh here.) But, I soldier on because it's so damn good....oh ya, and nutritious.

Ya know what else I heart? Garlic. Namely roasted garlic. I go through binges when I eat so much that there is no chance in hell that I will be approached by vampires...or single men...or anyone with a nose. I once ate so many Garlic Smashed Potatoes in the span of two days that a friend said I reminder him of Charlie Brown's pal, Pig Pen. Just as Pig Pen has an halo of dust around him, I had a very noticeable aura of roasted garlic following me. If you didn't know, when you eat garlic the scent "follows" you for days because garlic's sulfur compounds enter your blood stream and exudes from your lungs and pores. Oh well. I think there are much worse things to smell like.

So what happens when I combine two of my favorite foods? Double Roasted Garlic Asparagus Fabulocity. How's that for a name? Hope you enjoy this super delish, super easy dish which, in my not so humble opinion, is as good as candy...namely high quality, dark chocolate candy. Enjoy, garlic lovers and suck it vampires (pun intended)!

Double Roasted Garlic Asparagus Fabulocity

(Disclaimer, this recipe is a non-recipe because I didn't really pay attention to amounts or cooking times. Deal with's called real cooking.)

Find yourself a big clove or garlic. Not Elephant Garlic, but just a big, fresh head of standard garlic. Cut off the top. Liberally pour EVOO over it, wrap it in foil and throw it in a 425 degree oven for a while. I don't how long exactly, maybe an hour or so, until you peek inside the foil and see that the individual cloves are all brown and caramelized and gooey and beautiful.

Refrigerate the clove until firm, as the cloves will be easier to remove from their individual husks. Once chilled, squeeze each individual clove from it's papery casing - squeezing out every last morsel of the roasted, golden goodness. Smash it with a fork, and whisk it with the juice of two small lemons, a shot of good quality balsamic vinegar and enough EVOO to form the consistency of ketchup.

Suffer through the laborious drudgery of washing your big ol' bunch of asparagus and snapping off the woody stems at the point where they naturally snap. Wait where is that oh-so-easy-to-eat-chocolate again? No, no, eat your veggies!! Lay your dried asparagus spears in a single line on a roasting pan or glass casserole dish and spoon the roasted garlic mixture over the top of the asparagus. Toss it well with your hands until each spear is lovingly and evenly coated. The amount of roasted garlic mixture made with this non-recipe will make enough to use for several batches of asparagus and I plan to try it on Yukon Gold Potatoes, which I'll roast, as well. Doesn't that sound yummy, too?

Roast the asparagus in a 425 degree oven until done. I never pay attention to how long this takes. Maybe 30 minutes. I depends on whether you're using an aluminum roasting pan or a glass casserole dish, but it seems to be about 30 minutes. About 5 minutes before the asparagus is done, spoon a little more of the roasted garlic mixture over the asparagus and mix well, so you have a little bit of the mix that doesn't completely cook into into the stalks.

Once plated, hit it with some sea salt. Enjoy and try your damnedest to not lick the plate...or go ahead and like the plate, I won't tell anyone!

Afterthoughts: I just made the most fabulous pasta dish with this golden, garlic goodness mixture. I sauteed some shallots in butter until crispy and set them aside. I then sauteed up some fresh baby spinach and drained the spinach with some cooked, brown rice pasta. Once well drained, I threw those two ingredients back into the saute pan, added the crispy shallots and sun-dried tomatoes and some of the roasted garlic fabulousness and gently tossed it and heated it through. Once plated, I sprinkled in with a little truffle salt. Ahhhhh.........